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The Inoculated Canaries combine an extensively modern stylistic envelope around an old school foundation. Based out of New York City, this band is armed with a ‘rock first’ mentality that speaks for the genre’s surprising, albeit mostly marginalized presence in modern music. Kicking off the decade with the EP The Blue Laws , and continuing in the festival circuit alongside such legends as Living Colour’s Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish, the Canaries forged a sensible path.
For the start of 2018, the band’s successor, Trying Times, explores a sonic spectrum of greater and clearer-utilized diversity. Initially, the EP emits vibes of a carefree, yet focused jam session. Its opener is the carrier single “Count Me Out,” which begins on a riff of up-tempo, 70s-tinged blues piano. A crunchy, guitar-based variant follows, while the undertones of the keys provide a nice bed of sorts for the remaining instrumentation. Front man Mike Rubin’s vocals shift between singular and harmonic styles, which are fitting for the song’s heavier phases. As the song unfolds, I appreciate the band’s integration of space, particularly when accentuating its solo parts. Next up, “Take A Look Around” continues the EP on a smooth transition. What follows is a more polished, albeit well-constructed, interpretation of 50s waltz-based rock. The guitars this time around have a decent crunch, without really needing to veer into full overdrive. Thematically, the two songs on offer so far seem to go hand in hand, as they each center around some type of loss. The former covers loss of temerity, while the latter subsequently deals with that of faith and money. Based on the song’s lyrical pacing, it highlights a person’s feeling invisible to society while in the midst of a downward spiral, before taking a step back and recognizing what has become of them. I found the piano solo at the song’s mid-point an upbeat accentuation to offset the otherwise morbid scenario, this again proven effective in the EP’s general pacing.
By the third track, “Jericho,” I sensed a slight return to form of the band’s Blue Laws sound – big, melodic guitars and drums in a relatively straightforward alt rock manner. At the same time, the song’s unfortunate circumstance highlights something of further poignancy: the loss – and belated second chance – of opportunity. After a run-in with the police, the subject of the song is sentenced to a protracted stay in prison, to the extent that when he is finally released, he is an elderly man. At this point, he simply aims to have a more grounded, patient perspective on life. “Ya Mad,” the penultimate track, fares similarly, gradually reintroducing classic grooves of funk and blues into the mix. The song primarily focuses on the result of a relationship after miscommunication has taken place. However, instead of continuing on a bleak note, there’s a certain respectable tongue-in-cheekiness as to how the song plays out. The fifth and final track, “Shipwrecked,” also maintains relaxed groove elements, but with a more serious tone in effect. This time, the thematic focus is capped by an anecdote of someone masking their broken heart well. Though underneath such despair, a resounding hope works tenaciously in pulling them through the motions of life.
Overall, Trying Times is a much improved sonic and lyrical direction for the Canaries. The variety in their music this time around is not only present, but serves as a well-constructed backdrop for a series of relatable life-based vignettes. I have yet to witness how these themes and ideas could be expanded upon in full-length album form, but the solidity of this EP is sufficient for the meanwhile.
The Inoculated Canaries Socials: