BEAMS

BEAMS

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
BandAmericanaRock

Beams is a psych-folk band from Toronto and the perfect remedy for your digital blues.

Biography

“The lyrics are sad but the music is sweet,” sings Anna Mernieks on the final track of the new Beams album before co-front woman Heather Mazhar comes in for the chorus, their voices combining to strike exactly the bittersweet balance the lyrics describe. It’s a fitting line given that Beams is a band that’s embraced contrasts from the start—even their name has opposing connotations, calling up images of something both solid and permeable, light and dark. With Teach Me To Love, their second full-length album and follow-up to 2015 John McEntire (Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene) recorded 7”, The Gutters and the Glass, the band is in full command of their contradictions. Recorded at Toronto’s Union Sound Co by Ian Gomes (Hooded Fang, Odonis Odonis) Teach Me To Love’s ten songs are subtle and spacious in their arrangements, while at the same time Beams’ seven members bring a propulsive energy to everything they play. The results are catchy as hell and full of, not nostalgia, but a longing for something you know you can never have, like always wanting to be in the country when you’re in the city, and the other way around.

Toronto-based Beams have been winning overcrowds across North America with their hard to classify sound for the last five years. Led by Mernieks and her banjo, the band is usually called some variation of country or bluegrass, (a natural conclusion to come to, considering there could be a mandolin, lap steel, singing saw and several band members wearing plaid on stage at any given time during a Beams set), but they have a certain Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom-like otherworldliness that’s made them impossible to fit neatly in one category.

Teach Me To Love finds Beams much more at home in the realm of psych folk, a genre whose dual nature manages to encompass the sprawling beauty of these new songs. Mining her experiences and her imagination in equal measure, Merniek’s lyrics turn the everyday into the unbelievable, blurring reality, but only at its edges. “My Second Time At The Mountains” wonders if you can ever experience a “first” again, whether it’s the awe of seeing mountains for the first time, or the way you loved someone in the beginning. “Apartment In My Head” is a spiralling, sinister tune propelled by Merniek’s banjo, which plucks prettily as ever but brings with it a sense of deep foreboding, calling to mind acts like fellow Torontonians Timber Timbre, who evoke a similar sonic atmosphere.

“Beams’ strength is their restraint, employing just enough singing saw, just enough plucking, just enough mystery in whimsical lyrics,” Julia LeConte wrote in her four-star review of their 2013 debut album Just Rivers. The arrangements on Teach Me To Love are truly accomplished, a testament to the musicianship of each band member, who are practiced at leaving elbow room for each other in the music, if not in the band van. Brothers Dave and Keith Hamilton on mandolin and singing saw/vibraphone respectively, bring texture and personality, Mike Duffield’s relentlessly excellent drumming, alongside Craig Moffatt on bass, acts as both backbone and pulse, supporting everything while driving it forward, and Martin Crawford’s guitars lift the songs just as high as Mernieks’ and Mazhar’s weightless harmonies.

This latest offering is a versatile, ambitious album that sounds right anywhere, whether it’s first thing in the morning on your subway ride to work, on a late night long distance drive, or live,in a bar, on the dance floor. Because, for all their subtleties and complexities, Beams is also a band that will make you want to dance.

Lyrics

Be My Brother

Written By: Anna Mernieks

I'll sit alone in the corner, three steps away from the border, I'll give you bread and water if you pretend to be my brother, to be my brother.
How long is this life? How long does it take to build a home out of sticks and stones?
How long is this life? How long does it take to build a home out of shoes by the door?
We make rhythm, we keep time with the chopping block, nails and tar
When we’re done building how long will we stay before the wind takes us to another place?
Oh’s
Is it fertile, will it grow, will the lights turn out when we dam the flow?
Is it fertile, will it grow, or will it wilt, or will it wilt by the cold window?
I'll sit alone in the corner, three steps away from the border, I'll give you bread and water if you pretend to

be my brother, to be my brother

How long is this life? How long does it take to step and step through the rocky lake?
To burn a canyon out of this path, to trim the branches out of your face?
When the city spreads its arms, my brother’s blood- it is not mine
But when the city spreads its arms, all of our bodies beat in time

I’ll sit alone in the corner, two steps away from the border, I’ll give you bread and water if you pretend to be my brother.

I'm Not Human

Written By: Anna Mernieks

If the black hole targets me again, I'm not human
and if I'm anonymously ominous to him, it's cause I'm not human

In the snake pipes underneath the drains I'm flowing with the rains
If I were light through your window at night I would fall on you so I could watch you change
into a magical, cartwheeling radical, the kind I found under bathroom light
and under blankets where the snake queen of snake dreams makes sounds like fur rubbing boxes at night

If the black hole targets me again, it's cause a star died
and if I'm anonymously ominous to him, it's cause I know why

on sticky counters, every pound of hers makes a difference to me
and in the orchards the moonlight casts shadows on her thoughts about me
one breath of smoke goes and covers up the apples the fruits from the tree
the silver light makes tinfoil out of cold snow and the ice looks like mirrors from the sea
but just a shadow I be

The Way We Run

Written By: Anna Mernieks

Will, will you sit, sit with me longer than she did?
Will, will you sit, sit with me longer than she did?
and will, will you stay even when I'm turned away?
Cause sometimes there is just, just not much, not much to say
I am sorry if my silence
made you feel like you couldn't talk.

Oh, the sun shone so brightly today,
I wanted so badly to play,
but working part time, working full time, all the time,
we'll never have time for a son
or a girl
'cause this is the way we run:
pushed to the sides with the gutters and the glass by the cars.
I am happy if my blindness keeps me from seeing who you are.

She would be so sad to see
cold, cold rivers have hardened me
learning to walk on the edge of the knife,
too many long nights.

Black Shadow

Written By: Anna Mernieks

My head feels heavy with a tidal wave
My thoughts keep coming like tidal waves
Oh, I was lost, but now I'm saved!
And now it's safe to get lost again.

You walk like you're falling over
and I'm caving under your hand.

Oh! Did you see it?
In the corner of your eye,
a black shadow scooping up the sky.

Something underground has been awoken
It grew as it slept for a very long time
and where will you run when it comes a-rumblin'?
Yeah, there's nowhere to run from your own mind.

You walk like you're falling over
and I'm caving under your hand.

Oh! Did you see it?
In the corner of your eye,
a black shadow scooping up the sky.

Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover)

Written By: Kate Bush

It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, it's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh...

You don't want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I'm tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?
You, it's you and me.
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh...

You,
It's you and me,
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

"C'mon, baby, c'mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C'mon, angel, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let's exchange the experience, oh..."

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

If I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems...

"If I only could, I'd be running up that hill.
If I only could, I'd be running up that hill."

Discography

"Be My Brother" - single - Feb 26, 2013
"Just Rivers" - full-length debut - May 14, 2013
"The Gutters and the Glass" - 7" single -Jan 27, 2015
"Running up That Hill (Kate Bush)- June 23, 2015

Set List

Berlin
The Way We Run
Same Old Exit
My Second Time at the Mountains
Be My Brother
Live in the Real World
Pull of the Night
You're an Ocean
Running Up that Hill
Black Shadow