Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy
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Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy

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"Orchard Songs Review 2006"

This latest effort by Guelph’s Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy is a fantastic country rock record that grabs the listener by the collar and never lets go. Burgeoning contemporaries of the Sadies that have picked up on a trail left behind by the Flying Burrito Brothers, Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy have got grit and grooves to spare and they flex their muscles on this fascinatingly musical album. “True Love Killed My True Love’s Love for Me” is rootsy pop at its finest, with hazy, hangdog vocals floating in between some compelling pedal steel work by Jesse Whiteside. “Sad Song” is a dark frontier number that recalls the Unintended, while “More to Dying” possesses the mystical traits of a Greg Keelor meditation but with an indie rock flavoured soundtrack. By “Coastal Town,” the monotone vocals and lo-fi production are as familiar as old friends, but the gang vocals on the Califone-esque “I Am So” mark a shift on this multi-layered record. The sweeter sounds of the Byrds are conjured up on “Darling Girl,” while the spacey, experimental “Bandit” oozes danger. With skills to pay the bills, Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy have fearlessly sent a bit of genius out into the world with Orchards. - Exclaim Magazine Review By Vish Khanna December 11, 2006

"Tragedy In The Royal City"

By Patrick Finch

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I will forever associate the town of Guelph with the first Royal City record, At Rush Hour The Cars. Due in part, I’m sure, to the band being named after their hometown, but whenever I think of Guelph, I think of that stark, sad record. Like the town itself, the album was gritty, but beautiful because of it, and greater than the sum of its parts. When Brad Giefert dropped his band’s new album off for me, I was immediately struck by how much the album reminded me of the Royal City, (both the band and town). His group is the Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy, and even though they’re also from Guelph and his reedy, lilting voice takes me back to my first R.C. show, he thinks the similarities are more accidental.
“I think that when we were recording the demos, I was really digging the lo-fi crooners, like Bill Callahan, (Smog), and Howie Gelb,” Giefert explains. “Lately I have been listening to a lot of older vinyl; Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Springsteen. We don’t really feel like descendents of Royal City, although we have always been fans and would be flattered by any such comparison.”
Essentially a project for friends and musical compatriots Giefert, (guitars/vocals), and Darryl Stevenson, (drums/vocals), the ranks occasionally swell with the likes of singer-songwriter Kat Burns, and a smattering of other friends from Guelph’s bubbling and star-studded independent music scene.
“We really lucked out with the line-up for this album,” Giefert gushes. “Andrew Collins, (of The Sad Clowns and the Faceless Lazers), plays bass and keys, and he engineered the album. Jesse Whiteside, (of the Merkies), plays pedal steel and lead guitars. As soon as we started rehearsing the songs with Andrew and Jesse, Darryl and I knew this was the right line-up and arrangement for the new songs.
“I think we will probably work with Kat again in the future,” he continues, “but for this record, we were going for a bit of a darker feel. We wanted to keep the backing vocals very subtle on a lot of the songs. Throwing a female vocal into the mix does change the dynamics quite a bit. It almost changes the picture the song is trying to paint. It can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you do it.”

Dubbed Orchard Songs, the new record is a little darker than their debut, (2005’s Dirty Water Flows), but it’s also a more coherent, full-blooded record. There’s more muscle behind the songs, like the suicidal playfulness of “More To Dying”, and the dust-bowl road anthem “Coastal Town”, which owns a depth that betrays the simplicity of its arrangement. Rich with rolling, brushed snares, bouncing, percussive acoustic guitars, and the sad/hopeful evocations of Giefert, (“I’ll miss my friends, and I’ll miss my family, but the land beyond holds something for me”). The masterful, mournful pedal steel work of Whiteside, and Giefert and Stevenson’s silky-subtle harmonies do much to buoy the songs, but the greater attention paid to the album’s production definitely paid off as well.
“Orchard Songs was recorded at Pipe Street Studio in Guelph. James Gordon’s Studio,” says Giefert. “It was produced and engineered by Evan Gordon and Andrew Collins and mastered by Andy Magoffin, (coincidentally, the miracle-man behind Royal City’s catalogue). Working with Evan and Andrew was great. We gave them demos early on in the summer and they were instantly excited about the project. Darryl and I four-tracked all the songs in the spring and realized very early on that we wanted a very minimalist, organic sound for the record. Pipe Street was perfect. We feel good about how the record turned out.”
So now, with a new record to add to Guelph’s already rich history of excellent, adventurous, classic music, the Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy are ready to give Orchard Songs its public birth at the Ebar on November 16th. They’ll be joined by the equally talented, (and somewhat spiritual/musical brethren), Ox. Despite high expectations and critical laudings, Giefert’s goals are typically modest for the future of Guelph’s next great band.
“We will be booking as many shows as we can and just sending the record out to campus radio. Our show will feature much nudity, fake blood, cops, tears, smiles, and applause.” - Echo Magazine

"Dark nights of tragedy"

Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy "Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy" (Orchard Songs 2007)

Dark nights of tragedy

There’s something overwhelmingly beautiful about a band that manages to convey darkness as well as Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy. Truly, is it a good band that can make you feel happier listening to a melancholic song than any happy song. This band manages to achieve that.

There’s a good vibe about this album. The vocals are fantastic throughout the album, and there is something slightly haunting about them. At times it seems as if they are nonchalantly sung, yet they fit perfectly into the sadness of the songs. ‘Bandit’ is a well-built song – all instruments and vocals add power to song at the right times, effortlessly emphasising key areas of the song. ‘Sad Song’ again has a raw power to it. The guitar work is spot-on, and the backing vocals are used in all the right places.

A fine piece of work, and a reminder of the changing times of what was once called ‘country’.

Date review added: Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Reviewer: Aled Roberts
Reviewers Rating: 7 out of 10
Related web link: Band Homepage

- americana u.k

"Live review from Halifax Pop Explosion"

The Khyber is usually filled with an ‘art’ crowd on any given night but on Saturday night, there was a nice mix between the old red walls. This was partly due to the ‘rural’ crowd that THT drew in. Those who did not know of the three lads that comprise THT were in for a special treat.
Members Brad, Roger, and Darryl are from a small town outside Guelph, Ontario where they focussed on the craft of making music. Their country rock instrumentation is quite minimal but they have deep harmonies that portray pop sensibilities. Their comfortably catchy songs that seem improvised at times got the eclectic crowd nodding their heads in enjoyment imagining they were back on the farm, sitting upon haystacks and sharing conversations. The only thing missing was the sound of crickets chirping in the background.
--- Lindsay Dobbin - Umbrella Music

"Review of self-titled e.p."

I’m what they call “city-folk.” I enjoy a paved street, pizza delivery and a bank machine within walking distance. On that walk, I’ll pass many a garage containing the drum kits and dreams of bands I may soon review. Music made in a garage carries with it certain textures: concrete and paint, unleaded gas, an old Big Wheel and broken hockey sticks to name a few. The Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy has none of this. They’re what I call “country-folk” and they make music in a barn. Wooden beams and diesel gas, husky jeans and checkered shirts bought from mail-order catalogues, pitchforks and muddy patch cables. This forerunner of a “barn-band” carries with it a spirit of genre blending and merited independence. Each member of this trio fills his instrumental role in cultivated form while their vocals harmonize with rustic charm. Regardless of whether you’re country or city folk, put this EP on around twilight and listen ‘til the cows come home. (Kieran Dick) - Broken Pencil 2004 - issue 24 - pp. 87


There are some artists who can do no wrong. Well, they can release shit-albums, but when someone like Neil Young, or Jeff Tweedy, or Bill Callahan puts out a record that sounds like you’re getting punched in the ear, you always give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s because their catalogues already burst with treasure and the odd miss-step is forgivable, but more likely it’s because you understand that they did not set out to make an album that you wouldn’t enjoy, (except maybe in the case of *Trans*, or Lou Reed’s *Metal Machine Music*). These are artists who create because they must, because it is inside of them and it needs to come out, regardless of whether or not it’s palatable. That lends the music a purity, a strength of heart that cannot be denied. Guelph’s Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy know this well.

“Our influences are all over the place,” explains guitarist/vocalist Brad Geifert. “We have always strived to create original songs and if that means not achieving commercial success, so be it. I think one thing we might have in common with those artists is the idea of making music with personality and depth. Whether or not we are successful, we continue to develop and move forward.”

Geifert and guitarist/drummer/vocalist Darryl Stevenson are the core of the Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy. Formed in 2002, the band has seen many contributors come and go, and all with increasing success. In 2003 they released a self-titled EP with their friend Roger McDougall strumming the bass guitar. That EP’s murky murder-ballads ended up being quite embraced by the indie community, culminating in a high-profile showcase at the 2003 Halifax Pop Explosion. In 2004, Innes Wilson replaced McDougall and Graeme Danko signed on as a multi-instrumentalist. With the new quartet, the Hellfarm hit the studio and cut their 2005 full-length, *Dirty Water Flows*.

“When we started rehearsing with Graeme it really changed a lot of the songs; he really filled in the gaps. When it came time to record, it was great cause he would pull out his trumpet or accordion and say ‘let me try something here.’ I think overall on that album we wanted a bigger, more professional sound. Let’s call it an enhanced lo-fi sound. We have always recorded our own material, but with this project I think we spent a little too much on it and maybe over did it in certain places. That said, I am very happy with *Dirty Water Flows*. I’m just looking forward to more space and atmosphere on the new album. It’ll be a little darker, a little more stripped-down. Closer to the EP.”

*Dirty Water Flows* is a triumph on many levels, deftly combining the tuneful Americana of *Music From Big Pink* with the mysterious, whiskey-numbed melancholy of the Palace Brothers. It’s heavy stuff, built for broken hearts and waking up drunk. The Hellfarm has been quiet of late while Geifert and Stevenson demo new tunes, but they’re coming to Kitchener’s Boathouse on April 8th to play with Toronto’s Kat Burns, with whom they’ve been sharing many songs lately.

“We were playing an after party at a friend’s house in Guelph and Darryl and I got really drunk and somehow convinced Kat to sing on the record. A couple months later our friend Ricky called and said ‘Kat really wants to sing on your record. You’d better call her.’ I thought she had forgotten or written us off as drunken fools. We have been playing shows with her ever since. Kat’s new record is going to knock the moustaches off this great nation of ours.”

Get to the Boathouse on April 8th. Get yer moustache knocked clean off. Hot Kid opens.
- echo magazine

"Review of Dirty Water Flows"

Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy
Dirty Water Flows


By Jason Schneider
June 03, 2005

The debut full-length from this Guelph quartet opens with the quietly menacing “Ballad of Sir January Frank,” which sets the tone for a spooky ride through the backwoods of Ontario. With a mix of twang, feedback, and old-fashioned storytelling, the band most readily recall the paradoxical sound of My Morning Jacket. As a group, they equally manage the arrangements well, with each member chipping in on vocals and a variety of instruments. And while the album starts off slow the THT get up to sufficient rocking speed on “Good Old Gal,” and the Cracker-ish, horn-driven “Thin Rose & Tall.” Although Dirty Water Flows may be too far on the lo-fi end of the spectrum for some listeners, that attitude lends a Basement Tapes-like charm to songs such as “Whiskey & Cryin’” and “You Ain’t Nothin’ (That I Ain’t Ever Had).” Overall, the THT are a refreshing new presence on the Canadian alt-country scene.
- Exclaim Magazine


Orchord Songs - November 2006
Dirty Water Flows l.p. released March 2005
Live @ The Kyber (Halifax Pop Explosion) 2003
Self-titled 5-song e.p. released July 2003



“Truly, it is a good band that can make you feel happier listening to a melancholic song than any happy song.” Americana U.K

Founding member and songwriter Brad Giefert along with drummer and collaborator Darryl Stevenson have honed a haunting brand of Canadian rural country rock. Formed in 2003 just outside of Guelph, Ontario, Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy produced a self-titled E.P. that spawned touring through Ontario and eastern Canada including the 2003 Halifax Pop Explosion. The E.P. was followed by 2005 full length release “Dirty Water Flows” that gained play and attention with Canadian college and university radio and press.

2007 saw the release of a more realized “Orchard Songs” for which THT sought the help and talents of No-Fi Millitant production duo Evan Gordon and Andrew Collins. Collins also took up bass duties for the record, and Jesse Sam Whiteside was recruited for guitar and pedal steel. In this formation THT played a number of Ontario dates on bills with the likes of Cuff the Duke, and the Sadies, and embarked on an Eastern Canadian tour in spring 2007 with Guelph's Evan Gordon and the Sad Clowns.

Orchard Songs has fetched enthusiastic reviews from Exclaim magazine and Americana U.K. The single “True Love Killed My True Love's Love for Me” spent 11 weeks on CBC Radio 3 charts, and was included in Grant Lawrence's top 10 favourite songs of 2007. New tracks from the band can be heard on Guelph released compilations by Out of Sound records, No- Fi Millitants and the upcoming CFRU 93.3 compilation.