Indie rock has become a very mainstream term. Now in 2015, we basically consider Coldplay to be indie rock! It has gotten kind of ridiculous. Do the pop culture trend setting hipsters even know what “indie” means? As they sample the newest money making band or artist from the comfort of their limos, it is bands like Autopilot – who are based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada – that are gaining success the indie way; DIY.
Desert Dreams being Autopilot’s third release, it sure sounds and looks like they have benefited from that homegrown mentality. If you have ever been to Saskatoon you will see that it is a music scene mecca in the middle of the northern Canadian prairies. A constant stream of shows and up and coming bands, I personally have witnessed some amazing shows there, including Thrice, the Used, Alexisonfire, Moneen, August Burns Red, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and lots more. So?
So…believe it or not, this vibe, this scene and exposure has helped Autopilot launch a successful career so far. It is also due to that hard work ethic of these Canadian rock bands. (Think, City and Colour) Now, how does Desert Dreams stack up against the all too overwhelming amount of other indie rock albums in this universe?
Track one, “Desert Dreams”, is a soundscape of rock rhythms and gentle vocals that definitely captures, inspires, and reminds us old hipsters of high school. It has a quiet quality to it. A nice little dose of head bopping rhythms and subtle guitar. Everything that makes up your solid indie rock song. The following song “Oceanside” has that new school version of what 90’s indie rock left us. It is an up-tempo tune that will be great for road trips to nowhere.
“This City” starts out as a pretty standard sounding song with a cool riff. I don’t particularly find anything too overly stimulating about it though. “Battles” has that nice driving drum beat that faster paced indie rock is based on. The vocals are bright and also melancholy in parts. It delivers a warmth and fills a vacancy, especially as legends such as Sunny Day Real Estate or Sonic Youth are no longer active. “Crossing Borderlines” really makes me think of old twothirtyeight for some reason. In my opinion this is a big compliment, depending on your taste. Being an album of only seven tracks, it is nice to have simple yet engaging tracks to become lost in.
[bandcamp album=1252588906 bgcol=080707 linkcol=77b3e4 size=venti]
Track six of Desert Dreams,“Tuesday Afternoon Processions” has that ethereal – space between the notes – type of atmosphere. It is a full song complete with drowning sounds of ambiguity. The kind of song that would help you truly chill out amongst the chaos of the city. “Desert Dreams, Pt. II” ends this short set of songs with the ultimate dreamscape soundtrack. Moody, light, blissful and dark sounds that could easily have been the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey, or other long crazy spacey sci-fi films.
This effort from Autopilot is definitely the perfect musical backdrop to the desert that is the prairies of Saskatchewan. Desert Dreams is a simple and organic release, just whet enough to tempt new listeners, and good enough to keep the world listening. Personally, I am not huge on the indie alternative scene at large, but this is a band that has something special. I would say that being from one of Canada’s most uniquely cultured cities definitely has a lot to do with it. My memories of enjoying a pint at Winston’s Pub, and then walking down to the Odeon for the show with wife and friends in tow… It is nice to see quality and heartfelt music continue to come out of my old stomping ground! Keep it coming Autopilot.