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The best kept secret in music


"Plainsay plain crazy for playin' live"

The word on Edmonton streets is that Plainsay is a band you’ve just got to catch live. Plainsay caught wind of this, and now the foursome is compelled to make arrangements to record their material live—likely within the next year.

“We want to have some recorded material that reflects the energy in our live show,” explains guitarist Jonathan Halton. “We’re happy with [our EP] Cartography, but we also heard that there’s something in our live performance that’s not captured on the album. It makes people notice us more, so there’s a buzz about it.”

“Comparing our live show to our album, Cartography is more introverted, personal and well thought out,” explains drummer Tyrn Armstrong. “Whereas, our live show, it’s more extroverted, improvised and we’re pouring our hearts out. It’s catharsis.”

For those who’ve missed out on hearing them live, Plainsay are a melodic rock band drawing influences from the likes of Coldplay, Radiohead, Incubus and the late great Jeff Buckley.

“I’ve been getting random people coming up to us with Jeff Buckley comparisons, which is very exciting for us, because what better person to get compared to than Jeff Buckley?” says Armstrong.

“[Our lead singer’s] vocals are very Buckley-esque,” adds Halton. “He’s soul and rock put together.”

For their upcoming Powerplant gig, fans of this fledgling band can expect to hear some brand-new material.

“These new songs are just dynamic,” beams Armstrong.

“It’s good progressive indie rock,” chimes in Halton. “In some areas we’re heading in a harder direction, putting in a lot more energy to match up with the live show. A lot of what we write, it’s on the big issues—not necessarily political, more based on humanity. Of our new songs, we approach areas of mental health. We had a close friend who died recently. He was schizophrenic and we wrote about his own personal battle. Not that we’re a sob story and that the world sucks. We’re very positive people, but we just try to make our lyrics mean something to us.”

With all this new material emerging a mere four months after the release of Cartography, the boys of Plainsay are eager to work on another record.

“A follow-up should be soon; sometime in 2005 is the short answer,” says Halton. “We’re constantly changing and we want to reflect that. We’re very happy with Cartography, but we’re on to something else now and we’d like to show our evolution and the different sides of the band. Our goal is to keep at it and to get better as songwriters and musicians.”
- The Gateway

"CD Reviews"

Cartography - independent

Be sure to chart a course aft right, to the record store, leading you to Cartography, the elegant six song EP brought to you by local rockers Plainsay.

Influenced in part by the likes of Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Incubus and others; the boys of Plainsay craft together a surprisingly disarming collection of melodic rock songs brimming with warmth, depth and plenty of helpings of introspection. The music may recall the influences I listed above, but they’re far from being just a carbon copy of these musical heroes. Instead, they forge ahead, plotting out their own identity, putting the utmost care into their music, with sparkling guitars from Jonathan Halton and angelic vocals from brother Matthew Halton to boot.

Highlights from the EP include "Take Twice Daily," ("You trade your pain in for some pills/ They dull what you feel, forget what’s real"), the love ode "Angels Got Nothin’ on You" ("I think that you must realize I still got/ Something for you, let me enter your world") and the epic finale "A Divine Proportion" ("It’s impossible to see/ That there is anything worth dying for"). Formidable stuff, for sure. Major labels, do take notice.
- See Magazine

"CD Reviews"

Cartography- Independent
· Turn up the mid. Edmonton four-piece offers up a solid six-song debut


The ever-increasing capability of sound engineers in the province, coupled with the proliferation of low-cost digital recording, means that more and more Alberta bands are putting out music of higher and higher quality. Compare today’s musical output with that of a decade ago. Where many local music fans would be content with lo-fi, hiss-drenched cassettes, now we are showered with lush, hi-fi sonic experiments.

With a decidedly laid-back approach, Plainsay serve up a healthy portion of mid-range guitar noodling and smooth male harmonies that hearken back to the indie rock of the early ’90s. Like the Calgary scene then, Edmonton currently has a bit of a predilection for faux-Brit-pop, but Cartography seems to fly in the face of that. With songs that lope along with chiming guitar strums and solid mid-tempo percussion, Plainsay often call to mind an incarnation of Sloan fronted by former Calgarian Aaron Booth. Considerably stronger when the band turns up the intensity, Plainsay’s questionable foray into minor chords and sonic deconstruction is ambitious, but ultimately unsatisfying. Still, the first half of the album is not just good for Alberta – it’s just plain good.
- FFWD Magazine

"Atlas Shrugged"

I’ve always held a special place in my heart for maps. Whether they’re rolled up, folded or laminated, I just love the little bastards. To me, looking at a map is like looking into a superefficient fantasy world where symbols, signs and ciphers are everywhere and nothing is wasted—only reproduced. I even have a day job selling maps. As a kid, I drew maps constantly, and nowadays if someone asks for directions to Mountain Equipment Co-op or Starbucks, instead of giving them a million “turn-left-at-the-lights” sort of directions, I usually say, “Here, man, let me draw you a map!” Done and done. So when I noticed that local rock act Plainsay had named their debut album Cartography, I was stoked to interview them. Instead of mulling over the usual dull questions about musical influences, band history and rock groupies, I thought, “Perhaps we could have a lively debate over the pros and cons of UTM co-ordinates or an in-depth discussion of the continued use of lats and longs as a referencing system.” Yessir, ’twas truly my lucky day! Or maybe not. “We’re not into cartography, so don’t drill us on it or anything,” says Plainsay frontman Matthew Halton at the outset of our interview at a downtown pub. “The title isn’t a real deep thing—it’s more about mapping out our sound as a band.” Turns out Cartography’s six songs have nothing to do with the practice of drawing maps; instead, Halton explains, the disc was simply intended as a snapshot of where his young band is at—musically speaking, of course. I guess I should have known. Although their sound mixes influences from all over the musical atlas (think Jeff Buckley and Coldplay with a technical edge), a glance at the lyric sheet reveals nothing about techniques for reading topographic maps or methods for figuring out the magnetic declination on a 1:50,000 scale access sheet. “It’s not like we’re talking about partying and T&A, either,” offers the band’s bearded bassist Tim Wilson. No kidding: the album’s first song deals with prescription drugs and the nature of the quick fix, while the rest of the EP deals with similarly weighty topics like faith, love and God. “All of these songs were written out of a response to things that happen in our lives,” continues the amiable Halton, who works as a child youth care worker when he’s not behind the mic. “We all know people who are popping pills and I think it’s a pretty relevant topic.” Recorded over the winter and spring of this year, the band (which is rounded out by Halton’s brother Jonathan on lead guitar and drummer Tyrn Armstrong) is clearly pumped to finally have the disc out. “Right now we just have so much momentum that I feel like we’re launching,” says Armstrong confidently. “We’ve got a great lineup, a new CD, the website’s up—I just feel like we’re ready to go. We’re like a budding flower.” A budding flower? Geez, maybe they should have called the record Botany instead of Cartography. “What I mean to say is,” Armstrong says, realizing his wussy choice of words, “we’re ready to get out there and do it!” “We’re not starry-eyed rock stars, though,” Halton adds with a smile, “and we are very realistic—but this is a band that’s not afraid to touch the masses.” V Plainsay CD release party With Half Cut • New City • Fri, July 16 - Vue Weekly


Cartography - 2004 (EP)


Feeling a bit camera shy


plainsay's sound is most effectively described as modern rock. while the band has no intention of creating obscure fusions, it does effectively draw from a large variety of other styles... plainsay endeavours to write music that is pleasing to the ear, technically sound, and fun to play.

the stage show has been described as "more than music... an auditory experience". audiences are treated intriguing and attractive song writing. a major thrust of their live show is improvisation and the instrumental elements of the songs.

the band has earned a great concert reputation.