Eamon McGrath
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Eamon McGrath

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"NXNE Preview: Eamon McGrath"

Prolific folk-punk troubadour Eamon McGrath is about to take what he calls the Canadian risk: an independent, coast-to-coast tour that will redefine his sound.

“With new economic realities come new creative possibilities” says McGrath, who grew up in Alberta playing in hardcore punk and noise bands before gradually moving his sound closer to Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Bruce Springsteen.

Over the past five years he’s released a mind-boggling 27 records, the best-known being last year’s Peace Maker, which got picked up by White Whale and received considerable acclaim in Canada and the UK.

For the upcoming tour McGrath is whittling his five-piece band into an efficient duo that also includes multi-instrumentalist Peter Dreimanis.

“It forces you to get creative. Some songs have taken a real U-turn. My punkier stuff now sounds like spooky country music.”

McGrath and Dreimanis will tough it out on the road, but that’s just the sort of adventure they’re after.

“I don’t like the idea of getting on a tour bus and going to sleep. We’ll be travelling in planes, cars, boats, Greyhound buses. It’s not a normal tour, but it never is with me.” - NOW Magazine

"A Few Words on Eamon McGrath, the Next Great Thing in Rock and Roll"


There was a moment during Eamon McGrath's show at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec on Wednesday night when I thought, "That kid's gonna end up on his arse." Sure enough, he went arse-over-mic-stand not a minute later, guitar in hand, and damn near fell into the drum kit. Not because he was drunk, you understand, but because when he plays he's oblivious, with eyes closed, and very energetic. Combine those on a small stage and somebody's going to go over.

McGrath — and his band the City Streets, all of them kids from Edmonton — didn't miss a note. McGrath was up in no time, with no evident breaks, sprains or dislocations (oh, for the physical forgiveness of a 20-year-old body), and the frenzy of music continued unchecked. I took another swig from my glass o' brew and looked wisely at Mrs. Big Beat and our friend The Raw Chef and thought, "This kid is, literally and artistically, bursting to get off of the small stage." (I didn't speak the words because, well, there was a loud rock band playing 10 feet away.)

If the music bidness has any common sense - and it very often doesn't - there are bigger stages in McGrath's future. On the Official Big Beat Scale of Young and Upcoming Artists, he ranks somewhere between Frickin' Great and Holy Crap He's Brilliant. As I've said previously, he's part Tom Waits, part John Hiatt, part Alesandro Escovedo and part Paul Westerberg.

Indeed, the ghost of the Replacements hung heavy over the show Wednesday night, especially when the City Streets — who did their own short set before they backed McGrath — kicked into Can't Hardly Wait, from the last great Replacements' album, Pleased to Meet Me. They stripped the song of its defining, poppy riff and turned it into something harder, faster, and, on this night at least, sweatier.

By then the City Streets had a small group of kids up bopping about in front of the stage, and one of them turned out to be McGrath. He joined the band as second guitar for a couple of tracks — that's when he took his inevitable tumble — which ably demonstrates his lack of any prima donna tendencies, even if his balance is suspect.

After a short break McGrath took the mic, with the City Streets supporting, and they tore through a short but blistering set. When McGrath plays you have a sense that the audience isn't there, that he's alone with the music, that he gets lost in it, swept up in it. He's jumping, pumping, hopping, pounding the guitar. His dry, raspy voice is like a box being dragged across the floor. You'd never keep that voice wrapped in silk: you store it in the shed or in the back of the garage, where it can rust and tarnish to swampy rock and roll perfection.

It's the perfect voice for his songs of plain-folk resignation and desperation, which sometimes hint of an early Springsteen. They're full of references to last call, last mile, last bit of hash, last hope. They brim with melancholy. Where does it come from in such a young man?

Check out McGrath's myspace page, or do yourself a great favour and get his stellar new disc, 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light, on White Whale Records.

I didn't have a camera at the Black Sheep, but the pic below - it's a White Whale publicity shot - could have been taken on Wednesday night. This kid is set to fly. Below the picture are his tour dates. He gets a hearty Big Beat Recommendation. - The Ottawa Citizen

"Quick & Dirty: Eamon McGrath"


Gritty, raw and beer-soaked are common adjectives used to describe the music of Edmonton's Eamon McGrath. Comparisons to Tom Waits and other bluesy, folksy musicians aren't lost on this 20-year-old. And with 18 records under his belt, he may already be giving his musical colleagues a run for their money.

That's right, 18 records and he's 20. Feeling pretty lazy now, aren't you?

On his new record, 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light, McGrath has compiled both new and old tracks to give listeners a taste of what he's all about.

"This record is comprised of the high points of a bunch of other records that appeared over the course of a year-and-a-half, and then reached this kind of breaking point," he explains. "The breaking point is described by this collection of songs, in this order, to be heard in this way. These are short stories that could stand on their own, but they're better read as one big book."

He continues, explaining his reasoning: "You have a slice of time go by you, and then you either document it as it's happening or you summarize it to a friend later. These songs were all on records that soundtracked the things going on in my life and everyone's around me. This record has done the same but in a different way."

Seems pretty introspective for someone at 20, eh? Not according to McGrath. He shrugs off the entire concept of age being a factor.

"How young or how old you are doesn't really play a role in what you do. There's no increased or diluted value to anything because of someone's age. I'll do what I do, and I'll want to do the same when I'm twice my age, just like I wanted to when I was half my age. It's like a painting, the marks are on the canvas and you either like how they look or you don't," he says.

You want living proof that talent can't be judged by age or by how many albums you make? Talk to this wunderkind.

"If I feel like writing and recording music I will, and if I feel like doing anything else I'll probably do that. I like to think of life as one set of ten songs at a time, no matter how long it takes you to record them. It can be three months or three days and ultimately they both mean the same thing."
- Soundproof Magazine

"Review of "13 Songs of Whiskey and Light""


McGrath's rasp grabs you immediately, imbues his music with honesty and colours it with pain. Sometimes soft and still (Welcome to the Heart), sometimes tinged with rhythm and shake (Machine Gun Cowboy) and sometimes barroom shoutful (Cadillac Rosetowne), 13 Songs is nothing if not varied. It's really good too, bearing a peculiar kind of nostalgia that is both remembered and conjured. There's Waits and Springsteen in here, but also an acute understanding of what makes people want to stay awhile. Moreover, it feels like it hurt to make, because it hurts to listen to in that irresistible way.

(4 stars) - Ottawa XPress

"Eamon McGrath - 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light"



I hope I never meet Eamon McGrath. Because if he’s not anything but the most down-to-earth, effortlessly cool man I’ve ever met I will be crushed with disappointment.

Between 2006 and 2008, McGrath has written and recorded 18 albums worth of material, and 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light is a collection of choice cuts chosen by White Whale Records. As well as a staggering proficiency in song writing, McGrath probably has the most refreshingly designed myspace page – its default settings are the perfect statement. He is clearly only concerned with writing songs and it shows everywhere.

Eamon McGrath reminds me of the story of Bob Dylan writing songs on a napkin in the back of a taxi on the way to the recording studio. In another world, I imagine McGrath next to him asking for the other side of the napkin to write down the song he’s just thought of. I’m tired of artists who are produced to within an inch of their life; artists who struggle to write an album every few years and disappear after 2 records. I like the fact I can hear McGrath’s chair squeak while he’s playing piano, and I don’t mind the background hiss behind every song. It puts you in the room and provides a fittingly raw touch.

His addictive melodies on guitar and piano will repeat on you long after you’ve stopped listening. His playing borrows heavily from the work of blues and folk greats, but when he’s backed by a band his punk influences add an aggressive side to his music. McGrath’s voice is something between Neil Young and Tom Waits. The rough, cracked vocals sound like the death song of a pair of diseased lungs, a failing liver and a corroded windpipe: it’s a beautiful sound.

Although he sounds like he’s been through ten thousand cigarettes and a couple of messy divorces, at only 20 his age hints at another story. Is this man the next brilliant drunk to rival a Cash or Waits, or is he just exceptionally talented at copying his idols? When Elliot Smith sang of depression you couldn’t doubt the man’s credentials, but with McGrath there’s a little part of you that wonders whether he just hit it a little hard at Hooters the night before. In the end, it doesn’t matter; not in the face of Desperation, Alberta – a song so fine it forces me to listen to it 3 or 4 times before moving on to the next track.

Rating: 8/10
- The 405


Peace Maker (White Whale Records, 2010)
13 Songs of Whiskey & Light (White Whale Records, 2009)
Wild Dogs (Champion City Records, 2008)



Eamon McGrath has done at the age of 23 what some artists twice his age could never dream of doing: two dozen albums' worth of material, countless Canadian, UK, and European tours, a stint in Daniel Johnston's backing band, and stories upon stories which are now woven into the poetic and heartbreaking lyrics of his songs.

You could call McGrath a folk singer, but the truth is that his style changes at the drop of a dime: with shows ranging from loud, sweaty, bombastic, punk inspired basement shows, to quiet, intimate country music best fit for a Western saloon, McGrath is one of the most versatile and diverse Canadian songwriters recording right now. And at the young age of 23, you get this feeling that all of this is only the very beginning of what will be a long, epic Canadian story.