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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
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"Malowany moves on, but ties stay strong"

Rob Malowany isn't hiding from the cold anymore--he has left the cold altogether.

These days, the Edmonton-bred, one-man-band known as devilsplender no longer has to worry about our city's six months of freezing winter. Sitting in his new downtown Vancouver apartment/ studio just a few steps away from the Pacific Ocean, Malowany feels like things are finally moving in the right direction.

On devilsplender's sixth album, Hometown Riot-- the followup to 2006's Hiding From the Cold-- Malowany is clearly looking to the future by reflecting on the past.

"This record to me is kind of a 'full-circle' record," Malowany says. "It's very revealing. It's a very raw record."

If Hiding From the Cold was inspired by his first (failed) attempt at making a move to Vancouver, this time there doesn't seem to be any going back.

Much like on devilsplender's previous efforts, Malowany's approach involves telling the real-life stories that took place between albums. Hometown Riot is a collection of vignettes and episodes culled from the past three years of his life.

"Sometimes it's easier to write about something when you can take a step back. This time, that step wasn't necessarily a step 'back' but a step 'into'my new life--I was able to reflect on where I was, my life in Edmonton and what was going on."

The album is about breaking out of isolation, about transition and redemption.

"Edmonton is such an amazing place to be creative and share music and art with other people--there's such amazing things going on," Malowany says. "But you feel so restricted. You feel like you can't bust out of the shell that you're in."

Ironically, Malowany admits he almost feels more connected to Edmonton being away from it than he did when he actually lived there. Since relocating to the coast, he has been working on a new label project, Reminder Records, meant to involve more than a few Edmonton producers and musicians, including Stew Kirkwood and Brian Toogood.

As Reminder Records's first official release, Hometown Riot was spawned via collaborating with some of the key players in Edmonton's local music scene: bassist Rubim de Toledo, drummer Chris Sturwold, guitarist Robin Hunter and saxophonist Dave Babcock, to name a few.

"I deliberately didn't allow the band to hear any of the songs until we went into the recording sessions," Malowany says, "and every single song on the record is the very first or second run-through. I wanted to keep the most raw and basic emotion that came out."

Ultimately, Hometown Riot may just be devilsplender's most organic, band-driven and conceptually fulfilling album--one that delivers both intense bliss ( Wave of Joy) and profound introspection ( My Cell) within a grand, overarching storyline that has the listener following Malowany's footsteps toward renewal.

"I'm constantly changing and reinventing. I like that....It's about learning and growing as an artist and as a human being."

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal - BY FRANCOIS MARCHAND, FREELANCE - SEPTEMBER 16, 2009 - The Edmonton Journal

"Hometown Riot Review"

Robert Malowany is originally from Edmonton, but the most admirable thing about Hometown Riot is that you can never quite tell where his true roots are. Over the course of 13 impressively diverse tracks, the man known as devilsplender proves impossible to nail down. Starting the record off as a feedback-flared antifolk king (“Believe”), he quickly jumps from sneering alt-pop (“Wave of Joy”) to rollicking blue-eyed R&B (“My Cell”). And those are just the first three songs.
Track 4, the 59 second (“Birds of Winter”), consists of little more than heavy breathing and innercity sirens, with a bit of sonic experimentalism followed by the gutbucket rockabilly of (“Living Mystery”). When Malowany and his hired guns break out the gold-standard alt-country stunner that is (“Black Night”), you’ll find yourself wondering just what kind of town is it devilsplender call home. Here’s a hint: it’s probably a more open minded than most kind of place where, when the local band plugs in at the local bar, pretty much anything goes. And if that doesn’t sound much like Malowany’s adopted home of Vancouver, we can always dream.
- Review By: Mike Usinger - The Georgia Straight (Vancouver) - October 29, 2009

"Album Review"

Former Edmontonian Rob Malowany categorizes his new album as “prairie folk anthem rock.” A tightly controlled yet stylistically twisting affair, it’s the kind of testimonial, “here I am emotionally” record Matthew Sweet used to charge through the middle of all the fuzzy guitars of the mid-’90s with, tense and spare despite its gear shifts. There’s also quite a bit of Wilco-like cleverness afoot, which the track “My Cell” demonstrates as it sparks the first real heat on the disc — the ticklish sax is played by Dave Babcock.
Though the record (at least by name) purports to consider Malowany’s geographical roots, there’s a sense of slow, uncompromising movement to it — like the thoughts that go through your head first thing in the morning when you’re still drunk from last night and have a shitload of work to do at the office. People do that, right? You can’t force the pace — you’re stuck in the journey — so you trudge along, really feeling every little detail, in this case the sampled sounds of crows and police sirens.
This little bit of outdoor recording is one of the record’s most effective moments, bleeding into a long and exhausted waltz where Malowany sings, “This is the time of our lives and I’m not going to let you go.” Later, he punks it up Springsteen-style on one of the highlights, “Stand on Up.” If anything, I guess you could accuse the new Devilsplender of being sentimental without a lot of paprika. But there’s no way the singer is faking it as he realizes (almost religiously so) that whatever it is he’s been looking for has been in front of him the whole time. The album’s elongated last track — my favourite — is one to be proud of. Malowany defines the differences between Edmonton and Vancouver (where he now lives) via precipitation, rain vs. snow. He begs someone to come to stay, admitting, “I don’t know if I even like this town.” If you’ve ever lost someone to the coastal city, you’ll really feel this one, especially as the chorus erupts outward. Really nice stuff. - See Magazine - August 27, 2009 by Fish Griwkowsky

"Devil's in the details"

The new devilsplender album comes to us from Vancouver, yet its title Hometown Riot refers to us in Edmonton on a number of levels.

But when you look at the roster of musicians singer Rob Malowany picked to help him with his new album, it's obvious his hometown "riot" is actually the fun he has coming back to a city that truly knows how to party for a living.

Having been away, he knows what he likes with extra clarity. '

Following this line of thinking, devilsplender plays roots-laden pop-rock tonight at Haven Social Club on Stony Plain Road.

But here's Malowany on leaving Edmonton: "I'm very proud to be from where I am. It's a unique place.

I think Edmonton's great - I'm just one of those people who like change, you know what I mean?

I'm very much affected by my surroundings. A lot of my records are about trying to move on and affect change - or not.

"It was spontaneous, I snapped a winter or two ago, just saying I can't do this any more. When I got to Vancouver, I had a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to make a record, so it was nice, to disconnect from all my friends and everything that was going on, and reflect, from the outside."

Out of a sense of duty to the AFA, perhaps, there's more than a little of Edmonton in Malowany's lyrics -- not to mention a number of our musicians including guitarist Stew Kirkwood and Robin Hunter, who just took the plunge west himself.

Both will be at tonight's show, as well as Chris Sturwold on drums and Eric Newby, another Edmonton boy gone to the coast.

But when Malowany compares rain to snow, their emotional effects, you really get the sense of what the songwriter feels he's lost -- and gained-- in the move. "The lyrical content, I thought, summed up everything. It was, here I am, I'm out in Vancouver now, I'm not 100%" he laughs. "If I could make one wish or one statement, if I was writing postcards back home, it's 'Why don't you just all come over and live here?'"

devilsplender is always a rotating cast of characters, circling Malowany and throwing in their suggestions. Hoping to bottle that, the singer explains, "I forcibly kept the very first or second take of performing the song together, for better or worse. I wanted to capture the energy of creation and the wonderful experience of sharing music with my friends."

But can't he just wait to get on the road again?

"I'm happy about meeting new musicians and making new friends and figuring out how to expand that into the people know and where I come from. I am proud that I'm a Prairie boy. The musicianship is incredibly high and the talent levels are amazing here (in Edmonton).

"Like all my records it's just a reflection of me, my journals and diaries or whatever. That's the only thing I really have to go on. I don't consider myself a storyteller or a huge, strong songwriter. I'm a guy that just writes songs and, if anything, I just want to convey an emotion. If there's something the listener can relate to, that the biggest bonus of actually creating something."
- By FISH GRIWKOWSKY - The Sun - Edmonton - 9/11/9


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...