Indie rock
Arts & Crafts
★★★★☆

Already, 2008 is shaping up to be a banner year for Canadian indie rockers The Stills, and their third album, “Oceans Will Rise,” hasn’t even hit shelves yet. In July, the Montreal quintet was tapped to open for Paul McCartney at Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary Concert and received positive reviews for the performance (“The group rocked for its life during the high-profile gig,” proclaimed the Montreal Gazette.)

When “Oceans” is released on August 19th, there’s a good chance The Stills’ summertime good fortune will continue. It’s their strongest record to date, coming on the heels of 2003’s “Logic Will Break Your Heart” and 2006’s “Without Feathers.”

The band’s official site describes them as a “rock band with an ‘80s sound,” but traces of early ‘90s grunge influences are also scattered throughout.

The album kicks things off with “Don’t Talk Down,” which, after brazenly borrowing an opening riff from The Smiths’ “A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours,” redeems itself by segueing into a bouncy, memorable ditty.

Singers Tim Fletcher and Dave Hamelin have stated that the title “Oceans Will Rise” refers to the fragility of humans as compared to the vast strength of nature. But the album seems to at least challenge, if not defy, that very notion, with several tracks packing a fairly powerful wallop. Take the grandiose first single “Being Here,” for example, which is back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll, with Springsteen-esque guitar riffs and vocals encircling the repetitive, yet impossibly catchy chorus. Likewise, the surging “Hands on Fire” is structured like a wave, starting small before crashing down with a tsunami of a chorus.

Lyrically, however, “Oceans Will Rise” is a different story, as apocalyptic themes abound. “Dinosaurs” opens with the phrase “The clouds are thunder and lightning / The oceans level will rise / The earth will shake / Your windows will break.” The confessional “Everything I Build” takes things down a notch, with the mournful refrain, “I watched from the hill as it burned to the ground / I can still the smoke from my train out of town.”

Drummer Julian Blais provides highlights on a number of tracks, most notably on the aptly-titled “Snakecharming the Masses,” which mesmerizes the listener with a tribal beat. Rounding out the lineup are keyboardist Liam O’Neil and bassist Olivier Corbeil.

It might be hard to top the being the opening act for Sir Paul, but with “Oceans Will Rise,” The Stills will likely continue riding a wave of success.

About The Author

Elizabeth Raftery is senior editor of Blast. Follow her on Twitter.

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