Some rock bands get over on aggression, or attitude, or pure sonic effrontery; others hang their hats on a slick, produced sound. We’re not knocking any of that stuff; we’re rock fans too, and we love all of the conventions of the style. But the hardest thing to do is to write a robust and memorable song – one economic in design and without a note wasted, with well-wrought melodies, propulsive rhythms, and smart storytelling. That’s why The Inoculated Canaries are an indispensable band. Strong, succinct, and powerful songwriting is all they do.
What makes the New York based band so good at such a rare and challenging thing? Begin with their broad artistic scope. These young musicians have a deep understanding and appreciation of pop-rock history, and they’ve applied what they’ve learned from the giants – from Weezer to Pink Floyd to Steely Dan – to their own writing. They’ve also got the musicianship to back up their heady ambitions. Bassist Dylan Gross and drummer James Terranova form a supple, flexible, and dynamic rhythm section; synth player Brian Sweeney is a master of texture with roots deep in prog; front-man and guitarist Michael Rubin is a born tale-spinner with a raffish wit and an instantly winning approach. It’s a classic four-person lineup playing songs inspired by greats with the energy, urgency, and hunger of youth.
“Donna” is a perfect example of everything The Inoculated Canaries do so well. It’s a bright, upbeat, wholly undeniable pop-rock song with a sharply constructed verse that builds to an instantly memorable singalong chorus. It’s a love song, but it’s anything but a straightforward narrative. As good as this recording is, “Donna” is built for live performance – and the clip for the song shows precisely how much excitement these four artists can generate. The Inoculated Canaries set up and sing in front of the giant industrial fan of a factory: an ideal backdrop for their no-nonsense, straightforward rock delivery. But the real action in the clip is provided by a sexy co-worker who teases each member of the band in succession, before turning her attention (and her heavy machinery) to the unlikeliest target.