Parlour Steps
Gig Seeker Pro

Parlour Steps

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


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



"Bumbershoot Review Sept. 2010"

Kicking off my Saturday at Bumbershoot was Parlour Steps at the EMP Sky Church. Paired with the incredibly rare beautiful sunny day outside was this melodic rock sensation, hailing from nearby Vancouver in the pretty darn epic Sky Church, one of my absolute favorite venues in Seattle.

The acoustics were perfect for frontman Chris Strull’s dreamy lyrics, and incredibly rich arrangements mixed with breathtakingly beautiful harmonies to produce this unique sound that had the crowd dancing and singing along. Take a big dose of pop, a small helping of country, a tiny pinch of big band, and some ingenious planning, and you get singles like “Little Pieces,” my personal favorite of their set.

Vaguely reminiscent of Loch Lamond from neighboring Portland and Barefoot Beware from the UK, Parlour Steps still brings out their own signature sound with their own brand of dreamy pop-rock – and definitely a band to check out. Add them to your rainy day playlist, and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. - Pop Wreckoning

"This Is Your Brain On Rock"

By Mason Wright

If the prospect of something called "thought rock' seems slightly dull or too intellectual to be any fun, let Parlour Steps drummer Rob Linton set things straight.

"Even though it's cerebral it's also very optimistic, which is one of the things I love about the group," Linton says from the driver's seat of the band's rental van on the way to a gig in Hamilton. "There's a uniqueness to the songs that I really enjoy. It's probably very common to hear people describe their own music like that, but consider that as somebody describing Caleb's songwriting."

"Thought rock" is the term frontman Caleb Stull has coined for his band's unique brand of melodic, textured music, a style that has them gaining notoriety in their native Vancouver and embarking on their first tour of central Canada this week.

"Thought rock comes from wanting to engage people in some sort of hypothetical conversation," says Stull, the band's primary songwriter and lead singer. "I find myself really distilling lots of cultural stuff and social stuff into trying to find the basics of what we are and who we are to each other."

From that lyrical foundation, the Parlour Steps' Stull, Linton, guitarist Rees Haynes and bassist/vocalist Julie Bavalis craft upbeat, soulful songs characterized by vocal harmonies and carefree guitar riffs.

"This is the cool dichotomy of the band: from that cerebral, very mental place of the lyrics, we work on songs on a much more intrinsic level," says Stull.

The Parlour Steps' fourth independently recorded album, Ambiguoso, finds them taking a more straight-ahead approach to songwriting, and has the rare quality of featuring both kinds of songs: those that grab the ear right away and those that grow on the listener, revealing themselves little by little.

Ambiguoso's signature track, Thieves of Memory, neatly fits into the first category, having beaten out more than 15,000 other entries to win a 2005 International Songwriting Competition award. Though careful to qualify the importance of winning such an award, the band recognizes its benefits.

"It was really bragging rights," Stull explains. "People see that in our bio and it's nice, it kind of sticks out. Journalists see it and say, " 'Oh, they actually popped out for a moment above the bubbling din of everything else'."

With a solid fan base back home, the next logical step was to tour the country's most populated region, a decision that has taken the band to Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa in the past week, with gigs in Montreal tonight and Thursday and another in Toronto on Friday.

"It's a foot in the door," says Linton. "We need to be heard somewhere outside of Vancouver."

"As much as we in the west hate to admit it," adds Stull, "the Toronto/Montreal area is sort of the cultural centre of Canada, so to not play here would be kind of ridiculous. We want to come out here and play a little bit to some new audiences."

And as part-time musicians who hold down day jobs, there's an element of escapism involved as well.

"I call this my ego trip," says Haynes, "because I get to go take a break from my regular job and be a rock star for 10 days."

"A rock star who sleeps on floors and loads his own gear, but a rock star nonetheless," Stull adds with a laugh. - National Post, June 2007

"SXSW Austin Chronicle Pick"

Maybe they're a Pacific Northwest staple, but here the Parlour Steps have flown below the radar despite being signed to local label Nine Mile Records. The Vancouver quintet's fifth LP, The Hidden Names, showcases earthy indie rock with bite, thanks to singer Caleb Stull's acid tongue. – Melanie Haupt - Austin Chronicle

"Get Ready to Be impressed"

Get Ready to Be Impressed

Parlour Steps (Vancouver) draw some similarities from their varied musical influences. They dip their cup into the very same creative well from which Arcade Fire and The Pixies have drank from over the years. This creativity is then forged with the lyrical elements of Sufjan Stevens and Tom Waits. It's true - Parlour Steps could be the best band you never heard of (until today.)

Listening to "Thieves of Memory" - the RSL Song of the Day, it's pretty much impossible to not hear similarities between Parlour Steps and Cold War Kids and Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs. This comparison is meant to be complimentary, but based on what I'm listening to as I type these words - perhaps I am not doing the band enough justice. Parlour Steps' brand new album is called Ambiguoso and the damn thing really doesn't have a bad song. The new album's varied tracks move and undulate like a living creature - each is individual and different. Ambiguoso truly runs the musical gamut. Pick it up and expect to have your doors blown off.

For those who read this blog with any regularity, you know I have a snazzy rundown every six months or so of the hottest new talent, best new albums and notable acts & performers. Expect to see this band again for those lists. I don't anticipate it falling from grace anytime soon.

- Ryan`s Smashing Life

"Ambiguoso LP Swings Hard"

By Wil Wang

After the Parlour Steps wowed me opening for The Long Winters, I had some pretty high expectations for their recently released 4th album Ambiguoso. Sure heads were bopping and fingers were snapping, but how many bands have we seen who's live energy fizzles into a low simmer when translated into an analogue groove? Not so with the Parlour Steps! Their 4th LP maintains the jangle and bounce, while also showing a refined quality exemplified by lovely keyboard sounds and horns in just the right places. It feels pretty damn nice.

The sounds are about as tight as you could want them to be, and admirably fuzzy when required. Also, frontman Caleb Stulls seems to be a bit geeky in the studio, as evidenced by his descriptions of the recording process, and in This City Rocks' video of Caleb twisting knobs in the studio. Fun stuff.

090607_ambiguoso2.jpgAnd weirdly enough, sound is the perfect tool to showcase the band's country-twinged alt-pop songwriting talents, which are obvious. There's no junkers in sight, each song fittingly unique, and the lyrics are intelligent and personal, even poignant.

World At Large is the album highlight to me. Stulls starts out singing in a whisper over a throbbing bass and kick. Sprinkle in sparse twinkling guitar. Then before you know it, the band is blaring and Julie Bavalis and Stulls are both hollering out the chorus in case anyone was wondering what it means to be alive.

This album is super listenable. It's like if Arcade Fire were a bit less arty, rather less dark, and if they wrote all their songs on the ranch. On that note, I had both Neon Bible and Ambiguoso in my stereo for a week, and Neon Bible... lost. Ok, this album isn't perfect, but the only shortcomings I can identify are that, well maybe you're just not into that scene. If you are, then amen.

Also note, the band is playing a series of shows in BC, Ontario, and Quebec. Their live shows are fantastic, so if you can't catch them at Rime on the 15th, you'll have to wait until August or September for their next local gigs. - Beyond Robson

"Bleeding Hearts by Parlour Steps"

original at:

The jangly opening to "Bleeding Hearts" hits me in the same vein Okkervil River does; I get behind smarter-than-thou pop releases with enough distortion to keep me honest. This track isn't short of hooks, but includes a percussion driven mixture of piano work, megaphone delivered vocals and plenty of rock-the-house energy. The quartet is an indie pop band in the truest sense. The two minute instrumental tilt to close this track out is gorgeous and points to a hefty amount of talent immediately. Anthemic piano hooks swirl at the song's close. A cocky nonchalance is the fire to the gunpowder of Parlour Steps' sound. They've got chops and throw it down well. See them up there in their suits? They'd equally fit in as a grungy hipster-clad quartet as well. Playback value is high on this one, chaps. Order their album, The Hidden Names through Nine Mile Records. - Citizen Dick, October 2009

"The Hidden Names Review 3"

original at:

A few months ago, while browsing through one of Vancouver's top indie record shops, I came across an older record from Parlour Steps, a local act. I'd heard of them in passing and I was intrigued. I asked one of the clerks about the band, and in a typically succinct manner, he replied carelessly, "Good stuff. Smart music."
In a few words, this dude had said a lot. "Smart music" is a bit of a loaded term, but months after listening to their 2007 release Ambiguoso, I still can't think of a better word to describe their latest LP, The Hidden Names than that original description: "Smart."
Precisely crafted, The Hidden Names rarely misses a beat with pitch-perfect indie pop gems that sound insanely mature while rarely taking themselves too seriously. The Hidden Names follows pop patterns that have been proven by Parlour Steps successors in the past, while brushing a fresh coat of relaxed yet progressive paint on these patterns. Clearly, Parlour Steps owe a debt of gratitude to their surroundings, as the natural beauty of their hometown of Vancouver almost seeps through these deft, bouncy and altogether clever thirteen tracks.
"If God has a sense of humour, she's got a cruel temper" lead singer Caleb Stull coos on "Miraculous", a bouncy piano-infused little ditty. It's this kind of mature playfulness that can be heard everywhere on The Hidden Names, yet another step in the right direction for Parlour Steps.
By Joshua Kloke - Skope Magazine

"The Hidden Names Review 4"

October 2009
By Eleni Armenakis

WEST COAST BAND Parlour Steps' fourth album, The Hidden Names, is a fantastic piece of indie-pop. This album, like the band's previous releases, is filled with great tracks that blend thoughtful attention to detail with energetic base beats. Alison Maira, Caleb Stull, and Julie Bavalis bring unique vocals to each track, adding an extra bit of variety to the album by changing up the sound and offering interesting vocal layering. Along with their diverse vocals, the band also features an interesting mix of instruments, including an organ, trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone, which allow for more sound experimentation and add a jazzy rhythm to some tracks. Songs like "Sleeping City" and "Ring That Bell" have a strong beat, while others such as "Little Pieces" and "Bad Math" are much more sombre and soothing. The band has clearly perfected their sound and technique, and shine with each song on The Hidden Names.
- The Fulcrum

"Fensepost Review"

original at:

Review by Fense, October 2009

Parlour Steps front-man Caleb Stull has this breathy quality to his vocals on opening track "As The World Turned Out" that, when backed by his female vocal counterpart, catches the attention immediately. The Hidden Names opens on an irrefutable high point whose edgy pop/rock clash has an upbeat quality that pushes it even further. It makes for a difficult follow-up for the rest of the album. The good news: Parlour Steps delivers.
"Little Pieces", with its intricate guitar melody and calming piano, further demonstrates Stull's songwriting ability and Parlour Steps skill at crafting an optimum accompaniment. In "Soft Lies" horns add a theatric element, while the soft harmony male/female vocals on "Sleeping City" make the song stand out pleasantly amidst the more edgy, bouncy tracks on the album. Following suit is "Bad Math" with a ballad-worthy melody partnered with an intermittent double-time guitar riff.
These are songs easy to enjoy, ones occasionally reminiscent of early The New Pornographers but obviously not overly similar. Parlour Steps have the ability to pump out agile, cohesive songs that are each unique in their own right but contain similarities in the pressing rush of percussion and honest, clever lyrics. And in The Hidden Names they do just that. - Fensepost October 2009

"Chewing Gum For the Ears"

original at:

By Chris Nowling

Canadian indie-rockers Parlour Steps have been around for a few years, having just released their third album recently, but they've managed to keep an unfortunately low profile thus far. The five-piece band's new record - The Hidden Names - has served as an excellent introduction for me, and now I'm thinking I'll have to give the back catalog a listen. It's a hooky, melodic album filled with boy/girl harmonies, bouncy guitars, and arpeggiated keyboard riffs that balances a sharp wit and a more mature viewpoint admirably, and the band create some outstanding pop moments with this formula. The first half is packed with highlights, like the flowing "Little Steps," the perky, horn-laden "Soft Lies" and the simple acoustic ballad "Sleeping City," each song markedly different than the last but somehow creating a cohesive listening experience all the way through. The back half may lack the strong punch packed in the first, but there's nothing weak or bland anywhere to be found, and The Hidden Names impresses in some way at nearly every turn. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
- Chewing Gum For the Ears

"The Hidden Names Review 1"

original at:

By Jason Lewis

Fusing fey British pop sensibilities with stripped-down orchestral charm, Parlour Steps always rides the line between wistful and upbeat. The band's 2007 release, Ambiguoso, was certifiably dour (albeit pretty), but The Hidden Names is downright cheery in its delivery and the band is all the better for it. To describe itself, the band coined the term "thought rock," but while this album isn't lacking brains, it's driven far more by the heart than the head. With swelling anthems like "Ring That Bell," Parlour Steps is The New Pornographers (if they hadn't become so boring) or Minus the Bear (if they hadn't become so oblique) and The Hidden Names easily outshines both those band's latest efforts - Ffwd Weekly

"iTunes Song Of The Week"

"As The World turned Out is the perfect tune to kick off your New Year on the right foot...Morrissey meets Motown." - iTunes - iTunes (January 2010)


1. The Hidden Names LP (2009). "As The World Turned Out" iTunes Canada Song Of The Week (27k+ downloads!) Publicity by Team Clermont and Killbeat Music Promotions. Nine Mile Records. Heavy AAA and College Radio play.
2. Ambiguoso LP (2008)- Released by Nine Mile Records - substantial AAA/ College/ CBC radio play
3. The Great Perhaps LP (2005)- national radio/ college radio/ podcast/ streaming play
4. Hours of Tremor LP (2003) - substantial college/ university radio play
5. Myth of Summer LP (2000) - substantial college/ university radio play



LABEL: Nine Mile Records. PUBLICITY: Team Clermont (US) and Killbeat Promotions (CAN). DISTRO: Burnside (US) FAB (CAN). BOOKING: Green Room Booking (US), File Under Music Agency (CAN).

"As The World Turned Out" - iTunes Canada Song Of The Week (Jan. 2010) OVER 25,000 downloads!

Over capacity crowd at Bumbershoot 2010! (750+)
Successful SXSW 2010 Showcase! (sold out)

Parlour Steps "The Hidden Names" received rotation and charting on the following stations:

WBGU (Bowling Green) #18, KVCU (Boulder) #14, KMNR (Rolla MO) #28, KSCL (Shreveport, LA) #29, WPSC (Wayne, NJ) #4, KRCX (Denver) #6, KRFP (Moscow, ID) #15, KUST (St. Paul, MN) #11, M3 Radio (NYC) #24, WCLH (Wilkes-Barre, PA) #13, WRNC (Ashland, WI) #18, WXCU (Columbus, OH) #25, WASU (Boone, NC) #30, WDCE (Richmond, VA) #27, KOPB (Portland, OR), KOOP (Austin), WFPK (Louisville), KDHX (St. Louis), WPRK (Winter Park, FL), WZBC (Boston, MA), KUCR (Riverside, CA), KRVS (Lafayette, LA), KALA (Quad Cities, IA), WEVL (Memphis), KSCU (Santa Clara, CA), WLUR (Lexington, VA), WCMU (Saginaw, MI), WORT (Madison, WI), WJCU (Cleveland, OH), KGNU (Boulder/Denver), WITR (Rochester, NY), KDVS (Davis, CA), WRGW (Washington, DC), WKDU (Philadelphia, PA), KAMP (Tuscon, AZ), KEOL (La Grande, OR), KUMD (Duluth, MN), KUPS (Tacoma, WA), KWCR (Ogden, UT), Radio UTD (Richardson, TX), WEGL (Auburn , AL), WGLS (Glassboro, NJ), WHUS (Storrs, CT), WICB (Ithaca, NY), WMFO (Medford, MA), WMUC (College Park, MD), WVUD (Newark, DE), WWUH (Hartford, CT), WRAS (Atlanta, GA), WRUW (Cleveland), WKNC (Raleigh, NC), WDOM (Providence, RI), Bearcast Radio (Cincinnati), KBUT (Crested Butte, CO), KCSU (Fort Collins, CO), KHSU (Arcata, CA), WBNY (Buffalo, NY), WOUB (Athens, OH), WRVU (Nashville, TN), WSBU (St. Bonaventure, NY), WXCI (Danbury, CT)

The October 2009 release of The Hidden Names by Nine Mile Records act Parlour Steps should finally put a spotlight on one of Canada's most intriguing bands.
"If there is an overall theme to be distilled it would be of the never-ending search for meaning and connection in today's world," Caleb Stull, the band's founder, chief songwriter, singer and guitarist says of the album.
The keen intelligence, the ambitious ideas, the pride in tackling heady, cerebral concepts that has characterized the band from Vancouver, British Columbia, from the get-go remain intact. But a newfound musical confidence gives a carefree flow to the band's music, with a vivacious presence and palpable warmth.
Lauded by the Canadian press, Parlour Steps has at various times evoked comparisons to the brainy pop of XTC, the drama of Arcade Fire, the lyrical focus of Sufjan Stevens and the snappy rhythmic grip of the Pixies. But it is Caleb Stull's relentless curiosity and daring songwriting that separates the quartet from the indie-rock pack.
The opening track, the buoyant "As the World Turned Out," for example, attempts to explore "our laughable, small- lensed grip on ourselves," while 'Miraculous," says Stull, "riffs on our nihilistic self-absorption, so woefully out of place in such a massive universe as ours."
Stull calls "Soft Lies," "a simple love song about getting mired in too much self-awareness," while the closing tune "Mad Mad Day" he describes as detailing "our common alienation of 'others,' and our general suspicions that people different from us couldn’t possibly want and need the same things out of life. The end line, repeated over and over, is really a call to arms, to never let others decide your values for you, to never let ignorance and pride lead the way."
The Hidden Names is the lovely and logical successor to Ambiguoso, 2008's previous full-length for Nine Mile Records and the first Parlour Steps album, (after three previous albums, including 2005's acclaimed The Great Perhaps) to get a full United States release.
"The confidence on The Hidden Names comes from the rather successful experiments in pop simplicity of our work on Ambiguoso," says Stull, who also produces the band's work. "The emotion is closer to the surface. We feel less and less concerned with coming off as cool and calculated and have decided, instead, to just write simpler pop tunes."
The Hidden Names also benefits from a winning chemistry in and out of the studio, on stage and off. It is the first album to feature Alison Maira on keyboards. Joining singer/guitarist Stull, bassist/vocalist Julie Bavalis, guitarist Rees Haynes, and drummer Robert Linton, Parlour Steps now has the ripest, fullest musicality and emotional balance it has ever had.
"Alison is an excellent player," Stull says. "Introducing her and her keyboard work has lent us a lyricism, a beauty we didn’t have before."
What makes The Hidden Names stand out is that the five-piece band contributes with single-minded energy to what Stull calls "the greater good of the song." The greater good of the song: If there is any commandment that defines Parlour Steps, it is yielding to the greater good of the