The self-titled debut album from Crestview Trust is the sort of gem that comes from a few good friends who get really excited about putting their musical minds together, resulting in a genuine project of love; it’s that instance when the artists’ sheer enthusiasm for the process of making the music they love is actually the driving force behind the record. And it’s rare. There’s no record label here, no immediate plans beyond local touring, and the status of the band members and album contributors as recognizable faces among a cozy Toronto music community has already trumped any typical wanna-be-rockstar bravado. What’s left here is a thumbprint from four Toronto guys that stands as one of the most sincere releases of late that people will probably never get a chance to hear: the album is currently only available for sale through the band’s website or CD Baby’s online store.
Derived from a shared appreciation for bands like the Notwist and the Flaming Lips, Crestview Trust’s music offers up a great marriage between organic and electronic composition, folk and rock. It also follows the recent Canadian trend towards band collectives and collaboration, as opposed to strict roles: Rob McMahon plays the bass on pretty much everything (lap steel was Colin McMahon, e-bowed guitar, Jean Vanhaelen, and trumpet / banjo, Greg Fowler) but ultimately, each was a contributor on the guitar, keyboards, piano, percussion and vocals on the album. John Hall appeared as a guest member of the band to record some initial bed tracks playing drums; later, the band later cut them up and started playing with them as the first pieces of what would become its experiment in pushing the boundaries of conventional song structures. All this collaboration undoubtedly adds some time to the creative process; three years went into the writing, recording and arranging of these 11 tracks. While the songs sometimes lean a bit far into the realm of self-indulgent doodling and “quirky” instrumentation, the distorted pop structures and dynamic layers of sounds create the sort of textures and rhythms that are nothing short of mesmerizing. Again, rare.
The opening track, “Somersaults”, is a good example of the thoughtfulness that has gone into the songwriting on this record. Drums, guitar, lap steel, bass and vocals slowly build throughout, creating a momentum that mimics the movement that the song title alludes to; rhythms and structure are played with to create a sort of jarring effect that makes it feel like you’re physically being thrown back and forth within the song. Yes, it’s an electronic pop record, but it doesn’t come off as pretentious or hollow. Instead, it challenges the listener with intricate construction and thoughtful arrangements, it’s fun, and it’s definitely worth the trouble it will take to find the record.