Release Date: Aug 19, 2008
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
On the cover of Human Highway’s excellent debut album, Moody Motorcycle, co-leader Nic Thorburn (he of Unicorns and Islands fame) appears looking like Bob Dylan, circa his debut album’s cover, while Jim Guthrie, the other half of Human Highway, is pictured just as obtusely. Both look like they’re in the small corner photo studio against their will. If the cover (and the liner-note art, for that matter) is a winking tribute to the covers of iconic early-‘60s albums, then the music is full-blown revival.
This is an eerily spaced-out body of acoustic-based music, by turns languid, lyrical, rootsy, and bracing, often in unexpected places. The actual singing is resplendent in Everly Brothers-style harmonies, all transposed to a post-psychedelic setting that Don and Phil never embraced. Nick Thorburn and Jim Guthrie mix their voices in eerily lyrical fashion backed by low-wattage (or no-wattage) instrumentation, doing songs which seem to speak to variant states-of-mind and consciousness -- think of the Everlys treading into the spacier Graham Nash/David Crosby territory circa 1970, but with a peculiar pop edge.
HUMAN HIGHWAY Moody Motorcycle (Secret City) Rating: NNN Although it's not on the just-announced shortlist for the 2008 Polaris Prize, Human Highway's Moody Motorcycle is already a leading contender for next year's award. A band involving both Jim Guthrie and Nick Thorburn of Islands notoriety releasing a record on Secret City, the Montreal label critics adore. How could it miss? Not that the music on Moody Motorcycle is terribly exciting or strikingly innovative, but it's just the sort of gently strummed, sweetly harmonized and vaguely familiar-sounding pop music replete with quirky lyrical turns that is designed to make indie-rock-obsessed music hacks swoon.