Published Aug 22, 2014For many new bands, making a debut album is about being lean, focused, finding a distinctive sound to cut like a blade through the digital clutter and find place in listeners' lives. Halifax's SoHo Ghetto have not taken that approach. After a few years building a solid reputation as a live act and releasing a somewhat indistinctive EP of indie folk rock in 2012, the band, now a five-piece, offer up Thou or I or Both — a proper full-length on which all but two of the nine songs exceed the five-minute mark and there's a much wider stylistic sprawl on display.
SoHo Ghetto still rely somewhat on the bombastic piano-bashing, heart-belting anthems you'd find in some of their obvious comparators (Hey Rosetta! leaps to mind), but these actually end up the record's weaker moments. Far more interesting are the outliers: the slow-burning "Rook," the Celtic-sounding "Sidekick," the nervy "Sisyphus." The best of vocalist Marc-Antoine Robertson's songs present an unlikely fusion of East Coast and Québécois folk influences with the palette of 1980s soft rock, a sound that (not unlike the band's name) feels both of a place and strangely, enticingly placeless. (Independent)