Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dead Letter Chorus @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (March 16, 2010)

Dead Letter Chorus: photo by Michael Ligon
  Dead Letter Chorus: photo by Michael Ligon

One of the highlights for me at this year's Canadian Musicfest was a charming folk, alt-country outfit from Australia called Dead Letter Chorus. Making their Toronto debut at intimate Toronto venue, The Painted Lady, it was a brief set but one that managed to adequately convey their strengths including strong melodies, attractive male and female vocals, and a tight-knit musicianship. Their Painted Lady set was one of two showcases(the other being at the Rivoli a few days later) which the band performed for Canadian Musicfest but before embarking on a short Canadian tour with Charlottetown's Two Hours Traffic, they also stuck around in Town to play Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe Tavern this past Tuesday - officially it was to celebrate the Canadian release of their debut album "The August Magnificent" (which originally was released in their native Australia in 1998). I'd timed my arrival at the venue perfectly just before Dead Letter Chorus kicked off their set, and while it was a generally thin crowd, there seemed to be a curiosity (and perhaps a few spectactors that were familiar with the band) that motivated some to move a little closer to the stage. The band's sound varied a little over the course of the set, going from sombre, noir tones to sunnier rootsy pop songs, and it's with the latter on songs like "Magnolia Farm" and "Down In Your Valley" where I feel they excelled. The band has two strong lead vocalists with the effervescent vocals of Gabrielle Huber and the effortless, casual vocals of Cam Potts, a competent rhythm section with bassist Tristan Thorne and drummer Lee Carey, and guitarist Michael Faber was particularly expressive both in his stage persona and guitar-playing.

I had the chance to speak briefly with bassist Tristan Thorne who I'd purchased their CD at the merch table for affordable $10 Cdn (unlike the $20-$30 it might cost in Australia as they'd bantered during their set). They had no plans on attending SXSW this year, instead as Thorne revealed, focusing their efforts on touring Canada, a place where they felt they belong, which is maybe the nicest compliment I've ever heard from a band touring our fair country. A sentiment such as thing should perhaps not be too surprising as Dead Letter Chorus' Huber and Two Hours Traffic Liam Corcoran collaborated and wrote a song together which they performed at this year's ECMA's as part of the SOCAN Songwriters Circle, and leading to the Sydney meets Sydney iniative. And now both bands are touring together across this fair country. While I already have plans on April 3, the night Two Hours Traffic/Dead Letter Chorus stop in Toronto at Lee's Palace, I do highly recommend you check the Aussie's out (and of course our own Two Hours Traffic).

For full tour dates go to Dead Letter Chorus' MySpace.

Photos: Dead Letter Chorus @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (March 16, 2010)

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