Scene & Heard

SOUND SEEKERS: Instrumental largesse, a little burlesque, and some pop and punk to keep your feet moving

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Local band Dave Norris & Local Ivan has a new album out: (left to right) Adam Di Penta, Dave Norris, Graham Boyle, Tim Watson, Luke Donovan. Photo by Jodie McNamara

Lyrically wry, but tender in its musical arrangement, Alma Mater offers some interesting dynamics. It’s the third disc from the Ottawa five-piece known as Dave Norris & Local Ivan. The band unleashes seriously swooshy instrumental largesse over eight tunes that cover off consumerism in the record industry (“Song for an Ad”), music as healer of mental ailing (“Woe Is Me”) and celeb obsession (“Courtney L.”).

“I’ve always had a fascination with popular culture,” Norris, an AV tech, says. “All of us have to create a filter on popular culture because we’re being bombarded with it all the time. We have to try to understand what celebrity means and how it relates to our lives.”

That effort — to square the interesting, appealing aspects of the culture, with its crassness — was a starting point for the album.

With one eyebrow arched toward the horizon, Norris offers some candid, but common future-fears. “No one cares anymore,” and “maybe that’s all there is” are sentiments amplified by reverb pedals for that otherworldly vibe. Norris has a nice lamenter’s timbre, saved from being overly maudlin by some great nah-nah top notes. It’s seriously affecting stuff — like Coldplay without the commercial sheen or shire-cultivated accents.

The songs are pure pop created by lively minds. You can enjoy them for their hooks, for their lyrical digs, or for the buoyant swirl of the two. Dave Norris & Local Ivan with opener Andre Bluteau, Saturday, Dec. 17, Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St., 9 p.m., $10.