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Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band R&B Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Sound Advice"

Vampire Weekend, Shmampire Shmeekend. When it comes to white dudes appropriating African sounds for white audiences in a tasteful way, leave it to Minotaurs. The brainchild of seasoned session man Nathan Lawr (Royal City, Fembots, and Feist), this Ontarian supergroup sees guests from Holy Fuck, Rheostatics, and Constantines, among others, weave indie sensibilities into Fela Kuti–inspired jams in a way that doesn’t reek of over-privileged cultural imperialism.
Although Lawr’s past collaborations and solo projects haven’t strayed far past the folk rock protocol, The Thing, his latest offering under the Minotaurs moniker, is full of funky Afrobeat rhythms rich in soul and ass-shakeability. Opener "Caught In The Light" sets the tone with staccato beats, a snaky bassline, and jazzy saxes, but the song takes an unexpected turn when Lawr chimes in with his brooding, Thom Yorke–esque vocals. The rest of the record follows suit, departing from the by-the-numbers Afrobeat formula and meandering into different melodic directions; "Get Down" drapes an authoritative reggae groove over what’s essentially a folk-pop skeleton, while the title track starts as a seductive guitar and marimba–driven trip-hop tune before segueing into a mesmerizing sea of horns.
Despite managing to cram elements as disparate as Appalachian music ("Runaway Train") and spooky Timber Timbre–like blues ("Crystal Cave") into the Afrobeat template, The Thing flows seamlessly throughout its entire running time, never sounding disjointed. Mixed by Howie Beck and engineered by the Constantines’ Will Kidman and ex-Rheostatic Don Kerr, the disc maintains a consistent aura that’s both unflappable and foreboding. Lawr gets us off our asses with his contagiously danceable African rhythms, but he also reminds us things aren’t all hunky-dory with his ominous croons and socio-politically–tinged lyrics ("This world, it stands on hollow legs"). And he does it all without having to dress like an Oxford don.
- Torontoist

"Northern Exposure: Minotaurs 'Caught in the Light'"

Indie-music fans are likely more familiar with Ontario musician Nathan Lawr from his time with late, lamented Guelph band Royal City and as a sideman with King Cobb Steelie and the Constantines, than through his solo material.

One could argue Lawr has been the epitome of the underrated artist, humble to a fault with his own music while toiling away behind the scenes the rest of the time. But his precise musicianship always seems to shine through.

Lawr's latest project, Minotaurs, is a supergroup of sorts, featuring current or former members of such Canuck musical mainstays as the Rheostatics, Constantines, Royal City, and Holy F---, among others. While the group's Afrobeat-inspired sound may come as a surprise given the rootsy vibe of Lawr's solo albums to date, his background as a drummer lends itself well to this new groove-oriented direction.

If the band's ferocious live shows -- including a late-night set at Hillside Festival in Guelph that spurred a giddy dance party -- are any indication, Minotaurs' forthcoming full-length 'The Thing' will finally bring Lawr, who serves as frontman of Minotaurs' eight-man live incarnation, the attention he deserves.

The opening track, 'Caught in the Light,' encapsulates Minotaurs' jammy sound, with its blend of beats and horns, but what sets it apart from similar Afrobeat throwbacks is that the groove is structured around Lawr's folk-pop songwriting template. The track is grounded in a hip-swiveling rhythm marked by staccato percussion, a slinky bassline and jazzy horns, but when Lawr's bluesy vocals kick in, the song takes a slightly different direction.

Minotaurs lock into a glorious groove so effortlessly that all their tunes would be eminently listenable even if they were instrumentals, but building the rhythm around Lawr's vocal serves to put the focus as much on the storytelling as the beat. There's a reason Lawr sounds like he's got the blues: "Sit me down where the sun don't shine," he croons, "but don't let me tell you what you did last night was wrong."

By the time 'Caught in the Light' is over, there's so much crammed into its brief running time that listeners might be left feeling like they've just heard four songs in one, yet the marriage of distinct parts never sounds disjointed or forced. Lawr lets his bandmates go off on their own sonic explorations, but makes sure they meet back at the center. - Spinner

"Minotaurs The Thing"

Just when you thought the success of Vampire Weekend would eclipse all future combinations of African influences and indie rock, along comes Nathan Lawr’s newest incarnation of his Minotaurs project. Backed by former and current members of bands like Holy Fuck, the Rheostatics, the Constantines and others, Lawr updates his introspective, bluesy folk tunes on The Thing with angular Afrobeat-inspired rhythms and jazz influences, with impressive results.

When Westerners try to honour the legacy of Fela Kuti, they often end up doing a lukewarm imitation rather than incorporating the influence honestly within their existing musical vocabulary. In this case, Lawr successfully maintains his own identity as a songwriter while boosting the energy with slinky beats and rock-solid grooves. He comes up with a unique and mesmerizing vibe when he inserts a healthy dollop of blues into the mix, an idea we hope he explores further in the future. - NOW Magazine

"Minotaurs The Thing"

The Thing by Guelph, Ontarios Minotaurs is one of those albums that ought to grab attention from the get-go. The first track, “Caught In The Light” is a slinky little number that warrants turning the lights down low and dancing naked in the kitchen with your favourite other. Then just when you think its time to hit the hay, “Get Down” kicks in seamlessly and messes you up with its chunky warm horns and sly beat. This is slick as ice, groove-heavy music that belongs to all the dance crazy light-footed fairy folk in the world. With their quirky rhythm and horn-heavy vibe they could rock a stage at Shambhala just as easily as the mainstream stage. Casting respectful nods to African rhythms with a bit of indie-rock roots thrown in for fun, Minotaurs’ music is tricky, sexy, smooth-like-jazz and ultimately a very easy pill to swallow. Singer Nathan Lawrs voice taps into an almost Thom Yorke-like timbre and glides flawlessly alongside gorgeous instrumentation such as on tracks like “Lazy Eye” which is jumpy and flighty while “Crystal Cave” plods along like an old ghost: hissing, frothing, howling and stomping its way through a strange feverish dream. The Thing is one heck of a good album that got me moving in the first few notes, and an album that rightly should put the Minotaurs on the map as a definite go-to funky party band. - Discorder


Whether it’s floating in a cloud or rushing against a levee, water is something you have to respect. It can wipe away your village, drown your children, or spread a few billion barrels of oil across a vast coastline.
By design or timely accident, the latest disc from Ontario indie supergroup Minotaurs is full of water imagery, and it’s not comforting. In these songs, written by Nathan Lawr, the mother of all life is a sneaky invasive force, just waiting to turn a leak into a flood. “Water rising higher,” Lawr sings in the title track. “There’s no bridge,” he laments in Runaway Lane. “Everything we built is now waterlogged,” he concludes in Nothing New.
Such calamities used to be acts of God or sovereign Nature, but global warming and the oil economy have given us a causal role in both of this summer’s great water disasters. When Lawr sings, “this world, it stands on hollow legs” (in Lazy Eye) it’s hard not to think of spindly pipelines stretching to the bottom of the sea.
But this album isn’t just about thinking. Its bumpy Afrobeat rhythms are built to make us move. Even the most desperate-seeming numbers roll on with an easy vitality.
Minotaurs is a big shaggy dance band that often diverges from a charted route into a delta of melodic possibilities. In all these songs, there’s space for the band to mull through the feelings within Lawr’s lyrics and often bluesy harmonies.
Get Down rides a muscular reggae beat, while Lawr urges us to “get down and cover your head/ we are in the wrong place” (sounds like the streets of Toronto during the G20). The Thing opens with a pungent guitar and marimba figure that sounds like a sixties secret-agent theme, settling later into an densely patterned groove with horns and solo trumpet. Runaway Lane sneaks an Appalachian-style tune into the Afrobeat stew, and the dirty blues of Crystal Cave could plausibly take a cameo verse from Tom Waits.
There’s a lot to take in, whether or not you respond to Lawr’s political concerns. Water in motion is also a potent metaphor for more personal things, including passion and the refusal of life to stay where we want to put it. Even if we can’t do much to change or control those things, Lawr seems to say, it’s important to take their measure, not as a bystander but as a witness.
- The Globe and Mail

"A Sea Of Tiny Lights!!! REVIEWS"

"Idiosyncratic brilliance from drummer turned song-writing genius…an absolute storming album from start to finish. 'A Sea of Tiny Lights' lives up to my heightened expectations and manages to put itself up there with the best stuff of 2007 so far."
Americana UK

“A mysterious and magnificent pastiche of baroque art-rock pleasures…straightforward yet irresistibly poppy roots-rock…strongly reminiscent of Wilco's most unadorned Summerteeth excursions…what's clear from Tiny Lights is that another Canadian musical invasion is around the corner.”

"Lawr's finest collection of melodic, rootsy pop songwriting to date...mysteriously unheralded."
EYE Weekly

"Long straddling a realm between pop and folk...bubbling with sophisticated rock dynamics, adding even more depth to this gorgeous collection of songs."

"Musically, lyrically, thematically… it's rock solid on all counts. Enough that I could just say it’s a lock stock for my end-of-year list."

"Nathan Lawr and the Minotaurs, with their creative lyrics and unobtrusive melodies, is coming highly recommended."
The Manitoban

”Nathan Lawr is a talented songwriter, and that talent is on full display….slightly ominous vibes lurking in the background of otherwise perfectly pleasant pop songs….helps make this one of the better albums to emerge in 2007.”
I (heart) music

“Nathan's tunes are impressively personal and unpretentious. Folks like Lawr who just sing and don't push themselves...come off sounding much more genuine and real in the big scheme of things…Very nice from start to finish...”
Baby Sue

“A must have!”
Everyone Could Be Green Light

“A Sea of Tiny Lights is undoubtedly the most impressive work of Lawr’s career…tackling countless numbers of genres flawlessly…he continues gracefully to be one of Canada’s most underrated songwriters.”
Obscure Sound

“Nathan Lawr & The Minotaurs patiently build grandiose and sometimes spooky compositions that make for one of the best albums of the year coming out of Canada.”
Any Given Tuesday



The Heart Beats A Waltz (2003)
A Night in the Minotaur Woods (2004) EP
Secret Carpentry (2005)
A Sea of Tiny Lights (2007)

New Believers (2012)
The Thing (2010)



“I wanted to get it on your radar as it's worth the attention.”

- Tim Jones, AD Dawson City Music Festival

“It is fresh and it is phenomenal. He has really hit the mark and matured as an artist & yes this is a killer band as you can see. Highly recommended for your festivals folks.”

- Sam Baijal, AD Hillside Festival, Guelph

What do you get when you combine ex-Rheostatic and current Ron Sexsmith drummer/producer Don Kerr, with Holy Fuck and King Cobb Steelie bassist Kevin Lynn, Feuermusik, Canaille and go-to indie-rock-session saxophonist Jeremy Strachan, guitar duelling brother tandem of Dan and Ryan Levecque, and indie-songwriter Nathan Lawr? Answer: MINOTAURS.

Inspired heavily by the work of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, MINOTAURS take the funky, slinky backbone of afrobeat and apply it to the indie-rock-folk songs of Nathan Lawr. Its propulsive rhythms and syncopated horn arrangements are catchy, inspiring, and mind-boggling funky all at once.

Featuring appearances from vocalists and songwriters Bry Webb of Constantines fame and Gavin Gardiner of The Wooden Sky, and Hylozoists mastermind Paul Aucoin, The Thing is a record about the invisible powers that hold us together and pulls us apart. It is a rhythmic exploration of the kind only a band full of drummers could make. Engineered and co-produced by Don Kerr, one of Canada’s most gifted drummers; written and arranged by Nathan Lawr, who has drummed with many of Canada’s brightest stars like Constantines, FemBots, Royal City, and Feist; mixed by Howie Beck, who was originally a drummer and has produced albums for Hayden, Jason Collett, and Matthew Barber; and mastered by Andy Magoffin, who is known best for his work with his own band, Two Minute Miracles, and his production work for Jim Guthrie and Great Lake Swimmers.

It is an ambitious and captivating sound. It is truly a new strain in the Canadian indie-rock genealogy. Part funk, part psychedelic, part protest record, The Thing will knock you off your feet while gently caressing you in the process.
Collectively, the members of MINOTAURS have been nominated for 10 Junos:

Nathan Lawr: Piano, percussion, keys. Don Kerr: Drums, percussion, cello. Jeremy Strachan: Saxophones, horn arrangements. Kevin Lynn: Bass, moog. Dan and Ryan Levecque: guitars. Paul Aucoin: Vibraphone, marimba, string arrangement. Bry Webb: Guitar, vocals. Gavin Gardiner: vocals. Randy Lee: Violin. Edwin Huizinga: Violin.

Track Listing:
1. Caught in the Light
2. Get Down
3. Pink Floyd
4. Lazy Eye
5. Crystal Cave
6. Runaway Lane (New River)
7. The Thing
8. Nothing New

Nathan Lawr began his career in 1997 as a young, wunderkind drummer for Guelph’s King Cobb Steelie. After two Canadian and two European tours, he left that band to pursue projects with his friends in the Jim Guthrie Band and Royal City. It was with Royal City that he would make the popular and Juno- nominated 2001 album “Alone at the Microphone.” He has also toured and/or recorded with a long list of artists including Feist, FemBots, Constantines, Gentleman Reg, Cuff the Duke, and Sea Snakes.
In 2002, his first solo album, “The Heart Beats a Waltz,” was met with much enthusiasm and some called it a “spectacular collection of rootsy, hearfelt tunes blistering with desolation and mystery.” (NOW Magazine) On the release of that record he toured with the likes of Jim Guthrie and opened for Sarah Harmer and the Arcade Fire. In 2004, he teamed up with Hylozoist mastermind Paul Aucoin and performed with a 13-piece orchestra, which was recorded by the CBC and released as a limited edition EP. The concert was an experiment featuring 12 songs (new songs and reconfigured older ones) endowed with shimmering strings and horns.
In 2005, his second full-length album, “Secret Carpentry” was also received quite well and it prompted one critic to ask “why isn’t this self-made genius signed?” (Exclaim) After that record was released he toured Canada twice as a part of the Mid-Autumn and Mid-Winter Night’s Dream tours, which were singer-songwriter reviews. In 2007, he released his third full-length album “A Sea of Tiny Lights,” which some called his “finest collection of melodic, rootsy pop songwriting to date” and “mysteriously unheralded." (EYE Magazine)