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"SOLARISTS | The Channel's Twilight"

The solo project of Hinterlands Cameron McLellan, Solarists will hopefully not be relegated to an occasional project, as McLellan has made an astounding and affecting album that swells the heart and sets the listener adrift in his simple, intoxicating melodies. It's likely that Solarists will be grouped together with similar artists like Iron & Wine, Rivulets and Great Lake Swimmers, but to be grouped with such quality will hopefully draw people to him, rather than have him lost amid the crowd. The top song is easily Starfucker, in which McLellan's voice quivers ever so slightly, giving the song such a confessional feel that you can audibly hear the lump in his throat. Slow and steady win the race in this genre, and Starfucker takes its time, keeping the listener transfixed with the easy, yet intense guitar and barely-there piano all surrounded by an elegiac beat. A triumph of a song, it alone is worthy of a hardy recommendation of this album. Other memorable moments occur in Beauty and Suspension, which is one of the more upbeat songs, emitting a warmth and originality that demands attention. Beautiful, mournful and absolutely enthralling, The Channel's Twilight is essential for anyone who loves simple, unassuming melody just a little rough around the edges.

—Chris Whibbs, EXCLAIM! MAGAZINE - EXCLAIM! Magazine

"You Had Me At "Strum...""

Solarists - The Channel's Twilight

My world is so filled with music scattered to the extremities. A perimeter dotted by inhumans belching demon smoke and oddball techno divas, and loners banging their heads on their guitars into a jambox in the rented room they are about to be evicted from, and often I find myself standing alone in the middle of this circle wondering what used to go here. I know it wasn't top 40 radio stuff, that forms the atmosphere we all breathe in and choke on occasionally and generally ignore. I know it wasn't either pop country or contemporary Christian music (generally the same things with varying degrees of disingenuous schmaltz and increasing slickness) because that stuff makes me recoil like vampire to a sunlamp when forced thereupon me. Thankfully, what can be dubbed plain-old great music occasionally makes it past the stunt genres usually occupying my attention and land in my lap.
This time it is Solarists, a ridiculously palatable and friendly side project helmed by Hinterland's Cameron McLellan and their album The Channel's Twilight. I've been listening to this off and on all day trying to remember who McClellan sounds like and it just struck me: Josh Ritter. The same unadorned voice, the bittersweet clever lyrics and a song structures rotted in acoustic guitars but with just enough accoutrement to keep them from being "folky." The wistfulness cascades in with "Fourth of July" (so many people have done a song called this, Dave Alvin, X, etc and they've all been excellent) with McLellan s voice almost cracking against the bare bones guitar and harmonica, creating a perfect open mike nite moment. The rest of the band comes in with "The Exit Waters" and stays throughout the rest of the album, with sweet harmonies and beautiful flourishes throughout the records. I forget how much I really like stuff like this, that I could be happy if all the extraneous extreme music was taken away from me and I was left to ride out the rest of time with clever indie folk pop. buts not even as consciously indie or pop as say The Shins or Belle and Sebastian, its something a little cleaner, a little more pure. Not sure what to label it, which is probably a good sign.
"Lies and Whispers" is a great swaying number, singing about ships and stars and "Beauty and Suspension" is a perfect conversational jangly number with its brushed drums and soft rock interplay. My favorite song, if I was to have one, is "The Leaves" which builds up and breaks down like watching sand dunes be created and destroyed in time lapse, demonstrating that you can have monumental build up without being bombastic about it. All the songs on this record are delicious. Maybe they all do sound kinda the same, but I don't think McLellan is trying to make a Badly Drawn Boy social-studies-fair-of-a-record here. Its like complaining that breeze in Spring is always so goddamn pleasant.
"Starfucker" takes the tempo down a notch, but not in any Will Oldham way, and "Bad Bad Heart" sounds kinda classic but not in a corny Chris Isaak way. This stuff is just good, solid, sweet, perfect in a way. Its like when you have an acquaintance, not like a close friend but someone you know, gets a moment of inspiration and grabs a nearby guitar and strums and sings the most perfect song you ever heard. Its shocking and revealing and beautiful, and that's how this album hits me. I was going to say this album will totally cleanse your palette, but that's dismissive. What it will do is totally charm you for a moment, and then let you go. And your eyes and feet will wander out to the edges again, but you'll be back, remembering what you really truly love. Its great stuff.

Alex V. Cook, Music Editor - OutsideLeft Magazine

"SOLARISTS | The Channel's Twilight"

SOLARISTS | The Channel's Twilight

Cameron McLellan—a member of Vancouver space-rock outfit Hinterland—makes the move to centre stage with the debut of his hushed folk-pop band Solarists. McLellan's voice has that sincere warmth necessary to draw listeners into this kind of slow-moving, careful 'boy and his guitar' music, bringing to mind tender troubadours like Lambchop's Kurt Wagner or Hayden at his softest. With dreamy guitar backdrops and piano floating in the window, the band drift through 10 solid tracks. Great music for lazy drives and porch sunsets, like a summer evening compacted into handy CD form. - Chart Magazine


Coast Spirit, album number two from Solarists, is a down-tempo, fluid and painterly work, awash with poetic imagery and mellow guitar jangling. Fans of Dan Bejar or literate Brooklyn indie-rockers the National should hear this. McLellan does a talk-sing thing, leading headphone listeners through the twilight psychedelia of New Sound for a New Town or the organ-cushioned Sailor Beware. This isn't such a dynamic record - Silhouettes picks up some post-punk energy, but calories aren't burned as a rule. In a nutshell: West Coast ground-control-to-Major-Tom.

- The Globe and Mail


The latest effort from Vancouver's Solarists carefully balances the sparse folk of their debut The Channel's Twilight with a fleshed-out country/folk rock sound.

It quickly becomes obvious that frontman Cameron McLellan has become more confident when listening to Coast Spirit. He doesn't sound as tentative as he did on the previous outing and the nervousness that informed his vocals have vanished.

It feels like there's a ton of world-weary experience behind his vocals.

Even though they've plugged in, this is still incredibly mellow music and the disc unfolds at an almost leisurely pace. The barebones production by veteran Vancity producers John Collins and Davis Caswell retains an intimate feel despite the addition of electric instruments.

The closest they come to "rocking out" is on 'Silhouettes'. Many of the 10 tracks feature an acoustic intro that leads into quietly strummed electric guitars and brushed drums. The leadoff 'West Coast Transmission' is somewhat deceptive with its combination of acoustic and electric guitars. It's followed nicely by the mournful alt-country of 'Exhibition Blues'.

The aptly titled 'New Sound for a New Town' could be considered the disc's mission statement. Despite starting out slowly, it gradually builds to an exciting climax that may lead some Solarists fans to do a double take. McLellan's newfound confidence is also obvious towards the end of the song.

Coast Spirit is another stunning batch of songs from Solarists. The promise that was hinted at on their debut comes out in full force on this album.



These are gentle songs, the kind I wish I could have had piping in my headphones riding the Eurorail back when. They seem to echo a landscape, both in lyrics and in lulling beat. And by lyrics, I'd say more poetry. McLellan's delivery is part talk, part singing, part commentary. Consider this your recommendation: here is a band from the west coast that have crafted some sweet sounds, with songs (esp. 'New Sound for a New Town') expertly building the momentum throughout their 4 minute plus  tune. Magic.


COAST SPIRIT - Album, release date April 7, 2009.



Solarists is an indie-rock band in the singer-songwriter tradition whose second album on Darling Records is COAST SPIRIT.

Solarists started as a solo project by Cameron McLellan in Vancouver, BC. The band’s first release, THE CHANNEL’S TWILIGHT, was an unpretentious and spare album which garnered critical acclaim for its sparse, evocative sound.

Exclaim Magazine described Solarists’ music as “beautiful, mournful and absolutely enthralling” and called THE CHANNEL’S TWILIGHT “an astounding and affecting album that swells the heart and sets the listener adrift in simple, intoxicating melodies.”

Songs from THE CHANNEL’S TWILIGHT soundtracked Terry Miles’ 2008 feature film WHEN LIFE WAS GOOD, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

For COAST SPIRIT McLellan (vocals, guitar) regrouped with a full band including Kyle Fogden (bass), Scott Fogden (drums), Rob Lang (guitar) and Brian McConville (piano/keys). The result is a vibrant, stronger sound and a broader sonic palette that captures the energy of a time and place– the cultural and historical milieu of the Canadian west coast.

COAST SPIRIT was recorded in Vancouver at JC/DC Studios (Destroyer, Rodney Graham).