Though the album Close to Paradise was released at the tail end of 2006 from Patrick Watson, a Montreal-based four piece, it hasn’t quite gotten the pub it deserves. Even trying to find the album at a record store has proven quite difficult. So much so, that we’ve had to resort to ordering it online from record label Secret City.
We first caught wind of these guys when they shot down into The Hub to open for Elvis Perkins back in February. We were pleasantly surprised by not only their brand of ethereal chamber pop, highlighted by the uncanny resemblance of Patrick Watson’s voice to the late Jeff Buckley, but also the shear enthusiasm from the band. It was almost strange to see a band take it’s music seriously, but not themselves; to be excited at the prospect of playing for a live audience, like it was their privelege and not the audiences.
So even months later, long after the thrill from Elvis Perkins wore off, we were trying to figure out just who the hell the opening band was. And boy are we glad we did.
Patrick Watson, both the name of the lead singer/songwriter and the band, make the kind of album oriented rock, where the songs melt and bleed into one another. It’s dense and lyrically poetic without ever seeming esoteric. Piano appreggios, slide guitars, banjos, thumping basslines all collide into songs without your typical three verse structure.
Often times several of the songs come off as laments. “The Great Escape” finds Patrick Watson and just his piano singing “bad day, I need a great escape/bye bye to all the noise. Hey child things are looking down, it’s okay cause you don’t need to win anyway.”
“The Storm” opens with a finger-pickinig acoustic guitar and a reverbed vocal track. Which would be haunting enough, until a strange whistling, a delicate banjo and backing vocals fight for the attention against a fingernails on chaulkboard electic guitar. One can hear the impending doom with the eerie chorus, “the storm is getting closer every day.”
Closer to Paradise sounds more like the score to a movie soundtrack then it does an actual album. Albums like those are hard to come by these days, which makes this gem an auditory trip worth taking.
Other bandmates include drummer Robbie Kuster who has also played with Holy Fuck, guitarist Simon Angell and Ukranian-born bassist Mishka Stein. Frontman Patrick Watson is even helping out singing/songwriting duties for the next Cinematic Orchestra album.
Check out this video for “The Great Escape”
Close to Paradise is out now on Secret City Records.