Have you ever wondered what it sounds like to live inside of a movie directed by surrealist filmmaker David Lynch? Brooding Toronto based trio Timber Timbre just might have the answer. Despite the fact that the band has spent most of their careers as a grossly haunted folk project, it didn’t stop them from radically overhauling their sound for their outstanding fourth LP Creep on Creepin’ On, released in April of this year. For their newest record, Timber Timbre took the swampy blues and spine tingling vocals they built their careers on and used those elements as a jumping off point to create a style of supremely creepy retro-rock that sounds inherently Lynchian. Timbre Timber’s dirty brand of ramshackle doo-wop is the kind of music that makes you feel like you just spent a night in the gutter but have woken up with a story that’s too strange to believe.
Where the group of multi-instrumentalists including Taylor Kirk, Simon Trottier, and Mika Posen once used spare acoustic guitars, Posen’s violin and viola, and keyboards to create folky death marches, the band now favors jaunty piano, trumpets, saxophones, blasts of electric noise, and classically cool vocals from Kirk that carry shreds of Elvis Presley’s sneer and the dark croon of singers like Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. The group hasn’t abandoned their taste for sparse instrumentation and open space however, as acoustic guitars, keyboards, and gloomy melodies still make their way into Timber Timbre’s woodwork. What comes as a result is a slinky style of minimalist rock and roll and doo-wop that has the power to stir souls, wrench hearts, and would sound perfectly at home alongside the music David Lynch employed in films like “Blue Velvet” and the director’s cult TV show “Twin Peaks”.
But just because Timber Timbre have an odd streak and can make one beg the question “Who killed Laura Palmer?” doesn’t mean they’re only for listeners who have a taste for the haunting and bizarre. Kirk’s lyrics expound of subjects including romantic frustration, mortality, and searching for one’s place in the world, subjects that have likely affected all of us at one point or another. The band’s music is also frequently very beautiful existing mostly in the form of ballads sung with a too-cool-for-school conviction or a stunning frailty. Timber Timbre’s early material in particular has the quality of hushed folk music that is almost prayer like in its intense self awareness and undeniable beauty.
Since they began playing together in 2005, Kirk, Trottier, and Posen have been racking up a respectable amount of accolades in their native Canada. After releasing two albums independently, Cedar Shakes in 2006 and Medicinals in 2007, Timber Timbre signed to indie label Out of This Spark in 2009 who released their the band’s third album, the eponymous Timber Timbre. In that same year the band signed to larger indie Arts and Crafts who gave the album a wider release and got Timber Timbre’s music into more hands than ever before. The album was included in the longlist for the Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize, which recognizes the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic value. This year the band has been included on the Polaris Music Prize’s shortlist for Creep on Creepin’ On among a list of nine other nominees.
Do: listen to Timber Timbre in seedy underground bars and while solving surreal mysteries
Don’t: listen to Timber Timbre if you are afraid of the dark
Timber Timbre is currently on a European and Canadian tour playing club dates and festivals overseas including The Way Out West Festival in Sweden, Lowlands Festival in Holland, and End of the Road Festival in the UK. The band currently doesn’t have any Texas dates lined up or any in the US for that matter but will likely make a stop somewhere nearby in the near future. You can pick up the band’s LPs at Arts and Crafts.