Three intriguing acts from Canadian record label Arts & Crafts will cram themselves onto the stage at Barboza tonight in a lineup that should please a wide range of indie rock fans.
NO, Reuben and the Dark and The Darcys are all rising indie bands that fans should keep their eyes on, but it might be The Darcys’ brand of accessible, smart art rock that could end up being the highlight. Their third album, “Warring,” garnered a Juno award nomination for best alternative album, and that comes on the heels of “Aja,” a complete cover of Steely Dan’s jazz rock album.
If covering an entire Steely Dan album sounds a little extreme, Darcys drummer Wes Marksell says it was all part of a turbulent time for the band that included a pretty major lineup shift.
“We sort of went through some intense changes when we thought we finished the first record (‘The Darcys,’ 2011),” Marksell said. “We had to go and re-record the record and rushed out. Covering the Steely Dan record in its entirety was a way of getting back on the horse. Then ‘Warring’ kind of became the document and synthesis of all the efforts sort of funneling into the record we really wanted to make.”
“Warring” benefits from a restrained, nuanced approach — testament to that process of synthesis. There’s some strains of Radiohead in a few songs, perhaps a reason many have described The Darcys as art rock, even if they wouldn’t.
“Our albums came out in quick succession because they were all sort of working toward this record,” Marksell said.
The Darcys also proved on “Warring” that they aren’t above taking some big risks. Smack in the middle of the album, they kill all momentum with the piano dirge “The Pacific Theatre.” It’s an impressive decision and confirms that the band is after something a little different than most acts.
“We thought it was a lot ballsier to kill the momentum of the record right in the center than doing what most bands would do, which would be put it at the end of the record,” Marksell said. “I think it would be a waste of that song and make the end of the record a little bit sleepy.”
Instead, the album ends with the tense atmosphere of “Lost Dogfights,” which shines as it shifts and grinds to a shimmering finish. It’s a fine way to close “Warring” and proof that the band can take risks and make them pay off in the end. Seeing that risk-taking on stage should be a treat.
The Darcys, Reuben and the Dark, NO
8 p.m., Friday, April 4, at Barboza, 925 E Pike St.; $12 (206-709-9442 or thebarboza.com)
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails