Odds Against All

You can bet this Canadian band will stand behind its art

The first single, "Love Is the Subject," has enjoyed some college-radio play, but, despite its breathless infectiousness, a hook as big as all Canada, and driving rhythm, the song was not the smash hit it deserved to be. "King of the Heap," slow and moody, is the second lift from the LP, and its accompanying video should be out soon. The highly literate, gentle, and cinematic "Truth or Dare" is lovingly colored by violin, played by Gay Northey, Craig's mother. "We called in the big guns for that one," Northey quips. "I attempted the violin part. We all had sort of fiddled around with various instruments, or maybe never even touched it, but when it got to the point where we needed, say, a horn section, for just three notes, we'd all try to do it ourselves. I played violin as a kid, so I gave it a shot. It didn't really work out, so we got a pro. She teaches violin to little kids, which was about right for us. She gave us candies when she left the studio."

Neapolitan dishes out rich, varied, unforgettable tunes. "Wendy," "Truth or Dare," and "Love Is the Subject" are just the cream of a thirteen-song crop. Drake and Northey deploy their guitars the way an artist brushes paint - they don't splash the canvas in red, or fill in the numbers, they create a multidimensional, colorful, absorbing audio picture. Drummer Paul Brennan and bassist Doug Elliott are equally versatile and clever in their rhythm roles.

But even when it comes to the music itself, things always get tricky in this business. "King of the Heap," for example, was too long, the label said knowingly, to be a single. However, editing was a problem due to one of the things that give this sound its vitality and strength - overlapping instrumental parts, a seamless flow. "Mitchell Froom had gotten a hold of our demos," Northey says, "and he loved the demo version of the song. He said, `Just send me the masters.' He would then go in and remix it, which allows editing because it's on multitrack. We figured it might work, it might not. We got it back and loved it. He'd never tried anything like that before, and we'd never let our music out of our hands before. But the label heard it and said sure."

The Odds never make too much of themselves, so it's only fair to not gush, even though this is the sort of band critics drool over, mostly because the music is food for thought, feeling, transformation. Of course some of those critics remain hungry, doing dumb things like asking the Odds why they named their album after an ice cream. Yes, Northey says, some interviewers have actually posed that thoughtful question. Pass the spoon, please.

THE ODDS and Warren Zevon perform at 9:00 p.m. Saturday at Summers, 219 S Atlantic Blvd, Ft Lauderdale, 462-6262. Tickets cost $12 and $14.

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