The Living Hour
Lovely Lonely (Collection of Covers for Hollow Hearts)
Review by Kent Manthie
Back up to the very present: March, 2018. Winnipeg-based band, The Living Hour, has just released an EP of cover songs. On Lovely Lonely there are five songs, altogether. We have, a cover of the song German chanteuse Nico recorded, way back, about 48+ years ago, “Three Days”, a song written by Jackson Browne which Nico recorded back in her heyday. Also included; “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” (The Ink Spots); “Overwhelmed With Pride”, originally done by Avi Buffalo; “Tous Les Garcons”, which is a beautiful rendition of the Francoise Hardy hit French pop song. There’s also “For Nico”, undoubtedly, The Living Hour’s tribute to Nico.
Lovely Lonely begins with “Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles”, the aforementioned Francoise Hardy song. It sets the stage for the blissed out, meditatively quiescent lude-pop which blankets the EP. After that we go gamboling through the park with “I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire” (The Ink Spots), then “Overwhelmed With Pride” (Avi Buffalo). After that come the two Nico songs, “For Nico” and “These Days”, written, as I mentioned, by Jackson Browne.
When all is said and done, I came away with a calming, pleasant feeling. Not having heard of The Living Hour before I received this album, I got a happy surprise as I’m sure many of you will too, once you listen to this EP.
A bit of background on The Living Hour: they hail from our neighbors from the Great White North (Canada); Winninpeg, Manitoba, to be exact. What seems to be a plus, for the listener as well as the band, themselves, is that, since Lovely Lonely was “self-released”, they’re obviously not attached to any label, at least as of the making of this EP. That is a good sign, especially the fact that they’re not tied into any life-sucking contract from some soulless corporate devil major label, so weren’t appointed a minder to keep tabs on them while working in the studio, pressing for “a few strings here” or “some more dance-y beats there”, etc. (that reminds me of the film One Trick Pony, a cinematic account of Paul Simon’s making of the album of the same name. One thing, in particular: at some point, maybe a little bit past the halfway point or further, as Simon and his band (including an appearance by legendary bassist (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, etc.), Tony Levin(!!)) are recording the songs in the studio, the label decides, since he seems to be “dragging his feet” a little (at least in their minds), to send in one of their “in-house” record producers, sardonically and hilariously played by Lou Reed. You really have to see it to appreciate the point, but Reed’s basically acting the part of a most odious type, the kind of major label stooge with whom Lou, no doubt, had had some interaction with at some point over the previous decade or so that he’d been making his own albums.
OK, so, back to The Living Hour: hailing from Winnipeg, they’ve been busting their asses, working up a slick repertoire of solid stuff, no doubt, in clubs, small-ish venues and such and, though I can’t say either way, I’d think they’d probably picked up somewhat of a cult of loyal fans, as do many local acts who are good enough to attract such a following (and much deservedly, too, I might add). One of the highlights of The Living End is the soothing, mellow, even hauntingly suave vocal stylings of Sam Barty.
I do hope that they will be sporting a new album – full length, next time – in the near future. I will also keep my eye on their schedule of tour dates, for, though I’m no longer in California (for the time being: I have to keep reminding myself of that, I do so miss it there. Funny, how, after living somewhere long enough, you get used to it, it becomes natural and easy to take for granted, etc. But when you move away, I mean, move to a different state, it soon becomes quite apparent just how great you had it where you were. Oh, yes, the price of living is a bit lower where I am, but at what price? I look forward to the day I head back to CA, this time going straight back to Los Angeles (after a few years there I relocated to San Diego and stayed there far longer than I’d anticipated).
There I go again, off on a tangent, writing about my own situation. Anyway, let’s get back to the subject at hand: this wonderful new (is it just new to me?) band: The Living Hour. They are a must-hear, must-see band. I look forward to seeing them play live and would gladly write a crisp, concise, yet elaborated run-down of the event. But for now, I hope you too will enjoy this new EP: interpretations of other songwriter’s music. I also look forward to hearing some original material that I’m hoping will manifest itself in the months to come.
As for a place to go to read more about them and/or to make a purchase, a place to be, on the web, would include, http://www.livinghourband.com/. One more thing: look for them to be on one of the many stages at this year’s SXSW, the now-giant, co-opted by big labels and radio station yearly showcase of new bands, new faces as well as some familiar ones, debuting new stuff as well as a grand old time on the town, in Austin, TX, probably the hippest city in the state!
For now, just take my word for it: these guys are great. –KM.