HIGHS’ debut sounds like Summer

Photo: Jessica Deeks

Only forming six months earlier in January, Toronto based band HIGHS released their self-titled debut EP on July 5. Despite their infancy as a band, the album plays like a well-harmonized group ready to tackle Toronto’s saturated music scene. With perfect anthems for these warm summer months – like the upbeat “Summer Dress” and more down-tempo “Nomads” – all five songs are an ode to themes of departure, relationships, and spirituality.

Dreamy guitar rifs, Afro-inspired drumming, and male/female harmonies fill every song to create a unified sound that somehow doesn’t grow old with repetition. The songs are catchy but still contain a raw complexity that sets HIGHS apart from most other pop pieces. Listening to the album is transportive and familiar. The sound has that feeling of the perfect lazy day in the sun, while the lyrics tell of a story you think you know so well. Instantly the band communicates their warm and relatable personality through their playing and singing, making it near impossible to listen to the album without a smile.

Guitarist/singer Doug Haynes’ lyrics aren’t afraid to address more complex issues, singing:

“Yeah I know that it hurts you that I’m leaving but I must for it’s for something I believe in.” 

Coupled with the beautiful harmonies of Keyboardist/vocalist Karrie Douglas matching the clear and powerful voice of Haynes, the depth and musicality of those lyrics jump through your speakers. Guitarist Joel Harrower, last to join the band, amplifies the beachy nature of the EP with his surf-inspired playing. While drummer Kevin Ledlow mixes traditional rock playing with tribal to create a backbone that ties all the layers together.

HIGHS have already received high acclaim from their shows at Canadian Music Week and North by North East. They are playing a select number of shows around Toronto and Ottawa to release their album and will be at The Rivoli this Saturday July 20th (click here to buy tickets).

Stream the album below and come out to the show on Saturday.

Written by Brian Cauley.

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