Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Enter The Haggis - Roots Rock Reinvented

Enter the Haggis - weird name for a band even by today's standards of odd musical monikers.  But make no mistake, laddie, they're a bonafide talented group of young men from Toronto, Canada.  As the name suggests, their music is Scottish/Celtic flavored, but truly they are the best part of what Indie rock represents. And what a roomful of sound they bring with bagpipes, violin, banjo, mandolin, guitar, accordian, trumpet, whistles, and all sorts of percussion and drums.

The band has been around since 1996, played world wide venues, and have performed on the Live with Regis and Kelly program.  Band members now are Brian Buchanan (who adds the beautiful violin passages), Craig Downie, Trevor Lewington, Mark Abraham, and Bruce McCarthy.  McCarthy came aboard when original member James Campbell left the band.

Their new album, debuting this week, Whitelake, has an interesting history (excerpt is from the band's webpage):

Brian Buchanan almost died on White Lake.

The singer-fiddler-keyboardist for Enter The Haggis went out into the middle of the lake to finish up some lyrics during the recording of the band’s sixth studio album, the aptly named Whitelake, and tipped the canoe half a kilometer from shore. The ice had melted only a week before, and he was fully clothed and without a life jacket. Remarkably, he managed to swim the canoe to the far side of the lake but faced the added challenge of a three-kilometer walk, shivering through the dark woods on the way back to the band’s cottage / recording studio. “If I’d died, there’s no doubt it would have been called a suicide,” laughs Brian, tentatively. “I had just finished recording the vocals for a song called “The Flood”, which talks about life being out of control and water rising up around you.” Thankfully, the 29-year-old from Guelph, Ontario survived to tell the tale as the band releases its anticipated new album, the follow-up to 2008’s Gutter Anthems, which hit #2 on the iTunes World Music charts.

Most interestingly, fans (Haggis Heads!) donated money at various fundraisers to bring the album to production making it a true labor of love and allowed ETH to make the kind of special musical magic they were determined to deliver.  Many of the songs on Whitelake have deep social commentary; "Devil's Son"  (see the embedded video above) is about the late son of Bernie Madoff who committed suicide.  "Whistleblower" brings home the tragedy that is the Congo -  and I've found myself listening to this tune over and over.  "Pseumostophy" starts off like an Appalachian ballad from deep in the hills of West Virginia with tight pleasing harmonies. "Of a Murder" is quite different, haunting, could be a movie soundtrack. 

Not a bad tune in the bunch, and most certainly not your average Celtic punk rock stuff. So many different instruments layered perfectly like a delicious dessert and wrapped in excellent vocals and harmonies. Love it. This is my first introduction to Enter the Haggis, but will not be my last! 

ETH is currently touring in Ireland, but here's their schedule including some US stops.  I'm pouting because Texas is not on the list....yet.  Still time, boys! And buy your own copy of the cd here.

Read more about ETH at ThinkPress, and be sure to visit the ThinkPress FB page.  Awesome place to discover new talent and music.  And many thanks to Monica Hopman at ThinkPress for suggesting Whitelake to me.


Kay Dennison said...

Awesome!!! As a descendant of Highland Scots, this is awesome!!! I'll be watching them!!!! Thanks!!!!

Cowtown Pattie said...

Kay - let's all be Haggis Heads!

Kay Dennison said...

Hell, yeah!!!!!

joared said...

Intrestin'! I don't presume to be able to differentiate between all the variations of rock, and some popular music today, so I'm not questioning your saying this song is IndieRock. This song is what I think of as Folk music, yeah, Celtic tones, too.

Darlene said...

I actually watched the ceremony of serving the Haggis at a Scottish dinner in Edinborough so I can understand where the name came from.