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Members include Steven Drake (mandolin, trumpet, piano, vocals, and guitar); Doug Elliott (bass); Craig Northey (vocals, guitar); Pat Steward (drums; joined band in 1995); and Paul Brennan (drums; 1988-95). Addresses: Record Comapny--Elektra Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019; (212) 275-4160. Website--www.oddsweb.com, via the Warner Music Canada site, and www.wam.umd.edu/~oddsman/Odds.html.
Quintessential Canadian pop band, the Odds, have been compared to a remarkably wide variety of pop bands, including the Dave Clark Five, the Replacements, the Raspberries, Crowded House, the Posies, Big Star, Rod Stewart, Squeeze, R.E.M., the Faces, Smithereens, XTC, the Pretenders, and the Beatles. The Odds, comprised of Craig Northey (vocals, guitar), Doug Elliott (bass), Pat Steward (drums), and Steven Drake (mandolin, trumpet, piano, vocals, and guitar), follow in the musical footsteps of bands who stressed melody instead of the bassline and lyrics instead of a hard-driving dance beat. The Odds tailor their rhythms to fit their lyrics instead of the other way around.
The Vancouver-based band has been especially lauded by music critics for their witty, thoughtful lyrics, mostly devoid of smugness and cynicism, and infused with a literate dreaminess. In the single "Suppertime," when an impoverished man dreams about riches, the Odds sing, "Let me lick the dew from the money tree, have the moms of the world all care about me, at suppertime."
The album Nest, as with previous three albums from the Odds, offers artful guitar hooks, acoustic base singles, trumpets, hammering cords, and lush harmony vocals. Charles Taylor of the Boston Phoenix dubbed Nest "a seamless procession of popstyles ... the influences (on the album) are obvious, but they're also expertly exploited." Mike Palshaw of the Daily Beacon lauds Nest as "a tightly orchestrated collection of catchy jams." Palshaw goes on to warn readers: "[Y] you'll quickly become addicted to the Odds' effervescent pop cocktails."
The Odds debuted with the album Neopolitan in 1990, which included the popular single "Wendy under the Stars." Taylor called the single "one of the great rock songs of this decade." The Odds, however, have yet to define their own trademark sound, as it sounds like a blending of the literate pop that the Beatles typified, the idealistic, thoughtful pop of R.E.M., and the cheerful pop introduced by bands such as the Archies, the Faces, and the Romantics. The Odds are difficult to peg, yet soothingly familiar- sounding, because they encompass so many different tried-and-true pop styles. The band's strength lies in the fact that their singles are often irresistibly infectious due to painstakingly-crafted melodies and poetically beautiful lyrics like "Pinholes of light in a moth-eaten blanket held over the night, out come the stars, targets for wishes, and satellite dishes in astronaut white."
The band's third album, Good Weird Feeling, went platinum "and a half" with 150,000 copies sold in Canada, their homeland, and is widely considered to be their most experimental album. The band's melodic pop ballads, such as "Break the Bed," missed the top of the charts in America but still garnered a lot of fans. Northey told Daniel Aloi of the Elmira Star-Gazette, "We're asked all the time about success in America as opposed to success in Canada. You can't escape being Canadian." Part of the explanation for the band's slow rise to fame in America has been because the Odds have two lead vocalists, Northey and Drake, and no frontman to readily serve as an identifiable figurehead.
While the Odds have garnered awards and recognition for their talents in Canada, they are on the verge of breaking through in the U.S. In newspapers across America, critics have lauded the Odds' mix of pop lyrics with "quirky guitar riffs." As Kevin Gandel of Diamondback put it, "It's hard to understand why Odds hasn't become more popular in America yet." He goes on with his praise, noting that "few can compose such irresistibly delightful nuggets of music better than Odds."
The band's video for "Someone Who's Cool" from their album Nest, was nominated for a Juno Award in 1997. Northey told Aloi, "We're kind of bad at getting awards, but good at getting nominated. We're 0 for 16. We're waiting until we're 0 for 20 and then we're getting T-shirts made."The popular Canadian comedy ensemble The Kids in the Hall made an appearance in the 1993 video. The Odds returned the favor in 1996, when they appeared on the soundtrack for the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy.
Nest was the first of the band's four albums that they engineered themselves, but they had been striving for complete technical control since the band's inception in 1988. The band produced their first album, Neopolitan, third album, Good Weird Feeling, and fourth album, Nest, themselves, and co-produced their second album, Bedbugs. The band was signed to the Zoo label for their first albums, and then switched to Elektra for their third and fourth albums.
For lyrical inspiration, Northey takes a trip to an abandoned ski resort before making a new album, where he is often the only person in the area. The snowy solitude fuels his imagination and provides inspiration for the band's original, memorable lyrics. One trip provided the fodder for "Nothing Beautiful." Northey felt like a cockroach after an apocalypse and the last living thing to survive on earth. He then penned the lyrics for "Nothing Beautiful," a song about a man who drinks insecticide in the hopes that it would bolster his immune system. When Flavir's John Hoskins Jr. asked Northey why the lyrics he penned emphasized quirky humor with a strong message, he responded, "Face value always makes you laugh the first time, but then when you listen to songs a little more, then it's not so funny.... Humor is a valid way of dealing with ... feelings of despair."
The Odds have been together since 1988, with the exception of drummer Pat Steward, who joined the band in 1995, replacing drummer Paul Brennan. Luckily for fans of the Odds' music, Northey feels they haven't yet musically said all they want to say. In his interview with Hoskins, Northey asked, and answered his own question: "Have we already said everything we can say? It hasn't happened yet. When it does, I'm outta here ... you don't want to keep doing something because you've got to. You want to do something because you're driven to do it."
The Odds have played with Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Barenaked Ladies, and Tragically Hip, and include Weezer, Ron Sexsmith, Soul Coughing, the Beatles, and XTC among their musical influences. Marissa Di Meo of the Villanovan asked bassist Doug Elliott which band he would be in if he could be in any band aside from his own, and he said, "The Beastie Boys ... if they'd let me!"
by B. Kimberly Taylor
Formed in Vancouver, Canada, in 1988; released debut album Neopolitan in 1990 on Zoo; released Bedbugs on Zoo in 1993; released Good Weird Feeling on Elektra in 1995; relased Nest on Elektra in 1997; Good Weird Feeling went platinum with 150,000 copies sold in Canada; The band's video for "Someone Who's Cool" on Nest was nominated for a Juno Award in 1997.
- Selective Works
- Neopolitan, Zoo, 1990.
- Bedbugs, Zoo, 1993.
- Good Weird Feeling, Elektra, 1995.
- (Contributor) Brain Candy (soundtrack), Matador, 1996.
- Nest, Elektra, 1997.
- Boston Phoenix, January 31, 1997.
- Broadside (George Mason University), February 27, 1997.
- Daily Beacon (University of Tennessee), February 10, 1997.
- Daily Herald (Chicago), January 31, 1997.
- Diamondback (University of Maryland), February 27, 1997.
- Flavir (Buffalo, NY), February 1997.
- Insight, March 1997.
- Louisville Music News, March 1997.
- Newsday, February 23, 1997.
- New York Post, January 28, 1997.
- Onion, February 5, 1997; March 19, 1997.
- Providence Phoenix, February 1997.
- Star-Gazette (Elmira, NY), February 13, 1997.
- Villanovan, March 14, 1997.
- Virginian-Pilot, February 27, 1997.
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