Radio 104.5 Presents…
The Strumbellas / Noah Kahan at Union Transfer
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When a crowd is feverishly singing along with the last chorus upon first listen, you know it's a song that connects. This is what happens when The Strumbellas play ‘Spirits’ live for the first time, the first single from their new album, Hope (released April 22nd). That experience embodies the essence of what has been attracting fans from across North America to this six-piece Lindsay, Ontario-bred band.
The Strumbellas got their start in 2009 with their eponymous EP release, which was peppered with accolades from Toronto weeklies and prompted a proclamation from the CBC that they are a “band to watch.” Since then, the group has been on the road earning their stripes through sold-out residencies at different clubs in Toronto, as well as several cross-country tours and summer festivals.
In 2012 the band released their debut album My Father And The Hunter, an album full of haunting lyrics fused with infectious and danceable melodies that won them both fans and critical recognition across multiple genres of music. Earning them a coveted JUNO nomination, the album offered a beautiful, harmonious dichotomy between melancholy heartbreak and blow-the-barn-doors-off spunk, a sound that would become synonymous with their music.
A year later, The Strumbellas followed-up with their sophomore album We Still Move On Dance Floors, which earned them six awards, including their first JUNO award. In May 2014 they laid claim to the SiriusXM Indies award for Folk Group Of The Year and in June they earned the title, Polaris Music Prize nominee, when the album nabbed a spot on the prestigious prize’s coveted Long List. Later that year they won the Ottawa Folk Festival’s Supernova Rising Star Award and nabbed the Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album Of The Year. They capped off the year by winning CBC Music’s Rising Star award in December.
2014 was a year of touring. There was no fixed address for the six-piece as they crisscrossed North America from New York to Austin to Vancouver Island, up to the Northwest Territories, across the prairies and beyond!
In early 2015, The Strumbellas, off the road and ready to go into the studio again, set up shop at downtown Toronto’s Lincoln County Social Club to record the new album with LA Producer/Engineer Dave Schiffman (Johnny Cash, Haim, Weezer). During three recording sessions in the first half of 2015, Schiffman and the band harnessed a vivid alternative rock sound that was itchin’ to get out of them. Bigger. Bolder. Beckoning.
It’s a two cents democracy when it comes to The Strumbellas. Case in point — there’s always one line in a Strumbellas’ song that causes an internal crisis. It’s the way in which these six winds blow in from different directions that make the discussion most interesting. It doesn’t really matter what the line of the song actually is. Simon will bring forth to the band his Simonisms as the band has come to call them. The line makes sense to him because it sounds pleasing to his ear. That’s what he’ll use to plead his case, «it sounds good». David generally puts on his English Masters Degree hat and takes Simon to task on whether or not the line will make sense to anyone other than Simon. Usually he stands on principle when making his argument. Isabel will ruminate and use another artist’s work as a reference to decide if she will stand on Simon’s side of the line, or David’s. Jeremy will usually suggest everyone take a break and talk about something else. Jon will put his finger in the air in an attempt to try to figure out which way the wind is actually blowing. And Darryl, he’ll consult with everybody individually and come back to the band with a detailed pie chart of some sort that comes up with the best scenarios.
No one is ever really sure which wind is going to prevail but they each end their argument with ‘that’s just my two cents’ and whether everyone agrees or learns to live with the disagreement, at the end of the day they ride on together.
The smaller the town, the bigger the story...Good luck finding cell service in singer-songwriter Noah Kahan’s tiny hometown of Strafford, VT.Receptionis nearly non-existent,but thatdoesn’t seem to bother the 1,000 residents that call thispeacefulcountryside hamlet home.The town’s sentiment of relishing in isolation is evident at the Kahanhousehold, a 133 acre tree farm at the end of asteepdirt road,nestled in the rolling Vermont hills.The weather is harsh at times,idyllicat others,anda constant exercise in extremes.The seclusion provokesimagination but also imposes an earnestnessthat'srooted in Noah’s music and perspective.Of his songwriting and his surroundings, Kahan explains“My music plays on an introspective space. I've learned about the realities of being in the real world but being in the countryside holds a lot of nostalgia for me. I try to capture that.I’m just telling stories while being heartfelt.”Small town wondermentledNoah to explore songwriting early on, emulating musical influences like Paul Simon, Ben Howard, and The Lumineers.He writes with thought-provoking realism about self-doubt and fearwhile highlightingthe intricacies of relationships with an unpolishedsincerity.That approach, along with head-turning vocals, has brought Noah a long way from Strafford in a very short time. As a senior in high school,Noah’s unique take on the world and his knack for crafting a captivating storyattracted the attention of world-classsongwritersDan Wilson (Adele),Scott Harris(Shawn Mendes),Chris DeStefano(Carrie Underwood),among others. Wordspreadsquicklywithin the songwriting community and Noah soon became a welcomed collaborator of its inner circle.In 2016, the 20-year-old attracted GRAMMY®Award-winning super producerJoel Little(Lorde, Khalid). The two recorded six songs together which havesincebeen releasedperiodically throughout 2017 via Republic Records.Debut single“Young Blood”entered Spotify’s US Viral Chart at #5, and quickly cracked over 9 million streams.“Joel really pushed the music to a level that I never imagined it could go,” continues Noah. “He saw that the songs needed to be special. He really helped me achieve a unique sound. We wrote so much together, and we found an amazing groove.”They honed that groove to perfection on the break out single“Hurt Somebody.”Propelled by lithe acoustic guitars, an unpredictable rhythm, and an impressive vocal range,the song was immediately showcasedon Spotifyin its coveted New MusicFridayPlaylist. Gaining steam, “Hurt Somebody”amassedover 1.4 million streams in less than a week,appeared on the global viral charts, and earned acclaim fromBillboardwho wrote,“It allows the songwriter to showcase his ability to blend mature themes with a folk-pop twist.”“Being worried about how hard it is to end something can paralyze you,” Noah explains. “It’s a universal feeling. Pulling off the band-aid in a relationship or any situation is never easy. It means a lot to conjure the strength to call it quits. You can apply it to many different things—whether it’s romance or a work opportunity.‘Hurt Somebody’ illuminates how the worry almost paralyzes you. It’s a personal experience where I was worried about hurting someone else, and I couldn’t end a situation because of it.”
Between tours withBen Folds,Milky Chance,Anderson East, andThe Strumbellas, Noah continues bringing his music around the world in 2017. With each gig and song, his own story will only get bigger.“I want to focus on the struggles that regular people go through,” he leaves off. “My music is like a reminder that you don’t have to feel alone and there’s somebody who understands you. That’s what I want to share.”
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