“Released late last year and presumably, if you live outside Ottawa, Sills & Smith’s fifth studio album will more than likely have passed you by, as it would me had it not been for a simple tweet that brought it to my attention. “Why not?” I thought and promptly clicked their Bandcamp link, deciding to let Echoes in Time form the backdrop to an afternoon on the computer. Although the music has an ear-friendly, somewhat laid back and catchy nature, it soon demanded more of my attention. This is an accomplished album and the first couple of tracks immediately caught the ear with a sound that encompassed a healthy dose of indie folk rock, along with blues, a smattering of Floydian prog and a few other influences for good measure. Standout track, for me, is the album opener.”
“Do not operate heavy machinery while listening to Echoes in Time, the fifth album from the Canadian duo of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Sills and vocalist Frank Smith. In fact, this mesmerizing album is best heard when you have the time to sit back and let the music — a light blend of folk, prog and rock with hints of jazz and blues — float into your head. Because Echoes in Time takes its time, and that's not a bad thing. Sills & Smith open the album with "We Are Receiving," a strolling song that gradually picks up the pace. "The Chalice/The Blade" is one of the duo's dreamiest and most melodic songs, while a lone saxophone lends the ballad "One Step Behind" a film noir atmosphere.”
“Sills & Smith are major Pink Floyd aficionados, and Echoes in Time stands as nothing less than Exhibit A in the matter. On their fifth LP, the Ottawa duo exhibit their devotion to the music of Gilmour-era Floyd via the spacey backdrop behind their often genre-melding, always ambitious songwriting. Over 13 songs and 60 minutes, Sills & Smith manage to demonstrate multiple personalities and moods on Echoes in Time, moving from lucid prog rock ("Slicing Up the Clouds"), to barroom Canadiana ("We Are Receiving"), to dusty folk rock ("Is the Mirror Reflecting You?") and Farfisa-driven smooth jazz ("One Step Behind").”
“I've been listening to these guys since 2012's No Way Out, No Way In, and I still can't figure out which one sounds like Warren Zevon. But the world-weariness of his voice brings additional authenticity. Taken collectively, these songs make Echoes in Time Sills & Smith's best album yet.”
“No matter where Sills & Smith travel on Echoes in Time, though, the duo always hover around that same mid-'70s arena rock era, oftentimes stripping some of the "progressive" out of their brand of prog rock. Overall, Sills & Smith come off as seasoned and focused songwriters and distinguished instrumentalists on Echoes in Time. (Independent) - Get It”
“But Sills & Smith didn't make this record by themselves. Several guest musicians appear on Echoes in Time, enhancing songs with mandolin, trumpet, saxophone and a variety of organs. A special shout-out to guitarist Blair Michael Hogan, whose screaming David Gilmour-style work on "The News" lifts one of the album's already most upbeat and progressive songs to best-of-the-bunch status. Then there's singer Tara Holloway, whose emotional backing vocals on "Slicing Up the Clouds" blend so well with the duo that maybe it should consider expanding to a trio. Sills, Smith & Tara, anyone?”
“Sills & Smith are an alternative rock band based out of Ottawa who released their fourth full-length record, Etched, in August 2014. If you like intelligent, folk-influenced alternative rock in the vein of The Tragically Hip, then the 13 eclectic tracks that make up Etched will be a perfect fit for you.”
“Sills & Smith are joined by various musicians who contribute dobro, mandolin, drums, cello and other instruments. Collectively, the songs on Etched rock less than they roll. But this is still the DIY group's most accomplished and memorable album. (4/5 stars)”
"Sills and Smith have made Etched an obvious labour of love, and this effort permeates the entire album."
“My favourite track on the album is likely the opener, “Where You’ll Find It”, which sort of reminded me a bit of a cross between The Tragically Hip and early R.E.M. I enjoyed the off-kilter arrangements and prog rock-esque vocal harmonies in other tracks, but the laid back rhythm of “Where You’ll Find It” sold me on the record instantly.”
“The album was produced and recorded at Bova Sound by Phillip Bova (Zeus, Bahamas, Yukon Blonde) in Ottawa. The core of Sills & Smith is Jeremy Sills (acoustic guitars/piano/crystal bowls/vocals) and Frank Smith (vocals) – who take care of composing the tracks. On Etched, they’re joined by Phil Bova (bass), T. Bruce Wittet (drums), Kevin Breit (electric guitar, electric mandolin), Don Wallace (electric guitar, dobro), Roddy Ellias (electric guitar and nylon string acoustic guitar), and Raphael Weinroth-Browne (cello).”
“The album is an eclectic mix of folk rock, alternative rock, and hints of progressive rock – ultimately combining together in an eminently pleasing 54 minutes. Alternating between sombre and moody (“What You Deserve”) and driving guitars (“End Times”), Etched rolls along at a memorable pace. The greatest success of this record is that while you’re humming along, you’d almost be forgiven if you missed the occasionally dark lyrics (see “Space Junk” for a perfect example). Thematically, Etched is a highly personal record that deals largely with the human experience and social justice, and Sills & Smith manage to work in a highly diverse set of influences into these 13 songs without sounding too jumbled.”
“The Glorious Ache, Sills & Smith's last album, explored lyrical themes of loss, despair and cynicism, with musical inspiration by everyone from The Beatles to Warren Zevon. Etched, the group's fourth release, boasts a similar wave of emotions. "Where You'll Find It" is the melodic opener with links to both classic rock and prog, and it's so hummable that you may not even realize the song is about mental illness. At the other end of the spectrum is "Space Junk," a doomy downer of a ditty that references weed and coke and zombies and Martians and God, with a persistent chorus proclaiming, "Weird shit happening to us/We ruled the planet, now we're doomed." (4/5 stars)”
"Smith pens the words and music, and Sills composes music for the contributing musicians (eight in total on Etched). The terrifically well-played compositions really accentuate the vocals, which are surprisingly good at times (e.g. “A Love For All Seasons”)...the songs are very catchy."
“Friday Find: Sills & Smith - For those who like: no nonsense rock music. I've featured Ottawa's Sills & Smith several times in the past. However, I realized that I hadn't done anything on their fourth album, 2014's Etched. You should listen to it. It is good!”
“With an album title as epic as The Glorious Ache, you'll no doubt expect a grand listening experience. And that's exactly what you get on the third release from the diverse Canadian band Sills & Smith. Full of sometimes haunting, sometimes cynical and always memorable songs, The Glorious Ache bursts with arrangements that span four decades of musical influences — from the Beatles to Warren Zevon and Neil Young to The Cure, U2 and beyond.”
“The Glorious Ache opens with a synth and guitar-feedback intro leading into two strong full-ahead rock pieces sung with great harmonies and excellent guitar work. The third tune, Be Careful, slows down considerably with acoustic guitar and more forefront bass with some fine accompanying electric guitar, though it has a darker, almost ominous, texture and cadence.”
“This Ottawa band is growing by leaps and bounds with each new song. Living On An Island - Sounds like: A plea.”
“Advice Best Taken brings in a more folk-rock mood, though not as rocking out as the initial two, then into Parachute Love, which serves up a more upbeat up-tempo rock with some fine electric guitar lead-work. Amanda, a touching and soft ballad, slows the pace down and enters a slower, more electric folk-rock tone with acoustic guitar more prominent. This remains relatively constant through the balance of the album with the exceptions of Tornado Alley, Living On a Island, and Freezing In Here leaning more to the rock side of the equation. There is experimentation here, such as on Hold Tight and In Memory, with the inclusion of some synth and moving into a ‘prog-rock’ area, stretching the boundaries of folk/rock into other territory. The songwriting is the star here though, as the songs themselves on The Glorious Ache would stand on their own with only acoustic guitar accompaniment.”
“'The Glorious Ache’ is a rock and roll, folk fusion unlike anything you’ve heard before from these guys. Edwards' production has kicked the tunes into overdrive and has the boys moving confidently into the passing lane. The long ethereal intro to the opening track ‘Hold On Tight’, is an opportunity to get yourself strapped for this 15 song adventure.”
“What I appreciate most is Frank and Jeremy’s harmonies. They are a pleasure, meshing well with the music even on heavier, more rocking tunes. There is a flow to The Glorious Ache with a coherence in the progression of the songs even though there is a spectrum of inclusion of styles and a possibility that the two or three opening pieces seem not to fit initially with the rest of the album. Yet, taken as a whole, and after seriously listening over the last week, The Glorious Ache reveals the scope of stylistic elements and more unconventional song structure Jeremy, Frank and Jonathan have fused into their song-crafting, as well as the depth of thought and emotion ingrained in Frank Smith’s lyrics. What we have here is an earnest melodic collection worthy of long-term listening and distinctive musical endurance.”
“Despite the name, this dynamic duo is actually a trio: Jeremy Sills (vocals, guitars), Frank Smith (vocals) and Jonathan Edwards (everything else, including some vocals). These 15 songs sound nothing like each other, which essentially makes Sills & Smith — & Edwards? — an accessible progressive-rock group. "Ready, Set, Go" bounces like an 80s dance-rock track, "Be Careful" is a dark and droning warning, "Advice, Best Taken" captures not only Warren Zevon's vocal style but also his cynicism, "Freezing in Here" rocks like a superior bar band on fire, and elements of Neil Young swirl around the gut-wrenching "Tornado Alley."”
“On The Glorious Ache, Sills & Smith have stepped up their game in all of the right ways. From a more cohesive track order to increased utilization of vocal harmonies and less traditional song structure, Frank Smith and Jeremy Sills are finding a sound that’s truly all their own, with the multi-instrumental and production talents of Jonathan Edwards on hand.”
“But the most glorious of aches on The Glorious Ache is "Amanda (For Amanda Todd)" — a gripping and disturbing examination of the life and suicide of a 15-year-old Canadian girl bullied to death. It's a devastatingly emotional track, and any parent left unmoved after hearing it doesn't possess a soul. The soul of Sills & Smith is what allows this group to write such compelling songs. Edwards' guitar solos take them to another realm, and strong production boosts the overall impact. Genuine, melodic and engaging, Sills & Smith simply is too good for radio.”
“There are many talented artists on RN, but it is rare to find an act whose accomplishments rise to the level of Sills & Smith's. This trio's depth of songwriting, arranging and producing skills is enviable. They tackle contemporary issues with intelligent, eloquent lyrics. Their style is distinct, and yet their songs cut across the boundaries of genre. With three full-length studio albums under their belt it is clear they mean business. These guys are true professionals. I own all three Sills & Smith albums, and have even created my own "best of" playlist that would hold up under scrutiny from the majors. That's fandom.”
“HOOOOLLLLYYY JEEESSSSE, Frank! I couldn't get to listen (to The Glorious Ache album) this weekend cause there was just too much stuff going on and I wanted to give it my full attention! Put it in my truck's player today! I was totally blown away, bro! The song structure, melody, music, mix, lyrics and vocals all bordering on absolute sublimenity and, sometimes, crossing that line! If this isn't ready for prime time, I don't know what is! Thank you so much for the treat to my ears!”
“As with No Way In, No Way Out, the band has crafted a series of vignettes that explore notions of isolation, social breakdown, and ultimately, the joys and agony of being human. Opener “Hold Tight” is a driving, classic rock-laced caution for the masses, its evocative imagery a canvas of obstacles. Life itself has become a tightrope, and where we fall holds potentially dire consequences. Consider the poignant “Amanda”, a soft folk lullaby for Amanda Todd, the young woman who was sexually harassed, stalked and ultimately took her own life: “Too young to be tormented/Too young to be defeated,” opens the track and yet, there are cruel people in this world who can drive us off the proverbial road. More literally, album highlight “Tornado Alley” captures the raw devastation nature is capable of, and the people who are left to rebuild in its wake. Its high velocity bridge is a welcome surprise on the album, as sudden and explosive as its subject matter.”
“Sills and Smith, Frank Smith and Jeremy Sills, have released the much anticipated follow up to their 2012 release ‘No Way In, No Way Out’. Both were recorded at Corvidae Music in Ottawa, Ontario and produced by studio owner Jonathan Edwards. But if you’re looking for a similar album to ‘No Way In No Way Out’, think again.”
“‘Ready, Set, Go’ bites and demands your attention leading into ‘Be Careful’ a warning to be strong in this world not built for the weak. ‘Advice Not Taken’ and ‘Parachute Love’ are accented by Edwards stinging guitar work and tightly woven harmonies. There’s something early British invasion style sans the syrupy love song lyrics, about this group. ‘Amanda’ is a folky tribute to Amanda Todd who was cyber bullied to the point of suicide. Poignant message of all the things she will miss having left this world so soon. ‘A Church in the Country’, ‘It’s Wrecked’ and ‘Tornado Alley’ lead into ‘If You’ a beautiful ballad, a little bit of Bread, Donovan and a Claptonesque guitar lines. All the vocals are believable and understated. ‘Living On An Island’ and ‘Promises’ are followed by the highly listenable ‘Freezing in Here’; good job boys.”
“Sonically, this album (The Glorious Ache) dwells in more of a blues rock realm than Sills & Smith‘s previous outing. I have to say, it’s a sound that feels more them, more freeing as an artistic space. There’s a true sense of knowing how to create a mood through guitar lines; the album frequently feels as if it is accelerating, carrying the listener faster than might be comfortable or desired. Kinda like life itself.”
“At their best, these guys could have fit comfortably in the early 1970s' California folk-rock scene. At their worst, they sound like what people who have no idea what California folk-rock is think it sounds like. What makes this a winner is the best so much outnumbers the worst. (7/10)”
“‘Fill My Cup’ is another one that makes you feel like you at a country fair of old, almost baroque in track and lyric. The CD (The Glorious Ache) finishes with ‘In Memory’ a well crafted song of days gone by. Sills and Smith have found in Jonathan Edwards the perfect producer, arranger and co-writer to flesh out their message and make it accessible to a large audience. A great listen and two thumbs up guys!!!”
“These guys deserve some attention and are contributing to a renaissance of sorts in Ottawa’s ever changing music scene.”
“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. ”
“9/10 for No Way In, No Way Out! This is a band with a very full sound. It’s a big sticky ball of alternative rock that rolled down a grassy hill, picking up pieces of several other genres in its path...”
“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.”
“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.”
"Would It All Be Different?" shows Sills & Smith in top form as prog-rockers. Go figure. What can't these guys do well? Nothing, as far as I can tell. This epic track's got some Moody Blues-style grand philosophizing, a Floydian lead guitar solo, a busy, melodic bassline and their typical top-notch production. Four-bagger!
“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. ”
“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.”
“9/10 for No Way In, No Way Out! The best part of this album is that it is so stylistically expansive. There’s something for everybody: metal, post-hippie jams, country, adult alternative, and good old alternative rock. This band’s sound is very thick, and the songs have good trajectory.”
“By releasing its third album in less than three years, Sills & Smith has truly reached the summit with The Glorious Ache. This is an album so self-assured in its sound and its message that it demands that the listener sit upright and pay close attention to the proceedings. Like its predecessors, The Glorious Ache was produced by the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Edwards at his Corvidae Music studio in Ontario, CA. The album's sound is rich, pristine, energetic and as good as anything produced today by a major label. ”
“Sills & Smith Release New Tracks To Stream; Third Album In Works - Ottawa alt-folk band Sills & Smith are hard at work on their third album, another ambitious endeavour (15 tracks seems to be the magic number in the air right now). To tide fans over, they’ve thrown up two new tunes to stream: “Promises” and “Hold Tight”, the latter of which is one of their strongest outings to date. Give it a spin below then head to ReverbNation! ”
"I'll count my blessings until there's nothing left to say" (from the CD 'No Way In, No Way Out')... The new album is an epic... a poetic yelp from the heart that rocks (check out the song "Pain'")
“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.”
“The Glorious Ache features a steady stream of expertly written and arranged songs, which alternate fluidly between upbeat rockers and softer folk ballads. Stand-out tracks include the hard-charging album opener, "Hold Tight," a mythmaking electric blues number, "It's Wrecked," an epic prog-rocker, the masterful "Tornado Alley," a catchy, exhilarating ode to skydiving, "Parachute Love," along with "Living On an Island," a bleak commentary on living in the impersonal age of digital communication and social media. The mellower, folkier side of the album includes the touching tribute to the late Amanda Todd, "Amanda," as well as the lament of "Promises," the confessions of a tortured soul. Each overflows with characteristic Sill & Smith beauty.”
“The first three songs start out on the indie rock side, with A Writer's Retreat creating some beautiful music. The see saw rhythmic start features some harmonic note textures that contrast nicely with the wide open flow of the chorus. The electric guitar is wonderful, creating a counterpoint of sounds that balance the structured arrangement of the other instruments. Similarly, on Inside/Outside, the electric guitar adds character, largely by being less anchored to the Police-like main guitar figure. ”
“The new album 'No Way In, No Way Out' is phenomenal - highly recommended, buy it!”
“Sills and Smith prep new album "No Way In, No Way Out" Sills and Smith came out of seemingly nowhere last year, well Ottawa in fact, to deliver one of my favorite Canadian records of the year Uncertain Vista. They return with another set of 15 new songs, No Way In, No Way Out in mid-March. Listen to "I'm Right Here" now. ”
“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.”
"Sills & Smith are awesome! I've listened to the album a few times now. It's one of those rare albums that pulls you in, becomes a long time friend. Great musicianship, a really tight band. The mix is perfect. The whole album is engrossing. If you guys need anymore affirmation that you are on the right path you've got it from me. Please let me know when album 2 is out."
"Uncertain Vista has been on repeat in both my cd player and my head for the last month. These guys are the purest of talent. The tension in their music, melodies and lyrics play off each other perfectly in this unique blend of East Coast Prog."
"I love being in this magic sunscape again. Uncertain Vista is a beautiful, thoughtful CD and looking forward to more."
“Uncertain Vista makes the top 100 best albums of 2011 according to T.O. Snob's Music!”
“Uncertain Vista sprawls for 60 minutes and 21 songs, allowing enough room for the two or three bands playing to each show off their signature sounds. Of the collection, I prefer the indie rock centered band the most, but the musicianship is strong across the board. Of course, it's not a collection of bands, it's just the split personalities of Sills and Smith, jumping between indie/alt rock and Americana (Canadian style)/folk. ”
"Pacing is everything; but there's music that should be getting heard. So for a 2nd Monday feature here's Sills and Smith (Jeremy Allan Michael Sills /Frank Smith) with "Writer's Retreat."The Tragically Hip have been trying for years to get something as epic and achingly personal combined in the same tune...The song opens with wobbly singing that intones "a cabin in the woods, a writer's retreat, a long gravel road..." over an ominous minor chord to minor sixth dirty guitar; clearly this is isn't a story that ends well. The spacious mix leaves storytelling room, and the choruses open into a rolling 6/8 release of major chords with layers of expansive bass and lead guitar. The production work of Jonathan Edwards makes what would be a merely quirky tune in the wrong hands into a dramatic knockout. And this is definitely one of the more artful videos I've seen. Well done guys!"
"Beautiful. No one can slow this down, your rush into the channels of existence seems liquid and though deep, touched by warm light, honey gold..."