SHOW REVIEW: JANUARY 25TH, 2013 HEAVY MEADOWS, JON SAMUEL, FOLLY & THE HUNTER

By: Penelope Stevens

Fredericton’s Shivering Songs Festival continues to develop into an essential experience for all winterly disinclined, compelling even the least likely festival goer to don a pouffy parka and make an appearance at at least one of the interesting events and shows. The Capital show on Friday night was a good mix of Capital regulars and unfamiliar faces, all in high spirits and all in the height of winter fashion (fur and Canada Goose aplenty). I saw multiple high fives and back-pats bestowed upon favoured bar patrons, the Olympic Symphonium, curators of the Shivering Songs festival. I also saw three musical acts that I had never had the opportunity to see before. Thanks, Shivering Songs, for bringing new and unexpected acts through our city. All in all, I was very impressed with the level of imported and local talent that Shivering Songs was able to coordinate for their fantastic weekend. Unfortunately, I found this particular show to be the least enjoyable and impressive show of music. As a disclaimer, this review does not reflect cute, nice, little ol’ Penelope. It reflects Penelope as a fiery redhead with too much coffee and way too many opinions.

FOLLY & THE HUNTER – Montreal, QC

Although visually appealing for their unique instrumentation (stripped down kick-less percussion, dual organ players, acoustic lead guitar), and their generally cute band members, I was extremely underwhelmed by Montreal’s 5-piece up-and-comers Folly & The Hunter. I will admit, having heard of the band multiple times from multiple reputable sources, I was expecting some sort of extraordinary beauty to emanate from the stage; perhaps my hopes were too high.
They were fine, I mean totally fine. Their music did not hurt my ears, it didn’t make me angry, it didn’t offend me. The vocalists were talented, particularly the backing vocalists, and the the bass player kept an appropriate rhythm. But to me, it takes a lot more than just a typical portion of talent to deliver an inspiring performance. It put me to sleep! Not only were the songs glorified lullabies, but the band was also very boring to watch perform. I swear to God I saw the drummer nod off a couple times, and the organists looked as if they’d rather be napping in their van than performing.
You might be thinking, “But, oh, Penelope, you just have it out for folk music. You only like rock n’ roll!”. Not so. Gianna Lauren, for example, is an atmospheric lullaby musician, yet her music takes you on its wings and shows you how to fly. Through unlikely dynamism and compelling lyrics, she draws the listener in with honesty and integrity. Folly & The Hunter’s musical dynamism and captivation factor left so much to be desired. It did not show me how to fly.
Whether it was the consistently uninspiring lyrical content or the insulting simplicity for a 5-piece band, I decided that the music has been done again and again, and usually just a little bit better.
The depths and heights that music can reach are as high as the sky and as low as hell itself. Why allow your music to exist on a linear plane, when it could dipsy-doodle in and out of dimensions? If you want to be professional musicians, Folly, I suggest you show it. Your good looks will only take you so far.

Jon Samuel

Cute, nice voice, otherwise obsolete. He’s doing everything that has been done before, just wearing nicer glasses and having straighter teeth. I’m not sure how far his connection with Wintersleep will carry him, but I would suggest Mr. Samuel look at ways to innovate in his music before he goes as stale as the aforementioned band (no offense, current Wintersleep fans; keep telling yourself they will top Welcome to the Night Sky). Lyrically, I found him to be on-par with most other Canadian Indie Scenesters, which is really neither a compliment nor an insult. I was a little put-off by a few of his lines, such as a zombie-inspired piece (“Walking dead all around!”) that actually made me angry. Zombies are not good song subjects in almost every scenario, except perhaps an actual zombie apocalypse.
He was honest enough, delivered his work with sincerity, but lacked about 95% of the pinache the audience deserved. The songs, obviously designed to be backed by a pop-punk band, lacked greatly in a solo setting. Im not sure why he didn’t have a backing band, but without, the songs could not stand alone.
Obviously a skilled guitarist and an experienced touring musician, he must be aware that his music is not the kind to write home about. In my notebook, the last thing I wrote about Jon Samuel is “Oh, whatever”. That pretty much sums it up.

Heavy Meadows

Heavy Meadows, I discovered, is my new least favourite Halifax band. Unoriginal, outdated, and all-around thin, I would not recommend this band. I assure you that I was not the only audience member to catch this feeling. Folly & The Hunter and Jon Samuel were at least unabrasive and inoffensive; they did not dampen spirits of the festival goers, if they didn’t bore them a little. Heavy Meadows, however, did the trick of insulting the audience with their cool guy antics, their nonsensical eyebrow makeup, and their karaoke-inspired vocalist. Over-noodly guitar, too.

When I respect and appreciate a band, I could write for days of their talents and abilities, so this will be short: I wasn’t into it. Maybe you would be, so feel free to check them out here: http://heavymeadows.ca/. But don’t get your hopes up.



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