Odonis Odonis: Hollandaze (CD review)

Odonis Odonis

Hollandaze

Fat Cat CD

On their website, Toronto’s Odonis Odonis proclaim themselves “good postmodernists.” The band, led by principal songwriter and indie filmmaker Dean Tzenos, are also good rock historians. The melange of sounds they incorporate on Hollandaze (itself a postmodern pun!), their debut full length recording, are drawn from an impressive array of rock styles, ranging from garage and postpunk to shoegaze, proto-goth, and lo-fi indie.

Of course, juxtaposition of disparate sounds into hazy amplified gauze is all the rage today: what makes Odonis Odonis stand out from the pomo pack? Well, there’s the ineffable qualities of better songwriting and better stylistic blend: the music just comes together more organically than your average magpie band debut. It certainly helps that Tzenos has enlisted some of Canada’s alt-pop royalty to contribute to the proceedings, including Kathryn Calder and Kurt Dahle of the New Pornographers, Colin Stewart from Pretty Girls Make Graves, and Jon Drew of Tokyo Police Club.

But more than star power is at work. These are songs that, however dystopian, dig deeper than the surface impact of stylish sonics to find the grit and the underlying stories of their respective reference points. One of the most noteworthy, “Blood Feast,” not only makes an overt hat tip to premiere shoegaze collective My Bloody Valentine while appropriating their distortedly glazed palette. It’s also a reference to a 1963 cult film, an early example of the burgeoning interest in gore horror.

These multilayered meta-narratives aren’t just treasure troves for “good postmodernists,” either on the critical or practicing side of the equation. Hollandaze is a taut, at times disturbing, half hour of music making that’s both powerful and singular:  historical sound cues notwithstanding.