Tuesday, October 7, 2008
It’s almost been a year since last year’s Halifax Pop Explosion, which means it’s almost been a year since I stumbled on a terrific band from New Brunswick. At the time, we talked about how The Olympic Symphonium covered up their country and folk influences with surprisingly addictive grooves, and even though I meant to track down their last, OOP record, I never did.
Over the last year, they’ve put out some tracks on the Forward Music sampler, and been a part of the Great Canadian Mixtape, but as is the case with most Maritime acts, people don't seem to have heard about the band (a quick glance at the usual suspects proves that). It’s sad, because as long as that 12-hour drive to Montreal is , it seems even longer when it works like a one-way street. We wait on baited breath for National acts to head our way, but for Maritime acts, making a name on the other side of the St. Lawrence is as daunting a task now as it was for Samuel de Champlain.
Hopefully though, people will start paying attention to The Symphonium. The record – and the band really - is tailor made for CBC airplay and a prefect representation of what the East has to offer. The songs are heavy in the autumn colors you’d expect, but the band slinks into the icy darkness of the colder winters we suffer through out here and the songs start speaking for the smaller towns that make up most of our population.
The three talented musicians (Nick Cobham, Kyle Cunjak and Graeme Walker) share the spotlight equally, and as a result the diverse songs hit home with almost any audience. Whether it’s a beautiful piano ballad (You Win Some, You Loose Some), a poppy folk number (the banjo/acoustic driven Intentions Alone), a country tinged duet (the remarkable Blood From A Stone) or a bolder anthem like Through the Day, the trio seems comfortable in almost any style. A perfect example is how the slow, picked notes of The Note are filled out nicely by the eerie, atmospheric pedal steel that meanders around the openness of the track and soaring strings, but still don’t seem out of place when compared to the almost jammy Travellin’ Man.
They also benefit from the support of some talented friends. The backing vocals of songstresses like Jenn Grant and personal fav Catherine MacLellan really give the record a gentle touch at just the right moments. The darkness of Side by Side transports you to the bottom of a bottle, leaving you to figure out when things started to fall apart, but the lovely female harmonies are like a light at the end of the tunnel; a little sign that you will get through the hurt.
The record is amazingly digestible. Songs flow into each other nicely and the band waits until you are settled into the song before making changes and it’s becomes harder and harder to turn the damn record off. As the play counts start rising, textures and nuances start appearing and you really start to appreciate the depth of the songs. I’ve been listening to More In Sorrow Than In Anger for about a month now, and every time I think I have picked up everything it has to offer, something new grabs my ear. With the amount of artists and songs that you delete after a listen or two, I think that speaks more volume than anything else I could say.