Jay Pollock
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Jay Pollock

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

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"Review - Jay Pollock 'Sunflower'"

I am writing this review due to a rather colourful email forwarded to me, the original sender being Jay Pollock. In terms of heritage, Pollock stated in the said email that his father was a world champion Scottish bagpiper. Consequently, the Scottish bagpiper’s son ‘rebelled and played the sitar’. Pollock’s bass player ‘is a legally blind, nude model who walks ten miles a day and obsessively memorizes celebrity death anniversaries’. His drummer is ‘jazz trained, wild and also plays in a brass funk band’. I am unaware as to how much of this is imaginative fabrication, but it sounds like a good basis for an album doesn’t it? ‘Sunflower’ is the latest album from the man himself, the mythical Jay Pollock.

‘All Aboard’ is a funky mismatch of effortlessly flowing guitar bends. Pollock’s sinister vocals tell lyrical stories, intrepid in their substance. If mescaline were a song, this would be it. The instrumentals have a smooth, well collaborated sound. ‘Starving Artist’ has punk undertones, with vocals paralleling Eddie Vedder. Once again, curious guitar bends produce a ‘sour’ sound, as Pollock calls it himself. ’18 Wheels’ showcase Pollock’s metaphorical talent. Lyrics include lines such as ‘Took a left at dependency/Population me’ and ‘As driven as a fish who goes upstream’. These are planted deep within a very characteristic sound, one which is almost murderous in quality. The eponymous track ‘Sunflower’ is the epitome of the previous comment, possessing a violent tint to its style. The chorus delves into a slowly sang stanza, which makes use of Pollock’s vocal range. ‘Bellwoods’ has a jazz like quality, which in my opinion makes excellent music, especially when fused with alternative rock. This track has a more optimistic sound, steering away from obvious sourness. However, Pollock’s folklore voice still lives on. ‘Circus’ retains Pollock’s quirky and alternative sound. ‘The Good Old Days’ opens with a Hispanic sounding guitar solo, with those guitar bends which become the staplemark of the album. ‘The Mess’ is an acoustic number, and strangely enough perhaps the most sinister on the album. Indian instruments sound behind Pollock’s vocals, which appeals to my ear greatly; Indian instruments gave an almost godly tinge to a melody. The final track, ‘Timbuktwelve’, is as close to normality as Pollock will permit. As the title suggests, lyrics still display an almost mythical storytelling.

I have never listened to such a strange album; fifty one minutes and nine seconds of unadulterated weirdness. Do not be fooled however, for this does not detract from the quality of music. ‘Sunflower’ is so far gone, that I do not think the term psychedelic fully encompasses it. You may have to be in a certain mood to listen to this album, but when in this mood it is sure to strike a chord deep within. For this reason, I rate it highly. 9/10
Jamie Morrell - WithGuitars.com


"Jay Pollock Serves up his next course with Sunflower"

Jay Pollock knows how to sell a story, and his is one comprised of coffee, gin and tonic, and insomnia. I'm twisted, he professes. His bassist, Ben Huband, is a "legally blind, nude model" and his drummer, Lowell Whitty is a jazz musician. This ragtag trio had a 10-month residency at Toronto's Cameron House last year and recently released a self-produced sophomore album, Sunflower, on July 10th. With absurdist lyrics, the record picks up where Pollock left off with debut Creepy Dinner Music (2010).
Carrying funk, Latino, and rock influences, the mostly folk and acoustic Sunflower is evenly peppered with odd and sparkling moments. "Twinkle, twinkle little starving artist," he sings, tongue-in-cheek on "Starving Artist." The album's title lyric is drawled out vocally into a syncopated bass groove on "Sunflower," which also features a solid instrumental bridge.

I was most intrigued by "Bellwoods," which initially appeared as a titular tribute to the city's Trinity Bellwoods Park. On the contrary, Pollock spews the most unrelated thoughts over a walking bass line; "'cause if the well dries out / why pray for rain / desert your dessert" seems to have little to do with the scenic glade. Charmé.

Ultimately, Sunflower is still dinner music, the sort that is best-suited for Wednesday night live music at the neighbourhood pub, soundly pre-recorded for your convenience. - Drop Me In the Middle


"Exclaim! Sunflower Album Stream"

Toronto songwriter Jay Pollock's Facebook page lists his genre as "creepy dinner music" and his influences as "coffee, gin and tonic, insomnia." Interested in hearing what that sounds like? You can now find out by streaming his album Sunflower ahead of its release on July 10.

Pollock delivers his lyrical songs in deep croon, while he and his band keep the arrangements groove-centric and punchy. They delve into jazziness on "Bellwoods," while "The Good Old Days" shows off Pollock's guitar chops, and "The Mess" and "Timbuktwelve" end the mostly rocking album on a folksy acoustic note.

Hear the self-produced effort below. Pollock will launch the album with a Toronto gig at Supermarket on July 10. - Exclaim! Magazine


"Evening Hymns and Jay Pollock at RMG"

Evening Hymns and Jay Pollock at RMG
December 8, 2012 · by Marielle Boutin · in Durham, Music, RMG. ·

Metaphors and chants were sung with full force on Friday, December 7. Toronto baritone singer Jay Pollock and band Evening Hymns played the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa as part of their Winter’s Eve RMG Fridays series.

The performers were set up in the main hallway of the gallery as the spaces were already taken over by pieces from P.E.I. artist Gerald Beaulieu Raw and Cooked exhibition.

Seats were placed through the hallway and quickly filled following Pollock’s start.

Pollock has been known to play around with metaphors and playing around with reality which is evident in songs like Circus and Brainwashed.

He played from 7:30 to close to 8:30 and the entire hour was definitely an experience. His deep voice that emulates satire in song blended with his ability to play his powerful guitar riffs and strums effortlessly has easily converted me to a full Pollock fan.

Each of his songs sound more like a story then anything, and he does such a great job at matching the riffs to the melody.

But it didn’t stop after Pollock. Jonas Bonnetta of Orono and lead singer in Evening Hymns took the steps alongside his trio of talent. What followed was a performance of breathtaking effect. Bonnetta’s voice and the mix of trumpet and harpsichord tied together perfectly.

By the end of it, it wasn’t enough to be sitting in the front row as what Bonnetta was experiencing on-stage could never be understood as the songs on the band’s album Spectral Dusk, for which he is the writer, deal with the personal experience of losing his father in 2009.

Following both performances, this was one of the most personal shows I’ve ever attended and I’m glad to say I have two new things to add to my iTunes library. - Marrielle Boutin


Discography

2010 - Jay Pollock - Creepy Dinner Music
2014 - Jay Pollock - Sunflower

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Bio

Jay Pollock does not try to sing all the right words and play all the right notes.  Using the sour notes between, and warped, off-centre words is his preferred way of telling a story.  Fronting a trio, Pollock sings the listener through a baritone-delivered lyrical back alley of metaphors to his soundtrack of dark, guitar-bending melodies that channel the old world.

Complimenting wordsmithed lyrics, the band joins in dramatic instrumental interludes of borderline spazmic solos over shades of Tom Waits – (Rain Dogs/Swordfishtrombones era), to Wilco, to M. Ward.  As the son of a world champion Scottish bagpiper, he went a different route by taking up the sitar from India, and guitar.  This instrumental pairing in the beginning of his writing years, gave him a natural freedom to twist melodies and chords outside of his geographical, western folk/rock roots.

A follow-up to his primarily-acoustic debut album, “Creepy Dinner Music” Pollock’s July 10 2014 release, “Sunflower” showcases a reinvention of his now electrically-charged band with more punch and grit.  Perfect for the task of embellishing an off-the-wall sound, was drummer Lowell Whitty (Heavyweights Brass Band), bringing the feel of Levon Helm and when required, the untethered style of The Muppets’ Animal.  Adding Ben Huband on bass was no accident.  The band needed a legally-blind, nude-model, bass player who walks 10 miles a day and obsessively memorizes celebrity death anniversaries.  He was a shoe-in.
The band’s solidified live performance owes much credit to 10 months of weekly residency gigs at The Cameron House on Queen Street in Toronto.

“Sunflower” is a self-produced 11-song LP that was engineered by Grammy nominee Jeremy Darby (2013 Album of the Year), Thomas McKay (Producer Joydrop), and mixed by Andre Wahl (Producer Hawksley Workman, Engineer Luke Doucet).

The album release show was held on July 10th 2014 at The Supermarket in Kensington Market, Toronto w/ Special Guests “Freeman Dre And The Kitchen Party” and “Kristian Montano” (of Sun K).

Band Members