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Last year during Lawnya Vawnya I ventured down to The Ship to catch one of my favourite acts Shotgun Jimmie. The band was on fire, everyone was having a great time, Steve Lambke (Baby Eagle) and CBC Radio 3’s Vish Khanna even joined the band as an impromptu tambourine section. Halfway through the set Jimmie stopped and introduced his cardigan-clad bass player, Jon Mckiel, who stepped up to the microphone to perform some of his own original material. At first I was a little apprehensive never having heard of Mckiel and being super-pumped about seeing Shotgun Jimmie. But a couple minutes into Mckiel’s first song I found myself bopping and singing along. Thoroughly impressed by Mckiel’s originals I picked up a copy of his Confidence Lodge EP before leaving that night.
Over the weeks that followed I played the EP over and over again wishing its five songs would somehow magically multiply into a full album. Although most would likely cite the up-beat “Motion Pictures” and Hayden-esque toe-tapper “Songs at Night” as the EP’s standout tracks, I find myself more drawn to the slower, darker material. Today’s track “Monster of the Mirimichi” is a prime example, with it’s sparse drum and bass chug punctuated by understated, tasteful guitar licks recalling hints of Magnolia Electric Company. “Rupert May 18” is the EP’s strangest track, sounding like the perfect dirge to accompany a long, slow march to the gallows. The closing song “Snow Owls” is probably my favourite, a heart-wrenching lament of losing one’s soul in Alberta.
Jon Mckiel is in town this week for a couple of shows. You can catch him on Friday (Dec 2nd) at The Ship with fellow Nova Scotians, Construction & Destruction and local phenomenon Thee Internet. McKiel will also be opening for Montreal rockers Hollerado Saturday (Dec 3rd) at The Ship. You can also download McKiel’s Confidence Lodge EP and his first full length album, Tonka War Cloud which was just released this past October via Jon’s Bandcamp page.