Swan Lake is the musical group featuring celebrated songwriter-mystics Daniel Bejar (of Destroyer and New Pornographers), Spencer Krug (of Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade) and Carey Mercer (of Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach). While their debut album was a beautifully-weaved mash-up of their disparate song-writing styles, often with layer upon layer of various melodies and stylistics thrown into a collaborative cauldron to magical, and at times discordant effect, their second album Enemy Mine reflects a more stripped-down, more deliberate approach to collaboration. It's as if they really tried to just make nice songs together.
Swan Lake is the new band featuring Daniel Bejar (Destroyer, New Pornographers), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown) and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes).
Beast Moans is their debut record featuring, among other things, beast moans, starling voices, cobra hi hats and arpeggiating pianos. The songs are great weaves, showcasing the famous and very distinctive songwriting styles of Bejar, Krug and Mercer. The sum is definitely greater than the parts, and at distinct points on the record a new "combined" style emerges that throws whole heaps of magic into the air, sounding like nothing else.
When the three "come together" (as if stuck in a sea-storm, in a sinking boat, forced to bail together), we first glean some grudging camaraderie. But, like rugged individualists after the storm, parting at dry crossroads, their work on Beast Moans can still be the sounds of each individual muttering under his breath, and not the chorus of exclamation and supplication to the raging maelstrom that is the hallmark of "collaboration". It's good either way.
Beast Moans was recorded in a summer cottage town in Canada, and in Victoria, in a house where Krug and Mercer are familiar with and Bejar feels comfortable enough. It was "self-produced."
Early in 2016, The Besnard Lakes released their finest album to date, the magisterial A Coliseum Complex Museum and toured worldwide throughout the following months. Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, the couple at the heart of the band, had spent the previous summer on their annual retreat to their namesake Besnard Lake. In a place with so much personal significance, they spent time writing the music that was to form the album. Culling the tracks down to an album proved a difficult task and inevitably there were tracks they loved that just didn't quite fit with the overall album.
So it is with delight that almost exactly a year on, the band are able to release this 12" of two brand new, exclusive tracks written and recorded at the same time as the album. "Laura Lee" is a sibling track to the album's illustrious first single, "The Golden Lion" - spacious reverb-y drums echo around an almost sci-fi vocal line sung by Olga Goreas. Meanwhile, the title track "The Divine Wind" is the Besnard Lakes at their expansive, psychedelic best: a sustained keyboard building through to a bombastic coda, complete with Lasek's unmistakable falsetto.
If you ever needed a reminder of just how unique, beautiful and far-reaching this band is, then The Besnard Lakes Are the Divine Wind delivers. They’ll be on tour on the west coast of North America in December and worldwide throughout 2017.
Unique among their furrowed brow peers, The Besnard Lakes are unafraid to marry textured, questing headphone sonics to the honeyed pleasure of radio hits past: the rapture of My Bloody Valentine entwined with the romance of Fleetwood Mac. Imagine dreamy Beach House riding Led Zeppelin dynamics, with unabashedly androgynous vocal harmonies.
Channelling their obsessions with the paranormal as well as the dark arts, A Coliseum Complex Museum is populated by cryptozoological creatures (The Bray Road Beast, Golden Lion) while also luxuriating in natural phenomena and beauty (The Plain Moon, Nightingale). These themes are sincere yet good-humoured. The LP's title jokily refers to a landmark-heavy road sign spotted on tour in Texas, the varied emotional impulses within reflected by its environmentally warped artwork.
With Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, The Besnard Lakes create a distinct and dreamy headspace, an enigmatic and somehow familiar placelessness. It happens in such a way that both the close and casual listener find themselves immersed in the generous sonic vision, one moment as timeless as the next.
Songs for the documentary Welcome to Pine Point came to fruition after Michael Simons, one of its creative directors and a longtime friend of The Besnard Lakes' Jace Lasek, told the band about this web-based project he was working on — about a mining town that had been abandoned in northern Canada —and asked if the band would be interested in providing some music for it. Simons also asked if the band would cover "We're Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time)" by Canadian rock band Trooper. Herewith is their interpretation available for the first time as physical media. "The Corner" is one of two songs written for the end credits of the film "Memories Corner". This is the song that wasn't chosen. Also a Besnard Lakes rarity, this song is available for the first and only time on You Live in the City.
"Special thanks to: Audrey Fouche, the director of Memories Corner, and its producers; Welcome to Pine Point creators Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge and the National Film Board of Canada. These projects were both absolutely a pleasure to work on, and we hope you, dear listeners, enjoy these offerings." — The Besnard Lakes
There is a war now. The message has been sent through short wave in code. The Besnard Lakes twisting chronicle, or fever dream, of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods has turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, hatred all seen through the eyes of two spies, fighting a war that may not be real. One follows the other as they receive coded messages and spread destruction.The city is burning, and it's to the benefit of music obsessives everywhere. Once again, the husband-and-wife duo of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek has crafted a majestic, sprawling vision of guitar bombast and captivating pop experiments. With the aid of Besnard members Kevin Laing on drums and Richard White on guitar, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night is a dense, ambitious recording, experimenting, as always, with the studio as instrument.
The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night calls upon the influence of ELO and finer parts of the Alan Parsons Project in its orchestration. Still helped by the Ghost of Beach Boys Past, the album is more Dennis Wilson than Brian, and more Peter Green Fleetwood Mac than Lindsay Buckingham. The album is a dark bliss-out that folds the eerie guitar epics of the Montreal band's breakthrough into a wall of affected drones and atmospherics, but with a toughened immediacy and grit that gives the form a much-needed shove over the cliffs, making for a haunting, provocative swan dive into the crushing tide.
A standout track and the first single from Montreal's The Besnard Lakes' upcoming longplayer, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, "Albatross" has all the swagger of a Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac classic or Roy Orbison reimagined as a rollicking, snakeskin-booted Mazzy Star -- dousing it all in gas and throwing the match as we hear its tale of Vancouver's skid row and its inhabitants.
On the flip we find "Four Long Lines," a non-album cut that not so much exists within the dark grooves of the vinyl as it does float just above the stereo, embodying the extraterrestrial encounter the song cryptically details. "Saw an alien/On the street/At dawn...Saw Aliens/In the sky/Called out to them, " breathes Jace Lasek's otherworldly falsetto, which stays just beyond definition skating on top of what could be a basement-tape lost cut from Eno's Another Green World.
Volume I" is the debut album by the Besnard Lakes, that preceded their recent opus "The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse" which was released on Jagjaguwar in early 2007. "Volume I" was originally released in 2004, and, at the time, The Besnard Lakes were comprised only of husband-and-wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. The Besnard Lakes have just recently become critical darlings, on the strength of their live performances throughout North America and Europe, as well as with their second full-length record "The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse", which quickly made it onto numerous and budding best-albums-of-the-year short-lists by a whole range of music-listening pedigree -- critics, casual and not-so-casual rock listeners, garden variety pop fans, and headphone junkies. Carrying the Breakglass label name, "Volume I" is distributed throughout the world with the help of Jagjaguwar.
In early 2007, the Besnard Lakes released a full-length album on Jagjaguwar that quickly made it onto numerous and budding best-albums-of-the-year short-lists by a whole range of music-listening pedigree. Now these inspired Montrealers continue what they've started, re-stoking the flames and releasing two additional tracks. Side A is "Casino Nanaimo", a place where repetitive sound and lights engulf addicted gamblers all vying for space on the eternal wheel of fortune. And then there is side B, "Devastation (alternate version)", the unedited and original straight-to-two-track nine-minute version, recorded live-off-the-floor at Breakglass Studios.
Rich with Beach Boys style harmonies, Roy Orbison reverbs and orchestra, Pink Floyd's pacing and Freddy Mercury's falsetto, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse is a luxurious foray into sound and music. This is the second record by The Besnard Lakes, Montrealers by way of Western Canada. Their independently released previous record, Volume I, came out in 2004, and it was noticed by critics but was largely overlooked by the public at large. On both records, The Besnard Lakes have shown that they are masters of finely-honed experimental pop songs that invoke the eerie Lynchian setting as aided and abetted by the music of Julee Cruise. But, on The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, the band throws into the mix a mad dash of Fleetwood Mac proportioned swagger and ambition. Not so incidentally, the Besnard Lakes have created a masterpiece that will resonate within all quarters, amongst critics, casual and not-so-casual rock listeners, garden variety pop fans and headphone junkies.
Banshee brings The Cave Singers back to their original 3 piece lineup and also their approach to songwriting: an exchange of Derek sending Pete a riff and Pete responding with vocal ideas. From there, the songs come together. The album was recorded live in July 2015 over 6 days with producer Randall Dunn. The record is warmly anchored in the members' creative familiarity with one another. Yet there is a new thirst to Banshee, one that can be attributed to the combination of the band taking a year off to work on other projects - Pete Quirk's solo album and the Kodiak Deathbeds debut record - and their return to songwriting from a distanced correspondence.
On Naomi, The Cave Singers have charted new territory for the band, both musically and spiritually, while remaining true to their distinctive brand of brushfired folk. After some time in the dark wealth of the unknown, they have returned to the light with a revitalized purpose.
The Cave Singers spend a good deal of time beyond the darkened edges of Seattle, in the mist and mystic, among the wolves and redwoods. And their songs, at least on record, have always been like beautiful, faded grayscale photos of this hinterland. Now, these photos are injected with hot blood and technicolor, a ferocity and bite we've yet to see from the band.
By all accounts, No Witch is The Cave Singers' rock record. Laid to tape with dark wizard producer Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn O))), Boris), No Witch is grander and more lush than The Cave Singers' previous efforts. It's also a nervier, scrappier affair: greasy guitars buck and rear up; Eastern-influenced blues snake through songs; gospel choirs rise up like tidal waves. There are big, grinning nods to Beggar's Banquet-era Stones, the best of Mellencamp ("Clever Creatures") and the juke joint legends of Mississippi like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside ("Black Leaf" and "No Prosecution If We Bail"). Of course, it's all filtered through that particular, magical Cave Singers formula: Pete Quirk's reedy, behind-the-beat delivery and existential wordplay, Derek Fudesco's lyrical guitar runs and drummer Marty Lunds' no nonsense rhythms.
No Witch is a newfound sheen to the aura that made The Cave Singers' music so special to begin with. All told, there's treasure to be found here for the biker gang weekender, the double rainbow chaser and all that falls in the valley between them.
By the time the Curious Digit had gotten around to recording HESSIAN HILLS, they had become "adept impressionists" creating a few sweeping portraits of sonic, artistic and emotional paralysis. The songs throughout Hessian Hills flirt with country and the subtler side of epic rock, with sentimental noise and the vestiges of gamelan -- there is a good balance between the traditional and the unconventional, between tension and release. And the words and melodies are memorable, almost infectious, yet disarming.
Rob Sheffield (Details, Rolling Stone) put it best when he wrote, "BOMBAY ALOO is a playfully bizarre avant-pop racket with guitar fuzz, cheapo synths, video-game noises, and songs to take your breath away... If a junk shop could hum, it would sound like the Digit."
The Lord Dog Bird is the solo recording project of Colin McCann, guitarist for Jagjaguwar artists, Wilderness. While the band was on extended hiatus, McCann kept at it, documenting his feelings about life and music at home on his four track. The result is a gritty, tactile document of a time spent in self-exploration and flux.
It’s been 8 years since the first Skygreen Leopards' record was released. Since then the boys have maintained their singular aesthetic while managing to dabble with faux-folk, avant garde pop, reverb-drenched lo-fi psychedelia, plastic country and blurry ballads. This latest effort finds them collaborating with Jason Quever (Papercuts) to create a melancholy world overflowing with itinerant dandies, urban streets, suburban teens, and more girls' names than I care to count, all set to melodic shuffles featuring harmonies, frail piano, and romantic guitars.
As always with the Leopards the rhythms refuse to be bridled, the boys resist the urge to jam, and they won’t ever learn to sing properly. This will frustrate the expectations of some. Others will find a sweet shadowy hiding place in these songs -- 3 minutes to hang out with girls who race horses, boys who never learned to dance, and a dirty uncle who steals your cigarettes.
The Skygreen Leopards started in 2001 as a duo, just Glenn Donaldson and Donovan Quinn. Working out of the Hobo Victoria district of San Francisco, they've since recorded five full-length albums and one EP in their five year history. Over these recordings the band has been given to metamorphosis but has always managed to sound distinctly "Skygreen". Their newest album, Disciples of California, continues in the alchemical tradition of change and inward-revolt. On it, the Skygreen Leopards mix pop melodies, minimal country truisms, jingle-jangling Californianism and angular folk with something the band refers to as "our horse called Dire Arrow," which roughly translates into family friendly (sans the "American Censorship" connotations).
The Skygreen Leopards present Jehovah Surrender, a six song EP that documents the changing of seasons in a world of whippoorwill moans. Electric guitar howl like a farmers hound, fuzz bass stampedes, and drums trot and gallop like the finest of wild horses. Donovan & Glenn write: “Not long ago the band was visiting a friend in Port Costa, California. After sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying the moonlight dances of his two daughters—the friend wanted to share a secret. He pulled an oversized key outof his overalls pocket and lead them out back to his shed. In the shed was an ancient drumset and a cobwebby electric guitar.The man said he knew Arlo Guthrie and that he was once in a band called Hobo Splendor.Well thats all it took for theSkygreen's to lose their hearts and heads to a new muse.We played All the Young Dudes and Hobo Jesus Blues all night longand the daughters danced ballroom. This e.p. is inspired by the man from Hobo Splendor—get better my friend!”
With Life & Love in Sparrow's Meadow, The Skygreen Leopards expand on their strange pastoral folk-pop and enter center stage as one of the most unique voices in the new folk movement. The Skygreen Leopards are Donovan Quinn (Verdure) and Glenn Donaldson (Thuja, Blithe Sons, Franciscan Hobbies, Birdtree, Ivytree, etc.). Formed in 2001, Quinn and Donaldson met while responding to a cryptic ad in the paper looking for Lumberjack players (little wooden dancing men you play on a board for percussion and visual interest). After being bested by an Appalachian man, Donovan and Glenn began studying the stars together where Glenn, while tracing his finger along Orion, said, "Donovan, we are the Skygreen Leopards", and so they were.
The Skygreen Leopards originate from the Bay Area-based Jewelled Antler forest of bands. Donaldson co-founded the Jewelled Antler label in 1999, which has since released over 25 CD-R's ranging from straight field recordings & outdoor improv-folk to noise & fractured pop music. The Skygreen Leopards are without a doubt the most structured and accessible of these projects. Much of the Jewelled Antler music is recorded live outdoors on mini-discs & boomboxes while the Skygreen Leopards primarily focus on a surreal form of multi-layered folk-pop recorded on an old reel-to-reel housed in a moldy trailer on the back of a horse ranch. 12-string guitars, banjos, dulcimers, Jew's harps, organs, maracas, mandolins, harmonicas, ocarinas & reed flutes harmonize with the field-recorded songs of birds, barnyard animals & insects. This hedge of sounds is the backdrop for Quinn & Donaldson's mythological rants & hazy melodies.
The Union of a Man and a Woman are Neil Campbell, John Harouff and Kurt Beals, three high school kids from Stauntonä Virginia, who have been playing together since the age of twelve. Their tools of the trade are squealing, static-y guitars, a barely legal batch of broken cymbals contained in a little red wagon, the Millenium Falcon of sound systems and shear, youthful bravado. With them, they bring back all the best elements of the convergence of art-rock and punk in the eighties, borrowing as much from artists like the Dead C and Glenn Branca's army of noise guitarists as they do from more "socially important" and vital bands like Fugazi and Big Black. Yes, "there's a bomb in that baby carriage," and it is the Union of a Man and a Woman. Their non-negotiable brand of transcendent noise will convert you on the spot."Cutting its teeth on rock theoreticians like Bastro and Don Caballero, the trio has created a fully-formed machine capable of a wide range of post-punk athleticism, allowing a jarring mix of tight starts and stops, giant walls of sound and studied experimentalism to somehow coexist within the span of a single song. What's more impressive is that THE SOUND OF... was recorded live in the studio with only the vocals overdubbed. Keep an eye on these three -- they may end up rocket scientists by the time they hit their mid-20's."-- Tad Hendrickson, CMJ
Saturday Night, the first proper solo album from Tim Darcy (Ought), comes from one of those crossroads-type moments in life where one has to walk to the edge before knowing which way to proceed. Each track is woven to the next in a winding, complex journey through a charged, continuous present. There are love/love lost songs like the standout, almost-New Wave "Still Waking Up" in which a Smiths-esque melody builds upon an underbrush that recalls 60s AM pop and country. Darcy's unmistakable, commanding voice and lyrical phrasing are, as they are in Ought, an instrument here: vital to the entire affair. There's a line in "Tall Glass of Water," the album's Velvet Underground-nodding opening track, where Darcy asks himself a rhetorical question: "if at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?" He barely pauses before the answer: "Yes, surely I will stay, and I am not afraid. I went under once, I'll go under once again." That river shows up again and again in the lyrics of Saturday Night. It's about how wonderful it can be to feel in touch with that inner current. It's about how good it feels to make art, and how terrifying; how you don't always get to choose whether you're swimming or drowning as we grow and move through life, just that you're going to keep diving in. That's the impulse that links all the songs on Saturday Night, makes them glow.