Posts Tagged ‘The Wheat Pool’

Treasures Buried In The Earth

April 18, 2009

It’s another brilliant day here in Southern Ontario and I’ve decided to make a playlist in the great radition of muic lovers everywhere.  Of course this used to be a mixtape, then mix CD, but now it’s an iPod playlist.  Some criteria:

1) The list will be 17 songs long. This is because its April 17th as I’m writing the post, and I remember that most of my exam time mix CD’s were that long.

2) Only one song per band. With the sheer number of groups in my collection it’s only fair.

3) At least 50% Cancon because I’m a good citizen. Well I guess in this case it’ll be at least 53% because I’ll have to include 9 Candian songs out of 17.

4) Everything in my collection is eligible regardless of genre, time, nationality, or personal back story. 

Now the list:

Is this Love? – Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah

When I first heard this band I wasn’t sure what to think of them.  Their singing isn’t what would traditionally be considered high caliber. It’s a little different than most. Nevermind that though, the song is great.  It’s a perfect way to kick off a warm spring day.

Lovesong – The Cure

Many of my friends are into The Cure.  They are one of those bands that people just seem to instantly love when they hear them.  This song, as the title indicates, is a classic love song, though in a style not always associated with romantic overtones.  I am convinced that The Cure are a band that would fit seamlessly into today’s indie music scene if they were brand new.

I Must Belong Somewhere – Bright Eyes

I believe I mentioned this song in one of my snow shovelling conversations on the podcast.  It is equally suitable now.  The simplicity of the melody and message allow your mind to wrap around the intersting lyrics.  It feels like a song that’s lounging on the porch.

Throwing It All Away – Genesis

Speaking of songs that lounge about, this classic Genesis tune displays the conplexity of a dysfuntional relationship. As someone who’s been there this song is almost liberating.  The positive vibe of the music is contrasted by Phil’s obvious sadness.  He knows that this is it, but isn’t sure what to do.  The common arguments: Who will light the darkness? Who will hold your hand? Who will find you the answers when you don’t understand? But he brings it full circle with the classic: Late at night when you call my name the only sound you’ll hear, is the sound of your voice calling, calling after me.

Emily Carr – The Wheat Pool

The first Canadian band (remember I owe you at least 8 more) brings a beautiful tune.  It’s such an effortless song by a great emerging band.  It contains stories about life, regular old life.  Road tripping across the prairies demands this song. Watch out for their next album due out within the year I believe. 

Wondering Where The Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn

Want to take a stroll on a nice day?  This song should set your gait for you.  Bruce strikes me as the kind of person whose spent a lot of sunny days outside, soaking in the atmosphere.  Wondering Where The Lions Are is a Canadian classic.  I think the line some kinda ecstasy got a hold on me is a perfect fit for this list.

Up On Cripple CreekThe Band

I’m counting this as a Canadian track because of the Canadian content in the group.  The Band were leaders in popularizing very rootsy rock from the southern US.  This song, a bit of a tall tale about nearly perfect love, Up On Cripple Creek is ideal for working on your car, building a fence, or hosting a BBQ. It just makes everything seem a little more effortless.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Whale Bone – Islands

Yesterday I dragged out my hockey net and spent an hour taking shots.  As soon as this song came on my attempts became harder and more deliberate. If I was a professional baseball pitcher this would be my entrance music.  I don’t know why I failed to realize the potential of this song for motivation, but it’s now part of my pre-sports listening.  Hard to argue with a song that mentions whale bone repeatedly.

Lost! – Coldplay

Please note this is the alternative version and not the original album one.  This is another great motivating song.  The lyrics really tell the tale: Just because I’m losing doesn’t mean I’m lost.  It should probably be in a sports movie right at the point that the underdohas reached rock bottom and is working hard to get back up.  It’s a great metaphor for my basketball team (now 0-10) as we try to bounce back in the last third of the season.  Spring means rebirth, so does this song.

Middle of Nowhere – Hot Hot Heat

This B.C. based indie band has given the world a catchy song about taking off to nowhere.  To give you something to go on, when I go off, back to the middle of nowhere

Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon

Any hope of seeing an S & G song are dashed by this track.  I absolutely love the organ in this song.  Paul Simon has a way of creating a song that is so full and rich without overcomplicating it.  This song, with it’s kind of bizarre lyrics is just such a song.  I’m swaying back and forth at the thought of it.

Cause = Time – Broken Social Scene

Probably my favourite BSS song for it’s up tempo beat and cynical lyrics.  I think what makes the band so great is there willingness to just try new ideas and be a bit wild in their songwriting.  In the end though this song is just great for rolling down the street with the windows down.

Something On The Tragically Hip

With the NHL Playoffs on I might’ve picked a couple of other Hip tunes for this list, but this is the one I like most for the context.  It strikes a nice balance between a rocking beat and a laid back feeling.  Much like Up On Cripple Creek  this song is appropriate for a myriad of outdoor activities.

 I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

Maybe my head is filled with a need to fight back, but I’m including another song with a strong message for the underdog. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.

My Old Self – Wide Mouth Mason

Some songs are just so nostalgic you can’t ever escape them.  Pretty much anything from the first WMM album is that way for me.  It doesn’t hurt that this song puts me in the mood to be outisde, dancing around, or both.  I’m up in the kitchen singing, momma’s out in the backyard, daddy’s downstairs digging a grave.

 The Needle Has Landed – Neko Case

Perhaps this song would be better suited to an evening under the stars, but I like it in this list.  I think I could eat ice cream while listening to Neko Case and it’d feel like heaven.

In Perfect Time – Jill Barber

We come to a fitting end with a song about loss and life.   This Jill Barber song is my favourite of her work.  I would blame feeling down on the weather if I had no other reason to be. Thankfully that sentence does not apply to me today. I’m off to enjoy the sun.

Before I Pull The Covers Down

January 16, 2009

I’m desperate now to see your face.

All of the Above

This Car

New podcast is up! This show features a chat about independent music including Shameless Records (see the interview below). It’s a very musical show, and as always you can find it over there –>.

Music includes This Car by All of the Above, an all brother band from Saskatchewan. They have been getting quite a lot of positive attention in their home province. Check them out here.

The Wheat Pool makes their first appearance on the podcast after being featured in a previous post. They are an Edmonton based band that have gained a national following. You can learn more about them, including their fun blog here.

Rose Reiter’s song Tender Sky closes the show.  She is a B.C. based musician who has won acclaim and had her music featured in several films.  Her music including a new single can be heard here.

As part of the show I mentioned an interview I conducted with Shameless Records President Glen Erickson.  He runs the independent label that represents The Wheat Pool, Leisure Co, Andy Shauf, F & M, Hector Fector, and Nick Perrault.  You can visit their website for more info. The part that follows is in a Q & A format. Thanks again to Glen for agreeing to do this and be part of The Alder Fork.

Can you tell me what drives your passion for music?
I really love new music, I always want to hear something new.  There is an incredible energy in being hooked by a new song.  I think that is the narcotic for me, and working at the label means my focus gets to be on the creative process all the time.  its pretty great.
What keeps you going in the face of increasing competition?
I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about competition.  You know there are a lot of bands and artists and labels out there trying really hard, maybe harder than I am.  There isn’t a formula for success, so just working your hardest at doing what you do best is motivation enough.  Being happy with what you see in the mirror makes a difference.
To what do you attribute your success?
I don’t know if I would consider us successful.  The label isn’t paying any bills, I don’t have a problem admitting that.  Maybe the fact that I’ve found a way to survive for six years is success.  Sticking to what we believe and feeling satisfied with accomplishments seems successful.  Helping some of our artists begin to achieve their goals feels pretty good too.
How does your identity as a Canadian label affect how you go about your business?
It doesn’t.  I’ve never considered it.  Being a western Canadian label that isn’t Vancouver has some impact.  Does anyone care about anything not in Toronto?  It rarely seems like it.  Not being able to walk down the street to meet with any major industry partner face to face creates some serious hurdles.  My artists are western Canadian.  Its hard to get them touring, its such a huge sacrifice, and ironically its twice as important.  We need to get in the face of the rest of the country and its not easy.  So thats the real issue.
Is being Canadian particularly important to you?
Terribly significant.  I love it.  Regarding music, we have the most incredible indie music scene, the best in the world.  Makes me feel great to be part of it, like I got drafted to the Oilers in the 80’s.  Incredibly lucky.
Where do you see your role in the cultural mosaic of this country?
Shameless has a place perhaps.  It would be an honor if we are ever considered that way.  I hope to find some special artists, people who I believe in whole-heartedly and know the world should hear, and Shameless can play the role of bringing that artist to the world.  I hope we can be the voice of a special brand of music being made out here too.
Do you have plans outside of music promotion?
I’m trying to live an intentional life and do the things I love, and not do the things I don’t love.  The people of Shameless share that spirit.  So whatever I do it will be what I am passionate about.  Thats a lot of things all the time it seems, too much to discuss.
What is the next big project for Shameless Records?

Probably The Wheat Pool and their second record, which is going to be recorded and released in 2009.  A lot of eggs going in that basket.  They are in the writing phase while continuing to expand their touring schedule in support of last year’s Township record.  It’ll be “the most un-country country record” I hear.

Tom Get Your Plane Ride On Time

January 13, 2009

You came to take us
all things go, all things go
to recreate us
all things grow, all things grow
we had our mindset
all things know, all things know
you had to find it
all things go, all things go

Sufjan Stevens


Sometimes I find the most intriguing things when I’m out and about in this city. For example, today I picked up U2’s The Joshua Tree and Peter Gabriel’s Us on tape for $1 at a thrift store. It was such an unusual find, but since  my 1995 Camaro only has a tape deck I’m pretty excited.  In some ways I feel sorry for the poor cassette tape. It has been surpassed in quality and utility by the CD, and doesn’t have the vintage cache of vinyl.  No one is clamouring to bring back the tape.  Who wants to struggle with rewinding and fast forwarding for mediocre sound quality, even if you do get the fun of having  “A” and “B” sides? Apparently, tapes have been around since the 1960’s (something I just discovered today). Too bad they are almost obsolete.

I was in my mid-late teens when the ability to burn CDs became available to the average person. So I can remember when making mix tapes was a regular activity among my friends.  Once I was in university we were passing around homemade CDs.  On the surface the two concepts are identical, it’s really just putting random songs on a recording medium so they can be shared. The tape, however, presents one problem that you don’t have with CDs, the aforementioned two side phenomenon. A tape requires that you pick two songs to run into the end of the tape, which may or may not be finished when the recording stops.  The standard length of mixtapes created by me was 90 minutes, or 45 per side.  You can fit roughly 8-10 songs on each side, depending on the length of song.

Some people are keeping the mixtape alive. For example, the S.C.E.N.E. music festival in St. Catherines, Ontario has a mixtape/CD exchange as one of their events. I think it’s a very neat idea, and one that could find its way into The Mid-Summer Festival of Peace and Tranquility.

The point of all this is to create an Alder Fork Mixtape for your listening pleasure. I can’t physically give all my readers a tape, but I can make a list here and encourage you to make one yourself. You can get cassettes for $1 or less at a lot of stores.  I am limiting myself to 8 songs per side for a grand total of 16. I think it should have a theme, so I can leave the door open to make more in the future on other themes.  I am going to call the first one The Where in the World is…Mix.  All of the songs will involve geography in the title or in the theme of the song.

El Salvador – Athlete -great song about material success and Latin American adventures
Stand – REM – I dare you not to dance around for this one
Pacific Theme – Broken Social Scene – just like being in Polynesia, but with more guitar
Washington Square (live iTunes exclusive) – Counting Crows – picking one CC song with geography in it is almost impossible but I did it
Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – obvious choice but I couldn’t say no
Grey Street – Dave Matthews Band – few songs speak to me like this one, almost like Grey Street is Bixby Cres.
405 – Death Cab for Cutie – North Americans spend a lot of time on the highway
Geographic Centre of Canada – The Wheat Pool – not only is it Canadian, it’s kind of about geography, perfect!
At the Hundredth Meridian – The Tragically Hip – arguably one of the best Canadian rock songs of all time
Africa – Toto – I’m allowed one wild, out-of-left-field pick
Chicago (To String Remix By Jongalloway) – Sufjan Stevens – a man who is trying to write albums about as many U.S. states as possible
Amsterdam – Coldplay – it’s not even about the things most people want from that city
The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon and Garfunkel – lovely song from a group that wrote a few about traveling around
Buffalo – Kathleen Edwards – no mixtape is complete without a newer song that I listen to 5 times a day
Mercy Street – Peter Gabriel – he uses a boat when he plays this live, that seems appropriate
Babylon II – David Gray – I wouldn’t know about him without this song, so I’ve included the reprise version from the album, the ideal song to wrap things up

Across the Prairies and Past Them Great Lakes

January 4, 2009

A summer spent out by the ocean, a rock band always in motion.

The Wheat Pool


Westerners The Wheat Pool are a thoroughly Canadian band.  Their songs bear the names of Canadian icons and events. A February 2008 concert in Edmonton was captured by CBC Radio 2 and is available on demand from their website. I decided to check it out even though I was only vaguely familiar with the group. What follows is my running diary. This is a shorter concert so I will fit it all in one post.

The set kicks off with Neil Young.  They definitely owe some of their sound the music legend.  The Wheat Pool are an alt country band, and this song features generous helpings of harmonica and pedal steel.  Sometimes I remember all the reasons why we made each other scream.

I feel like this band should be playing in a barn somewhere with hay all over the place.  Unlike some other CBC Radio concerts this one has between songs banter.  The band points out that they have an album called Township. The way this set is going I’m going to want a copy. FBD is next. The pedal steel in this song is great.  I know the band wears ball caps on stage, but they need cowboy hats. I’m not a big new country fan, but I do like alt country. It’s a fine line between what I like and what I don’t. The Wheat Pool is on the right side of the border.

I’m assuming Whyte Ave is a place.  Someone yelled out a random comment from the back, but I couldn’t make it out.  This song is for “anyone who’s ever had a crush on a CBC Radio personality.” Nice lead in. Ah the song mentions Sook Yin Li, well known as a Much Music VJ back in the 90’s. She’s out in Vancouver now I think.  The song goes all over Canada, from Calgary to Toronto. We belong outside the warm glow, stumblin’ down streets we used to know, the cold embrace of Whyte Ave, this city ain’t the same without you.

At the midpoint we get Evergreen. An appropriate name for any song about Canada. The start of this song is more indie pop than anything else I’ve heard so far. This could be a Death Cab for Cutie song so far.  I like the variety of this set so far. The harmonies in this song aren’t quite perfect but are still good.Whyte Ave. gets mentioned again in this song.  From the Pacific to Lake Ontario.

The next song is introduced as being about “important historical events,” and how Canada has had many despite being a young nation.  It deals with Louis Riel and The Red River Rebellion.  This is a dark song with an interesting moaning guitar between verses.  You were born on the banks of Red River, I’ve seen your home. It’s amazing how Riel went from executed enemy to Father of Confederation. It only took a hundred or so years of consideration, and some softening of hearts.  Louis Riel at the right hand of God’s stone. I think he is definitely more of a Western, Native, and possibly francophone hero than an Ontario or eastern one.  But to some degree he was a cilvil rights type leader well before most others.

Between You and Me sounds like some kind of break up song.  The guitar has taken centre stage in this one.  You could almost slow dance to this song if this was a high school dance and not a concert.

Lyrically, The Wheat Pool are definitely story tellers.  None of the songs in this show metaphorically avoid the point. It’s clear what each song is about from the opening lines.  It definitely suits this style of music.

The song Geographic Centre of Canada has an interesting title. Most people would acknowledge that the economic and political centres of the country have traditionally been in Ontraio and to some degree Quebec, where the vast majority of Canadians live.  But with such a wide and tall country (second largest in the world) the physical middle is a little further West and North. The track opens with wide open instrumental part.  This is my least favourite song so far.  It’s just not that remarkable and nothing stands out.

The last song is named after one of my favourite artists, Emily Carr.  Apparently, the CBC has been instrumental in helping this band to grow.  It’s good to see the CBC doing what it is intended to, namely promoting Canadian culture.  Emily Carr is probably my favourite of the whole set. The balance of pedal steel, guitar, and everything else is just perfect.  I crave different way to cut through all this noise, cause the fields are real in my mind, so leave me the choice, to stay here or run away so far, you and me and Emily Carr. The song includes some Gordon Lightfoot lines for good measure as it winds down.

Overall I give The Wheat Pool an arbitrary “A” for this effort.  I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I like the concert so check it out if you are into alt country, and Canadian music.