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Dolores Haze champions lo-fi garage rock

Call me a softie, but I get good vibes from the picture alone. Dolores Haze is a four-piece band from British Columbia that looks like every single neighbourhood band you’ve ever seen – and I mean that as the highest possible compliment.

dolores haze art

With a winning combo of scrappy lo-fi energy and fluid instrumental skill, Canadian quartet Delores Haze will soon be a name on the tip of your tounge.

Crammed into a rehearsal room that I could swear my dear departed high school band just vacated, the foursome’s appearance perfectly encapsulates that sense of gawkiness and sincerity that can’t help but make you want them to succeed. Thankfully however, they don’t need to coast on goodwill alone; Dolores Haze’s demo showcases a band that convincingly blends scrappy lo-fi energy with fluid instrumental skill. By turns goofy, jazzy and earnest, it’s a strong sampler of a promising group.

The demo kicks off proceedings with the raucous Panty Hoes, which acts as a neat summary of the band’s moods. Right from the start, we’re into creamy lo-fi territory, with pleasantly muffled clouds of Shishy Gebru’s sustained fuzz guitar hovering over a nimble, punchy bass figure from Tom Jarosz. After ramping up with a classic garage workout beneath rapidfire, shouty vocals, the band swaps to a minimalist halftime groove, as singer Jordan Kerr’s now more melodic vocal alternates nimbly between smooth and grainy tones.

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The next track, Ruby brings to mind a scrappier version of Minutemen, or early Red Hot Chili Peppers. After a tight slap bass intro, we turn to swift, jagged chords changes and off-kilter vocal melodies fleshed out with excellent fills from drummer Matthias O’Flynn. Finally, we’re treated to Wolves, where some particularly rich bass tones lead the transition to an ascending dissonant unison figure matched to the demo’s strongest and most emotive vocal performance.

The band has been gigging frequently around their home town of Victoria, and this translates into tight performances on record that nevertheless hum with the feel of band-members playing in the same room together. This garagey momentum brings a lot to the table, and when you add to this the muffled, raw production, the record gains a pleasing starkness that sounds warm and prematurely aged. That being said, it would be great to hear what an extra lick of paint production-wise could do. The members each have a nuanced and dynamic approach to their respective instruments, and a less lo-fi recording would surely bring out the detail in the alternately crunchy and warm tones of each band member.

Give the demo a spin then – I challenge you not to feel at least a skerrick of goodwill. I can’t tell how old the boys from Dolores Haze are – who knows where Photoshop may strike – but their music resonates with the uninhibited sense of experimentation and fun that makes me all dewey-eyed for my pimply years of teen musicianship. I was old enough to play well but young enough not to know ‘the rules’, that so often conspire to tell you what you can and cannot play. Yes, those days are long gone for a grizzled wreck such as I, but in the squiggly, splashy lo-fi tunes of Dolores Haze’s demo I can still hear the spirit of the basement. Take a listen, and maybe they’ll get further than I did – it certainly won’t be hard.

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May 1, 2015