Every year in January many a music fan go on the prowl for the album that will provide the perfect bastion of beauty to retreat into during the long march towards spring. Some common requirements of the perfect winter record include, but are not limited to: songs that do not get exhausted quickly, an understated sense of melancholy, pretty harmonies, even prettier lyrics, string instrumentation, and of course the band must hail from some very northern, very chilly corner of the world.. This year's nominee in my book is Die Stadt Muzikanten, the impressive third studio effort from the Calgary based band Woodpigeon.
Okay so the Sufjan comparisons are easy to hear on the first listen; Andrews has that high, youthful sweetness in his voice, there's the bluegrass plucking backed by orchestral swells, and lots of storytelling. There's also sips of early seventies folk rock ("Enchantee Janvier" slides from a jaunty Crosby, Stills, and Nash vibe), and tops off with a touch of The Shins strange magic (whoa check out "Such a Lucky Girl"). Just to be clear though, these comparisons simply serve as strong mooring to provide just enough familiarity to walk into the album with ease, the rest belongs completely to Woodpigeon.
Frontman Mark Andrews (of The Hamiltons) wrote much of the album after a trip to Germany, spending time wandering around the hometown of his grandparents. The sense of past, memory, and folklore are definitely evident throughout the record, it's the cornerstone of what separates this from their past work. For example, the lyrics aren't as candidly autobiographical; this time around it's all a bit more abstract and lush. Die Stadt Muzikaten runs like a billowing movie soundtrack, and every song has its place. It's the kind of inspired richness you just can't fake.
So just keep this in mind, in our digital world, where artists often get chopped up into a hype machine medley of disembodied mp3s, the experience of the complete full length album gets reserved for either your favorite bands or on a specific recommendation that "this is a great record from start to finish". Well, consider this a solid recommendation, don't just rip the singles. Come on make the extra effort this time, and make sure to do it while the snow is still fresh. - amelia trask