Plants and Animals evolves organic sound

By Liz Keeney

Plants and Animals with Frightened Rabbit

Diesel Night… Plants and Animals with Frightened Rabbit

Diesel Night Club

Nov. 2, 10 p.m.

Tickets $14


Although temperatures have dropped and the local wildlife has retreated to warmer pastures, indie-rock act Plants and Animals hopes to compensate for Pittsburgh’s depleted flora and fauna.

The Montreal-based band prides itself on an organic sound, self-described as “post-classical,” but with an original twist.

“We’re a rock band. I mean really, what other genres are there?” joked lead vocalist and guitarist Warren Spicer.

“Well, we’re a little old school, a mix of rock, classic, blues soul — you know, the works,” drummer Matthew “Woody” Woodley said.

For its latest album — La La Land, released April 2010 — the band tried to emulate its live sound — something Woodley feels its first album, Parc Avenue, lacked.

“The second time around we wanted to try something new. It is an extension of our live show. There’s only three of us live, but our last studio album had all this other stuff going on. This one is more indicative of our core sound,” Woodley said.

To accomplish this, Woodley and Spicer, along with guitarist Nicolas Basque, stuck to their tried-and-true approach to recording.

“We’re just trying to make music, there’s really no message overall. It’s just music, just a record,” Spicer said.

Woodley had a similarly nonchalant description of the process.

“It’s an organic thing. Warren comes up with some stuff. Then we listen to them, start grooving and just keep driving until we’re done” Woodley added.

Partially recording the record in its native Montreal and partially at Studios La Frette outside Paris, Plants and Animals drew inspiration from the French city’s simultaneously historical and progressive music scene.

“We were used to Montreal. Our studio was small, very cozy. Then we get to Paris, and this studio is in this great big manor where we’re staying, with all these trees and birds. Of course that environment is going to affect you,” Woodley said.

The overall effect is that La La Land is a smoother and more cohesive snapshot of what the band is, without all the bells and whistles.

The band members have honed their skills, playing with more confidence and putting out a more well-rounded album. Songs like “Fake It” and “Tom Cruz” give listeners an example of what the band can do without coming on too strong.

And though the band members hope to someday return to Paris, for now, they’re just focusing on playing more music, be it in the studio or on tour.

“Our job is to make music, and I’m just trying to do it more. I don’t know what I’d do otherwise.” Woodley said. “We enjoy both touring and recording. When you’re out on the road, you want to go back to the studio and come up with new stuff, but when you’re recording, you get the itch to play for a crowd of real people — or at least I do.”

On the band’s to-do list is to continue carving out a place for itself in America’s music scene. Already a fixture in the Canadian indie culture — the band was nominated for two Juno Awards in 2009 after the release of Parc Avenue — Plants and Animals plans on feeding its growing U.S. fan base by touring.

“There’s really not too big a difference. People are people. I guess Canada is a lot more connected though. People just tend to know everyone. In the States, it’s definitely more profound. You have to do more work, put in more time,” Spicer said.