Sometimes one person's misfortune is another's opportunity. Tim Fletcher and Dave Hamelin's friend was in dire need of cash. On the block was a four-track. The two decided to buy the machine and began sharing it as they worked on songs. Fletcher, Hamelin, Greg Paquet and Oliver Crowe had been playing on and off in Montreal since their teens. Now it was time for a move. Staying with friends, they spent the summer in New York City trying to get a deal. Eventually they clicked. The four track EP "Rememberese" came out in July of '03. Their tellingly titled full-length debut "Logic Will Break Your Heart" followed four months later. Both contained debut single "Still In Love Song."
In some cases a sophomore album is a weak reflection of a group's debut. But other times, it can be a departure. For The Stills, the latter was the case.
Following a tour with Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Paquet left to complete his university degree. Hamelin ditched the drums for guitar and a bigger share of the vocals. Touring keyboardist Liam O' Neil became a full member and drummer Julien Blais provided tour support.
"Without Feathers," released on Vice Records, landed in '06 to tepid reviews. The Stills bounced back, this time on the Arts & Crafts label, with '08's "Oceans Will Rise." Prior to the album's release The Stills opened for Paul McCartney in Quebec City. The concert, which celebrated the city's 400th birthday, drew an audience of 350,000.
2003 Logic Will Break Your Heart
2006 Without Feathers
2008 Oceans Will Rise
The Stills play with a haunted grandeur that is appealing as it is captivating. There is an uncommon attention to melody as the songs deal with the usual angst over sex, love and life.
The guitars chime through several excellent tracks on "Logic Will Break Your Heart" including "Lola Stars And Stripes," "Gender Bombs" (containing the line "logic will break your heart forever") and "Changes Are No Good" ("I hate my best girl"). "Still In Love Song" has a cool jangle. It's a clean, smart song with a hard to resist hook.
Poet Emily Dickinson famously wrote "hope is a thing with features." By extension, something without feathers is hopeless. "Without Feathers" isn't that bad but it's a step down from The Stills' debut.
Prior to recording "Oceans Will Rise" someone must have sat the group down and told them to lose the dreary ballads, sing within their range, pick up the tempo and keep the couple good ideas that came out of "Without Feathers." The result was compelling arrangements, less evident keyboards and more jangling guitar.