High Waters
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High Waters

Ottawa, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Ottawa, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Alternative Indie




"High Waters - Goodnight Mara"

If you like Radiohead and Hey Rosetta, read on.

Hailing from the Canadian capital, High Waters has created an album called Goodnight Mara that melds together soothing melodies with electronic textures and folk undertones.

It begins with “Up to the Sea,” a track that’s introduced by an acoustic punching out quarter notes and quickly joined by the band embellishing the rhythm while adding spacious ambiance and richness to the sound. Already I know this album was well produced. The singer, Derek Connely, tells a tale of fighting against a sea, and it reminds me of Tim Baker, the frontman of Hey Rosetta. A couple of acoustic guitars break down the song with sweet, intricate riffs followed by a slide guitar solo. Next time I drive along a coast, I’ll be listening to this track.

“Mercury” starts with an effected guitar joined by a steady synth bass pumping out notes and occasionally breaking its nonstop tempo for the choruses. The tempo also slows right down halfway through the song before disappearing altogether, letting a funky electric guitar take over. This change in dynamics, rhythm, and flow keeps the music interesting and creates a real trip. Worth noting is all the gorgeous sounding effects used on the electric guitars as well as the electronic sounds introduced near the end of the track.

The next song is “Quiet guest,” and it brought me back to Elbow. The percussion sounds great on this album, whether it be the drum kit, hand claps, or other various shakers used. A vocal solo sung above an oriental sounding groove brings us back to the introductory guitar riff. “Obsidian” starts off with eerie effects swirling around the higher registers and are joined by Connely singing about making you his obsidian (a hard, dark, glasslike volcanic rock formed by the rapid solidification of lava without crystallization). What starts off as an arid sounding haunted barren track blooms into a gently waltzing tune that gave me the chills. The next song is called “Time and Again,” and it does a great job of fusing together ambiance and rocking vibes. Harmonized lyrics add depth and thicken the sound of the vocals. A great guitar solo is also heard on this track, while the bassist, Troy Huizinga, delivers solid line after line of tasteful riffing.

We get a taste of this band’s folk influences on the next song, “Holden.” Although starting and ending off quite delicately with the vocals heard only with an acoustic guitar, the inclusion of the band along with cellist, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, give this song a cinematic, epic feel. “The Greys” is a gentle ballad swimming in effects complemented by a gorgeous sounding ending. “Rip” showcases this band’s control of dynamics and creativity in their songwriting. The track goes through different moods and grooves, and kept my attention. A soul/funk intro starts off “Drop by Drop.” A groovy rhythmic pattern gave this song a tribal, danceable vibe. “Isabelle” is a beat-heavy song that is adorned by a multi-step phaser and tremolo manipulating the guitar sounds in time with the rhythm. The drums on this one sound huge! Next is “Heavy Bells,” a song that oozes swagger thanks to a soft sounding guitar line joined by a smooth bass that slides its way into the track for three sneaky notes. An expressive guitar solo handled by Martin Villeneuve closes this song, letting a string of feedback, effects, and a song sample from 1947 fade this track to its end. The last tune on Goodnight Mara is titled “The Act.” It’s a gentle rocker that delves into themes of urgency, honesty, and transparency.

There is so much to be said beyond what I wrote on this review. Any more would have busted the max word count, so if you like ambient, alternative rock with a side of folk, and a healthy dose of thought-provoking lyrics, this is it for you. - Bucketlist Music Reviews

"[Listen] High Waters - Goodnight Mara"

Before you say goodnight to anybody, check out Ottawa’s High Waters and their art-rock album Goodnight Mara. Their guitar driven rock is reminiscent of Canadian indie favourites like Wintersleep, only they take strange turns melodically into a different dark, mysterious world. - Ride the Tempo

"High Waters - Holden"

Ottawa art rockers High Waters are gearing up to release their latest LP Goodnight Mara later this week, and before it arrives, Exclaim! is giving you a sneak peek at the new material with the premiere of album cut "Holden."

The band have made a habit out of turning eerie, sombre sounds into beautiful music, and "Holden" continues this tradition. Gently plucked acoustic guitar, swells of strings, booming bursts of percussion and gorgeous vocal harmonies come together to craft a lush but delicate folk number that builds itself up and comes crashing down in all the right places.

The band will be appearing live at Ottawa CityFolk's Marvest offshoot on September 19, which is the same day the record drops. For now, though, listen to the premiere of "Holden" below. - Exclaim!

"High Waters - Goodnight Mara - Album Review"

Experimentation is a tricky game, but less so if you know your craft. Ottawa’s High Waters’ debut LP Goodnight Mara, is an album that changes tone not only song-to-song but verse-to-verse. The indie sound mixes bits of Hey Rosetta, First Aid Kit and others with their own experimentation.

The album opens frantically on “Up To The Sea” which walks the line between chaotic and serene with a master’s control. There’s an undeniable pop sensibility in the writing here both rhythmically and melodically and the sound crafting shines briefly in the song’s bridge. The song has a hook to it that begs to be heard every time a radio turns on. Things get dark on “Mercury” where droning and reverb create a rain cloud over the song matched by the ghostly drums. The song takes a hard left turn halfway through when it gains some funky riffing that it sticks with until the finale.

“Quiet Guest” opens on a killer percussion line that soon gives way to a bright guitar tone and vocals. The song later steps into Latin-riffed bridge, with polka rhythm not unlike Queens of The Stone Age, before flowing into an effects drenched freestyle section it doesn’t leave til the end of the song. “Obsidian” is one of the eeriest songs on the album with a high pitched drone and dark twangs leading the track. Halfway through the song jazzes things up, literally, when it changes gears completely to become an ambient Nina Simone-styled track.

Although “Time and Again” starts a little slow, the explosion of energy and sound from the chorus is well worth the wait. Quickly becoming a heavy-rocking headbanger, it effortlessly kicks things up a notch, before faking listeners out into a high octane, sonic jam that leads to another killer chorus. The track becomes a lot more ambient and slow from then out, never returning to its once insane energy but satisfying nonetheless. The band quiets down on “Holden” whose beautiful string arrangements beg listeners to remember something long gone. The song climaxes in a golden section of ooo’s and strings working in harmony until the strings fade to let the song draw to a close.

Despite the ominous sounds opening of “The Greys” they quickly fall behind the glistening guitars and strings to create a moody slow jam that beckons without ever raising its voice. “Rip” blends melody after melody together in its verses before moving to two great rhythm driven prechoruses that make your body want to move. When the song finally releases this energy it blossoms into a beautiful mix of guitars and drums that burns out as quickly as it was lit.

The riffs come to the forefront of “Drop by Drop” with some bass finally getting the weight they missed before. The vocal harmonies take the lead in this song as they accent the tumbling feeling the drums create. “Isabelle” is the most experimental track on the album, mixing electronic with some exotic melodies for a song that leaves a feeling of unease throughout.

“Heavy Bells” lets the vocals drive on an ever-changing back drop of grooves, that eventually come to the forefront in a solo inspired by Rush’s exotic and distorted styles before fading away to the ether of feedback. The album closes on the mysterious dance of “The Act“, who while containing one of the widest sonic ranges on the album, always feels led by its creative drumming. The song’s final notes leave a Beatles-esque pleasant feeling and intrigue of exactly what made that sound, flashing their songwriting prowess to the very last drop. - The Scene Magazine


Goodnight Mara (LP) - September 19, 2015

  1. Up to the Sea (03:35)
  2. Mercury (05:30)
  3. Quiet Guest (05:41)
  4. Obsidian (04:40)
  5. Time and Again (04:22)
  6. Holden (04:09)
  7. The Greys (05:11)
  8. Rip (05:28)
  9. Drop by Drop (03:39)
  10. Isabelle (03:47)
  11. Heavy Bells (07:12)
  12. The Act (05:26)

Gather Wish Remixes
(EP) - December 22, 2013
  1. Decrepit (glitch remix by Omar Rivero) (04:27)
  2. Transference (lokey's transcending remix) (04:25)
  3. The Astrologist (Dialoog's remagnetization) (04:39)
  4. Haunted House (Radioactive Bishop remix) (04:13)
  5. Scribbles (Creta remix) (03:59)
  6. The Astrologist (CITELUXE remix) (06:55)

Gather Wish
(EP) - June 28, 2012
  1. Life in 2D (01:28)
  2. The Astrologist (05:53)
  3. Scribbles (02:54)
  4. Transference (03:32)
  5. Haunted House (04:29)
  6. Decrepit (04:40)



High Waters are a Canadian indie quartet comprised of Derek Connely (lyrics/vocals/guitars/synths), Martin Villeneuve (guitars/vocals/effects/synths), Troy Huizinga (bass/vocals/guitars/percussion), and Matt Speedy (drums/percussion). Established in 2009, and currently based in Ottawa, ON, they record and perform a unique brand of panoramic rock. Using crisp, soaring vocals, expressive lead guitar, lush harmonies and synths, playful bass, and a driving percussive force, their intricate arrangements, laced with ethereal sounds, grow until they reach a swelling climax, creating a surge of rock, soul, and electronic music that commands attention.

Band Members