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PJC presents,

A Northern Chorus and Vancouver's Woodhands,


Thursday, Sept 8th, 10pm, $7.00





(Vancouver, BC) – Canadian electronic act woodhands will be touring Canada starting August 6th, 2005 in support of their recently released self-titled album.

The woodhands debut has been receiving strong praise across North America, with reviewers comparing the music from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Boards of Canada to Pink Floyd. As Steve Lalla of the Montreal Hour wrote for his Spin of the Week review of the album, “Remember the dope keyboards on Stevie Wonder's Very Superstitious? If the 1970s had happened in the 23rd century, this is what it would sound like.''

Keyboardist, producer, and programmer Dan Werb is the heartbeat of woodhands, crafting songs out of warm analog synth melodies and boombastic hip-hop breaks. Formed in 2003 in Montreal, the woodhands project – originally intended as an ambient electronica act – couldn’t stay on message.

“I just couldn’t keep rock and funk out of the record,†Werb explains. “I just try to do what good DJs do – mixing and matching, not caring about what genre you’re playing, until you get that track that crackles and you don’t know what to call it but it’s breaking your heart.â€

After their groundbreaking show at the 2004 New Forms Festival in Vancouver, Werb took the project to Paris and Berlin, where he further explored the Euro-style grooves that influence the woodhands sound. “Kraftwerk, New Order, Gary Numan, Front 242 – they’re all masters at combining that alienated computer sound with raw emotion. I wanted to immerse myself in that scene and see what I could discover. What I’ve realized so far is that you can make great, gritty pop songs that also make people want to dance.â€

Now back in Canada, Werb, vocalist Roselle Healy and bassist Pat Placzek (of Vancouver’s The Screaming Eagles) are getting set to play shows, from Ucluelet’s Soundwave Festival to Halifax’s The Khyber Club, with pit stops at Pop Montreal and this year’s New Forms Festival (alongside The Junior Boys).

“I’ll be honest – playing live electronica is fucking hard when you don’t have a computer,†says Werb. “But I think that’s what people dig about our live show – it’s a psychedelic dance party that’s built on blood and sweat.â€

The woodhands debut is now available across the country through Scratch Distribution. The album has been serviced to college radio stations nationwide.

For more information, please contact Sarah Tesla of Tesla Media at 604-377-2306 or at sarah@stesla.com.

the woodhands debut: the reviews

''The debut album from Montreal-via-Vancouver producer, programmer and keyboardist Dan Werb (of the Red Pony Club and Jazz For Robots collectives), woodhands deftly combines the flinty, abstract minimalism you'd expect of artists with no capital letters in their names with a wonky organic psychedelia reminiscent of Chocolate Weasel or even Pink Floyd. Fat, phasing, acid-porn synthesizers melt effortlessly with twisted samples about sales, marketing, truth and aging on my fave cut, Honest Broker. Obviously a pianist of great skill, Werb's biggest talent lies in his ability to mould synth sounds into bubbling stabs of pure funk. Remember the dope keyboards on Stevie Wonder's Very Superstitious? If the 1970s had happened in the 23rd century, this is what it would sound like.''

--The Montreal Hour (Spin of the Week, February 25th)

‘‘...The easiest reference to be drawn here is to Boards of Canada, whose warm analogue tones and shapeshifting rhythms seem to have informed Werb’s musical approach. But where that Scottish duo relies largely on samples for its base materials, the Vancouverite builds his tracks all by his lonesome, as evidenced by “Piano†and “Woodhands Theme Songâ€, both of which are predicated on solo runs up and down the ivories. The best and most richly arranged song here is probably “Honest Brokerâ€, a kind of all-in-one album summation that distills the producer’s brainiac lounge aesthetic into nine spellbinding minutes. If the Suicide Girls made porn movies, this would be their soundtrack.’’

--Vancouver’s The Georgia straight

‘“Woodhands is about tearing things down and starting over again, a notion that gives each number a layered richness. Werb somehow manages to peel back these layers in mid-composition, and each time the results reveal depths of sonic invention.’’

--Amplifier Magazine (US)

‘Vancouver producer Dan Werb creates an adventurous aural excursion, armed with funky beats and an arsenal of keyboards. His able playing keeps songs moving in new and interesting directions...an idiosyncratic album that steers clear of trendy electronica traps, while staying grounded with solid grooves.’’

--The Montreal Gazette

‘‘...On this debut recording Werb mixes together piano, minimal vocals and an old school synth sound reminiscent of AIR’s early Kraftwerk worship. He has created some very pleasing compositions. His high-tech low-tech approach is what makes this recording work so well. Woodhands is never too slick with ambient rumbles, pops and crackles as important to the whole as any other instrument or sample. There is no question this is excellent electronica but it is so much more, this is a great pop record.’’

--Halifax’s The Coast

“Van-based producer Dan Werb favours old-school Euro-style grooves in this act that splits its time between Van./T.O./Mtl. Songs such as “Honest Broker†are Warp-esque, while “Breaking Up†is an Air-like pop song. A varied diverse 10 track set worthy of a spin.†–The Province

*To see woodhands on CBC ZeD, go to www.cbc.ca/zed and type in woodhands in the search bar.

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Some good A NORTHERN CHORUS press:

1) Washington Post


Friday, July 29, 2005; Page WE07

A NORTHERN CHORUS"Bitter Hands Resign"Sonic Unyon

A Northern Chorus's third CD has a wind-swept quality about it -- atmospheric, layered, chilly, enveloping. In short, it's an acquired taste.

But if you're in the mood for rock meditations, "Bitter Hands Resign" may well be your cup of Zen. The Ontario-based ensemble specializes in mood pieces that are meticulously arranged and dotted with subtle variations in tone and color, all contributing to a peculiar ebb and flow. The instrumentation alone is distinctive enough to catch your ear: guitars, cello, piano, organ, bass and percussion. But what consistently stands out, albeit often in the subtlest of ways, are the sonic weaves that tie one tune to the next, almost seamlessly at times.

If the sextet has any commercial ambitions, it's not letting on. Each of the album's eight songs is long enough to discourage airplay. The lyrics, which range from the poetic to the ponderous, aren't exactly radio-friendly, either. Just scan the opening lines to "Costa Del Sol," a ballad that inspired the album's title: "Please direct your eyes to the trembling skies, to the trembling skies / And catch every glimpse in all your words, in all your conjured chords / As sure as bitter hands resign, the past will be seen in new light, cast upon old words that you thought you'd lost in the fire." Get the picture?

Not every lyric appears torn from the band's own book of revelations, though. "Winterize," which concerns the death of pop tunesmith Elliott Smith, brings the CD to a haunting close.

-- Mike Joyce



Bitter Hands Resign

(SONIC UNYON; sonicunyon.com)

Rating: 4 / 5

WHO? Canadian dream-pop quintet, back with their third full-length.

SOUNDS LIKE? Gorgeous, grandiose soundscapes that’ll take you to your safe place faster than a fistful of Valium.

HOW IS IT? Anyone with a pulse should be wary of a band who’ve previously covered Low, but A Northern Chorus have finally come into their own here, surpassing Tom Cochrane as Canada’s greatest musical export.

ROCKS LIKE: Sigur Ros * Low * Raising The Fawn

-Jonah Bayer

Alternative Press Magazine, August 2005, page 156

3) All Music Guide


A Northern Chorus

Bitter Hands Resign

Sonic Unyon

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Review by Kenyon Hopkin

Whether it was caused by yet another lineup change (newer members' Alex McMaster (cello) and Steve Hesselink (percussion), who add to the stellar rock), or an urgency to put atmospheric guitar effects back on the map, the difference from Spirit Flags to Bitter Hands Resign is virtually night and day. With Spirit Flags, A Northern Chorus were comfortable with their dream pop, but they weren't able to lift themselves from mediocrity by simply following the conventions laid down by the original shoegaze bands. The Ontario group's third album is a noticeable improvement, and melds the extended pieces and touching vocals of Sigur Rós with the emotional rock of Appleseed Cast's Two Conversations. A Northern Chorus seem more confident and solid, as they allow their works to drift unhurriedly, yet they always retain a firm command of its direction. And, as if to show A Northern Chorus don't always need to hide behind their instruments, "This Open Heart" ends solely with vocals and lyrics that, like much of this record, are as fragile as snowflakes.



Writer: Emerson Dameron


A Northern Chorus

Bitter Hands Resign (Sonic Unyon)

Four Stars out of Five

Slo-glo fuzz is back. Or it never got the telegram announcing its demise. Or the news never made it to Canada. Or A Northern Chorus didn’t care.

The clanging cathedral bells on “Watershed Divideâ€â€”a protracted prelude to the mournful “Prisoners of Circumstanceâ€â€”are merely suggested. But the militaristic drum rolls on “Costa Del Sol,†are actually there, snapping away beneath the frothy mix.

As this record tiptoes to the fridge for a post-midnight parfait, it catches its reflection and sees the sort of decadent grandiosity heard in theatrical post-Bowie British pop. But music like this moves more gracefully on tiptoe. Bitter Hands Resign eulogizes humanity’s most hopeless hopes and lifts up its pulverizing regrets, but eschews self-importance. Elegant sadness never rousts the neighbors.

Don’t file this away with the latest bundle of anemic My Bloody Valentine throwbacks. With rain damage and coffee rings, Bitter Hands Resign will only grow more elegant.



I can't argue with the aptness of the term "dream pop" -- the stuff puts me to sleep. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because I could always use some. I've probably clocked more hours listening to Sigur Ros asleep than awake, and I've always felt bushy-tailed after a 50-bpm disco nap. So I'm adding A Northern Chorus's new CD, Bitter Hands Resign (Sonic Unyon), to my arsenal of melatonin tablets, herbal tea, and Dharma & Greg reruns: on its third full-length the Ontario band borrows from the languid, sweeping textures of groups like Slowdive and Explosions in the Sky, with majestic swells, hypnotic drumming, and Thom Yorke-like vocals about something or other. Some might protest that the average song length of seven minutes is self-indulgent, but I think the tunes could be twice as long.

--J. Niimi



Bitter Hands Resign

With its delicate instrumentation and ample musicians, the songs found on the attention-grabbing Spirit Flags were strong, but there was the feeling they were still finding their way. That should all delightfully change with Bitter, as the songs showcase an energised and confident band at the top of their heart-melting best. The glorious noise of “Subject & Matter†sets the stage, as it rollicks back and forth between sweet floating vocals, cello, strong, fuzzy bursts of ringing guitar and crashing cymbals. This back and forth is prominent but it never tires. Particularly uplifting and strong is “Costa Del Sol,†with its breathy harmonies and perfect haze of guitars never overpowering the delicate strings. Bitter won’t just put A Northern Chorus on the map, it’ll help take them over the world one dream at a time.

(Sonic Unyon, www.sonicunyon.com)

-Chris Whibbs

Exclaim! Magazine, April 2005, page 78



Bitter Hands Resign

(Sonic Unyon)

On its third full-length, this Hamilton-based sextet strikes a perfect shoegaze-meets-dreampop balance of droning guitars and wistful singing, underscored by keys, bass percussion and cello. Opener "The Shepherd & the Chauffeur" establishes the template, alternating decisively between hammering chords and more delicately phrased passages.

On the remaining seven tracks, the deck is reshuffled again and again to produce variations on the basic package, with harder or softer elements rising and falling in unhurried patterns that seem as natural as breathing. At its best, on "Subjects & Matter," "This Open Heart" and the pastoral closer "Winterize," the layers are joined in a seamless and insinuating synthesis of sonic textures. Understated but captivating.

-Vit Wagner

Toronto Star, Toronto ON, April 21, 2005


A Northern Chorus

Bitter Hands Resign

(Sonic Unyon)

Known as a hotbed for quality underground acts, Hamilton is arguably the home of some of the finest musicians in the country. A Northern Chorus, staples in the steel city scene, are renowned as one of the most underrated Canadian bands, but their new album should bring some attention to the veteran rockers. Recorded, produced and mixed by pianist/organist Graham Walsh, Bitter Hands Resign, the band’s third wistful, dreamy masterpiece is exactly what it needs to shine a light upon its musical mastery. ANC has finally emerged from its shell, taking a more passionate intellectual stance than on previous recordings. Vocalists Stu Livingstone, Pete Hall and Alex McMaster weave their respective ways through the band’s epics, providing everything from ample three-part harmonies to thoughtful solo muses, allowing for a more complete aural experience. Musically, A Northern Chorus’s careful, slowcore design tears a page from the book of In-Flight Safety, at times resembling Minnesotan Sub Pop rockers Low, with a touch of Coldplay and electronica-less modern Radiohead for good measure. The album kicks off with the melancholic ballad “The Shepherd and The Chauffeur,†and carefully sifts through eight colourful, weighty tracks, highlighted by the atmospheric “Costa Del Sol.†Concluding with the melodic “Winterize,†the song’s finale epitomizes the album: It begins with a lull and builds to a climax before veering off into a bridge and fading into oblivion. Despite the sparse number of tracks, Bitter Hands Resign clocks in around the 50-minute mark and is a complete musical experience, leaving little to be desired upon its completion.

—Jon Bruhm


If it's a musical massage you're after, and more to the point, if you like the idea of Coldplay's Chris Martin singing for Explosions in the Sky, this third LP from Ontario sextet A Northern Chorus will be the object of your pleasure and esteem. Resonating with Pink Floyd's cold and swirling qualities, EITS's delicate textural layers, Godspeed's epic thrust and Sigur Rós's inexorable freeze, A Northern Chorus has turned out the record that Death Cab for Cutie might make after taking an online classical composition course and a near-fatal overdose of tranquilizer cocktails.

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