Photo: Pat Lawlor
Ottawa’s in the midst of the solstice as I type, the summer has previewed its heat just as we’ve tried to preview all the festivals & shows, not to mention the cool new music popping up everywhere like mushrooms. Now we’re all left with the task of choosing what to go see. Well if you can’t make up your mind, or you are frozen in place by the fear of missing out, or you’d much rather just stay in for the first evening of summer, we suggest some warm music for this hot season.
The four lads that are Winchester Warm have released their sophomore album at the start of the month. The band doubled in size from its debut album, when it was just Jonathan Pearce & Matthew Godin. Sky One Room came out in 2010 with the simple and full group sound of Pearce on guitar and Godin on drums, both singing. Their repertoire has since swelled with Matthew Corbiere on guitar and Michael Zorn on bass for this year’s Belle Attente, which came out on June 6. Will the trend continue? Will Winchester Warm double in size for the third LP? At that rate their sixth studio album will rival most symphonic orchestra memberships.
Although it’s their second album, it’s the first available on vinyl! Despite the fact vinyl is making a comeback (perhaps single-handedly because of these “ultra LPs” rearing their heads), wax is still a pretty nostalgic medium for music. Perfect for the indie folk rock here that has a serious nostalgic undertone throughout. “Just Sit Back,” “This Old Fight,” and “The Great Fall” all have just the right amount of country twang and plaintive lyrics to exude melancholy but they are also in their own way uplifting. The Preston Street Kitchen Choir helped build momentum on “Like Hell” which terminates in long, beautiful chants. The entire Belle Attente seems to culminate into a peak in “Too Late.” This song I’ve had stuck on repeat as its instrumental build-up brings the album to completion.
It’s a fun album, one which I hope to see played live soon, because this was another June 6th event that I could not attend… (There were so many things going on in Ottawa that night but I attended my 15-year-old cousin’s Goldilocks Project Wild Bites EP release in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, QC. The kids are killing it!)
Winchester Warm will always push hard to promote their work, as Pearce & Godin did in slightly nippy January 2011 with an intensive two-week Maritime tour for their first album. Their melancholic theme is always overshadowed by an optimistic pop, layered with lyrics that vary from cryptic to fanciful. It’s good driving, chilling or whiskey-sipping music. Now, I don’t mean whiskey-quaffing or even whiskey-chugging, and that’s probably for the best anyway. Solstice weekends have a strange pull on people — most of us start acting like werewolves despite no full moon. You know how the heat gets to our heads… Sometimes these weekends are best spent in your own space, with a new album to discover. I suspect most people will increasingly enjoy this album the more they listen to it, and will discover a different song here & there is their new favourite. Between the start of this review and this line, I’ve discovered “At The Window” to be my new fave. There’s something to be said for that.
May the music be good to your ears and the sun be good to your gardens. Happy First Day of Summer to all!