1-2-3-4 1 Verse, chorus, bridge, end!!
Neck’st!!! Upon first hearing Neck, most people comment on the shortness of their songs. In an age when radio hits are never less than four minutes long, a band whose compositions rarely pass the two-minute mark must seem like an anachronism. But Neck don’t cut thing” short because they’ve run out of things to say, nor are they attempting some sort of ’60s retro brevity – no, they’d rather not waste your time and instead get straight to the point. For Neck, every part of the song is a hook. Once each hook has been stated, there’s no need for unnecessary repetition. The song is over.
More so than any other band I know, this is a band defined by songs and nothing else – okay, maybe earcrushing volume. They don’t jam. They just play the songs. These guys don’t have the patience for anything else. Since the band first started, it’s always been a songwriters’ summit.
Back in the summer of 1993, singer/guitarist Dave Rodgers, a precocious tunesmith fresh out of high school who’d already written enough material to fill several albums, responded to a musicians-wanted ad at Rotate This. This connected him with drummer Paul Boddum and singer/bassist Alastair
Macleod, who’d been playing together as the Michael J. Fox Tribute Band for a few years (yes, they had a song called “Teen Wolf”). At first, the split between Dave’s sappy, pop-friendly numbers and Alastair’s angrier, post-punk screamers lent an interesting schizophrenia to the young band known as Neck. But over the next few years, as the trio gigged more and begun a steady stream of independent releases – 1994’s 5-song 7″ EP 45 R.PM., 1995’s 17-song cassette Christiana and 1996’s 20-song cassette All September Long – these two opposing sounds crossed over and coalesced into something singular and unique. At the same time, Neck metamorphosized from underdogs to underground Heroes.
Then, in spring 1997, for various reasons, Alastair left the band. The band was suddenly missing the force behind half its repertoire. Rather than giving up though, Dave and Paul enlisted the help of Andrew McAllister, an old high school buddy of Dave’s who also played bass and was an accomplished singer/songwriter in his own right – while attending university in Kingston, Andrew played in the bands Wholesome and the Black Mission Figs. Though Andrew’s playing and singing smoothed out the Neck sound, his songwriting aesthetic picked up where Alastair left off, and in fall 1998, the new Neck released their first CD, the Uncrated Distant Star EP, which was the band’s most powerful statement yet.
Neck’s now-sound employs a mathematical precision, yet their odd chord and time changes overlay a pure-pop framework – all of which hit the listener in a rush of sound and speed. Few acts offer so much music in so little time. Fall 1999 saw the tight trio enter Chemical Sound to bang out a 19-song album, currently being shopped around to labels. Though the record is dominated by the ever-prolific Dave Rodgers – whose gems this time around include “I Counted Them All”, “Numbered Company”, “If I Could Fly” and the Gang Of Four homage “At The Same Time” – Andrew McAllister comes in strong with “Sub Zero” and the ass-kicking prog-rock of “Divided Loyalties”. Let’s hope there’s a label wise enough to give it the wide release it deserves. In the meantime, the band has re-released the long out-of-print Christiana on CD for your listening pleasure.