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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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Monday, February 15, 2010

Reviews:: Corey Isenor Frost

Back in the winter of 2008, I humbled up and finally made mention of a young NB artist named Corey Isenor. His debut record - Young Squire - was a solid collection of indie folk that felt like the work of an artist with a solid back catalog and years of gigging under his belt instead of a fresh face. It was also one of the best self-released records I stumbled on, but despite the talent crammed into that DIY disc, I never saw Corey's name on posters here in Halifax, so he kind of went out of sight, out of mind.

That was until a few weeks ago when his new record, Frost showed up in my mailbox. Long story short, I didn't think Corey had this type of record in him. Thanks to some spirited product, drums and bass courtesy of Sackville's Shotgun Jimmie, Corey's songs blossomed into indie-folk gems that fall more inline with the nasally indie sounds he explored on Chores in the Summertime than the traditional hushed confessionals you expect from today's indie folkers.

Isenor still offers his take on the traditional sounds, like the banjo heavy As a Ghost and the echo-y chords of Rainsong, but he seems to have found his stride experimenting with bigger and bolder sounds. The drone and drums of the opener, Riverwoman, jump starts the record and he continues the surge on Baby Don't Go. He start tracks as intimate stories, but slowly build them into indie folk anthems without you even noticing. It's not hard to imagine someone singing along to The Weather or feeling the surprising warmth he adds to the lovely, epic title track when each layer is slowly added to the mix.

Sackville's music community is tight knit, almost like the indie-folk secret society of Canada, so it will be interesting to see if Corey's songs are able to push the boundaries past the confines of the beautiful college town. I've often wondered the same thing for people like Jimmie, Julie and Fred so my hopes aren't high - especially considering Corey is doing this alone - but if playing fields were equal, Isenor would be getting love on CBC and blogs all across the country.

MP3:: Corey Isenor - Frost

MP3:: Corey Isenor - Riverwoman
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/coreyisenor

Labels: , Corey Isenor, ,

Posted at 7:26 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Video Hits:: Share - KC (Live in a field)

I'm sure everyone really loves hearing tremendously un-qualified ramblers such as myself discuss the artistic blood, sweat & tears of others at length, but in my opinion it's always far better to get insight on something direct from the artist. That's why we're pleased to bring you Share's breezy live performance video of KC from their new album, Slumping in Your Murals, along with an explanation of the clip from Share frontman Andrew Sisk. So without further ado:

I went to Shotgun Jimmies Farm in Sackville, NB for a visit. He is one of my favourite songwriters so I was really excited to record some demos with him and hang out. We recorded some demos and then recorded me playing KC in his back yard. Jimmie's back yard has a constant wind blowing through due to it being on the Marshlands that separate New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It is a cantakerous grassy bit of land that stretches between the two Maritime provinces and is flat and wet from the constant draft coming in through the backdoor of the Bay of Fundy. Not too long ago, these wetlands were the only things separating the British Fort Lawrence and the French Fort Beausejour during that ongoing struggle for this part of the world. I wonder if the soldiers who had to guard those forts knew that these marshlands were a vital part of the natural ecosystem? I am going to take a guess and say no. I can only imagine that most of their conversations involved the constant, unending, persistent wind.

The song KC from our new album is about another, more modern, period of Atlantic domination.


VIDEO:: Share - KC (Live in a field)

MP3:: Share - Maybe Always f. Jenn Grant
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/andrewsisk

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Posted at 7:20 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stingray of the Day:: Julie Doiron - When Brakes Get Wet

When brakes get wet...

...we'll hope for the best

MP3:: Julie Doiron - When Brakes Get Wet
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/juliedoiron

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Posted at 10:11 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Preview:: Sappyfest 2009

Today we recieved a preliminary lineup announcement for HPX '09 (full post on that coming soon, but suffice to say that with names like Japandroids, Ohbijou & The Acorn, things are shaping up well already), and this reminded me that we had yet to post anything on what might be the best summer music festival for indie music fans in this part of the world: Sappyfest.

Now in its fourth iteration, Sappyfest is put on by the fine folks of Sappy Records (Julie Doiron, Jon Claytor and Paul Henderson), and takes place in the lovely town of Sackville, New Brunswick. It all goes down at the end of this month, July 31 - August 2, and based on the incredible feedback we've heard from folks who've attended, it's a proper blast for all involved. So I'd suggest that if there's any way you can make it, do so. The full schedule has been released, but just have a gander at this eye-vexing list of this year's performers:

100 Dollars, The Adam Mowery Organization, Attack In Black, Baby Eagle, The Baird Brothers, BA Johnston, Bloodsport, Brent Randall & His Pinecones, The Burning Hell, Calvin Johnson, Cat Pontoon, Clues, Destroyer, Dog Day, The D'ubervilles, Eric Chenaux, Eric's Trip, Fembots, Fuerermusik, Gambletron, The Gertrudes, Harbour Coats, Horses, Jon Rae Fletcher, Jon Mckiel, Julie Doiron, Julie Fader, Justin Haynes, Ladyhawk, Laura Borealis, Lonnie James, Lovesinger, Luyas, The Magic, Motion Ensemble, Old Man Luedecke, Ohbijou, Rick White, Rock Plaza Central, Ryan Driver, Shapes & Sizes, Shotgun Jimmie, Snailhouse, Spring Break Up, Timber Timbre, We Are Action, Windom Earle, Wintersleep & Woolly Leaves, Castlemusic, Mount Eerie, Slowlover, Snowblink, The Memories Attack

There's more to Sappy than music though:

Run in conjunction with Sappyfest, the Ok.Quoi?! Arts Festival will feature curatorial projects by Elisabeth Belliveau (www.elisabethbelliveau.com), Peter Flemming (www.peterflemming.ca), Rita McKeough, and instillations by Jean-Pierre Gauthier (http://sites.google.com/site/jpgauthiermachines), Vincent Levy (http://vlevy-expos.blogspot.com / http://vlevy.installations.free.fr), Lisa Lipton, and Anne MacMillan. The festival will also feature films by Nelson Henricks (http://www.nelsonhenricks.com), Helen Hill (http://www.helenhill.org), Allyson Mitchell (http://www.allysonmitchell.com), Kate O'Connor (http://www.kateoconnor.ca), and Chad Van Gaalen (http://www.chadvangaalen.com).

I think you have all the info you need, so get some tickets.

MP3:: Julie Doiron - Sending The Photographs

MP3:: Ladyhawk - I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying

MP3:: Castlemusic - Heaven

MP3:: The Gertrudes - The River

MP3:: Spring Breakup - Leaky Pail

Labels: , , , Sappyfest, Summer Festival

Posted at 8:35 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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