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Hats off to Jonathan for brilliant service -- to the musical cause -- in his studio this week, working to a tight deadline to get two new songs, Promises and Hold Tight ready in time for our FACTOR submission. Jeremy and I were at Corvidae Music on Tuesday to lay down more vocals for both tunes over top of completed musical arrangements. Listening to the mastered versions of the two tracks last night on headphones when they were fresh, like your Mom's chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, was really something. Amazing work Jonathan with the mixes and arrangements of Promises and Hold Tight! Experiencing the results of the wonderful efforts of Jeremy, Jonathan and myself like this in bold, glorious stereo, reminded me -- in a strange way -- of that Orgasmatron scene in Woody Allen's movie Sleeper :) You folks are really going to dig these songs when you get to hear them. Cheers, Frank
We've been listening to the first mixes of two brand new Sills and Smith songs, fresh from Corvidae Music! Jonathan Edwards you are a genius! The man's studio may be small, but it is mighty! Promises, the rootsy number about the perils of drinking and driving, is damn lovely and powerful, with all the instrumental extras from Jonathan. A few pretty rough spots and odd notes hit in my singing in the choruses, but we'll correct that when I sing the next take this week. Beautiful harmonies from Jeremy. Hold Tight -- the cautionary tale about urban chaos and decay -- rocks bloody hard! Massive drum sound from Jonathan and sizzling lead soloing. Nice riffing from Jeremy too. We'll have another go at the vocals this week as Jonathan continues to get these two tracks ready for a FACTOR submission. Cheers, Frank
Well folks, just three months after the release of our second album, No Way In, No Way Out we're recording new material. Jeremy and I made a quick stop at Corvidae Music today to lay down guide vocals and guitar for two songs: Promises and Hold Tight. I arrived a bit before Jeremy today and had an opportunity to hear Jonathan playing through both of the new songs on an acoustic guitar. The guy is a wonderful guitar player!. Jonathan was working with a new "interface" in the studio, so he busily plugged and unplugged, checked and re-checked the gear. Frankly, I had no idea what he was up to, but it looked awfully important and very technical. In the meantime, I made myself useful by stretching out on his control room couch, snuggled up to the family cat. Jeremy arrived and we quickly got going practicing Promises, the song about the consequences of drunk driving. I think this tune avoids the usual kind of maudlin clichés when dealing with such a heavy topic. Jeremy was playing some solid and sweet guitar and the harmonies were lovely on the bridge and chorus parts. We goofed around a bit with the tune, trying on barber shop choir vocal styles. At one point, I was hearing something resembling the whole Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Not bad for two guys singing. Anyway, I sang the verses on Promises and Jeremy joined in on the pre-chorus and chorus. There were a few issues to address with levels and for a time, no sound in my headphones in the booth. But once we got going, we sang very well indeed, to the constant, incessant click track. At least it turned out good enough for Jonathan to build the arrangement, which will definitely include at least an extra guitar, upright bass and drums. Hold Tight, the song about urban chaos and the resulting angst has a great riff! Jeremy played through it a couple of times and then launched into the first two verses. I chimed in on the bridge and chorus and sang the last verse. Both tunes really worked well today vocally and instrumentally. We'll be back in the studio again early next week to lay down more vocal tracks after Jonathan has completed the initial mixes and arrangements. It's always much different and so exciting to sing with extra guitars, bass and drums in the headphones. Where this will all lead in the long-term is anyone's guess, but we have enough material for a third album. At the moment we're just working on two tracks to make the next Factor application deadline. I'll be blogging again next week to give you an update. Cheers, Frank
The three of us convened at Jonathan's studio today to rehearse some of the new songs. It's a blistering day in Ottawa, with temperatures in the mid-40s celcius with the humidex. Given that, Jeremy and I were grateful to enter the air-conditioned comfort of Corvidae Music -- especially after enduring a twenty minute ride in my black interior car. I swear the air-conditioning in my vehicle was on the fritz, despite all the mighty huffing and puffing emanating from the vents. Jeremy and Jonathan both played acoustic guitars for today's session. There was some awfully sweet picking and strumming going on; it all sounded beautiful to my ears. We've been rehearsing a whole bunch of new songs written since the release of our second album No Way In, No Way Out in March. But as the current plan is to record just two songs for a Factor grant submission at the end of June, we settled on practicing three songs for this session, two rockers: Ready, Set, Go and Hold Tight and a quiet tune called Promises. Ready, Set, Go is about the brutal thrust and parry that goes on when you are faced with someone fixing for an argument who doesn't share your political views. We ripped through that tune once. The main riff Jonathan and Jeremy were working with made the song awfully potent. The chorus, with Jeremy and I singing, was quite satisfying indeed. On to Hold Tight! Now this track is a melodic, heavy hitter -- even without electric instruments on this day. Hold Tight is about the perils of the daily grind in the urban jungle, with all its stresses and strains on us mere mortals. The song is menacing in the verses, but offers some hope for salvation in the pre-chorus and chorus. Jeremy and I split the singing on the verses and we sang the bridge and chorus parts together, while both Jonathan and Jeremy played their acoustics. We decided that of the two rock numbers, this one would be the natural one to record first. We closed the rehearsal with several renditions of Promises. This track is a mellow number about a dark subject, the consequences of drinking and driving. It revolves around several promises unkept that leads to tragedy. Promises sounded really lovely with Jeremy's gorgeous harmonies. Jonathan decided that he would start playing his beautiful upright bass the last couple of times through the tune. The rich sound of Jonathan's oh so skillful bass work, combined with the harmonies and Jeremy's intricate acoustic guitar playing made us realize that we were on to something pretty special. We will reconvene again tomorrow at Corvidae Music to lay down guide vocals with a click track for Hold On and Promises, so Jonathan can add percussion and build the full arrangements. This is exciting. Additionally, as we prepared to leave the studio Jonathan discussed plans for a music video that he will be filming for Melancholy World, the first song on the new album. This video will be really something when its completed, as Jonathan has developed considerable skill as a videographer. More news to follow after tomorrow's studio session. Frank
by Don Graham, Electric eclectic folk rock is one way to describe the textured sound of the new CD by Ottawa based duo Sills and Smith. The fifteen song collection is a musical and lyrical journey deftly produced by multi talented and multi instrumentalist Jonathan Edwards. Recorded at Edwards’ Corvidae Music in Ottawa is a ‘thinking man’s” CD, with introspective , probing and thought provoking lyrics backed by airy, creative tracks of acoustic, slide and electric guitars, bass, drums and keys. All tracks were written by Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills and Jonathan Edwards with all the lyrics written by Frank Smith. Smith handles the vocals and Sills plays guitars, acoustic and electric and vocals while Edwards plays guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. The driving beat of Melancholy World belies the angst of the lyric but the point is well made. Open Season on Love is almost a Doors influenced song with a hooky riff carrying the track as the plaintive vocal bemoans the state of the world. Following is I Can’t Reach You which is about someone in pain that is unreachable while Saturday is an uplifting ode to the first day of the weekend. The airy Clouds is followed by Radiance, painting a picture of an aura of “honey gold” on a special person. I’m Right Here promises support while It Doesn’t Matter is just what it seems. Pain is another Jim Morrisonesque ode, possibly to the sweet release of death? Would It All Be Different? ponders the question of turning back time. Life in Miniature is ethereal in its imaginary and haunting vocals. That’s Not the Reason is the irrationality of reason set to funky bass and drum line and authoritative vocal. Light, George Harrison like in tone and message is followed by Ghosts tells a story of how our past is never far away. The excellent light and well defined acoustic guitars on this track suit the lyrics perfectly. Finally No Way In, No Way Out wraps up this CD in fine fashion. If you’re looking for run of the mill songs to play as background music this not the CD for you but if you want something original, thought provoking and unique then get yourself a copy of No Way In, No Way Out by Sills and Smith. http://www.cashboxcanada.ca/2981/sills-and-smith-no-way-no-way-out
Jeremy, Jonathan and I rehearsed several new songs today at Jonathan's studio, Corvidae Music. It was the first practice for the three of us in a couple of months, although Jonathan and I had worked on about a dozen songs while Jeremy was away in Peru. All things considered, the tunes are sounding great. It was fun to sing the stuff with two guitars ringing in my ears and Jeremy's sweet harmonies. There is enough quality material for a third album. We're hoping to get some help from Factor this time around. Will need to record two tracks for our submission at the end of June. More news to follow shortly. Cheers, Frank
I just found out that the title track of No Way In, No Way Out is getting serious attention at the University of Ottawa radio station CHUO 89.1. We're currently sitting at #3 on the station's top 30 charts. Check it out and support a great campus radio station: http://chuo.fm/ Here's the complete list of songs and artists: CHUO Charts 06/05 TOP 30 1 – PS I Love YOu — Death Dreams — (Paper Bag) — CC 2 – White Lung — Sorry — (Deranged) — CC 3 – Sills & Smith — No Way In No Way Out — (self-released) — CC 4 – Various Artists — Nightwaves Compilation 3 — (self-released) — CC 5 – Spiritualized — Sweet heart, Sweet light — (Fat Possum) 6 – Japandroids — Celebration Rock — (Polyvinyl) — CC 7 – Kalle Mattson — Lives in Between EP — (Parliament of Trees) — CC 8 – Grass Widow — Internal Logic — (HLR Records) 9 – Pujol — United States of Being — (Saddle Creek) 10 – Cold Specks — I Predict a Graceful Expulsion — (Arts & Crafts) — CC 11 – The Pygmies — The Pygmies — (Sloth Records) — CC 12 – Del Barber — Headwaters — (Six Shooter) — CC 13 – Myelin Sheaths — Do The Mental Twist 7-inch — (HoZac Records) — CC 14 – Amos the Transparent — Goodnight My Dear… I’m Falling Apart — (45 Records) — CC 15 – Yukon Blonde — Tiger Talk — (Dine Alone Records) — CC 16 – Archie Powell & The Exports — Great Ideas in Action — (good land records) 17 – Cold Warps — Slimer b/w Dream Creepin’ — (Fundog) — CC 18 – Various Artists — 15 Beauty Tips for Modern Music Lovers — (The Beautiful Music) 19 – King Tuff — King Tuff — (Sub Pop) 20 – Lefty McRighty — Nashville Roadkille — (self-released) — CC 21 – Safety Show — O’Burro! — (self-released) — CC 22 – Nihiti — For Ostland — (Lo Bit Landscapes) 23 – Cobra & Vulture — Vocare EP — (self-released) — CC 24 – Cheap Time — Wallpaper Music — (In The Red) 25 – Skinny Bros — Fat Tunes — (Silence D’or) — CC 26 – Liars — WIXIW — (Mute) 27 – Evans the Death — Evans the Death — (Slumberland) 28 – Camouflage Nights — Camouflage Nights — (Sonic Unyon) — CC 29 – Moonface with Siinai — Heartbreaking Bravery — (Jagjaguwar) — CC 30 – Daughn Gibson — All Hell — (White Denim)
The trippy title track to our new album No Way In, No Way Out has been released as the second song from the disc on Jango Internet Radio. I'm Right Here, also from NWINWO, is currently in regular rotation there. You can hear both tunes, along with the music of other alternative rock bands like REM, Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie and U2. Here's the Jango URL for those who don't have it bookmarked and aren't subscribed: http://www.jango.com/ Check out Jango and show your support for our music.
Many thanks to Dean Verger at CKCU Radio (93.1 FM) at Carleton University for hosting Jonathan and myself on his show, the Monday Special Blend this morning. We discussed the new Sills and Smith album No Way In, No Way Out (NWINWO) with Dean and he was kind enough to play A Writer's Retreat off our Uncertain Vista disc and three songs from NWINWO: Saturday, the title track and These Ghosts. You can listen to the program online at: http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/43/7754.html for the next 30 days. Just select CKCU On Demand Listen Now at the top of the page. You'll hear several minutes of the BBC World Service News -- which you can advance past -- and then our 25 minute segment. Dean was especially generous with his time and such a congenial interviewer. I must say the chap is an awfully natty dresser for radio. I came in unshaven in a ratty old pair of jeans and Mr. Verger was in his Sunday best. I spent the first couple of minutes looking around for the cameras, thinking I was in the wrong studio :) An edited version of this program will appear on our Reverbnation page soon. Cheers, Frank
Jonathan and I will be doing a live interview in the studio with Dean Verger at CKCU radio (93.1 FM) at Carleton University in Ottawa at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, April 30th. Dean's show is called the Monday Special Blend. We'll be talking about the new album No Way In, No Way Out with Dean and he'll be spinning a track or two from the disc. You can listen to CKCU on the radio or online: http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/43/info.html Cheers, Frank