Bend the River
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Bend the River

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Rock

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Music

Press


One of the acts I’m most excited to see at this year’s IDOW is actually a local band. Sure, getting to see Jolie Holland again will be something fantastic, but after listening to the new disc from Bend the River countless times in the last week or so, they have jumped up the list of "must see" acts.


Revolt of Angels is a unique blend of fireside intimacy, rock and full blown, country-fused soul. Vocalists Ronok and RJ can tug at your heart with only a tender narrative and his guitar (like he does for the first minute of Never Be the Same Again or the country tinged One of These Days), but the band is skilled enough to transform even his starkest emotions into a complete effort, filling in the ample space with Matt Myer’s keyboard work, electric guitar and drums but making sure to never overpower the mix.

The band seems to have a never ending well from which to sample. The Arrival lets Ronok reveal a tender falsetto and shows the band inching towards a Brit pop sound and although the opening track, The Want relies on Jonathan Andrew’s jazzy lead guitar to set the mood of the song, the song builds into a more modern pop affair. The title track is a surprisingly delicate, country waltz and even though the album closer, She Keeps it Hanging On uses a lot of the same sonic palette, but the band freshens the effort by spiking the energy as they surge towards the finish.

But in my opinion, it’s when the band fleshes out the sounds with organ, harmonies and a bit of drama that their sound really clicks. It’s hard to imagine a band so young being able to dabble in the sound spectrum as Van Morrison, but melody and feel of Aimless Rivers shows that they have the skill to handle the bigger arrangements. The gentle build of keys and guitar push the song into the chorus, and the jazzy breakdown shows a maturity you wouldn’t expect to get from an unheralded local release.

Instead of my typical process of finding a record that sounds good filtering through the crackle of my computer speakers or iPod and can be embraced by the type of people that run or read music blogs, I’m happy to find a band that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone. I’m happy to find a band that plays music that won’t be an afterthought in a few weeks and one that could win the hearts of any of the people that show up early to the Bus Stop Theatre on the 28th
- Hero Hill


Discography

Revolt of Angels

One of These Days and The Want have received CBC and college airplay.

Photos

Bio

Bend the River formed in 2008 when singer/songwriters Ronok Sarkar and RJ Donovan joined up with Adam Fine and Matt Myer of Gypsophilia in support of a number of Sarkar and Donovan’s compositions.  The results produced the band’s first album, Revolt of Angels, which was recorded over two afternoons at the former Ginger’s Tavern on Barrington Street in Halifax off hours.  The album received positive reviews and airplay on CBC and local radio.  Bend the River also gained the attention of the Halifax music community and a loyal following of fans that saw in the album what one reviewer called “music that won’t be an afterthought in a few weeks.”  In 2010 the band reshuffled adding the incredibly talented singer / songwriters Norma MacDonald and Becky Siamon as well as Mark Bachinski who is best known for his work with Classified on drums.  The band’s sound and stage performances underwent a transformation, what Sarkar has called “a move from 1971 to 1977,” embracing a louder, more soul, and heavily harmonic sound - allowing members to dig into their jazz and soul influences to create something unique and new.  The great Phil Sedore who has worked with a long list of Halifax’s most talented musicians rounds out the new lineup on guitar and lap steel.  Bend the River continued to play around Halifax consistently and have performed at Halifax Pop Explosion, At The Dead of Winter Festival, and The Full Circle Festival – as well as a long series of gigs all around Halifax.

With the release of So Long, Joan Fontaine, Bend the River have finally gotten down in the recording studio what they have been doing live for some time.  Bringing carefully crafted songs together into sophisticated arrangements and vocal harmonies, drawing on the deep influences and musicality of the band - Bend the River’s truly original approach and sound come of age with their new album.  Exploring the nostalgia and grittiness of longing both musically and lyrically, the larger than life Bend the River tunes like “Jennie and the Night Before” and “No One Else to Blame” are cast amidst nostalgic simple tracks including “Half of my Love” and “Dear Old Jackson” across an album that both tips it’s hat and also draws some dark conclusions about one’s relationship with the past.  No one else really sounds like Bend the River but the music seems instantly recognizable – a reminder of music from another time but also something new and vital.  So Long, Joan Fontaine was recorded in Halifax by Charles Austin and most of the tracks are off the floor direct to tape.  The album was mastered by John Baldwin in Nashville, TN and mixed by Ronok and the band.




Band Members