ELLIOTT BROOD – DAYS INTO YEARS
2011 - Universal
This tremendous alt. countryish trio hail from Toronto, Canada and were formed in 2002 by Mark Sasso, Stephen Pitkin and Casy Laforet. Previous albums, 2005’s ‘Ambassador’ and 2008’s ‘Mountain meadow’, were both justifiably described by the band as ‘death country.’ They were far more acoustic than this current offering that in the main has electric guitars to the fore, although this again does contain some dark songs! I actually preferred those first two albums although much of the acoustic instrumentation is still retained on several of these songs and even where they are not, their Big Star meets the Jayhawks mix of guitars, power and gorgeous melodies does still have plenty of appeal. The songs are all band originals and the quite wide variety of instruments are handled by Sasso on lead vocals, guitars, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica, Pitkin on percussion and backing vocals and Laforet on guitars, backing vocals, bass pedals, keyboards and ukulele.
The songs on this album were inspired by their 2008 tour of Europe on which they first came into contact with Canadian military graves in France and Belgium. It was then that they decided to explore the feelings invoked by the harrowing thoughts created by the sights that met them. Not too many other alt. country albums have sprung from such nobility of composition!
The songs themselves are all really well written and arranged, as you can expect from such a talented trio. The playing is always excellent, although at times the wash of sound does tend to mask some of the subtleties in the songs, but the variety in instrumentation, emotions and tempos certainly helps the album. Sasso’s excellent vocals along with the harmonies and melodies help to give many of these songs an epic, almost winsome loneliness, with the gorgeously anthemic acoustic Northern Air, with it’sevocative vocals, banjo and beautiful haunting steel guitar lifting it into the upper echelon of compositions that will be matched by very few this year. Lines is another beauty with it’s excellent melody and catchy chorus aided by Sasso’s haunting vocals and the high lonesome electric guitar sound and harmonies. Hold You has a more intense sound with it’s evocative Tennessee three’ guitar lines, surf guitar figures a la ‘Sadies’ and driving drumbeat, all supporting Sasso’s straining vocals, although it does just create the feeling that there may be a little too much going on. This can be applied to a few of the songs on this excellent album, although perhaps it is just on a purely personal level that their more stripped down sound has more appeal. Personal feelings aside though, this is a very good album by a band that is still developing their sound, which should make their future recordings very interesting!