THE HIGHEST ORDER with COMET CONTROL and MILK LINES at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (May 4), 10 pm. $10. HS.
If you've been confused about the status of local alt-country band One Hundred Dollars, you're not alone. Its members have been involved with several more active offshoots lately, namely Fiver and the Highest Order.
Last month, the latter released If It's Real through Idée Fixe and celebrate with a launch show Saturday at the Horseshoe. Produced by Jeff McMurrich, the album's got a woozy, laid-back vibe some call "cosmic country meets classic rock."
"I wanted to make a live-sounding record with throwbacks to classic 70s country and 60s psych rock," says guitarist Paul Mortimer during a tour-stop ferry layover in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. "Lots of tape delay and plate reverb. I didn't want to rely on pedals or too many studio tricks."
The Highest Order also includes singer/guitarist/prolific songwriter Simone Schmidt, bassist Kyle Porter and drummer Simone TB, all of whom play in Fiver (sometimes) and, aside from TB, One Hundred Dollars. But there are distinct differences between the projects.
"You can't really separate Ian Russell from One Hundred Dollars' songwriting," Schmidt explains. "The way he played acoustic guitar affected my melodic tendencies as a singer, as it did the rhythm section. It made for a kind of folk writing that provided a backdrop for dense storytelling I haven't strived for in the Highest Order."
The Highest Order, on the other hand, is a place for Schmidt's "full-on country songs that might have been considered throwback" until the band rearranged them, she says. She cites Fires Of Regret from One Hundred Dollars' Polaris-nominated Songs Of Man album as a precursor to THO's psychedelic sound and collaborative approach.
Fiver, meanwhile, is her solo non-country-music vehicle, which will launch an LP in the fall through Triple Crown Records. She tours it alone but also sometimes with her OHD/THO bandmates. (She's also in the traditional and old-time acoustic duo Coole & Downes with banjoist Chris Coole.)
With these myriad offshoots and side projects, are One Hundred Dollars still a going concern?
"For now there are no shows or new records on the horizon," says Porter, "but only time will tell. The reshuffle happened because there weren't songs or a vision for a new record. There are a lot of reasons why that is the case, many of which aren't fit to print."