reviewed by Laura Stanley
Seven piece Cape Breton band The Tom Fun Orchestra have gained a very steady following thanks to their debut record You Will Land With a Thud which won the band two East Coast Music Awards. In Earthworm Heart, their sophomore album, The Tom Fun Orchestra pack an impressive fourteen songs with high energy and some infectious fun.
Self-categorized under the genre of “cluster rock,” the band’s sound could not be summarized any better. With a combination of folk, rock, and this danceable pop-punk, every passing song in Earthworm Heart is a new mixture of sounds that come together for more than a few satisfying discoveries.
Seasonally fitting, Earthworm Heart begins with the rough and tumble, “Merry Christmas Jim.” What technically could fall under the “anti-Christmas song” realm, leave room on your holiday playlist for this animated opener. (The Tom Fun Orchestra also have a song featured on The Line of Best Fit’s Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada 4 compilation.)
In numerous high powered horn filled tracks, “Winter Spring,” the closer with a stellar ending “Sympathetic Wolf,” and the album high point, “Rowing Away,” to name a few, The Tom Fun Orchestra are creating intense instrumental songs with almost a reckless aspect about them but at the same time there’s always a feeling of control by the band.
One of the many appealing qualities about The Tom Fun Orchestra as a whole is the vocal exchanges between lead singer Ian MacDougall and backing vocalist Breagh Potter. Where MacDougall’s vocals are extremely coarse, we’re talking whisky and cigarette kind of coarse, Potter’s sweet tones contrast them. The mellower “Lungs” and the equally softer, compared to most of Earthworm Heart, “Boxcar Lullaby,” Potter’s vocals shine through the rugged darkness for a great effect.
Another standout characteristic of The Tom Fun Orchestra’s second record is the small turn of phrases found in numerous songs. “Take A Pickaxe to the morning and break into the day,” MacDougall sings in “Sympathetic Wolf” or “It’s a sentimental shrapnel that’s tearing you in two” in “Anchors Aweigh.” So both lines are not the most cheerful but the strength of these expressions, and others, are not to go unnoticed.
Fourteen songs rich with instrumentation and style, The Tom Fun Orchestra have produced a very solid sophomore record.
Earthworm Heart is available on Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Rowing Away,” “Sympathetic Wolf”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)