Collective Concerts Presents
Old Sea Brigade, Frances Cone
1197 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON, M6J 1X3
Doors 8:00 PM
This event is 19 and over
It's been half a decade since Tall Heights kicked off their career in Boston's Faneuil Hall, busking for more than 100 days to help fund their very first EP. Paul Wright would play cello, Tim Harrington would strum the acoustic guitar, and both bandmates would sing, their voices cutting through the noise of shoppers and tourists.
Since those days, the duo's harmony-heavy indie folk has taken Tall Heights from the marketplaces of Massachusetts to stages across the country. They've toured America, released critically-acclaimed album, Man of Stone, and earned a spot on the same folk family tree as Simon & Garfunkel and Bon Iver. On 2015's Holding On, Holding Out, though, the duo widen their reach significantly, beefing up their sound with electronics, synthesizers, drums loops, Casio keyboards, and plenty of shimmer and shine. It's a record of exploration and expansion, with Tall Heights building something towering on top of their folksy foundation.
"This record feels like a new birth for us," says Harrington, a Boston native who grew up singing in the same local choirs as Wright. "We're sounding different. It's not because we were bored; it's because we were street performers who learned how to create beautiful moments as a duo, but then we became a nationally-touring act. We saw the country, we broadened our horizons. Suddenly, we weren't the artists we were before. But a lot of what we learned on the street still rings true to our approach today, so this record is a growth, rather than a left-hand turn."
Recorded at Color Study studio in Goshen, Vermont, Holding On, Holding Out was partially inspired by the music that poured out of Tall Heights' car speakers during the long drives from show to show. The guys found themselves listening to a wide array of sounds as they hurtled across the country, but they zeroed in on Icelandic music, taking influence from the sonic sweep of Sigur R&ocute;s and the electronic percussion of Ásgeir. The music of Iceland's underground was deep, dark and cinematic, able not only to deliver a melody, but to cast a mood, too. Harrington and Wright were also influenced by their hometown Boston music scene, specifically their friends and peers in Darlingside and the Ballroom Thieves. Months later, while recording their own EP, Tall Heights used all of it as inspiration, and allowed their intimate indie-folk to grow into something bigger and bolder. It was a natural growth — the sound of two musicians amplifying their music to its fullest potential, exploring some new territory along the way.
"We're singing together more than ever before," Wright adds. "Throughout all of Holding On, Holding Out, there are only a few places where only one person is singing without the other. There's a lot of perfect unison, too: just two people singing the same note at the same time, fusing their voices into a sound that's bigger than the sum of its parts. I think that's the biggest difference between this project and the last project. We're not just harmonizing; we're singing together all the time."
Holding On, Holding Out also draws a line between humans' relationships with each other and their environment. It's a call to be more present and conscious, especially with things we all hold dear — family, love, our planet — are at stake. At its core, though, Holding On, Holding Out is a blast of exploration and electricity from a group that previously did some of its best work unplugged. It's progressive and propulsive, shining a light not only on where Tall Heights have been before, but where they're going.
"Intimate and arresting" – NPR
"Tall Heights employ a collection of acoustic guitar, cello, and electronic drums, reminiscent of contemporary indie folk giants like Justin Vernon and Fleet Foxes." – XPN
"In addition to finger-picked guitar, swelling cello and tight, prismatic vocal harmonies, 'Spirit Cold' boasts a bold, airy drum part that propels the song through the peaks and troughs of the arrangement." – Wall Street Journal
"It's a contemporary sound that is not without its ageless qualities." – Chicago Sun Times
"Certifiably unclassifiable" – Boston Herald
"There have been many bands in recent years that have employed beautiful close harmonies, but when you add the strings and the great songwriting, Tall Heights is a notch above the pack." – WBEZ
"Call it simply gorgeous." – WFU
Old Sea Brigade
It really feels like coloring outside of the lines. For as much as the music of Old Sea Brigade remains rooted in Americana, indie, country, rock, and ambient soundscapes, it blurs and breaks barriers, tossing and turning between analog cinematic flourishes and provocative lyricism based on hard-won wisdom. Amidst this mélange of textures, Atlanta-born and Nashville-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Cramer allows the emotion to resound loudest on his full-length debut, Ode To A Friend [Nettwerk].
“I tried to put myself into my own bubble,” he explains. “I chose to do something that felt like me. It’s the best representation of my songwriting and what I grew up loving about music. I hope you can pull your own meaning from it.”
He’s been encouraging audiences to do just that since first emerging in 2015. After the breakup of his last band, he wound up back in Atlanta at his parents’ house with “no idea what to do.” So, he figured it out.
The artist combed through his personal sonic archives, found inspiration, and started feverishly writing. Soon after, he teamed up with producer Jeremy Griffith to record Old Sea Brigade’s self-titled debut EP. The single “Love Brought Weight” caught fire, generating over 16 million Spotify streams. In the meantime, he inked a deal with NETTWERK after founder Terry McBride personally reached out on Facebook.
Between touring alongside Joseph, Luke Sital Singh, Lewis Watson, Julien Baker, John Paul White, and more, he released 2017’s Cover My Own EP. The lead single “Tidal Wave” quickly crossed the two-million-mark on Spotify as acclaim came from Clash, Indie Obsessive, Immersive Atlanta, and many others. During 2017, he retreated to Griffith’s Destin, FL studio in order to record what would become Ode To A Friend. In the studio, the sonic palette expanded to incorporate analog synths and a “squeaky, old, and out-of-tune piano that you’d never find in a music store—but gave the sound character.”
“This go-around, I brought in a lot of production ideas, since I’d been working with many artists in Nashville,” he explains. “I worked closely with Jeremy to bring the production to life. We went outside of the box and tried different things. That noisey piano became a big theme of the record.”
On the lead single “Hope,” creaky ambience underscores the finger-picked acoustic guitar as he croons ponderous lines a la the opening admission, “I want to feel hope when I die, so I know what I left behind.”
He recalls, “I wrote that in Laurel Canyon at a friend’s house. That was my first experience writing in L.A. like that. It wrote itself pretty quickly. It takes a while for me to figure out what a song is about. It was being really honest though. That’s how I’d describe it.”
“Feel You” sways between a steady beat offset by his gravelly delivery and sparse, off-time piano chords. “It takes on multiple meanings,” he reveals. “It could be like a bad relationship, or it could be something else, depending on your experience.”
“Seen A Ghost” hypnotizes with its airy guitars and ethereal production as “Cigarette” lights up embers of delicate picking and resounding vocals. Barely over two minutes, the title track and closer “Ode To A Friend” leaves a lasting impression that’s both heartfelt and heartbreaking with a vocal mid-section that practically levitates on the energy of raw feeling.
“When I started Old Sea Brigade, the time that followed was the best two years of my life,” he goes on. “I could tour and work on music full-time. In the middle of all that happening, one of my best friends actually committed suicide. It’s a heavy record in that respect. I came up with the lyrics right after he passed. I didn’t want a normal structure. It’s almost like an interlude to tie up the album dedicated to him. He was always such a big proponent and fan of my songs. He encouraged me to move towards a solo career. The title made sense. I felt vulnerable enough to put out music that was close to me.”
That’s why it’s so easy to get close to Old Sea Brigade. Cramer opens the floodgates emotionally and forges an unbreakable connection by simply being himself. “That’s definitely something I’ve struggled with in the past. This record is my leap of faith to express music in the truest way I can. I want to keep doing that.”
Tickets Available at the Door
Advance tickets also avaialable at Rotate This & Soundscapes
This show has been moved from the Drake to The Garrison. All tickets honoured.