Big Bird in a Small Cage
Down at the Beach
Man Like You
Where the Wild Things Are
Machinery of the Heavens
Wooden Arms is Patrick Watson’s highly anticipated follow-up to the critically acclaimed Close to Paradise, which vaulted the man and his band to international stardom in 2007. The Montreal band toured non-stop for two years following initial Canadian release of Close to Paradise in 2006, and in many ways Wooden Arms is the story and sound of a band waking up in strange places all around the world.
Whether it’s the bicycle-city sound of “Beijing,” or the warmth of “a hole in the wall” in “sweet New Orleans” on “Big Bird in a Small Cage,” or the haunting European waltz of the title track, you can’t help but feel in listening to Wooden Arms like you’re on the road with the band. Sometimes it’s dirty, sometimes it’s wild, but it’s never, ever boring.
Close to Paradise won Canada’s prestigious Polaris Prize in 2007, turning more than a few heads in beating out offerings from Arcade Fire and Feist, among others. By the time it saw release in the United States, Europe and Japan, the band was flying all over the world, garnering rave reviews for the album and their blistering live show alike.
When the dust had settled the band had written enough songs on the road to lay down a new record in a few short months at the end of 2008 in Montreal. On the album’s opener, “Fireweed,” Watson sings, “So we dug ourselves a hole, and planted all our skin; like a seed in the ground, to grow again.” And you can hear stripped down rejuvenation all over Wooden Arms; Watson’s voice and orchestrations shine brighter against a rhythmic percussive foundation that has been brought to the forefront.
But Wooden Arms isn’t just the sound of a band learning how to build a slicker wall of sound together. The playful album closer “Machinery of the Heavens” is almost a full on swing-tune; “Big Bird in a Small Cage” proves they’re capable of producing a perfect country-pop song, and fans of “The Great Escape” from Close to Paradise will have a hard-time resisting the heart-wrenching just-voice-and-guitar of “Man of Like You.”
Perhaps most importantly though, Wooden Arms showcases both Watson and his bandmates as genuine composers, and the serious musicians that they are—from the orchestral pull of “Tracy’s Waters,” to Simon Angell’s noise-twang on “Traveling Salesman” to drummer Robbie Kuster’s jaw-dropping performances and his string piece “Hommage,” to the anchor of Mishka Stein’s bass on the instrumental freak-out number, “Down at the Beach.”
Wooden Arms will be released April 28th in Canada and May 5th in the USA.
Patrick Watson & the Wooden Arms have just announced a string of U.S. shows in May, including shows in New York, Chicago and LA, and wrapping up with an appearance at The Sasquatch Fesitval at the Gorge in Washington. These will be their first US shows since the jaw-dropping CMJ performance in new York back in October. (Which by the way, you can still hear in its entirey thanks to NPR and KEXP).
"Recorded with the help of Seattle's KEXP, this was one of the best live shows I've seen all year, anywhere. Watson is a dynamic performer who gets deep inside the songs, and you can tell. His face contorts, his body shifts as he becomes the characters and stories he sings. But there's more to Watson than his colorful songs. He has one of the best bands performing music these days, able to shift moods from funny to scary, and from cartoony to evocative of street life, often in the same song."
Patrick Watson's Wooden Arms has been shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Prize. This is the second time they've been nominated for the award, after having won it the first time around in 2007. You can see the rest of the Short List here.
"Wooden Arms, Patrick Watson's 3rd full length is so intoxicating, so magical, that it has pushed every thing I've heard since, down a notch, or two."
Check out Patrick Watson on Yahoo's take-away style feature, the New Now, with acoustic performances in LA ...
"The moment I heard Patrick Watson's new record, Wooden Arms, it was love at first listen. ... Wooden Arms is a beautiful collection of songs that bring together delicate pop, ethereal atmosphere and a minimalist sense of composition."
"The spontaneous sounding arrangements - topped by Watson's uniquely mercurial voice - are at turns ornate, grand and subtle, but never less than totally bewitching."
"a series of impressionist vignettes into a quick-seeming 45-minute session perfect for late nights and lonely bus rides."
"third album of baroque pop is a meandering path of Puckish enthusiasm and Jeff Buckley warmth, moonlit and effusive with churning pianos, tense strings, and crisp xylophone ... [4 stars] "
"a gigantic leap forward in Patrick Watson and his band's ability to tell stories and capture precise moods with a cinematic grace"
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