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The best kept secret in music


"Review of "The Grand Bender""

Divided between Boston and Toronto, the band also seems to have an equal divide in the songwriting, if this album is any indication. Half the time, the sound is reminiscent of other Canadian rock bands like the Parkas and Plumtree (but with male vocals, of course), and the other half, they have a softer sound similar to True Love Always or Sorry ("So Excited" even sounds a bit like Aden). But in both cases - whether loud or quiet - the band makes great use of melodies, which pulls the whole record together quite well. The songs are generally in the 3-4 minute range, but never go on too long (with the exception of the rather dull "The Vaguest Of Pleas"). This is definitely an excellent debut album, and a good band to watch out for! -

"Malvern Stands Apart in World of Indie Rock"

Thursday December 16 2004

When you say your band makes indie pop and rock, as Malvern bravely does on its website, you risk some serious eye rolling. Isn't that what all bands do these days, especially in Boston?

"Well, that's true," says Allan Lewis, lead singer and guitarist of Malvern, a rock band he started while a student at Northeastern University in 2002. "I think a sense of dynamics sets us apart from other bands who say they make indie rock. There's a sense of drama in our music, and by drama I don't mean theater. We make sure there's contrast within the songs."

Lewis is right about that. The band's debut, "The Grand Bender," is full of the loud-soft dynamics championed by the Pixies, as well as the twinkling pop melodies a la the Sea and Cake. The opening track, "Patio," can be as serene as the album's cover photo of the band on a long stretch of some faraway beach at dawn, a tiny beer bottle visible in the sand. But then "The Sound of Halifax" ups the garage-rock ante to a fevered pitch, and Lewis's nimble voice rises above the fray to intone, "I'm the kind of guy who likes to have you around yeah!"

Malvern's sound fits in perfectly with the other like-minded bands playing at tonight's Royal Pop Collective Central Square Christmas Party. The Royal Pop Collective gathers similar bands to share a bill; tonight's shows are at T. T. the Bear's Place, which is where Malvern plays at 9 p.m., and the Middle East Upstairs.

Malvern has one of those quintessential college-rock-band beginnings. Lewis and guitarist JP Polsoni attended an arts high school in Toronto, and Lewis met drummer Dan Ricci when they were students at Northeastern. Around that time, bassist Mike Irwin, who still lives in Boston, was living upstairs from Lewis. After plenty of beers shared on their front porch, Irwin was finally invited to play on the band's demos. They added Polsoni to the lineup because they felt the band needed more guitars.

Malvern has been playing in earnest since the August release of "The Grand Bender," which was recorded at Lewis's cottage in Grand Bend, on the shores of Lake Huron, just north of London, Ontario. Lewis has been in other bands, including a high-school group that aspired to mimic the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he considers Malvern "my first proper go at it."

Although Lewis lives in Toronto, he says Malvern has more of a presence in New England. "We've played the majority of our shows there. I don't worry too much about the distance between [the band members]. The only thing I think we miss out on is the idea that we're playing in a local music scene. But otherwise, we just figured this band was too good to give up on." - The Boston Globe

"Review of "The Grand Bender""

Death Benefits Records
The Grand Bender
12 songs

It may be unfair to hold Malvern's newest full-length next to REM's early IRS recordings, but that's the first comparison that came to mind when this indie quartet first played through the speakers on my stereo. The Grand Bender may not be Fables of the Reconstruction, but I've experienced very few other bands that have been able to stay so seamlessly true their own unique sound throughout a sixty-five minute recording while moving easily back and forth from swoon to rock 'n' roll. Malvern juxtaposes dreamy ballads like "Winston" and the dynamic "Vaguest of Pleas" with hard rocking pop anthems like "The Sound of Halifax" and "Thingnaes." While no one will argue that front-man Allan Lewis is the next Michael Stipe (or that drummer/ backup singer Dan Ricci sounds anything like Mike Mills) Malvern, like REM, uses backup vocals effectively to create a melodic atmosphere for the music to exist in. Most of all, the independent spirit of Malvern's music is what sets them apart from the majority of what is out there today. Malvern takes a lot of chances with this album, but those chances were worth the risk. This is one of the best local albums I've heard this year. (Jeff May) - The Noise Boston April 2004


Right the Ship- 3 song demo EP (download only)
The Grand Bender- 12 song LP
(Released 2004 on Death Benefits)
The Royal Pop Collective CD Compilation
(2 songs)

Electronic media available through band site:


Feeling a bit camera shy


After a year and a half of rehearsing and recording, Malvern began 2004 with their debut album, 'The Grand Bender'. Recorded by the band at a cottage on Lake Huron, this trustworthy slice of indie-pop is twelve tracks of Sloan hopped up on Swedish melodies in a field with Grandaddy.
“The band's debut, The Grand Bender, is full of the loud-soft dynamics championed by the Pixies, as well as the twinkling pop melodies a la the Sea and Cake. –The Boston Globe
Delivering their set with a polished sound and a lo-fi heart, the band evokes its Canadian rock influences on tunes like 'The Sound of Halifax' and 'Paul Desser'. Scorchers 'Thingnaes' and 'Unsure' are pure driving pop, contrasted by the sleepy ease of 'Winston' and 'So Excited'.
“…whether loud or quiet, the band makes great use of melodies, which pulls the record together quite well.” -
A solid debut, 'The Grand Bender' reached CMJ’s Top 20 Most Added chart during a successful radio campaign which saw airplay on more than 100 stations in North America. Malvern supported the release with a short tour of the Northeastern United States in the fall of 2004, playing with the likes of Scottish giants Biffy Clyro, and bolstering their cause with gritty, enthusiastic live shows.
During this period Malvern also recorded eight new songs, three of which appear on 'Right the Ship', an EP of three demos released via the band’s website in December 2004. Louder and more intense than 'The Grand Bender', these songs show Malvern developing into a tighter, more diverse unit.
On disc, Malvern’s strongest asset is its ability to sound familiar without sounding generic. A sense of drama and contrast within songs are an increasingly important part of the band’s writing style. Live, Malvern are an intense, exciting prospect, presenting its music with vigor and relish, and leaving an appreciative audience with more than just a four-piece with a pop tune.