Shannon Weir
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Shannon Weir

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Piano Nobile
2004-11-30
From the hallowed halls of McMaster University in Hamilton to the rock-infused luster of clubland Toronto, Shannon Weir has long been a student of musicology. She moved to Toronto after graduating from McMaster’s music program in the late nineties and has spent the 00’s searching for that elusive brass ring. Seasons passed and passers seasoned, leaving Weir and her players all that much closer to tonal bliss.

“When I first moved back from Hamilton, there were a lot of Toronto girls with guitars doing folk rock,” she says over heated beverages at a local eatery. “That’s fine but I think we had a different vibe from the start and yet we were constantly getting billed with those acts. Now that the scene in Toronto is a little more eclectic, we tend not to have those problems as much.”

With the able accord of her backing unit, The Even Strangers, Weir plays a melodic strand of piano-driven rock, tempered by glossy guitars and viscous vocals. Along side her long time collaborator, guitarist Robert Hedge, The Even Strangers are rounded out by bassist Mike Robillard and drummer Neil McLellan. The four-piece has only been together mere month but already, Weir and Hedge feel confident enough in pinning their hopes on their fresh-faced rhythm section.

“Finally, playing with Shannon feels like playing with a band,” says Hedge with a degree of relief. “Before, it seemed more like a group of players that came together once in a while rather than an actual band. This group is obviously totally committed, which is great.”

The quartet evolved through connections with a sprinkling of fate. Weir convinced McLellan to join the band after a chance meeting at a house party (OK, he was a friend of a friend of a friend as well… but work with me here). Robillard, meanwhile, was lured away from the northland for a stab at rock stardom.

“Scott Kaija from controller.controller gave me a call one day,” he says. “He told me Shannon was looking for a bass player. I was living in Sault Ste. Marie at the time so I repatriated myself in Toronto and joined the band.”

Simple. You know what’s not simple? Their music! Sure, it’s not rocket science but seeing as Weir’s Roland keyboard is front and centre in the band’s make-up, there is a level of depth and texture to The Even Strangers’ music that you don’t find in a bulk of guitar-centric bands. However, the fact that Weir has to remain seated for a bulk of the performances only serves to repress.

“I struggle with that because there are times when I would love to push the stool over, stand up and just sing. We have discussed some instances in the new material where I can do that and these guys can take care of the rest.”

The new material in question is numbers recently penned by Weir and the Strangers plus music from an album called Quarters For The Bed, the title a nod to dimestore hotel rooms and amorality… or something. While the album has yet to find any widespread release, Weir and her bandmates are going to be patience in finding a label who can give the record the comeuppance it deserves—Hedge says that the album definitely sounds like “a radio album” to him.

In the meantime, The Even Strangers will be gigging around Toronto and further afield, making fans along the way and testing the waters one key at a time.

“It comes down to songwriting,” says Weir. “Anyone can play a power pop ballad and it’ll be catchy and fun, but it’s not sustainable. It doesn’t grab you and stick with you over time. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Catch Shannon Weir and The Even Strangers on the following dates:

December 4: Toronto, ON Horseshoe Tavern – with Staggered Crossing, Shaker

For more information about Shannon Weir and The Even Strangers, please visit their official web site at www.evenstrangers.com

- Cameron Gordon


There's nothing more pleasant than reviewing a CD that you can actually get into. With intricate piano arrangements atop an ecelectic entourage of sound, Shannon Weir & The Even Strangers forge a brand of music that sets itself apart as wholly creative. At least, that 's what I got from listening to their 3-song demo (a sneak prevew of the upcoming album "Quarters for the Bed").
Clocking in at just under 12 minutes, I would describe the demo as "short, but sweet". These songs subscribe to traditional pop songwriting values, but at the same time, subvert themselves with clever instrumentation and captivating vocals. Maybe it could be described as Ben Folds meets Denali (like I said "maybe"). Take, for example, the delightfully narcotic "A Night LIke This" (which happens to be my favourite track off the demo). With its enchanting progression and ethereal soundscape, this little shanty drags itself along like a night on Xanax. This is the type of track I could listen to on a quiet, introspective drive. On a more lively note, "Castles in the Sand" and "Restore" are the type of songs guaranteed to make an impression on first time listeners. Honestly, the three tracks on this demo warm the heart, but also boast of proficiency. - Shut Eye Records, US


Discography

Shannon Weir - "Quarters" - Zunior.com 2005
Shannon Weir - solo album "Ghosts of my past"
Shannon Weir - solo album "Nature About You"

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Shannon Weir

“There’s a level of depth and texture to Shannon Weir 's music that you don’t find in a bulk of guitar/piano-centric bands.” – Soul Shine Magazine

“With intricate piano arrangements, Shannon Weir & The Even Strangers forge a brand of music that sets itself apart as wholly creative.” – Shut Eye Records

With her 3rd solo album "Quarters" in the palm of her hand, Shannon Weir & her Even Strangers collaboration are ready to make change. Lead keyboardist, singer and songwriter Shannon Weir attributes this transformation to the fact that this raw, quirky, and sometimes melancholy album conjures up some of life’s darker moments, yet somehow manages to radiate a strange and familiar understanding.

Born and raised in Oshawa, Weir herself is definitely not new to this game (she has already unleashed two solo albums on the unsuspecting public; the critically-acclaimed Ghost of My Past (1999) and 2001’s Nature About You), and her mysterious and gently complex arrangements have held true. But with her Even Strangers collective, Weir has been able to seamlessly stitch together a wider range of musical possibilities making Quarters the collective result of a band that make music that just naturally falls into place.