Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: January 20th, 2015, via MapleMusic Recordings
After years of gigging, and an EP titled The Young Love EP, local Toronto band, Cairo, are officially signed to MapleMusic Recordings and are releasing their first full length album, A History Of Reasons.
Cairo, although falling somewhere on the indie side of the spectrum, are not the typical indie band you’d expect to hear on the radio, and A History Of Reasons is evidence of that. The album is void of any four-on-the-floor dance grooves, hand claps as the back beat, and monotonous, uninteresting instrumental parts; rather, A History Of Reasons offers a much darker tone to its songs, and with it’s well written and recorded music, it gives it’s listeners a flavor reminiscent of City And Color, only more interesting. Violinist, Caitlin Grieve, describes it as, “the album sounds like the most artistic qualities of each band member: soaring vocals, warm strings, melancholic harmonies, and rhythms that mimic the human heart and all of its emotions. Plus, lots of reverb.”
Over the span of its near 45 minute length, Cairo manages to cover an assortment of moods on the record. Their title track, “A History Of Reasons”, starts off the album, with its atmospheric verses, followed by its anthem of a chorus. The song introduces a number of musical idioms the band employs throughout the album: thick, rich harmonies, paired with multiple melodic ideas, moving in different directions, while remaining cohesive. Singer Nate Daniels’ voice is very powerful and with a large range, it takes the forefront of these moving musical pieces. The tone of his voice allows for a picture to be painted in the image of the lyrics, ultimately creating a musical texture so rich it takes the songs to a higher ground. Underneath his vocals lays a sturdy, harmonious, ground consisting of electric and acoustic guitar, drums, violin, and bass. The song, “A History Of Reasons” was released towards the end of 2014, along with a music video, which can be found at the end of this review.
Whether it’s ambient, clean electric guitar lines, or a finger picked acoustic guitar part, the album maintains a sense of calmness, and a very mellow mood. This, however, does not stop the band from introducing different elements to the music, where they create an feeling of chaos, and the guitar gets thicker in tone and gets a little more distorted. This is heard towards the end of “A History Of Reasons”, the chorus of “Kingdoms”, the bridge of “Starry Eyes”, and throughout “Extinguishing Fires”. After these short and well executed moments, the music resolves back to its natural state of a calming tone. There isn’t a bad song on the album. Each of them, although stylistically similar, have a feeling of variety in technique, song writing, and textures. Nate describes the song writing process as, “flaccidity and arousal…The songs tend to start off as a regurgitation of an event or theme pulled from my life or the experience of a friend. I say regurgitation because ‘channeling’ is too eloquent for the sloppy mess that is my song-writing. As we rehearse, the song takes on the life each member gives to it; agreeing on a chorus here, throwing out a verse there, it starts to take shape and become something we can all be happy with.”
Cairo does a phenomenal job with this album. There are very few issues I had for this album, an impressive feat for a debut album. My main complaint, although small in the grand scheme of things, is the drums were much quieter than I would prefer. One thing which I noticed right away was the drumming; it is very well performed, and far more intricate than a modern indie record, but it is greatly welcomed. Nonetheless, Cairo has certainly found their sound, and know how to hone their talent into sculpting their songs. Cairo is an excellent band, both live, and on album, and I would strongly recommend checking out their music along with any upcoming shows.
2015 looks to be a big year for Cairo, as drummer Matt Sullivan puts it, “2015 is all about playing this record as much as possible to as many people as we can. We will also be trying to write new material behind their backs when they aren’t looking.” A History Of Reasons takes the currently popular form of indie rock, with a strong twist, adding a more interesting dimension to the genre. As someone who does not normally listen to much indie music, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this record from front to back, a number of times. I not only enjoyed it, but I was very impressed by all the elements Cairo has assembled in their music: the folk like violin, the smooth electric guitar, Nate’s incredible vocal range, and the grooving drums. It remains simple, radio-friendly, and mellow, while still maintaining a creative and unique musical experience.
Also, check out our coverage of Cairo’s album release party at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, on February 20th, 2015.
1: A History Of Reasons
2: With You
6: One At A Time
7: Starry Eyes
9: Extinguishing Fires
10: Words & Meaning