Polaris 2011

Get To Know Your Short List

Colin Stetson- New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges

File this one under “I Don’t Get It”. Not that I’m surprised; you shouldn’t be either. Polaris is known for championing at least one album with that art-snob “you have to be cultured/artistic/smart enough to appreciate this” air to it (just look at the title).  And while I do appreciate what Colin does with his many instruments, I just find most of this album hard to digest.
If you’ve ever seen a show or listened to an album by Arcade Fire, Belle Orchestre, Feist, Bon Iver, Tom Waits, TV On The Radio, The National or LCD Soundsystem, you’ve likely encountered Colin Stetson.  He’s toured or recorded with all of them, usually playing bass saxophone but sometimes on clarinet, bass clarinet, french horn, flute or cornet. New History of Warfare Vol 1, his debut solo album, was released in 2008. The follow-up, New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges is aptly named as it will be dissected by a roomful of judges at the 5th annual Polaris Music Prize Gaga on Sept 19th.
Vol 2 has some interesting elements, Stetson’s strangeness is likely what caught the attention of music critics in the first place. ‘Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes‘, which features vocals by My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden is actually worth a listen. However, tracks with clear vocals and balanced instrumentation like this one are few and far between. Most have a chorus of fluttering reed instruments in the background, which sounds to me like flocks of waterfowl flying overhead. This might be okay on one or two tracks, but not as an overarching theme.
Maybe I’m crazy, listen to a little bit for yourself here and here.


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on August 19, 2011, in Sound Bites and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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