Friday, January 25, 2008

Reviews:: The Northwest Division - of which I'm the master

In case you were wondering, The Northwest Division's new LP, of which I'm the master makes a great companion for a long, snowy bus ride at the end of a frigid workday. That's a very Canadian image, but I think it's appropriate for a band that shares a name with an NHL division and references Canadian icons like Neil Young, The Sadies, and Stompin' Tom. We like our hockey up here, perhaps you've heard that. Well we also like our roots rock, and we have quite the knack for it too, as of which I'm the master can attest.

Like Stompin' Tom, the fellas from The Northwest Division spent their formative years in the Maritimes, PEI in particular. Now based in Toronto, they've all spent time in other bands touring the country, experiences that have culminated with the twangy Canadiana found on this record. Peter Forbes leads the charge on vocals and guitar, but he's ably assisted by Mike Daley on guitar, Sheldon Kelly on bass, and Mike Mella on drums - all of whom also help out with vocal duties. You can tell these 4 are seasoned musicians as they manage to sound tight while at the same time maintaining a gritty, beat-up truck on a dirt road vibe throughout the album.

The big, countryfied riffs of Whitehorse open up the album and find the band channeling The Neil to fine effect. This song seems to be about finding the courage to ditch your day job and attempting to make a living playing music fulltime. Certainly a dilemma many, many bands and artist in this country can relate to. Forbes' vocals on the rollicking As Time Goes remind me for some reason of The Hold Steady's Craig Finn. Not so much because they sound alike, but more because neither Finn or Forbes have a real traditional frontman voice. What they do have is an off-beat character in their voices that gets you hooked after a few listens. I'm hooked on this song, perhaps my favorite on the album.

Morning Dove is another solid rocker that features the band's solid playing up front and centre, and it also provides the line from which the album title is derived. Perhaps the funnest song on the EP is Sackville Duck Pond, which mentions that there's a duck pond near Mount A "that you can rely on". I have to say, reliability is probably the number one quality I look for in a duck pond, so it turns out this song is both fun and informative.

Although it's technically short at 6 songs, of which I'm the master feels like a much fuller experience than a typical EP, which is a good sign in my book. Does this mean that a Northwest Division full-length album would feel like a double album? I have no idea, but I'm looking forward to finding out. I hear there's a chance the band could have another release later this year, but for now, I'd suggest you have a listen to this fine effort.

MP3:: The Northwest Division - As Time Goes

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Posted at 9:43 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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