Hearing Trees / Autumn Still

The Windsor Hotel, Winnipeg MB, November 10

Hearing Trees / Autumn StillThe Windsor Hotel, Winnipeg MB, November 10
Photo: Greg Gallinger
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Hearing Trees only formed last year, but they still managed to deliver a solid set at the Windsor on a snowy November night. The quartet began with what appeared to be one of its improv music poetry sections, where vocalist/guitarist Graham Hnatiuk literally freestyles rhymes while the rest of the band play a moody instrumental underneath. Then Hnatiuk grabbed an acoustic guitar and launched into "Shipwrecker," the last song on their self-titled EP, released in June and produced by Les Jupes frontman Michael Petkau Falk.

One of the highlights was "Love Oblivion," which got one crowd member dancing and caused another to call for it again near the end of the set. Clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes, that's one of their catchier songs and it truly works as a natural born single that the Tragically Hip might have written. Overall, the band is heavily influenced by Canadian alt-rock and even Hnatiuk himself sort of sounds like Gord Downie when he sings.

Hearing Trees kept chugging away at their set and never seemed too phased by the gathered dozens of attendees. Hnatiuk ended up ditching his red hoodie for a black shirt and tie, something that's a small gesture, but really kind of dressed up the band's music and performance. He seemed very comfortable on stage while the other guys were much more serious and not quite as interesting to watch. It was also apparently the first show for new guitarist Jordan Monk, who seems to have gotten all the parts down.

Autumn Still opened, and showed the most promise by performing long, dreamy, indie pop tunes such as "Bartholomew." The trio just formed last year, but members have been kicking around by playing in bands such as SitDownTracy and Roger's Arsenal. The trio sounded fine, but could improve on their stage presence. The band ended its short set with "This Must Be the Place" by New York post-punk group Talking Heads, one of their many obvious influences.
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