Best of-’10:: The Provincial Archive Maybe We Could Be Holy

Different vibe. Hope you dig.” With that quick email from lead song writer Craig Schram, my apprehension for the new release from The Provincial Archive increased significantly. All too often, a sophomore long player is derailed by misguided ambition and newly enforced time constraints and the result is a concept album that somehow sounds like bees and punching children instead of just a fine tuning of sounds and how they fit together.

 

Thankfully, Craig and his band handle the transition from a bedroom confessional that spoke to anyone that ever felt lost, alone or broken hearted to bigger, more complex arrangements effortlessly. Craig has the essential skill of being able to sing directly to you, making you feel like you were a part of the song so when you listen to Maybe We Could Be Holy, the evolution - more accurately progression - sounds completely natural. Throughout the course of the new record, adding more layers of banjo, mandolin and the occasional blast of feedback or crackle of electronics feels like a simple extension of playing together more often than a conscious decision to change their sound and allows fans to grow with the band, without ever shifting the spotlight from Craig’s sensitive pen.

 

Hand claps and distorted notes never try to replace the tender sentiments or banjo driven melodies, they simply augment the familiar sounds. Fusing an uptempo folk gem like “Guided By Sundowgs” with mandolin, claps and bleeps or attempting a Radiohead meets Death Cab inspired mood piece like “Leaving, as a Last Resort” often results in clumsy mess, but each and every note rings out and never does the band substitute energy for genuine emotion. The punch the band offers with drums and synths to kick start “I’m a Believer!” and boost the chorus or the swirling textures of “A Smouldering Epilogue” respectfully shift to the background when it’s time Craig deliver his message.

 

And that’s probably why this new style works so well for Craig, Ryan, Nathan and Bramwell. The quartet plays off each other and and feels what notes are needed to deliver the mood of the songs with an understanding that usually takes a career to build, not just simply recording a second record. Without question, some of these songs could have snuck onto Nameless Places, but Schram has successfully laid the bedroom artist to rest. Much like the sepia-toned photo that adorns the cover, Schram and his friends are now fighting through hurt together, eyes closed and simply hoping to provide some support for anyone that listens. The pain and heartache is still there, it’s just better handled with the support of friends and with the help of tracks like “Sparrow Trapped in Chimney Stack”, the quartet hints at potential that Gord & his friends have turned into one of the most successful Canadian music careers ever. That mindset will take these beautiful melodies from a dedicated provincial audience to a very welcoming National one.

 

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MP3:: The Provincial Archives - I’m a Believer!

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MP3:: The Provincial Archives - Guided By Sundogs
WEB:: http://www.myspace.com/theprovincialarchive

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 8:30 am and is filed under 2010, Best-of '10, Canada, Music, Reviews, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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