Under the Snow: A Canadian music Expose #5

Elliott BROOD

dashing looking chaps, aren't they?

Self-professed Death-Country, this three piece outfit from Toronto, Ontario is arguably, one of Canada’s most impressive and unique acts. Fusing the darker aspects of eastern european folk, bluegrass and metal-like rough, with grim almost growled, vocals, the band achieves a powerful and fascinating sound..

Members: Mark Sasso, Casey Laforet and Stephen Pitkin.

A fancy package
Their first outing is the impressive EP, Tin Type. Released in 2004, in a brown paper bag, with a series of photos in replacement of liner notes. The old school look and feel of the packaging goes a long ways to adding to rural/historic feel of the music. The heartfelt, Oh, Alberta is a beautiful song, with engaging banjos and Sasso’s hauntingly rough vocals dancing together. The albums opener, Bowling Green is almost too much fun to be sung is such a rough, near-tortured voice…almost. At 6 tracks, this is the kind of EP you can really sink your teeth into, and gives you a strong hint of the genius to come from the band yet.

Stunning work of musicianship
Then there’s the 2005 LP, Ambassador, a phenomenal piece of alt-country that flies in the face of all previous musicians (though there is a hint of Lucero/Drive-By Truckers under the surfaces at times). President 35 remains one of my favourites, with a high energy, strong vocal assault and intense percussion and banjos. The enthralling Second Son has some impressive guitars, and awesome percussions, over-layed by almost clean singing with a few metal worthy screams. There’s the caustic Johnny Rooke, with it’s hard southern rock bass-lines and foot-stomping drums, and sing along worthy chorus. Easily one of the finest alt-country albums of the past decade, you are doing yourself a disservice if you won’t find and explore this masterpiece.

a mature album that re-writes dark folk.
2008, the band releases the ambitious, brilliant and bombastic Mountain Meadows. A concept album about the Mountain Meadow Massacre (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre ), the album has strong elements of cabaret, vaudeville, and even punk lurking it’s depths, and is easily the bands most complex and accessible recording. Soul-stirring compositions like Miss You Now with it’s heart-wrenching vocals and guitars, reveal a strong under-current of beautiful fragility to the bands musicianship, while the enthralling and rocking Write it Down For You with it’s thumping beats and rushing guitar strumming sucks you in, and washes over you with a hint of melancholy. There’s the high paced, piano driven Woodward Avenue, which has some stunning harmonies and some of the band’s most melodic vocals. Mountain Meadows is the band moving forth as musicians, and is superior even to Ambassador in it’s compositions and executions, and should not be missed by ANY fan of good music.

ain't see'd it yet
In 2010 the band composed the score for the Adriana Miggs film, Grown Up Movie Star, and apparently garnered a Genie nomination for one of the tracks. I have not yet heard the score (or seen the film) so I cannot, sadly comment on it, except to assume it is amazing. Obviously.

Some Music Videos to get you started:
Oh, Alberta (live):
Second Son:
The Bridge:
Write it All Down For You:
Fingers and Tongues:

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About Messianic Rebel
Crazier than expected...

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