download: For A Warmer Winter
Hey, what the f**k is going on? First we get the coldest March in 50 years, then apparently they find traces of life on Pluto, and now we have another Dead Canaries album, only 7 months after arguably the most underrated record in human history (Bird Peach) was released?
To get to the bottom of this mystery, the DG asked our finest (see also “only”) roving rogue reporter (a.k.a “me”) to download “For A Warmer Winter” and track down the elusive conductor of the Dead Canaries, one Mr. Jon Fink, to find out what all the fuss is about.
DG: For people who are new to this site and Dead Canaries, tell us a little bit about your band. How, when, and why it formed, what the present line-up is like etc.
Jon: I started Dead Canaries on a bicycle ride from Albany NY to Syracuse NY. I was listening to Woody Guthrie and Elizabeth Cotten. There were a lot of dead finches on the side of Route 20. My last name being Germanic for finch and my inability to sing on American Idol, the name just came together. My plan was to get anyone who I could to play on the albums. Canaries. Not just me. I even got a kid to break a glass outside of my window once.
DG: Last time I spoke to you, you were apathetic about making another record so soon after releasing “Bird Peach”. Then, one month later, we’ve got a brand new Canaries album. What happened?
Jon: It was February, February brings me a lot of anxiety. My birthday is in February and it tends to inflict itself so that those 28 days end up being the longest month of the year. I needed a project. I had Outside My Front Door and I wanted more songs like that. So To keep my brain busy, I did this album.
DG: Usually we can expect one record a year from you, and a lot of this is a result of how meticulous you are, particularly at the production/mixing stage. What were the pros and cons of working at a faster speed?
Jon: Pros-I still like it when it’s finished. Bird Peach took 2 years. I don’t listen to it. I don’t think many people did when I finished it, because they’d been hearing it in pieces the entire time.
I don’t see any cons right now. For 28 days, it turned out pretty great. No transitions, but in the days of shuffle, who really cares that the songs aren’t connected?
DG: Where did the title “For A Warmer Winter” come from?
Jon: I’ve been living in a climate where it’s over 90 degrees (F) 300 days a year. This year I wasn’t. I needed some musical sun.
DG: There’s a noticeable shift in sound on this record in comparison to previous records, whereas before I might describe them as experimental-folk-pop, this one sounds more experimental-folk-jazz. Was this a conscious shift, and if so, what has influenced you to move in this direction? Actually while we’re here, you might as well just tell us who or what the influences for this record are…
Jon: Martin Denny, Burt B. I wanted a less melody driven Burt and a danceable Martin. When I wrote Outside My Front Door it was a folk song, like the good ole’ days, the before time, Disgrace was country. When I asked Katie to sing I made a rhythm track that was just that thumping kick drum, she sang it as I played a scratch guitar. I started to finish the song and I thought the kick sounded good and made it sound like island disco. So I wrote the rest around that idea.
DG: There are quite a few instrumentals on this record – what are the perfect ingredients for a Dead Canaries instrumental track and how do they come together?
Jon: I don’t know. If I end up liking it, that’s good enough.
DG: “Extra Buttered Toast” is my favourite track on the album, what’s yours?
Jon: Extra Buttered Toast I wrote the lyric in a dream. I woke up and had to text it to myself because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I think of that one as my Metallica epic poem. It’s probably that one too. I still don’t know what I did there.
DG: What’s your favourite lyric on it?
Jon: “At the bottom 1 tulip was the price of an onion”. You can’t write that shit. You need an old man rambling on AM radio in the mountains of Vermont to come up with that.
DG: If “Carpetbagger/Golden Sounds” is your White Album, and “Bird Peach” is your “Abbey Road”, then “For A Warmer Winter” must be your Let It Be. Am I right?
Jon: I don’t think so. I wrote it after Birdy, so that doesn’t work.
DG: Are the Canaries still gigging live? I heard a live show last year and it sounded like a lot of fun.
Jon: No. Never again.
DG: What’s next for Dead Canaries, you’re not seriously going to tell me that I’ll have to wait until 2014 for another record, are you? And what’s it going to sound like – more jazz, return to folk-pop roots, or something else?
Jon: Megan and I are moving in to a cottage on the Rappahannock River. Who knows what’ll happen.
So there you have it. Another job well done roving rogue reporter, even if I do say so myself. Seriously though, you’ve got to give this record a go – 9 tracks, no fillers, like a James Bond soundtrack with Wes Anderson directing. I give it the inevitable opposable thumbs up and a DG rating of 5.5 / 5.7 / 6.0 / 5.9 / 5.8.