Release Date: Apr 29, 2014
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Punk Revival
It’ll help to begin by saying that Ought hail from a tiny Montreal scene based in Brasserie Beaubien, an ailing bar colonised by politically wired musicians. ‘The Bras’, now abuzz with amateur jazz and socialist noise rock, hosts graduates from the city’s illegal loft party circuit (not unlike the one Grimes, Doldrums and their introvert clan popularised), among whom Ought, hip postpunks and freshly minted Constellation-signees, are but one twinkly-eyed specimen. Yet their debut album is a deeply earnest cry of moral anxiety, a brain-rattling melodic force, and a more or less ‘life-changing’ primer on how to stay sane in sticky times.
Ought is a young punk band based in Montreal that only formed in the last couple of years but have already honed a distinctive and explosive sound, which is captured beautifully on their debut LP. With their mix of righteous but mischievous poetry and charging music and dramatic vocals, Ought have conjured one of the most refreshing and inspiring rock records of the year.The band is fixated on working collaboratively from note one of every song, so each composition possesses a sense of discovery and freedom. When mighty opener "Pleasant Heart" drops out, it's a suspenseful respite from the careening, Dischord-era post-punk this band is clearly invested in (though they may be too young to have nostalgia for).
Ought are a band from Montreal on Constellation Records, which is both the most obvious and most misleading thing you can say about them. For one, they’re not actually Montreal natives, or even Canadians—their collective passports list birthplaces as far-flung as New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Australia. Furthermore, their tetchy, talkative brand of art-punk makes them anomalies on a Constellation roster that, from the foundational releases of Godspeed You! Black Emperor to current franchise players like Colin Stetson, has mostly favored the abstract over the elemental.
Even though none of the members are Canadian, Ought are very much a product of Montreal's politically active DIY music scene, and their debut LP is heavily influenced by the charged atmosphere that took over the city during the 2012 "Printemps D'Erable" student strike and mass street protests. Claustrophobic post-punk riffs and frantic stream-of-consciousness ranting reflect the tension and earnest idealism of that historic moment, although Tim Beeler's lyrics are more poetic than didactic. Ought's sound is both familiar and esoteric, often evoking something between Talking Heads and Gang of Four, with nods to first-wave emo bands like Cap'n Jazz.
There are plenty of moments on Montreal post-punk quartet Ought's debut album, More Than Any Other Day, that betray their immediate influences. The jittery beats and breathless vocals of standout track "The Weather Song" have the same fresh-faced optimism of the Feelies or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah doing their best David Byrne impressions. Tunes like "Forgiveness" highlight drummer/violinist Tim Keen's droning violin textures and recall the rolling narratives of Lungfish or softer moments from experimental anarcho-punk acts like the Ex and Dog Faced Hermans.
Review Summary: Ought perform a distinctly inspirational brand of post-punk on their standout debut.Even though Ought are a young art-punk outfit that only formed in the last couple of years, they've already crafted a fairly distinctive sound. The quartet juxtapose a conversational vocal style hearkening back to the days of Talking Heads with a dissonant, high-strung guitar play and funk-echoing rhythm section both recalling the output of anarcho-punk rockers, The Ex. Ought are extremely capable, and though they wear their influences on their sleeves, one could hardly accuse them of slavish imitation.
Ought’s blistering More Than Any Other Day, the Montreal-formed quartet’s debut, is a post-punk album on the surface, armed with barbed wire guitars and conspicuous hi-hats. It works best, however, when it’s hastily becoming something rather than settling itself into one pocket. Third song “Today More Than Any Other Day” starts creaky before ultimately lurching into a tidier frenzy — spurred by a commanding “1-2-3!” from frontman Tim Beeler.
These Montreal punk upstarts establish their own sound right on their debut album – they're young men in love with their own misery, taking out all their frustrations on their instruments, until every guitar strum feels like a full-blown emotional breakdown. Lead yelper Tim Beeler commands your attention all through the six minutes of "Habit," sounding like David Byrne staring at his own reflection in the bottom of a glass, wondering how it all went so wrong so fast. Yet in the power-drone rave finale, "Gemini," he dares to keep his hopes alive, vowing, "I retain the right to be absolutely mystified." And the Pere Ubu-like drive of the band lives up to every word.
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK Despite forming Ought two years ago as university students, vocalist/guitarist Tim Beeler, keyboardist Matt May, bassist Ben Stidworthy and drummer /violinist Tim Keen have already cultivated a definitive identity and a vast rock vocabulary. Their debut album is a minor wonder, impeccably assimilating the angles-and-elbows art punk of the late 70s with eccentric indie acts like Wolf Parade and Parquet Courts. But in keeping with the best of what modern guitar music has to offer, Ought bring to mind a good number of bands without letting their resemblances become a distraction.