Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Photo by David Waldman
You couldn’t have picked a more perfect place to be introduced to the gothic gospel spirituals of Toronto’s Bruce Peninsula than under an open sky as the sun began to set across a farmer’s field, as I did last August at the Dog Day Afternoon festival. Sounding both fresh and unmeasurably old, the eleven-piece choir/blues band hybrid made an indelible first impression in that unique setting I figured would be nearly impossible to match. And yet they did a few months later in the more conventional environs of Lee’s Palace and once again in a couple weeks at The Horseshoe. Obviously, as special as that Dog Day performance was, Bruce Peninsula were not dependent on their environs to work their magic.
But what of the studio? It’s hard enough to capture the chemistry of live performance on tape for a conventional band – how about one that’s as much an old-time revival show or gospel choir as a band? Amazingly, it sounds like they’ve done it. Listening to some still-rough/unmastered versions of their debut album, A Mountain Is A Mouth, I’m immediately reminded not only of the energy and intensity of their live shows, but also the mystery and sense of distance – spatial and chronal – that I didn’t think could be experienced indoors, let alone from speakers. And the clarity of all the voices and instruments, not necessarily something you get live, is also astonishing. Whoever recorded this thing did a hell of a job.
The record is still being polished up (but hopefully not too much) for a release sometime this Fall on a home still to be named/determined, but in the meantime the band have released a 7″ of two traditional folk recordings (from the Alan Lomax archives) that also capture the sound of the band, if not their songwriting. Both sides are streaming at the band’s MySpace (along with a track from the album) but I suspect it doesn’t sound quite the same over the internet as it would on record, with the added dimension of crackles, or live, with the added dimension of crickets.
I missed the release show for the 7″ a few weeks back in the perfect setting of the Toronto Islands as I was at a rained-out picnic but while they’re currently on tour in Eastern Canada, the band have a couple of local shows coming up. First, on August 9, they’ll be at the Whippersnapper Gallery with The Got To Get Got and One Heart Many Hands and then on August 22 they’re at The Horseshoe with Cuff The Duke and The D’Urbervilles. Both are absolutely worth your notice, but if you’re leaning towards the much-smaller (and hotter – I don’t think they have AC) Whippersnapper show, then pay attention. Courtesy of No Shame, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to visit the Bruce Peninsula” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, August 4 and if you don’t win, I highly recommended ponying up the $8 in advance for a ticket.
MySpace: Bruce Peninsula
Ottawa’s Angela Desveaux will release her second album The Mighty Ship on September 9 and play the nifty Boat on September 4. Update: Now MP3-enhanced!
There’s a track from Giant Sand’s new record proVisions available to grab. It’s out September 2.
So I’m out of town for the long weekend starting tomorrow – going to the greater Washington DC area to visit family – so I’ll be pretty much offline the whole time. Play safe, see you in August.