Firefly Firefly Music Festival has announced its full lineup for 2013. Red…
- Posted on Mar 10th 2011 5:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Fledgling bands dream of the kind of rapid upward trajectory Imaginary Cities are riding right now -- the Winnipeg duo of singer Marti Sarbit and multi-instrumentalist Rusty Matyas (who has worked with fellow 'Peggers the Weakerthans and Waking Eyes) are not only garnering big buzz for their soul-meets-indie-rock debut, 'Temporary Resident,' but they've also just been tapped to open the reunion tour of none other than the Pixies.
Their rise is no mere blog-fuelled hype, however -- the duo are garnering praise the old-fashioned way: by putting out a fully-formed album that seems to come out of nowhere but was actually the result of taking the time to incubate both a unique sound and solid songwriting.
It's not altogether a surprise to learn the duo first connected when Sarbit was singing in a soul cover band, judging by her distinctive R&B-tinged wail that lends the songs on 'Temporary Resident' such panache. The pair fused Sarbit's love of classic soul singers like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin with Matyas' rock 'n' roll background to create their own funky sound.
Even before all the recent attention, Imaginary Cities had toured Europe, released an EP, and signed a record deal (with indie label Hidden Pony, also home to Hannah Georgas and Jeremy Fisher), but their full-length suggests it was a good thing the duo took the time to develop their sound into something that's fully their own.
The record's beautifully realized songwriting would perhaps be expected from a veteran act that had been honing their skills for years, but coming from such a new band, the careful balance of eminently tuneful melodies with clever lyrics is impressive, indeed.
'Hummingbird' (one of the duo's first tracks that also showed up on their earlier EP and was featured in an episode of 'Degrassi: The Next Generation') exemplifies IC's unorthodox approach -- when was the last time you heard a song open with a single shimmering swath of tambourine before exploding into a joyful burst of keys, percussion, and harmonies?
"Tell me that you'll break away/Say that it's all gone/Go ahead and count the days/C'mon, c'mon, c'mon," Sarbit warbles on the chorus, her bluesy voice sounding at once commanding and understanding in its intensity.
Matyas provides a marvelous backdrop for Sarbit's vocals to soar atop, with an immediately hooky melody and big, crunchy percussion.
Much of indie-rock involves genre-dabbling, but it's been a while since we've heard such a convincing marriage of soul, pop, and rock. Those Pixies fans are about to discover their new favourite band (or, you can say you saw them first at CMW).
Imaginary Cities play March 10 at Lee's Palace, and the Manitoba Showcase on March 11 at 11:30PM ET at the Garrison.