Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mystical chamber folk from Central Canada

Wow. It's been nearly a month since I last posted something. This whole expectant dad thing has apparently been taking up more of my time than I realized. On the upside, l'il Cubby (as we've taken to calling the baby since we discovered it dates back to our time in Chicago...) has a shiny new Baby Bjorn to be carried around in once it's born.

Anyway, enough about the Cub-ster. On to the music.

Winnipeg has produced an overwhelming number of great bands in a variety of genres - I've always contended that this city punches above its' weight when it comes to making good music - but a few years back the 'Peg produced a great band that plays a variety of genres: Mr. Pine. Working pop, folk, chamber music, prog and more into the mix, Mr. Pine's output stands alone.

The follow-up to their debut, The Gift Of Wolves, is called Rewilding and Mr. Pine asked me to write the one-sheet that they included with the album when they sent it out to radio and press. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I'd post the text from that one-sheet here:

When Winnipeg outfit Mr. Pine released The Gift of Wolves in 2006, that album could be viewed as the result of a project – a whimsical collaboration between Matt McLennan and Kevin Scott that drew several other musicians into their orbit. Since then Mr. Pine has moved from project to band with a filled out roster that has grown to include Leslie Oldham (vocals), Richard Caners (violin), Jason Peters (guitar), and Ken Phillips (bass). The cohesiveness of these players is largely responsible for the great leap forward that Rewilding represents for Mr. Pine.

As with The Gift of Wolves, McLennan and Scott remain the songwriters for all of the material performed by the band but their collaborations have grown with their working familiarity and Rewilding finds them incorporating new sounds – including that other four letter word; prog – into the mix. While the material still nestles comfortably alongside the folk-rock of Fairport Convention, Rewilding stakes its own far-ranging territory with pop, baroque and post-rock incorporated as well.

One of the highlights of the album is “Sleep of Ondine,” the recording of which proved notable for Mr. Pine. The song features guest vocals from Alison O’Donnell of Mellow Candle, a band McLennan and Scott share a love of. The pair never expected their homage to Mellow Candle would feature one of its vocalists.

“Streets of York” features another great collaboration, this one much closer to home. The band enlisted the help of Winnipeg indie legend Jay Churko (Chords of Canada, Transistor Sound & Lighting Co.) who somewhat surprisingly contributed banjo. The result is an obvious first single – but Mr. Pine isn’t about singles, and Rewilding should be taken as a richly rewarding whole.

You can hear some of the new material on Mr. Pine's Myspace page and if you have Flash Player there are clips here on the band's website.

That name again is Mr. Pine.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...