Review: Siskiyou – “Keep Away The Dead”

Theres no questioning that the past few years saw a resurgence in folk and roots sounding music. Call it Americana, call it Canadiana, whatever. Now, as those bands start to think about a second or third album release, there seems to be concerted effort by many of them to evolve and find how to make that sound their very own.

Keep Away The Dead is Vancouver outfit, Siskiyou‘s latest offering – released October 4th – and displays a further evolution of their sound into a complex and engaging album. On the first listen, my brain played the usual “who-does-this-sound-like” game, and parts of songs conjured up comparisons with Chad VanGaalen, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, and yes, Great Lake Swimmers (of whom Colin Huebert was, and Erik Arnesen is a member – see TCR Episode 13). But don’t pigeonhole them as folk. From the lonely pluckings of a banjo to convoluted mid-song breakdowns, the album is a headphones on, volume up, sonic adventure. The sax contributions of Polaris Prize short-lister, Colin Stetson, are particularly unexpected.

Apparently the album was recording in an old wooden community hall in the depths of BC winter, and that feeling pervades the album. This album has warmth and ambience to battle the Autumn chill we are heading into. Huddle up to this album, rub your hands together, and hold the songs close, letting them swirl around you.

As I press repeat on the album for the umpteenth time, I continue to hear new surprises in every song. Its a very solid album that has enough challenges and surprises to keep the most jaded of music lovers entertained. Twigs and Stones is possibly the most accessible tune on the album, and is probably the track many people will use to compare to other bands, but its a great track none the less. Check it out below, and then head to the Constellation Records site to stream the entire album and purchase.

Want to see them live? They are having a record release party on October 13th at the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver, BC. This is their only Canadian date for a while – they are off to Yurrup in November! -WP


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