HIGH ENDS - SUPER CLASS
In the second half of 2013, following years of near-constant touring as the front-man of the critically acclaimed BC outfit Yukon Blonde, Jeffrey Innes suddenly found himself in possession of an unfamiliar commodity: free time.
With Yukon Blonde on a temporary break between albums, Innes was back at home in Vancouver, but rather than spending his downtime relaxing, he launched the solo project High Ends as an adventurous new songwriting outlet.
"I initially wanted to do something that was really collaborative, so I wrote a bunch of songs with the idea of bringing friends in," Innes remembers. "But all of my friends were on tour, so I ended up doing it myself.
This prompted a feverishly creative burst of unfiltered solo experimentation, with most of the material written quickly using an array of analogue synthesizers.
"Before I played in Yukon Blonde, I had an electronic project. I've always done that on the side," Innes explains. "It's the music I listen to”.
The resulting ten-song album (currently untitled) combines the upbeat pop-rock catchiness that Innes is known for with esoteric synth textures. It was recorded with producer Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, the New Pornographers) at his Vancouver Island facility. During the sessions, Gold & Youth drummer Jeff Mitchelmore handled percussion, meticulously interweaving vintage drum machine programming with live playing. Louise Burns and New Pornographers member Kathryn Calder contributed backing vocals, while Ladyhawk's Darcy Hancock laid down guitar.
"Downtown" is the album's bold introductory statement, as Innes croons tuneful hooks over a slithery backdrop of electronic syncopations and spooky arpeggiators before the arrangement explodes into a cloud-scraping crescendo. "Gonna Keep on Dancing" is an unabashed foray into '80s-inspired dance pop with an instantly hummable chorus, while the toe-tapping "Cappuccino" is a playful tribute to a local barista who introduced Innes to the titular beverage. "If Jimmy Buffet can write a song about cheeseburgers, I can write a song about coffee," the singer says with a laugh.
But the album also has a serious side: the urgent "FEEL SLEEP ALIENS" shimmers with icy synth swirls and tense rhythms, while distortion-soaked closer "Working Man's Blues" is a nakedly honest exposé of the struggles of life in a touring band. Innes sings, "Bands are fun / When you start up / After a while / It just becomes work."
The desire to make music purely for fun — without rules — is the driving force behind High Ends. With another busy year ahead of him, a prospective tour underway and his new wildly inventive solo project under his belt, it is clear that for Jeff Innes, ‘free time’ doesn’t exist.