Home Read Albums Of The Week: Alexisonfire | Otherness

Albums Of The Week: Alexisonfire | Otherness

Proggy and psychedelic, moody and melodic and much more, the post-hardcore vets' first LP in 15 years stands as a triumphant return on their own uncompromising terms.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “A continuous thread through the fabric of Alexisonfire is the state of otherness,” Alexisonfire say. “Otherness drew us all to spaces where a band like this could be formed. We attract the type of individuals that have all felt the sensation of being strange or unique. Perceived or otherwise, otherness has followed us through childhood, adolescence, and into our adult lives. It drives our tastes and proclivities. It bonds us with ourselves and others. And make no mistake, even at our most domestic and mundane moments, we are true outliers.”

Otherness is the band’s most cohesive and self-actualized record to date. For those who need a refresher, AOF released four hugely successful studio albums, all platinum-certified: Alexisonfire (2002), Watch Out (2004), Crisis (2006), and Old Crows / Young Cardinals (2009). Crisis debuted at No. 1 on Soundscan Canada, while Old Crows / Young Cardinals debuted at No. 2 and hit No. 9 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. ​​The number of albums made outside of Alexisonfire by different band members over the years — including City and Colour, Dead Tired, You+Me, Dooms Children and Billy Talent — could fill several record store bins.

The mix of classic Alexisonfire and newfound textures of Sweet Dreams of Otherness became a roadmap for the rest of the record. Dallas Green’s engaging croon, the urgent attitude of Wade MacNeil and the heavy bellow of George Pettit are all anchored by a mix of vulnerability, confidence, iconoclasm, and celebratory recklessness. As every song persistently expands and contracts, bassist Chris Steele and drummer Jordan Hastings remain impossibly tight, locked into unrelenting swinging grooves.

Alexisonfire produced Otherness themselves in roughly a week. They kept it a “family affair,” working closely with folks who’ve been with them for years. The album includes organ, keys, and pedal steel from Green’s longtime collaborator Matt Kelly. Jill Zimmerman and Darren “Jeter” Magierowski (who is also Steele’s cousin) engineered at Jukasa Recording Studios.

“The biggest difference is the space we are all in. We were all really thrilled to make a record, and it was such a respite from what was going on in the world. It felt like life could be beautiful,” MacNeil says. “We were supportive of one another. Everyone was in such a good mood. It was such a treat to be able to do it again.” Petit adds: “As much as we love playing the old songs, we don’t want to be a nostalgia act. The only reason to come back is if we feel we still have something to say. We spent so much time on the road thinking that if we stopped, people would lose interest. But when we went away, it only got bigger. We all carved new paths for ourselves, so coming back to Alexisonfire is a purely enjoyable creative venture. Something special happens when we get in a room together.”