MUSIC PREVIEW: Great Lake Swimmers gaining ground
Fans of the folk-rock genre are in for a treat Friday night with the return of the Great Lake Swimmers, no strangers to our landlocked province.
The Toronto band struck a chord with almost every Canadian partial to the genre with their 2012 release New Wild Everywhere, a torrent of emotions and exceptional musicianship from start to finish. Last month they released the follow-up, A Forest Of Arms, some of which was recorded in the Tyendinaga Caves near Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Its 12 songs move back and forth between large arrangements and other tracks that provide a laser focus on frontman Tony Dekker’s vocals with only subtle accompaniment, and once again capture the spirit of the band, and the folk-rock genre, with a thought-provoking, soulful expression of the purest of sound.
Founded in 2003, the band took a while to take off, and it wasn’t until 2009’s Lost Channels that they started to gain notoriety, being shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize that year, as well as receiving a nomination for a Juno, and a Canadian Folk Music Award. The band also won a Canadian Indie Award in 2010. The act has also been featured on a bevy of compilations, including a Christmas album with a song titled When the Snow Starts To Fall, and also Paint It Black: An Alt-Country Tribute To the Rolling Stones, where they performed Before They Make Me Run. They also performed a cover version of the Grapes Of Wrath’s What Was Going Through My Head for the Have Not Been the Same compilation, a companion to the book that chronicled Canada’s journey through the alternative rock landscape from 1985 to 1995 – a landscape the Great Lake Swimmers travel to this day.
The Weather Station opens the 7 pm show at the Royal Alberta Museum Theatre. Tickets are $25, BUY.
Milo Greene – This indie-pop quintet out of Los Angeles features four different lead vocalists who play a variety of instruments depending on the song at hand. The band is touring to support their sophomore album Control, which was released in late January. Their sound is full and involved, and chock-full of delicious harmonies that you’ll find burrowing into your brain for days. With Hey Marseilles and The Velveteins. Starlite Room, 8 pm, $20.
Rustie – This Glasgow musician is touring Canada on the back of his 2014 release Green Language, his second full-length. The multi-talented artist, born as Russell Whyte, delves into some intriguing sounds and sub-genres, but always evolve from a foundation in EDM and hip hop. Starlite Room, 9 pm, $20.
The Good In Everyone – Downstairs from Rustie at Brixx, this BC band, along with tour mates Alea Rae, have embarked on a cross-Canada itinerary to get their name better known across our grand nation. The Vancouverites receive considerable airplay on campus radio stations, and the indie rockers just released a four-track eponymous EP recorded at FaderMountain in Vancouver. Local band We Were Friends is also on the bill. 8 pm, $10.
Greg MacPherson – This Winnipeg alt-rocker is doing some shows as a duet with drummer Rob Gardiner (Departures) over the next couple of weeks in the three Western-most provinces. MacPherson has been crafting scintillating songs since the mid-1990s, with his most recent release being in 2013, Fireball, on Disintegration Records. Jordan Norman and Wisdom Teeth open. Mercury Room, 7 pm, $10.
Kenny Shields and Streetheart – It feels like these guys were just here recently. Maybe they just keep criss-crossing the country back and forth playing the same casino bars that every other “classic rocker” does. Are they even classic rock? The word “classic” has some level of grandiosity to it, doesn’t it? But really, this band’s highest-scoring hit, What Kind Of Love Is This only managed to hit No. 22 in Canada back in 1982. Bit of a shocker there, eh? – but it was apparently enough to make this band into a Canadian institution, even if for legal reasons the original frontman must tour under such an awkward marquee. Century Casino, 8 pm, $70.
Slow Down Molasses – Festival favourites for the last few years, this Saskatoon band are a raucous cavalcade of expansive sounds with lush dreamscapes. Always the perfect soundtrack to any summer day, they too – can you believe it – have a new album in the wings. Burnt Black Cars, mixed by Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), may truly be the pinnacle of an already well-established career. This is the last date on their current tour, though if you miss them, don’t fret, they’ll be back supporting Swervedriver (yes, the Swervedriver) on June 25th. Wunderbar, 9 pm, $10.
Phox – This folk-pop sextet from Wisconsin released their debut eponymous album last June on Partisan Records after a 2013 EP that resulted in a Daytrotter session, a trip to South By Southwest, and an opening slot for a Blitzen Trapper tour. That album, by the way, was recorded at Justin Vernon’s home studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Quite the pedigree, and they continue to use it and their exceptional talents to blaze a trail up the buzz ladder, catapulted by their hit single Slow Motion, which was, well, everywhere in the spring of 2014. The Pawnshop, 8 pm, $15.