Home Read Albums Of The Week: By Divine Right | Otto Motto

Albums Of The Week: By Divine Right | Otto Motto

José Contreras & his Canadian indie-rock vets embrace the darkness – and find their way back to the light — on a winning comeback set that's well worth the six-year wait.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Things happen when they happen. That’s the story behind the lengthy gestation and creation of Canadian indie-rock institution By Divine Right’s long-awaited comeback album Otto Motto. Their first release in six years — and set album of new original material in nearly a decade — the 14-song LP showcases the band’s haunting, psychedelic pop sound while breaking new musical ground for the long-running group.

“We were on a roll from 2014 to 2016,” explains By Divine Right’s perennial driving force José Contreras. After 25 years, BDR suddenly seemed unstoppable. Everything was easy and we wanted to make a record that was ‘us.’ The LP was to be called Onomatopoeia, the sound of us, but stuff happened.

“It wasn’t until 2021 that it was finished, mixed, and mastered. Some songs grew and evolved, some got forgotten, and some new ones showed up. Onomatopoeia turned into Otto Motto. We had more than an album’s worth of songs, but it had been so long since we’d been able to function as a band, we simply forgot to think about anything.

“But at least we made it into the garage. We recorded it ourselves with the help of a couple old pals. We played it all how it came out. We did almost no editing; the songs are long and take their time. Fourteen songs in an hour, and a double vinyl sounded romantic — like the re-issue of a ’90s CD on vinyl.

Otto Motto takes place in black and white. It is our most goth record, and it’s also our most familiar. The world was in a dark place, and we are a sensitive trio. It was not party times. We had songs we needed and they brought us together. We needed each other and each of us was on a mission. It’s the sound of us and playing these songs together feels pretty special.”

By Divine Right have earned their place as one of Canada’s legendary bands, with its ranks having included, at various points, Feist, Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning and Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt.

Since 2010, By Divine Right‘s lineup has been a fan favourite consisting of Contreras, Alysha Haugen (bass/vocals) and Geordie Dynes (drums/vocals). This band, heard on the 2013 album Organized Accident and 2016’s track-for-track interpretation of Depeche Mode’s Speak & Spell has, in fact, been the longest-running lineup in BDR’s evolution.

By Divine Right have built their reputation through numerous award nominations, but more significantly through the adoration of music fans and the CanRock elite. José’s rare combination of artistic adventure and cultural intuition pre-dated the ’90s alt-rock explosion and the 2000’s indie-rock phenomenon, and it’s this creative curiosity and fusion of sensibilities that continues to make BDR relevant. Since 1995, BDR have released eight albums and played thousands of shows across Canada, the U.S., UK, Australia and China. They have influenced at least three generations of music. José has become a sought-after and in-demand record producer and songwriter, while at the same time By Divine Right’s 2010 album Mutant Message was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize and nominated for a Juno Award.

Now with Otto Motto, By Divine Right once again assert their claim to being one of the most vital bands within the Canadian alternative-rock scene.”