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This is Pop Download-o-rama

Friday, February 6, 2009

Discovering the Best New Music 2009

Proggy Mountain Breakdown

When I was growing up, my family often travelled north for short vacations and family visits. Roughly three hours from London, the geographical terrain is markedly different from the flat farmland that characterizes my present locale. That particular part of Southwestern Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula, is a beautiful area borne out of prehistoric glaciers and formidable natural forces. Last Friday night Bruce Peninsula, a band that takes its name from the aforementioned landmass visited me. This time in the form of an in-store appearance at my favourite independent record store, Grooves right here in lovely London. (They were in town to play that night at Call the Office with the Tom Fun Orchestra).

Like their namesake, Bruce Peninsula (the band) is a force of nature as well. I’ll say it now. This will be the band that at the end of the year when we’re all compiling our favourite music, will be sitting at the top of the list. Their short, mostly acoustic set that late afternoon was a revelation. And despite the fact that the number of band members may have exceeded the number of audience members it really felt like a special exchange. Like a turn of the century revivalist preacher, Neil Haverty led the multi-member Toronto collective through a number of songs from their brand new A Mountain is a Mouth LP; His voice, a rough amalgam of Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel and Andre Ethier. But it’s the ragged rootsy instrumentalism and accompanying female vocalists that truly adds the colour to their glorious sound.

I was fortunate to pick up the new A Mountain is a Mouth CD as I left the show and it literally has not left my Walkman since. With elements as diverse as the Carter Family to the progressive art rock sounds of King Crimson to the dynamic fervor of Arcade Fire, the music almost defies genre specifics. And that is exactly what I love about it. It leaves me wordless because it is so unlike anything I’ve really heard before. Or more correctly, I have heard elements of this before just not this particular amalgam of sounds. Gospel, folk, soul, progressive, choral- It's all there. Best of all it make complete sense too.

I’ll refrain from any more descriptions to leave it to you to discover this wonderful band. They really are such breath of fresh air. Put the A Mountain is a Mouth LP on your list of music to own. It is glorious. Click here for a sample via Pitchfork.


Another great musical discovery to share with you this evening is Chicago band, Company of Thieves. This Windy City trio- Genevieve Schatz (vocals), Marc Walloch (guitars), and Mike Ortiz (drums) has been generating a fair bit of music industry buzz of late and deservedly so. This is a band head and shoulders above the ordinary (and frankly somewhat tired) indie formula that does so little to inspire listeners in 2009. Rather this is a band that will engage and energize you. Vocalist Genevieve beguiles and charms with uncompromising vocals and lyrical twists; the band laying down a natural jazzy groove that brings a palpable vibrancy to the whole package.

Sometimes the “up and coming” tag can be the kiss of death for some bands. This one though is very deserving of that mark. Company of Thieves might just steal your musical heart. Download and have a listen to their song Oscar Wilde and you'll see what I mean. (Thanks Meg!)

Their new release Ordinary Riches is available on iTunes now with the hard copy arriving in stores on February 24th.

So for those keeping score we’re barely two months in and 2009 is promising to be musically exciting and relevant. With bands like Bruce Peninsula and Company of Thieves its kind of nice to be excited again.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've only heard a bit of Bruce Peninsula thus far (bia your good graces) but have absolutely LOVED everything that I have heard. I am certainly keeping an eye out for this band.

Company of Thieves feels considerably more jazz-oriented to me, not that that's a bad thing, just that it takes me a bit longer to warm up to.


Allison said...

That is high praise. I will certainly keep an eye out for their music.

Love that you have a walkman still, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure the Company of Thieves album, Ordinary Riches, will be in stores on February 24 -- so, a month sooner than you mentioned. I'm happy about that!!!

paulette p said...

Some diversity in your choices there Mr. POP its nice to see that. Company of thieves sounds real nice. Singers voice is amazing.


GEORGE R said...

Make sure you get royalties from BP. I downloaded the music today and it is terrific

Thanks for the adivce.


Blair Whatmore said...

I concur re- Bruce Peninsula. I had to miss the in-store, due to last minute band practices for the show that evening, but they certainly impressed at Call The Office. I agree, they aren't really like anything else, but you can hear the influences all over the place. Rarely does a modern band come up with something so original, yet derived from "classic" influences. Let the invasion of bearded indie collectives continue!