Review – “It’s All Shaken Wonder” – The Provincial Archive

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis image004

For their third full-length album, Edmonton’s The Provincial Archive opted for something new. For the first time the band went into studio to record their upcoming release It’s All Shaken Wonder, set to come out later this month as a follow up to June’s Hide Like a Secret EP. Both releases from the indie rockers feature the moving and rhythmic “Daisy Garden” about singer/guitarist Craig Schram’s grandmother and her experience with Alzheimer’s, with part of the proceeds of June’s EP going to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada through Boom Charity.

Considering how closely the two albums are being released, it makes sense that there’s an overlap with the sound on the pairing. The four-piece of multi-instrumentalists keep to their folk roots with steady beats and authentic, simplistic vocals that create a somber, if peaceful, aesthetic.

There’s a definite folksy touch to Hide Like a Secret as “The Pointe Work” leans heavily on the band’s well-known use of the banjo, while “Young & Bloodless” taps into the charismatic repetitive-style chorus that later reappears on It’s All Shaken Wonder’s catchy “In The Morning.” Even with a cover of Elliot Smith’s “Son of Sam,” the EP is in many ways a set up for what’s to come later this summer, beginning with the first track.

But “Daisy Garden” is the only duplicate track from The Provincial Archives’ summer releases as It’s All Shaken Wonder grows outwards from that. There’s a noticeable shift between the two albums as “Full of Water” offers up a synth-heavy open. While “Land Machines” goes back to the band’s roots, “The Market” offers up a fusion of both that moves past the duality of “Full of Water” and fully merges the sounds.

The rest of It’s All Shaken Wonder follows through with that, as though the opening songs were acting as a bridge from their older material to this. Throughout, Schram’s vocals remain a consistent, fixed mark for The Provincial Archive with their semi-strained, melancholic quality. On tracks like “Lay The Keel,” his voice adds the band’s newfound sound over a more traditional folk song, while other tracks rely more on the instrumentation for that effect.

There’s something to be said for how seamlessly the band has transitioned through to their upcoming release. Hide Like a Secret flows into It’s All Shaken Wonder, thanks primarily to the band’s ability to blend their folk roots with more modern sounds. While each obviously stands on its own, there’s a unity and thoughtfulness to the releases that makes for a captivating, introspective listen.

Top Tracks: “Daisy Garden”; “In The Morning”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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