the kramdens
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the kramdens


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"The Kramdens"

There is a generation of Canadian bands worthy of the elder statesmen status in the scene, as their music, know it or not, has influenced thousands of young Canadian bands throughout the past decade. Some like The Rheostatics, Sloan, Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo have garnered the popularity deserved of their music, while others still march on, despite critical acclaim never translating into sales. Those, such as Wooden Stars and the Fat Cats have inspired countless bands, but do not sell out stadiums. Instead, their music remains quietly influential. The Kramdens, like the aforementioned, shares the same ground. Unfortunately, they have never achieved the acclaim they deserve, despite being consistently active throughout their 17 year career. Last week saw the release of their fourth studio album, and it is about time the quintet receive the acclaim they deserve. Like The Rheostatics or The Boo Radley’s, The Kramdens have mastered consistent, intelligent and quirky pop rock. Loads of bands sound like them, yet they have always found a way to sound better than those bands emulating their craft. It’s time to give them the attention they deserve for once. But this is entirely different record than what Kramdens fans are used to. It’s usually louder and more brackish than what’s on offer here. Still, the core melodies, attention to detail and clever, insightful lyricism are all there, further magnified by the band’s experience and history. “Funny, I had an interesting encounter with a guy who really likes us who said that he didn’t like this record as much because it didn’t “rock out” like the last one,” explains vocalist, pianist and CBC Radio 3 host Craig Norris. “We didn’t realize until the record was finished that there are a lot of mid-tempo stuff on it. But frankly, this record is closest to the kind of music that I like to listen to than anything we’ve done previously.” Recorded at their home studio in Guelph over an 18- month period, the self-titled effort is more subdued and drawn out than what usual Kramdens fare, but it’s also deeper and more mature, showcasing the band’s understanding of a scene that developed because of their efforts. Still, for Norris, this is a record that is decidedly framed in the present, as these songs do not hark back to the history of The Kramdens. Instead, it focuses on their progression and current strengths. “Consciously, we were trying to focus and capture where we are right now. Sonically, it’s our best record for sure. Our playing is better and the songs are the most fully realized ones thus far,” beams Norris. “We also had to shake the idea that songs on the record have to be limited by whether or not they can reproduced live. Recorded songs and live songs are two different animals. So, of course, it focused on an equilibrium between the two.” Yet, throughout the 18-month process, it was the lyrics that pained Norris the most. Far and wide, this record took the most out of Norris lyrically that the previous three. “On this record I agonized over lyrics,” explains Norris. “In the past, I tended to be really obtuse and I think that I was losing the connection I had with people through lyrics. Communicating a story or in some cases even a mood was my goal with this record more than any other. And even though some of the songs lean towards symbolism, you can pretty much apply most of them to yourself, I hope. More than ever before, I examined every sentence to make sure that I was saying what I wanted to say in the most economical way. And in that sense, I don’t think that The Kramdens have really captured what we’re about until this record.” “Still, the only real challenge, lyrically and musically for us here, was to make a more interesting record than the last one,” continues Norris. “For me, personally, the challenge was to really work on my lyrics to make them less metaphorical and more tangible and accessible for people. Plus, there are a few reasons that it took two years to finish; recording ourselves had its pitfalls in that when you can over-think things, you do. Plus, it took me an inordinate amount of time to finish the lyrics.” The Kramdens will celebrate the release of their fourth album in their 17-year career with a CD release show this week at the Albion Hotel. Norris is excited for the show, the first the band will have played in a while, and one where the quintet promises tracks off the new record, in addition to older standards and familiarities. “Our modus operandi for shows has not changed since day one,” concludes Norris. “We play with an audience, not to an audience. We’ve gotten to the point where our playing is almost always great, but the shows really take off when we engage and involve the audience. One thing we have been doing lately is going back into the older records and resurrecting some songs that we haven’t played for awhile, so aside from the new ones, expect some surprises as well.” - ECHO Weekly

"Review by Bob Klanac"

We really don't deserve the kramdens. This Guelph-based band hones the best kind of alt-pop this side of the New Pornographers. Yet after a decade, they're mostly unknown. A cursory comparison to the decidedly less gifted Matthew Good Band makes this conundrum almost cruel. But soldier on they must and do with Quiet Collision, a wonderful, blazing, guitar-pop record. Deft at times (the plaintive, And Then I Was) and astonishing at others (the opener, Sometimes I Feel begs to be heard on a car radio). The kramdens are certainly one of this country's best-kept secrets. - SCENE Magazine

"Review by Justin Anderson"

This Guelph, Ont. band has been together for more than a decade, quietly accumulating critical praise and respect from the industry for its tenacity and work ethic, not to mention its ability to craft tuneful alt.pop. After releasing two independent albums -- 1997's semi-stylish and 1999's Radio for Now -- the kramdens have just signed a deal with EMI-distributed Sextant Records for the release of QUIET COLLISION. Lead single Sometimes I Feel was a Canadian Music Network Hit Pick and is already getting attention at rock stations on the west coast. Tracks like Down To The Palace show the band's touch for hooky guitar pop, while the instrumental (theme from) Nicotine and Disappointment is a great example of the band's tight sound. Maybe This Fluorescent Light has a slight Celtic feel similar to Great Big Sea or Spirit Of The West, while And Then I Was is a beautifully rendered bit of melodic pop. A cover of New Order's Love Vigilantes is loaded with single potential, as are Breakwall and I Am The Factory, and all have great radio-friendly sounds. As long as the band keeps turning out records as great as QUIET COLLISION, the kramdens should stick around for at least another 10 years. - Canadian Music Network Magazine


1997 ...semi-stylish (DROG)
1999 Radio for Now (DROG)
2002 Quiet Collision (Sextant Records / EMI)
2005 XV (Independent)
2008 The Kramdens (Sunny Lane Records)



In the 18 years The Kramdens have been together, they’ve seen a lot. The road trips. The sound checks. The highs & lows. And countless changes to a scene that has made both artists and labels shrug and throw their arms up in the air. But throughout all these experiences, they’ve grown, learned, persevered, and developed a reputation for writing and performing well-crafted songs and playing them to an audience that becomes as much a part of the show as the band.
Their latest self-titled album, released in November 2008 by Sunny Lane Records (Fontana North), showcases their songwriting coming of age. A more focused, textured and insightful sound has developed from their 18-month foray into their own studio, painstakingly finding the right sound, the right arrangement, the right words to create an album completely unlike their previous efforts. With songs ranging from the familiar roots and pop rock sound the band has been known for, to more introspective ballads, this album is a significant departure for the band. Fronted by CBC Radio 3 host Craig Norris, The Kramdens have performed at countless bars, clubs, festivals and benefits over the years. They have been a repeat favourite at the Hillside Festival, and their performance at this year’s 25th anniversary festival was broadcast on CBC Radio 2’s Canada Live this past November. Known for getting crowds of all kinds on their feet and dancing, the band has proven versatile enough to entertain equally in any venue, tailoring shows to their crowd and delighting audiences at every turn.