Wilderness Of Manitoba
Hymns Of Love And Spirits
Thom Yorke may have said, “ambition makes you look pretty ugly,” but he never said it would stop you from sounding really, really pretty. Wilderness of Manitoba’s music is an obvious product of precise and meticulous care, determination and drive. Any time a band is determined to have the sound of birds chirping in the background, that much is a given. But that’s a minor detail that adds to scope of the band’s vision, conjured together with excruciatingly deliberate musicianship and laborious vocal performance. I mean that all in a good way.
Wilderness Of Manitoba’s most blaringly obvious musical relative is Fleet Foxes, as both groups share a love of gorgeous, complex airy harmonies and cavernous reverb. It’s the kind of comparison every reviewer is going to make, like Interpol-Joy Division, Strokes-Velvet Underground, Oasis-Beatles, etc. However, Wilderness of Manitoba’s sound is far more static, meditative, less forward-thrusting, like a slow-motion sunrise translated into music. The melodies don’t so much weave as bloom, slowly and graciously rising. Yes, it is music best described in terms of naturalist romantic poetry.
Lyrically the band apply themselves just as thoroughly as they do in regards to the music, seemingly restricting themselves to only the most weighty themes: life, time, love, death and religion. In the gentle, soaring “Bluebirds”, the band’s various vocalists sing, “And when I’m old and grey/Just let me die this way/You won’t be standing by/Before we fly down.” The near-droning “Dreamcatcher” begins with another smack of emo-folk poetry: “Now the wind blows/Across the floor that keeps us from our/distant goals/I know that you are sick of waiting.” In the whispy, lonely shimmering “Manitoba”, the singer plans on “Driving far/In a broke down car” to meet a lover, I’m guessing in Manitoba.
I suppose the band’s little novelty item of information is that what may be the album’s best song, “Evening”, was written by singer Will Whitwham’s mother Wendy Blackburn in the 60’s. A scrappy recording of the Fairport Convention-esque original closes out the album, but the band’s own version appears right in the middle. While the original is remarkably strong, it clearly sounds dated. The Wilderness’ cover updates it well, decking it out with sweeping minor key harmonies not present in the original, giving it more impact and a kind of haunting quality. There’s likely going to be some reviewer who gushes about how the album sounds timeless and could have been made 100 years ago or something, but the band’s cover and inclusion of the original “Evening” easily displays that folk music, though it has its roots in the past, is still an evolving genre. Wildness of Manitoba’s Hymns… prove the band to be more than fit enough to survive.
The artist of the week this week is a legendary artist with a bit of a tragic story. Like many great artists, his mental illness has plagued his life and caused him and those around him a great deal of suffering, but at the same time, may be part of the source of his musical genius. To some he may seem amateurish and weird, while to others his intimacy and strange, expressive honesty strikes a jarring chord. The artist of the week is…
So, I’ve started writing Grubtunes: The Novel. Basically, it’s an autobiographical account of my life for something like the last three years with the focus on my thoughts on music, sex, and Toronto’s music scene. There will be some stuff in it about bands I hang out with like Still Life Still, Spiral Beach, etc. so if you want to know a bit more about what those guys are like, it’ll be in there (don’t worry, I’m not gonna diss anybody, they’re all seriously pretty cool guys and girls). Yeah, it’s not a very original idea, but did Adventureland, a coming-of-age story about a dude working in an amusement park for the summer, sound like the craziest most original idea ever? No. But was it an awesome, awesome movie? Yes. Yes it was. That’s an objective fact.
Jo Landau plays idiosyncratic but deceptively sophisticated indie-pop in this rare acoustic showcase.http://www.myspace.com/saskatoonguitardestroyer
10:10 – Triceratops
This promising band likes things heavy and fuzzy but not at the expense of great hooks. Very interesting and exciting stuff.http://www.myspace.com/449900471
10:40 – Datura
This Aurora band sounds kind of like Bright Eyes if that shit were harder and more intense.http://www.myspace.com/datura
11:20 – The Playground Hookers
Stoner rock band that likes it rough. Surprisingly catchy at times, though.http://www.myspace.com/theplaygroundhookers
12:00 – Bravestation
Dark, post-rockish band that knows how to swing it…hard.http://www.myspace.com/396828777
This week’s band of the week is a four piece from Australia with a childish, twee-like charm but that records sophisticated pop not unlike The Go-Betweens if they had a modern Phil Spector producing them. The band of the week is…
So, I had no idea who the opener was at this show, I just came to see The Dodos but I get to Lees and there’s like Christmas lights wrapped around all kinds of weird, expensive looking musical equipment. This band gets on and start joking around in their accents about how Canada and New Zealand are both commonwealth so, yeah. It was The Ruby Suns, as I later found out.