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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reviews:: Share Coco et Co.

A few years ago, Nebraskan song writer Josh Rouse picked up and moved to Spain and his song writing was impacted immensely by the journey. The country western spin he put on his acoustic driven melodies gave way to a more breezy European pop and Rouse's style was reborn. For Andrew Sisk - a.k.a. Share - the move may have only been one province to the left instead of across the Atlantic, but the rewards were just as fruitful.

As Sisk finds a new life in Montreal, it's quite obvious the language, architecture and lifestyle of the city have already changed his point-of-view. Instead of the lush, full band tracks he penned with help from the Forward Family for Slumping in your Murals, Sisk strips everything back to nylon stringed guitars, simple programming and the support of a few new friends. Sisk handles the dramatic shift nicely on this three-song EP. Opening with a more standard, country-indie rock effort - A Pause - the fantastic steel work Mike Feuerstack (Snailhouse) delivers is as comforting as an old sweater for fans of Sisk's previous releases, but without question it's the last two tracks that really showcase the new sound.

Brisé is an almost weightless melody that floats over top of some simple programming, but really lets Sisk and Miranda Durka's traded vocals steal the spotlight. You might be tempted to think that Andrew moved to Montreal and stumbled on someone's collection of French pop, but to me it feels more like he's finding his stride in a new city, without forgetting his roots. The bossa nova influence and bi-lingual vocals feel natural, not forced and everything comes together on the shaker heavy closing number, Et Cetera. Vibraphone dances behind the vocals, simple picked and strummed notes keep you moving forward but it's how well Durka and Sisk work together that makes the song something more than the sum of it's minimal parts.

Coco et Co.; it's only 3-songs and doesn't even reach 9-minutes, but Sisk has sent notice that he is sampling from a new inspirational reservoir and I for one can't wait to see where his journey takes him. Even better? Forward Music is giving you this snappy EP for the low, low cost of free. So head over and hear for yourself.

MP3:: Share - Et Cetera

MP3:: Share - A Pause

MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/andrewsisk
D/L:: http://www.forwardmusicgroup.com/albums/cocoetco.zip

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Posted at 8:10 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Morning Fun:: The Prospector's Union are now a soccer team

Last night found a collection of low flying stars gathering in Halifax @ The Seahorse Tavern. We had Guthries, Kinley Dowling and her stlying boots, Share, In-Flight Safety, Heavy Blinkers and many many more. Out of nowhere, Matt Mays keyboard man Adam Baldwin delivered a country fused, Tom Petty-inspired collection of rocker to warm things up, and then Matt Charlton flooded the stage with at least 8 friends including Christina Martin, Jason MacIsaac, Andrew Sisk, Dan Ledwell and Jon Mullane. The band ran out of outputs, so Charlton was forced to bust out interpretive dance moves and drink instead of strum.

Essentially, this is all just preamble to me posting a video of a fleshed out take of Spread, but a night of TPU, Christina Martin and the pleasant surprise of Adam's set had us all warm despite the frigid temperature that continues to mangle Halifax.

MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/theprospectorsunion

Labels: , Christina Martin, Dan Ledwell, , Inflight Safety, ,

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

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Monday, July 6, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Prospector's Union

When it comes to promoting East Coast acts, there aren’t many people working harder than Matt Charlton (well, except us of course). I remember when herohill first started getting emails from his PR firm – efficient, easy to download snippets without any of the glowing hyberbole that plagues not only music PR people, but bloggers as well – and I assumed Matt was just a guy that loved music and wanted to find a way to make a living from it.

Now, a year or so later his roster has grown and he's helping acts get outside the Maritimes and get heard by a bigger audience, but it's his song writing that really grabs my attention. I had no idea he even played until last year's Halifax Pop Explosion when he opened for The Retribution Gospel Choir. That night, he stood on stage – well, on the slightly raised floor of St. Matthew’s Church - with some of Nova Scotia’s most talented artists (Daniel Ledwell, Christina Martin, John Mullane, Andrew Sisk to name a few) and let his voice and melodies boom out the open front door and onto the street. Since that night, I’ve been harassing him about getting off his ass and releasing the debut Prospectors Union record.

Well, that day is getting very, very close.

Matt finally finished recording Syracuse and is ready to release it to the world. Although Charlton may listen to a collection of stripped down, no nonsense artists (Townes, Mark Kozalek) this “home” recording is remarkably lush and defined. With support from the likes of Martin, Ledwell, Mullane, Sisk, Jason MacIsaac, Kinley Dowling, and David Casey, Syracuse plays more like a studio odyssey than a local, independent release.

more importantly, even with all the expert production and contributors, Charlton puts himself front and centre. With only a few picked notes, echoing subtle drums and Christina Martin's harmonies, Flaming Death is dark, but engaging. Over time, Ledwell’s steel work and MacIssac’s atmospheric keys are added and echo in the emptiness of the song, taking some of the weight off the harrowing tale, but it's Charlton's voice that grabs your ear. Even with the talent that surrounds him and the layers that move in and out of the song, he never fades to the background.

The same can be said about the confident strums of Storm Seas. Charlton shows he’s a natural story teller. The song could have easily stood on his strong foundation, but slowly the band adds group harmonies that hover in the distance. It might not seem like much, but the vocal support makes this more than a coffee/shop open mic song and even though it's only a hiccup longer than 1:30, Storm Seas says as much about the recording as any of the tracks. It's well thought out, shows how comfortable the musicians are around each other, and that Charlton isn’t a fan of wasted notes.

Dowling’s ear grabbing strings, Martin’s backing vocals are thickened up by nice drums and keys, but again, it’s Charlton taking the lead on the EP’s catchiest track, Montreal. Matt may prefers the tale of the brokenhearted wanderer, but unlike so many young songwriters, he doesn’t let his melancholy dictate the tempo of an affair. Montreal shifts and moves, and the spike in pace lets you relax as the band downshifts into slower tracks.

One thing I really like about this EP was how much restraint the all-star backing band displays. On the closer, The Valley Neighbours, the song is beefed up with slide, harmonies, keys, keep time drums and a choral outro all make an appearance, but none of the layers ever crowd the mix or distract from the melody. The song would work just as well – and does in a live setting – with an acoustic and a second mic. It’s obvious that Charlton can’t pack most of these people in a van every time he wants to play a show, so it's crucial that the structure of the songs lets him grab a guitar and play alone OR treat the audience to a hybrid of the supergroup he assembled for the EP.

The EP release show is July 18th/09 @ The Seahorse. I’d wager it will be packed with friends of Matt’s coming out to say congrats and there will be more than a few guest appearances. I’d highly suggest you make it out too.

MP3:: Prospector's Union - Salt City Blues

MP3:: Prospector's Union - Flaming Death

MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/theprospectorsunion

But as a special treat for herohill, Charlton grabbed a few friends and recorded a live EP and is letting us give it away to you readers. The four songs show a rougher side of the band’s persona; one more concerned with smiles, wine and a night of music than intricate production. They still toss around strings, horns and terrific harmonies, but they feel more spontaneous and alive.

Without question, Old Wonders is a different beast; from the poppy feel of Edmunston, to the roots rocking, earthy vibe of More Tales Involving a Man of Questionable Morals or the back porch feel of Raven’s Claw, the songs stand up without any of the glossy efforts of a classic studio recording. Ledwell lets less be more and Charlton shows he’s got a lot of bullets left in his gun – plus, Jason’s keys and Dan’s trumpet just make you melt – and Prospectors Union is a name we will all hear a lot more off in the near future.

Recording info:
John Mullane: Guitar, backing vox
Christina Martin: Guitar, backing vox
Daniel Ledwell: Lap slide, trumpet...and he produced the whole thing
Jason Michael MacIsaac: Piano
Kinley Dowling: Violin
Matt Charlton: Guitar, vocals

Download Old Wonders
1.) Prospector's Union - Edmunston
2.) Prospector's Union Raven's Claw
3.) Prospector's Union - More Tales Involving a Man of Questionable Morals
4.) Prospector' Union - Old Wonders

Labels: , Christina Martin, Dan Ledwell, , Inflight Safety, John Mullane, , , ,

Posted at 8:30 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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