The debut album from, English Words, Red Potion, is a 33 minute collage of New Wave, 80s alternative, 70s synth ambience, bursts of neo-psychedelia, and even Britpop. It all gets pieced together to form a singular vision of original and contemporary DIY pop music, riddled with hooks. The band includes primary songwriters Aaron Crane (synths/sampler/drum machine) and his brother Ryan (vocals), along with essential collaborators Todd MacLean (synths), and Andrew Murray (guitars). The multi-talented Thayne Campbell has recently joined the effort, slinging bass.
Produced by Holy Fuck bassist Matt McQuaid, Red Potion was recorded in the vaunted spaces of The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, NS, by Diego Medina, and mixed by Stew Crookes at Stewdio in Toronto. All 10 songs, reverbed, delayed, and neatly crunched, feel like a high speed tunnel drive with the top down- gusty vortexes of moving air, dark mystery at the centre, and loads of light at the end. The music layers exciting, punchy rhythms with stylish synth lines, efficiently placed guitar, modest bass drops, and a pallet of unlikely samples which include Pakistani surf rock, movie dialogue, and low-fi 90s indie rock. Red Potion shifts gears between fully charged electro rock, woozy after-hours ballads, and spacey experimental pop, allowing it to resonate during introspective personal moments and in more gregarious settings - as reflected in both the band’s live show, and the club-stomping lead single "People I Love". The record was influenced, either sonically or in spirit, by a list of childhood heros which includes New Order, DJ Shadow, David Bowie, early 80s era REM, and the Replacements, along with more contemporary works from Animal Collective and Deerhunter.
Preceding their debut effort, English Words played tightly wound, guitar-and-drum based indie rock (you can hear traces of this on Red Potion). A four song EP, Customer Appreciation, was released in early 2010 which saw the band’s single "Rope" climb CBC Radio 3's R30 chart with very little promotional push. The band, both as English Words and former moniker Smothered In Hugs (a name stolen from a Guided By Voices song) have played countless shows at home in Charlottetown, PE, and have frequently toured Eastern Canada playing at POP Montreal, NXNE, and the Halifax Pop Explosion.
"Yes, there’s a pronounced affection for the oddball, rapid-fire pop aesthetic of (Guided By Voices), but an almost equally large debt is owed to the early works of R.E.M., particularly in their penchant for unpredictable but wholly memorable melodic lines and the bit of Replacements-esque angst can’t be overlooked. Add in production values which eschews gloss for a certain cassette-tape fidelity and you’ve got a record that triggers a nostalgic aural endorphin rush." - Chromewaves.net
"This is one of the best bands in Canada right now...these guys can’t stay underground much longer." - BerkleyPlaceBlog.org
"8/10...their sound is more classic than retro, with the kind of gorgeous melodies, urgent pacing and reverb-soaked arrangements of riffs, piano and keys that will make some people swoon while others bust out the air guitar." - Montreal Mirror (Lorraine Carpenter)
".....bright, cleverly articulated and occasionally manic rock of the angular pop variety....." - Hour/ Ottawa XPress (Jamie O'Meara)