For their fifth album, Elliott Brood wanted to break things. 2008's Mountain Meadows was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, and the band's last record, Days Into Years,
won a 2011 Juno award for roots album of the year. Now was the time to
smash the precedents, break the mould. To withdraw to a farmhouse in
Bath, Ontario, hammering out nine songs in two weeks.
first time, Elliott Brood decided to work with an outside producer: Ian
Blurton, who has helped make roaring records for the Weakerthans,
Skydiggers and Cursed. And for the first time, the group's two
songwriters decided to mine the bare histories of their own lives:
penning verses about the ends of relationships and the tests of
adulthood, long drives, childhood retreating in a rear-view mirror. "Work and Love will make a man out of you," the Constantines sang; and so here is Elliott Brood's Work and Love, their most personal album to date, the sound of a grown-up band searching their hearts for all they've lost and gained.
Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso and Stephen Pitkin recorded Work and Love
in the cold spring of 2014, as the ice was coming apart on Lake
Ontario. They deserted their families and holed up in the Tragically
Hip's Bathhouse studio, scarcely emerging - waking and playing and
playing and playing, one song a day. The magic usually happened some
time after midnight, when they were "just tired enough". Blurton would
come out and lure them into a new place: a different, even truer
They called him "the Wizard". Blurton the Wizard and
engineer Nyles "the Mad Scientist" Spencer, filling the corners of songs
with burred effects and tape loops. Elliott Brood had "played it safe"
for four records, they claim: Blurton sharpened their sound, weathered
and interrogated it, forced the three musicians to confront their own
habits. And it made for a full-length that gestures toward the Hip and
the Cons as much as it does to Richard Buckner and Whiskeytown. Adding
dimension to select tracks on the album, the band is joined by Aaron
Goldtein (City and Colour, Daniel Ramano) on Pedal Steel and John
Dinsmore (Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer) on bass (for 'Each Other's
These songs are loud and quiet but mostly loud, and always
reaching toward something. First loves, lost loves, fuck-ups and young
men's just desserts. Laforet has called Work and Love a "lament
for youth", but it's also a eulogy for the moments that came just
after, on the doorstep of manhood. It's music of remembered abandon, new
burdens, and those nights, years ago, when the moonlit fields seemed to
go on forever. It's Elliott Brood at their sheerest, facing forward and
backward at the same time.
Formed in 2002, Elliott Brood (the
name, a bastardized homage to the fem fatal character in the 1984
Baseball film 'The Natural') united teenage pals Sasso and Laforet over
their grown-up love for Neil Young, the Band and the Flying Burrito
Brothers. Pitkin was an accidental miracle: he fell into the group after
working sound at one of their earliest concerts, offering to record
their first EP. Tin Type was a college radio hit and soon this compact
trio was making some big noise. Across five subsequent albums, sharing
vocals and trading instruments - each of the band-members seems to play
everything - Elliott Brood have become one of the premier acts in
Canadian roots music.
Work and Love is out October 21st, 2014 on Paper Bag Records.