Snowgoose Play “Harmony Springs”

Listen to this track by modern Glaswegian folk-rock outfit with big pop hooks, Snowgoose. It’s their single “Harmony Springs”, the title track from their full-length album of the same name, Harmony Springs. n

The record was released in vinyl form in time for Record Store Day this past April. But, it’s due to be released in all forms on October 30th – next week!

The band who created it enjoy an impressive pedigree, featuring members of both Soup Dragons and BMX Bandits (represented by guitarist and songwriter Jim McCulloch) and the mighty Teenage Fanclub (specifically guitarist Raymond McGinley). Dave McGowan (Isobel Campbell, Belle & Sebastian) on bass, Stuart Kidd on drums, and vocalist Anna Sheard round out the line-up. The band started off as an acoustic trio, later expanding to a quintet with McKidd and McGinley rounding out the sound and adding in a bit of electricity.

The record was laid down in Norfolk, and in their home town of Glasgow.  Another Fannies connection is Norman Blake, who contributed to the project, as did noted violinist John McCusker, The Bluebells’ Dave McCluskey and Giant Sand’s Peter Domberknowsky. Not too shabby then, personnel-wise.

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Sondre Lerche Performs “Domino”

Sondre Lerche
Sondre Lerche (Photo: Benny Chandra)

Listen to this track by Norwegian singer-songwriter wunderkind Sondre Lerche. It’s “Domino” as taken from his recent self-titled album Sondre Lerche, actually his sixth album. These days, that’s pretty prolific for someone who’s not yet thirty years old. It’s pretty prolific for an artist of any age.

This is one of the many ways that Lerche is something of a throwback to the classic pop period when album-a-year (sometimes more) work schedules, and tours to support them, were a matter of course.

This of course is beside the fact that Lerche’s skill as a pop craftsman, and with energetic on-stage performances have wowed audiences in North America as well as in Europe.

His ability to take Beatlesque guitar hooks, jazzy melodies that suit his appealing croon of a voice, and with interesting and sonically varied touches in the arrangements to support the whole have made his work a standout. This of course is the result of a unique mentorship process. Read more

Kishi Bashi Performs “Manchester”

Kishi Bashi
Photo: Brandee Nichols

Listen to this track by Seattle-born, New York-based singer, violinist, loop technician, Of Montreal string-arranger and touring member, and songwriter K Ishibashi, aka Kishi Bashi. It’s the sumptous-yet-spacious “Manchester”, an impressionistic and post-modern narrative about a narrative as taken from the EP Room For Dream.

The song is the opening track on the EP, an ever-expanding soundscape that is, at once, airy, organic, and with a touch of hopefulness balanced against melancholy. Musically, the song is an amalgam of pan-cultural textures, from sparse Far-East flavouring, to western classical aesthetics, and delivered in the similar kind of cinematic orchestral pop packaging as a Mercury Rev, or Flaming Lips.

After seeing Kishi Bashi perform as an opening act for Sondre Lerche (and then join Lerche’s ensemble as a backing musician on violin, guitar, and keyboards) at the Biltmore Theatre here in Vancouver, I had a chat with him via email about the business of cultural crossover, about the importance of location in the songwriting process, and about what Beethoven would have made of loop technology.

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Interview with Raleigh, Who Perform “Tunnel Vision”

Photo: Scott Furkay

Listen to this track by art-rock-meets-chamber-pop trio from Calgary Alberta, Raleigh. It’s the opening track to their debut album New Times in Black and White; “Tunnel Vision”, an ambitious tune built up centered around the interlocked voices of Clea Anaïs (also on cello and piano) and Brock Geiger (guitar). Drummer Matt Doherty supports the song, and others on the record with dextrous, melodic fills.

The three musicians have created an amalgam of various strains of pop music, with an atmosphere that explores the same sumptuous indie-folk musical continent as Sufjan Stevens mapped on Illinoise. There is temptation to bury them in comparisons to other bands still, ranging from Stars, to Iron & Wine, to Radiohead.

Yet with the vocal chemistry between Anaïs and Geiger, and with the warm and restrained orchestral feel of cello against indie guitar, against jazz-inflected drumming, the band establish their own unique sonic landscape. They leave enough space for the voices to work their magic with melodies that urge the listener on, while also shifting in interesting directions instrumentally and rhythmically at the same time.

I talked to Clea and Brock about finding each other (literally!), about chemistry, and about the one-time event of creating a debut album.

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Jay Semko Composes Soundtrack For TV Show ‘Dust Up’

Here’s a clip of singer-songwriter, Northern Pikes co-founder, and TV/film composer Jay Semko hard at work with fellow musician Randy Woods on the soundtrack to History Television’s Dust Up. The show follows the stories of a group of daredevil crop dusters on the Canadian Prairies.

Appropriately, Jay Semko himself hails from the Canadian Prairies, specifically Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the place where he got his start playing bass, singing, and writing songs for ’80s hitmakers The Northern Pikes. Later, he would make a name for himself as the composer of soundtrack music for the popular TV show Due South, among other projects for film and TV.

But, this is his newest soundtracking project. Thanks to the people at Paperny Films who sponsored this special edition post here on the Delete Bin, I talked to Jay about what interested him in the show, how he views the role of music in the storytelling process, and how his work as a film and TV composer dovetails with his work as a rock and roots songwriter and performer.

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Querkus Perform “Half-Acid Lee”

Listen to this track by Winnipeg-based art rock duo Querkus. It’s “Half-Acid Lee”, a cinematic John Barry-meets-prog-meets-pop song as taken from the band’s 2011 debut album Spaces Between the Leaves Make Room For the Stars. The song is a part of a richly-textured record that pulls in all kinds of influences which range from that 60s film music sound that also fueled acts like Portishead and early Goldfrapp, to the progressive rock complexity of King Crimson, with splashes of PJ Harvey and Kate Bush in there for good measure.

The band is comprised of two creative minds in vocalist/keyboardist Karen Asmundson and guitarist/vocalist Edgar Ozolins. Both are interested in amalgamating disparate styles and sounds together into an ambitious whole. This song is a shining example of the results of their efforts; a large-scale, and decidedly menacing track that is marked by the contrast of Asmundson’s voice against the abrasiveness of Ozolins’ guitar.

After featuring this track on my recent Winter Indie Round-Up post, I got in contact with the song’s writer Karen Asmundson. She and I talked a bit about the making of this song, about how the Querkus sound is interpreted in a live setting, about the pressures of making a debut record, and about visions of some very angry trees …

Oh, and I thought it might be fun to give away some copies of the record to you guys here. Details at the end of the interview!

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Pillarcat Play “The Fragile and the Few” feat. Lou Rhodes of Lamb

Listen to this track by London-based experimental chamber folk-pop collective Pillarcat, joined on this track by Lamb vocalist and solo artist in her own right, Lou Rhodes. It’s “The Fragile and the Few” as taken from the band’s full length album Weave.

Pillarcat is led by singer-songwriter Stephen Hodd, who seeks to mix the textures of John Martyn, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Sigour Ros, and beyond into his work. The title Weave then is honestly come by, and the resulting sound is at once cinematic, pristine, atmopheric, and evocative.

Hodd wrote and produced the record himself, drawing on a pool of guest talent that includes  the aforementioned Lou Rhodes, but also violinist Ben Lee, virtuoso drummer Emre Ramazanolgu, and vocalist Gitta. Spanish guitarist Pablo Tato and Italian drummer Alberto Voglino round out the regular membership of Pillarcat, making the band something of a cultural amalgam when joined with Ireland-born Hodd.

I spoke with Stephen via email about recording an ambitious record on a limited budget, about experimenting with sound while getting an accessible feel, and about what comes next for the band.

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Lotte Mullan Sings “Would You Be So Kind?”

Here’s a clip of roots ‘n’ country siren from Suffolk, England, Lotte Mullan. It’s “Would You Be So Kind” as taken from her debut record Plain Jane. For fans of Emmylou Harris circa Wrecking Ball, this song may be right up your alley, with Mullan’s delicate vocal against echoey guitar, and shimmering Lanois-esque production.

Lotte Mullan embraced her own natural singing voice after an experimental period emulating the textures of Tom Waits’ gravelly voice of experience. Yet, Mullan is no stranger to the harsh realities of being a singer-songwriter in a cut-throat industry in her own right, putting herself forward as an opening act while acting as a tour manager, and gleaning an important base of knowledge of the recording industry while in a Work Experience program.

Reviewed extensively in Britain by MOJO magazine, Q Magazine, the Guardian newspaper, and beyond, Mullan is ready to bring her debut album, and her brand of singer-songwriterly prowess, to North America, the spiritual home of her sound.

I chatted with Lotte via email on the subjects of rural and urban states of mind, of the split between British and North American cultures and how it affects songwriting, and about what it takes to be an artist and a label owner all at the same time.

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First You Get The Sugar Play “Tell Your Mama”

The cover of the upcoming, self-financed First You Get The Sugar debut album

Listen to this track from nervy nouveau new wave nabobs with a dancefloor fixation, the Montreal-based four-piece First You Get The Sugar. It’s a highlight from their upcoming debut record, “Tell Your Mama”, a tune that mixes rock instrumentation with post-punk attitude, in turn with a danceable groove that will get everyone up under the lights and onto the floor.

The key word here, good people, is groove. It’s an asset in four-piece indie bands that isn’t exactly plentiful. But, First You Get The Sugar has it in spades.

The band themselves are an amalgam of geography as well as style, with members hailing from here in Vancouver (bassist/vocalist Mick Mendelsohn), Toronto (vocalist/guitarist Adam Kagan), San Francisco (guitarist/vocalist Alex Silver), and Montreal (drummer/vocalist Daniel Moscovitch). And there’s got to be some TV nerd DNA in there; the name of the band is a reference from The Simpsons. You fellow TV nerds all know which one. Read more

Winter Indie Round-up: Music You Need To Hear In Time For Spring

Querkus; psychedelic John Barry-esque pop.

Here’s a bit of a diversion from the norm, good people. Since I’ve been exposed to quite a bit of cool music over the last few months, since Spring is beginning to assert herself,  I thought I’d do a bit of a round up here as a sort of best of winter ’11.  These are the acts I’ve not had the time to talk to directly, but I’d still like to present to you.

Some of these acts I’ve talked to before which you’ve seen here on the ‘Bin, and their new records have come out. Others I would have liked to have interviewed, but the schedules didn’t jibe. Nevertheless, here’s a treasure trove of indie goodies for your perusal. There’s lots of music here from across the pop spectrum, and bound to be something here just waiting for your instant devotion.

And here we go!

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