There’s something about a cello that can make any music seem both sophisticated and somber. That’s certainly true for the song “Mayday,” a track from the debut album Breathe A Storm from Toronto ensemble Places Erupt, out August 20th. Previously known as The Benefit of the Free Man, this Canadian quintet is a classy outfit. With the strings and traditional classical/folk harmonies, at times they sound like something straight out of Renaissance. At other times, they really rock out, even dipping into prog rock and experimental terrain. The subject matter of the aforementioned song includes the following line in it — “Checking on the pulse/ Beat reporter/ Plastic tentacles / Reaching in.” It came about when Piazza was experiencing heart palpatations and had to wear a heart monitor for a few days to monitor his heart activity. Traditional instrumentation and modern concerns. However, the song is ultimately about how hard it is to shake things off and how difficult it can be to compartmentalize that which disturbs you. Amen to that.

Having listened to their amazing forthcoming album, I’ll call their music “fierce progressive rock/folk/classical.” They veer madly from hushed to hypnotic to hellfire fury, and often within the same song. It’s a unique sound that really gels.

The band comprises Anna Jarvis (cello), Greg O’Toole (guitar, vocals), Lee Piazza (vocals), Mike Legere (percussion) and Katie Wolsley (violin). For those in the Toronto area, Places Erupt will be hosting their album release party at Burdock Tavern in Toronto on August 20th.

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