Formed as a sextet named Deadhorse in 2009 and eventually teamed up with producer Jay Crocker to record their debut. Released via Saved By Radio in early 2011, the self-titled LP was supported with a cross Canada tour and a SLED ISLAND showcase in the summer. October found the group down to a quintet and returning east for HALIFAX POP EXPLOSION. Soon afterwards they began work on recordings that would take the bulk of 2012 to complete, during which time they kept busy with MTT FEST, mini tours of the prairie provinces and renaming the band Devonian Gardens.
Danny Vescarelli - Vocals, Guitar
Jennifer Crighton - Vocals, Percussion, Harmonica
Marie Sulkowski - Vocals, Guitar, keyboards
Ryan Bourne - Vocals, Bass
Melissa McWilliams - Vocals, Drums
Deadhorse [LP; Saved By Radio; 2011]
Band of the week: Deadhorse [REVOLT OF THE APES]
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Were it that we could easily describe the great pleasure of listening to Alberta, CanadiaLands’ Dead...Were it that we could easily describe the great pleasure of listening to Alberta, CanadiaLands’ Deadhorse, we would. We would describe their high-lonesome, open-sky, western-country space-rock-and/or-roll music as the aural manifest of finding yourself at that midpoint between Moose Lake, AB and the very brightest stars visible to the naked eye.
We’d tell you that’s the position their debut album’s opening incantation – “Interstellar Remedies” – forces our mind to consider. The song comes on like a lovely, odd and immediate cosmic paean to the incurable mystery of the sky at night, a sort of “Her Canadian Majesties Request,” replicating a similar vibe with an opening arsenal of jittery, jingle jangle mourning, with the note-perfect female voices that dwell throughout the album delivering the healing, interstellar medicine before the entire band dissolves into the healing interstellar medicine of droning, echoing, chaotic sonic bliss.
But we can’t do that.
And it’s not just because the following number delivers us to the kookiest honky-tonk in town. Titled “Glam Central,” it’s little preparation for the later delivery of slow, sweet glam-pop hooks, deliberately laid over the synth of doom and siren-wail of “Paraboots,” or the fervent, Pentecostal-prog of “I’m A Lawyer,” anchored by two echoing voices, one male, one female, both voices beautiful in their balance, offering their pleas to the sky, to climbing, to red clouds and “super-hero heretics.”
But we can’t do that. Or we can … or we just did.
If nothing else, we just don’t want to tell you you’ll fall quickly for Deadhorse’s fence-jumping music, on an album that runs this way and that. Perhaps you will. Perhaps you will not. What the hell do we know?
We know little-to-nothing, surely, but we do feel something more. And we feel gratitude for the way the music of Deadhorse makes us feel, returning us to that mental, middle world between the the burning stars and the frozen ground. It’s a feeling captured in the smallest of details, such as the way the band sings the words “cold snap” on the fluffy and fiery “Cushion” – an indication that the weather is changing, the moon is rising, our eyes are opening wide. Moose Lake or bust.
New Canadiana :: Deadhorse [WEIRD CANADA]
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Wedged in the purgatory between stations on the AM dial, Deadhorse’s ghostly Canadiana inhabits the ...Wedged in the purgatory between stations on the AM dial, Deadhorse’s ghostly Canadiana inhabits the interstitial gaps between smokehouses and smoke lodges. Celestine space waltzes (“Interstellar Remedies”) spike the punch of pissed-up blues stompers (“Glam Central” and the Jello Bia-fried “Big Blew Sky”), while “I’m a Lawyer” jitters like “Baba O’Riley”, were it an incantation to the open skies. Throughout, co-vocalists Jen Crighton and Danny Vescarelli weave Rigellian tapestries in pentatonic reverence that, somehow, avoids Crazy Horse Pentecostalism. Call it a collision of Calgary past and present, but this much is clear: Deadhorse understands that roots are meant to grow.
From the pentatonic reverence of Mark Teo
Deadhorse live session [WELCOME TO THE WEST]
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[click headline/link for video] For the past two years, one band has not only defined psych-rock ...[click headline/link for video]
For the past two years, one band has not only defined psych-rock in Calgary; they have redefined it. Deadhorse epitomizes an unknown quantity; in that, you may receive doses of blues, metal, country, classic rock and even punk – these all wrapped into mind-numbing jams and harmonies from four individually incredible songwriters.
The Cushion video shoot happened over night on a plot of private land in East Coulee, Alberta – an area around the Red Deer river valley (often referred to as Dinosaur Valley). We were powered by inverter generators on a hoodoo cliff face, car headlights and a roaring campfire.
Deadhorse are on Saved by Radio, where you can uncover their excellent 2011 self-titled debut.
Disc review: Deadhorse [NOW MAGAZINE]
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Not to be confused with the Texas thrash metal band of the same name, Deadhorse hail from Calgary an...Not to be confused with the Texas thrash metal band of the same name, Deadhorse hail from Calgary and play trippy psych rock that sometimes floats around in space but is best when mining dirty garage rock territory.
It’s easy to hear that these guys did their rock ’n’ roll homework before recording this debut album. Arguably, Deadhorse’s greatest strength is their ability to combine a guitar-and-drums barrage with catchy, even pretty, melodies sung by Danny Vescarelli and Jennifer Crighton.
Contemporary psych bands too often go for the freak-out at the expense of the tune, but tracks like Glam Central and Paraboots give Deadhorse the upper hand in psychedelic songwriting.
By Joanne Huffa
Pop & Rock Reviews: Deadhorse [EXCLAIM!]
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The self-titled debut from Calgary flower children Deadhorse is further proof the prairies are takin...The self-titled debut from Calgary flower children Deadhorse is further proof the prairies are taking over. It's rare for a band to be able to make new music that sounds as though it's been around a long while without sounding tired or trite, but Deadhorse hearkens back to the psychedelic era with as much authenticity as one could hope for given the 40-something years between now and then. Without hesitation, "Interstellar Remedies" opens what will become an unapologetically trippy album. The dreamy pop vocals eventually turn into what sounds like a creepy choir groaning from the depths of hell: a compliment. This album would be more satisfying to the senses if every track sounded akin to the first, but the heavy-handed guitar ends up swallowing the harmonious howling that makes the album so initially commanding. "Glam Central" overdoes it on the Iggy Pop impersonation, but at the very least, it's a believable parody. The music loses control of itself, at times, but it wouldn't be a solid pseudo-classic rock album if it didn't. (Saved by Radio)
By Carly Lewis
Deadhorse album review [DISCORDER]
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Like a psychedelic zombie stallion, Calgary’s Deadhorse burst from the gate with their self-titled d...Like a psychedelic zombie stallion, Calgary’s Deadhorse burst from the gate with their self-titled debut album. After having spent a summer honing their chops playing at campgrounds across B.C. and Alberta, the band teamed up with the awesome Jay Crocker to record their debut. They spent two weeks recording live off the floor at a band member’s house and then put the finishing touches on at Sea Legs, Crocker’s analogue “recording grotto.”
You can tell that they’ve put in the hours to gel as a unit, but the feel is never stiff or forced. Rather, with a bit of swing and a lot of attitude, Deadhorse confidently lays down a set of psychedelic, blues-inflected garage rock.
With a serious Nuggets compilation vibe, Deadhorse has brewed a bubbling potion of vocal harmonies, shuffling rhythms and raucous guitar overdrive. The album’s analogue recording really meshes with the band’s classic sound. It would have been a disservice to the songs to have recorded them onto a computer with ultra-clean, digital sound. The spring reverb, tape echo and tube amps add character that would be hard to get with modern recording techniques.
Standout track “Upon a Mountain High” starts out with ghostly wailing from co-lead vocalist Jennifer Crighton, and then morphs into a power-chord-driven stomper with stream-of-consciousness lyrics that narrate a mystical experience of digging deep into the heart of the earth with one’s hands and pushing the displaced dirt up into a mountain. Also great is “I’m a Lawyer,” with its awesome use of silence and space—the better to showcase Danny Vescarelli and Crighton’s harmonized lead vocals—and “Cushion,” with its steady beat and resonant melody.
Deadhorse works well because it sounds like a band writing what comes naturally to them: raw garage rock freak-outs balanced with calm passages of psychedelia. You get the feeling that they’d be great live.
By Douglas Mackenzie
Deadhorse - Critiques [BAND A' PARTE]
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C'est quoi? Le premier album des Calgariens Deadhorse. La scène albertaine se démarque depuis quelq...C'est quoi?
Le premier album des Calgariens Deadhorse. La scène albertaine se démarque depuis quelques années, et ce groupe, assez original, sort du lot.
Du blues dans le brouillard?
La première pièce, c'est comme si Imani Coppola rencontrait le prog-hardcore futuriste de Mr Bungle et qu'ils écoutaient du Turtles ou du Jefferson Airplane ensemble. Ensuite, on dirait le blues punk cracké de Delta 72 ou de Jon Spencer Blues Explosion avec des guitares pleines de distorsion à la Neil Young, les voix masculines et féminines s'entremêlant. C'est garage, psychédélique, prog, blues et toujours sale et suant. Le titre de la dernière pièce, Haze blues, pourrait devenir l'épithète de leur musique.
Digne d'un mustang mort?
Si l'approche peut faire frémir des puristes, ou les expérimentations faire peur aux autres, l'album vaut le détour autant que le défi de passer au travers. On a droit à des compositeurs qui savent comment doser les fioritures, qui apportent quelque chose aux chansons plutôt que de camoufler un manque de talent. Ça m'a pris cinq écoutes pour l'apprivoiser, mais je suis bien content d'y être revenu!
Par Marc-André Pilon
Deadhorse live review [BEATROUTE]
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...Reuben Bollock, Young Turks and peAks sparked the psychedelia early. A brief reprieve with smokes......Reuben Bollock, Young Turks and peAks sparked the psychedelia early. A brief reprieve with smokes and more lead right into Bitterweed Draw, followed by the twinkling-eyed Lab Coast, whose brilliance illuminated the full house for the evenings crowning glory: Deadhorse.
There’s something about Deadhorse that makes me feel twenty years older and eighteen at the same time. They are a band of time travellers emanating from the 1970s who are entirely in groove with current rhythms...
By Matthew Dupuis
Deadhorse: blazing instrumentation and lukewarm pie [BEATROUTE]
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The six members that make up psychedelic throwback act Deadhorse are sitting in a booth at the Black...The six members that make up psychedelic throwback act Deadhorse are sitting in a booth at the Blackfoot Dinner, a location whose ‘70s stylings fit the band adeptly. A currently immobile toy train is perched on a track suspended from the ceiling and there are jukeboxes at nearly every table stuffed with Bob Seeger, ABBA and Rod Stewart.
It’s 10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening and Danny Vescarelli (guitars, vocals), Jennifer Crighton (vocals, harmonica), Eddie Dalrymple (guitar, vocals), Marie Sulkowski (organ, vocals), Ryan Bourne (bass) and Melissa McWilliams (drums) are enjoying cherry pie, rhubarb pie, grilled cheese, onion rings and fries. This is amidst constant interruptions (including pausing to enjoy the mandolin solo of “Maggie May”) and discussion on Deadhorse’s self-titled debut.
Featuring eight tracks of bombastic, ethereal, psychedelic rock, Deadhorse is described by Crighton as “kind of sludgy (with) weird organ sounds, big rock outs and slow hazy moments.” This is a fitting sum-up: the album varies wildly from the dreamy opening of “Interstellar Remedies” to the blistering blues-laden closer “Haze Blues.” Highlights include “Cushion,” which they agree is “the most resolved song” of the album “because it has all the elements of (their) sound. It’s got a pretty melody and man parts and girl parts and harmonies.” Dalrymple pipes in, “It’s got all the bits you need!”
“The tuneful hermaphrodite song,” adds Sulkowski.
How the sextet morphed from their original manifestation in February 2009 to the cohesive entity of today is as fractured as one would expect from the above quotations. Vescarelli and former Deadhorse bassist Paul Gardner desired to play together after a hiatus. Simultaneously, Vescarelli and Crighton’s former act (the precocious indie rock sextet Consonant C) was fizzling out thanks to differing musical directions and desires, while Dalrymple was added to the fold after Vescarelli heard his demo and chatted with him at Melodiya.
“I brought (the demo) home to Jen and said, ‘Jen, I am thinking of having a relationship with a customer,’” he remembers laughingly. “I kind of geeked out wanting this stuff and thought it’d be fun to jam with him and had known Marie through playing music as well, though never in an actual band. Jared (Andres, former drummer) was drumming in the Consonant C so I kind of pieced together the idea.” The band was named thanks to an in-joke. It stuck due to the daring and humorous connotations.
Once Deadhorse gigged around Calgary for nearly a year, they hunkered down in Vescarelli and Crighton’s hardwood-floored and high-ceilinged home and transformed it into a studio, aided by producer extraordinaire Jay Crocker. After a week of “old fashioned” pre-production, the project was recorded analogue live-off-the-floor, later filled out with vocal overdubs. Crocker’s recording equipment was placed in the basement while the band played on the main floor with their amps in the attic.
“There is a certain kind of feel you get from playing together and the energy you get from each other that is hard to reproduce if you’re doing it track by track in the studio,” says Crighton of the decision to record live. “It’s a pretty strong collaboration and… magic things happen while the music is being made.”
Nearly a year later, the band is finally ready for its release through Saved by Radio, who will unveil the disc on January 4. The vinyl will be released this spring.
“We didn’t have the funds to release it properly, which, in our vision for the whole project, it’ll be done when a whole vinyl record exists,” admits Vescarelli. Crighton adds, “Because the music is recorded on analog, to us the ideal format was to be on vinyl and that was going to take a little more patience to see realized.”
Although the original rhythm section that is featured on the album “left the band for various personal reasons,” the newest members are long-time members of Calgary’s music community. Bourne released his solo album, Supermodern World of Beauty, on Saved by Radio in 2009, while McWilliams is the percussionist for Bitterweed Draw. Both add new dimensions to the sextet’s live performance, and, like their bandmates, have adopted varying tracks as their notables.
“I’d probably have to (choose) ‘Interstellar Remedies,’” says Bourne. “I find it deliciously weird and this lift-off takes place. It seems like whatever we are playing before it, there is a complete shift of gears.”
“’Glam Central’ is mine,” counters McWilliams. “I feel like I can turn off my brain and rock out and have the gnarliest drum face you could ever have.” Dalrymple favours “I’m A Lawyer,” thanks to its live emphasis on “chops and playing and crazy musical polyrhythms,” while Sulkowski favours the eerie rock-out “Upon A Mountain High.”
Regardless of personal favourites, make no mistake: Deadhorse is a groovy, bluesy, psychedelic achievement whose blazing instrumentation drips with swagger and sex.
By Sarah Kitteringham