Friday, July 25, 2008

Fembots:: Calling Out review, giveaway and exclusive track

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Finding a band that is able to reinvent themselves without losing their fans in the process is incredibly rare and takes talent and vision, neither being something the Fembots have ever been short on. So, it's no real surprise that in a time where everyone seems to be forming a roots band and throwing long bending pedal steel notes into every nook and cranny, the Fembots have turned about face and run distinctly in the opposite direction.

The Fembots, led by song writers Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier, evolved from a home recording effort to a critically acclaimed roots act but now are heading back to their roots. Well sort of. Their new record, Calling Out, was originally supposed to be created using only junk instruments created for them by Iner Souster, but unlike the power tools and toys they used for their original record, the junk was a bit too finicky, so they flushed out the songs with more traditional sounds.

The result, not surprisingly, is gritty and apocalyptic at points, but beautiful and full of hope at the same time. With a completely unique sound even the most straight forward rockers (Hand Print in Wet Cement) or rootsiest/stripped down effort (the beautiful closing number Ship Breaking) are laced with sonic exploration. The simple piano that dominates the verses of Get in the Van is offset with the percussive clank of junkyard scraps and fuzz filled waves. The song exists in polarity, as the beautiful chorus and harmonies give way to chaotic instrumental parts and a pounding outro.

MacKinnon and Poirier also worked with other songwriters for the whole process for the first time, letting drummer Nathan Lawr (interestingly enough, the single - Good Days - could have fit nicely on Lawr's last record) and Souster contribute nicely to the arrangements. Can I Be Your Mirror is rough, spastic and chaotic, but the dueling vocals and falsetto counteracts the grime of the driving guitars and improved solos, and the whole song moves as one ever shifting shape.

Somehow, with all the bold musical choices, changes in style and new writing process, this record is cohesive and accessible (little additions like the hand claps on Hand Print in Wet Cement or the repeating sing-along chorus on My Hands Are a City), even with all the risks they take. It challenges you, but also rewards the immediate listen. The slight off-kilter hitch on Jl Recalls His Amazon Adventure From A Comfortable Chair In The Window Of No. 5 The Kingsway takes the smooth finish of the lovely horns and adds depth to the simple song.

With a band so unique, I hate trying to make a comparison, but the record hits me in the same way the last Califone release did. I loved it on first listen, but the more I listened to it, the more hidden gems I uncovered. The first couple of times you hear Lost at Sea, you sink into the heavy guitar and repeating "you can cry, cry, cry" but when you really listen, you get bowled over by the chaos and energy that ripples just underneath the surface. With so many bands trying the same few recipes, it's refreshing to see a band ask, "how can I never not be myself again" and have that originality transfer into a fresh new sound.

So now for the contest part. One lucky winner will win a copy of the new record, a copy of the Weewerk sampler that will have our super exclusive track on it and if you are in Halifax I'll throw in two tickets to the October 10th show @ Gus' Pub. Just leave your email address in the comments or send us an email to herohill [at] gmail [dotcom].

Posted at 9:23 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Paul did sayeth:

Ha. I might have beat you to the punch with the album's announcement, but you've kicked my butt with the review (as always). Excellent job.

 

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous marc xavier leblanc (aka bones) did sayeth:

please throw my name in the contest. i would LOVE a copy of that Weewerk compilation you mentioned! keep up the sweet reviews and the cool contests!

 

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