Reviews:: The Gertrudes Dawn Time Riot

Without question, The Gertrudes test the comfort limits of a music fan. The Gertrudes… they play intimate folk music. Wait, how many members are in this band? Nine, ten, twelve? NOT ENOUGH! We need more people, get me a choir and lets swing into an indie rock anthem! Jokes aside, following up their terrific Hard Water EP - one that made our Best-of EP list - with a sprawling full length, the Kingston outfit threw as many friends and styles as they could into the mix and somehow made it impossible to classify their sound and impossible to not enjoy it.


In today’s sounds like “X meets Y” world of critique, The Gertrudes use layer after layer of noise, rock, ambient beats and spacey nuances to transform their folk structures into something completely unique and muscular, but still surprisingly personal. I’ve heard them described as old time music from outerspace, but that makes me think more of those dudes in the Cantina from Star Wars and detracts from the experimental nature of the songs. The band isn’t simply trying to create trippy soundscapes that float along, in fact I think they’d rather add grit to the beautiful bare bones melodies and harmonies by playing with distorted horns, scratchy notes, synths, theramin, hand claps, percussion and any other instrument they can find.


Nowhere is that more evident than the album standout, “Sailor” and the followup “You Don’t Mind.” The six and a half minute epic starts slowly with harmonies and horns, before Kingston pals PS I Love You join the attack and build a bubbling bed of noise and chaos. Remarkably, the band transitions into a song that could be mistaken for a church hymn or gospel singalong if not for the electrostatic that battles the tenderness of the slow moving, spare melody built with horns, banjo and strings and derails the pure emotion perfectly for the last two minutes.


Even on the pure joy that is “Concession Street”, a song that meanders along the paths of bluegrass and traditional folk ala Simon and the Garfunk, they jam electric guitars to bolster the sound and add tension. Done wrong, this could ruin a song… but under their deft touch it becomes something magical. Outside of the serious misstep on “Freight Train”, the same could be said about any song on this solid LP.

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MP3:: The Gertrudes - Wind from the South


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 at 8:46 am and is filed under 2010, Canada, Music, Reviews. 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.

One Response to “Reviews:: The Gertrudes Dawn Time Riot”

Crawdad Joe August 26th, 2010 at 10:49 am

I love Freight Train. What misstep?

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