Washing Machine is comprised of founding front-person Noel Macdonald (centre), drummer Justin Crowe and bassist Glen Leck.

Review: Halifax band Washing Machine's latest will have you hitting rinse and repeat

Ask a certain subsection of music-loving Haligonians and it’s all the same: Indie rock hasn’t been the same here since Thrush Hermit split up; since Plum Tree ripened into memory; since people stopped using the phrase “Seattle of the North” in either the present tense or an earnest sense.

But here’s the thing that Greek-chorus lament for the scene’s good ol’ days is missing: When Sloan left town for Toronto, the band didn’t pack up the city’s affinity for—or excellence at—neo-grunge and shoegaze-y post-punk. Any non-believers you encounter will soon be among the converted as they hear Washing Machine’s latest, Cheating The Pattern. Released on all streaming platforms on August 23—but with an album launch party slated for September 17 at New Scotland Brewing—the effort is a defibrillator to your indie rock fatigue, a pulse quickening reminder of why you liked music like this in the first place.

The deeply ingrained Halifax-ness of the LP’s sound is wound into the band’s DNA: The three-person lineup has long been a revolving door of city music scenesters who play in more than one local act. These days, Washing Machine is comprised of founding front-person Noel Macdonald, drummer Justin Crowe (who is also part of Halifax outfit Booji Boys) and bassist Glen Leck.

The entire sudsy sonic palette rinses wider than just the city, though: Listening to Cheating The Pattern means hearing bits of The Kinks, Pinkerton-era Weezer and the softer side of The Strokes jumbled together in the rinse cycle. The effect is a bone-deep familiarity from the first listen (this is the indie rock you’ve been missing) contrasting with a bright, fresh sense of fun. It’s music-nerd tunes for everyone.

Standout album track “The Pest” might be the album’s ultimate post-punk proof, with crunchy guitars and anthemic-yet-washed-out vocals. Recorded raw in Leck's basement and then layered with overdubs, Cheating The Pattern has managed to hold onto the slippery, ’80s new-wave guitars of Washing Machiene’s 2018 debut, Walk It Back, while roughing up the edges a bit.

“When we perform, I really do want to feel the full impact of what the song means to me,” Macdonald told The Coast back in 2018. “These songs mean so much to me.” By being full of feeling and a distillation of the best of a genre, they promise to mean so much to their listeners, too.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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