CD REVIEW: Enter the Haggis - Whitelake
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/31/2012 - 09:16 PM EST
Artist: Band: Enter the Haggis
Label: Freebird Entertainment
Genre: Acoustic folk/pop
Sounds Like: Bryan Adams, Death Cab for Cutie, They Might Be Giants,
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Getaway Car, Follow, Headlights
Weakness: A few winded songs, Dual vocal line-up
Toronto based 5 piece band "nter the Haggis" releases their sixth CD in 2011 entitled "Whitelake." Band members include Brian Buchman (Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin, Accordion and Banjo). Bruce McCarthy (Drums and Percussion), Craig Downie (Vocals, Bagpipes, Whistles, Harmonica, Trumpet) and Mark Abraham (Vocals, Bass, Ukulele) and Trevor Lewington (Vocals, Acoustic and electric guitar, Octave Mandolin and Banjo).
The CD gently takes off with “Headlights” a passionate intro piece that serves up impressive musical build, well placed fretwork and vocal harmonies against a passionate vocal presence from Buchman. This first is quite dynamic as it flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2: “The Basket or the Blade” this piece shifts gears a bit with driving rock rhythm, psychedelic guitar and hypnotic vocal and fret board ambiences. Track 3 “Devil’s Son” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its infectious groove, highly original lyrical content and a grand slam chorus. The CD makes a great first impression dishing out 3 solid songs in a row. I would classify this music as Alternative Folk, Rock, and even Jam Band. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive Guitar, Banjo, Accordion, Fiddles and Strings, Mandolin, Ukulele, lush harmonies and an impressive rhythm section. As this CD slowly unfolds it obvious the players in this band are quite accomplished. The dual vocal delivery from Buchman and Downie goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively. Music reminds me of BRyan Adams, Death Cab for Cutie, They Might Be Giants, Bare Naked Ladies, even the Beetles and XTC. I might add the production quality is first rate from top to bottom. The mix is superb with solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. From heartfelt “Whistelblower” and “of A Murder” to thought provoking “The Flood” to rocking “Getaway Car” to jamming “Pseumoustophy” and Let Me Go” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “White Squall” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I’m not crazy about the dual vocal line-up. I like how well both vocalists harmonize together for sure, but if I was producer I would leave all the signing duties exclusively to ether Buchman or Downie – not both. All song over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
From start to finish “Whitelake” by Enter the Haggis is an impressive collection of music. The music is highly original, thought provoking and just plain entertaining to listen to. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing ad playing abilities of Buchman and company are rock solid. The melodies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with brilliant messages of mystery and drama. All in all the messages offer us a brilliant perspective from an experienced band from Toronto.
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