Canada is becoming such a hotbed and influence on indie music that “Canadie” might soon become a successful subgenre. I doubt my rough combination of the two words will catch on, but there’s no mistaking that America’s northern neighbor produces many popular and quality musicians.
The Acorn is one such band that is quickly being noticed here in the states. Led by Rolf Klausener (singer/guitarist), the Ottawa, Ontario band (Howie Tsui guitar, Jeff Debutte bass, Jeffrey Malecki drums, and Keiko Devaux keyboard) formed in 2003 to make the kind of musical art that would touch on the natural lushness of the Canadian landscape with the dreamlike mood of Canada’s ambience.
The Acorn’s full-length debut proves to be an evolution from their previous three EPs (The Pink Ghosts, Blankets, and Tin Fist). Titled Glory Hope Mountain, this LP serves as a tribute to Klausener’s mother Gloria Esperanza Montoya, being a “part biographical narrative, part surreal fairy tale that retells stories from her early life in Honduras [and] eventual immigration to Montreal” (press release). Mountain is a personal album because while being about his mother’s life, it’s also about who Klausener is because of his mother.
Many of the album’s tracks play to the right beats and melodies, which is especially amazing given its wide subject matter. The band surprisingly uses up-tempo rhythms for important events; as in “Flood Pt. 1” (download mp3 here) that contrasts the regularly occurring natural event often rare in western society (through great efforts to avoid) but usually regular in non-western society, or in “Antenna” that depicts Montoya wanting to find true love. More acoustic and ballad-like tempos are used for other important events; as in “Hold Your Breath” that recounts the tragic death of Montoya’s mother during childbirth, or in “Sister Margaret” that uses instrumentals to portray a loved one.
The most important event of Montoya’s life is covered through two songs (“Crooked Legs” and “Oh Napoleon”) and both offer different views of her last night with her family. “Crooked Legs” (download mp3 here) is an energetic account of the excitement of escaping her father (“Not looking behind to ensure that the home fires are shrinking / The fireflies fade as the city lights find me”), whereas “Oh Napoleon” is a more somber reflection of her fears and unknown fate (“How does it feel to disappear”).
While Klausener probably gets most of the attention, his fellow bandmates are not to be uncredited for the album’s euphoric, focused, and layered composition. It’s hard to think of a love letter more loving and poetic than Glory Hope Mountain.