Monday, January 16, 2012


 Woodpigeon's new EP is more of what we've come to expect from Mark Hamilton and company; masterfully composed rock music that is as pristine and soft as freshly harvested cotton. 

 Following up 2010's Die Stadt Muzikanten and my personal favourite 2008's Treasury Library Canada, this six track collection would be a great introduction to the Calgary ensemble for those who have yet to take flight with Woodpigeon.

The track Are You There God? It's Me Mark is an indelible song. An ambivalent arrangement, it's lush with softly psychotic strings and heavenly harmonizing set against harsh guitar feedback. One To Many is also memorable with it's echoing guitar riff. Hamilton's delicate voice is frequently the star on For Paolo and it's easy to see why Woodpigeon are quickly ascending the ladder of Canadian indie cred. For Paolo has left me wanting more and I'm looking forward to hearing Woodpigeon's next full length release.

For Paolo

Below is my interview with Hamilton from 2010. This article originally appeared on

In addition a condensed version was published in 24 Hours Calgary.

 German speakers be damned—Mark Hamilton has purposely misspelled the title of Woodpigeon's new album, because he finds his spelling more visually pleasing. 

 Die Stadt Muzikanten, their third album—after 2006's Songbook and 2008's self-released Treasury Library Canada—dropped earlier this year and lead singer and guitarist Hamilton says he has always had a fondness for the written word. 

 "I get hung up on words a lot," Hamilton explains. "I love the way that words look. Someone once asked me why I would call a band Woodpigeon. To me it's beautiful to write down." 

 The songs found on Treasury Library Canada are also nothing less than beautiful. Hamilton says he chose to self-release the album because he'd grown tired of dealing with record labels. 

 "We were without a label, and I'd had it with labels," he explains. "I wanted to try doing something entirely on my own and we got signed up pretty fast for our first record so we never had the experience of self-releasing something. I think that's really important." 

 Reluctant to call Woodpigeon a band, Hamilton says he views it as more of a collective with over 50 members contributing since inception. Current band members include Michael Gratton, Annalea Sordi, Daren Powell, Peter Moersch, Foon Yap and AJ Benoit. 

 Another band member, Kenna Burima, annually organizes the Midway festival, adjacent to Calgary's High Performance Rodeo. A cross-format event, the festival features live music as well as visual art. Last year Woodpigeon attempted to perform Björk songs exclusively. 

 "We decided we would do Björk's Vespertine, then realized how frickin' hard that album is," Hamilton laughs. "So we just made a selection of Björk songs where she plays more than one chord. That was probably the most challenging thing we've ever done." 

 Getting noticed by high-profile bands, however, wasn't as much of a challenge. Woodpigeon has gone on tour supporting Grizzly Bear, Calexico and Broken Social Scene. 

 "The phone would ring and it was Grizzly Bear or Broken Social Scene. The first couple of times I kind of thought it was a joke, then a few weeks later we were playing a big theatre with them. It's really cool when people you like take notice. Like Calexico for example, they are the favourite band of three members of Woodpigeon." 

 As for the future, Hamilton admits that many Woodpigeon members have begun taking flight in their own right and he couldn't be more pleased for them. 

 "We are kind of in the phase where everybody in the band is taking on different projects. We are all growing up and everybody is spreading their wings a little bit. Woodpigeon is what we all collectively come back to and we also go out to pasture a bit more than we used to and that's really exciting and cool. I'm happy to be in the audience to see my friends that I play music with do their own thing."

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