On Oct. 19, two Winnipeg artists with half a decade of experience in the local scene bid farewell at the Handsome Daughter. Isiah Schellenberg and Oliver Farkas played their last show as residents of the city before heading to Toronto, which they cleverly subtitled Season Finale.
Meadows, a project that delivers rich lyrical imagery through uplifting melodies and a raw slowcore aesthetic, is Schellenberg’s latest endeavour. He has been fronting bands in Winnipeg since he formed Notme in 2014, which was succeeded by Brite in 2019 and finally Meadows beginning in 2021.
Meadows’ sound is the result of a progessive metamorphosis from the effect-heavy Notme to the stripped-back songwriting of Brite and now the bedroom feel of Meadows. Despite the sonic shifts, each act has maintained Schellenberg’s distinctive delivery of quaint and emotional lyrics.
“I am always trying to look for something to write about,” Schellenberg says. “Someone will say ‘I was late for the bus, and I got stuck in the rain,’ and I will think that’s a cool thing to talk about.”
The low-fi, almost barebones production of Meadows’ earliest releases was birthed out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tracks were originally self-recorded demos for Brite that eventually led to a standalone project.
During lockdown, “I got a mic for the first time in years, and every week, I would go to my old jam space and just record,” Schellenberg says.
In contrast to Meadows, Viewing Party, fronted by Farkas, takes a measured approach to releasing music. During their tenure, which began alongside Notme in 2014, Viewing Party has only put out a couple of recordings. Their newest one, Carousel, was released on Oct. 22.
Viewing Party is an homage to his adolescent love for the rock operas of the 2000s, such as American Idiot and The Black Parade.
Carousel brings Farkas’ love for the concept album to life in a release that feels like the culmination of his many years of writing music.
“It’s like an audio novel in a way. I wanted to tell a big story, use music and make a rock opera … every song is as important as the last and helps tell the story,” Farkas says.
The album chronicles three characters as they come to terms with repeating life cycles, but through this realization come to grasp the joy of going in circles, like riding a carousel.
The symmetry of Carousel’s release coinciding with a final show was not lost on Farkas, who took a move toward the dramatic with the show’s subtitle.
Like all season finales, the show was bittersweet, but the curtains haven’t been drawn yet. Despite the show being their last in Winnipeg, it is not the end for either of these musicians.
Schellenberg already has a self-recorded EP set to release in November, and Farkas says Carousel is the first in a slated fourpart series that will incorporate elements of western, Yugoslav and gospel music.
“Winnipeg’s been good to me ... but sometimes you find in life (that) you get the intuition or the pull to go somewhere else,” Farkas says. “What better way to go than to put out a final album and play a final show.”
Published in Volume 77, Number 07 of The Uniter (October 27, 2022)