The Soirée
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The Soirée

Band Pop Rock


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"The Soiree Hooked On Ever-evolving Sound"

By ALLAN WIGNEY -- Ottawa Sun

Local quartet The Soiree prefers to let the music do the talking. "We don't have a hook," guitarist Bryce Colenbrander says apologetically. "We don't have an angle."

They are, rather, just another band whose songwriters (Colenbrander and bassist Matthew Arnold) have been collaborating for a decade, whose members routinely swap instruments onstage and whose ever-evolving music has in the past year developed from to something entirely more original.

The songwriting was born of high school buddies wanting to be Sloan. The instrument swapping is, according to guitarist/bassist/pianist Mike Armstrong, partly in response to the simple fact that, well, "It's hard to sing and play bass."

And the sound?

Well, that's where things get interesting.


"We had a lot of country songs we were rehearsing at Little Bullhorn Studios," Colenbrander explains, "and then they had to close the rehearsal hall after some complaints about the noise -- which sent us on a bit of a break.

"When we got together again the country stuff was kind of siphoned off."

In its place (or, to be fair, in addition to the country influences) can be heard an intelligent pop-oriented sound inspired by the likes of local band Kepler.

"We recognized," Armstrong says, "that the country thing was getting a bit cheesy."

To date, The Soiree is represented on disc only by a worthy country-rock EP released last spring.

But the band, which is completed by drummer Eric Roberts, is anxious to document the new and improved Soiree sound.

"I'm huge on making a record," Colenbrander says. "For me, that's the priority. Playing live is a way to hone the craft, but if we're going to give this a serious try we need a CD."

That, and a hook. - The Ottawa Sun

"Putting The Old Stuff To Bed"

Jennifer Tattersall - THE OTTAWA EXPRESS

Things are turning up roses for one local indie-rock act. After line-up changes and a year of writing songs, The Soirée stealthily emerged out of the practice space and into the live Ottawa arena in the spring of 2004.

By July, the band received a surprise and somewhat unprecedented push when an unreleased demo landed in the hands of a few notables and subsequently secured the #42 spot on that month's Earshot Campus/Community Music Chart, compiled from radio airplay on campus radio stations across Canada. Top 10 positions in off-the-beaten-track places such as Prince George and Kamloops, B.C. had much to do with it.

Although singer-guitarist Bryce Colenbrander says he might consider burning a copy for anyone who really wanted it, the demo is not for sale. The band says the country-tinged older songs do not really fit with how the band has developed in the year since it was recorded.

"The old stuff is less representative of what we will sound like and what we are excited about," says singer-guitarist Matthew Arnold.

The Soirée plans to begin recording a "real" debut record in September at Little Bullhorn Studios. They team up with rising Can-indie act Raised By Swans for a gig at Zaphod's this Saturday August 6, $5. - The Ottawa Express

"Warming Up To Us"

The Soirée's debut : a cause to throw a party

The influence of this city on the Canadian music scene will always be a subject of much heated debate. For Ottawa's The Soirée, the answer really doesn't need to be argued. Singer/guitarist Bryce Colenbrander has a deep appreciation for the musical history of Ottawa in bands like Snailhouse and Kepler, and it shows up in every note of the band's debut, Birds. "In growing up, listening to and being influenced by these Ottawa-based bands, along with their forerunners and their peers, certain common elements were bound to creep into our songs. It is flattering to be compared to bands that we think so highly of, and while we have become conscious of similarities, we in no way approach the band or the process with particular reference points in mind."
From the opening notes of Good Night's Sleep to the climax of the incredible Clear and Colourblind, there's a loping, steady beat that reminds of Ottawa's ubiquitously low-key indie rock sound, but which is tweaked with enough folk/country influence to keep things grounded.

The Soirée's connection to Ottawa doesn't just extend to the city's familiar bands, as main songwriters Colenbrander and Matthew Arnold have been writing together for over a decade and the band's been in Ottawa since 2002. And, dammit, they love the place.

"Great things are going on in Ottawa and have been for many years. It just so happens that it's remained our little secret. With so many talented people working so passionately on music and art in general,

it truly is a great place to exist on a creative level. In that way it helps. It would be hard to make a defensible case for Ottawa being a hindering environment. Maybe it is harder to get noticed on a national level, but that is certainly not our primary concern. The creative aspects should always be central, so Ottawa is a great place to be."

In the end, Birds excels since it exudes a lovely intimacy that allows you to fully wrap yourself in their welcoming sound. But what sound would that be? Colenbrander, like any musician, seems wary of pinning it down. "As for whether we have a sound, I really hope not. Another local band has called us the 'warmest' band in Ottawa. I don't know exactly what that means, but I can live with that."
- The Ottawa Xpress

"Do You Hear What I Hear"


Well, sort of. Bryce Colenbrander of The Soiree stresses that for his band, it feels like the first time.

"The first CD was only intended to be a demo to get us shows," he notes. "We hadn't played prior to that. But it got into the hands of people at CHUO who played it, and we eventually decided we may as well send it out and see what happens. But two weeks after we'd finished recording, we were already beyond it."

The talented quartet's EP is indeed a pale reflection of the band that will hit Irene's stage Saturday. Birds, the full-length debut, serves up many styles -- from the peppy, poppy Good Night's Sleep through the folky, contemplative Clear and Colourblind. But country ain't exactly one of them. (Even if one track, Turn This Car Around, was previously on the EP ... in a radically different arrangement.)

"It all shifted almost with that specific song," Colenbrander says of Clear and Colourblind. "Matt (Arnold, who shares songwriting duties for the band) brought that in and it made me think, 'Holy crap, I have to write good songs now.'

"You know, the country thing was on the verge of parody by then. That song challenged me -- us -- to bring it up a notch."
- The Ottawa Sun

"The Soiree's Double Vision"

By FATEEMA SAYANI -- Ottawa Citizen

Two singers, two songwriters, two visions -- one that's folky and jumbled, another that's laid back and more rock 'n' roll. There's the mix that gives the Soiree its sound, evident on the new album Birds, on which Bryce Colenbrander (guitar) and Matthew Arnold (bass) share writing duties, with the help of Eric Roberts (percussion) and Mike Armstrong (guitar, piano).

The songwriters take different routes, but end up at the same place, playing warmed-over, slowburner country-rock tracks that would find fans among Department of Foreign Affairs followers.

"A lot of my songs are written on a steel-string acoustic because that's what I have around the house," says Colenbrander, who also plays with the Soft Disaster. Arnold starts out composing on a nylon-string classical guitar before bringing songs to the band, though that's not the only explanation for their different approaches. Colenbrander is heavily attached to his songs -- he speaks about them while pulling at his hair and straining for the right words. Arnold is satisfied with a quip about "little lyrical bits" and comes up with a zinger to describe his bandmate's work: Slow Dances for Northern Ontario (yuks all around).

The band would benefit by playing up their differences -- and humour. At times, the 10 songs sound too similar and a bit sleepy. Standout tracks like Coldest Day on Record and On For Good resonate when they go from a hush to a roar -- much like the band's front men. The Soiree's CD-release show takes place Saturday at Irene's Pub, 885 Bank St., with guest Alanna Stuart. 9 p.m. $7.
- The Ottawa Citizen


"birds" 2006
Debut Full Length

The Soirée EP 2004
"Airplane" reaching #42 on canadian campus/community radio charts, and remained on the charts for 5 months.

Songs available at and



For the past three years, The Soirée have been honing their songwriting skills and quietly making a name for themselves in Ottawa's burgeoning indie-rock community. What started out as a songwriting project has turned into a serious affair that sees the band releasing their musically ambitious first full-length recordentitled "birds".

Recorded over the course of a year at Little Bullhorn Studios with producer Dave Draves (Howe Gelb, Julie Doiron, Kathleen Edwards), The Soirée took their time to delicately capture the intricate layers of sound that have made their live appearances so notable. While the songs are firmly rooted in the traditions of pop music, experiments with instrumentation and song structures are present throughout the album. Melodies are woven seamlessly through voice and
instrumentation, creating full, deep sonic textures that never abandon the pop sensibilities that are at the core of the songs.

In 2004 The Soirée released a self-titled, hand-assembled EP which reached #42 on the national Campus/Community Radio (!earshot) chart
despite limited distribution. The Soirée have shared the stage with bands such as Kepler, Islands, Snailhouse, Jon-Rae & the River.
Suitable musical comparisons and influences include The Sea & Cake, Wilco, The Wooden Stars, and Royal City.

Matthew Arnold (bass, vocals) and Bryce Colenbrander (guitar, vocals) (also a member of The Soft Disaster) have been writing songs and
playing music together since 1995. Eric Roberts (percussion) and Bryce met while attending the University of Guelph in 1997, and after lending many records back and forth Eric became a regular at the sporadic practices. In 2002 the three found themselves in the same city once again, and decided to get organized. Mike Armstrong (guitar,
piano) was added, bringing a whole new dimension to the developing songs, and triggering a shift from a distinctly country tendency,towards a richer and more diverse blend of sounds. The current configuration of The Soirée was here established, and it continues to experiment with songs and sounds, creating music and singing their
hearts out.