Montreal street inspires album by Plants And Animals

Plants And Animals released Parc Avenue last month.


To some, Plants and Animals’ new LP feels like plugging into the classics of the early ’70s, updated with nods to orchestral pop and Montreal’s Parc Avenue.

To singer-guitarist Warren Spicer that interpretation sounds absurd.

“When people say we sound like classic rock, I think it’s hilarious,” he said. “It didn’t occur to me (that’s) what we sounded like … I’d like make a list of the sheer number (of different interpretations), and highlight how outrageous it all is.”

Instead, he talks about Parc Avenue, one of Montreal’s main drags. The street is referenced in album songs like A L’Oree des Bois, which was recorded during the World Cup while soccer fans streamed along the avenue. Filled with a revolving roster of shops and a few local eccentrics, Spice said the street’s eclecticism matches the album’s esthetic.

“(Parc Avenue’s) got everything — it doesn’t have one overwhelming theme that some other streets have,” he said. “It’s more like a total mish-mash of stuff, and that’s partially why we chose to name our record after it.”

That said, Spicer does admit a soft spot for the classic rock sound. A student of music theory, he said that period didn’t have much scholasticism to offer the school of rock. The Concordia grad remembered seeing a course on the theory of rock, but felt time might be better spent studying physics. However, when considering production and musicianship, classic rock is unmatched.

“Classic rock in the late ’60s and early ’70s has such an unbelievable sound,” said Spicer. “There was just a wealth of really good recordings … (In our work) we’re always hoping for that transparent sound — to expose things as opposed to covering them with production … A lot of classic rock bands (do that).”

Tracks like Bye Bye Bye and Good Friend recall the good-time ’70s vibe, but by Faerie Dance, the sound begins to meander between genres, touching on, for example, more prog-rock elements — a tendency Spicer said comes from the band’s early years.

“We come from a more experimental background, and used to tool around for 20 minutes to explore things musically,” he said. “That long stuff is good for your chops, your playing, but making a structured song is harder. When you have simple songs, it’s easy to identify what’s going on, but when you sit down to figure it out, it takes special circumstances to happen to be open to hear it.”

What a drag

  • Plants And Animals’ debut album is named after Montreal’s Parc Avenue.

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