Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
It’s always interesting to watch a band slowly creep its way into music fans’ radar; not through heavy community hype or big dollars or trendhopping, but with a live show honed finely into a room-destroying spectacle and a sound raw and immediate enough to suggest there’s legitimacy under the showiness and the kinks. The Schomberg Fair have done just that, and after letting their second full-length, Gospel, out now on Hi-Hat Recordings, coast along since its late-last-fall release, the city is starting to take notice.
With a sound that can most easily be linked with the familiar punk-laced bluesgrass of the United Steel Workers of Montreal, Schomberg Fair combine similar elements of high-strung guitar rhythms with Americana minimalism and enough insight from singer/songwriter Matt Bahen to see the common but quiet struggles of addiction and destruction, unravelling the tragedies and weaving them into broader tales of despair (“Can’t Go Home,” streaming above) and redemption (“Strange Kind of Grace”). The insanely rattling baritone vocal accompaniment of bassist/vocalist Nathan Sidon is pure hymn dirge, and while it stamps a seal of recognition all over this band’s sound, it also strips them of a certain universality, its depth more comical than spiritual. Nonetheless, it’s used sparsely enough and at times even helps slow the band down to a contemplative hush (“Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”) not unlike the haunting, hushed folk moments from Toronto’s Bruce Peninsula, hinting at much more than the breakneck speed with which Schomberg Fair has rushed by so far.