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The Darcys

The Darcys - Aja

Arts and Crafts - 2012

Michael Panontin
The Darcys are nothing if not persistent. In 2010, the Toronto band had their equipment nicked, were mugged at knifepoint and nearly bought it when their van skidded out of control on some black ice. What's worse, while the lads were set to release their second long-player - this after three years had passed since 2007's Endless Water - their lead singer walked out on them. Luckily, Arts and Crafts came to their rescue and agreed to release The Darcys the following year, with guitarist Jason Couse stepping in on vocals.

After those setbacks of near-Sisyphean proportions, tackling Steely Dan's soft-rock bestseller and reinterpreting it as an indie-rock record must have seemed like a piece of cake. Though this is probably meant to shock or blaspheme depending on your musical sensibilities, it is hardly something new. The list of classic albums rerecorded goes back as far as Camper Van Beethoven's 2002 rehash of Tusk, the Chrysanthemums' 1990 version of the Zombies' hallowed Odessey & Oracle, or even Pussy Galore's Exile on Main Street cassette way back in 1986. Besides, by 1977, the year punk broke and the year Aja was released, Steely Dan were hardly the cutting-edge studio wizards that they were, say, on 1972's Can't Buy a Thrill.

That said, the band's obvious reverence for the Dan is all over this. While some songs are beyond redemption - the insipid 'Deacon Blues', for one - the normally silky FM staples 'Peg' and 'Black Cow' are literally torn asunder with the band's caustic guitars and crashing drums, especially the latter's final 30 seconds or so. Even better are 'Josie' and the title track, both rendered dark and moody, showing that the guys no doubt know their Radiohead as well as their Steely Dan.

This is available on vinyl only or as a free download, but for my, uh, money so to speak, there is also a free remixed 'Josie Vol. 2' that brings the band full circle, taking the Darcys stripped-down version and reworking it with some impressive studio trickery that might even do Fagan and Becker proud.


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