Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #15: "November" -- The Wilderness of Manitoba

Canadian folk act The Wilderness of Manitoba remains, as they were at the beginning of 2011, one of the genre's best-kept secrets. A younger brother of Fleet Foxes with poppier sensibilities, the band finally came to America this year with the release of debut record When You Left the Fire, which came out a year earlier in native Canada.

Throughout the record, the subtle sound of a furnace can be heard crackling beneath the music -- a nice touch, considering that many might call some of the songs "fireplace worthy"... that is, the kind of song one would want to hear sitting around a campfire or fireplace, especially in acoustic form.

One of The Wilderness's best is "November," a song frontman Will Whitwham wrote while traversing the Trans-Siberian Railway in Asia. It's a song of solitary longing, complemented by ear-pleasing four-part harmonies. Acoustic instrumentation presides, with different instruments taking a turn depending on the version to which one is listening. The recorded version features a wailing slide guitar, while others more prominently feature the banjo.

"November" exemplifies The Wilderness of Manitoba at their acme. They're a band that can pull off some beautiful harmonies, catchy melodies and warm instrumentation. They're one of the rising acts in folk today -- especially within the smaller subdivision of chamber folk. Again, it's a record that slipped under many's radars, but is a must-listen for any self-described folk music fan out there.

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