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Cirque Du Soleil
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Patricia Barber
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
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Time Line
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Julius Curcio
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Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Rising Stars [Issue #22]
The Stills: Changes May Be Good
By Mandana Beigi
Without Feathers (CD Vice)

The Stills took the world by surprise with the release of their debut album in 2003. Logic Will Break Your Heart was a work of genius one of those rare albums that crawls into the soul and somehow soothes the pain and fills up all the emptiness. I must admit that as a huge Nirvana fan, and after years of not having a favorite band, I found what I was searching for in this Canadian four-piece from Montreal.

They stepped in right when I (and maybe you, too) was getting sick of all the melodramatic bands with the super catchy tunes, the disconnected lyrics, the cool haircuts, and the “designer punk” outfits! And then came The Stills with this incredible energy and boldness that would pierce through every layer of emotion in your body.

For their sophomore release, The Stills bid farewell to their art-rock apocalyptic approach and headed toward a more rootsy ‘70s-influenced direction. A complete reinvention for a band that with only one record became so dear and near to my heart. So, as a fan, yes, I was saddened (or dare I say, heartbroken) to see the departure of that blunt yet mysterious sound; but as a journalist, I must recognize and respect this brave step toward musical evolution and creative growth.

A few weeks ago, I chatted with Tim Fletcher (vocals, guitars) about the new record and all the changes that they have gone through during the past two years. In September 2005, the band announced the departure of founding member Greg Paquet (guitars). Dave Hamelin moved over from drums to replace Greg and lead the vocals for the band. Shortly after, touring keyboardist Liam O’Neil and Sea Ray drummer Colin Brooks were also added to the new lineup.

The arrival of horn-led tunes and piano-based arrangements has softened up the band’s original post-punk edges. “We adopted a different philosophy; something away from the first record,” described Tim. “It happened naturally but I think consciously, we wanted to divert and not repeat ourselves again.”

Without Feathers is a fine collection of mostly celebratory songs in a major key, but the lyrics are filled with tangible anguish and sensitivity. “In the first album, we were touching on themes of love and alienation. In this [album], we were actually dealing with those things in our personal lives,” said Tim. “Lyrically, this is much darker than the first one, but the music is more hopeful to counterbalance that.” Soulful songs with organic arrangements, group vocals, and country-influenced music are themes of this album. Dave is a phenomenal songwriter/lyricist with multidimensional creativity, but his vocals (as a lead singer) lack the depth and strength needed to bring out the wonderful textures of his compositions. As for Tim, their new sound “is another experiment during this journey” and “a learning process in figuring out music in all its shapes, forms, and facets.”

Risks, energy, mysteriousness, and unpredictability were what made The Stills a special band three years ago. They just managed to reuse all those characteristics in a different way now. And as Tim said, “we can only grow from here and become more adventurous.”

The anticipation of what they will dip themselves into next time is exciting, and I think I am ready to fall in love with The Still all over again.

Without Feathers

Changes May Be Good The Stills Without Feathers

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