Canadian rock titans Rush may have had their “Time Machine” but when it comes to portending the future of progressive rock and roll Crown Lands have their own powerful “Oracle” to consult. Soothsayers with supernatural musical talents, guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Comeau and vocalist/percussionist Cody Bowles are the artists behind the Juno Award-winning “Breakthrough Group of the Year,” and it’s about time they’re finally receiving some tangible recognition.
The Southwestern Ontario duo’s latest release, White Buffalo, is a stunningly complex and beautiful EP that expands on their psych-rock philosophies while providing a life affirming soundtrack to a pandemic plagued existence. Laced with Led Zeppelin-esque good looks and the heavenly guitar runs to back it up, Crown Lands fit the definition of rock royalty to a tee (or tea, if you will). Not to mention vocals that are equidistantly angelic and anthemic. All swathed in ornate, exotic and isosceles-based fashion sense – their twin lion’s manes complete an aesthetic that simultaneously conjures a time gone by and one yet to occur.
“We’re always finding new ways to push ourselves, new instruments to pick up and incorporate, new textures, and genre bending. It’s a lot of fun. I taught myself to play an assortment of Indigenous flutes over the pandemic,” says Bowles who was grateful to be able to continue working with Comeau during lockdown. “We found a nice little studio in Uxbridge and we were able to hole-up in there together and ever since we’ve done that it’s been amazing. That’s the perks of being a duo, it’s just me and him. We were like ‘Okay, this is our outlet for what was going on in the world.’ Through that we were able to keep it together in every sense of the word.”
Kicking 2021 in its lazy sweatpant-slothing butt, Crown Lands shook the cobwebs from the rafters by dropping two landmark singles earlier in the year. Premiered by Rolling Stone and deemed “Rockest Record of the Week” by BBC Radio 1, the epic tracks, “Context: Fearless Pt. 1” and “Right Way Back,” granted Bowles and Comeau the opportunity to work alongside three prolific Rush producers; David Bottrill, Terry Brown, and Nick Raskulinec. It was a dream come true for the avid Rush fans who jumped at the chance to rekindle some musical magic.
“We try to balance between topical music and escaping into our own world. We were really able to do that with “Context” and the video for it and “The Oracle.” It doesn’t matter what else we do in our lives I will alway look at “Context” as a really special project,” reports an enthusiastic Comeau. “I’m so proud of that and I can’t believe we were able to do it all in one day. The music and the video is an arrival. I’m glad we were able to expand upon that with “The Oracle” and take the ideas a little bit further.”
Spiritually invigorated by the experience of recording “Context,” Crown Lands headed back to the studio where they reunited with producer Bottrill, a Grammy Award-winner whose credits include Mastodon, Tool, and Peter Gabriel. Together they turned out the four prophetic songs that comprise White Buffalo, including the sprawling 13-minture opus “The Oracle.” Other cuts include the group’s first all-instrumental release “Inner Light,” and a redux of “The Witching Hour (Electric Witch),” which was originally featured on their 2020 acoustic EP, Wayward Flyers Volume 1.
“We’re growing and expanding every day,” Comeau confirms. “It’s a marathon not a sprint. Especially with the kind of music we’re making. We realize that there aren’t a lot of people streaming fifteen-minute songs about space witches, and we’re okay with that. But there will be a time when someone will stumble upon this band because of digging “White Buffalo” and that’s what it’s all about.”
Spurred into action by the events unfolding on the nightly news, Bowles and Comeau poured their hearts into White Buffalo’s rebellious but hopeful spirit. The occult motifs and organic themes celebrated in the accompanying videos attest to Crown Lands’ commitment to remedying injustices and carving out a harmonious space among the ruins. Echoing throughout their six-year-deep catalogue, the band’s anti-colonial stance traces its lineage through Bowles Indigenous roots; a heritage that stretches back to the Mi’kmaw tribe of Nova Scotia. Their monarchal moniker being just one example of Crown Lands’ attempts to signify their empathy towards the intercultural struggles embedded in Canadian history.
“I think the song that reflects the times the most is “White Buffalo.” We started writing that song last year right at the height of the BLM marches and demonstrations all across North America,” says Comeau. “We knew we had to make sure that “White Buffalo” reflected that and talked about manifesting a better future for Indigenous people too.”
“We needed to make something that reflects what we’re seeing,” adds Bowles who teases that Crown Lands has two more releases waiting in the hopper. “I can’t wait to roll out more sonic capsules.”
Primed to return to live performances, Crown Lands are finally venturing across Canada aloft “The Big Wave Tour” connecting 13-dates across the country and featuring the support of punk soulster Skye Wallace. “We are very much a live band and it’s about pushing what we can do with just two people on stage and no tricks. No backing tracks, no click tracks, just two people living and breathing the music,” Comeau asserts. “We just played the Rock the Hub Festival at the Truro Rugby Club with Sam Roberts, The Blues Stones and Skye Wallace. It felt like going back to summer camp, we were chilling with those guys and it was like ‘Wow, I miss this. This is awesome!’”
It’s a long awaited return to doing what they do best and after a year-and-a-half of downtime the band that thrives on strutting their stuff for live audiences will soon have the opportunity to do so once again. Who knows what auspicious collaborations await the pair now that they’re back in action? According to Comeau, anything’s possible. “I think our dream is to one day tour with B.A. Johnston, that would be sick. You think he’d do it? He is the best, he’s tapped into something really special with his ‘Live from the Shitter’ broadcasts. He’s an artistic genius. I miss 90s hash. That sweet, sweet black. I think we should tour as B.A.’s backing band. I just wanna play ‘We’re All Going to Jail Except Pete He’s Gonna Die.’ That’s gotta be his ‘Don’t Stop Believin’.’ It’s his anthem.”
LISTEN TO “WHITE BUFFALO” & “THE ORACLE” HERE.