Quick Hitters:: Summerlad Blue Skinned

After reading a, “that’s it, I’m done” post from another Canadian blog, it’s kind of fitting that I talk about Calgary’s The Summerlad this morning. The Cowtown band has been at this for 11 years, writing their songs for their small set of devout fans and refusing to conform to the latest and greatest trends. Art - or more accurately, living as an artist - is never easy, but the resolve the band has shown over the years is remarkable. I’m not sure how big their fan base is or what the band’s goals outside of simply creating music are, but when so many musicians, bloggers, and writers are giving up, The Summerlad keeps pushing on.

So I guess its somewhat fitting the band shifted from a five-piece to a three-piece and gone on a brief hiatus while Arron is in Qatar as soon as their new record came out. Long time contributors Liz and Sean are no longer part of the band, and with their amicable departures, most of the back catalog has to be put to rest as well. As a result, Blue Skinned is a fitting swan song for the unrelenting band; one that shows all of the talent and flaws of the band to anyone that listens.

There is nothing conventional about this 7-song, 56 minute affair. Blue Skinned finds The Summerlad combining noise, layers, harmonies to create stark moments of beauty and love that nestle up beside brash, aggressive sounds. It’s hard to judge the record on a whole, simply because the scope is too vast. It takes several listens to even process the entire listen; sort of a musical goulash that gets more flavor the longer it simmers. Obviously, most people don’t actually want to sit through nine-minute cinematic surges or seventeen-minute odysseys but The Summerlad has never made music for the casual listen and that’s one of the things I like most about the band.

It’s also the biggest knock against them. I mean, if you walked in and heard the spacey, distorted voices on The Marathon Man as a singular point of reference, you’d wonder what the hell is going on. That being said, a casual listener that was lucky enough to hear the harmonies that grow from the energetic Vauxhall Secret would probably wonder why the band doesn’t just build on these fantastic moments and bang out simpler songs that grab you right away. Both conflicting and opposing emotions are polarizing, but exactly why fans of the band listen so intently.

Even with the lineup change, hiatus and uncertainty, Blue Skinned isn’t the end for The Summerlad. In fact, the three remaining members - Arran, Dean and Garrett - already have started writing and recording a new record headed in a completely different direction. I’ll certainly lsiten, but there’s no way I could ever predict anything about what it might sound like. I guess I’ll just take comfort in knowing that there will always be something new just around the corner for the three musicians.

MP3:: The Summerlad - Vauxhall Secret
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/summerlad



This entry was posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010 at 7:02 am and is filed under Alberta, Calgary, Music, Quick Hitters, The Summerlad. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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