by Olivier La Roche
Formed by members stretching across the continent, from here in Winnipeg all the way to Chicago and Austin, Texas, Central Heat Exchange arrives onto the scene with their self-titled debut, out this September. Having all met at shows in previous years, the musicians decided to unite and create a record while locked down in early 2020. Each confined to their own home, they collaborated through texts and DMs, ultimately shaping a broadly-inspired sound.
The album takes a bedroom pop-angled take on 2000s indie rock, sounding simultaneously carefree and preoccupied, as if the record is experiencing mood swings at every turn. Each segment was recorded inside the bandmates’ respective homes, generating that homy, close-knit feeling, which is so incredibly ironic given the distance separating the musicians while they wrote and recorded.
Distance is a theme not only intrinsic to the creation of Central Heat Exchange, but also a central musical and lyrical thread tying the record together. This album sounds like a long distance relationship. It sounds like wondering how your loved ones are doing, miles and miles away. It sounds like separation and reunion all at once. It perfectly summarizes the pains, the joys, the bitter-sweet of distance.
Each song is dripping with a hazy, meandering melancholy that ties the album together, displaying the overarching narrative of distance in sonic form. While a tapestry of warm riffs and soft vocals characterize the music, a wider assortment of instrumentation is hidden underneath, from drum machines subtly replacing acoustic kits to violins adding layers to the melody. This variety gives each song its own life, allowing them to stand out from one another just enough while remaining attached as a whole in the context of the album.
On “You Showed Up” the band tells the story of a “friend of a friend, but the kind that sticks around”, a strangely relatable tale of unspoken friendship, perhaps one neither person is even aware of. “Dusty Glass” describes the weight that loss can have on everyday life, that sometimes “it takes all day to get up”. Just like the instrumentation, the lyrics play a similar role in telling their own stories, but all while being connected by the theme of distance and all the feelings that accompany it.
While it may serve as a painful reminder of love lost over distance to some, it undoubtedly doubles as a comforting reminder that they are thinking of you too, wherever they are.