"; } else { echo ""; } ?>

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Contest:: Win (5) copies of Canteen Knockout Broken Down Town

The other day I was trying to put together some sort of flow chart for how we got to the point where almost every band has a pedal steel player and members don snappy cowboy shirts like Bart Simpson wears orange tees and blue shorts.

It would be easy to trace the history and talk about the genius of Sparklehorse or Uncle Tupelo (or just blame Wilco), but I had to point to a moment, it would be when Indie pranksters Ween put out 12 Country Golden Greats. After that, people with guitars could play funny songs about Japanese cowboys and pissing up ropes to make their friends laugh. It also meant that tons of song writers could try their hand at writing hokey songs full of twang without running the risk of turning people off.

That record transformed country from something pure and outdated into something accepted by our most indie-loving and eco/patchouli-friendly associates. Sadly though, it also made country music a bit of a joke for a lot of people now experimenting with it. That long winded preamble is my subtle dig at the authenticity of the most of the bands trying to cash in on the legacy, but its also makes me nod approvingly when I hear a band putting together sounds that pay tribute to the genre, not just try to take from it.

Enter Canteen Knockout.

I don't know much about the Toronto band's back story; I liked their debut LP Navajo Steel enough (and still think that;s a great name for an adult film star), but really had no knowledge of the countless styles Andre Skinner tried his hand at before he settled in with this band. The players that help him bring the songs on Broken Down Town to life - Alex Maxymiw (Luther Wright and the Wrongs), Jake Adams (Doug and the Slugs!) and Scott Whirmore, Janes Carroll and Dean Cavill - display an appreciation for the history of country music that can't be faked and help these songs stand out from the overcrowded collection of bands sampling from the same influences.

Whether it's shit hot country fried rockers like My Head's on Fire, a tear-in-your-beer ballad like Golden Day or a sincere take on a classic Lightfoot epic (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald), the songs Canteen Knockout put together just feels real. Beautiful pedal steel floats around the electric guitar work. Simple but driving bass keeps you moving. Brushed and heavy drums keep time nicely and some well placed fiddle and female harmonies steep the emotion at just the right times.

Canteen Knockout rests firmly on the country side of that dreaded alt-country descriptor, which probably means more people will dismiss the sounds than embrace them, but for fans of actual country music, there is something here. Broken Down Town is full of melancholic nostalgia and Saturday night foot stompers, but the most important moments are the ones found in the closing five minutes. Driving starts like countless other sad sack, self-pity anthems but Skinner starts to realize that maybe, just maybe life is not as bad as he tries to make it out to be. Hearing bands like Canteen Knockout makes me feel the exact same way about the state of music today.

Thanks to Phil @ weewerk records, we have five copies of the record (actual copies, not just downloads) to give to the first five people that comment or email us (HEROHILL [AT] GMAIL.COM). It's that easy and well worth it... so enjoy.

MP3:: Canteen Knockout - My Head's On Fire

MP3:: Canteen Knockout - Louisiana

WEB:: http://www.canteenknockout.com/
BUY:: BUY from Zunior

Labels: , , , ,

Posted at 8:31 AM by ack :: 0 comments

add to facebook add to del.icio.us Digg this Googlize this post add to Yahoo