Fleece
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Fleece

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Alternative Psychedelic

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Though Fleece’s bandcamp page spends 70% of its description talking about what genre the band identifies as (that would be: “Psychedelic Rock, Grunge, and Jazz, to capture a refreshing take on the indie rock genre”), I actually don’t think the band does itself justice by trying to categorize. “Scavenger” is just that: an amalgam of found sound, abundant instrumentation, diverse influences, fluid genres. The Montreal-based band (comprised of Matthew Rogers, Jon Bell, Colin Spratt, Gabe Miller, and Ethan Soil) released “Scavenger” independently on January 30 of this year.

There is so much variation between the tracks and fluidity within Fleece’s sound that it wouldn’t be fair to the band to try and condense them into a organized review without listing each individual track as an entity. Neither you, the reader, nor I, the author, have the attention span to do that. But really, you’ll get a lot more out of the album by just listening to it.

“Gabe’s Song” is where the band flexes its jazz muscles: it’s so different from the rest of the album, it had to be designated by ownership. The track features scatting, a bass solo, and a jazzy arrangement of drums. Gabe is the bassist, and he kills it. The song doesn’t stagnate under the weight of “jazz”. It allows the musicians to show their influences (and most likely training as jazz musicians), breathing life into the genre with something really novel. Perhaps the track is a bit out of place on the record’s aesthetic, but it’s a seriously wonderful display of musicianship that harkens acts like BBNG.

“CIA” is the most ‘punk’ track on the release, and definitely one of the most catchy. It recalls a lackadaisical, slightly baked Stephen Malkmus with his middle finger to the government and a slide guitar in his arsenal. Vocalist Matthew Rogers’ voice is at its most deep and derisive, as he jeers “these Americans”. There is also a synth solo near the end of the track, unexpected but welcomed in this tapestry of electric guitars. The guitars sneer and slip with a Silver Jews-like twang, providing an appropriately scornful background for a chorus whose refrain is “Fuck the CIA”.

If you’ve read this far and think you know what this album is about, you don’t. “Demanding” is a shimmery, synth-based track that ends with cacophonous and frantic drumming and fuzzy guitars. “Chocolate Milk” (track length: 4:20 (wink wink)) starts completely different than it ends, awash in spacey guitars and sparingly used toms.

When writing this review, I found it challenging to latch onto a sound to describe. Not for lack, but for excess. Every time I’d write about a sound I liked, another equally impressive instrumental subtlety would appear in its place.There is so much going on here. It can’t be discounted how smooth and restrained this album is – though there are moments of limelight in several instrumental solos, the sounds mesh together with wonderful virtuosity and coherence. It’s clear each band member has really thought about their instrumental part, especially in its relation to the entire composition. There are some wonderful flourishes, too numerous for me to attempt to name: a tambourine hit or two, a few twinkling keys, a roll of the drumsticks, a small vocal harmony. The overall effect is a collection of stunningly complete tracks. Few bands, especially bandcamp bands, are able to achieve the level coherency Fleece has exhibited on “Scavenger”. Fleece is a band on the rise: frenetic, creative, and wickedly talented. - No Smoking Media


Fleece – Scavenger – Album Review

When a band labels themselves as a cacophony of contrasting musical genres, like “psychedelic grunge jazz”, the chances are their music is either groundbreaking or it falls into the “really fucking stupid” category. Fortunately for you (and me) Montreal based psychedelic-grunge-jazz five-piece Fleece has found the perfect combination of sounds. Their latest album Scavenger is a heterogeneous mix of genres, a dash of jazz scatting, a few cups of gnarly garage-rock guitar riffs, half a handful of some cool laid-back drum beats, pre-whipped with a walking bass line, then put in the oven, set ‘atmospheric vibes’ to high and finish it all off with a sprinkle of sensual brass.
On January 20, 2015 Fleece dropped their second release Scavenger following up an EP that came out last April. The band is currently based out of Montreal with members originating from Vancouver and Toronto. The album was produced by Patrick McDowall at The Oven and The Hive and mixed by him at Zug Island. Fleece actually used the website landr.com to master the album, which worked out fine but there is never an alternative for over-paying a professional set of ears.
Lots of sounds on the album mean lots of instruments. Matthew Rogers recorded vocals and keyboard while Jonathan Bell took care of more vocals, guitar and the saxophone. Colin Spratt, Gabe Miller and Ethan Soil played the guitar, bass and drums, respectively. Then Ben Michel and Luc Ainsworth-Wiebe on trumpet filled out the brass section with Nathaniel Glassmon playing trombone. Fleece lists their influences as wide-ranging from Mac Demarco to Miles Davis, including but not limited to BadBadNotGood, Nirvana, Snarky Puppy, Charles Mingus and Black Flag. They cite their “mission” as it is to blend the genres of psychedelic rock, grunge and jazz to create a new take on the indie rock genre. Mission accomplished boys. Scavenger successfully incorporates the most interesting features of the some extremely diverse genres and manages to piece together a compelling work of musical art.

“Aliens” is the first track off the album. Right away Fleece starts the album with a very trippy riff. The song continues to admit dreamy vibes as the vocals surf on top of the effects ridden instruments, it later picks up with some distorted guitar and more than a few cool licks. The second song “Wake and Bake” is more of a venture into the garage rock tone. It begins with a wimpy sounding guitar playing the gnarliest solo and just refuses to let up, like the short kid in your group of friends who has finally come to terms with being short and just makes all the jokes in his expense that much funnier. The song “Demanding” is something else. It is super jazzy and even begins with scat singing followed later in the track by an incredible sax sound. The sexy sax is followed up with a gorgeous guitar tone that swells the tune past recognition. “CIA” starts off with a real groovy guitar lift, the foot-tapping riff plays alongside the super catchy chorus; you will be singing, “fuck the CIA” all week (DISCLAIMER: The Scene Magazine in no way supports the fornication of and/or with the American Central Intelligence Agency). Followed up by the quirky track “Chocolate Milk”, which lends itself as a great second closer with dynamics going from whisper volume to a controlled chaos of loud music and yelling at the end. Scavenger closes with “Narcozep”. The tuneful tune coaxes listeners into unavoidable bouts of head-bobbing and undeniable aural pleasure. As the playful instruments slowly turn into a rambunctious crescendo of melodies and madness, Fleece burns their album into your memory.

THE GOOD: It’s one of those great albums where you can pick up on something new you did not hear before with every listen. Scavenger provides an incredible mixture of genres and instruments, all under one album cover. Fleece found a really cool sound somewhere between the loud madness of their instruments and the potential is exciting.

THE BAD: The song composition is very repetitive. Most of the songs are structured in the same way and therefore are in danger of sounding formulaic. With a variety of instruments to work with, Fleece found one way of doing things and stuck to it. It will be very interesting to hear what they can do next.

THE UGLY: Just like apple pie and cheddar cheese or peanut butter and hamburgers, psychedelic jazz grunge is a combination that will make some wrinkle their noses or even quite possibly wiggle their ears if they have that skillset. However, just like the mighty burger adorned with PB actually has taste bud tantalizing properties, Fleece’s new brand of alternative rock is harmoniously mouth-watering. - The Scene Magazine


reviewed by Elysse Cloma

Scavenger album artworkJason McGerr of Death Cab For Cutie once said, “you need a musical vocabulary that’s challenging yet accessible and a bold way of presenting it”. This statement seems to apply to bands like BADBADNOTGOOD, who emerged at just the right time and make music that’s both accessible and innovative. BADBADNOTGOOD takes jazz and presents it in an invigorating blend of hip-hop and post-rock. In a similar vein, Montreal band Fleece seems to be taking a well-informed musical vocabulary and presenting it in a bold way on Scavenger. While Scavenger is certainly a reflection of the psychedelic wave in indie music, it’s also exceptionally refreshing.

Overall, Fleece’s music is undeniably grunge rock. In particular, the songs “Chocolate Milk” and “Wake and Bake” showcase their noisy, distorted guitar-driven sound, which is dissonant at times. What’s great about Scavenger, though, is that the Do-It-Yourself amateur elements of grunge are absent from the music. The hard guitar is softened by a melodic electric piano, and balanced with clean drumming. The songs are artful tunes with a jazz polish. Tracks like “Demanding” stand on the intersections of math rock and jazz, with a fervent saxophone solo and crisp instrumentals. Their jazz chops are also put to use on “Gabe’s Song”, which has a stellar horn section, while “CIA” is a relaxed blues tune with a climatic rock instrumental section. With a healthy level of experimentation, variety, and cohesion, Scavenger takes grunge and allows it to transform into something original.

Top Tracks: “Demanding”; “Wake and Bake”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) - Grayowl Point


Sifting through the nine tracks on Scavenger, the debut album from Fleece—a five-piece band comprised of Concordia and McGill students—I couldn’t help but think about the days when my transcript still featured the word “undeclared.” Drawing from an array of genres including grunge, jazz, and psychedelic/indie/alternative rock, the album has the same kind of unrestrained feel to it as a freshman Arts student during course selection. Fortunately, though, they have the chops to pull it off and avoid the danger of a cluttered, over-ambitious album.

Things start off on a dreamy note with “Alien,” a relaxed tune that nicely meshes a lead guitar draped in colourful effects with a clean keyboard sound, and then give way to “Wake and Bake,” a track reminiscent of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” but much calmer.

However, it’s between the third and sixth tracks (“Demanding” and “Rise”) that the album hits its peak. Those two specifically have an airy quality to them that fully immerses the listener to the point where it’s easy to drift off and take for granted how impressive the instrumentation is. Even though it’s just meant to be transitory, “DLXVII (Interlude)” offers a memorable minute-and-a-half of music that will appeal to fans of the 2014 breakout group Real Estate. The highlight, though, is “Gabe’s Song,” which builds from a soft, haunting verse to a booming chorus featuring a guest horns section—not to mention a rare, excellent bass solo during the breakdown towards the end.

In the final stretch of the album, Fleece moves towards a more traditional rock ‘n’ roll sound; these songs can sometimes run a little too long and aren’t quite as memorable as the preceding ones—although the line “Chocolate milk and Adderall get me through the week” from “Chocolate Milk” is noteworthy alone for being the university student’s answer to Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”—but it’s hard to really find flaws on this album as a whole. Fleece plays well beyond its years and is certainly a Montreal act to watch out for. - The McGill Tribune


Full disclosure: Matthew Rogers, vocalist and keyboardist for Fleece, is a current DJ at CJLO. The album was recorded at CJLO's "The Oven" studio by our Production Director Patrick McDowell. So, as Omar our head music director so rightly put it "this is a family affair".

The moment you hit play on Scavenger, the debut album by Montreal's Fleece, and hear those first few curled guitar notes, you realize you're being drawn into a haze, a cloudy vapored world. While the band's environment is made up of different musical influences like garage rock, jazz, and blues, it's primarily structured around a psych-rock experience. The musical backdrop allows you to leisurely sway through the album.

The first two tracks set the tone for the album. "Alien" offers up a misty psychedelic experience with waves of sound. Lyrics such as "relax your mind open your eyes so the aliens will take control" add pictures to that experience. "Wake and Bake", offers a slightly grittier sound, but the same hazy feel as the refrain "who fucking cares" leads us to its conclusion. The tempo for both tracks is slow and measured, the lyrics expressed as if in confession. These opening tracks almost seem to be bookends to a night chalked full of psilocybin-induced experiences.

With "Demanding" and "Gabe's Song", the band stretches and shows off its musical range. The addition of horn arrangements and jazz elements to the album add layers of complexity that forces the listener to perk up and pay attention. These are two of the more musically adventurous tracks found on the album. "Narcozep" leads us out with a steady groove and watery effects-laden vocals.

While the vocals can at times be thin, the strength of this album lies in the musical atmosphere the band cultivates. There is a dreamy quality to the LP expressed through the production, the band's use of effects and in the slow deliberate way in which the tracks come at you. However, don't mistake this for a lack of energy, because there is plenty throughout the album. Fleece certainly opens the door with Scavenger.



--Fredy M. Iuni hosts Hiway 1, Mondays at 7:00 pm on CJLO. - CJLO – 1690AM


Fleece

A collaboration between McGill and Concordia students, Fleece has only been playing together since last November, but the group is already carving out its own distinct sound. A cross between Grizzly Bear-esque indie and ambient jazz, their music will soundtrack a relaxing Friday at Cagibi. The members hail from Toronto and Vancouver, and emphasize their do-it-yourself approach to writing and recording, which led to the release of their self-recorded and self-titled demo album, Fleece. For a band that’s been together for less than a year, they work pretty fast. If you’re looking for some good music vibes, this is definitely a show to check out. Plus, who doesn’t like a good saxophone solo? - The McGill Daily


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Fleece formed in Montreal in January of 2014. One year after their formation, Fleece released their debut album Scavenger, featuring 9 dynamic songs that showcase their unique fusion of genres. With the release of their new album, Fleece has gained a much larger public outreach, with over 3 million views on their YouTube channel, and over 400,000 streams on Spotify, iTunes, and BandCamp combined. Scavenger has also received airtime on Canadian and American radio stations, and has been featured on a multitude of media outlets including Noisey, Indie 88, Ride the Tempo, and Grayowl point.

To date, Fleece has performed in over 20 successful live shows in the Montreal and Toronto areas, seeing an average attendance of 350 people per show. Fleece recently performed to a crowd of over 1000 at McGill University’s “Open Air Pub”, an annual University-run beer garden that features up and coming Montreal bands. On the local circuit, Fleece has shared the stage with many popular acts such as Saxyndrum, Michael Cota (from Archery Guild), and Body Wash.

The members of Fleece consist of Matthew Rogers on Keyboard/Vocals, Gabe Miller on Bass Guitar, and Ethan Soil on Drums, and Jameson Daniels on Guitar.

Band Members