The underground bowels of Toronto’s music scene is turning heads, garnering both international and local attention, and Highs in particular is vying for a shot to be heard. During its humble beginnings, they were nothing more than a prototype of bedroom-composed sounds. Guitarist, Doug Haynes put together a trio of demos, and later released them online. The result: a sudden fixation on the transcendent echoes of four gifted musicians.
Back in July of 2013, Highs released their self-titled EP, HIGHS — a collection of five strong tracks. The indie-pop band draws influences from — what I can hear — similar musical styles like Two Door Cinema Club‘s upbeat guitar rifts heard in “What You Know” to Hey! Ocean‘s whimsical lyricism in “Big Blue Waves,” but they possess a sound distinctly their own.
The entire EP flows with instances of metaphoric storytelling; to say the least, the lyricism found within these songs reminds me of a campfire sing-along session. Imagine sitting on a wooden log, with a fire brimming in the centre. Across from you are Doug Haynes, keyboardist Karrie Douglas, drummer Kevin Ledlow and guitarist Joel Harrower. The second they start to play the music, you can instantly feel the vibrations of every note, every chord in the ground below, and in the rustling trees around. The narrative direction of their words is vivid, and almost voyeuristic because they paint a cinematic visual through the power of anecdotal hymns. In songs like “Nomad,” you’re shown the journey of a person who has reached the age of accountability (“I land through the deserts plains/ down from the mountain range/ I can hear the winds calling your name/ but give it up”) , and chooses to leave home, but at the expense of hurting someone he loves.
The clean progression of their building harmonies swells like the courage of a modest mouse in “Harvest,” while the embedded antics of their melancholy vibe forces your hands to clap along with the banging drums in songs like “Cannibal Coast.” There is a rich catalogue of sound that went into making this EP as it pivots between folk ballads, and alternative rock. Some of its influences came from Tanzania, and surprisingly this collection of music resounds with an elevated feeling in the air. With these cruise-worthy rhymes, you’re shown the highs of growing up, the highs of leaving home, and the highs of spiritual escape.
Overall, this self-titled EP is flawed, only by the regretful choice to hold back their true potential; however there is a glimmer of hope that these tiny giants might tunnel through the mainstream barricade, and land themselves on national charts . It’s only a matter of time before they reach an all time high.
Check out High’s self-titled EP streaming on http://www.highsmusic.com/, or buy the EP on iTunes.
Here is a live recording of Highs’ “Summer Dress.”