When you’re getting props from campus radio stations, local alt-weeklies and scene veterans like Greg MacPherson, you’ve got to be doing something right.
Local musicians Alannah Walker and Cole Woods have managed to do that with their Pavement-inspired power-pop duo Cannon Bros.
Cannon Bros. became the pair’s main focus after the demise of their previous band, The Playing Cards. Over the past two years, Walker and Woods - who take turns playing guitar, singing and playing drums - have made a name for themselves with their catchy sound and charming stage presence.
Now, the band is set to release its full-length debut, Firecracker/Cloudglow, with an album release show at the Lo Pub this Saturday, Nov. 19.
“It was easy to make,” Woods says of the 12-song disc, which the band recorded with Cam Loeppky at Prairie Recording Co. “It wasn’t like us in the studio, like Guns N’ Roses, slaving away, yelling at each other, ‘No, that’s not right! Do it again!’ and throwing things at each other.”
“It was the opposite of that,” Walker says, laughing. “It didn’t take too long because we went in knowing what we wanted.”
What the two 20-year-olds wanted was to write and record a collection of hooky pop songs with a strong emphasis on melody.
“Since we’re a duo and we don’t have a second guitar player to play riffs, we really focus on writing good melodies and making things as poppy and catchy as we can,” Walker says.
Woods adds that he likes the two-piece guitar-and-drum sound because it’s raw and stripped-down.
“If you’re in a huge band and you make a tiny mistake (live), usually the other people are playing and it covers it up,” he says. “With us, you make a tiny mistake and everyone’s like, ‘Woah, that sounded weird.’”
For Woods and Walker, that’s part of the charm of seeing live music, and it’s something Woods doesn’t mind hearing on record.
“I even like to hear it when there’s mistakes on albums,” he says. “I’ve been listening to Alex Chilton’s solo albums, and those things are like a train going off the tracks sometimes.”
While it does capture their raw energy, Firecracker/Cloudglow never goes off the tracks.
It’s a strong contender for local album of the year, and Greg MacPherson – a friend of the band’s who is releasing the disc on his Disintegration Records imprint – recently called it “the best record to come out of Winnipeg in 10 years.”
Woods and Walker appreciate the praise and add that their goals for the band are modest. While they wouldn’t say no to the right touring opportunity, they aren’t ready to quit their day jobs just yet.
“It’s really awesome when people appreciate the music and like us,” Walker says. “(But) it’s just something we do for fun.
Published in Volume 66, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 17, 2011)