Fortresses is the third full length release for Canadian wordsmith Octoberman (Mark Morrissette). The press release for Octoberman states that this is Morrissette’s most thematically unified work which examines a variety of relationships. I would agree with this statement as the relationship theme became fairly evident upon my first listen. Several relationships are explored on Fortresses such as a musicians relationship with his fans (opening track The Backlash), different lovers (Dancing With Your Ghosts) and obviously what most male musicians write about, relationships with girls, girls, girls. The stand out track on the album for me would have to be I Was Wrong. It is a personal ballad about several female related situations where…yep…you guessed it, Mark was wrong. It plays out as a light hearted, almost comical look at a past breakup, however, you can really hear the honesty behind the lyrics. I could relate to this song because even I have been wrong in the past.
But in this town / These girls are crazy
They want houses / They want babies
So now I’m sleeping on the floor
This new life aint fun no more
Something else that stood out for me on this album are the several tracks that have subtle female backing vocals. Leah Abramson (The Abramson Singers) and Sarah Hallman lend their pipes to Mark to touch up songs when needed. Also look out for the mean ukelele and piano on Thirty Reasons.
I like this new Octoberman album. On Fortresses it seems that less is more. The stripped down, simple tracks are the ones that stand out and will grab your attention. It comes out next Tuesday, September 1st on White Whale Records.
Octoberman is at the Dakota Tavern here in Toronto on October 8th.
Toronto – Monday nights are generally low key nights for yours truly. I usually sit back, watch my episodes of Entourage and True Blood and relax. I was thinking of continuing my season in Madden 2010 (great game, btw) and generally enjoying a low key atmosphere. However,the kind folks at Nevado Records informed me that The Paint Movement had an emergency opening slot for Brendan Benson at the Mod Club and invited me to show up .. so I did.
One of the things I love about the Mod Club is that it’s only around a 8 minute walk from my place. I guess this is irrelevant to the readers of this article, but just sayin, when you don’t have to trek a long way for a show (or anything in general), your mood is usually pretty good heading in. As expected, the place was pretty empty – it is a Monday night show afterall. I would say there was about 50-75 people in the audience when The Paint Movement took to the stage around 9.
The last time I saw TPM was at their cd release party (i think) at the Rivoli, so seeing them in the Mod Club was a definitely different experience – there was colored lighting, a larger stage and a sharp sound system. The strong sound system definitely benefited the band, as Jason Loftman’s saxophone came out razor sharp, lending a nice full sound to their BSS/Dears/Jazzy influenced music. Playing tracks off their debut LP “Our Eurythmy”, TPM were impressive and standout tracks like Knock Knock and Faults definitely pleased the crowd that was there. I’m not quite sure where the Paint Movement would go from here, but I can definitely see their time of music score big with a nice mature crowd, which fitted perfectly with the main act – Brendan Benson.
Once upon a time, before Jack White and the Raconteurs, Brendan Benson was one of the reigning princes of power pop. His albums “Lapulco” and “An Alternative to Love” were filled with heart felt, honest guitar driven songs that scored Benson fans all across North America. Having recorded and toured with the Raconteurs for a few years, Benson finally made his solo return to Toronto to promote his latest solo effort “My Old Familiar Friend”.
I’ve always thought of Brendan Benson as a hardworking and honest musician, and true to form, Benson and his band came on at a nice early time of 10:15. He probably realized that his fans are probably of the older variety and have real jobs to attend to the next day, so it was highly appreciated that he came on early. Either that or he wanted to get the hell out of town asap. I choose to believe the former. I’ll be completely honest, I haven’t listened to Brendan Benson much in the past five years so I won’t even bother trying to name any songs besides “Spit it Out” and “Cold Hands (Warm Heart)” both of which he played. What I can tell you is that he played a tight set of music, all of which had that Ted Leo-power pop guitar sound to it, and most of it was catchy. The crowd seemed to enjoy itself and Brendan Benson plodded through the show with an workmanlike efficiency. In fact, when he left the stage after what was his “last song”, I looked at my watch (on my phone) and realized that it was only 11. Obviously, BB did as well, and he promptly came back to stage, apologized for only playing 45 minutes and proceeded to play another half an hour worth of tunes. Closing the set with the appropriate “Feel like taking you home”, Brendan Benson nicely reacquainted himself with his fans and everyone was glad to see this old, familiar friend.