If ever there’s music that I consider to be timeless and will never bore me, it’s the music of my favourite guitarist Johnny Marr, and the latter is the first thing that springs to mind upon hearing The Holiday Crowd. Is this a good thing? I definitely think so! Especially since their music comes closer than any other Smiths-like-bands that I have ever heard: because it is not just copy-paste is it? It’s about capturing the spirit and drive of it all, and conjuring up the same enthusiasm on the receiving end. The Holiday Crowd get away with it!
Following the record’s first single “Cheer Up,” Toronto based band The Holiday Crowd have now released their debut self-titled album. Singer Imran Haniff first met guitarist Colin Bowers in high school, where they bonded over Colin’s Stone Roses t-shirt. Now, 6 years after the band formation, things have taken the shape of a first album and a clear musical/ image concept. The quartet nails the sound of some great jangle/indie bands from the 80’s/UK like The Felt, Orange Juice, The Smiths etc.. Half of the band actually happens to be from that side of the pond : bassist Alex Roberts is English, and John Coman, the group’s new drummer, is Irish. The other half of the band is Canadian: guitarist Colin Bowers, who is clearly inspired by the great Johnny Marr and singer Imran Haniff who’s voice sounds like a blend between Andy McCluskey(OMD) and Brett Anderson (Suede) with the typical rambling phrasing of Morrissey.
The Holiday Crowd Album:
The album kicks off with a fine example of a song that immediately embodies the sum total of their sound: the pre’s and cons of pastiche. “Another Nite” is a composite of 80’s band influences: it starts off with eerie OMD synths a la “Joan of Arc”, ensues into jangle and then (at 3:00) plunges into funky, manic guitar strumming that was the signature sound of Haircut 100.
The tracks “Cheer Up” and “Golden Boy” are obviously influenced by a fair dose of Orange Juice, sprinkled with dabs of early Blow Monkeys and Soft Cell.
“Bellamy”, a lovely, light bossa nova track, and “Lovers be Damned“ belong in the magnificent El Records department…but the true gems of the album, I think, all belong in the Marr/Morrissey guild, and yes we’ve heard those ones before but we shouldn’t fail to pay attention to the fact that the compositions are really really great and the approach is really really fresh.
The verse of “Anything Anything” actually reminds me a lot of Ablebody’s “Backseat Heart”, a newer band that also draws from 80’s influences, but the heart of the song is definitely “The Boy with the Thorn in his Side”, full of interior monologue lyrics: “ I made my mind up yesterday /While cutting keys to the Kingdom /Oh I want to see it for myself “
“Of all places” has got Marr’s languid, melodic guitarlines, a punchy bass, and the most fragile uplifting chorus. “After the Long Dash” has some exquisitely ironic Morrissey-esque lyrics: “We’re in love/ We’re in love / We’re in love with ourselves/ And you will be missed and that’s fine”. “Rosy Lies” is an uptempo jewel and seriously shows that Bowers’ is a very capable guitarist indeed. As the Noel Gallagher quote goes : “you can’t be influenced by Johnny Marr because you can’t play what he plays, even he can’t play what he plays”. Bowers comes really close and that’s saying something….
The stunning “Need This Bed All To Myself” (how awesome is that title!) was the first song I heard by The Holiday Crowd and remains my favourite to date: it kicks your head in from the start! The new wave base and beats are heavy as lead and Haniff’s vocals are perfectly timed and have shifted from interior monologue to interior dialogue: “No one wants to miss a single thing/ Haven’t you heard? Can you please pay attention? / No one here does what they should / And from what I can tell I’ve already told you”. More than on any other track I hear Brett Anderson here, rather than Morrissey. The track stops as abruptly as it starts, and leaves you wanting more. Perfect balance, not a single redundant note…
“Need This Bed to Myself” has a glamorous video out now done by Alex Zen who “came up with this idea on the first listen.. Zen choreographed the first shot, and we had to do this dance all together with a camera, lights, actors running frantically in a pull and take, musical chairs spin. It was all filmed in a blacked out room in an office building. Shot in one day, the bed came in handy at the end of the shoot. We all pretty much passed out on it.