According to their bandcamp page, Pugs and Crows’ Everyone Knows Everyone is “Dedicated to everyone that plays or has played a part in contributing to this Vancouver music scene.” With all five members of the band — pianist Cat Toren, violinist Meredith Bates, guitarist Cole Schmidt, bassist Russell Sholberg, and drummer Ben Brown — collaborating with musicians across the city and beyond, it’s no wonder they acknowledge the community of music-makers and lovers that surround them. And if the dedication wasn’t enough to convince you of their collaborative zeal, Pugs and Crows brings on board Tony Wilson, one of the West Coast’s most prolific and innovative guitarists and composers, for the entirety of their latest release.
Despite the two parts of the double-LP being released six months apart, Everyone Knows Everyone 1 & 2 are meant to be experienced together. With sixteen tracks spanning almost two hours, the Juno-winning band’s latest release is not only a demonstration of the sextet’s musical ingenuity and endurance, but a display of their sonic diversity.
Pugs and Crows blend careful orchestration and free improvisation, with each musician commanding their instrument with near overwhelming skill and restraint. Despite having twice as many guitarists on the record than any other instrument, Schmidt and Wilson do not crowd each other, nor do their guitars overwhelm the rest of the band. In fact, the instrumentation throughout the entire double album is balanced to perfection, highlighting various aspects of each musician’s unique and advanced skill sets.