Friday, September 25, 2015


White Juan was the name given to the hurricane-strength blizzard that hit Nova Scotia and other parts of the Maritimes in 2004, just months after Hurricane Juan had blasted through.  White Juan saw ridiculous snowfall amounts, and winds up to 125 kilometers per hour.  It was intense and scary, just like the song of the same name that opens this album.  Group members no doubt remember the nor'easter well, as they shred guitars and throats on the brief, hard-core track, screaming "I'm not ready for this."

It's a surprising start to the group's fourth album, at least for those expecting something recognizable as Maritime and roots.  But bigger fans know to expect contradictions and sharp left turns from The Stanfields, a band always willing to take the road less traveled, especially if its rocky.  And as much as they can rant and roar a good bouzouki tune, this one's leaning even heavier towards electric and pounding tunes, after 2013's acoustic outing, For King and Country.  First single Fight Song sounds like a Saturday night theme for soccer hooligans, Metallica via Dublin: "This is our house, are you ready for the fisticuffs?" And later, "This is our house, take your medicine and fly the fiddle and fuck away from wence you came, hot time in the old town tonight."

While the band uses the F-bomb, we don't mention the C-word here.  That's Celtic, of course.  They aren't going to meet anyone's definition of that, but you can pick out the heritage moments.  The settings are familiar, like the waterfront in Sunday Warships, but this about current culture, how traditional values are being undermined, and how people are making do in this era:  "I spend my waking hours pixelated and engrossed."  The computer is the main character, as it has become for most of us.  Will The Circuit Be Unbroken is their song for the new folk music, "in the sky drones, in the sky."  This is hard-drive music.

This is the last flourish for the old band; Jason Wright and Gene Harris moved on after recording the album, and new players Dillan Tate and Calen Kinney are already on the road.  Who knows what to expect next?  With The Stanfields, all you can do is plan for a surprise.

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