Oshawa prog-rockers Crown Lands drop Rush-inspired ‘Starlifter’ – Fearless LP due March 31

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Published February 9, 2023 at 12:27 pm

Nobody tries to promote a soon-to-be-released record with an 18-minute, 10-part song that surely won’t get any radio play, right?

Crown Land did, and the Rush-inspired opus Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II has been the talk of the talk of the town since its release, with some of the Oshawa band’s fans calling it their crowning achievement.

The prog-rock duo of Kevin Comeau and Cody Bowles just announced their second full-length studio album, Fearless, will drop March 31 with the centerpiece song, which Comeau called the best song they have ever written, now available for streaming.

According to Comeau, the album’s not bad either. “Unbelievably proud if this body of work. Stories spanning from battles in ancient times to a distant future on a barren planet, this album has it all.”

Comeau and Bowles, who met in 2015 at an audition and immediately bonded over a love of Canadian prog-rock icons Rush, released their self-titled Juno-nominated debut album in 2020 and have been busy touring (when the pandemic allowed) and releasing singles and EPs ever since.

‘Crown lands’ are lands owned by the government – the ‘crown’ – also known by indigenous people (and many descendants of colonizers as well) as ‘stolen land’ and many of the bands songs have an indigenous theme to them, such as White Buffalo and End of the Road, which is about missing women – many of them indigenous – from a 720-km stretch of road in northern B.C. called the ‘Highway of Tears.’

That theme, along with lush, sci-fi imagery in their music, is something Bowles, who is of Mi’kMaq heritage, calls ‘Indigenous Fantasy,’ the marriage of sci-fi elements with “very real issues Indigenous people have gone through.”

The upcoming album was recorded at Universal’s Toronto studio with legendary producer David Bottrill (Rush, Muse, Tool) and came together over a six-month period, in short, intense bursts between tours.

The 18-minute Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II is a follow-up to Context: Fearless Pt I, which was released as a single in 2021 and is also on the Fearless album. Production work on the two songs were performed by Bottrill, Terry Brown and Nick Raskulinecz, who between them have produced or co-produced 12 Rush albums.

And while the music of Crown Lands runs the gamut from bluesy rock and metal to lush prog-rock arrangements not unlike Yes – the Quinn Henderson cover art of Fearless by reminds one of legendary Yes cover artist Roger Dean – these two songs truly evoke comparisons to the band member’s idols, Rush.

But an 18-minute song? That’s not been heard since the glory days of prog with Yes and Van der Graaf Generator and more recently, Dream Theatre.

“I hope that our playing on this record inspires people to kind of take up playing in that way,” said Bowles, who handles drums and vocals and assorted other instruments. “It’s something that’s not so common now, but when you get into it, it’s just so beautiful.”

Comeau, who handles guitar and keyboards, said he hopes the album can bring progressive rock to a whole new generation, “and a whole new demographic of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to that sort of music.”

Fearless is set for release on March 31 via Spinefarm Records/Universal Music Canada. Pre-orders are available now and can be purchased here.

The band, winners of Breakthrough Band of the Year at the 2021 Junos,  heads out on tour next month in support of July Talk, with two shows at venerable Massey Hall March 10-11 to kick it off. After a stop at a Cambridge brewery (Farm League) the tour heads north and then west with two shows at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver before making its way back home in July.

Fearless Track List: 

  • Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II
  • Dreamer Of The Dawn
  • The Shadow
  • Right Way Back
  • Context: Fearless Pt. I
  • Reflections
  • Penny
  • Lady Of The Lake
  • Citadel

 

Listen to Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II:

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