More instruments, more experiments

Winnipeg’s SitDownTracy is back and more diverse than ever

Might as well jump: Eclectic local folk band SitDownTracy are putting out a new CD this fall. Courtesy SitDownTracy

If you like SitDownTracy, you may not be as familiar with them as you think. After three years and an EP titled Roaring Noon, the group is upping the ante with a new EP.

Comfortable with each other and displaying their good chemistry, SitDownTracy discussed their sound, upcoming EP and live performance over drinks at the Toad late last month.

“The first (album) is kind of more, I hate using the term country/rootsy, but you can definitely hear more of that,” said Janelle Mailhot, who sings and plays guitar in the group.

“Manitoba, prairies,” added Matt Powers (drums), who joins Mailhot in the band with Trevor Graumann (guitar, banjo), Aaron Zeghers (bass, violin) and Sean Perkins (accordion, sax, harmonica).

“Exactly, and this one is a lot more rock, more pop, a lot more dynamic,” Mailhot added. “Even the songs’ lengths have gotten longer.”

The band is tentatively looking at an October release for the EP, titled Pleasant Like Wildlife. The songs on the CD move steadily away from the country-ish vibe of the band’s last disc and more toward a folk-roots sound with a license to experiment with more instruments.

The difference, according to the band, is new recruit Perkins, who was an integral addition for Pleasant Like Wildlife.

“He does whatever we tell him to do,” Powers said. “He plays accordion, saxophone, he does percussion, keyboard, tambourine, he sings.”

Something that’s really important to us is that we don’t record anything we can’t pull off live.

Janelle Mailhot, singer, SitDownTracy

The core of the band is drums, bass, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. Additional instruments in a SitDownTracy set include four keyboards, banjos, violins and Perkins’s aforementioned arsenal.

Despite a stage set-up that requires multiple trips to assemble, the band tries to keep things simple.

“Something that’s really important to us is that we don’t record anything we can’t pull off live, so in all of our recordings you won’t see any additional instruments, 12 harmonies and all this crazy stuff,” Mailhot said. “The recording, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people, relies on the initial performance. There’s not a lot of post-production, it’s more just making sure the levels are right.”
SitDownTracy’s upcoming live shows will be almost entirely comprised of new songs that appear on the upcoming EP.

Standout tracks include Arms Length, which has enough guitar riffs for a few songs and careful, subtle tempo shifts; and Neche, ND (pronounced as North Dakota in the song) with its lovely male/female vocals and banjo/harmonica pairing.

“There’s a difference between (the old album) and this new stuff,” Graumann said. “Sean being there is a huge part of that, but even more, (our) sensibility has changed.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2010)

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