Canadian band The Wooden Sky live UK dates this week

The Wooden Sky
The Wooden Sky

Toronto band The Wooden Sky emerged in 2003 creating their own brand of folk rock music and earning national critical praise with the release of their album When Lost At Sea.

The album received a good reception via college radio airplay and tours followed with the likes of Canadian indie rock royalty Julie Doiron, a live performance on MTV, a spot at Osheaga Festival, and an In Session performance on CBC Radio 3, the Wooden Sky set about the daunting task of crafting a worthy follow-up.

The result is the kind of democratic rock and roll record that requires the total shedding of ego and the equal involvement of all parties; If I don’t come home you’ll know I’m gone is epic in its scope and contributions, but never bombastic or crowded. It’s a lot of people playing when they need to, not just when they want to.

The album represents a massive undertaking by the Wooden Sky as it sweeps through rock and roll subgenres with the deftness of the Allman Brothers, the songwriting focus of Wilco, and the experimental sonic cacophony of the Flaming Lips. It’s a career-defining record, grown and built organically over months spent living, writing, and recording in cramped apartments between Toronto and Montreal.

The record came together somewhere between Montreal and Toronto; starting out at Montreal’s legendary Hotel2Tango studio with Howard Billerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the Dears), the band spent two weeks recording all day and sharing a cramped one-bedroom apartment with five friends at night.

Three days followed at Toronto’s Lincoln Country Social Club with Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre, Rush), then a day with the pipe organ and piano at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Cobourg, and, finally, put the finishing touches on at Gardiner and Wyatt’s apartment in Toronto.

The list of people involved the creation of the record is expansive, including some of the band’s oldest friends and newest acquaintances: Heather Kirby (Ohbijou), Debra Jean Creelman (ex-Mother Mother), Mika Posen (Forest City Lovers), Jessica Moss (Silver Mount Zion), Howard Billerman (ex-Arcade Fire), Stew Crookes ($100), Edwin Huizinga (Mars Volta), Adam Kinner (Marathon), Elspeth Poole, and Tyler Belluz.

Here is a wonderful little taster;

The Wooden Sky – Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot To Me)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uSaBcN-w4s

The Wooden Sky are currently on a UK tour with Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards, catch them at the following venues this week:

Mar 8 The Basement York

Mar 9 The Castle Manchester

Mar 10 Milo Leeds

Mar 11 The Lexington London

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Emily Jane White ‘Cliff’ video from the new album ‘Ode To The Sentience’

emily jane white - photo cam archer
emily jane white - photo cam archer

Following on from her two critically acclaimed albums Dark Undercoat and Victorian America, the Californian singer/songwriter Emily Jane White will release her latest full length Ode To The Sentience on February 14th.

Ode To The Sentience is a collection of ten uncluttered and captivating songs that explore the sentimental qualities of the singers past experiences, giving the album a personal and intimate feel

“I found catharsis in creating these songs,they speak to the emotional simplicity and complexity of human relationship. I chose to call the record ‘Ode To Sentience’ because it is the capacity to feel that creates a shared human experience of music. We all share the potency of music by having the capacity to feel, and I found the simplicity of this fact very beautiful” says Emily Jane White.

Stunningly simple yet achingly beautiful, here is the video made to accompany the track Cliff from the latest album.

Emily Jane White – Cliff

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Another track from the album Ode To The Sentience called Law, has been made available for free download on the Emily Jane White artist page.

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‘Demons’ Cowboy Junkies album tribute to Vic Chesnutt gets Valentines Day release

Cowboy Junkies - Demons
Cowboy Junkies - Demons

The legendary Canadian alt-country band Cowboy Junkies will release a collection of Vic Chesnutt songs as their next album Demons, a tribute to the American singer songwriter who died on Christmas Day 2009.

Chesnutt was left partially paralysed from a car accident in 1983 when he was only eighteen years old and was left in a wheelchair with limited use of his hands, although he could manage to play simple chords.

He played alongside Todd McBride in the band La Di Das during the mid eighties before going solo performing regularly at the 40 Watt Club, where he was spotted by Michael Stipe.

Stipe, who became a great personal friend of Chesnutt, produced the singers first two albums Little in 1990 and West of Rome in 1991.

It was in 1996 however that Vic Chesnutt’s music reached a wider audience with the release of a tribute album Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, the proceeds from which went to the Sweet Relief Fund.

The album consisted of Chesnutt covers by famous musicians including Cracker, Garbage, The Smashing Pumpkins (with Red Red Meat), Madonna, R.E.M., Soul Asylum, and Live.

Chesnutt himself collaborated with the likes of Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Elf Power and Lambchop during his career and last year he sang on the Danger Mouse / Sparklehorse / David Lynch collaboration ‘Grim Augury’.

Chesnutt died on Christmas Day 2009 from an overdose of muscle relaxants that had left him in a coma in hospital in Athens, Georgia.

The tie with Cowboy Junkies goes back to 2007 when Chesnutt worked with the band on their album Trinity Revisited.

Demons is described by Michael Timmins as “a labour of love” that explores Chesnutt’s deep and much overlooked catalogue and will be the second album in the Cowboy Junkies four volume Nomad series released on Proper Records, following the critically acclaimed first volume Renmin Park.

The band approached Chesnutt’s music with the same sense of adventure that Chesnutt approached his own recordings. Timmins says, “We let happy accidents happen and tried to invest his songs with the same spirit in which they were written, but at the same time adding our own Northern spin. Exploring his songs and delving deeper and deeper into them has been an intense, moving and joyous experience. I don’t think Vic would have wanted it any other way.”

Demons will be followed by volumes 3 and 4 of the series (Sing in My Meadow and The Wilderness).  Fans can follow the progression of the series at: http://latentrecordings.com/cowboyjunkies/

Demons’ full track listing is as follows:
Wrong Piano
Flirted With You All My Life
See You Around
Betty Lonely
Square Room
Ladle
Supernatural
West of Rome
Strange Language
We Hovered With Short Wings
When the Bottom Fell Out

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Theatre Royal – all painted smiles & tight trousers

Theatre Royal live @ Eagle Tavern, Rochester Kent Sunday 5th December, 2010
Theatre Royal live @ Eagle Tavern, Rochester Kent

Theatre Royal live @ Eagle Tavern, Rochester Kent Sunday 5th December, 2010

Theatre Royal are from Medway in Kent and sound brilliant! Their music echoes British guitar influences from The Small Faces to Echo & The Bunnymen, and their live set comprises of several styles that knit tightly together well and their live performance tonight was professional and solid.  Unfortunately the small pub was only half full which says much more about Medway apathy than it does the quality of Theatre Royal.

Guitarist and lead singer Oliver Burgess was apparently struggling with a sore throat but not to the detriment of the performances. Theatre Royal are Oliver Burgess (Vocals/Guitar), Robbie Wilkinson (Guitar/Vocals), Brendan Esmonde (Bass) and Jon Gibbs (Drums), who were occasionally joined by a trumpet player that gave the songs an extra zest.

I wasn’t familiar with any of their songs before the gig but the slow tempo of ‘Painted Smile’ stood out and was a favourite with some drunken groupies who joined in with the chorus: “I’ll be right where you left me” (that will probably be hanging on to the bar or toilet bowl, depending how long you leave them!)

‘Painted Smile’ is a perfect guitar-led indie pop song with an alt-country edge and some great harmonies that wouldn’t sound amiss in a set list from and early 1980’s Smiths gig.  But what stands out here is that Theatre Royal are not looking to be labelled this or that and quite obviously aren’t afraid of playing different styles; and they do that so well.  Whether it be ‘I’m The One’ or ‘Turn To Rust’ with its unabashed sixties influence or the pop rock anthemic and wonderfully titled ‘Sit Me Under The Circling Vultures Lay Me Out To Die‘, reminiscent of The Alarm (who remembers them?) or leaning towards post-punk rock of The Clash (‘Foreign Shores’) or even hints of Theatre Of Hate (‘Cold Charity’).

Oliver Burgess & Robbie Wilkinson’s voices are a perfect match, whether on the gentle ‘Painted Smile’ or more up tempo songs like ‘If You Could Stand Up’.  But my favourite song of the night was possibly the most aggressive of the set, ‘Foreign Shores’ with its post-punk aggression of The Clash circa Tommy Gun. Complete with a perfect twin vocal performance but this time through gritted teeth and leg thumping angst.

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‘Epic’ the remarkable new album from Sharon Van Etten – review

sharon van etten - epic
sharon van etten - epic

In contrast to her previous album, the stark, sparse, yet beguiling and beautiful Because I Was In Love, which first brought the Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten to my attention, her latest album Epic is a bigger produced affair where the singer has allowed herself the luxury of using additional musicians to push her songs into a new dimension.

Adding drums, piano, steel guitar and three backing singers to her guitar and elegant, yet at times already world weary vocals, enhances  Sharon Van Etten’s beautiful songs launching them into the territory of a wider audience.

The music on Epic is more accessible than her previous material, although following the same themes of sadness, hope and fear. Van Etten’s latest songs appear more confident and upbeat within the framework of other musicians and the beautiful arrangements on the album endear themselves to the listener immediately.

Van Etten writes songs about the the things that affect us all, everyone can connect to her songs, meaning that there is a big audience out there that this album will win over, given the chance.

On the opening track, A Crime, she sings about Never letting herself love like that again and the fear of telling someone you love, how you really feel about them.

On the gorgeous alt-country style Save Yourself Van Etten sings “Don’t you think I know you’re only try to save yourself, just like everyone else” to fend off advances, from a former love I imagine.

There is beautiful musical mood change as the track DsharpG segues into Don’t Do It where Van Etten sings “If you wan’t to do it, You will if you want too, even if I don’t want you to” on top of a wonderful soaring soundscape.

Epic closes with the wonderful ambience of Love More, another wonderful arrangement in which the vocal appears almost suspended on the sparse instrumentation and heavenly backing.

After a couple of years playing round the New York club circuit Sharon Van Etten will embark on a tour of North America and Europe (with her band in tow), this winter.

Listen to her remarkable new songs now on Sharon Van Etten’s My Space page