that's the spirit

that's the spirit

 Ottawa, Ontario, CAN

If Andrew Bird fronted Yo La Tengo, That's the Spirit would at least be listening in the front row, if not actually being the pleasing space-folk-pop that ensues.


When Ottawa, Canada music scene staple Ben Wilson (aka That's the Spirit) released his first, ultra lo-fi cassette E.P. 'I Like His Older Stuff' on a whim, he didn't figure much would happen. 'Older Stuff', after all, was recorded with two ghetto blasters, a broken Radio Shack mic, a cracked classical guitar and an ancient delay pedal that caught fire during recording.

A while later, though, a web search revealed the uniquely haunting basement recording was hitting the top 10 on college radio charts. While Wilson's other bands (Polytones, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Kelp Records' beloved Paperjack) continued to draw crowds, a new buzz was developing in the form of That's the Spirit, which gave Wilson a chance to put his own stamp on things, coming from more of a My Bloody Valentine/Iron and Wine/Yo La Tengo-type place. A classically-trained pianist with a degree in Music, Wilson's as experienced composing for film and TV (including compositions for the NFB, HGTV and CBC) as he is putting out rock records. But it was the serious inspiration derived from his lo-fi-cassette solo success that led him to set out recording a proper solo album in early 2008 -- written, recorded, mixed and produced himself in true DIY/control-freak fashion. This time with more higher-fi studio trickery he'd picked up as a recording apprentice, and without anything exploding.

The press, radio and blog love-in that has followed the release of 'Staying Places' has been exponential since the original release: the UK's Line of Best Fit called it "a spotless, near-perfect release"; The Ottawa Sun called it "breathtaking" and Soundproof Magazine called it "one of Wilson's most inspired projects to date." Described by NPR's All Songs Considered as "gorgeous [with] intricate arrangements", 'Staying Places' is played on stations from commercial radio in the UK, to the BBC, to the CBC, to college radio in Canada and the U.S. Since the release, the five-piece space-folk outfit has been selected to play some of the hottest festivals in Canada, including showcases at Toronto's North by Northeast, Canadian Music Week and Pitter Patter Festival, at Calgary's Sled Island Festival, opening for Flaming Lips on the main stage at Ottawa's Bluesfest, and was hand-picked by Apostle of Hustle to open a tour spot. The band was a pick of the month in Electronic Musician Magazine, and the song "Head for the Hills" was featured on Degrassi: The Next Generation, airing in 130 countries.

A travel-themed album, made 'for explorers and armchair travellers alike', 'Staying Places' is winning over new fans and charting new courses for Wilson and his band.

Live, a combination of folks round out the band's compelling, unique performance, including Nicholas Dyson (once a sideman for Gladys Knight) on trumpet, Tom Thompson (pedal steel guitarist for Kathleen Edwards and Jim Bryson), Brennan Pilkington on drums and Simon Wright (Village Bicycles) on bass, combined with loops, rhodes organ and samples.

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Publicity/Contact: Ben Wilson, (613) 608-0290


Every City

Written By: That's the Spirit

Perched up on a tower in the heart of the city / I can feel the body breathing /
The birds are angling / The buildings swinging / In the sundial arc of evening / And every vein's got to account for something / in this building's heartbeat, pumping / Love to the levels above / You know the more that I look / The more that I see / The birds come singing back to me.


Written By: That's the Spirit

Well the best intentions / And the greatest of plans / Can be the strangest investments / When you can't turn back / To the green pins marking where you've been / It's sort of orienteering / But that may not have been a good comparison / Well the best intentions / Got me lost in the forest, stumbling / Into a quiet little village at 1am / Now I'm drinking at the Good Intent / And thinking somehow reaching the end could've been / Some enabling movement / And that may not have been a good comparison / Semi-itinerant, un-set-up / And made a mess of it all / Chalk it up to lack of strength or inexperience / With my ropes and figure-eight all messed up / To me it's nothing at all.


Staying Places (Antique Room Records, Canada release date (CD) and International (digitally): September 23, 2008)

I Like His Older Stuff (Antique Room Records, re-released 2007, independent, streaming mp3s available at

Set List

set = 40 mins. approx (can play longer or shorter as necessary)

1. orienteering
2. head for the hills
3. always coming back
4. the blue of distance
5. epic advice
6. every city
7. unmake me
8. now yr the one
9. it's curtains for you
10. lost in the middle 8
11. made up my mind
12. nearer, my sleep, to thee