Sills & Smith / Blog

Promises and Hold Tight released!

Well folks, today is a big day! We submitted two songs for a FACTOR grant application to meet the end of June deadline. Promises and Hold Tight are the first tracks to be recorded for the third Sills and Smith album that is now in the works. We've decided to release the new music on our Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Promises and Hold Tight will be available for sale on iTunes soon. In the meanwhile, have a listen now and we hope you enjoy! Special thanks to Jonathan Edwards for stellar production work in his Ottawa studio, Corvidae Music. Promises - songwriters: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards; words: Frank Smith, music: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards. Recorded, mixed, produced and mastered by Jonathan Edwards, June 2012 at Corvidae Music in Ottawa. Frank: vocals. Jeremy: vocals, acoustic guitar. Jonathan: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, upright bass, drums. Hold Tight - songwriters: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards; words: Frank Smith, music: Frank Smith, Jeremy Sills, Jonathan Edwards. Recorded, mixed, produced and mastered by Jonathan Edwards, June 2012 at Corvidae Music in Ottawa. Jeremy: vocals, acoustic guitar. Frank: vocals, Jonathan: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums.

Sea of Tranquility review of No Way In, No Way Out!

By Michael Popke, Not content adhering to any one genre, the Canadian duo of Jeremy Sills (vocals, guitars) and Frank Smith (vocals) play everything from folk to prog to alt.rock on No Way In No Way Out. The follow-up to 2011's Uncertain Vista, this album is about as diverse as you can get. Sills and Smith have drastically different voices — one sounds like Warren Zevon and the other recalls any of a number of singers who made small fortunes in the mid-Nineties. But they oddly complement each other, and the retro vibe is cool and timely — especially in an era when bands like Soul Asylum and Blues Traveler are releasing new albums. Bouncy opener "Melancholy World" kicks things off with an irresistible chorus that declares, "Can't escape it." And that's true. Echoing guitars and an anxious rhythm section make this a memorable opening statement and encourage listeners to stick around. "Melancholy World" is followed by "Open Season on Love," which will draw the first comparisons to Zevon. Upbeat songs like "Saturday," "It Doesn't Matter" and "That's Not the Reason" slot nicely next to more laid-back tunes such as "Clouds," "I'm Right Here" and "Life in Miniature. "Would It All Be Different?" is, hands down, No Way In No Way Out's proggiest tune, veering off in several dark and haunting directions while proving Sills & Smith would be wise to focus on prog if or when they decide to narrow their musical focus. Overlooking multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Edwards, who plays practically everything on these 15 songs (and even sings and writes!), would be a travesty. Without him, it's a fair guess that Sills & Smith would sound like nothing more than a folk duo. Track Listing: 1) Melancholy World 2) Open Season on Love 3) I Can't Reach You 4) Saturday 5) Clouds 6) Radiance 7) I'm Right Here 8) It Doesn't Matter 9) Pain 10) Would It All Be Different? 11) Life in Miniature 12) That's Not the Reason 13) Light 14) These Ghosts 15) No Way In, No Way Out http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=13044

Rehearsing new songs -- Promises and Hold Tight to be posted here soon!

Had a great songwriting session with Jonathan today at his studio Corvidae Music. I brought in two new tunes that I've written in the last couple of weeks. Inspired and Be Careful are both folky numbers, so it was appropriate that Jonathan played along, as I sang, with an acoustic guitar. The full Sills and Smith band will reconvene next week when Jeremy comes back from a two week retreat. We plan to post the two songs that were submitted for our FACTOR submission at the end of June on the Sills and Smith Reverbnation and Facebook pages in the next couple of days. The songs are the rootsy Promises and a melodic, rocker Hold Tight. They will be available for sale on iTunes soon. I think you folks will dig these tracks! It's a sneak preview of what's cookin' in the studio for the third full length album. Cheers, Frank

Light and Saturday on CKCU radio eV's Underground show!

Many thanks to eV's Underground on CKCU radio (93.1 FM), broadcasting from Carleton University, for playing two tracks from the new Sills and Smith album No Way In, No Way Out this morning: Light and Saturday. Listen to the whole show, because it's all great, but our songs are played in the last 23 minutes. Click "CKCU Listen On Demand" in the upper left hand corner of the page. Thank you DJ e.V. !! http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/58/8438.html

Ranked in Snob's Music Top 50 2012 albums!

Peter Kearns of Snob's Music blog has ranked Sills and Smith, No Way In, No Way Out in his top 50 albums for 2012 to date. Thanks Peter! This is quite an honour for us. Here's a link to Snob's Music and the full list, with an introduction to his choices: http://www.snobsmusic.net/ With the first six months about to draw to a close, it's time to consider the best records of the year so far. Don't worry, I've done the legwork. I've even included links to my review of each album. You're welcome. Here are my top 50 albums of 2012 to date: 50 Rococode- Guns, Sex & Glory 49 Sills & Smith- No Way In, No Way Out 48 Grant Tilly- The World Keeps Passing By 47 Islands- A Sleep & A Forgetting 46 Grace Potter & the Nocturnals- The Lion The Beast The Beat 45 Best Coast- The Only Place 44 Emily Wells- Mama 43 Hot Chip- In Our Heads 42 PS I Love You- Death Dreams 41 Joel Plaskett Emergency- Scrappy Happiness 40 Magnetic Fields- Love At The Bottom Of The Sea 39 Mornin' Old Sport- Mornin' Old Sport 38 Band Of Skulls- Sweet Sour 37 Iconoclast- Are We Dying 36 Ben Kweller- Go Fly A Kite 35 Lucero- Women & Work 34 Danielle Duval- Of The Valley 33 Kelly Hogan- I Like To Keep Myself In Pain 32 catl.- Soon This Will All Be Gone 31 Anna Ternheim- The Night Visitor 30 El-P- Cancer for Cure

Promises and Hold Tight ready to go!

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

First mix of new songs Promises and Hold Tight!

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

Two songs recorded today!

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

Rehearsals continue, recording tomorrow!

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

Biocosmos  (over 5 years ago)

Fantastic news, I'm so glad to hear the Fab 3 are back in action...and a video in the making too - yeah!!!

Sills and Smith, No Way In No Way Out - Cashbox Magazine Canada review

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