It’s official, audiophiles! Dave has been to his first concert of 2014! I know you are all very excited for me. This year the culprit was a Toronto outfit known as The Strumbellas, and their indie-folk stylings. Hot off the heels of the release of their second record, We Still Move on Dance Floors, The Strumbellas threw down quite a party with much foot-stomping and overall merriment. Let’s get to it.
I rolled into an Ottawa club known as Zaphod Beeblebrox, where the lights were low and the Senators-Predators game played on a projector. Stopping by the bar to pick up my first ever Pangalactic Gargleblaster, I made my way down to the packed crowd who seemed to be preparing their dancing shoes. The Strumbellas managed to sell out the house, a remarkable feat at any Ottawa show. This show was both high-energy and sentimental, with a band that’s just as willing to cause a ruckus as they are willing to sing you to sleep. They had a healthy dose of bluegrassy folk, upbeat rock, and fun coming out the ears. The Strumbellas are certainly what some would call a Mumford Band, but I would say their closest parallel is Hey Rosetta!. Where Hey Rosetta! is primarily founded on large dramatic buildups, The Strumbellas are a little more partial to a good hoedown. The large band, consisting of rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, drums, keys, violin, and vocals from the entire group, lends itself well to getting a solid chant going from the crowd. So “fire the cannons, burn this fucker down!”
Let’s take a quick moment to look at their new album, We Still Move on Dance Floors. It draws the exact same comparisons as mentioned above, falling somewhere between Mumford & Sons and Hey Rosetta!. It’s a purely enjoyable album to warm the soul and get the feet moving. Although fairly simplistic in terms of song structure and album composition, the record certainly has no weak songs and is great for a nice light listen. It’s not trying to be cerebral or pretentious, and it delivers very well in terms of providing a collection of catchy and very singable tunes. The icing on this cake comes from the peripheral accompaniment by the violin, banjo, and trumpet that show up from time to time. My only real complaint is that the album does not offer much that you can’t get from their live show. The songs are played similarly, but you trade the raw live energy for a cleaner, more defined album sound. Those looking for some friendly indie-folk should check this out without hesitation.
Seeing the title of their album when I picked it up at the end of the show struck me as quite an unintentional challenge to the Ottawa music scene. Unfortunately, Ottawa show-goers are notorious for not moving, regardless of how much they are actually enjoying the show. It really is an odd phenomenon. Well, Strumbellas, it seems your challenge was accepted. Some people did, in fact, move on the dance floor, and it was a hefty number more than I’m used to around here.