Archive for the Carolyn Mark Category

Canadiana Week: Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle

Posted in Canadiana Week, Carolyn Mark, NQ Arbuckle on February 16, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

One of the problems you can run into sometimes when you write a music blog and work at a radio station is that there is often just too much music to listen to. E-mails, direct mails, download sites, promoters, other blogs… there’s a lot to keep up with. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me… it’s a nice problem to have… I’m just trying to explain why it can take something like six months for me to finally get around to writing about an album like Let’s Just Stay Here from Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle.

I’ve had my hands on this one for a while now (and I’ve always liked it), but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and give it it’s due. This week’s theme gives me the perfect opportunity to do just that.
This record is a collaboration between Vancouver singer/songwriter Carolyn Mark and the Toronto based alt-country outfit NQ Arbuckle. Since I didn’t know anything about either of these artists before I heard this record, I think it best to begin with a brief bio of each artist.
Carolyn Mark grew up on a dairy farm in British Columbia where her father taught her to play piano as a child. By the early 1990’s she was playing as a member of an all-girl rock group called the Vinaigrettes. She briefly paired with Neko Case toward the end of the decade to tour and release one live album billed as The Corn Sisters. For the last ten years, however, Carolyn has made her Mark (sorry… had to) as a solo artist.
NQ Arbuckle is fronted by Neville Quinlan, and their bass player John Dinsmore used to be a bull fighter. Other than that… I still don’t know too much about this band other than they have released three albums of their own before this one, and their previous effort was produced by blog favorite Luke Doucet and was nominated for best roots album at the 2009 Juno Awards.
For this release, the goal was to make an album that consisted of equal parts Mark originals, Arbuckle originals, and covers. For the most part that’s what happened… even if Mark seems to take more of the spotlight at times. She can’t help it really, her moody vocals are the perfect fit for most of the album’s dark subject matter. Even on the tracks where Arbuckle’s Quinlan carries the lead, Mark’s gentle harmonies perfectly frame his road weary deliveries.
At the end of the day, the album features six tunes from Mark, three from NQ Arbuckle, and three covers. Sonically, the album moves from the down tempo twang of songs like “All Time Low” and “Saskatoon Tonight” to the loping folk of “Itchy Feet” and the full on rock of “Toronto/Canada Day” with ease. It’s a well rounded album, and one I’m glad I was pushed back into listening to (thanks Sally). I only wish I’d taken the time to delve into it sooner.
I’d like to share two tracks from the album here… one each from Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle. First is Arbuckle’s “Officer Down,” a moody piece that features tremendous harmonies from Mark and one of my favorite lyrics of recent memory… “It’s hard to be a good man listening to the Drive-By Truckers.” Second is Mark’s “Itchy Feet,” and its gentle banjo pluckings.
Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle: Officer Down (Buy Album)
Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle: Itchy Feet (Buy Album)