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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reviews:: Daniel, Fred & Julie @ The North Street Church

Honestly, last night the music we heard couldn't have been much better. Starting with a set from Baby Eagle (apologies to Laura Peek for missing the set), the tiny, North End church was packed with fans of the talented musicians, no one sure how a set from three friends playing classic songs would unfold.

What we heard was memorable. Daniel Romano, Fred Squire and Julie Doiron played with smiles on their faces and a relaxed demeanor. Honest harmonies and guitar work more than overshadowed the slight laughs when the odd lyric was missed or chord progression was forgotten. Daniel, Julie and Fred also took their turn playing songs from their other projects - including new songs from Julie and Daniel harmonizing with band mate Spencer Burton.

For me though, the highlight was Fred - side note: points to Mr. Squire for style, as his blazer, glasses and homemade kerchief (that said Duck Hunting) combination was top shelf - pulling Julie onstage with him to sing Frankie & Albert. This song is on his new EP, available only in a CD-R format at shows, and until last night I had no idea the touching love song was actually Fred's reply to the powerful The Gambler And His Bride from the trio's folk album. The song was made even more poignant when Julie sang Frankie's part as she rests in the gallows, about to die for killing her man. The love that runs through this song is amazing, and it marked the high point in a set that constantly cleared the highest of expectations.

I'll be posting more video later, but enjoy this heartbreaking performance:
Fred Squire (ft. Julie Doiron) - Frankie & Albert

Daniel, Fred & Julie - The Gambler and His Bride

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Posted at 9:16 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reviews:: Fred Squire S/T

It's not surprising that Fred Squire just released his latest record to little or no fanfare; that's kind of been the way the talented Sackville resident has approached his entire career. His purist vision (bordering on insane in today's "me first" market) that good music will eventually get heard is becoming less and less of a reality. Demos are sent to blogs within minutes of being recorded. Albums are traded freely months before release, but almost defiantly, Squire actually removes himself farther from the machine as the only "releases" this 7-song record gets is on cd-rs cased in a manila envelope, destined for only the most devout fans lucky to either know Fred or catch a show.

And that borders on a musical tragedy.

Squire's voice and subtle, distorted guitar should have pushed him to the top of the Can-Indie rock list by now - and underneath the barely audible vocals of the opening track What's That Over There, a Dead Rainbow? is the ever present chugging electric engine that has driven most of his previous work (and the bluesy stomp of We Are All The Middle Child I guess) - but it's the remaining songs that make this record so important in terms of how his music is judged.

The record plays like a moment of clarity; Squire is as honest and exposed as I've heard him. Piano ballads strips out most of the distorted safety net his Crazy Horse guitar style provides, and reveals subject matter is incredibly powerful and heart felt. The accordion, string laced instrumental End of Previous Song unsettles the listener and unshackles the chains that expectations have put on Squire's catalog. The droning melody reveals seconds of beauty, before Squire hits us with beautiful harmonies on the spiritual, acoustic/piano ballad You Sing High, We Will Sing Low.

It's so easy to forget that Fred's voice can pierce through the clunkiest of riffs and distorted energy, but on the stripped down tracks he provides here, it's almost hypnotic. The simple piano chord progression that starts Old Times Past Times is the perfect stage for Squire to grab the listeners before infusing the track with drums and tasteful electric. Fred walks us down moments of his life, never letting the pace or volume distract us from his words, and as he repeats, "the decisions that I made" you never get the sense he's heavy with regret, he's just finally willing to talk about some of the events that have stuck with him.

The truly amazing thing about this record is that even though the first few songs rank high among my favorite pieces he's ever written, Frankie & Albert might become the song that shows Squire reaching the summit of his potential. The effortless combination of piano and guitar are as honest a melody as I can remember and fit perfectly with the 5-minutes of heartbreak Fred sings about. Love, loss, pain, death and fear; these themes are ever present in music, but when they are delivered as perfectly as they are on Frankie & Albert, the results are enough to make you cry.

So is the fact that almost nobody will get to hear the song and share the experience.

MP3:: Fred Squire - Frankie & Albert

MP3:: Fred Squire - Old Times, Past Times
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/calmdownitsmonday
BUY:: Good luck

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Posted at 8:15 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

File Under Amazing:: Daniel, Fred & Julie

Imagine a scenario where three of the best songwriters in the indie Canadian scene decide to make a record together. Not like a Monsters of Folk, but more haunting and pain filled like a Ghosts of Folk. Dan from Attack in Black showed up in New Brunswick, and presented Julie Doiron and Fred Squire (Calm Down It's Monday, Shotgun & Jaybird) an idea.

The premise is so simple, but so amazing. Lets sit in a garage and bang out some arrangements of classic folk tracks from the 40s, throw in some songs we write once the mood hits us and record it in a garage without any studio magic. Oh, and lets get it done in a couple of days. The record - aptly titled Daniel, Fred & Julie - is probably my favorite record of the year, but I won't get into it just yet. Daniel is working on a little piece explaining the song choices and I'd like his words be the first you read.

That being said, they decided to release the first single today so I can't NOT post it! Runner was written by Daniel but sounds like it was discovered on tattered old sheet music that fell behind the bookcase in an old farmhouse. The weight of the track fits the project perfectly and shows just how talented Daniel really is. Hearing a song about escaping and the need to move is captivating, but wow, when the harmonies kick in it's breathtaking. These aren't the flavor-du-jour harmonies (read - trying to be Fleet Fox-y), meticulously mixed for affect. No they are simple, and as honest as the admissions of a man knowing he's no good for no one.

This record is one that might fly under the radar, but for the lucky people that make the effort to pick it up, the rewards are unbelievable.

MP3:: Daniel, Fred & Julie - Runner
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/juliedoiron
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/calmdownitsmonday
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/attackinblack

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Posted at 3:04 PM by ack :: 5 comments

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