by Andie Mack | originally published at SceneandHeard.ca
Maybe it’s something in the water, maybe it’s the fact we used to be a British colony, but for some odd reason Canadian bands seem to show a real knack for emulating English groups. Toronto upstart quartet Showroom, prove to be no exception to the rule with their debut CD-EP.
It would be irresponsible not to mention that Showroom are clearly influenced by 80s Brit-pop kings The Smiths. Their entire album (produced by Golden Dogs guitarist Michael Chambers) harkens back to 1982 in atmosphere with its hollow body, reverb-laced guitars, echoing drums, and the frenzied, melodramatic yarns of vocalist Ben Hutchinson who… dare we say it… has heard his share of Morrissey records. Hutch doesn’t sound like Mozz yelp for yelp, but he is a crooner.
The aptly titled album is a snapshot in time. It revisits a bygone era of indie guitar rock that made bands like The Smiths, REM, and The Cure a compelling alternative to the mainstream drivel of the day. Despite how entertaining and catchy the songs on Still Escalator are, as an album it risks falling into the “been here, done that” category. The four University of Toronto students that comprise Showroom will have to find their way out of it.
In the meantime, the CD does indeed hold some pop song gems: “The Residence of Ben” drives along with melodic precision as guitarist Rory Lindsay shows a penchant for weaving tasty guitar licks that run throughout the seven-song EP. Songs like “Clarity” follow suit, offering pretty guitar melodies laid to a punchy rhythm underbelly.
In all, Still Escalator is a promising start. While Showroom never stray from previously charted musical territory, the band does so unapologetically and with a swagger that suggests the best is yet to come.