The Flats Between the Beams

Before Canada became the indie Mecca it is today, she was home to some of the best alt-rock bands your American friends never heard of. Late '80s/early '90s fair-weathered groups like the Grapes of Wrath, the Pursuit of Happiness and Odds have sadly become nothing more than a bookmark in the Canadian Rock Encyclopaedia. That's why it's always a surprise when 21st century bands like the Flats come out with a collection of earnest, jangly, uncluttered rock that's clearly indebted to our great white alt-forefathers. Between the Beams, the debut from the Ottawa, ON six-piece, comes off just raw and optimistic enough to mimic the pre-Bush years. Songs like "Traveller" and "Old News" work off the yin-yang of granola harmonica, grandiose guitar and granulated melodies. By no means is Between the Beams a groundbreaking album; it's actually quite dull and regular at certain points. But it's bizarrely refreshing to hear a band so unabashedly mining the jewels of our musical past. (Random Orbit)