Elliott BROOD, the outstanding Toronto, ON trio comprised of vocalist Mark Sasso, guitarist Casey Laforet and drummer Stephen Pitkin, rolled into Indianapolis on a Thursday afternoon in March to record this Laundromatinee session and later play a rousing set at White Rabbit Cabaret.
From the staging of this session and what the band had packed in their arsenal for the performance, no time was wasted doubting whether this one was going to be special. This performance is as intimate as music gets. Elliott BROOD gave us three friends in close quarters of brick and steel, singing songs of rumination and hope, to be broadcast to an audience of God knows what size, but it was precious few for the recording between the brick walls of the Big Car Service Center.
A tour through Europe a year ago laid the foundation for what would inspire Elliott BROOD’s new album, Days Into Years. A chance visit to a World War I cemetery called out to them, and the site bred deep emotions in the Toronto guys, seeing firsthand the endless stream of deceased Canadian names, conjuring the stories and dreams of these generations-ago Canadian brethren that died far from home in a momentous time of violent unrest, spreading fascism and true heroism.
The backbone of the album’s inspiration ties acutely to the brand of music Elliott BROOD crafts. Their sound has been tagged as a “death country” gospel since their formation almost a decade ago. That moniker has earned a mixed bag of criticism over the years but was fed with the band’s penchant for distorting and processing acoustic guitars and banjos and incorporating them into their spirited live shows. The band describes their sound to as based in folk and country rock, steeped in a lot of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, along with influences in the likes of Wilco and Son Volt. They cite The Band as “the perfect example of a bunch of Canadian guys who put their spin on country.” Making music with pillars like those as their foundation, all the while crafting urgent folk songs with the desire to get loud and a passion for igniting a revival that will get people moving, Elliott BROOD treads fertile musical soil and enriches it with their stories and harmonies.
Known for years as the Canadian trio in sharp suits with acoustic guitars strapped across their backs, Elliott BROOD chose to go electric for the first time on Days Into Years, and they achieved the desired effect of evolving their sound rather than losing their core. They recorded the album in a former army barracks in rural Ontario and kept close the emotions that stirred in them at that World War I cemetery in Europe. “If I Get Old” is a ruminative, near-prayer-like folk song about young men fighting in The Great War. It’s about men with young hearts begging for a longer life they won’t screw up or spoil should they be blessed enough to see it through. The protagonists hold on to that clichéd longing for a simple life to “let the land do what she wants to. Leave her wild and overgrown” as long as it means surviving all the inescapable death and misery. Their desire is a cliché because most every man in that situation seems to hold that same longing, but “If I Get Old” is a gorgeous, populist folk song, because that cliché rings true to the good, earnest hearts of mankind, at least the mankind that adores heartfelt, pensive folk songs. “My Mother’s Side” is the story of a protagonist torn from his mother’s side and searching for the loving, hopeful dreams his mother instilled in him as a boy. Now, that he is long from home, fallen on hard times and out in the cold, he is longing for the truths in the words his mother told him.
Elliott BROOD write the kinds of songs that make you genuinely want to hang on every word. They craft verses with the unmistakable desire to make every word heard and every chorus sung out. Elliott BROOD wants you to know all the words to every song, feel alive in their stories and sing along with all of your heart when they come to town.
Days Into Years is out now courtesy of Paper Bag Records. 2008’s Polaris Prize short-listed Mountain Meadows and 2006’s Juno-nominated Ambassador are also available at your local, independent record store and on iTunes.
Recorded and Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Filmed and Edited by Doug Fellegy
Written by Justin Wesley