Giant Hand
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Giant Hand

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Rock




"Starting As People Reviews"

“From bedroom confessions to bedroom symphonies, the humble origins are never discarded”

“Starting As People more than lives up to the very high standards set by its predecessor (Coming Home)”

“A stunningly beautiful recording”
-Quick Before It Melts

“This masterpiece needs to be shared across the country”
-The Dalhousie Gazette

“Giant Hand's voice shines to full capactiy in all these songs”

“This EP should deeply strike the hearts of its listeners”
-Greyowl Point

“This EP only stirs up the appetite for more music from this ambitious young musician.”
-The Broken Speaker

“Starting as People is a striking followup to Ramsay’s 2009 Giant Hand debut, Coming Home”
-The Wig

“Similar to a selection of slower songs from Bright Eyes, but more hesitant or thoughtful somehow”
-The Uniter

“It’s an odd but interesting love letter to life, love and music.”
-Now Magazine

“This is the kind of album that could change your life.”
-Sound Vat - Various

"Untitled EP Review"

I'm normally not one for anti-folk. Too much of the time, it sounds overpraised and pretentious to me, as if the artists in question are trying their hardest not to try, and then being lauded for it ironically. But for some reason, I love the debut EP from Giant Hand.

Or at least I think it's his debut EP. He also has an EP for sale on iTunes via his Myspace, but there's only one or two songs overlapping between the two albums. Not that it really matters. I'm sure that regardless of which album you end up getting from him, it'll sound basically the same, with Giant Hand (otherwise known as Kirk Ramsay) singing in his off-key, off-kilter voice over top of a simply-strummed, slightly out-of-tune guitar, with the most lo-fi recording imaginable.

Those aren't meant to be negative descriptors, mind you. Given that Ramsay only picked up a guitar for the first time at the beginning of the year (and started writing his own songs when he decided that it would be simpler to do that than to learn other people's), his lack of ability is honestly come by, not a put on...which, really, makes it kind of endearing. Similarly, Ramsay knows how to turn his weak voice into an asset; when he sings a line like "Oh, my stomach's full of bumblebees / And they eat everything that I eat / And my life is full of sin / Look at the trouble I got myself in" (in "You're No Son of Mine"), he's able to fill it with so much passion that it takes on a weird kind of meaning. And, of course, it just wouldn't sound right if it had any sort of studio gloss to it. It's simple, gritty stuff, and I've no doubt that some people will hate it (like, for example, my girlfriend). But in all honesty, it's still worth checking out, since Giant Hand might just be the most interesting, unique and exciting artists to come out of Ottawa in a very long time. - i(heart)

"Exclaim! Show Review"

"Ottawa’s Giant Hand, whose markedly eccentric and magnetic songs rechristened Maverick’s stage as sort of a Northern Roswell, aping the alien visage of Daniel Johnston with the pointed beauty of Jandek. Giant Hand’s songs pierced the audience with innocence, clarity and a vulnerability that lesser artists often fake." - Exlcaim! Magazine

"Now Magazine Album Review"

Armed with a guitar and just a few chords, Ottawa's Giant Hand (aka Kirk Ramsay) has quickly made a name for himself in his hometown and beyond, opening for Immaculate Machine, Born Ruffians and his hero, Daniel Johnston. Produced and engineered by the Acorn's Rolf Klausener, this EP features sparse, hypnotic arrangements that put the focus squarely on Ramsay's plaintive vocals.

Committed to themes of mortality and death, the lyrics are simply poetic, with startling lines connecting the physical to the spiritual. Ramsay sings of becoming trees in the afterlife (Starting As People II), enjoying life while you can (Another Step Down) and the magic of reading by flashlight (Books) as told from a child's POV. It's an odd but interesting love letter to life, love and music. - Now Magazine

"I(Heart)Music Album Review"

That I'm a big fan of Coming Home should come as little surprise to anyone reading this. After all, I loved Giant Hand's self-titled EP from last year (even placing it among my favourite albums of 2008), while just last week I voted for it for the Polaris Prize (though I was probably the only person who did so).

Still, it's one of those albums that I can't help but want to rave about as much as possible. For the most part, it's for the reasons that made me so enthusiastic about Giant Hand in the first place. Kirk Ramsay (the name Giant Hand goes by when he's not performing) still sings with a frail, vulnerable voice, but -- as is made abundantly clear from the heartbreakingly lonely "Intro" that opens up the album -- he clearly knows how to make that vulnerability work to his advantage as he sings about God and Satan and ghosts and bumblebees. Similarly, his guitar playing is still fairly rudimentary (though, after having been playing for a year and a half, he's made obvious progress), but it doesn't need to be much more than that when it works so well (as he demonstrates with the persistent strum that underlines "Catacombs").

That said, Ramsay has made clear progress that vaults him from simply having the potential to be one of the most exciting artists in the city, to actually being one of those most exciting and interesting artists Ottawa has to offer (which is meant as a far bigger compliment than it may come off as). He's figured out how to add little things here and there that augment his music without distracting from the core pieces -- as evidenced by the ghostly whispers in "Catacombs", and the sliding guitar noises that start off "No Orchestra", and the backing tambourine on "The Villagers Hate This Villager". He also seems to have realized that vulnerability works just as well with love songs as it does on songs about being haunted by spirits, if "Starting As People" is any indication. To top it all of, his debut full-length shows a surprising amount of ambition -- a close read of/listen to the lyrics reveals that Coming Home is actually a concept album that tells the story of a man haunted by spirits who is exiled from his village and needs to find his way back home.

Or something like that. Truth be told, for me the details of what Giant Hand is singing about are secondary to how he conveys them. He's a skilled storyteller and lyricist, to be sure, but he's even more gifted at creating a certain mood and conveying a specific emotion. Further, with Coming Home he's demonstrated that he knows how to carry out his ideas over the course of a full-length album; here's hoping that it's a sign that he'll be able to parlay his skills into a long and productive career. - I(Heart)Music


Old Cosmos - 2017
Starting As People - 2011
Coming Home - 2009







After starting Giant Hand back in early 2008 in his home town of Ottawa, where Exclaim! wrote about one of his early performances "Giant Hand, whose markedly eccentric and magnetic songs pierced the audience with innocence, clarity and a vulnerability that lesser artists often fake."

The young songwriter transplanted himself in Toronto in 2012, and took a couple years to regain his footing. In early 2015, a new batch of songs began to take shape in lockstep with his growing confidence despite personal hardship and the end of a 10 year long relationship. Looking for meditative setting to record his next album, Kirk headed to Port William Sound in Mountain Grove, Ontario: the idyllic, rural studio run by internationally-lauded songwriter and sonic nomad Jonas Bonnetta (Evening Hymns) with co-producer Rolf Klausener (The Acorn). Long-time friends harnessing their love for experimentation. Bucolic sounds and country quiet collided with vertiginous drones, finger-plucked guitar, punk riffs, dense fogs of vocal howls, and layers of bowed string. Guest performances included rabid drums by Pat Johnson and the guitar wizardry by Canadian axe-guru Matt Murphy (TUNS, Flashing Lights). The result is Old Cosmos, an album that explodes upward from Giant Hand’s earlier, aberrant foundations, into Gaudí-like spires of pristine and fearless art-folk.

His first two underground releases earned praise from Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene, Canadian media personality George Stroumboulopoulos and festival billings that included NXNE, Pop Montreal and Halifax Pop Explosion. Giant Hand has performed with a slew of acts all over Canada including: Daniel Johnston, Timber Timbre, Ohbijou, Chad VanGaalen, Jennifer Castle, Born Ruffians, Handsome Furs and Leif Vollebekk.

Band Members