Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Turtles in Molasses at the Frontier

Don't know about you, but I simply can't keep up with music or musical trends anymore. I once had to for the sake of my work, so whenever anyone asked me if I'd heard this or that, whether or not I liked it the chances were good that I had. Now, it's possible-to-probable that I haven't.

I was concerned about falling behind for a time, but now I couldn't care less. There's just so much music now available from so many sources that I'm well out of touch, but happily accept being out of the loop. Nonetheless, I still read around twenty music blogs each morning before starting work and between them learn of ten or so new bands or artists every day. How can a mere mortal remain up to speed in the face of such an onslaught?

I've no need of the apparent cool associated with being down with everything that's going on, like, God help us, chillwave, and find much more joy in simply stumbling into bands and investigating the hyped ones in my own sweet time. This means I'm enjoying music so much more these days, as I don't put pressure on myself to know everything's that's happening. Besides, if the ilk of Wavves and Diamond Rings represent the height of hipness, I'd rather not. 

Anyway, I thought I'd use Morrison's Nifty Drivelarium & Gubbins Repository to occasionally talk about music I like, simply because I like it. Old or new, hip or otherwise, it matters not. If you already know the bands or artists I mention, splendid. If you already like them as much as I do, all the better. If you don't know them, perhaps my prodding will prompt you to look into what they do?

First today, from Duluth, Minnesota - home of such genii as Low and Charlie Parr - I present the wonderful TRAMPLED BY TURTLES. Despite the band forming in 2003 and that I had seen their name around for a while (perhaps having subconsciously dismissed it as novelty), I only really caught onto TBT last year. It was this song and blistering performance video that did it:

If, like me, you have a bent for the folky and the bluegrassy, played masterfully, but also with an attitude rooted in punk rock - like The Hackensaw Boys, for example - then you will probably have lost your mind watching that video. I did. And still do. Man, is that fast! Between first watching it months back and today I snapped up Palomino, the album from which Wait So Long is taken, then snaffled tickets to see the boys at The Media Club in Vancouver on May 14th. I don't get terribly excited about too many gigs these days, but I'm all aquiver for this one. Here's another reason why, with another track from Palomino and a great video to boot:

Holy, and indeed, moly. TBT are touring North America from February 18th, so if you live in a town they're visiting I'd say the party is most emphatically on if you care to join them on the night. Europe, you'll have to be patient.

Next, SLOW DOWN, MOLASSES. This 7-piece hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a city I regard as a hub for Canadian indie talent. The excellent (and in some ways, similar) Carbon Dating Service hail from here, as do the sublime The Deep Dark Woods and Canada's beautiful take on Red House Painters' songs for blue guitars, Dumb Angel. That's for starters.

Susan (Mrs. Curmudgeon) and I first encountered SD, M (with, as they have overlapping personnel, the latter opening), a couple of years back at the (putting it mildly) idiosyncratic Duncan Garage Showroom. There were, I think, about four others in attendance. We'd checked them out online in advance simply because we get so little indie talent aligned to our tastes visiting Nanaimo, or even Vancouver Island, and liked what we heard. The fact that they cover Will Oldham's New Partner naturally sealed the deal. Anyway, we fell in love with SD, M (and Dumb Angel) that night, picking up their debut album and an EP, all they had recorded at that time.

It's been a long time coming, but the second SD, M album is about to drop. Entitled Walk Into the Sea, it's an absolute dream of an album that, if there is any justice in the world (there isn't; I checked), will cause quite a fuss across Canada and far beyond. Courtesy of Tyson McShane of the band, I first heard it just this morning, and by the fourth track was an emotional wreck. It's so powerful and epic that at times I thought my heart would burst as I was carried along by the surging orchestral swells and aching beauty of material performed by a young band at the top of their game. Really, wherever you live, order this stunning piece of art when it's released on March 15th. You won't regret it, I promise. Details of the outlets carrying it can be found on the band's website-blogspot thingy; we favour CD Baby.

Finally today, the gorgeous FRONTIER RUCKUS, seen above coolly posing behind some stringy plant stuff. This Detroit band is a case in point when I speak of encountering music by chance. I was larking aimlessly about online a few months back, as I am wont to do far more regularly than is healthy, and up popped their name somewhere, though I can't recall where. Intrigued, I wandered over to their website to find the band generously offering no less than thirty-six demos available for free download. Considering, in the main, that these renditions of Frontier Ruckus songs are superior to tons of official finished product by other bands I've heard down the years, I would suggest if you fetishize on creaky, rustic indie folk music bearing echoes of Neutral Milk Hotel (how could you not?), that you get yourself over to their website sharpish. The demos stand up on their own, serving as the perfect introduction to the beautiful songs of Matthew Milia. Get on it, friends, then pick up their CDs so the guys can eat. 

That's all the gubbins for today. Captain Curmudgeon will return forthwith to ramble on about a couple of books he finds rather jolly.      


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