Introducing Basia Bulat
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

It is my pleasure to today wish you a Happy 2007, a year of dazzle, razzle and tender kindnesses, and to do so by at last - at last! - sharing one of my favourite discoveries of 2006. Her name is Basia Bulat.

Basia is a singer-songwriter from London, Ontario, dwelling in Toronto, who recorded Oh My Darling with my friend Howard Bilerman at the Hotel2Tango in Montreal. A studio for Silver Mt Zions and Arcade Fires, home suddenly to her charging pop-folk. Rough Trade has snapped up her album for release outside North America, but she is still (bafflingly) in search of a label in Canada/USA.

A couple of months ago I voted on the most exciting Canadian acts of 2006, and Basia was #3 on my ballot, just behind Swan Lake and Destroyer. I wrote: "songs that clatter with all the clatter clatter clatter of a fine set of drums. And a voice like the moon, that time." And this is true. The moon, that time. (You know the time.) It's a voice that opens wide, wide, wide, something with tinges of Joni Mitchell, Leslie Feist or even Amália Rodrigues, and yet so unhidden in comparison - a voice that is above all exciting to listen to, with so much volleying through it. Like sticking your head into the thick of fireworks, of northern lights, feelings flashing full in your face.

And it's a pretty music, catchy and hot; and it's been sustaining me for months. And I guarantee that one of the songs below will be in my Best Songs of 2007.

Basia Bulat - "Snakes and Ladders". One of my favourite things about this album is the way the drums are played on songs like this. They hurtle at double-speed, ratatat-tat, chasing the singer breathless. So many female songwriters take-it-always-easy, languishing in slow piano chords and then the occasional strident bit. Here it's like the band (Basia, drums, strings) are throwing themselves down a hill, feet scarcely keeping up with their feelings, this close to tumbling head-over-heels into something. And indeed so it is: "It's the way we come undone / what a perfect accident / oh we danced around them all / like we didn't even notice / oh / at the way we'd come undone."

Basia Bulat - "The Pilgriming Vine". One of the last songs recorded in these sessions, and I like to imagine the musicians sitting there despondent, nothing quite catching, Christmas lights twinkling, when in through the door troops a marching band - bass-drum, cymbal, flute, string section, a guy with a piano balanced on his open palm. And suddenly they know exactly where the song's headed, where it ought to be headed, the path that leads from the girl and her acoustic guitar, hopes in hand, to the moment at 2:55 when with her voice doubled-up we hear every trembling angle of what she's (we're all) waiting for: "Tell me I'm always your Only," she sings. Down by the maypole. If you go.

(My suggestion to you, dear readers, on this January 1st: do go.)

[Basia Bulat's MySpace (replete with Strokes cover) is here, her homepage is here. Her album is due in March in the UK but she still seeks a label elsewhere. She plays The Drake Hotel in Toronto this Thursday, the day before my birthday.]

---

The final version of Herman Dune's "I Wish That I Could See You Soon" music video is now online. All sorts of things are invisible! I think I liked it better with goofy green men, though.

Posted by Sean at January 1, 2007 11:00 AM
Comments

Happy New Year, Sean!

Posted by Mike at January 1, 2007 11:16 AM

I think I liked the goofy green men better as well.

Oh, well. I do still give them tons of respect for playing before such a demanding audience.

Posted by Elizabeth. at January 1, 2007 12:12 PM

thank-you for the herman dune video link. best first thing of 2007 to watch in the world ever. ever ever.

Posted by michelle. at January 1, 2007 1:55 PM

Happy new year to you too, Mike.

Fun fact: Basia Bulat has opened for David Herman-Dune!

Posted by Sean at January 1, 2007 2:28 PM

Wow. this is amazing. Basia has been on constant repeat for the last two hours. and counting.

A beautiful year to you, Sean.
And to Dan and Jordan.

Posted by Tom at January 1, 2007 4:00 PM

Happy New Year to you Sean, Jordan and Dan included. My friend was just asking me for some other good bands I knew, and I told her about the Cay. Now she is raving about the music on MSN. Just something that will (hopefully) make your day better, Jordan. She's also hooked Basia Bulat's songs.

Also note that I'm living in a little town called Medicine Hat, while she's in London, ONT. Obviously I'm stuck where there is no musical action other than Kalan Porter (ugh).

Anyways, happy new year, and I'm looking forward to another year of good music off this site

Posted by J.S. at January 1, 2007 5:14 PM

I know how long you've been waiting to write about this! Glad to see that the time finally came around, and that you did not go mad in the meantime.

Posted by Matthew at January 1, 2007 6:32 PM

I too like the goofy green men better. But at least the little boy in blue is still grooving away on his block.
Happy New Years Sean (J & D)

post makes me think of NZ. sigh.

Posted by ru at January 2, 2007 11:02 AM

Oh and Basia's music is delicious

Posted by ru at January 2, 2007 11:03 AM

I'm thrilled to hear about a artist from London, ON (as it is my hometown and doesn't get much recognition short of the whole Rachel Mcadams-Ryan Gosling business). And not only is it a Canadian small-town spotlight piece like i would expect with a London, ON artist, but she's turning quite a few heads. And why not, these tracks are incredible.
Thanks!

Posted by raychel at January 2, 2007 5:21 PM

and what girl doesn't want to be told she is always an only....

best new years wishes to all, and always keep unearthing this music, for if we are but stars searching for black skies in which to shine brightly...we will need a killer soundtrack.

Posted by Kinnon at January 2, 2007 10:12 PM

Basia is the best,
The music is absolutely mindblowingly good,
but it's her personality and her charms that really ties everything together.

She's just the best and she deserves everything nice that's happening to her.

love ya basia!

Posted by raph at January 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Sigh...I only wish she'd been out in the open months and months and months ago. Those who are hearing her for the first time now, well, you've all been missing out. Enjoy her to the fullest extent.

Thanks to Helmi for introducing her music to me.

Posted by Brandon at January 22, 2007 1:27 AM

Yes, what an exciting voice! Listening to her album now - very very good.

Posted by fred at March 11, 2007 11:59 AM

The link for The Pilgriming Vine is busted.

Posted by Peter at June 16, 2007 11:02 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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