Tuesday, January 12, 2010
When it comes to defining Woodpigeon's sound, force feeding genre lists into the mix is a pointless exercise. The beauty of Mark Hamilton's compositions are the subtle shifts he and the band execute, transforming their orchestral pop goodies into folk, rock, and country in a way that seems effortlessly. Every record - and the countless EPs and covers offered to fans - finds Hamilton uncovering inspiration in new sounds, new places, and new emotions.
Die Stadt Muzikanten is no different, in that it's rooted by the same touch points - Mark's heartfelt vocals and meticulously constructed arrangements - but proves Hamilton refuses to sit still. The record - a walloping 17 songs - is beautiful, but harmonies and strings share the spotlight with energy, fuzz and power. My Denial In Argyle surges forward with a confidence not often found in the hushed vocals and gentle melodies Hamilton has delivered in the past, but completely invigorates the listen. Such A Lucky Girl showcases the band's ability to build to a perfect climax that doesn't waste a note of the 7-minute run time.
Of course, there are still tons of terrific hushed melodies that would sound as inspired if Hamilton was simply playing on a stool with his guitar (Our Love Is As Tall As The Calgary Tower) and that's why Woodpigeon albums need to be consumed in complete listens. You realize that strength of the songs don't require all the additional layers (The Street Noise Gives You Away would still be enjoyable with just a single guitar line, but once the huge sonic experiment starts you simply relent to the greatness), they just sound complete and better as a result of the time the band spends fine tuning the mix.
The poppy feel of Duck, Duck, Goose is a smile inducing combination of female vocals, strings and tambourine that you want to start replaying before it even ends but the transition into the tender piano/acoustic ballad (Spirehouse) makes you keep moving forward, building so patiently and naturally, you barely realize you are caught in another crescendo. Redbeard has a country feel, but the ivories that plink along switch the feel ever so slightly before another sound explosion.
In short, Hamilton is one of our country's most original and seasoned song writers; one that gets better each time he puts paper to pen. Hopefully this is the record that helps the band start gaining traction with a bigger audience, one that includes more than just Canadian music critics and fans of CBC3.