Po Lazarus proves they’re ready for prime time with the performance of their forthcoming album, Loserland
A small crowd upwards of 70 people crept close to the small stage set in the backyard of Po Lazarus’ bassist, Paul Mascarenhas. It wasn’t a particularly cold night, but the sheer number of people awkwardly close to each other made sure that the dropping temperature wasn’t an issue for anyone who attended the intimate show. The concert was set to start at 6 p.m. and one minute before, singer Joshua Carey approached the mic and said: “Welcome to Loserland.”
The show’s purpose was to raise money for the Montreal-based band to pay for studio time to fund their forthcoming album, Loserland. Po Lazarus opted to play the project in its entirety, offering the small group of fans a promising first-look at the ambitious multi-genre project, set for release at some point in the spring of 2020.
“The hardest part about having a band is making sure you have enough money to record everything,” Carey said after the show. Po Lazarus has been writing the songs to Loserland since the release of their 2017 EP, O Body, and finally caught a break when the former producer for The Tragically Hip, Mark Vreeken, offered them the opportunity to record Loserland in The Bathouse Studio, where the famous Canadian rock band recorded most of their music.
Po Lazarus has two projects available on streaming services, and their music falls under the category of “Hard-to-Define.” Their earlier projects Ways to End the Night dabbled in elements of classic rock, folk, country and punk; sort of an amalgamation of genres mixed together to create a Frankenstein’s Monster of rock.
The aforementioned album released in 2016 and the followup EP came shortly after, in the spring of 2017. Since then, however, it’s been mostly silence from the band. They added guitarist Kento Katoaka who moved from Japan to Montreal to pursue his music career, at which point Po Lazarus met him and invited him to join their musical outfit.
Their lack of output isn’t to be blamed on a lack of effort, though. Since releasing Ways to End the Night, Carey and Mascarenhas have been hard at work trying to steer the vehicular behemoth that is Po Lazarus. Some songs were written in 2016, but continue to be retooled until they’re fully satisfied with them.
“The idea for Loserland is pretty straightforward,” said Carey. “When you make music, you’re often stuck in your own head, doubting yourself. I’ve experienced it first-hand and I’ve also seen it affect other artists I’ve met. We’re all so self-critical, we end up feeling like losers. And with that, we named our album Loserland to reflect what we’re all going through inside.”
All the songs on the album seemed to be a hit to the audience at the backyard performance. Some audience members had been made privy to certain demos from the album and sang along while the rest sat and stared at Carey and Mascarenhas as they took centre stage during the performance. Drummer Josh Grant and guitarist Katoaka hid in the background as they both understand that the two frontmen are the engines of the band.
The songs on Loserland aren’t a far cry from what Po Lazarus has previously released. The sounds are fundamentally the same, but the tunes are sharper and the lyrics more powerful. However, the one true standout of the night was Carey’s reverberating voice that probably led to a few complaints to the SPVM.
“Bonnie Ate A Beachball” is by far the furthest removed from any Po Lazarus song heard before. The track is heavy; backed by huge electric guitar strings and a passionate performance from Carey whose vocal cords were definitely not thanking him the next day.
Things took a slight turn when Carey gracefully stepped to the side as Mascarenhas took centre stage to sing “Who Knew.” Mascarenhas’ voice offered a welcome change of pace that marked the midway point of the concert. While not as grand in scale as Carey’s voice, it still made for a blissful track that slowed things down a bit.
The performance lasted longer than an hour, which is impressive by today’s standards where most sets barely eclipse 60 minutes. Once Po Lazarus announced that the concert was over, the crowd gave them a long-lasting ovation where everyone cheered for an encore.
Without any hesitation, the band approached their instruments before performing some of the most well-received tracks from their previous albums. Though the crowd knew some, the greatest moment of excitement from the crowd came when Carey began to sing the chorus to “If You Are Alone,” their most accessible, radio-friendly and accomplished track thus far. The audience roared along with the band as the tune marked the true end of the intimate concert.
Po Lazarus still has a long way to go and the band knows it. They still have to record the rest of the album and they’re currently planning a tour to go along with Loserland’s eventual release.
Their performance proved that they’re ready. They sound confident in their work. Most importantly, they sound at peace. Loserland is something special; Loserland is a winner.