Boom. Married. We’re now officially “Canada’s garage-folk power couple” (I can put things in quotation marks that only I said, right?). In honour of our recent nuptials (held at the amazing Daverne farm house where we did some recording last year), we covered our favourite song/first dance— Big Star’s “Thirteen” (originally released on the amazing album #1 Record in 1972).
It’s been recorded over the years by some amazing bands and we’ve always wanted to put our spin on it. In this case, that involved the usual amount of homemade guitar pedals, weird old drum machines ($10 Yamaha RX17 mostly) as well as throwing the entire thing through a hand-me-down Yamaha MT-8X cassette recorder with some homemade delay and wah for good measure. Of course, as usual, Laura’s voice is the real standout here…
The result is something we’re really happy with, as it’s different than any version we’ve heard.
Listen by clicking the “play” button below, or download it for keeps by clicking the arrow on the right side. Thanks for listening!
Happy Canada Day, folks. In honour of the Great White North’s big day, Herohill asked us to be part of an amazing collection of musicians paying tribute to one of the nations most revered songwriters, Gordon Lightfoot.
He’s got a lot of material to choose from, so after a few days of listening to the LPs in our collection we couldn’t resist trying our hand at “High and Dry,” from the Sundown album. The melody in this tune is top notch. I hope we did it justice!
Remember a few weeks back when we went to Joey Bruni‘s farm to shoot performance videos for Tortoise? Well, here we are with Anna Atkinson playing “Southern Ontario” live on an old tractor!
Speaking of which, press for Tortoise is starting to roll in and They Wounded Jukebox had some very flattering things to say about “Southern Ontario” (and us in general). They also posted the track for download on Soundcloud, which you can listen to below or click the arrow on the right side to grab it for later.
A Nova Scotia-based duo made up of David Trenaman and Colleen Collins, Construction & Destruction are a) an excellent band with over 4 albums under their belt and b) two of the kindest people on the planet. We’re also playing a bunch of shows with them in eastern Canada in May, so it’s been tough keeping this project a secret through all the email back-and-forth.
Not only does this album pay tribute to one of our favourite bands, but it also features covers of THAT band, by our OTHER favourite bands (like The Burning Hell, Shotgun Jimmie & Wax Mannequin to name but a few), so I can’t tell you how excited we are to be a part of it.
We chose the C&D tune “The Oracle,” from their most recent album, the excellent Mutatis Mutandis, as it totally knocked us off our feet when we first heard it. Lyrics like this don’t come around every day. I highly recommend checking out the original, as Colleen’s conviction and delivery is unparalleled.
Listen to our version below and pick up the whole shebang from Zunior.com…oh, and did I mention that all the money goes right to the band themselves? I don’t even think they know about the album yet, so it’ll be a nice surprise if people jump on this (as they should)!
The story of “Laura’s Song” is two-fold. The first part involves a garage sale last spring where we found an ancient German 6-string banjo, branded Korri. Despite it’s less-than-playable condition at the time, we fell in love with it and probably overpaid. Though if I’ve learned anything about buying new gear it’s that, given all the stuff I buy that she begrudgingly puts up with, I damn well better buy the odd thing Laura actually likes.
The second part stems from wanting my partner-in-crime more involved in the writing/recording process. She’s become so integral on stage that it’s time we really showcased her on a release (that and after every show people always say “why doesn’t Laura sing more?” …jerks).
We were looking for a simple, bouncy ditty to end the new album and it seemed Laura was inspired by that beautiful relic of vaudevillian charm we’d had hanging on our wall for months, so the aptly titled “Laura’s Song” was born.
This demo is the two of us huddled in the living room around the on-board mics of our Zoom R24. She’s got the six-string banjo and I’ve got an old Casio.
The closer we get to going into the studio to record the new album the more I feel the need to post demos for some feedback. “Stan & Georgie” in particular has been a live favourite since we started playing it last spring. Personally, I enjoy watching audience members try to clap along and then pull the rug out from under them*.
The song itself is simple in accompaniment and details the faulty foundation and ultimately bitter dissolution of an elderly romance. The bridge lyrics and title are borrowed from the classic traditional tune “Frankie & Albert” (Look up the Taj Mahal version if you want a thrill).
As for the recording, this demo comes from the same live reel we recorded in our living room that yielded both “Tortoise” and “People.” You can hear the old analog trappings at work during the bridge, as the tape garbles lovingly.
For the album version I doubt we’ll add to much, but feel free to leave suggestions!
*There’s a funny video from one of our recent sets at Broadview Espresso where a good friend of ours started clapping along just as I switched back to the verse. I couldn’t hold in my laughter and had to pause the song to recuperate.
Sometimes a song takes a while settle. This particular tune has been around in various forms longer than just about anything on …Makes Ghost Noises, but didn’t make the cut for that album because it just wasn’t ready. I had pretty much written it off as tied too heavily to a specific time and place.
It’s amazing what a slight tweak can do (…or in this case completely ditching the chorus along with a change in tempo).
Suddenly the newly christened “She Said (to the Robot)*” has become a song that we’re not only excited to debut tonight at Rancho Relaxo, but also to have on our soon to be recorded new album.
As for the demo itself, Laura was away, so it’s just me doing my best “reverberated Springsteen.” It was her decision to put it up as is, but I can assure you that she’s got some backing “oohs” in the new arrangement that will make you melt.
Oh, and forgive the huge cough at the end. I was really sick when this was recorded and could barely make it through the take without hacking up a lung. Whiskey was the only thing keeping me going…
The result is a live demo of “People.” This is one of our newest songs and has only been tried live once or twice, but will probably be the most irreverent and playful on the new album.
As usual, it features yours truly on my Hollowbody Saturn and homemade 5F2-A amp with a tambourine on my foot, and Laura on Polysix—she came up with the idea for the second half based on that sweet organ sound. Oh, and apologies for the f-bombs at the end…it’s a fun way to close out the song, but we’re still deciding if they should make it to the album version or not.
Everyone’s always optimistic in early January. After all, there’s a shiny new year ahead of you brimming with potential. Of course, you have to wonder what became of the promises of the year before, and the year before that…
The result is a first attempt at “Little Dragon Slayer,”* a song based around a guitar progression somewhere between Stan Rogers and Velvet Underground, but haphazardly arranged on the spot for the keys. Laura’s backup vocals and Anna Atkinson‘s viola give a much needed classy contrast to my club-fisted and graceless bashing of the piano.
*We couldn’t decide on a name for this one, so opened it up to our friends on Twitter. Their great suggestions (almost went with “No Treasure”) turned us away from the obvious and also helped decide whether “Dragon Slayer” should be one word or two.