By Travis PersaudEight and a Half garnered a flurry of interest well before the release of this self-titled debut album. While their name will certainly entice film critics and foodies (in case you're wondering, their moniker is adopted from Federico Fellini's famous film, not the celebrated Vancouver restaurant), it's music fans that will continue paying attention. The threesome are made up of Dave Hamelin and Liam O'Neil of the Stills (now-defunct), and Justin Peroff of Broken Social Scene (who are on an indefinite hiatus). The interest is well warranted and the result, while a bit surprising, is entirely satisfying. Taking a chill, laidback approach, Eight and a Half's debut floats through ten synth-heavy tracks that rarely come close to the rock-forward nature (in comparison) of their previous outfits. Aside from Hamelin's dreamy vocals occasionally reminding of his past work (on the more upbeat and very enjoyable "Two Points" and "Wait Up"), the trio spend no time rehashing what they've already accomplished. "Go Ego" sparkles with spacey, pulsating percussion and "Oh, My Head" soars, with Hamelin showing off his vocal prowess while O'Neil and Peroff create a soft, but solid foundation to land on. This debut is good — very good — hinting that Eight and a Half are on the precipice of something great.
Read an interview with Eight and a Half here. (Arts & Crafts)