A Northern Chorus
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A Northern Chorus


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Anti-Hit List by John Sakamoto"

2. A NORTHERN CHORUS, "Carpenter"

Though this Hamilton band has made a conscious decision to be more concise in its songwriting, that shift in focus doesn't preclude the kind of aural experimentation that's characterized its three previous albums. The fact that this four-minute lead-off track sounds so instantly accessible only makes its constant filling up and emptying of space that much more dazzling. In short, this deserves to do for A Northern Chorus what You Forgot It In People did for Broken Social Scene. (From The Millions Too Many, out March 20, info only: www.sonicunyon.com/anc) - Toronto Star

"Dusted Magazine"

Apr. 12, 2007

On The Millions Too Many, Ontario's A Northern Chorus offer up a compact version of their spacey, dreamily literate chamber pop. Where the lush expanses and slow-burn orchestral buildups of 2005's Bitter Hands Resign placed them easily (if facilely) among confirmed post-rock acts like Sigur Rós and most of Montréal's Constellation Records roster, the form on this record is noticeably condensed – in a way, humbled. The songs are decidedly songs, not pieces or suites, which lends them an immediacy in short supply on their past albums. The band's investment in tension and transition feels more sincere here than tactical.

Much remains the same about the group, from the wistful undertones of the arrangements to the urban transcendentalism of the lyrics, that strangely Canadian empiricism fetish (”Awakened by the timelessness of it all/ And how the night just succumbs to universal laws,” Stuart Livingstone croons in mid-album standout "The Canadian Shield"). But it's not strictly a matter of form: the mood of The Millions Too Many is refined along with the song structures. The spaces are tighter, and necessarily more intimate. The strings are warm, the vocals sweet and homespun. "Horse To Stable" is airy, perhaps, but not in the astral sense of Bitter Hands Resign, more like a campfire chant. Sometimes it courts mid-’90s cheesiness, sometimes you expect a mandolin break (as on warmed-over R.E.M. jam "Remembrance Day"), but more often it's lithe, suitably epic, and wholly compelling.

A Northern Chorus are still a band whose greatest payoffs come in concise, hard-earned climaxes — here, the end of "No Stations" or the debonair horn break of "Ethic of the Pioneer" — but they've taken pains to make the intervals between those moments more engaging, less drawn out, further from the brink of tedium. No doubt the respectably frosty epics in their pedigree afford them a certain credibility vis-à-vis the magnified sentimentalism of The Millions Too Many, but these songs speak sufficiently for themselves. Rather than distant and skyward, they find the band starry-eyed and earthbound, and that's really not a bad thing at all. - Dusted Magazine + Daniel Levin Becker

"Exclaim Magazine"

A Northern Chorus
The Millions Too Many
By Chris Whibbs

One of the biggest crimes in Canadian music has been the fact that this Hamilton, ON band have flown under way too many radars for far too long. It seemed people couldn’t get excited about the incredible layers and emotions found in every strum and crashing cymbal. Hopefully this album will change that, as here they move away from the elongated song lengths of yore and, amazingly, pack as many layers of guitars, strings and drums as they can into every truncated track. This strategy works beautifully; each song crackles with an electricity not found on other releases and works even better at grabbing the listener’s attention. You can’t find a better opener than “Carpenter,” as it starts out deceptively plaintive then explodes with weeping strings, staccato drums and ringing guitars that fire the neurons. The best track by far is “The Canadian Shield,” where the reverb-laden guitars are at their finest and the band are at their most orchestral. As each strum resounds over the crashing cymbals and morass of instruments, it seems everything is in its right place. Some may use the word “ethereal” but it is far too dense to be pigeonholed as mere sonic gossamer. The joy comes from throwing yourself into these compositions and revelling in the dense emotional statements that this band are slowly becoming masters at creating.(Sonic Unyon) - Exclaim Magazine by Chris Whibbs

"Harp Magazine (bitter hands resign)"

By Kurt Orzeck

When chaos strikes, people often seek some semblance of structure—church, a clean house, etc. Ontario’s A Northern Chorus looks for order in music. Meticulously ethereal, the band’s third album contrasts with the existential tumult that lies within (“I want to know who’s in charge of this show? Whose plans are these?”). Cushioned by organ, piano and cello, the songs drink deep, as Heinlein would say. Perhaps best of all, ANC is partially funded by the Canadian government, making us long even more for their foreign, carefully crafted world. - Harp Magazine

"I heart music"

Given that the average track on The Millions Too Many runs well over four minutes, "brief" isn't the word that most people would use to describe A Northern Chorus' songs. "Epic", maybe, or "grandiose", but nothing that would imply the band relied on economy or brevity to get their point across.When you consider, however, that their last two albums were marked by an abundance of material that cracked the seven- and eight-minute marks, the fact that this time around ANC never even go beyond six minutes for any given song certainly suggests that the band has learned how to become more concise over the last few years.

Of course, as they show, just because they're no longer writing songs that clock in at eight minutes doesn't mean they've lost any sense of grandeur in their music. As A Northern Chorus show throughout The Millions Too Many, their songwriting ability has progressed to a point where they seem to realize that songs can be big without lasting forever. Thus, there are songs like "Skeleton Key" and the title track, both of which have all sorts of guitar effects and trippy atmospheric stuff, but in a focused kind of way; the band seems to have learned that it's possible to do that kind of thing without descending into wankery.

Which isn't to say that the band has filled The Millions Too Many with U2-inspired, stadium-friendly anthems. After all, there are also low-key, acoustic songs like the twangy "Horse To Stable", and "Victory Parade", which is about as understated and folky as a six-piece can get. Both tracks stand out by not standing out, providing the bigger-sounding songs with anchors that keep the whole album in perspective and make it easier to really feel comfortable with it all.

It's kind of ironic that a band who aim for such lofty heights in their music seem likely to be overshadowed by all the other high-profile releases slated for this year. It's unfortunate, since The Millions Too Many is definitely strong enough to make A Northern Chorus one of Canada's best-known bands. - I heart music

"Pitchfork media"

There's cultural product you enjoy and cultural product you admire; either will suffice under the right circumstances, although the ideal is for both to be wrapped up in one package. Here's a basic exemplary schema: J.K. Rowling (enjoy), Jacques Derrida (admire), Elmore Leonard (both). Star Wars Episode III (enjoy), My Dinner with Andre (admire), Kung Fu Hustle (both). The schema breaks down vis-�-vis television, which lacks the patience for the (admire) category, but holds up against orchestral indie rock: Explosions in the Sky (enjoy), A Northern Chorus (admire), Godspeed You! Black Emperor (both).

What makes the (admire) category worthwhile is that you can learn from or be challenged by it-- in other words, while fun is, well, fun, it's not the only sensation we seek from our artistic diversions. We also crave to be provoked and disturbed and psychically reoriented. Since there's not much that Bitter Hands Resign has to teach me, and since its dramatic maneuvers are too soothing and commonplace (if competently executed) to challenge any of my assumptions or sensibilities, I can only admire it in an abstract way.

But if it's a musical massage you're after, and more to the point, if you like the idea of Coldplay's Chris Martin singing for Explosions in the Sky, this third LP from Ontario sextet A Northern Chorus will be the object of your pleasure and esteem. Resonating with Pink Floyd's cold and swirling qualities, EITS's delicate textural layers, Godspeed's epic thrust and Sigur R�s's inexorable freeze, A Northern Chorus has turned out the record that Death Cab for Cutie might make after taking an online classical composition course and a near-fatal overdose of tranquilizer cocktails. The long, dramatic arcs of languid guitar, weepy cello, silky organs, and lugubrious percussion are overstated in a necessary way, but grandiosity works better musically than lyrically, and I'd have preferred this album without the breathy, direly grave falsettos.

I'm saying: When you're taking an ice bath, the last thing you need is someone reminding you how cold it is, and lines like "Angels are on their way out/ They'll lead us through the darkness to the right place" (as warbled over the gentle, trebly percolation of "Subjects & Matter") seem to overstate a case for hope in the face of modern dread that the music tacitly makes on its own, that's already been made by similar musics many times over. But like I said in a recent Album Leaf review, it's really about headspace-- if you're in the right one, this sad-sack skygaze epic will trickle dazzling colors across your firmament.

-Brian Howe, June 06, 2005
Horizontal-dotbar-2col - Pitchfork media by Brian Howe


Before We All Go To Pieces, 2001 Black Mountain Music
Spirit Flags, 2003 Sonic Unyon Records
Bitter Hands Resign, 2005 Sonic Unyon Records
Before We All Go To Pieces (re-release) 2006 Black Mountain Music
The Millions Too Many, 2007 Sonic Unyon Records
Chained To The Truth 7' single (release summer 07)



A Northern Chorus - The millions too many

There is something to be said about life under the mainstream radar. It lends a unique kind of freedom to the creative process. Granted, the constant financial struggle can feel like a huge weight sometimes, but then, that's not why we’re doing this.

When we released 'Before we all go to pieces' back in 2001, we really had no expectations. It was simply a creative outlet. But the reviews came rushing in pretty quickly. Exclaim magazine even dubbed the album "a balanced musical epic". Since then, we've released two other critically acclaimed albums on Sonic Unyon Records, namely 'Spirit Flags' in 2003 and 'Bitter Hands Resign' in
2005. For the latter, Pitchfork Media said “A Northern Chorus has turned out the record that Death Cab for Cutie might make after taking an on online classical composition course and a near-fatal overdose of tranquilizer cocktails.” While Harp Magazine said “Ontario’s A Northern Chorus looks for order in music. Meticulously ethereal, the band’s third album contrasts with the existential tumult that lies within."

Over the last 7 years we've toured the continent several times, and have even crossed the pond for a small tour of the UK. We've steadily gained popularity in North America, and are anxious to do the same overseas.

Our new album 'The millions too many' was recorded at the same rural location as 'Bitter Hands Resign'. With our friend and co-producer Graham Walsh at the helm, this album marks the return of violinist Erin Aurich and the addition of Craig Halliday behind the drum kit. This is also the first record to feature the talents of the one-man-horn-section, Ben Bowen. The songs on this new
record are decidedly different than our previous works. We realized early on in the writing process that this album was going to be something different. The most notable change being a departure from the slower tempos and longer songs. With seven of nine songs clocking in around four minutes, die-hard fans might
think we've crossed over to the darker side of the music industry. All that being said, we're still A Northern Chorus and 'The millions too many' still sounds like A Northern Chorus.

The lyrics continue to be inspired by this under-the-radar endeavour, and are chalked full of anti-deterministic sentiment. We're still wading through that fog of disparity and trying to maintain a clear sense of immediacy. Hopefully, 'The millions too many' points towards minimizing the excesses of this world and
bridging the gaps between us.