By: Dan Brisebois

Earrl is a four-piece alternative-rock group out of Toronto whose motto is ‘The music comes first – so check your egos at the door’. Formed in ’94 and consisting of Rich Swinamer on vocals, guitarists Dan Reid & Nicholas, Carlton Dinnall on bass and drummer Peter Foley, their motto is probably the most fitting of any independent group on the scene today. They’ve just released their third disc WICKED STILL.

One of the first things you notice while listening is the excellent production of the disc. Self-produced, it’s a refreshing change to have such a professional sound be the outcome. The lead-off “Tom Thomson”, which was an official selection of the 2001 Toronto Online Film Festival, is also their first video. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing it in steady rotation on MuchMusic. The song is just that good. Clever hooks and tight melodies are predominant throughout the disc. “Candy, Kisses, Sunshine” , In The Dead Of Night” and “” are all prime examples of some of the country’s hottest new sounds which aren’t being heard enough. The early rasta-rhythms of “In The Sun” and “The Shaft” almost sound like something Lenny Kravitz would’ve recorded. Fact is you can hear alot of different influences and sounds in STILL WICKED … all good. The intricate layering in “Headshop Store”, heavy yet restrained “Tinted” and gentle probing of “Morris’ Song” make Earrl one of the more versatile bands on the independent scene today.

“The Portable Song” has a sound that demonstrates the group’s harmonies and simple yet effective approach to the music. There really isn’t a bad track on the album – and everyone’s going to have their own favourites. Just about any of them is as good, if not better, than what you heard on the radio yesterday and can expect to hear today. Tomorrow’s agenda could only improve with any of a number of tracks from STILL WICKED.

The last song is lucky 13 – a cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”. There have been other covers of it, but none better. It’s a fitting ending – arguably the most influential pop group in history – with a spin from one of the groups leading the Canadian resurgant dominance on the music scene. Earrl is hard without losing the soft side.

They’re heavy but still show a lighter edge. They’re on their way up and there’s no reason why they couldn’t be looked at in a few years as the next big thing, with all the tools to go far – given the right circumstances and a break or two. So sit up and pay attention – you won’t be disappointed.