The one thing you should see this week
This week’s pick: Diamond Rings
Eyebrows shot up when long, tall John O’Regan, the singer-guitarist for The D’Urbervilles, started wearing animal-print tights. They stayed up when he piled on layers of technicolour eye shadow. Local indie rocker reinvents himself as Diamond Rings, glam rocker? For O’Regan, a reinvention wasn’t necessary. His two musical acts are flip sides of the same coin, as evidenced by “Play By Heart,” the first track on the highly anticipated Diamond Rings debut album, Special Affections, out today: “Trying to keep my balance living double lives / Covering my conscience with a new disguise / Paint upon my canvas, paint upon my skin / Paint me in the corner, paint me in the wind.”
As Diamond Rings, O’Regan isn’t just pushing the boundaries of gender and music—he’s thumbing his nose at the notion of boundaries, period. In doing so, he demonstrates admirable, yet somehow unsurprising, flexibility. It would be easy to saddle him with the “novelty act” label, but isn’t he attempting what so many 20-somethings do? Trying out new things, manipulating his image, figuring out what works best? Through it all, O’Regan has remained in tight control. He’s behind every song on the album (which was recorded in his bedroom), though he enlisted trusted guest stars: Gentlemen Reg and Katie Stelmanis contributed vocals; his roommate is responsible for the irresistible, low-budget music videos zipping around YouTube.
For a boy with a band name lifted from a Thomas Hardy novel, a solo act that marries Ziggy Stardust and Joy Division doesn’t seem so odd. Special Affections is a playfully smart album of sparkly, hook- and heartbreak-filled synth-pop songs that are at once lush and refreshingly simple. Best of all, it’s unapologetically fun. If it’s a novelty act, it’s a damn good one.
The details: Diamond Rings performs with Kingston’s PS I Love You on Oct. 26. $10.50. The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. W., secretcityrecords.com.