Monday, May 11, 2009

Reviews:: On Film Covers EP

It's no secret we here at the hill are homers. We'll tell anyone that will listen - and judging by our stats, it seems that's not many - that NS music can hold it's own with any other area in Canada. We've been putting out terrific music for years, and even after a little downturn a few years back, the NS music scene is stronger than it's ever been. Countless artists are getting national attention, but I want to put our shine on a local label that consistently puts out solid releases with little to no fanfare.

The label? Noyes Records (home to Kestrels, The Got to Get, Medium Mood, Memories Attack... oh, and of course Tomcat Combat) and thanks to a surprise email, I was recently introduced to another act that calls the Truro shop home. On Film is the bedroom project of Michael MacLellan, and his creaky folk should warm the heart of any home recording, folk-ie guitar slinger. He’s going to be releasing a full length later this year, but to get everyone ready he released a series of stripped down, grainy covers (title? Covers, natch) on a free CD-R EP.

Opening with the ever popular Fight Test, Michael gives everyone a quick trip around his influences and preferred sounds. The familiar strums give way to his cracking falsetto and honestly, it makes you remember how great the Lips used to be before the theatrics became the biggest focus. MacLellan’s solo take is emotion charged, and the solitutde of the recording works really well. The tracks he chooses to fill out the EP are more surprising. Pulling out a quick hitting, gem from Paul Simon’s self-titled release (Papa Hobo - one of my favorite Simon tunes) and reworking Melissa Etheridge’s tender piano ballad, The Weakness in Me are not your everyday cover choices, but the lo-fi crackle gives the songs the required depth and really opens up Michael to the listener.

The only “new” song is Amy Winehouse’s You Know I'm No Good. Replacing the soulful arrangement and booming voice with nothing more than guitar strums makes the song seem even more desperate (which is pretty amazing considering the original singer’s current state). I’ve never been a fan of guitar reworkings of Top 40 hits, but when someone throws together a free EP of covers, it’s hard to look down your nose at the artist’s decision to just do something fun.

Long story short, this 4-song CD-R isn’t going to change the world. People have been four-tracking covers since the dawn of time, but the songs help get you familiar with On Film and keep you entertained. Considering the company MacLellan keeps and the quick glance at his style Covers provides, it’s hard not to get a bit excited about his upcoming full length.

MP3:: On Film - You Know I'm No Good

MP3:: On Film - The Weakness in Me

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