Friday, September 28th, 2007

Hold Your Breath

Since discovering The Acorn at Pop Montreal last year, I’ve been inclined to use the phrase “quintessentially Canadian” whenever I’m describing their simultaneously expansive yet intimate pop so after tantalizing with two superb EPs in Blankets! and Tin Fist that only reinforced that characterization, what do they offer for their new, just-released full-length Glory Hope Mountain? Memories of Honduras.

More specifically, the album is based on the memories of frontman Rolf Klausener’s mother Gloria Esperanza Montoya (for whom the album is named) and details, in song, her journey from poverty in Honduras to a new life in Montreal in the 1970s. To come out with a concept album, let alone one so incredibly personal, as their first widely-available release was a risky move to say the least and even I, who had been looking forward to this record for nearly a year, had great reservations. Would the lyrics connect on a personal level? Would the traditional Central American instrumentation be used in a manner that felt natural within the compositions? Would I like it? Yes. To all.

Considering the loftiness of the record’s ambition, it would be an accomplishment to simply not be an interesting failure but Glory Hope Mountain is an unqualified success, worthy of note even without the creative back story. It tells Montoya’s story in enough detail to convey the necessary emotional weight but uses broad enough strokes to feel universal and the musical arrangements integrate the more exotic sonic textures such that they fit perfectly alongside the guitar, bass, drums and keys. But more important than the nuts and bolts of it all is the sense of celebration and joyfulness that pervades the record, even in its quieter moments or those inspired by tragedy. From the quietly scene-setting opener “Hold Your Breath through to the serene finale of “Lullaby (Mountain)”, beautifully sung by Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija, The Acorn have crafted an album of unexpected but triumphant beauty.

The Acorn grace the cover of this month’s Exclaim! and the accompanying story, featuring interviews with both Klausener and his mother, could double as annotations for the record. Soundscapes also has an interview with Klausener, getting some insight into the writing process for the album and finally, some asshat ripped off some of the band’s drums earlier this week – details here. The Acorn set out on tour as part of the Wood Whiskey & Wire cross-Canada tour in a couple weeks but aren’t on the Toronto date – instead, they’ve got their own headlining show at the Horseshoe November 24. Update: Radio Free Canuckistan, who penned the Exclaim! piece, has posted the first part of the actual interview with Rolf Klausener. Consider it the annotations to the annotations to the album. Update 2: …and part two.

MP3: The Acorn – “The Flood, Pt 1”
MP3: The Acorn – “Crooked Legs”
MySpace: The Acorn

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, whose new album The Shepherd’s Dog hit stores this week, does the interview circuit with pieces in Austin 360, Chart, The AV Club, Filter and Exclaim!.

Exclaim! also checks in with SubPop’s other mighty beard, Ben Bridwell of Band Of Horses, whose Cease To Begin is out October 9. They’re at the Phoenix November 9.

Filter gets on the (tour) bus with Arcade Fire while The Minneapolis Star-Tribune catches a phoner with drummer Jeremy Gara.

The Toronto Star looks at the benefits appearing in the latest iPod ad has had for Feist. Before last night, I’d never seen the ad. After watching one hour of The Office, I’d seen it three times.

The Vancouver Sun and The Georgia Straight check in with Carl Newman of The New Pornographers. They check in with Toronto on October 21 at the Phoenix and KCRW has a recent session with the band available to watch or listen to (thanks to For The Records).

Also that night at the Mod Club are British party posse and Mercury Prize nominees New Young Pony Club while the night previous (October 20 for those who did poorly in math), M.I.A. brings her stage-invading ways to the Kool Haus. Do you think the Kool Haus Kops will let the kids rush the stage during “Bird Flu” as they did at V Fest and ACL or will they be ready for ’em? Also on the bill are Datarock, Holy Fuck and The Carps And by the by, Holy Fuck’s new album LP is out October 23. Check out a track from it below.

MP3: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Chris says:

    Those Acorns MP3s are some of the best tracks I’ve heard all year.

  2. deecee says:

    Amen. I just downloaded _Glory Hope Mountain_ and it is a delight to my ears.

  3. rt says:

    Don’t forget, New Young Pony Club are also playing Montreal at the Just for Laughs Museum on October 22. All of their dates are below


    10/21 TORONTO – MOD CLUB
    10/27 SEATTLE – NECTAR

  4. Tualla says:

    Frank, Just noticed that you got a thank you on the Glory Hope Mountain liner notes. Congrats! I know that kind of thing is pretty small, but I hope you know you’re now immortal.

    – T