Who? This Detroit septet got together back in 2004, but their first show wasn’t until a year later, doubtless after many a late-night jam session and lots of hippie bonding. Detroit? Hippie? Wha? That’s right, the home of Eminem, the White Stripes, techno, Funkadelic, the Stooges, and many other things that are not folky, mystical, gently strummed, whimsical, or otherwise characteristic of the five fellas and two ladies that comprise Canada is, in fact, the home of Canada. Make sense? Bands named after place names are confusing.
What’s the Deal? The band’s debut, This Cursed House, on the Quite Scientific label, mixes orchestrated folk with rock bombast, via a unique combination of several percussionists, guitar, Fender Rhodes and two (count ‘em! Two!) cellos. The tempos vacillate between martial propulsion and limping balladry, and are enhanced by all manner of percussion, including, according to the band, glockenspiel, boots, and alarm clock. Certainly there’s a touch of Jeff Magnum / Arcade Fire in the repeating words laced through songs, the melding of psychedelic and earnestly emotional lyricism, and the pained yet charming vocals. Gang vocal harmonies are often shouted in a call and response, as on the melodica-laced “Look to the Trees,” but just as often whispered gently, and with plenty of falsetto oohs, the warmth of that Rhodes, and the lazy thrum of an out-of-tune acoustic, as on “The King’s Ashes.” There’s also, heart be still, an honest to goodness typewriter used for percussive pizzazz on the whimsical instrumental “Hey Garland.”
Fun Fact: The sound board used to record This Cursed House was the same unit used to mix parts of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Wow. You know what some nerds would give just to touch that thing? Actually, you don’t want to know. J. GABRIEL BOYLAN
Now Hear This: Canada – “Hexenhaus” DOWNLOAD MP3
Talk: Does Canada make you hot, or leave you feeling cold?
On the Web: thecanadianfront.com