Despite coming away empty handed during this year's Polaris Music Prize (Canada's equivalent to Britain's Mercury Prize), Toronto band Elliott Brood's latest effort is slowly making inroads in the U.S. And for good reason - it's a solid, foot-stomping, roots-y, rockabilly-tinged hoe down, something they lovingly dub "death country."
Using the 1857 Mount Meadows massacre as a jumping off point, Elliott Brood open with Fingers And Tongues, a tension-building number that never breaks through, just beautifully bubbles to the surface. Think Appalachia meets Arcade Fire.
Led by singer/guitarist Mark Sasso, songs such as the short but sweet T-Bill and the lovable, ramshackle, catchy toe-tappers The Valley Town and Write It All Down For You should hit the listener in all the right places. And Sasso's vocals resemble a young Tom Waits discovering Johnny Cash throughout.
Not tossing away any songs - with the exception of The Spring Floods Elliott Brood's punchy, happy-go-lucky Without Again shines thanks to its simple but stylish melody that Golden Smog or Wilco would be jealous of. However there's just enough rock influences here which allows the band to change gears with the garage-meets-rockabilly nugget Garden River.
Many of these songs have an almost saloon or jugband feel to them, especially the softer, piano-accented Notes and the chugging Woodward Avenue. Nonetheless, whatever Elliott Brood thought would work on this album certainly does, with The Body being the final fantastic nail on this delightful, dark disc.