The self-titled debut album from Canadian duo Crown Lands has recently hit the shops and, while finding itself fighting for airtime against a deluge of COVID-19 era issues, the seven track majestic piece of craft is so beautifully unique, that it fully deserves to find itself wading out of the quagmire of releases ahead of others.
Crown Lands – Crown Lands (Universal Music Canada)
Release Date 13 August 2020
Brainchild of lead singer and drummer Cody Bowles and Kevin Comeau (guitar, keys) who met six years ago, the journey to the new album has taken them through two EP’s, Mantra (2016) and Rise Over Run (2017) and numerous gigs.
Kevin Comeau tells us: “The record is a culmination of five years of work. We started Crown Lands in 2015 with the view to put out a cohesive body of work.
“We have finally done that! We started writing this record last year after touring with Primus and Jack White. We took that influence and ran with it.”
Lazily compared by some with Led Zeppelin (well, there is that voice) and The White Stripes (both duos), the album Crown Lands is a uniquely layered piece of work.
Opening with the fuzz filled riff laden ‘Spit It Out’, you are immediately drawn in by Bowles’ powerful vocal range, and the lack of standard timing during the track is totally invigorating.
Track three, ‘Lead Foot’, is a stomping piece of glory, with an engaging heavy riff and slower pre-chorus, leading to what is sure to be an energetic mosh pit experience, especially during the neat and brief guitar solo. A crazy song!
Comeau tells us, “‘Leadfoot’ started as a cautionary tale about speeding but quickly became some sort of song about interstellar love. Lots of space and nature imagery keep the song from touching down into reality but the music is quite rooted in Blues and Glam rock.
“Is it about aliens? Is it about cars? Is it about aliens driving cars? Maybe. Either way, it’s a lot of fun to play.”
‘Howlin’ Back’ is another standout track. Bereft of any dull verse-chorus-verse-solo repetition, the track is a slide guitar beauty, backed with tom heavy drum beats. It is spectacularly mad enough to ‘finish’ exactly half way through the song, before concluding in a blaze of glory. This will be superb live.
‘The End Of The Road’ is the most ‘commercial sounding’ song on the album, but it covers the most complex of subjects.
The track pays tribute to the Indigenous womxn, girls and two-spirits who have gone missing or have been murdered on Yellowhead Highway 16 in British Columbia, which is referred to as the Highway of Tears.
The track is an address of the disproportionate violence and ongoing injustices experienced by Indigenous communities with hopes to encourage education, discussion and action surrounding this national crisis.
Kevin Comeau tells us: “We don’t claim to have any answers, but we want to use our voice to bring awareness and help make a difference.”
From 2001 to 2015, the homicide rate for Indigenous Womxn in Canada was almost six times as high as the rate for non-Indigenous women (Statistics Canada).
Cody Bowles says: “‘End of the Road’ is an outcry for awareness and action surrounding the colonial horrors of the missing and murdered Indigenous Womxn, Girls, and Two-Spirits that still haunt Indigenous communities today.
“Violence against Indigenous people is something I have witnessed firsthand throughout my life. I am half Mi’kmaw and grew up spending of a lot of my childhood in and around Alderville First Nation.
“I identify as Two-Spirit and dream of a better world for the brilliant Indigenous womxn, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people who face adversity every day for their very existence.
“It’s up to all of us to make this world a better place for future generations, and this song is a small message of hope adding to the rising wave of Indigenous resistance throughout this land.”
With out any doubt, ‘End of the Road’ covers serious and important issues. However, taking the ‘Crown Lands’ album as an old school listen start-to-finish piece of work, the track really fits its place in the album. Seemingly ‘commercial’, there are complex layers in the song which, aligned to the haunting video, is totally mesmerising.
‘Crown Lands’ finishes on the exquisite ‘Sun Dance’, a beautiful guitar and vocal led track and one in which Cody Bowles is sure to excel at live.
With it’s powerful late build, before the haunting conclusion, it is should be in line for a ‘lighters in the air’ set closer and a perfect way to finish a perfect album.
It is not often you come across something so spectacular and groundbreaking in this day and age, but as a debut album, Crown Lands have cracked a nugget here.
You can catch Crown Lands next year as they join Grammy award-nominated sister duo Larkin Poe on their European tour as support. Tour starts 3 February 2021 in Dublin.
1. Spit It Out
4. Howlin’ Back
5. End Of The Road
6. Forest Song
7. Sun Dance