Thursday, February 3, 2011
Confidence Lodge - Jon McKiel
Youth Club Records.
SCQ Rating: 75%
There’s something irresistible and damned-near timeless about ‘Monster Of the Mirimichi’, the lead-track off of Confidence Lodge; how its unhurried guitar hook is pedestal’d by low-end bass falling out of speakers that, by its very rumble, should be hugging the wood-paneled floor of some Canadian basement. When its heaving chorus of stately electric distortion and piano takes hold, it almost begs the question: so who is Jon McKiel, anyway?
Let the Halifax-based musician’s promising young catalog guide that answer; having gathered a reputation for honest songwriting with 2008’s full-length The Nature Of Things, McKiel is currently finishing his long-awaited follow-up Tonka Warcloud. If that description still casts McKiel in a shroud of mystery, this between-records’ EP should adequately introduce his ever-changing sensibilities to newbies and long-time fans alike. Towing sludgy progressions of amp-blown electrics and muddy atmospherics into his narratives, McKiel’s everyman delivery pierces like sunrays through the fog, leading the charge for Confidence Lodge’s more delicate embellishments. From the minimalist piano tinkerings that boost the latent mood encased in ‘Rupert May 18’’s bass-heavy plodding to the mournful violin that somehow inspires hope beyond ‘Snow Owl’’s sparse guitar-plucking, McKiel’s arrangements feel as lived-in as a favourite old couch – collapse-ready with a lot of sponge-like stuffing swept beneath.
Despite its EP-appropriate length, Confidence Lodge rolls out a generous first-impression of McKiel’s work through expert sequencing and the absence of any throwaway tracks. Still catchy but grasping with some cantankerous terrain, McKiel’s songwriting is quickly becoming one of the East Coast’s most remarkable attractions. It's also worthy of the question: so when is Tonka Warcloud coming out?