One of the best things about having the original version of a song is being able to compare it to a demo version or a remixed version when a band is kind enough to share it with you. In this case, one of my personal favorite tracks on The Republic of Wolves’ EP His Old Branches (#1 EP of 2009)The Clouds, has been released as a demo with a link to a free download on Gregg Andrew Dellarocca’s – one of the five wolves’ – tumblr page.
This song brilliantly covers a wide spectrum of emotions ranging from what seems to be experiencing, dealing with and attempting to move on from loss. As the song begins, we are immediately introduced to inevitable death in the face of what was once patient hope. The inability to comprehend and accept the concept of ‘being without’ follows shortly after, where alcohol is introduced as a method to erase what realities are present and flood the mind with the delusion that the taller the bottle, the easier it will be to bring back what is missing. The ‘floor’ (or ‘ghost’ in the EP version of the song) gives no response to the main character’s attempts at finding closure through carrying on conversation with open space and though his attempts are tireless, they are fruitless as well and it is then that he begins to realize that there is no changing the certainty of death. There is, at this point, an immediate shift in the mood of the song, which is complimented by the sound itself – no longer attempting to stretch the realms of reality and giving rest to the inner battle that one faces when trying to achieve the impossible – the song hits a cathartic stride. What is left to bring back memories of what is lost is to be buried, hidden and tucked away – not to be forgotten but to be done because it is necessary for rescue, release, rebirth and growth. However, what takes a piece of us remains a part of us forever – so, no matter how deep we bury our memories, we never actually bury them deep enough to let go completely – ‘and they will stay there underground but no matter what I do I never will stop talking to you.’
(At least, that is how I interpret the song, have a listen and let us know what you think!)
I still see your face in the day.
And I see your eyes in the bottle that was way too tall
I finished it just to see if we could talk.
Now I’m speaking with the floor again
It’s telling me that I don’t listen.
What do the singers of Bon Iver and The Antlers have in common?
That low, scratchy growl of a voice, of course!
One day, while the wolf and the sheep were hard at work discussing the best albums of 2009, the obvious choice for #1 was Brand New’s Daisy. Brand New is our ULTIMATE band. We could probably share some crazy stories about things we’ve done for this band, but maybe another day. It’s pretty much Brand New over everything else in life for us. At least, that is how it is on most days. Not on this day though, because the wolf said to the sheep, “I hate to break it to you, but my favourite album of the year was by The Antlers.” Jaws dropped and so did the (chat)room temperature. The sheep was enraged. The wolf was scared with its claws ready to defend as the sheep wanted to pounce.
Clearly, 2009 tested our musical tastes and dedication to our favourite band. Even thought my love for Brand New will float on and on, I find that I am less.. well, obsessive, about them due to the new sphere of music that I have opened myself up to. Upon hearing His Old Branches a 2009 EP released by what can be considered our breath of fresh air band – The Republic of Wolves (You’ve got to hear this band!), the sheep exclaim— I mean, bah-ed loudly, : “I AM SO OVER BRAND NEW RIGHT NOW”. The point is, there comes a time for every music lover when you begin to explore the world of music beyond your safety point (ie Brand New, which held me over for years). You begin to explore new music and sounds and the feelings these new artists invoke. 2009 marked this for me. I’m not sure if it is because I moved away to university and became more independent in life overall (a milestone, really) and therefore was more brave to try new things, or simply because the same old tunes weren’t cutting it for me. Either way, my life has been blessed with new sounds to enjoy, and I will be grateful for this beyond the day when my children pick up the same CDs I bought this year and fall in love with them the same way I did.
Among these CDs, there will be a copy of Hospice. This was an album that I had to get used to with every listen. Thankfully, each listen did not feel like a chore (such as trying to like the new Taking Back Sunday albums back in the day…..). I was trying something new, now forcing myself to like something I was already dedicated to. I was intrigued by the new art. The thing that interested me the most about Hospice is that it is a concept album and tells a story chronologically with each song. I was introduced to the song Two in a mixtape I received from a certain big-toothed individual who runs this blog. There were 17 songs on that mixtape and this was the only one I listened to for days (sorry wolf). I hate to say this, but it was beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! So much beauty in 6 minutes that it could make you cry. I had a hard time getting into the rest of the album because the bar was set so high due to my repetitive listens of Two (iTunes play count: 62)
As for me, I am beyond excited to see The Antlers this February as they make a stop in Toronto with The Editors (The Editors on Myspace). As for the Wolf, she has been lucky enough to see them already, and could only describe it as the most beautiful show she’d ever been to. Now, please note that, even though we use the world “beautiful” a LOT on this blog, does not mean that we use it lightly. We use it because it is the perfect word, and we mean it every time.
I can wrap up all this personal junk with saying that The Antlers have been a big deal for me because they are a new sound for me. They have been a band that allowed me to expand and test my boundaries of what i allow my ears to hear. In my life, that is a pretty big deal.
Their latest full length album, Grandfather came out this past August, as their fan-base increased at a rate which was probably exponential. This is due to the youtube-brand new-fiasco (Google it?). At least, that’s how we shamelessly discovered them (Ok, maybe there’s a little bit of shame considering we didn’t discover them earlier .. But whatever, it’s great music). The two guys, Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs, have also started a new project, called The Republic of Wolves. Their first EP (His Old Branches – check it out if you know whats good for you and your ears) dropped last month with a beyond smooth landing.
Along with the simplicity of our love for this band, so is the strumming of their guitars – which must be endowed with magical powers – in practically all their songs. All of their songs, new and old, have a serious folk sound – so much damn strumming and nothing else! No piano, no drums, just strumming along. For someone like me who is tone/pitch deaf and overall musically retarded (what am I doing writing a music blog?), their songs do not tend to differ from each other musically. But this simplicity just WORKS for Tigers on Trains. That is because the beauty of their music lies within the lyrics and the simple raw transition of emotion into instrumental sound. These men have the ability to isolate a moment so beautifully that the music is all you care to hear.
There is now a new demo on their myspace, Canossa:
And sure enough we spent the day
Dreaming of ways to make the past come back
We drew the sky up on the wall
You drew the sun and I drew the clouds
That’s when I realized I was casting all this shade
As for us, we are still trying to wrap our heads around how two guys that are this young (they must be at least under 25), are capable of thinking such complex thoughts and creating such beautiful words and music; It is at the level of someone who has gone through life and figured out all of the great questions of what it means to be alive. They must have a hell of a life filled with a mountain of heartache!
My last thoughts for you; trust me when I say that that best way to spend a lonesome snowy day is in bed under a warm blanket while listening to Tigers on Trains.
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