Tag: Arts & Crafts

Lyric Video: Ellevator Shares Slow-Burning “Party Trick”

Hamilton, Ontario-based indie rock outfit Ellevator — Nabi Sue Bersche (vocals), Tyler Bersche (guitar) and Elliott Gwynne (bass, synths) — have received attention nationally and elsewhere for a sound and approach that draws equally from late-aughts guitar music, post-rock, U2Peter GabrielKate BushFeistSpoon and Death Cab for Cutie and paired with lean, razor sharp hooksand Bersche’s earnest, pop star-like lyrics. Thematically their work touches upon power, love and loss from lived-in, personal reflections and experiences.

The Hamilton-based outfit’s self-titled EP amassed over a million streams across all of the digital streaming platforms. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Ellevator toured across North America with Our Lady PeaceMatthew GoodBANNERS, Cold War Kids, JOVM mainstay Rich AucoinDear RougeBishop BriggsArkells and Amber Run

The Hamilton-based outfit’s long-awaited, full-length debut, the Chris Walla-produced The Words You Spoke Still Move Me is slated for a May 6, 2022 release through  Arts & Crafts. The 12-song album reportedly sees the band documenting universal experiences like existential longing, romantic power struggles, the never-ending work of true self-discovery and the deeply personal and highly specific — i.e., Nabi Sue Bersche’s experiences entering into and leaving a religious cult.

In the lead-up to the album’s release next month, I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s released singles:

Easy,” a song that revealed a band that not only making a bold decided step forward in their sound and approach, but a band embracing that they’re a rock band with a balance of deliberate craftsmanship, earnest and lived-in lyrics, enormous hooks and raw, passionate performances with a slick studio polish that reminded me of 80s pop and deDeep Sea Diver‘s impressive Impossible Weight

“Easy” draws directly from Nabi Sue Bershe’s life: For a period of her life, the Ellevator frontwoman was a member of a religious cult, and the song is a rumination on the good and evil things we are raised to believe without question. “I was raised in the world of charismatic Christianity – an offshoot of Pentecostalism,” Ellevator’s Nabi Sue Bersche explained. “God was magic and prophetic ecstasies happened every Sunday. As a child, I spoke in tongues and prayed until my body swayed with a gentle force like wind knocking me backward. A deep and abiding love of the natural world took hold of me. I witnessed firsthand the wild power of music – how it could uplift, ensnare, console, inspire.

“When I was 17 I moved to the other side of the world and joined what would most accurately be described as a cult. I prayed for strangers I met in parking lots. I shut my eyes and read the dappled light between my lashes like tea leaves that could divine the future. Vulnerability was a badge in that community so I learned to overshare. Teachings were given in the language of freedom while the stiff hand of purity reduced my body to a shameful temptation. Growing up like that gave me a love of music, a nose for bullshit, and a lot to unravel. This song is about the good and evil things we are raised to believe. I was held captive by an ideology that severely limited my life and my perspective of the world around me. It’s a process I’m still in the middle of, this work of extraction.”

Sacred Heart” continued a run of slickly produced yet dramatic, radio rock with enormous, arena rock-like hooks, earnest and lived-in lyrics that to my ears reminds me of John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” and Stevie Nicks, thank sin part to an expansive arrangement featuring slashing power chords, twinkling keys and Nabi Sue Bersche’s yearning vocals. “Sacred Heart” details swooning and urgent young love in its gutlessness, passion, fearlessness and uncertainty.

“This one’s a love song about how intimacy and deep knowing can make it feel like there’s nothing left to discover, and choosing to push on anyway in search of new depths, “Ellevator’s Nabi Sue Bersche explains. “Ty [Tyler Bersche] (guitar) and I got married on a cold spring morning when I was 22 and he was 19. There wasn’t much chance to sell each other on our own myths, to be the mysterious stranger from outta town: we wrote our origin story together. Learning to love each other better has been a strange journey and the great gift of my life.”

The Words You Spoke Still Move Me‘s latest single “Party Trick” is a slow-burning and atmospheric ballad that manages to accurately captures the insecurity, anxiety and flightiness of a young person still figuring out who they are and what they are; so they spend their time adopting and discarding identities, interests and beliefs until they maybe find something that suits them. While drawing from personal experience, the song captures a universal experience.

“A friend said to me that being in a band means never growing up,” Ellevator’s Nabi Sue Bersche says in press notes. “It’s easy to feel like Peter Pan on tour, all the trappings of adulthood a hundred truck stops and a thousand miles in the rearview. I started writing this song to my teenage self: a flighty, insecure kid posturing confidence. I’d jump around to all the different cliques like a self-styled Ferris Bueller, leaving just before friendships could settle in. Being on the road brought out those same old tendencies: keep it all on the level, don’t go too deep. Driving down the highway, floating through the hall/Everything is different, nothing’s changed at all.”

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”