Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Aug 23rd 2010 1:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Saved by Vinyl
One could argue Lawr has been the epitome of the underrated artist, humble to a fault with his own music while toiling away behind the scenes the rest of the time. But his precise musicianship always seems to shine through.
Lawr's latest project, Minotaurs, is a supergroup of sorts, featuring current or former members of such Canuck musical mainstays as the Rheostatics, Constantines, Royal City, and Holy F---, among others. While the group's Afrobeat-inspired sound may come as a surprise given the rootsy vibe of Lawr's solo albums to date, his background as a drummer lends itself well to this new groove-oriented direction.
If the band's ferocious live shows -- including a late-night set at Hillside Festival in Guelph that spurred a giddy dance party -- are any indication, Minotaurs' forthcoming full-length 'The Thing' will finally bring Lawr, who serves as frontman of Minotaurs' eight-man live incarnation, the attention he deserves.
The opening track, 'Caught in the Light,' encapsulates Minotaurs' jammy sound, with its blend of beats and horns, but what sets it apart from similar Afrobeat throwbacks is that the groove is structured around Lawr's folk-pop songwriting template. The track is grounded in a hip-swiveling rhythm marked by staccato percussion, a slinky bassline and jazzy horns, but when Lawr's bluesy vocals kick in, the song takes a slightly different direction.
Minotaurs lock into a glorious groove so effortlessly that all their tunes would be eminently listenable even if they were instrumentals, but building the rhythm around Lawr's vocal serves to put the focus as much on the storytelling as the beat. There's a reason Lawr sounds like he's got the blues: "Sit me down where the sun don't shine," he croons, "but don't let me tell you what you did last night was wrong."
By the time 'Caught in the Light' is over, there's so much crammed into its brief running time that listeners might be left feeling like they've just heard four songs in one, yet the marriage of distinct parts never sounds disjointed or forced. Lawr lets his bandmates go off on their own sonic explorations, but makes sure they meet back at the center.