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octoberman

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Folk

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006.

The hottest venue in Vancouver over the weekend was a strip joint, but keep in mind that they removed the poles for the occasion. Octoberman kicked off the White Whale Records showcase and set the tone perfectly for a great night of indie pop and rock. If you've never heard Marc Morrissette's delicious brand of wilted, lush pop music characterized by organic guitars and hauntingly surreal vocals, you don't know what you're missing. Think of a gentler Modest Mouse heard through an alt.rock filter, then thrown in spastic rock freakouts like at the end of "Shit Just Falls Apart." I simply couldn't tear myself away from this set.

- Kevin Lalonde - Chartattack.com


"Like a sunnier Elliot Smith or Mark Linkous, Octoberman is a vehicle for Vancouver's Marc Morrissette. Debut album 'These Trails Are Old and New' on White Whale is promising enough, his weather-beaten travelogues set to cello, mandolin and minor-chord guitar." *** - Uncut Magazine (UK)


4 Stars
Canadian writer's epic journey captured in song

Marc Morrissette isn't the type to sit around at home staring at his shoes, and maybe because of this, his debut album as Octoberman, is a real breath of fresh air. The product of a journey the Canadian songwriter took in 2003 taking in Asia and Europe, and travels with the Vancouver collective Kids These Days, to New York and LA, THESE TRAILS... will resonate with anyone who's strapped on a backpack, only to find, there was no running away from themselves. At times acoustic and fragile and at times jangly pop, Morrissette covers a lot of terrain, often in the space of a song. But with his crackly Josh Rouse singing and dark-edged songs, sometimes reminiscent of teh Palace Brothers and the Decemberists, he's certainly aiming towards the well-travelled, well-read, indie crowd. 'Merci Cornerstore', case in point, moves from a quiet strum to an eerie techno wash, to a sweet melodic refrain.
And while the softly sung 'Walking Time' is that mental crunch time, a state of mind relieved only by the thought of escape; 'Footprints', a refreshing tale of losing yourself in a crowd only to find the perfect companion; and 'Tokyo Nightmare' a more sinister, desperate rush to get the hell outta there, complete with a pecking drum machine and worrying warbling guitar, the gorgeous 'Face on My Smile' works just about anywhere.
- HK - Maverick Magazine (UK)


Octoberman
Run From Safety
[White Whale; 2008]
Rating: 7.0

There are an infinite number of sounds. There's a virtually endless selection of words. There's an impossible to quantify number of ways in which the two can be combined. Yet most songwriters work with a relatively finite musical lexicon, so it's amazing the breadth and variety of songs they've come up with, crafted almost entirely from the familiar.

Needless to say, there's something quite familiar about nearly everything on Vancouver-based Octoberman's second album Run From Safety, from the general-- the mournful sound of the lonesome trumpet, the rough buzz of the harmonica, the hum of an organ, the thrill of the rapidly strummed electric guitar, Marc Morrissette's affected, artificially wizened, and world-weary vocals-- to the specific (insert indie-rock mainstay here).

Against all odds, however, the disc adds up to more than the sum of its relatively unadventurous indie-rock (North) Americana parts. You've heard it all before, but the disc feels right just the way it is. Indeed, the upside of Morrissette's combo of the conventional and the ambitious is that you're not always sure where each song is going even within such a relatively tried and true framework.

Run From Safety also finds Morrissette stretching out from Octoberman's previous These Trails Are Old and New, finding room for many of the quirks that buoyed his previous band Kids These Days. "By the Wayside" begins a syncopated dirge, suddenly shifts into a spare blues pulse, then ends on a manic rock note. "Once in a Blue" features a similarly loopy arrangement, too edgy, agitated, and weird to count as folk, even if that's largely where Morrissette is coming from. The lovely "Chasing Ambulances" and the album's title track find Octoberman firmly in earnest Bright Eyes-land, the latter building in power despite its simplicity, culminating in an appropriately majestic organ fadeout.

There are further pleasant surprises to be had in the woozy ballad "Elbow Room", whose twisting guitar and horn melodies perfectly complement Morrissette's down-to-earth vocal anchor. "Breath of Sunshine" and "Impossible Way" recall Calexico's wide open spaces balladry, but just when you think the album's taken a turn toward the campfire, the quirks return in force with the proggy twang of "Cisco Kid". "Shit Just Falls Apart" could be Stephen Malkmus at his loosest.

But again, those similarities to likeminded peers and other inspirations rarely come off nearly as distracting as they could have. They're charming as much as anything else, giving the album a welcome well-worn quality, like an old wool sweater you pull right on to ward off a cold day, even though it itches around the collar and smells a little musty. Even better, there's a promising hint of greatness simmering beneath Morrissette's more modest surface. So if the sleeper Run From Safety isn't exactly must-hear, there's a sneaking sense that Morrissette may find a way to connect to a wider audience soon enough.

-Joshua Klein, January 16, 2008 - pitchforkmedia.com


Octoberman

Run From Safety begins with the urgency of a film noir in which a framed man is forced to leave town under cover of darkness. Then Octoberman's second disc turns into a big-sky, modern-day western as Marc Morrissette's voice becomes wistful, trumpet blends with harmonica, acoustic guitar, and backup vocals, and songs like "No Qualms" roll by like tumbleweeds. - Georgia Straight (Vancouver, BC)


1. Octoberman “Run From Safety” (White Whale) Octoberman’s Marc Morrissette, no relation to his famous female namesake, has to be one of the great up and coming Americana songwriters of our times, and if his latest band’s 2005 debut didn’t prove that, then this follow up certainly does. “Run From Safety” feels like all the things a modern Americana album should be – like one of those classic albums from the heyday of the genre’s late nineties revival, with hints of everyone from Neil Young to Sparklehorse to Elliot Smith, yet still managing to do something new whether it’s the unexpected appearance of rabble rousing choruses, unexpected horns or painfully evocative lyrics. Tempos and levels change within single tracks but the record still manages to fall together in a way that make it a whole piece you just couldn’t miss anything out from. By the time you reach the climactic “Chasing Ambulances” the lump in your throat that’s been building throughout the whole record ends up positively choking you. Simply put, it’s that great, and for that reason a worthy recipient of Americana UK’s best album of 2007. - americana-uk.com


Octoberman
4 & 1/2 out of 5
'Run From Safety'
White Whale Records


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An album to see over the horizons

Octoberman’s 2005 debut album, “These Trails Are Old And New” attracted some critical attention as an album to be noted. “Run From Safety” is equally likely to get into your head; gently, melancholically uplifting, a less ingenuous Jayhawks with the raw pathos of After the Gold Rush-era Neil Young. A landmark album, a modern symphony that manages to be not in the least bit grandiose, “Run From Safety” has a wild edge to its easy-on-the-ear vocal harmonies, gentle acoustics and harmonica accents, a sense of nomadic progression with its backpack on and ready to go exploring. This should be listened to as an album, as one overriding musical work, but there are certainly tracks that stand out. The spare yet melodic guitars of folksy, bittersweet fifth track“Breath of Sunshine” is perfectly offset by its flourishes of strings. There’s a far-sighted honesty about it; this is an album to see over the horizons, earnest, without being preachy. “Impossible Way” sings like a mental setting forth of the dilemmas facing Octoberman in this album that bizarrely manages to sound like an audio odyssey. Yet this slightly fey, wide-open philosophical music brings up odd moments; the rhythm-governed, wide-eyed, pragmatic “Shit Just Falls Apart” is cute indie-punk with vocals reminiscent of the king of transatlantic cynicism, Don Henley. “Run From Safety” finishes on the perfect note is the thoughtful, gently orchestral “Chasing Ambulance” with its low-key vocal harmonies, which has the potential to be a slow-burning yet massive hit. In every sense, Octoberman are going far.



By: Claire Thomas
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If you like the sound of this, then check these out?

Neil Young
Stephen Fretwell
Jayhawks
- Subba-Cultcha.com (UK)


OCTOBERMAN
These Trails Are Old and New
(White Whale Records)
****1/2

Are chronic travelers in a perpetual state of leaving or homecoming? Although Trails is infused with lyrical references to Marc Morrissette’s globetrotting experiences, the feeling of his debut under the Octoberman moniker seems like the wistful nature of trying to recontextualize a place you return to with a newly bestowed outsider’s perspective, or of having attempted to outrun a situation only to come back with a more acute sense of burden.

Morrissette’s solo-but-made-with-pals album basks in a faux-analogue warmth and timelessness, like a magic radio with a dial permanently stuck on a revelatory moment. This could be a soundtrack to a particularly intimate film, with its organic suspension between indie rock, pop, and country, and the gorgeously bare voice of Morrissette, who manages to make being wounded sound compellingly sensual while casually mixing private pains with public ones. Beautifully written, beautifully crafted, beautifully produced.

CHRISTA O’KEEFE
- See Magazine (Calgary)


Sept 22/05 – The Kitchener-Waterloo Record

OCTOBERMAN

These Trails Are Old And New

(White Whale)

When the leader of an average band strikes out on his own with a far superior solo project, one has to wonder why aren’t they writing songs this good in their main band. Normally, Vancouver’s Marc Morrissette fronts an indie rock band called Kids These Days, but for Octoberman he makes beautiful bedroom pop with gently strummed electric guitar, confident yet hushed vocals, drum machines and cheap keyboards. It’s a well-worn template, but Morrissette wears it well. On songs like X-Pat and Tokyo Nightmare, he spins tales of globetrotting youth into melodic gold.

- Michael Barclay

- KW Record


Octoberman at Holy Joe's
Saturday, March 4, 2006.

By Matt Semansky

Diminutive dude with an acoustic guitar sings and strums quirky, literate folk.

Grade: 81

Comment: Octoberman injected a fairly twisted and unique perspective into his acoustic tunes, which ranged from dark to whimsical. That personality was also reflected in his stage persona, and all told he managed to make a familiar sound seem fresh. - Chartattack.com


Discography

"These Trails Are Old and New" released on White Whale Records on October 4, 2005 (Canada), November 4, 2006 (UK), and January 23, 2007 (USA).

"Laguardia" ep released on White Whale Records on October 31, 2006 (Canada).

"Run From Safety" released on White Whale Records on August 21, 2007 (world).

"Fortresses" CD/LP to be released on Sept 1 (CAN) and Oct 6 (U.S.).

Photos

Bio

On the surface Octoberman’s 4th album Waiting In The Well (Saved By Vinyl / Outside) is about waiting. Co-produced by Jim Guthrie (Royal City, Islands, Human Highway) and mixed by Howie Beck (Feist, Hayden, Jason Collett), Waiting In The Well showcases a more focused and poppier side of Octoberman’s brand of folk-rock heard on previous releases These Trails Are Old and New (2006), Run From Safety (2007), and Fortresses (2009). The title Waiting In The Well was inspired by popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and finds Morrissette following the book’s lead character down a metaphorical well in search of something deeper. While making Waiting Morrissette discovered that the wear and tear of touring had given him a vocal polyp that required intervention. The resulting surgery left him silent for two weeks and prohibited from singing for five months, forcing the singer to step back, listen and… Wait.
Octoberman’s first album since being fully settled in Toronto, Waiting In The Well finds Morrissette introspective. Whereas Run From Safety (2007) was a tearing down of old walls and Fortresses (2009), dealt with the fallout when those walls are reduced to rubble, Waiting In The Well takes Morrissette out of the context of exposure explored on these earlier albums and brings the emphasis within. As in Murakami’s book, Morrissette uses the well as an isolation device to remove the external influences that dominate and often dictate everyday thought. It is the dark place from which the songwriter emerges to put one’s own light on the subject.

Upon completion of Fortresses, Morrissette moved from Vancouver to Toronto, and recruited a new rhythm section in Marshall Bureau (drums) and Tavo Diez de Bonilla (bass). After a month-long European tour where the song arrangements fleshed themselves out, Octoberman went to London, Ontario’s House Of Miracles with Producer / Engineer Andy Magoffin (Constantines, Great Lake Swimmers, Cuff The Duke) to record Waiting. The polyp became a blessing in disguise as it allowed time for co-producer Jim Guthrie to add his magic to the project. The downtime was also used to accumulate contributions from regular Octoberman members Shaun Brodie (trumpet) and Randy Lee (violin) plus a gang of Toronto friends including FemBots’ Dave MacKinnon (piano), Wilderness of Manitoba‘s Melissa Dalton (vocals), Muskox‘s Jeremy Strachan (saxophone), Cuff The Duke‘s Francois Turenne (guitar), and Two-Minute Miracles‘ Justin Nace (pedal steel).

After earning critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Uncut and Americana UK (Album of 2007), being featured prominently on Grey’s Anatomy (2010), appearing at the SXSW, Pop Montreal, Sled Island and CMJ festivals, and extensive touring of North America and Europe, Waiting in The Well finds Octoberman set to build on the foundation their previous work has laid. Throughout the album is the permeation of a voice deeply connected with its subject, weary and worn and willing to dive below the surface to understand its root. Yes, on the surface the album is about waiting, but a careful listen to the songs reveals something deeper lurking in the well. The result is Octoberman’s strongest and most personal album to date.

To whet the appetite before the album’s March 2012 release, an ep’s worth of bonus material was released earlier this Fall.