A little while ago, a booker I know was complaining about bands using the term “indie” when describing their genre. The booker’s point was that it’s too nebulous a term to really mean anything anymore, and a friend of mine chimed in to confirm that “indie isn’t a genre, it’s a business model.” I might be alone in this, but that nebulousness is appealing to me, both as a musician and a listener– there’s a lot of freedom to indie as we know it, it serves as a blank slate that lets fans and bands alike fill in the blanks in their own way. Toronto’s Odonis Odonis seem to understand this perfectly, as their Bandcamp genre tags only list “punk” and “whatever i feel like,” the latter of which serves as a handy one line description of their anything goes approach to music.
Odonis Odonis’ newest LP Hard Boiled Soft Boiled functions like a sampler of a handful of paths indie has briefly ventured down throughout the 21st century, from the early Liars-style dance punk of “Are We Friends,” to the British Sea Power-like gloomy indie of “Breathing Hard” or the dreamy neo-shoegaze that climaxes with album closer “Alexa Wait.” There’s even “Mr. Smith,” a song that takes everything you hate about that first Killers album and reconfigures it as an unabashedly anthemic slice of noise rock. The tracks are mostly connected by the general wall of washed out sound Odonis Odonis create, a mixture of delay drenched guitars wandering off across the sonic map and cymbal heavy drums that often feature electronic touches. “Highnote” serves as the apotheosis of that latter element of the band’s sound, with a minimalist drum machine beat anchoring the spacey guitars and androgynous vocals before Jarod Gibson’s live drumming crashes through near the song’s end. Dean Tzenos’ surf guitar intro gives the song a Raveonettes feel, but the band’s excellent arrangement allows “Highnote” to morph into something altogether more unique.
Odonis Odonis also use sonic milemarkers to help differentiate between their disparate sounds, like the chimy noise build-up “Tension,” which kicks the album off, and “Release,” a staticy interlude that is set squarely in the middle of the album. These also serve as helpful hints of where the band will eventually go in the album’s finale, the aforementioned “Alexa Wait.” Set to a hesitant riff on the “Be My Baby” beat and a guitar line that recalls Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie’s score for Mysterious Skin, “Alexa Wait” is Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’s most epic moment, both in terms of its scope and its literal length. Tzenos’ vocals are at their most tranquil in “Alexa Wait,” surrounded by a mix of organic backing vocals and synth pads, all weaving in and out of Denholm Whale’s plodding bassline. Towards the song’s back third, Odonis Odonis shift gears and create a soundscape that would fit right in on a latter day Animal Collective track, leading the album out on a dancier high note, a fittingly surprising ending to an album that lives up to its “whatever i feel like” ethos.
Odonis Odonis will be playing Mohawk in Austin on April 21st.
Morgan Davis sells bootleg queso on the streets of Austin in order to fund Loser City. When he isn’t doing that, he plays drums for Denise and gets complimented and/or threatened by Austin’s musical community for stuff he writes at Ovrld, which he is the Managing Editor of.