Wool On Wolves
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Wool On Wolves

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review: "Wool on Wolves - Measures of Progress""

Every early December, I start to put some thought into my year-end “best of” lists, and these past two years there has been a consistent pattern of one album sneaking in super late. They are usually albums released late in the year, in October or November. In 2010, it was Diamond Rings’ Special Affections. In 2011, it was Rich Aucoin’s We’re All Dying To Live. This year, it may very well be Measures of Progress, the sophomore album from Edmonton band Wool on Wolves.

I’ve found myself mentally comparing this album with the brilliant Long Distance Runners album Tracks. Both it and this album are wonderfully unpredictable and obviously feature some strong creative talent. In the case of Wool on Wolves, this creativity seems to come from the band’s egalitarian approach to songwriting. Every band member has equal say and influence on how a song will shape.

The result is an album that will likely reveal something new every time one listens. Each song is its own creature, usually filled with dramatic builds and melodic changes. What can start as a soft song with just an acoustic guitar and keys can suddenly morph into a song with a full backup choir and triumphantly passionate vocals (the song “Medicine Shows”).

To show how things can change so quickly: the first two songs “Unsuspecting Ways” and “Midnight Avenue.” The former is the longest song on the album, just over six minutes, and slowly adds to itself as it goes along. First some guitar, followed by some keys, then some screeching of strings. It calms down a little as the vocals start to come in, but then becomes even more intense nearer to the five-minute mark. This song is contrasted sharply by “Midnight Avenue” that is, to use just a word, funky. It’s got a wonderful bass groove, a guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a Police tune, and great interspersion of horns.

There is so much more to discover in Measures of Progress, of course. There’s the epic strings in “Inside the Light.” There’s the Bend Sinister-esque opening to “Be the Change” that eventually gives way to a bass-heavy jam halfway through. What starts with the refreshing sounds of a banjo give way to sheer badassery in “There is a Love, There is a Life.”

But like all good things, the album must come to an end, and “Darkest Hour” certainly feels like one. It’s easy just to feel the intensity of the album wind down into a nice combination of guitar, keys and some simple drumming.

To play off the album title a bit: Wool on Wolves is progressing well. Get it via Bandcamp.

Top Tracks: “Midnight Avenue”; “Medicine Shows”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*

reviewed by Michael Thomas - Grayowl Point

"Wool on Wolves - Measures of Progress Review"


Even the best bands need a little time on their side in order to hit their stride. Before Wilco spawned their sprawling masterpiece, Being There, they released its kinda-ugly baby brother, A.M. Bob Dylan, god that he is, sounded all-too-human on his self-titled debut a few months before he realized his half-full potential with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. In much the same way that Wilco, Dylan and the countless other musicians who provide the illustrious points of reference that are so tightly woven into the dense fabric of Wool on Wolves’ second album, Measures of Progress needed room to grow. This Edmonton band took a few years to gel – they have paid their dues.

Wool on Wolves are as patient as they are talented, which says a lot as the talent is indisputably there. Obviously, this band has rehearsed and re-rehearsed. Wool on Wolves have toured this massive country extensively – they’ve put in a lot of time and, from the moment the needle drops on “Unsuspecting Ways,” it becomes all too clear that the band’s patience has paid off.

The album’s title is a laughable understatement, an inside joke among the five members of this air-tight band from the City of Champions. This is no incremental step toward cohesion. Over the course of this album’s 10 masterful tracks, Wool on Wolves never stumble.

Ironically, an album entitled Measures of Progress proves to be a giant leap forward for Wool on Wolves, a band poised – nay, destined – to become our country’s not-so-sunken treasure. Wool on Wolves are not content to drunkenly stumble toward ecstasy. Instead, they choose to chase it relentlessly, with silver blade clenched tightly between their collective teeth.

By Nick Lyons - Beatroute

"Wool on Wolves Announce New Album 'Measures of Progress'"

Edmonton indie rock band Wool on Wolves will release its second record, Measures of Progress, Nov. 13. A collaborative five-piece of singer/songwriters, the band’s debut album, 2010’s Grey Matter, earned them two Edmonton Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award nomination and a slew of favourable comparisons to Wilco and the like. Fittingly, that record revealed a knack for crafting songs that begged to become campfire singalongs.

Measures of Progress’ first single, “Midnight Avenue,” takes Wool on Wolves out of the woods and into the clubs. Produced by Paul Armusch (Faunts, the Whitsundays) and engineered by Nik Kozub (Shout Out Out Out Out), the single is experimental and moody with digital flourishes, and the vocals take a backseat to the beat. Is this progress? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s always interesting to see bands take big risks album to album. - music.cbc.ca

"Wool on Wolves announce "Measures of Progress""

Folk-leaning Edmonton rock band Wool on Wolves issued their debut full-length, Grey Matter, back in 2010. Now, the group are ready to drop the follow-up with Measures of Progress, due out November 13.

A press release emphasizes the quintet's democratic approach, noting that Wool on Wolves are "an ever-evolving collaboration of five songwriters, a band in which everyone works for the song." For their second album, they teamed up with producer Paul Arnusch (Faunts, the Whitsundays) and engineer Nik Kozub (Shout Out Out Out Out). The result is said to be a "shape-shifting album" that addresses "timeless themes of struggle, disillusionment, and maturation."

Check the punchy single "Midnight Avenue" at the bottom of the page, along with a minute-long trailer.

Scroll past the tracklist to check out the band's upcoming tour schedule. They'll playing playing a slew of shows across Canada with Great Bloomers in November and December. - Exclaim.ca

"Getting thrown to the wolves"

Walking around the university campus is like a trip down memory lane for Thomas Reikie as he reminisces about old haunts and discusses how the campus has changed since he’s left.

It’s been more than two years now since the lead singer of local folk band Wool on Wolves attended the U of A. Now, Reikie stands on the other side of the classroom, working as a high-school English teacher.

The rest of the band graduated from the U of A with degrees that vary from marketing to geophysics, but despite their education, it’s clear where the band’s true passion lies.

“We all consider music to be our primary goal,” Reikie says. “We want to be professional musicians — we consider ourselves musicians with day jobs. [...] Without getting us in too much trouble, we all spend a healthy amount of time at our day jobs concerned with music, dealing with business things. We take it very seriously and this is our ideal goal, to ultimately be able to do this on a full-time basis.”

Wool on Wolves have a remarkable passion for writing music and for sharing music they love with the world.

While attending the U of A, Reikie and bandmate Brody Irvine created a project called “Enjoy Music” where they placed mix CDs of songs they loved around campus for other students to discover in unlikely places, such as bathroom stalls and phonebooks.

Today, their live shows are evidence that this mentality of spreading their love for music hasn’t changed.

“The most touching shows and the shows that really affected us the most — it hasn’t been because of the flashing lights or the smoke machines or all the gadgets and gimmickry. It’s the genuine sincerity that the musicians are able to translate and the passion they feel for what they’re doing. That’s something that we really try to focus on, is that idea of passion and a shared experience with the audience,” Reikie says.

That passion was tested when they record their debut album. They booked off work to travel to Vancouver and record, only for the people they were working with to take their money up front, spend little time mixing and mastering the tracks, release the tracks against the wishes of the band, and finally claim intellectual ownership of Wool on Wolves’ work.

“We got involved with the less-than-professional side of the music industry,” he says. “The music business is a business and in any business, there are snakes and unfortunately for us, our first go out we got involved with some snakes. It was a pretty hard blow for a band’s first experience out to be such a negative one.”

Through remixing what little they could from the original recording sessions, the band was able to salvage enough songs to release an EP. They were determined to leave their experiences in Vancouver in the past and gave the EP a name that encapsulated how they would respond to their adversity, with the title Hate Is Poor.

“It felt like we’d just had our hearts broken and there came a crucial point where we all decided that there’s no way we want to give up on what we’re doing. We love making music, and we love making music with each other. [...] At the time when we were going through all of this, I lost a good friend of mine to a battle with cancer and during his eulogy, his daughter said that her father had always said, ‘Never carry hate around in your heart because the only one it will destroy is you’ and that was the attitude we took towards it,” Reikie explains.

That attitude seemingly won’t falter as they finally release their debut full-length album Grey Matter. Their terrible experience emboldened them to continue making music and to continue spreading that passion so others can “enjoy music” as much as they do. It’s that joy that comes from music that’s clearly brought happiness to Reikie’s life.

“Find passion in your life, find something you care about, and don’t be afraid to believe in it. And maybe it won’t get you a giant house and five cars and whatever gaudy other things you need, but in the end, you’ve got your self-respect and you feel passionate about what you do,” he says. “I think passion is something that is grossly overlooked in modern society. When you get the greats at anything in their job, it’s because they’re passionate about it — it doesn’t matter what you’re doing.” - The Gateway, Edmonton AB

"The Distance Between Us"

I guess I did things in reverse. When I was a student in university, at the time when I should have been rebelling, wearing my hair green, smoking pot and listening to avant-garde fusion metal, I was counting the number of Blue Rodeo shows I had attended, and endlessly spinning Spirit of the West’s Faithlift. Those days seem tame, seem less adventurous in light of some of the stuff I enjoy listening to now.

but you know what? Great music doesn’t have a best-before date. Timeless classic pop is just that–timeless. So while at first, there wasn’t anything really unique or extraordinary sounding about Edmonton’s Wool on Wolves, there was something refreshing about the idea of a group of friends getting together to just play music that’s meant to move the human spirit, as opposed to making humans spend money. The band self-released their debut record, Grey Matter, last month, and their homespun, no-nonsense sound as already garnered them favourable comparisons to Wilco and Blue Rodeo.

Wool on Wolves taking a bit of a break over the holidays to work on a video, and get set to head out on tour with The Deep Dark Woods this spring. They’ll be making their East coast debut at Canadian Music Fest, the new name for Canadian Music Week, and I’m sure that Wool on Wolves will be picking up fans at each stop along the way. - Quick Before it Melts

"Introducing:: Wool on Wolves"

Many a Canadian music legacy has been built on the smooth, mellow roots sound that seems to rise up from the Prairie fields and waft pleasantly across porches and patios from coast to shining coast. No matter how many new genres take shape (Witch house? Really, that’s a thing?) or how shitty and lo-fi the preferred sound de jour gets, Canadian music fans will always relate to a man with a guitar and a heartbreaking story to tell and always gravitate to polished, country tinged melodies. It’s in our DNA, like saying aboot or loving poutine.

I guess that’s why after a few listens to the debut LP from Edmonton’s Wool on Wolves, even as you hear the influence of Wilco and Ryan Adams (“Thick as Thieves”, “Bird in the Bush”), it’s reassuring to realize they aren’t too cool to show Blue Rodeo the respect the Canadian institution deserves. Even when they add some muscle and sonic blasts to push their sounds from the 60's into this decade and away from the safe confines of a porch jam session, it’s the breezy melodies (“G-arp”, “The Distance Between” and the album stand-out, “Ports of Glass Harbour”) that give the songs roots and help the band hit home. - Herohill

"Grey Matter - Album Review"

Edmonton’s Wool On Wolves show the early signs of being one of the bands that we’ll revere in ten years. With plaintive and evocative songs played with a lot of fuel, this debut album has all the charm of early Wilco or Son Volt. Here we are on the third track and the band has the balls to just let it all hang out for a couple minutes of noise, drum cacophony and general discomfort. Perfect.

Some parts aren’t played terribly well, and really, we wouldn’t want them to be. So many bands suffer the curse of perfection. Its refreshing to hear a record that sounds like a band playing music and not like it was painstakingly neutered in some computer for months. A band willing to revel in the moment as it stood, on that day in that place with those people.

They’re not breaking new ground, but they’re treading the alt-roots-rock path with honesty, dirty socks, unwashed hair, and all the energy they can muster. And that’s pretty much all we need.

If Thick As Thieves is any indication – these guys live together, they play together, and if all goes well they’ll die together. No, not in some Lynard Skynard fashion, but old and grizzled and perfectly content on the porch of some cabin in the Alberta mountains, still strumming out songs about a Bird In The Bush or Red Roses. - At Constant Speed

"Multiple Personalities"

by: Dave Berry

Grey Matter, Wool on Wolves' shockingly mature debut, opens with twangy guitar, obviously affected, and quickly joined by piano keys. Moments later a distant glockenspiel makes itself heard, then one voice, then a rush of harmonizing and a lazy harmonica spreading out over the words. At some point an easily strummed acoustic guitar and an energetic drum fill sneak into the mix as well. By the time you get to the end, instruments are cascading over one another, trading off dominant spaces but weaving together a melody of irresistible drive.

As an introduction to the album and the world, it perfectly establishes what the band is capable of doing. Not just a driving folk-pop song that expands from its simple core to encompass a rustic symphony's worth of sounds, it is also a testament to their instrumental chameleon tendencies, their collaborative process and finally their comfort with each other, an ability to play off one another's energy that seems almost in-born. How fitting, then, that the song is called "Thick as Thieves."

Truthfully, there are few better ways to describe the fivesome, made up of singer/guitarist Thomas Reikie, drummer Kevin George, pianist Eric Leydon, guitarist Gordon Brasnett and bassist Brody Irvine. Friends long before they ever started jamming together, it's rather indicative of their collaborative nature that those traditional band labels don't actually mean much. They're really more starting points than anything, the instruments that might most regularly be found in their hands, but hardly capturing the band's full breadth: they trade off with an almost manic regularity, and as "Thick as Thieves" demonstrates, they're capable of throwing just about any instrument you can think of at a song to make it work.

"There are songs where Brodie's got to put down the violin and pick up a bass, and Gord's got to put down drum sticks and pick up a lap steel and Kev's gotta put down the banjo and pick up drum sticks and Eric's gotta pick up a trumpet while he's playing keys," explains Reikie with a slightly admiring tone. "I somehow manage to sneak out of it, but I think all of us are just learning how to do that and learning about how and where to add texture."

Though it's a technique that pays obvious dividends on Grey Matter—something to which the band credits Nik Kozub's assured production—it was never exactly a conscious choice on their part.

Rather, it was simply a matter of them slowly discovering that they wanted more from their songs, and then figuring out how to add it. It's a fairly freewheeling way to build a band's sound, but then feeling comfortable enough to try new things is an essential ingredient in the band's ethos: when they started out, after all, they weren't a traditionally organized band but just a group of friends with the time and inclination to jam.

"A lot of playing multiple instruments—playing any instruments, really—was born out of necessity," explains Irvine.

"I think when it all started we had four guitar players and a piano player," adds Leydon.
"Yeah, Kev basically learned drums for the band," picks up Irvine, in a give-and-take way that could stand in for much of the band's interaction.

"Yeah, I learned the drums playing the songs," chimes in George. "Basically, I had won some money at the casino and bought a set of drums two or three months before we started jamming. So, in their minds, they knew I had a drum kit ... "

"Therefore he was the drummer," interjects Reike, to a room-wide chuckle.
"That's how it worked," finishes George. "I had nights of sweating nervousness, but I think the best way to learn an instrument is playing in the room with other people, because you learn how it fits in with the band."

Make no mistake, fitting in together is of the utmost importance for the fivesome, and they take it far beyond the stage or the jam space. For the past year, the entire band save for Reike has been living together in the same house, and though the phrase "band house" should conjure up images of something slightly more organized than a Bosch triptych, they have managed to keep things smoothly put-together, both physically and psychologically.

For the band, it not only gives them an obvious practice space, but also has removed almost any physical barrier to spur-of-the-moment songcraft. The result, as evidenced on Grey Matter, seems to be songs that can expand and contract assuredly, as they've already been taken through the process enough times that the band has them pretty nailed down.

"Having the luxury of pulling someone off the couch and get them to come hammer out parts is really nice," explains Brasnett. "It helps mature things a lot faster, I think, than most bands can manage."
"As soon as the four of these guys moved in together, the writing process just completely flipped on its head," concurs Reike. "They were coming to me with almost complete songs saying, 'Can you put lyrics to this?' It's been incredibly freeing."

And its effects are still being felt. Truthfully, much of the base of Grey Matter was written while Reike was on an exchange to Quebec and in the semester after he returned, where he admits he had less focus on his grades than on putting together lyrics—"It was really conducive to writing," he admits wryly, "not necessarily for graduating, but for writing."

From stripped-down acoustic numbers that he and Irvine used to play in coffee shops and at open mics, though, the songs on Grey Matter have grown into productions as expansive and atmospheric as a prairie field at twilight while losing none of their emotional core.

"The Distance Between Us" is a slow strummer that gradually builds into wide-eyed crusher whose internal space seems as wide as the physical space Reike is trying to overcome in his heartfelt lyrics. "Red Roses" thumps with drums that almost sound electric, and its slow melange of affected instruments mirror the punishing pain of Reike's voice, creating an effect akin to following a funeral procession down a dirt road. Album closer "Reap and Sow" ends with an extended period of mournful horns and a chorus repeating "You reap what / reap what you have sown" like it's somewhere between a benediction and a curse.

The final effect of the album is something that hits harder in the heart strings than in the head to which the title refers, but the band admits that they're less concerned with the specific effect of the album than the fact it has an effect on someone. It is obvious that for them the entire process is a slow tightening of the ties that bind, and their biggest concern once the process is over seems to be finding people who want to be knotted up with them, whatever brings them to that conclusion.

"There was this really great interview with Jeff Tweedy, where he said, 'When you release a song, it's not yours anymore. Whoever listens to it, it belongs to them,'" explains Reike. "I think that really meant a lot to all of us, insofar as we're not trying to make somebody feel anything in particular, we just hope they feel something, they take something away from it." - VUE Weekly

"Edmonton band Wool on Wolves produces breathtaking album"

Don’t let their laid-back demeanours fool you.

Wool on Wolves may look as gentle as a flock of lambs, but they often write tunes with a lupine-like bite. Red Roses, for example, sounds like one of those intoxicating folk-noir numbers which document the first days of a blossoming love affair, but frontman Thomas Reikie’s lyrics were largely inspired by death. “Remembering is so hard, and my heart, grown so scarred / It beats just to get by, till it stops, and I die,” he warbles.

Red Roses is one of 11 tracks on the local folk-rock group’s full-length debut, Grey Matter, produced by Shout Out Out Out Out’s Nik Kozub.

It’s a breathtaking album — warm, rich and atmospheric ­— filled with intricate details, unexpected twists, and a level of confidence uncharacteristic for a two-year-old band.

One Second quivers with the glassy tings of a glockenspiel, the intermittent skips of piano keys, the tempestuous rumbles of a synth, and Eric Leydon’s plaintive trumpet – before the song bursts like a thunder cloud and unleashes a dark, driving rain of stomping rock. Ain’t Seen Mississippi is a ramblin’ country-blues number fuelled by Kevin George’s jaunty banjo, Gord Brasnett’s lap-slide guitar, and Brody Irvine’s smouldering fiddle, while Cocaine and Bellows sounds like the first two minutes of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody crossed with country-rock.

For these exquisite songs, we have Reikie’s fiancé, Dorothy, to thank. When he first met her, in Quebec City, he was a frustrated pianist/guitarist/singer who was studying education at the University of Alberta.

“When I told her I wasn’t in a band and I wasn’t sure if I was going to play music, she quite literally smacked me in the face,” smiles Reikie, who now teaches English at W.P. Wagner High School. “Full-out gave me a slap and told me to smarten up. She said, ‘At the very least, you have to try.’ ”

He took her advice, enlisting some of his friends to form Wool on Wolves in 2008, but they almost unravelled over the next year. Grey Matter is actually the band’s second attempt at recording their first album. Before working with Kozub and scoring a $10,000 grant from Rawlco Radio, the five Wolves almost met their match in an unscrupulous Vancouver music producer.

He doesn’t deserve much ink, so here’s the Coles Notes version of the story — he took $6,000 of the band’s money, produced half-assed songs, wouldn’t give up the master recordings, then offered to relent as long as the musicians sent him a few hundred dollars to pay for a hard drive.

They did … but when they received the drive, there was nothing on it. “A healthy amount of the blame is on us for just being so naive,” says Reikie. “But it’s mostly his fault for taking advantage of some guys who put their trust in them. When it comes down to it, that’s all it was.”

Wool on Wolves are now trying to put the whole fiasco behind them – if only pesky journalists would stop asking questions – but they admit they’re irrevocably changed by the incident. While it threatened to pull the band apart at the time, their hearts haven’t grown so scarred, to paraphrase Reikie’s lyrics in Red Roses. Instead, the Wolves would rather look at their ordeal as a positive learning lesson which improved their songs and tightened their pack.

“Even though it was a really shitty experience, it’s amazing to re-record your first album,” says Reikie. “To get a chance to give those songs another year to mature. Songs are like wine, they change over time. Giving them that time and letting someone like Nik get their hands on it, the songs changed shape quite a bit. They were able to mature into something we were really proud of. Ports of Glass Harbour was originally a slow acoustic song and then, one night, we went to play it and we were just pissed off about (our experience), that we picked up electric and just kept going.”

Understandably so, Wool on Wolves now prefer to work only with friends — such as manager/booking agent Brent Oliver — and they’re not entirely keen on the thought of signing a record deal. They haven’t had to worry about the latter yet, but it’s only a matter of time. With the release of Grey Matter, the musicians will have industry insiders across the country scrambling to work with a group of musicians who recorded one of the best albums of 2010 and could be the second coming of The Band.

“Before (the Vancouver incident) happened, we were taking giant steps — our second show was at the Starlite Room and we sold it out,” says George, who plays drums, glockenspiel, and banjo for the Wolves. “Then we hit the roadblock, but we feel like we’re getting the steam back that we had before we went to Vancouver.”

“More than anything, it really strengthened our sense of community and working with friends,” says Irvine, the band’s bassist, cellist and violinist. “We need to trust people before there’s any movement at all. Every step from now on is based on trust and working with people we love.” - Edmonton Journal


"Hate is Poor" - EP
(Released April 16th, 2010)

"Grey Matter" - LP
(October 23rd, 2010)

"Measures of Progress" - LP
(November 13, 2012)



Wool on Wolves is the product of an ever-evolving collaboration of five songwriters, a band in which everyone works for the song. There is a thoughtful nature to their creative process: all opinions have the same merit, every idea receives equal opportunity, and everyone contributes to authoring the group’s unique sound. The result leaves audiences smiling, dancing, and thinking.

Formed in fall 2008, Wool on Wolves started as five University friends and multi-instrumentalists from a myriad of backgrounds. Drawing on each other’s strengths, they began writing music together that explores genuine emotion and diverse musical arrangements. In 2010 Wool on Wolves released Hate is Poor, a five-song EP that was the result of a year-long battle fought against the exploitative side of the music industry. Learning from this ordeal, the band returned quickly into the studio to record their debut full-length album Grey Matter. The album earned Wool on Wolves favourable comparisons to Wilco, the Band and Ryan Adams, and garnered two Edmonton Music Awards and a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for Rock Recording of the Year.

In early 2012, Wool on Wolves began working on their sophomore LP Measures of Progress. The band, engineer Nik Kozub (Shout Out Out Out Out), and producer Paul Arnusch (Faunts, the Whitsundays) left no stone unturned in creating a dense and meticulous album with a bold artistic vision. Lyrically, Measures of Progress reflects on the modern world while exploring timeless themes of struggle, disillusionment, and maturation. Sonically, the band continues to innovate as they experiment with new tones, recording techniques, and complex song structures. The end result is a shape-shifting album to be considered as a sum greater than its parts, much like the band itself.

Brent Oliver - brent(at)brentoliver.com

Paquin Entertainment
Western Canada: Todd Jordan - todd(at)paquinentertainment.com
Eastern Canada: Julien Paquin - julien(at)paquinentertainment.com

Band Contact: