Simply put, Canadian indie rock tends toward the epic. Maybe it’s the crisp air, or perhaps it’s the impressive, varied landscapes of mountain ranges and hockey rinks. Whatever it is, our northern neighbor has had a strong track record over the past decade for introducing us to bands with a firm grasp on the intricacies of dynamics, textures and harmonies. Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Metric: All three have seen tremendous success in the States and played integral roles in bringing Canadian alternative music onto a more global stage. And now, from Ottawa, ON, we have Loon Choir, a seven-piece art-pop collective that draws upon folk, chamber pop, electronica and indie rock for a sound that’s mature, melodic and theatrical.
Loon Choir came together in 2009, when singer/songwriter/guitarist Derek Atkinson formed the band with some long-time friends. Seeing as how the frontman was living a hectic life as a counselor, activist, poet, photographer/videographer, blogger and student, it’s impressive just how much material Loon Choir has been able to churn out in its three-year career: a plethora of singles, two LPs (the second, Fire Poems, is due out in March) and an EP. This ironclad work ethic, coupled with the band’s buzzworthy live show, helped it to get the recognition of peers and fans in its native Ottawa, where Loon Choir receives regular spins on FM radio.
From a musical standpoint, it’s difficult to categorize Loon Choir. Standard stadium anthems glisten with club-ready synths, but just when you’re settling into the dance-y grooves, the band has another surprise up its sleeve: the insistent whimper of a violin on brooding stomper of a single “Spiral,” a cover of Leonard Cohen that sounds not just cheerful but downright jubilant, and harmonies that drift in and out of the soundscapes like wisps of smoke. For all the genre-shuffling and instrumental nuances, there’s one constant: a taut, infectious sense of melody that is as soothing as it is stirring. Loon Choir’s songs beg to be heard in a packed room with dozens of your closest friends. When the band takes its epic sound to American venues later this fall, fans will have a chance to do exactly that.
Artists, submit for your own chance to be the Sonicbids Spotlight.