the august arrival
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the august arrival

Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada | SELF

Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"The August Arrival make time for music"

Whitehorse band The August Arrival take their time with their music. The band has been playing a few gigs around the territory over the last couple of years, including several performances at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival.

They've just released their first CD, Skyline Goodbyes.

Click below to hear Dave speak with the band's Sara and Phil MacDonald and Mike Vandermark.
- CBC Radio

"Review: The August Arrilval - Skyline Goodbyes EP"

I'm a little envious of the august arrival. Not only do they live in Canada (and really, who doesn't want to hail from the same country as the Kids in the Hall gang?), but they still have full-time jobs, families, children, and time on the side to be in a band. Seriously, just think of the random conversations you could have with strangers:

Stranger: Hey, so, what do you like to do for fun?
You: Oh, you know, the usual. Since having my son/daughter, he/she really takes up a lot of my time. Oh, and I'm in a band.

Right? Right?! That's the dream, right there.

And, much like Handsome Furs, Mates of State, the Weepies, and Arcade Fire, founding members Sara & Phil MacDonald are married. Why is this notable? Because, prior to a gig or recording session, they get to avoid the following conversation:

Husband: Baby I gotta go.
Wife: Oh, come on, stay with me.
Husband: Baby (because all men begin our lines in this conversation with "baby"), the band needs me.
Wife: What about me? I need you.
Husband: Baby, I'm sorry, I'm already late.
Wife: If you walk out that door...

Yadda yadda. You can see where this is going. Not so for the august arrival! I can't even get my wife to read this blog, and Phil gets to perform alongside his lead singer of a wife. Jenny, you have been put on notice.

Finally, I envy the august arrival because, like fellow Canadian e. e. cummings*, they have liberated themselves from the Shift key. That is a paradise about which I can only fantasize. Alas, I may never reach its lowercase gates.

Anyway, intrepid reader, you have made it this far and are probably wondering, "Greg, what's the deal with this enviable august arrival band?" But here's the great thing: the Internet, in all its streamy glory, has made it so that my words are meaningless. You can listen to the august arrival's debut EP, skyline goodbyes, for free on the band's bandcamp page. Hooray!

For those too lazy, apprehensive, or lacking in speakers, I offer you these words: The august arrival is worth clicking the link above. EP opener "Sun too will die" broods like an acoustic Warpaint (incidentally, also Canadian**), stripped of the undulating bass or heavy reverb. The lack of sonic density gives Sara MacDonald's vocals well-deserved space to dominate these six tracks. There's a bit of a Mazzy Star ("Fade Into You") quality to her voice, particularly on tracks like "Lifting." Likewise, I remember reading an interview several years ago with Blake Sennett, reflecting on the early days of Rilo Kiley, in which he said something about recognizing that his band needed shift focus onto Jenny Lewis' vocals. I may have made that up, but there's a hazy memory of something to that effect. Anyway, the august arrival have already figured out that Sara's voice should be the driving force of the band; her talented bandmates do an excellent job of augmenting her lyrics without getting in the way of her formidable vocal performances.

That being said, some of skyline goodbye's brightest moments feature electric guitar, such as in "My way" and "Through it all." The latter song simmers over most of its 4 minutes and 45 seconds, slowly building to its climactic conclusion. As Sara belts out her most powerful performance of the EP, an electric guitar sneaks in, intertwining with the violin to close the album in a grand fashion. It gives a glimpse of where the band might go in the future, suggesting that big things are in store for the august arrival, as long as they can find time in their busy schedules to get there. - Given and Takin in Ink

"The August Arrival - CD Review"

Hailing from the extremities of Canada (Whitehorse, Yukon), The August Arrival is on a mission to invade the rest of Canada. EPs are designed to have the influence of an album in a more condensed preview, and this debut of six tracks does just that. Showcasing a positive, raw sound that is sure to catch your attention along with high energy vocals by lead singer Sara MacDonald, the proof is in the tunes Presidents and My Way. Fleshed out by heartwarming acoustics and drum tracks, The August Arrival is well on its way to newfound fame, or at least your record collection. Hopefully, full-time jobs, kids and geographical remoteness don’t slow down this sextet.

by Jared Gauthier (Production Manager) - The Uniter - Winnpeg's Weekly Urban Journal

"Review – “Skyline Goodbyes” – The August Arrival"

Whitehorse’s The August Arrival combines emotional songwriting and stripped down acoustic folk songs on their EP, Skyline Goodbyes.

The voice of lead singer Sara MacDonald is obviously strong but what really makes her standout is the passion behind her songwriting. The clear emotion expressed throughout the album will set apart MacDonald from other female singer/songwriters.

The melancholic opening track, “Sun Too Will Die” is one of the simpler tracks but begins the E.P. nicely and provides a good opener for the strongest song, “Presidents.” What starts off in a slow fashion, “Presidents” becomes an impressive attempt by the 2:35 minute mark.

The song “Lifting” also proves to be a strong song, showing the strength of the rest of the band, Mike Vandermark (guitar and vocals), Phil MacDonald (bass), and Dorothy Williams (violin) and The August Arrival as a collective entity.

The live recording of “Wild In That Town” proves that the passion behind The August Arrival passion certainly transfers over to a live show while their talent is genuine.

MacDonald and the rest of The August Arrival shows their love for music in their E.P. while the future growth of the band is worth staying tuned for.

Skyline Goodbyes is available through their Bandcamp.

- Laura Stanley - Grayowl Point

"DISCourse: Music to Get Lost In"

There’s a new sound on the Whitehorse folk recording scene: the august arrival.Formed in 2009, the band

consists of Sarah MacDonald on vocals, her husband Phil MacDonald on bass, Michael Vandermark on guitars and Dorothy Williams on violin. Together they form an acoustic-driven folk band with a unique sound.On their debut EP, skyline goodbyes, that sound is mesmerizing. Sarah MacDonald’s vocals are haunting, sad, wise and uplifting all at once, while the music builds through each song, into a high crescendo.It’s music you can get lost in, floating on the surface of each gentle melody until it suddenly stops and drops you back into reality. It’s a sound you can't imagine coming from just four people.

Photo by: Lars Johansson

Lifting is a perfect example of this. Lyrically, it’s a love song for the emotionally exhausted. As MacDonald sings, “You ask me/If I want to stay/I'm too damn tired/to think of walking away”, the band begins, first with Vandermark’s soft acoustic guitar.Then, as she continues, vocalizing “Lifting”, MacDonald is joined by a lap steel and some minimal drums, until the music suddenly drops off and the song ends, all too soon.This pattern is repeated in “Through it all”, where the entire band, including backing vocals and violin, join in just before the song fades, so suddenly, you wonder how that song could have lasted almost five minutes.You want these songs to be longer because they deserve to be longer.The lyrics are sad, lonely and laced with a wisdom that comes from experience without being bitter. I’m tempted to call this “sadcore” but that's too trite for this band.The opening track, “The sun too will die”, a song about the impermanence of relationship (“The house you made love in/Has cracks in the wood”), reveals a kind of comfort, advising its listener: “Only the big storms/Bring life with the tides”.As folk music, it’s different from what I’ve heard in the Yukon music scene before. While other artists lean toward folk-rock, country, quirky lyric-driven indie folk, the august arrival creates a melodic soundscape, like The Cowboy Junkies, Sufjan Stevens or The National.The group’s EP, skyline goodbyes is available on iTunes, CDBaby and The august arrival is also playing at the Whitehorse United Church on Thursday, October 20, at 6:30 as the opening act for Vancouver’s Folk Thief.Outstanding Tracks: “Lifting” and “Through it all”.

Barry “Jack” Jenkins keeps close tab on the Yukon music scene. His DISCourse column reviews and discusses Yukon CDs
- What's Up Yukon


EP - Skyline Goodbyes released in May 2011
Some tracks have received airplay on CBC and local stations.



‘the august arrival’ formed in the spring of 2009. Since then their sound has been described as “an original take on Canada’s folk-rock revival” (Frostbite Festival Producer 2010). Drawing from a wide range of influences, their songs are probably best described as acoustic driven.

They have gained lots of performance experience over the past three years and are really starting to understand what goes in to giving an ‘unguarded’ performance. They have played at: the Frostbite Music Festival, SOS Music Festival (Edmonton, Alberta), the Skagway Alaska International Folk Festival, the Atlin BC Music Festival (2011) and many other venues in and around Whitehorse, Yukon.

They have been fortunate to garner some great local support in the Yukon for both their new EP and for their intimate live shows. They’ve been featured a few times on CBC Radio North and their debut EP was released in May, 2011.

In a review from popular online music blog Grayowl Point it was noted that “the voice of lead singer Sara MacDonald is obviously strong but what really makes her standout is the passion behind her songwriting. The clear emotion expressed throughout the album will set apart MacDonald from other female singer/songwriters.” In the same review, writer Laura Stanley noted that “MacDonald and the rest of the august arrival show their love for music in the EP while the future growth of the band is worth staying tuned for”. They kind of agree, seeing the EP as just a starting point and Sara's emotion is definitely what drives the band, so they're looking forward to trying to 'capture' more of that on their future recordings this winter. Jared Gautier with The Uniter – Winnpeg’s Theyekly had similar comments, recognizing that “EPs are designed to have the influence of an album in a more condensed preview, and this debut of six tracks does just that. Showcasing a positive, raw sound that is sure to catch your attention along with high energy vocals by lead singer Sara MacDonald.... the august arrival is well on their way to newfound fame, or at least your collection… 4 out of 5 stars”

Although, ‘the august arrival’ may not be a name that draws a big dancing crowd to the main stage, they do have a following and could provide some really great intimate live performances in the right venues, aiming for those ‘unguarded’ performances mentioned earlier.