When the icy fingers of winter grasp at our skin, most of us will start to dream about the warmth of summer and wish for it to arrive quickly. This relationship with the seasons has been picked up by North Lakes for the first EP in a series of releases. Black Cat Music Volume 1 looks at how we long for summer during winter, while also reflecting on emerging from isolation and the refocusing this can bring to our lives.
As the tracks of the EP delve into these emotions, they draw on the landscape of northeast Canada. Taking the dive-bar soundtrack vibe that has become part of their music, the band threads nostalgia and fresh life into the music. This look at winter and refocusing comes from Nathan Gill (vocals, guitar), Roger Carter (organ), Michael Carver (drums), Christopher Francis (bass) and Chris Robinson (guitar).
The EP opens with ‘After the Drifts’ which grabs your attention with an off-kilter tone, building over the sounds of people having a bit of fun. That discordant tone drops for the groovy garage rock tones of the band to make its way through. Gill’s vocals have a slightly retro vibe to them that tugs at memories in the back of your brain. Beneath his engaging vocals, the melody pulses with energy and fun. The guitars sweep into your shoulders to get them moving, while the drums bop around in your brain. There is a guitar riff in the middle of the track that breaks the movement, yet also takes it to another level. As an opening track, this is perfect as it gets you hooked to their sound and pushes you into the vibe of the EP.
‘Noise on the Anvil’ continues the engaging vibes, but uses a rather different tone. There is a more pop-rock feel to the music, with a touch of surf added to the vocals. The guitars call through the melody and bring the whispered promise of warm days spent having fun on the beach. There is a push and punch to the melody and vocals, adding emphasis to the lyrics. This is all swept away by the foamy waves of the ocean. It is an interesting track that is both a memory and the promise of something to come. All of that is wrapped up in a melodic movement that stomps into your senses, while flowing melodically into good vibes.
The warmth of summer has a greater impact on ‘Jasmine and Flowers’ as the melody has you resting in a flowery meadow with the sun shining down on you. There is a really easy feeling to this single that makes you think of spring and summer days, lounging in nature. The vocals continue their retro touch with a power-pop edge that toes the line of glam. This is definitely a track that you can blare at top volume during a road trip, as you soak up the warm rays of the sun. While engaging, there is a softer energy to the music, compared to the other tracks on the EP.
‘Feel Nothing’ closes the EP with a darker tone that warbles into the strummed guitar tones. The sombre feeling of the opening is picked up by the dampened tones of the vocals. They reach out through the soundscape like mist and the chilled breeze of winter. The deadened feeling woven into the lyrics has been perfectly captured in the melody. As the track progresses, the harmonised vocals add to the feeling of disconnect from the rest of the world.
North Lakes brings the chill of winter to the yearning for summer and the fun you can have in the tracks of Black Cat Music Volume 1. With tracks that move from groovy garage rock to sun-soaked meadows and wintery disconnects, the EP shows what the band can do. It also has you interested in what the rest of the EP series has to offer.