John K. Samson is back with a new record – and some old pals

By Regina Sienra

John K. Samson will be back this October with an album that may feature more Weakerthans’ sounds than we had hoped for. Winter Wheat, Samson’s second solo album, is coming out on October 21st. The album will feature The Weakerthans’ drummer Jason Tait –who also co-produces the album alongside musician Christine Fellows, Samson’s partner– and bassist Greg Smith.

“Strangely, this album is technically more like a Weakerthans record than my first solo album”, Samson said to A.V. Club. “But in other ways it feels very different. It is a bit of a sprawler at 15 songs, which is unusual for me, and is mostly acoustic and spare, and was recorded in home studios over a really long Winnipeg winter.”

Both Tait and Smith joined John K. Samson on stage at Brandon Folk Fest in late July. There, the Weakerthans’ singer performed some new songs that will appear on Winter Wheat.

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The title for Samson’s second solo album comes from a song inspired by Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness and was created for an event called “Torn From the Pages”, which took place on May 2015.

A.V Club is also premiering “Postdoc Blues”, first single from Winter Wheat. In this song, Samson explores how technology is altering the way we interpret the world. You can pre-order the album here.

UPDATE: The Winter Wheat track listing has been announced as well:

1. Select All Delete
2. Postdoc Blues
3. Winter Wheat
4. Requests
5. Oldest Oak at Brookside
6. Capital
7. 17th Street Treatment Centre
8. Vampire Alberta Blues
9. Carrie Ends the Call
10. Fellow Traveller
11. Quiz Night at Looky Lou’s
12. Alpha Adept
13. Prayer for Ruby Elm
14. VPW 13 Blues
15. Virtute at Rest

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John K. Samson at Brandon Folk Fest. 7.24.16

By Regina Sienra

Brandon, Man., just witnessed the closest thing to a The Weakerthans reunion there has been since the split of the staple Winnipeg band was made official. John K. Samson was joined by drummer Jason Tait and bassist Greg Smith for the headlining set at the 32nd annual Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival.

The three Weakerthans members were joined by Rusty Matyas, who has supported both The Weakerthans and Samson as a solo act. The always humble and shyly breathtaking Samson greeted the Brandon Folk Fest audience, mentioning this was the first time in 25 years he was playing there.  

The set had a massive start with “One Great City!” Samson then played the title track from the third Weakerthans album, Reconstruction Site. As it happens in many festivals, it takes some children to start a dance party in front of the stage. The upbeat “A New Name for Everything” and “Plea from a Cat Named Virtute” made some grown-ups get up and join the affair.

Samson included a few tracks from his solo LP, Provincial, like “Heart of the Continent”, “Cruise Night” and “When I write my Master’s thesis,” and some new songs like “Vampire Alberta Blues” – for which Shotgun Jimmie came up on stage as a guest –  and “On the 21st day,” which give us hope for a new solo album sometime in the future, although he has been playing these songs at this solo shows for more than a year.

“Sun in an Empty Room,” “Aside” and “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” were also part of the brilliant show delivered by Samson and his more-than-guests. With “Left and leaving,” a very intense finale to the main set and “My Favourite Chords” as a beautiful acoustic encore, the now-historic performance may not have given us enough hope to see The Weakerthans together again in the future, but it was a great reminder of those songs that have brought comfort to generations of outsiders, and in doing so have offered a lot of people a place where they do belong.

Thanks to Donna Lowe for making this review possible. Featured image by ShonicaR3 on Instagram 

OurBasement Playlist: Landmarks

By Regina Sienra

Whether you live in a big city or small town Canada, there’s always a feeling of pride, belonging or representation when a building, a street, a station or any other landmark you pass by on your daily basis makes it to a song that has the potential of reaching thousands of ears. In some cases, it’s like seeing a story cross paths with yours.

For outsiders, hearing about such landmarks is an unique way to learn about any given city through local artists or visiting musicians that were inspired enough to incorporate it into their art.

Take a trip across Canada through the places – popular or unknown, large or tiny, natural or manmade – that make each city or town unique.

Visit the ever-changing landscape of False Creek in Vancouver, beautiful Wascana Lake in Regina, a busy intersection in Winnipeg, bubbling Boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal or an iconic venue in Halifax. You never know what you can learn from your neighbours. Or the place you live in.

Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for this playlist: Darbarspecial, Loozrboy, Shonica, Switters, CDNz1, GarfieldUK, Zammachus, Tiffy, Morgana, Old Abe and Scott. If your song isn’t here, be sure it’ll be used at a future OurBasement playlist.

Did you spot all the landmarks? Is there any other song that belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments.