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Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | AFM

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | AFM
Band Alternative Rock


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**** stars.

Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky

Three albums deep into a career already celebrated throughout their home country of Canada, Wintersleep have finally shaken the remnants of a sount that had them commonly described as Canada's answer to Pearl Jam. The members of Wintersleep have some history in Canada's post-punk scene, an influence they haven't abandoned - think Sparta rooted in Sunny Day Real Estate. Welcome To The Night Sky's 11 tracks are rich and heavily textured yet contain enough melody to satisfy even the more insatiable hip-shakers. If it's to be faulted for anything, it's that the album orbits around "Weighty Ghost", a song strong enough to make the others seem like filler. However, a listen to "Archaeologists", "Dead Letter & The Infinite Yes" and "Oblivion" will do much to shake such criticism. Wintersleep have finally become the band they've shown the potential to be, and we're all lucky for it."
-Ben Conoley - Alternative Press Magazine Nov 2008

"Wintersleep: Welcome to the Night Sky"

Welcome to the Night Sky
[Labwork; 2007]
Rating: 7.0

Since winning the coveted Juno Award for achievement in music earlier this year and re-issuing their first two albums with a major label subsidiary (to considerably more success than when they were first released), Wintersleep have sealed their place in the Canadian indie rock canon alongside groups like the Weakerthans and Broken Social Scene. The similarities end there though, as the Nova Scotia quintet instead favor tighter, heavier rock anthems. Wintersleep have found their popular niche and are cautiously experimenting, though that is not to say that they're timid. Like toes grazing icy waters, they have the potential to go farther yet seem to resist, pushing hard against their limits without ever fully stepping outside of them.

Welcome to the Night Sky, Wintersleep's third album, is largely composed of straightforward yet emotional rock comparable to Band of Horses and early R.E.M., particularly on songs like "Astronaut", where singer Paul Murphy's voice soars triumphantly over a jangle of guitars with reassuringly familiar yet effective melodies. Since most of the tracks are between two and four minutes, there is little time for meandering, and Wintersleep have a tendency to cut straight for the gold with infectious guitar lines and persuasive, high-energy choruses. The band's self-control usually works in their favor, however, and they are able to translate grand ideas in a relatively short amount of time so the songs communicate successfully without ever having the opportunity to become exhausting. And although Wintersleep may stick to a fairly loose formula, they also color their music with impressive motifs. The album's organ-driven centerpiece, "Weighty Ghost", sounds like it's channelling Paul Simon with cleverly layered group backing vocals and subtle handclaps that end up making the song more memorable and the sound fully encompassing. Both "Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes" and "Murderer" provide a platform for Murphy's darker musings on mental illness, supported by guitars that twist and swell beneath like they're trying to fight their way out of an unlit maze.

It is drummer and founding member Loel Campbell, however, who provides Wintersleep's magic touch. While the group's songwriting certainly pulls off a trick or two, the end result would have significantly less impact under the treatment of a weaker rhythm section. The passion behind Campbell's attentive, driving beats gives the songs a grittier edge, the lyrics more feeling, and pushes along the rest of the band with a momentum that connects the listener to the song faster than one might anticipate at the outset.

Welcome to the Night Sky has a tendency to sound like accessible indie rock by the numbers-- an empathetic ballad here, a stadium fist-puncher there-- but Wintersleep maintain a strong identity that sets them apart from less interesting contemporaries. It's actually the album's eight-minute closing track, "Miasmal Smoke & the Yellow Bellied Freaks", that shows a different side to the group's potential. Here they slacken the reigns a little, getting lost in an epic swirl of guitar reverb that recalls Explosions in the Sky and keeps building with a determination and inventiveness that will hopefully carry through to further recordings.


"Welcome To The Night Sky (Review)"

Welcome to the Night Sky
Paul Murphy has always been about the big picture. There are songs of love (“Listen, Listen”), lust (“Avalanche”) and politics (“Orca”) in Wintersleep’s catalogue, but Murphy’s lyrics usually address larger life issues. A theme of the band’s 2003 debut was normalcy---“Calibre” and “Assembly Line” questioned what life was supposed to be versus what one wanted it to be and what influenced those choices. The 2005 follow-up dealt with loss (not in the death sense, though it lingered in “Danse Macabre”), as “Faithful Guide” and “Fog” reached out for people Murphy couldn’t touch. On Welcome to the Night Sky, Wintersleep eschews the road stories and sell-out defences a band of its hard-earned stature is usually writing about at this time and instead offers a collection through which the common thread is loneliness, in day-to-day life and in the world. “What will become of us?” Murphy asks (hint: The song is called “Oblivion”). In “Tamborine” he sings “I feel the teeth again/gnawing and imminent,” essentially a thesis statement for the record. Though the lyricist reveals his neuroses, the band has never sounded more confident---Welcome to the Night Sky is epic, sonically and structurally. If you’ve wondered what it’s like to witness an extraordinary scene moment, this is it. Bold and beautiful, Halifax’s best band is no longer just looking at the big picture. It’s the photographer.
-Tara Thorne - The Coast

"Wintersleep New Inheritors Press Quotes May 18-June 17 2010"

“Grand, dramatic tension comes from the Halifax rockers who pair Verve-like strings and staccato guitar riffs with words about an all-consuming condition. This thing hits like a heart attack on heroin.”
- The Globe and Mail

“Finally, some music by a group that’s been around the block a few times! Wintersleep’s fourth CD is by far their best release and plays to all of the band’s considerable strengths. Strong songs, great playing, daring arrangements, and impassioned singing throughout make this an indispensible album… I find it
hard to imagine another Canadian album coming out this year that will be anywhere near it’s equal.”
– No Depression

“There is something new to discover with each listen.”
– Rock Sound

“Wintersleep have finally made their masterpiece.”
– Metro News

“Musically, the band is at their strongest......worth the three year wait.”
– Metro News

“Imagine how good you think the new Wintersleep album is...Now double’s even better than that.”
-iTunes Canada

“Clever, contemplative lyrics rife with brilliant and unconventional imagery flesh out this album’s soul....Wintersleep are certainly at their best”

“The band has seriously grown in sound”
– Eye Weekly

“Great bands always manage to grow with each album while remaining distinct and Wintersleep is a good example of how it’s done”
– Times and Transcript

“This makes it easy to see why so many people fell in love with the band four years ago and why so many more will this time around.”

“New Inheritors has the skilled firepower and big concepts of its predecessor while bringing an even greater immediacy to the sound…Highly recommended.”
- compiled

"New Inheritors No Depression Review"

Finally, some music by a group that’s been around the block a few times! Wintersleep’s fourth CD is by far their best release and plays to all of the band's considerable strengths. Strong songs, great playing, daring arrangements, and impassioned singing throughout make this an indispensible album. Front man Paul Murphy goes deep into the Canadian heart of darkness – through territory marked by Neil Young, The Wheatpool and Michael Timmins on a bad day – to offer twelve moody ‘reports from the interior’ that insinuate themselves deeply into the listener’s psyche from the outset.

Haunting string arrangements and hollow aching bass lines provide the backdrop for Murphy’s increasingly brooding guitar excursions. Though his playing doesn’t sound especially like Neil Young’s, the textures and slow motion tragedies that his tone evokes are extremely reminiscent of the emotional palette the elder Canadian coaxes out of ‘old black’ when his muse is riding high. Songs like “Experience the Jewel”, “Blood Collection” and “Echolocation” take the listener on journeys through some very staggering sonic territory while at the same time offering mature, literate musings that never wear thin with repetition.

‘New Inheritors’ represents the fruition of Wintersleep’s artistic vision, and may be the album that exposes them to a wider audience. Spend some time listening; 'New Inheritors' is a slow burning record that reveals its character gradually. I find it hard to imagine another Canadian album coming out this year that will be anywhere near its equal. - No Depression

"Wintersleep Gets Adventurous"

It took less than a year for Halifax quartet Wintersleep to morph from experimental side project into one of the city’s biggest draws. After a handful of high-profile opening slots for Ron Sexsmith, Sam Roberts and Broken Social Scene, the band was selling out every room in town.

In a region coasting on a decade’s worth of New Seattle buzz, with its fabled, mostly lost record deals and ironic hairstyles, that a four-piece with roots in small town Nova Scotia and the humble hardcore and punk scenes of the city could meld those things together and emerge as one of the most hyped acts in years — and sound nothing like Sloan while doing it — indicates that Halifax might finally be ready to move on.

Wintersleep, the band’s second release (its 2003 debut was also self-titled), could be the album to convert the whole country. More adventurous and expansive than the first — some of the vocal arrangements border on choral — its effusive epics, restrained ballads and full-on rockers comprise a perfect showcase of the Wintersleep aesthetic: driving, sharp percussion, Tim D’Eon’s guitars going from shimmer to shriek in an instant and Paul Murphy’s ethereal vocals, which have tightened up and smoothed out considerably since the last full-length.

By Tara Thorne - Exclaim! Magazine

"Wintersleep At A Glance (April 2008)"

•WINNER: 2008 Juno Award for New Group of The Year

•First single “Weighty Ghost” released to radio late August, 2007, where it quickly rose to the top 10 on national rock radio charts. The song is still charting after 23 weeks.

•“Weighty Ghost” was featured as the Free Single of the Week resulting in over 14,000 downloads. The album was a featured release on iTunes the week of release and remains one of the “Editor’s Picks” for 2007.

•The video for “Weighty Ghost” was added in medium rotation at Much Music and in heavy rotation on Much More Music, where it is currently charting on the top 20 countdown. It hit #1 in late February.

•Wintersleep has received two 2008 Juno Award nominations for New Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year. They also received the Favourite Rock Group of the Year and Galaxie Rising Star nomination at the 2008 Independent Music Awards and FIVE 2008 East Coast Music Award nominations for FACTOR Recording of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Single of the Year, Rock Recording of the Year and Group Recording of the Year.

•Toured Canada throughout October & November 2007 in support of the release. Sold out shows in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Halifax, St. John’s, London and more. The band also returned to Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom which sold out a month in advance and they recently performed a sold out show at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre.

•Welcome… charted in the top 10 on National college radio charts (Earshot, Chart) and was voted one of the 10 best albums of 2007 in the annual Exclaim! Magazine readers poll.

• The album’s second single. “Oblivion” was released to radio last month and has hit the Top 30 at Rock radio (Mediabase). A new video, directed by Darren Pasemko, will follow.

•Welcome To The Night Sky was released in Japan (Imperial Records) on March 26th. The band just returned home after a promotional tour in Tokyo.

- mgmt

"4/4 Live Review - Wintersleep @ The Phoenix"

Thu, Jan 31
WINTERSLEEP at the Phoenix Rating: NNNN

They looked so unassuming, so regular, so innocent. But by the time Wintersleep played their third song, the devout, sold-out crowd in the Phoenix were eager and willing listeners.

A good 90 minutes’ worth of melancholy melodies bound (and gagged) to punchy percussive breakdowns and disarmingly charming harmonies made for a truly exhilarating experience. Audience members dreamily swayed to and fro as Wintersleep showcased Welcome To The Night Sky and more, while others enthusiastically frolicked in the frenzy and fury.

There were genuinely epic moments: red lights flooded the stage as Paul Murphy wailed, “Are you a righteous man?! Are you a wanted man?!,” and the music crescendoed from a meek whisper to a wall of rock rawness during Oblivion. They annihilated the stage with a spaghetti-western-meets-Metallica 7/8 time-signature riff for their spectacular grand finale, a 12-minute journey of delicate destruction that featured no fewer than three jaw-dropping drum solos by manic Holy Fuck percussionist Loel Campbell. The amazing encore was almost too generous.

- NOW Magazine (Toronto)

"Halifax's Wintersleep wake up to ambition"

Hardworking live band hailed by critics for new CD. Now they've set their sights abroad

Nov 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Ben Rayner
Pop Music Critic

Wintersleep's Welcome to the Night Sky is on target to become one of the year's most hailed Canadian albums, but the band's momentum has been stirring to this point in clubs and concert halls from coast to coast for a while now.

The Halifax quintet works extremely hard at their craft, and it's shown through in the rapid development of the group's live show.

A notably quieter and more tentative unit when they first emerged from the East Coast in 2003 as part of Holy F--- main man Brian Borcherdt's Dependent Music collective, Wintersleep these days crackles onstage with a tension-and-violent-release dynamic that verges on the hair-raising and has slowly won them a nationwide, word-of-mouth fan base that even includes the Tragically Hip, who recently ushered their younger charges on tour with them in the U.S.

Properly translating the intricate punch of their live gigs onto a recording has long been one of the band members' goals, says singer/guitarist Paul Murphy, but it wasn't until Wintersleep made a dream hookup earlier this year with U.K. producer Tony Doogan that they were in possession of the know-how to do it.

"It was just one of those things," says Murphy of Doogan's fortunate presence behind the boards on Welcome to the Night Sky. "We made a wish list of people we wanted to work with and he was at the top. We all really like Belle & Sebastian and Mogwai, and he's done pretty much all of their records. I've wanted to work with him for a while – everyone wanted to work with him – so we just sent a demo to his management. And he liked it. It was pretty amazing."

Doogan, they rapidly learned, was as passionate as Wintersleep about the idea of keeping the new recordings "as true to the live shows as possible." Nearly all of Welcome to the Night Sky was, thus, recorded live off the floor, including some of Murphy's vocals.

In testament to the skilled playing of all involved – Murphy, guitarist Tim D'eon, keyboardist Jon Samuels, and the sometime Holy F--- rhythm section of bassist Mike Bigelow and drummer Loel Campbell – and Doogan's polish, the resulting album came out sounding flawless enough to find the recent single "Weighty Ghost" a perch on commercial radio.

"Tony was really, really adamant about getting really good live takes," says Murphy. "It's kinda weird because it doesn't necessarily sound live all the time because when he recorded it, he separated all the instruments into the system. So we're all in the same room doing it live, but all the amps have actually been put in different rooms."

Currently enjoying their second successful fall tour of Canada – this time alongside Ottawa indie legends the Wooden Stars, with whom Wintersleep plays the Mod Club Theatre tomorrow night – the band has begun cautiously eyeing America as their next target of conquest. Not to mention Japan, where Welcome to the Night Sky has scored a release thanks to contacts made at a ripping South by Southwest gig in Austin last spring.

The States get their first full-scale Wintersleep onslaught in January since a sustained live attack is what's built the band up to this point. At least the group has had some exposure down south thanks to U.S. tours with the Slip and the Tragically Hip – and Wintersleep, says Murphy, fared better than most Hip openers, which tend to receive a chilly reaction from Gord Downie fans.

"That's what they were saying. I guess it's just a different atmosphere, in general. The opening band probably translates a bit better in a club than they do in a big stadium," he says. "I don't know how we'd go over in a stadium. It'd be interesting.

"The Wooden Stars were saying they opened for the Tragically Hip awhile ago with Julie Doiron and it was a totally weird experience. Just soundwise, there was, like, a 30-second delay on the snare drum, things like that. I think they got booed, too, actually."

- Toronto Star (2007)

"Review: Welcome To The Night Sky"

Many bands mix loud-quiet-loud tactics with shoegaze sensibilities, but few do it with the intricacy of Wintersleep. With a keen ear for pop melodies, they tear open epic anthems with the roar of frantic, rapid-fire guitar work. Straight-up rockers are split in two with seesaw riffs and cataclysmic drum fills. Even after using a phase pedal at full wash, they can still hold their heads high.

Vocally, front man Paul Murphy sounds a bit like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder without the cheesy operatics, or like Rheostatic Martin Tielli without the squelch. He’s got a sweet lilt that lends itself to the band’s pitch-perfect atmospherics and has just enough edge to play off the ragged edges of Wintersleep’s powerhouse singalongs. Whether he’s telling tales of urgency or slipping into mantra-like choruses, the results are equally engaging.

All of this comes together on album closer “Miasmal Smoke & the Yellow Bellied Freaks.” With an indie-rock build of the highest calibre, this eight-minute opus is the topper on an album of brilliant tension. It’s engaging, it’s massive and it’s beautiful. It’s everything you have come to expect from Wintersleep and more.
- FFWD Magazine (2007)

"The New East Coast"

By: Chris Whibbs

Halifax's Wintersleep unwittingly spearhead a new genre: "Post-Celtic"

Coming together from various rock bands in Halifax, Wintersleep have had a slow climb into this country's heart. Non-stop touring always helps, and so have their 2003 self-titled debut and untitled 2005 effort. But their recently released album, Welcome to the Night Sky, should break things wide open. Full of catchy-as-fuck rock anthems, infectiously jangly pop and epic scope, those who are slaves to Wolf Parade should redirect their worship.

Some of the credit for this aurally stunning record can be given to Scottish producer Tony Doogan, who's also manned the boards for Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian. As guitarist Tim D'Eon explains, "The last time we recorded we pretty much self-produced it, we just had an engineer, who was great, but Tony gave more input than other people in the past. It was great to have an outsider come in [...] with fresh ears."

Included in this outside perspective was Wintersleep's interest in trying something completely different from the past. "We wanted something that didn't really sound like something that had been recorded in Halifax, even though we did it in Halifax," says D'Eon. "A lot of people that work in the studios around Halifax - well, they're all great engineers, but we needed more. We wanted something a little bit more adventurous in the mixing and I think Tony totally accomplished that."

Being from Halifax, there's always the temptation to label any music from that locale as an East Coast band. As singer and lyricist Paul Murphy recalls, "It's
funny because our drummer [Loel Campbell] sent me this online review of our new record and they called us 'post-Celtic,' which is funny. I guess it has something to do with the East Coast or being from the East Coast." When it's pointed out that it's unlikely they would be even associated with the Celtic genre if they were from Toronto, Murphy laughs. "You're probably right. That's true, actually, though I think it's kind of awesome. I want to label ourselves that from now on: 'We're not indie, we're post-Celtic.'"

Also, please try and keep Wintersleep and Sloan miles apart. "I've never thought that was the real representation of East Coast music, really," Murphy notes. "It is a representation of course, since Sloan's a pretty huge band, but I've never really thought of that. A lot of the bands that I listened to growing up here were bands that weren't all that big, but they were more like Slint than Sloan," he says, referencing the late-'80s, early-'90s band from Kentucky that essentially invented the genre of post-rock.

Hopefully, with this incredible record, people will start lumping everything out east in with Wintersleep.
- Ottawa Xpress


Wintersleep - New Inheritors
National release date: May 18, 2010 (Labwork//EMI)
Lead single "Black Camera" added at national rock radio stations. Album climbed to #4 on iTunes Canada's album sales chart week of release.

Wintersleep - Welcome to the Night Sky
National release date: October 2, 2007 (Labwork/EMI)
Lead single “Weighty Ghost” was sent to radio late August quickly landing in the top 10 and eventually top 5 on Canadian rock radio charts. released “Weighty Ghost” as its Free Single of the Week the week of Sept. 18 -25. The song was downloaded by over 14,100 subscribers. The video for the song was shot in Nova Scotia in October 2007 and was added to rotation at Much and Much More Music - where it climbed to the #1 spot on the MMM Top 20 Countdown in late February, 2008.
The follow up single, "Oblivion" was added at rock radio and reached the top 10 on national rock charts. The video was added at Much and Much More Music.

Wintersleep - Untitled
Released 2005 on Dependent Music. Re-released Oct. 2006 on Labwork Music. Single "Jaws of Life" added at radio and featured as iTunes "Single of the Week"in April, 2006. Videos for "Danse Macabre", "Fog" and "Faithful Guide" played on MuchMusic. "Jaws of Life" was added into rotation at Much Music in January 2007.

Wintersleep - Self Titled
Released in 2003 on Dependent Music. Re-mastered and re-released Oct. 2006 on Labwork Music. Single, Orca added at radio and included on The Trailer Park Boys: The Movie original soundtrack. "Sore" video played on MuchMusic.

Various tracks and Videos can be found at and




Wintersleep's fourth album, New Inheritors was born on the road. Since the 2007 release of The Juno Award winning Welcome to the Night Sky, Wintersleep has been performing endlessly all over North America, Europe and Asia. “We were touring constantly, so I guess we jammed ideas for this record pretty much everywhere. We have folders with different jams marked down by the cities they were worked on in… LA, Seattle, Milan, Belfast, in Japan, Stellarton Cottage, Hamilton ON… we sorted it out whenever we had time. It came together in Montreal eventually, but yeah, these songs have touring legs.”

Once again produced by Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian), New Inheritors has an ethereal quality that transforms every song. “We really feel that Tony shares the same ideas about music at a fundamental level. He knows the material, where it comes from & where it can go, and really wants to do his best to make sure the right things are brought about.”

From the orchestral opening of "Experience The Jewel," a bluesy dweller of a song injected with a healthy dose of moody distortion, the listener is pulled into a melodic landscape that has become near trademark territory for Wintersleep. The title track, "New Inheritors," loosely based upon a Nathaniel Hawthorne story called The New Adam and Eve, examines the finitude of the human condition in a post-apocalyptic setting. Indeed, the album embraces a more voyeuristic view of the world and is at times darker than any of Wintersleep’s previous work. Songs like “Encyclopedia” and “Trace Decay” explore both tempo changes and mood swings, while album closer “Baltic”, washes over us with a cold to the bone underwater current that skirts the fine line between dream and reality. Yet throughout “New Inheritors” each step towards the shadows is beautifully illuminated with the sound of strings, brass, tambourines, organ and piano. And choruses that soar.

With inspiration drawn from touring, family, books, salt water and performing together – whether in a practice space in Halifax or Montreal, or a theatre in Europe – “New Inheritors” is nothing you might expect but everything you hoped for.