By MATT CARTER
“Our songs are pretty chill, but we're also a rock band so there's definitely potential for things to get crazy and be fun,” - Jane Penny
Growing off the Canadian indie family tree comes TOPS, a four-piece signed to Arbutus Records, whose roster also features Sean Michael Savage. TOPS, like Savage, have attained their own niche of indie rock, but uniquely pay homage of the classics of AM radio. Depending on your age, it’s the stuff like Tony Orlando and Air Supply, which your parents probably weren’t dialing into. Rightfully so, given their corporate rock reputation.
Soft rock may be a genre you all to regularly find for sale on vinyl at Goodwill. But in the hands of the female-fronted group TOPS, it explores bygone sentiments that can only resound in elevator music and early public access television. It’s polished studio pop hooks with a glittering voice behind it, yet still raw enough that it won’t conjure the tones of porno soundtracks from the 1970s.
Revival may never go out of style, but it’s what you do with it that differentiates between imitation and reinterpretation. On their recent single, "Hollow Sound of the Morning Chimes” — released to coincide with the tour — the band expand upon their inspiration to produce the same retreading of docile melody and warm update that comes with recording in a DIY Montreal warehouse.
“We basically have complete freedom when we make everything,” explains singer Jane Penny who, with the rest of the band, films their own music videos. “A lot of times we don't have a big budget to work with, so we'll do rogue stuff like use the flashlights in our phones for lighting. If your production is extremely mobile you can take advantage of anything around you, at least until someone kicks you out.”
As for the band’s Portland show at Doug Fir Lounge, Penny is optimistic at how unpredictable their reception can be. “Our songs are pretty chill, but we're also a rock band so there's definitely potential for things to get crazy and be fun,” she says. “But then we've also played shows where the whole room is completely silent.”
See Tops at Doug Fir Lounge this Friday Nov. 13th and hear the new single, “Hollow Sound of the Morning Chimes”: