By: Alyssa Rashbaum
Montreal quintet the High Dials went through a pair of monikers and a career’s worth of sounds before settling on their current handle and a Byrds-inspired, sitar-infused vibe. After morphing from a power pop three-piece called the Datsons (which became the Datson 4), the band released War of the Wakening Phantoms, its sophomore album under the High Dials name, and may be looking to latch on to the Montreal invasion sparked by the Arcade Fire’s explosion last year.
The High Dials — Trevor Anderson (vocals/guitar); Rishi Dhir (bass/backing vocals/sitar); Robbie MacArthur (guitar); Robb Surridge (drums); Eric Dougherty (keys) — introduced themselves to the world in 2003 with an ambitious effort, A New Devotion. The psychedelic concept album linked 18 songs together into a narrative about a boy named Silas and his valiant efforts to escape evil powers in a futuristic metropolis. After getting seriously amorous attention from Little Steven, who gave heavy rotation to the album on his radio show, the Underground Garage, the group made the SXSW pilgrimage in 2005 and was named one of the top ten must-see bands at the Austin festival by Spin.
Keeping it all in the Canadian family, the group nabbed Joseph Donovan (the Dears) as its co-producer for the new record, and featured fellow Montreal rocker Sam Roberts on violin. It’s a hypnotic and melodic effort earmarked by Dhir’s groovy sitar sounds, Anderson’s sweet, airy vocals, jangly guitars, and cameos by flute, sax, banjo, and mandolin. With their simultaneously bright and melancholy vibe, and an ability to alternate between sugary energy and sublimely mellow downturns, the High Dials manage to pose as an underground band while slowly paddling towards the mainstream.
The band is currently on tour in the U.S.:
7/23, Detroit, MI (Lagerhouse) 7/24, Chicago, IL (Subterranean)7/27, Seattle, WA (Baltic Room)7/28, Seattle, WA (Comet Tavern)7/29, Vancouver, BC (The Lamplighter)7/30, Portland, OR (Dante’s)7/31, Eugene, OR (Diablo’s Downtown Lounge)8/3, San Francisco, CA (Cafe du Nord)8/6, Los Angeles, CA (Spaceland)8/11, Austin, TX (Emo’s)8/13, Nashville, TN (The Basement)8/16, Atlanta, GA (Ten High Club)8/17, Chapel Hill, NC (Local 506)8/18, Washington, DC (Velvet Lounge)8/19, Philadelphia, PA (Silk City)8/20, New York, NY (Mercury Lounge)