Unlike like so many others in the world, it wasn’t hard for Molly Rankin to join the family business. Young people everywhere struggle with the decision to either pursue their dreams, or “play it safe” and follow in their parents’ footsteps. I get it, its tough. However, if your dad played fiddle in one of the most legendary Canadian folk bands of all time, I think it’d be an easier decision. Yes folks, that’s correct – Molly’s father was a part of the popular group The Rankin Family, who’s probably in my top 3 Celtic-styled Canadian country groups of the 90s… Top five for sure… But nepotism be damned – Molly has made a name all for herself, and her band Alvvays is among the brightest stars in the current music landscape.
Alvvays (pronounced like “always”) hails from the islands of Cape Breton and Prince Edward in remote southeast Canada, which, strangely enough, boasts a shockingly robust music scene. Somewhat of a prodigy, Rankin toured with The Rankin Family as a teen, filling in for her deceased father on fiddle, in addition to releasing a solo album in 2010. Rankin then hooked up with childhood friend Kerri MacLellan and members of popular local band Two Hours Traffic to form Alvvays a year later. Like most cool North American bands, the group’s self-titled debut in 2014 first garnered attention across the pond in the UK, thanks to its melancholic charm and hit single “Marry Me Archie” (see below). Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the buzz to travel westward.
Four years and another KILLER album later, the group has officially cemented themselves among indie rock’s elite. 2017’s Antisocialites made an appearance in my Top Albums post from last year, and hasn’t left my daily music rotation in months. Like their first album, each song is truly a gem. I mean literally every song. Favoring simple melodies and avoiding modern tools & tricks, their music has a way of sounding gloriously out of place in today’s alternative rock scene. Rankin’s innocent, daydream lyrics pair perfectly with Alec O’Hanley’s clean, delay-heavy guitar tone. Add in MacLellan’s craftiness on the keys and the result is a unique Beach House-meets-Teenage Fanclub vibe.
These guys are humble, extraordinarily talented, and one of the finest bands to grace our presence in a long time. Despite the group’s heavy rotation on satellite radio/streaming stations, the popularity hasn’t slowed down the band’s touring efforts in the slightest – I just saw them for the second time in six months in Chicago a couple weeks back at the Metro. Be on the lookout for Alvvays this summer on the rest of their (largely sold out) US tour, or at Governor’s Ball, Boston Calling and a handful of other notable US/Canadian festivals. That’s right kids – sometimes it pays to stay in the family business!
Find Alvvays tour dates here.
Suggested Tracks: “In Undertow” “Not My Baby” “Party Police” “Plimsoll Punks”
Oddities: The band was forced to restyle the “w” spelling in their name to “vv” after they discovered a band named Always was signed to Sony’s music label in the 90s
Photo Credits – Toronto Star, Houston Press