Best-of ’11:: Mark Davis Eliminate The Toxins

Traditional roots is losing. The battle isn’t over, but letters home are being written and whispered prayers have swelled to a roar. Sound-a-likes and saturation have beaten purity of sound and sincere admissions into submission. A powerful movement, once naively thought to be timeless, now shies away from politics and pain and offers only pleasantness in return.


Obviously, when a style of music has effortlessly spanned decades, there are precious few game changers. Every heart has been broken and every steel note has been bent. No, what we are looking for is someone willing to frame modern stories with authentic sounds instead of resorting to tired cliches (One Hundred Dollars, Daniel Romano are easily leading this charge up here) or someone to rearrange the building blocks and create a new structure that stands out from the endless rows of cookie cutter houses.


Edmonton resident Mark Davis has been reshaping the game for years. His last double release offered foreshadowed the return to DIY success, and now with the release of his third LP, Eliminate the Toxins, Davis is showing that the term roots is a mindset and attitude, not a formulaic sound. Mark’s been in the game long enough and worked with enough of Canada’s biggest names to know what sounds good and what sells, but like any good writer he knows when rules must be broken for the biggest impact.


Davis still wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s still hurting and when he wants, he can deliver an emotional tour-de-force. “Let The World Know Where You Are” and the poppy “In The Waters” are worthy submissions to the roots catalog and “Wounded King” should make any J Tillman fan sit up and take notice, but Davis bends and molds the genre to his liking. Vocally, the 8-minute “Throw It Away” is not much else than hurt and double-tracked harmonies, but Davis heightens the emotion with a moody wash of keys, guitar, and loops. Hints of post-rock aren’t common place in today’s steel laced goulash, and neither are gritty rock infused juggernauts like the surging title track or the noise filled close of “Dragons.” Perhaps the most enjoyable experiment - this on a record full of successes - is how Davis adds effects, thundering drums and an infectious guitar hook to “Go To Ground”, but keeps one toe in the water with a blazing harmonica run to complete the unique arrangement.


It’s early, but I can’t imagine too many bands rallying to knock Eliminate the Toxins from the summit of 2011′s Canadian roots rmountain. Must-hear stuff, folks.

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MP3:: Mark Davis - Eliminate the Toxins




This entry was posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 at 8:25 am and is filed under 2011, Best-of '11, Canada, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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