Bruce Peninsula

On top of having just been announced as being on the Polaris Music Prize 2009 long list late last week, Toronto’s Bruce Peninsula have just started their three week Canadian tour with their first  performance taking place on Saturday in a slightly soggy Kingston, Ontario at the annual Skeleton Park Music Festival. More a collective than a band, the group usually consists of anywhere from 7 to 12 members. Started in 2006 by Matt Cully and Misha Bower, the group has grown to include a dynamic cast including Neil Haverty, Andrew Barker, Steve McKay, Leon Taheny, Kari Peddle, Daniela Geshundheit, Katie Stelmanis, Caseey Mecija, Maya Postepski, Isla Craig and Doc Dunn.

Bruce Peninsula’s sound ranges from folk to gospel, from jazz to soul. Focus is put on choir vocals. Honest, uninhibited and gutty, they use beautiful harmonies and call-and-response singing to utterly enchant their listeners. I challenge you to listen to them without finding yourself wishing to be a part of that beautiful choir, or at least thinking you’re lost in some alternate ethereal universe.

Listening to Bruce Peninsula is a pleasure. They are an awesome gang with an awesome sound. In the spirit of awesomeness, I sat down with Matt and Neil. Rather, I sat, they stood. What else can you do when its pouring rain and you have to crash the remnants of a bake sale tent to make sure your paper stays dry? As you read: start with a listen to ‘Shanty Song’, included below, off the well-deserved Polaris nominee A Mountain Is a Mouth.

So we didn’t steal the last lonely muffin or the crumbs that sat next to it, but we did talk some music. I learned some pretty cool things about this band, two things in particular that need to be shared: how Bruce Peninsula has chosen to approach their music and what their up-coming tour means to them.

Matt let me know that when putting the band together it was important for them to make sure they were doing so from a non-commercial standpoint. Therefore, they weren’t going to allow themselves to be in any way constrained by questions of “why?” but ask instead, “why not?” So when they added instruments or their amazing choir there was no need to consider whether or not they could do it. As Neil put it, “we want to hear what we want to hear.” Never mind the rest. Following on that same ethic, they told me of how the Bruce Peninsula sound is a result of songs being worked and re-worked – that writing a song can take up to six months – that the sound cannot be accepted without everyone getting to put their own hands in the plasticine and everyone having their say. As Matt put it, “we are our own audience.”

Bruce Peninsula – Shanty Song
Bruce Peninsula – 2nd 4th World War
Bruce Peninsula – Weave Myself a Dress

Continue Reading Bruce Peninsula Spotlight »

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— , June 22, 2009    1 Comment

Plants & Animals

I just checked out Montreal’s Plants & Animals this weekend at the Wolfe Island Music Festival and couldn’t have been more pleased. A bit Wolf Parade, a bit Apostle of Hustle, but undeniably their own, Plants & Animals is definitely becoming one of Canada’s indie bands to watch. They released their debut album on Secret City Records this February, which was announced in July as one of the contenders for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize.

Plants & Animals – Bye Bye Bye
Plants & Animals – Good Friend

The winner of Polaris will be announced on September 29. The 2008 shortlist is as follows:

I’m rooting for Two Hours Traffic because they’re pretty much my favourite Canadian band right now, their album rules, and they’re the underdog. Any other favourites?

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— , August 15, 2008    2 Comments