This 11 piece band of time travelling troubadours specialize in funeral dirges for the living, dark polkas, menacing waltzes and horse-drawn lullabies filtered through the creaking floorboards of a whiskey soaked saloon. With a sound that is peculiar, yet familiar, The Unsettlers have earned a devoted following with their danceable, yet haunting blend of Klezmer, Beat Poetry and Turn of The Century Big Band Circus Music. Based out of Montreal, The Unsettlers come equipped with a horn section, accordion, clarinet, bass, piano,violin, trash can drums, a contortionist, guitar and multiple backup vocalists. The sound is dark yet celebratory, manic, yet calm and assured.
Since first taking the stage in April 2007, they have played well over 200 gigs, including a headlining spot at Pop Montreal in 2007, 2008 and 2009. They appeared at Festival Epicure in Windsor, Ontario in '07,'08 and '09 as well as the Montreal Fringe Festival. The band just wrapped up a four-week run at a 1930's depression-era inspired circus, entitled Carnivale Lune Bleue (based on the HBO series Carnivale), at which they were the sole entertainment in the cabaret big top. They're music was also used as the soundtrack in the freak show Alive On The Inside. The Unsettlers will be headlining the Tree Stage at the 2010 edition of the OSHEAGA music festival and closing out the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear in Toronto in August.
In 2008, The Unsettlers went into Auroratone Studios in Montreal to record their self-titled debut album, live off the floor onto old analogue reel-to-reel technology. A live EP recorded by the CBC aired across the country on the Concerts on Demand radio program and was released to the public in August 2009. The band's sophomore studio effort, a double album entitled "Oil & Blood", recorded at the legendary Studio Victor, will be released in the fall of 2010.
B.W. Brandes: Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, megaphone and castonettes
D'Arcy Nichol: Drums
Brie Neilson: Vocals, glockenspeil, guitar, percussion
Genevieve Schreier: Vocals, glockenspeil, percussion,
Santosh Lalonde: Accordion, vocals,
Elie Jalbert: Clarinet
Eli Richards: Trombone
Laura Lee Officer: Violin
Ram Krishnan: Bass, Harmonium
The Creature: Contortions
Sophomore Release OIL & BLOOD (26 track double album) out now! Available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/unsettlers2
WATCH IN STUDIO FOOTAGE AT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la3r5XGIQdo
To request for radio play please visit www.earshot-online.com and click on a station near you!
Debut Full length record entitled THE UNSETTLERS is on its second reprint.
Live album recorded by the CBC AVAILABLE NOW!
Annual and monthly recordings featured at myspace.com/theunsettlers
Rue Morgue R.I.P 2010
"Best New Music Discovery of 2010" -Rue Morgue Magazine-
Circus Maximus The Unsettlers Oil & Blood Album Review
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"The celebratory Montreal ensemble, The Unsettlers, signed off on 2010 with their second opus, a dou..."The celebratory Montreal ensemble, The Unsettlers, signed off on 2010 with their second opus, a double album of considerable proportions entitled Oil & Blood. Multiple lead singers, delectable backing vocals, and opulent orchestral arrangements give way to a genre crossing musical style that covers ragtime, jazz, rockabilly and gypsy. the sound of Oil & Blood lends itself as a soundtrack to a macabre circus that does not exist."
-Olivier Lalande (www.nightlife.ca)
The Unsettlers settle into being the biggest kid on the block with breathtaking results!
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Instrumentally, the band is solid and versatile, and their musicality and arrangements are breathtak...Instrumentally, the band is solid and versatile, and their musicality and arrangements are breathtaking. Influences abound, ranging from jazz and klezmer to rockabilly and funeral dirges."
-Martin Siberok (www.hour.ca)
2010 Osheaga Music Festival Review
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"The Unsettlers bring genuine pathos and atmosphere to their lurchy, Vaudeville-broke-down sound...a..."The Unsettlers bring genuine pathos and atmosphere to their lurchy, Vaudeville-broke-down sound...all festive, yet melancholy, like a square dance at a funeral."
Grifter Folk Music
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The Unsettlers is grifter folk music. It's the fourth album off Orphans. It's the second soundtrac...The Unsettlers is grifter folk music. It's the fourth album off Orphans. It's the second soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's the forest dancing drunkenly at night in the cold rain."
THE UNSETTLERS CD REVIEW
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02 Apr 2008 The Link: ALBUM REVIEW Spins The Unsettlers The Unsettlers Independent (...02 Apr 2008
The Link: ALBUM REVIEW
I had met The Unsettlers before, in the back of a dark bar, an arm’s length away from any of the musicians. I was interested to see how they would convey their aura of antiquation and celebration through newfangled recording techniques.
But luckily, these ladies and gents create an aural portal for the listener. What begins as distant tinny chimes escalates to a rumbling bass drum, a hooting jug and a salacious accordion (yes, salacious-this one gets around), which fade to the faint rustling of the wind between the circus tent flaps.
Once these sounds have lured the audience into acquiescence, the rest of the gang strikes up a delightfully dour melody accompanied by the brushes swishing on the garbage can drum kit. The amount of instruments and influences are neck and neck, uniting folk guitar, klezmer clarinet, mournful funeral horns, mischievous chimes and turn of the (20th) century piano.
The lead gent has a voice run ragged from smoking, drinking, and just as believably, from calling out to customers from atop a crate at a carnival.
The ladies’ voices ring in eerie unison and pleasing harmony, but their sweetness belies their experience. When it comes time for one of the girls to step up to center stage (or mic, as it may be), her voice is tinged with throaty roughness from wear and weariness, as can be heard on "No No No Yes."
Ultimately, this assembly of odes would be best heard while drunkenly galloping arm in arm with your unfaithful lover towards the open mouth of a grave.
THE CITY's BEST DRESSED HOOLIGANS
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The Link: The Unsettlers CD Launch The city’s best dressed hooligans The Unsettlers launch deb...The Link: The Unsettlers CD Launch
The city’s best dressed hooligans
The Unsettlers launch debut album
By Jesara Sinclair
GRAPHIC Yann Le Scieller
The Unsettlers are a little different from other Montreal musicians. Their unique sound is framed on stage with shiny red curtains. Singers Brie Nielson and Genevieve Schrier wear matching dresses and the rest of the band is clad in suits, ties and old top-hats.
"There is a dress code," says singer and guitarist, Ben Brandes. "If [people are] going to choose to come see us, we need to give them a reason why."
He calls it a "forgotten art." "Not enough bands do it," he says. "There is a visual aspect to music as well. Old suits, old hats. It looks fantastic."
In the year that they’ve been around, they’ve played over 60 shows round Montreal, and are finally releasing their first album, on April 1.
"We’ve tried to record a few times and were met with nothing but adversity. The government was coming down on us. The Hells Angels stepped in at one point in time," jokes Brandes. In reality, they had tried the free options, recording with students for projects, or doing it themselves, and had learned that wasn’t the setting to try to coordinate seven musicians.
In January, they opened for the United Steel Workers of Montreal at Sala Rossa. The bar was packed and The Unsettlers came away with enough to hire Auroratone Records to do a live recording.
Now, the songs are recorded and ready to go. The record also features Danielle Stevenson on trombone and Lysandre Champagne on trumpet, both new additions to the band.
"We let them be on the record because they were willing to join the band afterwards," says Brandes.
The Unsettlers started in Vancouver with Brandes, Schrier and Nielson, as well as Dustyn Lucas, on a mini-grand piano. They drove out to Montreal from Vancouver a year and a half ago, and five and a half months later had recruited Elie Jalbert on clarinet, Santosh Lalonde on bass and accordion and D’Arcy Nichol on drums. Their first gig was opening for a first-year play at McGill, and from there they "hit the ground running."
Last April, the band played its first bar show, at the Green Room. Joey Sicurella was in the crowd, and liked what he heard. He told them about a Honkey Tonk night he’d be starting up at Barfly.
"We hummed and hawed about it and said, absolutely," says Brandes. The Unsettlers have been playing the first Honkey Tonk Tuesday of every month. "Joey is the guy who made it happen," says Brandes. "He pushed us along and gave us an opportunity. Usually that takes a lot longer to get rather than on your first show in a town. We were very lucky with that."
Montreal has been good to them, he says, and they love it back. "It’s the greatest city on Earth. It’s a city where people support the arts, music included in that. People [aren’t] slaves to their jobs and will stay up late and drink whatever day of the week."
He says that’s exactly why they left Vancouver: "people’s unwillingness to put their job aside and let it go for a few hours at night."
Brandes describes The Unsettlers’ music as "beatnik-klezmer-circus folk." The strange sound of it could be one of the reasons behind the diverse turnout at the group’s shows.
"Old people, young people dirty people, clean people, villains, heroes." According to Brandes, it’s all these people the music reaches out to. He jokes that it’s because of how many instruments are on stage-that if you don’t like one, you can just block it out and listen to another.
The Unsettlers are awaiting the launch of the album, but Brandes almost sounds eager to get it out of the way. "As soon as this record release is over with, we can start doing a new set and get [some new material] out," he says, before discussing plans to attend a three-month-long Waltz program in Vienna next year.
The Unsettlers launch their debut, self-titled album Tuesday, April 1, at Club Lambi.
The Unsettlers Read Like a Book
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Local band The Unsettlers reads like a book Musical layering and moody lyrics create literary sound...Local band The Unsettlers reads like a book
Musical layering and moody lyrics create literary soundscape in band’s live shows
By Claire Caldwell?The McGill Daily
It’s tempting to describe The Unsettlers in terms of other bands, but in truth, I’ve always found such comparisons to be a bit problematic. Even if I’ve actually listened to all of the referenced musicians, my imagination tends to form a rather awkward combination of clashing styles and sounds. And in a time when many musicians are trying to define their own musical niches, it feels like a disservice to lump a band into a couple of overused categories.
“We don’t fit into any particular genre of the moment,” affirms front man Ben Brandes.
But the band doesn’t quite defy description. It may seem strange, but listening to The Unsettlers, especially live, is kind of like reading. The band’s seamless integration of multiple vocal and instrumental parts draws the audience past the physical presence of the musicians, just as a reader exchanges their awareness of the words on the page for the images they create.
With James Joyce cited as one of their major influences and a recent gig opening for a Douglas Theatre Company play, I don’t think my comparison is that far off the mark. In fact, everything about The Unsettlers is quirkily literary. Wearing waistcoats, trilby hats, and corduroy, the four men in the band – Brandes, Santosh Lalonde, D’Arcy Nichol, and Dustyn Lucas – would seem perfectly at home in a dimly lit, cramped study, poring over yellowed manuscript papers. The women, vocalists Genevieve Schreier and Brie Neilson, don’t dress the part, but each has a quiet, artistic grace that casts them in a similar light.
Though it may not be novels that they’re writing, each Unsettler brings an essential creative force to the band, from Lucas’ cover art for their upcoming album to Nichol’s constantly mutating garbage-can drum kit.
“Brie, Santosh, and I write the music,” notes Brandes. “It’s remarkable to have access to many writers in one group, instead of just one person. It brings a dynamic to the group that we wouldn’t otherwise have.”
“The music comes from Ben, in terms of the guitar parts,” Lucas adds. “If you listen carefully, all the different harmonies come from the guitar, and the rest of us fill that in...the music sculpts, and the words paint.”
The Unsettlers’ songs reflect this idea of music as visual art or a literary experience; the manipulation of voice, guitar, piano, accordion, mandolin, glockenspiel, and, of course, trash can lids, creates a network of textures and images that build upon each other as the songs progress. After only a month of playing together as a band, it’s incredible that they are able to pull off such a high level of musical complexity.
“We’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing,” says Brandes. “We don’t play music so we can wear leather pants. It’s one of the most important things in the universe that while we’re given gift of being able to play music, we make use of the opportunity.”
The Unsettlers are playing a string of shows in Montreal, including April 12 at Bar St. Laurent, April 14 at Grumpy’s, April 24 at Green Room, and finally one on May 26 at 1221 Crescent. For more information check out myspace.com/theunsettlers.
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MonthlyMess deemed addictive by alanah Heard enough about the MonthlyMess yet? Must have been quit...MonthlyMess deemed addictive
Heard enough about the MonthlyMess yet? Must have been quite a success as we’re all still talking about it. Thanks to Tricycle Studios, this month we were treated to cushy couches, cheap brews, and a background of colourful paintings – a much comfier fit than last month’s cold stone and ghouls.
I shan’t go through the entire set-list – just a couple highlights. My favourite medium – which I rarely stumble upon, even in this art-soaked town - is a good story, so I perked right up for Jonathan Stewart’s lucid tale of a failed hypnosis.
My own exciting story of the evening was discovering the Russian Social Club, right next door to Tricycle studios. The black velvet tunnel was a little daunting but I slipped past black-clad, straight-faced russian men who lined the passageway and got a glimpse of the luxurious interior. Under a red lace ceiling, a leather-jacketed heartthrob with a rockstar stance entertained the crowd what turned out to be covers of classic Russian rock ballads.
I noticed more than a couple of the Russian Socialites had wandered over to the Indyish side to catch The Unsettlers’ set. With their party-hat energy and macabre undertones (beat out on a garbage can drumset), the band lived up to their name. The Unsettlers were both dark and danceable, a combination that I find weirdly addictive. Something about backup singers Genevieve and Brie’s whiskey-voices sliding over the trombone melody just felt… yes. Luckily I won’t have to wait long for my next fix: they’ve got another show lined up this Tuesday at Greenroom.
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Green Room June 5th It’s the year 2066. The war has ended and we have gathered up the remnant...Green Room June 5th
It’s the year 2066.
The war has ended and we have gathered up the remnants of the old world. We have our friends. We have our families. There has been no oil for over a decade and the factories have all closed or been destroyed: the days of mass production are done. What the kids do have they have scavenged from the junkpiles of their enemy’s enemy and from the wreckage of our misconceptions and apathy they have formed a band and called it “The Unsettlers.” The war never stopped them, like it did so many others. They built a drum kit out of trash cans and painted it with tech-inspired rhythms. The tall man found a short piano in the rubble of the antique collector’s antique shop and when shrapnel from the bomb tore open the museum doors, a clarinet, a guitar, and a xylophone went missing. The Unsettlers are basically the band Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen would have produced with genetic engineering and some spare change. It’s a rickety rack of lads and ladies with the ramshackle sound of Dixieland on fire, whose intensity strengthens with the intake of whiskey while an apologetic clarinet hums the tune to all the ways the world went wrong as the xylo dots the i and crosses the t of how humanity let it all happen.This is a solid band with room to grow. Catch them if you can.
Anywhere up to three and a half hours of original material, not including witty banter and whiskey breaks.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.