Published May 17, 2017Promotional consideration provided by Indie88
Great music and great beer go hand in hand, which is why the fine folks at Indie88 partnered with Hamilton's Collective Arts Brewery to shine a light on some suds and songs with their Black Box Sessions video series.
Since starting out in 2013, a ton of artists from across Canada and abroad have come through the studio at Indie88's headquarters in the heart of Toronto, including Joel Plaskett, Tokyo Police Club, Band of Horses, Charlotte Cardin, Mother Mother, Coeur de Pirate, Spoon, July Talk, Bombay Bicycle Club and Matt Mays — to name a few.
With that in mind, we dug deep and selected nine of our favourite stripped-down sessions from the past few years.
Check out our choices below. And if that's not enough, click here to see more.
The Wooden Sky – "Born to Die," "Glory Hallelujah"
Back in April, revered Canadian indie folk rock act the Wooden Sky released Swimming in Strange Waters, their sixth album since starting out over ten years ago, and certainly their most raw, visceral and experimental record to date.
Ahead of their show at Massey Hall this summer, band members Gavin Gardiner and Simon Walker stepped into Black Box with a pair of acoustic guitars, bass and keys and performed stripped-down renditions of album standouts "Born to Die" and ornate closer "Glory Hallelujah."
July Talk – "Guns + Ammunition"
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay are known for treating each other like bad siblings and back alley wrestlers when on stage together, but they kept things simple and sweet when they stepped into Black Box back in 2014 with fellow July Talk member Ian Docherty to play a pared-down rendition of their smash single "Guns + Ammunition." Watch the session below and stick around after the song to learn what the band consider to be the essential elements of a great live show
The New Pornographers – "Whiteout Conditions," "High Ticket Attractions"
Veteran Canadian indie rock supergroup the New Pornographers returned with their seventh record, Whiteout Conditions, this winter, an album filled with Krautrock textures and emotionally honest lyrics courtesy of Carl Newman and co. Showcasing the true strength of their new songs, the frontman joined forces with band members Kathryn Calder and drummer Joe Seiders to play a set that was as minimal as it was beautiful.
DIANA – "Helpless," "What You Get"
Carmen Elle and co. somehow managed to fit six people inside Black Box for this intimate session that found them playing a pair of atmospheric hits from their recent sophomore LP, Familiar Touch.
Weaves – "Birds & Bees," "One More"
Arty indie rock act Weaves could no longer be called Toronto's best-kept secret when they released their self-titled debut on local label Buzz Records in 2016, gaining attention from festivals and music blogs around the world. Known for their energetic live shows, singer Jasmyn Burke and the boys nearly blew the roof off the place with their one-of-a-kind sound.
Wintersleep – "Amerika," "Weighty Ghost," "Oblivion"
Anthemic Canadian indie rock outfit Wintersleep released their sixth album The Great Detachment back in 2016, but before they did, the band popped by the studio to perform a trio of tracks, including political single "Amerika," as well as two fan favourites from mainstream breakout Welcome to the Night Sky.
The Barr Brothers – "Even the Darkness Has Arms"
A few weeks after gracing the cover of Exclaim!'s October 2014 issue, Montreal-bred folk four-piece the Barr Brothers brought a pair of acoustic guitars and a banjo into Black Box to play a standout track from Sleeping Operator. Somehow, even without member Sarah Pagé's usual harp, they managed to make the gently fingerpicked song sound even more beautiful.
Basia Bulat – "Fool," "La La Lie," "Infamous"
Acclaimed Canadian songwriter Basia Bulat traveled to Louisville, KY to work with My Morning Jacket's Jim James for her latest album, Good Advice. The result was a dense, meaningful pop album filled with soul and spirit. Watch her perform three tracks from the Polaris Prize-shortlisted record below.
Tuns – "Mixed Messages," "Mind Over Matter"
Featuring members of Sloan, Superfriendz and the Inbreds, Tuns proved their rightful place in Canadian power pop history with their debut LP in 2016, leading to one of the tightest sessions the folks at Indie88 have probably ever witnessed in studio. See for yourself by watching the band perform two of their tracks below.
See more videos in the Collective Arts Black Box Sessions series here.