Crown Lands is a rising Oshawa, Ontario, Canada-based rock duo — Cody Bowles (vocals, drums) and Kevin Comeau (guitar, bass, synths) — that can trace its origins back to 2014, when the duo met. Bonding over a shared love and passion for music, Bowles and Comeau quickly became best friends and started jamming together in a local barn. And although they switched up instruments, they never strayed from writing, recording and performing as a duo.
The duo’s name manages to be forcefully indicative of their ambitions and intentions. Crown Land is territorial area belonging to a monarch — or as Bowles puts it: “Crown Land is stolen land and we are reclaiming it.” The band’s overall mission is to represent a sense of empowerment for marginalized communities through their music and their work’s thematic concerns and lyrical content. People are going to listen to you, so you may as well say something that matters,” Crown Land’s Kevin Comeau says in press notes.
Since their formation, the band has released three EPs 2016’s Mantra, 2017’s Rise Over Run and this year’s Wayward Flyers, Volume 1. Each of those releases have firmly established the band’s unique sound, a sound that draws from a wide range of influences including folk. blues, psych rock and prog rock among others. Along with those releases, the band has released two singles — “Spit It Out,” and “Howlin’ Back” — which will appear on their forthcoming Dave Cobb-produced full-length debut, which is slated for an August 13, 2020 release. “Dave pushed us to listen to ourselves and really trust our initial instinct with a song,” the band’s Bowles’ says in press notes.
The Canadian duo’s latest single, the anthemic “End of the Road” is the third and latest single they’ve released this year, and the track is fueled by Bowles’ personal experiences — while calling attention to an urgent social issue. According to Statistics Canada, between 2001 to 2015, the homicide rate for Indigenous Womxn in Canada was almost six times as high as the rate for non-indigenous womxn. “‘End of the Road’ is an outcry for awareness and action surrounding the colonial horrors of the missing and murdered Indigenous Womxn, Girls, and Two-Spirits that still haunt Indigenous communities today,” Bowles explains. “Violence against Indigenous people is something I have witnessed firsthand throughout my life. I am half Mi’kmaw and grew up spending of a lot of my childhood in and around Alderville First Nation. I identify as Two-Spirit and dream of a better world for the brilliant Indigenous womxn, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people who face adversity every day for their very existence. It’s up to all of us to make this world a better place for future generations, and this song is a small message of hope adding to the rising wave of Indigenous resistance throughout this land.”
Sonically, the track finds the duo bringing JOVM mainstay Sam Fender and even fellow Canadian Bryan Adams to mind: enormous, power chord-driven arena rock friendly hooks and thunderous drumming within an expansive song structure. And while being remarkably accessible, the song is centered around ambitious and passionate songwriting — the sort informed by the righteous fury of lived-in injustice, of people who have reached their breaking point and are screaming “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!” “We don’t claim to have any answers., but we want to use our voice to bring awareness and help make a difference,” the band’s Comeau adds.
Directed by Tim Myles and Alex P. Smith, the haunting video for “End of the Road” opens with impassionaied narration by Canadian Inuk vocalist Tanya Tagaq, who offers some contextualization of the ongoing disappearances and murders of Indigenous womxn. The video features cast of Indigenous dancers, who are dancing to choreography by Teineisha Richards, a Mi’kmaq artist based in Bear River First Nations, Nova Scotia, wearing red dresses inspired by the work of The REDress Project, a collection of 600 red dresses by community donation installed across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of missing womxn and the gendered, racial nature of violent crimes against Indigenous womxn, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people. The dancers represent the souls of those missing and murdered womxn, demanding answers from the afterlife — and adding to overall eerie yet urgent nature of the song and its accompanying video, the video was shot on British Columbia Highway 16, better known (infamously so) as “The Highway of Tears,” where most of these women have disappeared.
“To create the choreography I had to go to a pretty deep and dark place and put myself in the shoes of both the women who went missing and the families of those women who suffered with their loss,” Richards explains. “I wanted to express the desperate feeling of someone fighting to escape, but with no redemption. Additionally, I aimed to generate a sense of self-empowerment and unity within a shared struggle, by my use of staccato, aggressive, and synchronized movement during the group sections of choreography. Most of the choreography derived from that dark, yet powerful place, and the overall message and feeling I received from the song.”