musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: May 2017

Introducing… Midnight Vesta


In Midnight Vesta’s “Second Chances,” a song from their latest album Seconds, they consider the possibility of reincarnation — a chance to come back for a “do-over” to correct the mistakes made in a previous lifetime. Or at the very least, can one be given the opportunity to make amends in a failed relationship — to heal, renew and recapture the original magic? It’s a serious contemplation set to a pretty pop song with the gentle sensitivity of a picked acoustic guitar, soft percussion and slightly wistful, inquisitive vocals that builds into a lushly instrumented pop song with buckets of tantalizing guitars.

The accompanying video is precious. Our protagonist, reimagined as a young boy, powers through his day at his warehouse job, dreaming of his girl. As he successfully completes his tasks, from sweeping the floor to wrapping boxes to counting pallets, we’re left to wonder if, having been reawakened and “reborn” as it were (quite literally, in this particular case), he could rekindle an extinguished flame.

It is a happy ending, as our working class hero returns home, all grown up, to find his love waiting for him. So sweet.

Midnight Vesta, based in Toronto, has transitioned from a banjo-based folk band to a guitar-loving quartet, yet still maintains that homey, personal feel. The thematic focus of Seconds is on transition. “Life is about managing the twists and turns that you encounter day-to-day. The date of birth, the date of death, and the “dash” in between: the loss of loved ones, failed relationships, and the prospect of new ones.”

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Introducing… Kurt Swinghammer

Kurt Swinghammer

Photo by Lori Cullen

Sometimes the best stories are not the grandiose, but the quiet, intensely personal ones. In “Jack Layton and Grace Appleton,” Kurt Swinghammer sings a touchingly sweet and poignant tribute to Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party — and his mom (Swinghammer’s, that is). These were two people who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with each other, except that they passed away on the same day and had a profound impact on him. The video for this song features Swinghammer’s 1200 hand-drawn frames, in a lovingly created work of art.

As he explains it:

I turned on the TV one morning to see CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge with tears in his eyes announcing the death of Jack Layton, the charismatic leader of Canada’s left wing New Democratic Party. It was a sad start to a new day, but then later that afternoon my mom died. These two people were very important to me for entirely different reasons, and as often is the case with significant personal experiences, it inspired me to write.

This was the first musical piece that was developed into a song cycle entitled Another Another, his 13th full-length release, in memory of his mother. At the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta, he had access to their collection of synthesizers, and it was there that his album took shape. This track includes the sounds of a rare Clavivox, first invented in 1952. Michael Phillip Wojewoda engineered the recordings on the Rolling Stones Mobile desk.

Kurt Swinghammer is a Toronto-based musician and visual artist who balances his personal projects and his commercial work. The album cover, his own illustration, is a portrait of his mother, Grace, with a quote from Brian Eno’s Another Green World. His mom was a fan of Eno’s ambient masterpiece, “Music For Airports,” and he played it for her during her final days, so this is quite fitting. Previous projects include co-writing and arranging Lori Cullen’s “Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs” and composing the score for an episode of David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” television series. He took part in Artists Against Racism, contributing an illustration to their nationwide Canadian billboard campaign.

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