By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
The phrase "old friends" is rarely synonymous with the phrase "new band," but Canadian indie-rock act Women are an exception to the rule. Its members have been big players in Calgary's art-rock scene for years and have been close friends for even longer. And with the strength of their critically acclaimed sophomore album, Public Strain, Women are just now starting to make their impression on a larger stage.
But while their highly unGoogle-able name begins to lodge itself in the brains of many blog-monitoring indie-rock fans, the members don't exactly have high hopes for Public Strain's reception.
"We don't have any huge expectations," says lead singer Patrick Flegel. "We're just recording for ourselves in a way and everything that happens after that is an afterthought."
Sounds like a quotation taken directly from some unwritten punk-rock handbook. But it's that same attitude that sees them growing and pushing the boundaries on Public Strain.
All that pioneering into new musical territory hasn't come easy for the band, though. Last year they played close to 200 dates in support of their self-titled debut, and with the recent release of their new record, they're in the throes of the grind all over again. But as the grind has taken its toll, it has been good to them as well. It's yielded a crop of new fans all over the world and, more importantly, a list of meticulously sculpted songs that could only be formed through scrutiny each night on tour.
The first single and standout track from the record "Eyesore" is an example of such. The bleak guitar stabs at the top of the song lead into a lo-fi pop melody that could have been written in the bedroom of one of the band's members. And yet the song ends in a rave-up release that only could have been wielded by the heat of live performance.
"The original demo of ['Eyesore'] sounds vaguely like the version we just released," says Flegel. "We've played [it] pretty much every gig since our first show."
Not only does the song show the band's growth, but it offers a peek at the slow-moving and intense pace the band takes to create something that satisfies them. Where most bands would begin to burn out, the members of Women work hard to keep their creative mind sharp. Rather than focusing only on the music that they put out, they put a big emphasis on the music that they take in.
"It's more about spurring each other on as far as listening to music and finding things that are exciting to us," says Flegel.
And that's the whole point. The band doesn't seem to mind if its music is exciting to anyone else but them. Fortunately for them, though, it is.
Says Flegel: "If everyone hated it and we were playing to 15 people, we'd probably just do the same thing we're doing anyway."