Take one of Canada’s hottest country fiddle players, a guitarist that’s a cross between Tom Morello and Kevin Breit, a percussionist that plays saw blades and cookie sheets and one of the most versatile double-bass players in Canada and you get New Country Rehab. With their debut album release now available in the UK, the band are quickly making a name for themselves having been described in Canada as “a band to watch closely” by Exclaim! magazine. Since the Canadian release they have played many major Canadian music festivals and are showcasing at the Americana Music conference in Nashville, TN in Oct. 2011. They will be touring in Europe in January 2012 in support of their self-titled debut album.
Formed by John Showman, Ben Whiteley, James Robertson and Roman Tome, the band’s unique outlaw indie-country sound channels Hank Williams Sr. as much as Arcade Fire, creating exciting new music that’s winning a rabid and rapidly-growing fan base. As Tom Power, host of CBC Radio’s Deep Roots show explains, “They’re one of the few bands that the hardest of old-folkies and the hippest of hipsters can agree on. Combining virtuosity with taste, they’re poised to be the ‘next big thing’ in Canadian Music.”
The self-titled album, recorded by producer Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre) highlights the group’s strong original compositions and deep musical palette. The song-writing is defined by themes of death, love and loss, written in the folk-country storytelling tradition. John Showman weaves songs together often based on real people he has encountered in his life. Bury Me is a dying man’s lament for a grave next to that of his true love. InCameo, the story of a woman who escaped Nazi Germany on skis parallels her granddaughter’s escape from love gone wrong. The Last Hand recounts a gambler’s final game as he crosses paths with “The Cowboy”, a colourful and notorious figure that Johncame to know in the Florida Keys. The band takes the listener on a boisterous journey, from the Queens-of-the-Stone-Age-meets-Doc-Watson original trackAngel of Death to the menacing State Trooper (an interpretation of the seminal Bruce Springsteen song, replete with police sirens and car crashes). New Country Rehab move with ease through Post-modern surf-rock in The Houses In This Town Are All Falling Down, dub reggae in a reinvention of Hank Williams Sr.’s Ramblin’ Man and disco-imbued instrumentals in the once old-time Appalachian tune, Train 45.
All of the band members are successful sidemen in their own right, having played with artists ranging from Amy Millan, Basia Bulat, the Creaking Tree String Quartet, Elvis Bossa Nova, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Justin Rutledge, Ken Whiteley and Brandi Disterheft. Lead singer and fiddle player, John Showman won the 2011 Cliff Top Fiddle competition in West Virginia and honour only once before bestowed upon a Canadian.
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