Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
Leif Vollebekk’s new album of troubadour-style tunes is called North Americana. The title serves as a stylistic — and geographic — cue to listeners. Vollebekk, 27, is definitely Canadian (Ottawa-reared, in fact), and wanted to fuse a sense of his identity onto the album, which could easily be filed alongside such contemporary Americana artists as Gillian Welch.
The album was recorded primarily with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Rich Aucoin) at Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal and was released on February 19 via the Outside Music Label (The Besnard Lakes, Matthew Barber). It has 10 tracks that display a morbid, incisive lyrical bent and sad chords characteristic of the genre.
In addition to Hotel2Tango, Vollebekk took to a few other storied locations to record. Selected tracks from the album were pieced together at La Frette studios, in La-Frette-sur-Seine, France. That’s where Plants & Animals recorded and where Feist made her album The Reminder. Each track on Vollebekk’s album was cut to two-inch tape for that weighty sound.
Leif’s hometown gets some love on the album too. The song “Cairo Blues” was heavily influenced by that little back room at the Mayflower pub on Elgin Street. Vollebekk throws to other favourite people and places on the album. Lou Reed’s album Berlin, a rock opera about a couple on the fritz, serves as shorthand for a story about love gone awry. For Vollebekk, the beauty is in the specific.
“I still can’t help but use a lot of place names, that’s still present,” Vollebekk says when comparing this album to his 2010 debut Inland. “Though these new songs were written more like small novels — they’re really lyric-based. Truman Capote and [Ernest] Hemingway were big influences.”
Vollebekk, who calls Montreal home, is back in the area Friday to play a show at Wakefield’s the Black Sheep Inn, before hitting Toronto for CMW and heading back to Quebec for tour dates with Patrick Watson.
The Steve Adamyk Band just released its third album — called, simply, Third — on Dirtnap Records, a label based out of Portland, Oregon, that focuses exclusively on the style of scrappy-bubblegummy punk dished out by Adamyk (ex of the Million Dollar Marxists) and his mates. The Ottawa band released the video for the spitfirey tune “Katacombs” via Exclaim earlier this year. The album — in great punk tradition — packs 12 tunes into a running time of less than 20 minutes and is chock full of punk-simple chords and oh-ah-oh harmonies. The band’s CD release show takes place Saturday at Babylon. They play Canadian Music Week later this month and will be on stage at Ottawa Bluesfest in July.
MORE COOL GIGS
Street Meat is an Ottawa three-piece that takes a page from the Riot Grrrl musical movement of the ‘90s with its DIY esthetics, shout-along tunes, and discount electro sounds. See them at the Daily Grind coffee shop in Centretown on Friday.
Misha Bower sings in the Bruce Peninsula and writes short stories. Her recent collection is called Music for Uninvited Guests. These are stories about brothers, lovers, families, and all their odd and tender dynamics. Arboretum Festival organizer Rolf Klausener is holding a book launch at Raw Sugar Café today and members of Bruce Peninsula will perform between readings.