Ottawa used to be a lumber town. For some reason, it got chosen as Canada's capital. Beneath the federal veneer, its rural origins linger, drenched in woodsmoke, bar-brawls and glinting saw blades. Two hours down river from Montreal, the woods get a little thicker and the air a little cleaner. It's a place where the city lights merge with constellations, and where The Acorn was born.
A disciple of folk with a strong penchant for experimental pop music, Rolf Klausener started writing under The Acorn moniker in the summer of 2002. Initially an excuse to teach himself home-recording, these furtive experiments would eventually become The Acorn's first full-length release, a mellifluous, electro-acoustic tribute to the Ottawa region, The Pink Ghosts.
Inspired by the road and the communities they discovered beyond their bucolic capital city, The Acorn made every effort to travel the country, touring independently and as often as they could. Throughout 2005, they forged ties with a new, burgeoning independent Canadian music scene which grew to include Ohbijou, Bell Orchestre, Timber Timbre, Great Lake Swimmers, Snailhouse and many more.
After several independent releases, the band was signed to Toronto's indie stronghold, Paper Bag Records. In 2007 and after months of interviews and ethno-musicological research, the band created its most ambitious and widely-acclaimed record to date, Glory Hope Mountain.
Not quite biography nor musical folk tale, Glory Hope Mountain, recounts the early life of Klausener's Central-American-born mother. The album's song-stories harbour the triumphs, sorrow and adventures of a remarkable life. Armed with Garifuna-inspired rhythms, gut-strings, ukuleles, marimbas and the collective's best songwriting to date, The Acorn created a stirring musical document&183;
Since the release of Glory Hope Mountain, The Acorn have toured Europe and North America extensively and accrued a cord of critical love for both their live show and their recorded output. They've graced the cover of Canada's National music magazine, Exclaim and were nominated for the 2008 Polaris Award.
In the summer of 2009, the Acorn retreated from two years on the road to an isolated cottage in Northern Quebec to begin work on their third full-length album, No Ghost. Songs took shape at all hours, crafted from hazy late-night improvisations, early morning melodies pulled from the thinning threads of sleep. Modernity clashed with the bucolic via exploratory percussion, feedback, acoustic textures and the natural surrounding sounds. The band then traded trees for telephone poles to finish recording in a sweltering heatwave at Montreal's Treatment Room Studios (Plants & Animals, Angela Desveaux). There, the breezy ease of rural surrounds was buried under sweat-caked skin and cracked asphalt, birdsong drowned out by thick air and engine hum. Set for a June 2010 release, No Ghost is a recording swaddled in dichotomy: togetherness and isolation, acoustic and electric, destruction and restoration.
Living amongst the immense musical talent in a city like Chicago is eternally inspiring. But standing apart from the crowd can be a never‐ending challenge. So Canasta came together in early 2002 when six friends joined forces and augmented the standard rock set‐up with piano, violin, keyboard and trombone, in an effort to craft a more ambitious strain of majestic, ultra‐melodic, orchestral pop. Canasta songs are nothing if not eclectic; you'll hear everything from bouncy, horn‐spiked ditties and sweeping, heart-breaking epics to moody, country‐tinged narratives and rollicking, guitar‐driven anthems. But what's constant is an emphasis on sophisticated songwriting, dramatic dynamics and meticulous orchestration that has won them comparisons to Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian, The Decemberists, The New Pornographers, Sufjan Stevens and Wilco.
Canasta has performed for sizeable audiences all over the country, including stops at the SXSW Festival (Austin), CMJ Music Marathon (NYC) and CMJ Rock Hall Fest (Cleveland). In their hometown, they have headlined the legendary Metro, held the esteemed "Practice Space" residency at Schubas and played sold-out gigs at Double Door, Subterranean and Schubas. They've shared stages with a diverse array of notable artists, including all those listed among their Top Friends below. They've also done a number of charity performances to benefit domestic‐abuse, rape advocacy, urban education, sustainable architecture, independent radio, AIDS and arts organizations.
Canasta's recording career began in 2003 with the release of its debut EP, Find the Time. The five songs, which were mastered by Keith Cleversley (The Flaming Lips), brought the band to the attention of a growing number of music fans and critics alike (see below). The album's success earned them airplay on National Public Radio, major Chicago stations like WXRT and WKQX (Q101), plus countless webcasts and college frequencies nationwide. Before long, the self-released CD had completely sold-out.
Fast forward to 2005, when Canasta released its first full‐length album, We Were Set Up. The record's thirteen tracks were recorded with Ted Cho (Poi Dog Pondering) at North Branch Studio, home to Smog and Jeff Tweedy, and mastered by Mike Hagler (The New Pornographers). The album featured guest appearances from vocalist Edith Frost, upright bassist Barry Phipps (The Coctails), trumpeter Max Crawford (Archer Prewitt), pedal‐steel guitarist Steve Dorocke (Freakwater) and cellist Alison Chesley (ex‐Verbow). Musically, the record served as a leap forward for the band and as a result, they were taken on by Microindie Booking, Carrot Top Distribution and Minty Fresh Records for licensing representation. Some of Canasta's biggest exposure would soon follow, as songs began landing in TV and radio ads, along with the trailer for the Matthew Broderick / Alan Alda film Diminished Capacity.
Once We Were Set Up had sold out its first pressing, anticipation was high for something more. So while preparing demos for their sophomore follow‐up, Canasta invited talented friends to remix and re-imagine that record's songs, resulting in We Were Mixed Up. All in all, it's nearly 100 minutes of music, re‐imagined by some of the most talented folks Chicago has to offer, including members of Office, The Hood Internet, Brighton MA, Allá, Roommate and others. As a "thank you" to their fans, this digital‐only release can be downloaded completely free of charge at www.canastamusic.com!
But Canasta's proudest moment arrived when the band was invited to join Barack Obama at Chicago's gorgeous Riviera Theatre (capacity: 2500), as part of a fundraiser for his Democratic Primary bid. Then more recently, as Obama turned his attentions towards the presidency, Canasta was asked to supply music for a number of videos in his online campaign. Though incredibly honored to participate, the band was certainly surprised to find its unassuming brand of "indie pop" chosen to represent such an important figure. But then again, perhaps his campaign organizers simply recognized that much like the candidate himself, Canasta's music captures something reflective, hopeful and uniquely "Chicagoan."
"...Canasta can be called an indie-pop band for good enough reasons, but on their debut album We Were Set Up they display both an ambition and a sense of range that any number of early 21st century American groups described in similar terms would be
wise to follow... subtle... mesmerizing... stunning..." Ned Raggett, AllMusic
"...effortless, effervescent pop that doesn't call undue attention to its carefully
constructed layers of intertwining melodies... the ork-pop genre has produced
some of the best bands in the Chicago underground in the last decade...
Canasta certainly deserves a place on this list." - Jim Derogatis, Chicago Sun-Times
"...Imagine the prize musicians from six adjacent counties' high school orchestras growing up and coalescing to form a pop band inspired by Queen, Kraftwerk, and Nick Drake... each song is a barrage of hooks and nuanced performances...
[Canasta's] value to the pop music scene continues to grow..." - PopMatters
"...one of the most vibrant pop sounds to emerge from Chicago in years..." - UR Magazine
"...one of Chicago's best pop bands...
We Were Set Up doesn't disappoint..." - Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader
"...smartly constructed songs that balance traditional
pop and indie-minded subversiveness..." - The Onion
"...inventive arrangements... remarkable catchiness...
Canasta looks primed for a considerable breakthrough..." - NPR's "World Cafe"
"...impressive orchestral pop... really could catch on at any moment in a big, big way...
listening to We Were Set Up again for the first time in a long while,
I can't believe I was able to put it down in the first place." - Tom Lynch, New City
"...pop phenoms... lyrical, buoyant pop tunes recalling the delicacy of
Belle and Sebastian and the lush, upbeat melodies of The Shins..." - Flavorpill
"...Out of nowhere comes a band that sounds ready for primetime...
could sneak its way onto some year-end top ten lists..." - Real Detroit Weekly
"...miniature blockbusters for the head and heart... earnest, literate and
lonely in all the right spots... the result is transcendent..." - The Daily Herald (Chicago)
"...one of Chicago's most promising and hardest working bands..." - Illinois Entertainer
"...nothing less than blissful... a revolution just might ensue..." - Badger Herald (Madison)
"...I was hooked from the opening organ chords... pure chamber pop bliss..." - Splendid
"...incredibly tight and consistent throughout 13 tracks of pop goodness..." - OnMilwaukee
"...4 Stars... quality music is evident with just one listen..." - The Pitt Times (Pittsburgh)
"...musical diversity, quirkiness and loads of talent fuse into an eclectic 13-song set...
indelibly stylish and hard to pin down..." - Midwest Beat
"...Canasta's broad sonic palette defies pat descriptions...
delightfully askew songwriting..." - INtake (Indianapolis)
"...smart and subtle... never cluttered or convoluted... both Belle & Sebastian and The New Pornographers would be proud to claim it as one of their own..." - Plague of Angels
"The fact that there's just so much going on that you're still hearing something new
on the fourth listen is really impressive to me... These guys are unsigned by the way,
so to any labels reading this: What are you waiting for?!" - Skatterbrain.org
"...a brilliant collection of intelligent, compelling, ultra-melodic orchestral-pop songs...
every time I think I have dissected the album from top to bottom
I find something new to love about it..." - Breakthru Radio
"...a delicious find... What's not to love about this band?" - WXPN (Philadelphia)
"Best Songs of '05: Slow Down Chicago - Canasta" - WXRT's "Local Anesthetic" (Chicago)
"...Watch for Canasta to take the indie scene by storm..." - Villains Always Blink
"...harrowing and beautiful... the best pop band you've never heard of..." - The Stir Online
"...on the cusp of national acclaim... believe the hype..." - songs:illinois
"...one step away from blowing up... label reps, listen to this band, now..." - Gapers Block
"Top Ten Albums of 2006: We Were Set Up - Canasta" - Kwaya Na Kisser
"Number 1 Album of 2006: We Were Set Up - Canasta" - Creekside Review
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Pezzettino is self-taught on her father's accordion, and classically trained in piano at the local Racine, Wisconsin convent until puberty. Redirected to the visual arts, she studied Art History at Occidental College then traveled to Cambodia to fight the illicit trade of sculptures (think Lara Croft). Deciding that she didn't want to get shot in the head, she returned to Wisconsin to become an acupuncturist and marry her mother's dream son-in-law.
With her rotting lonely soul, she surfed Craigslist late one night looking for nothing in particular (as people do) and stumbled across an ad for an Indie drummer. "I like Indie music." She clicked, thought "he's cute," and sent the email: "Well I'm not a drummer, but I did play piano when I was in 6th grade, can I join your band?" Much to her surprise, the band invited her to "JAM."
The girl went to her first band practice in the delapitated college apartment with one of those scary old elevators from horror flicks, thinking that it made absolutely no sense for her to be there but for some reason she knew it was something she MUST do. Timid and sitting on her hands during JAM TIME, she gingerly pressed 5 notes in 2 hours on the keyboard, volume level barely audible... "Well you didn't do much of anything...." said the band hesitantly, "but we have an accordion sitting in the corner, and none of us knows how to play it, why don't you try?"
Pezz and the accordion became shy friends, safely playing one note for two minutes straight. It was the first time that she really played a note because she felt like it, instead of it being written out on sheet music by a composer. She was beginning to find her voice and soon realized that the sounds she was choosing to make on her accordion were dark and minor... not the sound of a happily engaged fiancee... the floodgate broke, songs flooding out--- she called off the wedding, quit the band, released her first solo album and began touring extensively (six months after first picking up the accordion.
Can't stop, won't stop! Pezzettino finished out her Masters program in Oriental Medicine, and is now based in Brooklyn.
The name "Pezzettino" comes from a children's illustration book by Leo Lionni. Read it, it's short and lovely. Or YouTube it, go on...
Read more: http://www.myspace.com/theacorn
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