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Let's not waste any time. The Morning Thieves are a guitar-based alt-rock outfit from Mississauga, and they've just released their studio debut, Wrongside, an atmospheric, radio-ready E.P. that's charming the bedroom-headphones crowd the way their live performances have already charmed Ontario audiences. The Thieves are feeling confident, and there's a good reason why: these three childhood friends have taken the time to hone their sound and songcraft to a fever pitch.
Everyone knows that good songs come first, and the Morning Thieves have allowed their songwriting approach to ripen to a startling level of maturity. The result is the opposite of self-indulgence: quality material that audiences can get excited about. Fans already know the words to the songs, and newbies are going to have a tough time listening to the title track "Wrongside" even once without chanting along with the infectious prechorus.
The same maturity comes through in their indie-meets-pop approach. It's a careful balancing act of restraint and intensity. Songs like "Sweet Silhouette" grab listeners with catchy hooks and then turn heads with unexpected melodic twists. "Holding On" starts off wrapped in pop sheen, then sheds it to slam us with a seriously ballsy rock coda. They're the kind of guys that'll drop a Radiohead cover into a live set, sandwiched between a tightly-written Kings Of Leon-style FM radio single and an angsty Queens of the Stone Age-inflected barnburner.
There's a self-assured swagger in the way that the Thieves deliver their soulful, melody-drenched songs. Its easy to say that the voice of lead singer Bryan Matthew Fligg is a big part of that; it's the power of Jeff Buckley meets a Thom Yorke falsetto. But the Morning Thieves also have a secret weapon: the soaring harmonies of Christopher Hummel (drums) and Mike Appleton (bass). These aren't your token backup shouters: their smooth, ghost-whisper contributions on "Words in These Notes" showcase a knack for transporting the music to a place that's both eerie and eerily familiar. All the while, distorted guitars and impressive-but-not-showy instrumental sequences keep things from getting sentimental.
Even before Wrongside, the response was stellar. In 2010 Morning Thieves were invited to play with Canadian Idol alumni Ryan Malcom's new band (Low-Level Flight) and were awarded a recording grant through FACTOR. With the release of Wrongside, the Thieves are making a play for the hearts and ears of music listeners everywhere. They have been recently awarded another grant through FACTOR and are currently working on their new EP, scheduled to drop mid 2013. They're hungry and driven, and there's no mistaking it, but there's something rarer at work here, as well: an electricity, a charisma, something that is audible at a venue in the few seconds of silence before a gig starts.