Enter The Haggis
Enter The Haggis
Past records have seen the band dabble in roots, funk, even adding prog rock elements to the mix, but ETH always manages to bring it home. Alternating between upbeat rock numbers with sing-along choruses and slower, more introspective alt pop songs, the band plays progressive and lyrically driven music that’s strongly rooted in Celtic tradition – from the storytelling to the bagpipes. “We like to experiment musically, pushing the boundaries of what people think of as Celtic music,” said vocalist and guitarist Trevor Lewington. “Some of our grooves, melodies and lyrics are quite different from other bands that we play with.” For instance, “Suburban Plains,” one of the songs on the band’s new album Gutter Anthems, mixes an African-inspired drumbeat in 5/4 time with tin whistle melodies and lyrics in English and French. "The Death of Johnny Mooring" combines a fiddle melody with Rage Against the Machine-inspired riff-rock.
There’s a fiddle solo in the song in which fiddle player Brian Buchanan uses distortion, wah pedal and whammy pedal on the instrument. Béla Fleck’s done that with a banjo, but fiddle might be a first. It’s been a long time coming though, and Enter The Haggis has definitely been reworking its music and building success over the past several years. 2004’s release Casualties of Retail (United For Opportunity), not only stretched the limits of Celtic rock musically, but topically as well with straight-shooting socio-political tracks such as “Gasoline” and “Congress.” 2006’s Soapbox Heroes, produced by four-time Grammy award winner Neil Dorfsman (Sting, Dire Straits, Paul McCartney), hit number two during its July release on the iTunes World Music chart and later marked the band’s Billboard debut when it landed at number eight on the World Chart there. 2007’s Northampton (Live) was recorded over four sold-out shows in one weekend at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA, and was a testament to the band’s focus on touring, fan participation, and its regional stronghold in the Northeast U.S.
Now, the band’s seventh album, Gutter Anthems, is Enter The Haggis’ most cohesive record to date, yet one that makes the band’s eclecticism shine. Recorded in Fall 2008 at The Hive in Toronto and Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, the record will be released this March on new model indie label United For Opportunity. Expect a combination of rousing drinking songs with well-arranged rock and pop tunes. Songs like opening track “The Litter And The Leaves” with its upbeat tempo and rousing anthemic chorus see the band embracing a jig-punk direction a la The Dropkick Murphys, while tracks like “Real Life” embrace the more traditional feel of tin whistle and fiddle throughout.
“Noseworthy and Piercy” and “The Death of Johnny Mooring” find the band embracing its Canadian roots in true tales from the homeland. There’s also a marked “little guy vs. the world” theme, derived from the trials of being an indie band trying to make it in the current music industry climate. This year the band plans to focus more than ever on its homeland, and is looking forward to spending a great deal of time in Canadian territory. Gutter Anthems will be released on United for Opportunity on March 24, 2009 amid a March East Coast tour, including a blowout celebration on St.
Patrick’s Day at The Mod Club in the band’s native Toronto. “We’ve started feeling nostalgia for our homeland,” said fiddler, keyboardist and vocalist Brian Buchanan. “And this album feels more distinctly and unapologetically Canadian than our previous albums.” This year Canada. Next year the world.
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