Band You Should Know: Dearly Beloved
Posted by J2
Chaos, Tempered With Love.
Delivered With Great Fury.
If you’re like me, you arrogantly assume you’ve heard of every band worth hearing. I mean, if they’re that good, you’d know about them by now, right? Well, somewhere in the depths of Toronto lurks a band that is, for some reason, not on your radar yet. Their name is Dearly Beloved. And even though they’re mainly self-produced and home-recorded, there’s nothing amateur about them. I can already tell you’ve set your expectations way too low…
Bassist/vocalist Rob Higgins might sing that, “With a little bit of luck, you’ll get exactly what you want”, but there’s a lot more than luck involved in this band than he’ll let on. Up until four years ago, he was quietly making a name for himself, playing in all of your favourite Canadian bands. Change of Heart, Tristan Psionic, Rocket Science, By Divine Right and Doctor to name a few, as well as touring with Our Lady Peace. He created Dearly Beloved out of necessity in 2006, during the illness and eventual passing of his father. Originally a coping tool, his writing has become a way to connect with people. And if he can get them to shake their ass or bang their heads, or both at once, his mission is complete.
It might sound like I’m playing favourites by telling you all about Rob; but just as Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails, Rob Higgins is Dearly Beloved. He writes, records and produces most of the material himself. Not to be forgotten, however, is vocalist Niva Chow- the only other original band member. Niva is a vocal chameleon, providing harmonies, support and contrast at all the right times. Gavin Maguire (drums), Coz Sylvan (guitar) and Matthew Hoffman (guitar) round out the group, but it’s clear during their concerts that it’s the Rob and Niva show. They’re so in tune that even their unruly hair is synchronously brushed from their eyes.
In their four years together, Dearly Beloved has released three albums; You Are The Jaguar (2006), Repo Repo Repo (2008) and Make It Bleed /They Will Take Up Serpents this year. Make It Bleed is their first American release and contains material from their previous releases with two new tracks; ‘Make It Bleed’ and ‘Move On’. Not to be left out, Canadians were simultaneously given They Will Take Up Serpents EP, featuring the same two new tracks along with re-releases of ‘Candy Coated’, ‘The Ride’ and ‘When Slow is the New Fast’. In my opinion, the original versions of ‘The Ride’ and ‘Candy Coated’ are better and dirtier. You Are The Jaguar’s ‘The Ride’ has a deeper, messier groove, like a grunge-rock surf song. Repo Repo Repo’s ‘Candy Coated’ on the other hand is, well, less candy-coated. I think most ladies would agree that Higgins moaning “Say my fucking name” over and over is, um… preferable, to the cleaned up “Say my, say my name”.
Bands like Dearly Beloved make my job difficult because I have no one to compare them to. Their sound falls somewhere in the neighbourhood of alt rock; a hopelessly indescribable genre, but it’s the best I can do. Higgins’ voice is perhaps most like Jack White’s…but only sometimes. Hints of Filter, the Foo Fighters, the B52s and even Pink Floyd also surface throughout their catalogue. Perhaps most notable is their unique bass-driven sound, a phenomenon occurring when the bassist is the primary songwriter. Though uncommon, Higgins comes by it honestly, being the nephew of Rush’s bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee.
Some bands try new sounds or even genres from album to album. Dearly Beloved prefers to offer a mélange on every record, daring us to pigeonhole them and thwarting the prospect of a tragic “experimental” album. The variety is mostly attributed to Higgins’ broad vocal scope. Compare ‘The Butler Routine’ to ‘You Are the Jaguar’ and ‘When Slow is the New Fast’ to ‘Move On’ or ‘The Butcher’s Dog’ and you’d swear it was a different vocalist on each one. For a real mindfuck, listen to Higgins talk hockey on XM Radio or SUN TV and then listen to him sing. You’d never guess it was the same guy if I didn’t just tell you.
Somehow, between releasing and promoting his best selling book- the Hockey Fantasy Index, Higgins has found time to tour. Dearly Beloved supported the eclectic actor/singer Juliette Lewis all over North America before joining Die Mannequin for a short jaunt this summer. Higgins even completed the last of the Die Mannequin tour in a foot cast, but you wouldn’t know it to see him on stage. The new year will also bring a new album; written and recorded over five days at Rancho de la Luna, a Californian ranch owned by Eagles of Death Metal’s Dave Catching. Created with virtually no pre-production, this 11-track album promises to be “genuine, badass and soulful”.
I’m hoping that you’ll listen to me and actually check these guys out. I won’t call them a studio band or a live band because they kill at both. I can’t even suggest which album you should try first because they’re all bursting with awesome. The amount of heart and talent Dearly Beloved possesses is truly mind-blowing; though such deserved praise will simply be met with sincere, humble gratitude and a warm hug.
You can find Dearly Beloved at:
(Original Publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Nov 11 2010)
About J2What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged
Posted on March 7, 2011, in Band You Should Know and tagged By Divine Right, Candy Coated, Change of Heart, Coz Sylvan, Dave Catching, Dearly Beloved, Die Mannequin, Doctor, Eagles of Death Metal, Gavin Maguire, Geddy Lee, Hockey Fantasy Index, Jack White, Juliette Lewis, Make It Bleed, Matthew Hoffman, Move On, Niva Chow, Our Lady Peace, Rancho de la Luna, Repo Repo Repo, Rob Higgins, Rocket Science, Rush, Sun TV, The Butcher's Dog, The Butler Routine, The Ride, They Will Take Up Serpents, Tristan Psionic, When Slow is the New Fast, XM Radio, You Are The Jaguar. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.