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Penny Blacks | Harbour

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Rock: Folk Rock Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Type: Lyrical
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by Penny Blacks

Buzzing acoustic guitar, churning strings and ear-catching dynamic arrangements lift desperate tales of heartbreak and regret up above dark tides and into the serious moonlight. The perfect soundtrack for your autumn.
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. You'll Never Know
2:21 $0.99
2. Only Good Enough
4:45 $0.99
3. She's Losing Herself
2:56 $0.99
4. Bitter Bruisers' Society
4:17 $0.99
5. Things Can't Stay the Same
3:26 $0.99
6. Homefire Ashes
4:12 $0.99
7. Heaven Help Your Heart
6:59 $0.99
8. This Winding Comet Tail
4:34 $0.99
9. Maybe You Should Get Out
5:18 $0.99
10. January in God-damn
4:18 $0.99
11. The Caspian Sea
3:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Formed in the streetlamp-lit, foggy streets of Saint John, New Brunswick in 2006, Penny Blacks inhabit a huge musical landscape that is haunted by the ghosts of longing and regret. Vocalist Jason Ogden met drummer Clinton Charlton in a West Side karaoke bar and soon discovered a shared respect for each other's songwriting and passion for making meaningful music. Charlton convinced Ogden to get out and start playing the intimate acoustic songs that he had been hoarding in his apartment that didn't fit with his post-punk outfit, Hospital Grade. Ogden spent a couple of years playing solo at cafés, bars and "wherever they would take me," refining the songs that would ultimately become the full band's repertoire. During that time, he met cellist Erin Sharpe through a local online music forum, and keyboardist Dan Chamberlain, who at the time was playing with Charlton's band The Carousels.

Ogden invited Sharpe and Chamberlain to join him on 2008's 'Regret, Regret' EP and that collaboration ultimately became the impetus to finally invite more players into the fold, starting with Charlton on drums. Bassist Adam Kierstead migrated naturally from Hospital Grade, having been such a close supporter of Ogden's solo efforts that he almost knew the songs by heart.

Of the gradual build-up of the band, Ogden says, "The band formed during a really odd time in my life. I had just left a really long, profound relationship, and a home, and was in the midst of a really confusing, unhealthy rebound that was on and mostly off. I was at a real personal low - depressed, running - I was like a ghost, floating around and in and out of different social circles, trying to keep myself busy and away from my own thoughts. It was an awful time in my life, but at the same time, it lead to me getting out there and trying a lot of things, and meeting a lot of people I definitely wouldn't have met in the course of my normal life, the life I had left behind."

Working through a rotating cast of guitarists, and a violinist or two, the band settled into a stable lineup with the addition of Chris Braydon on guitar and Ali Leonard on Violin. “I had met Chris once or twice before,” Ogden says, “but when I saw him play for the first time with his band Something French, I think I walked up to him the same night and asked him if he would play guitar in Penny Blacks. His style was a perfect fit with Clinton’s drum style, really – natural, rootsy, but at the same time – very creative and modern.” Violinist Leonard was in the orchestra of a theatre production Ogden was involved in. “I approached her in a stairwell and gave her a copy of ‘Regret, Regret’ and asked her if she wanted to join my ‘rock band’,” Ogden laughs, “Kinda creepy.”

Penny Blacks the band played their first two shows the same day, one at a large outdoor ampitheatre and the other at the now-defunct Elwood's, Saint John's indie scene flagship venue in the mid-2000's. Though still loose and wrapping their arms around Ogden's raw torch songs, the band made an immediate impression early on with those who caught their show. Shoottheband.ca's Dan Culberson said of one of their first shows, "Not only do I think 'this is good music,' or 'I'm enjoying the show,' but I actually thought 'I wish I was a part of that somehow'."

Already having a reputation for being somewhat dark, Ogden's songs took on a whole new haunting persona and power in the hands of the now seven-piece band. Stripped down, desolate slow-burners became moody, rootsy, almost cinematic pop pieces while others were raved up into 50's - tinged rockers with subtle touches of soul churning just beneath the surface. Penny Blacks entered 2010 with an award for "Best Group" at the Saint John Music Awards, and showcases at the ECMAs and MUSIC NB Week, as well as a growing word of mouth that was spreading from the East Coast throughout Canada. The band also welcomed a new bassist, Chuck Teed, who Ogden had known for years, but had just recently moved back to New Brunswick from Halifax.

All that was missing now was an album. And so, Penny Blacks set to recording their debut full-length in late 2010 with erstwhile guitarist and satellite member, Chris Fudge, who had a great knowledge of the band and its sound, and a woody little loft studio out in Hampton that was like a second home for many members of the band. Wanting to capture the feel of the streets and atmosphere that lent so much to the writing of the songs, the band holed up first in a great, high-ceilinged loft in a historic building in Saint John's uptown core to record the bed tracks. They spent a chilled autumn week and a handful of days putting the essentials down on a vintage Fostex reel-to-reel.

It took almost a year to complete the recording, with the overdub sessions beginning in Hampton, and ultimately finding their way to living rooms and basements all over the city and finishing up back at the same loft where it began, just as autumn was beginning to bleed its orange sunlight and chilled air in through the ancient windows again.

Meanwhile, Ogden had spent a few isolated winter months recording another solo EP, 'Gold Standards' - something he said he needed to do to keep busy while the band chipped away at the full-length album. ‘Gold Standards’ was released in April 2011 to many favorable reviews - indie blog Quick Before It Melts said it “set the gold standard for great Canadian EPs of 2011” and L.A.’s Punk Globe called it “one of the most unpretentious and honest albums [I] have ever heard”. The press the EP was getting began to direct attention back to the band, prompting Canadian Musician to call Penny Blacks “one of the best live shows to come out of the region in years.”

And so, Penny Blacks are poised to make their mark indelible with the release of their long-awaited, debut full-length album, 'Harbour' this October. Its 11 songs are the perfect soundtrack for your autumn, whether it's one of walking isolated, leaf-strewn, dark streets alone in an ancient city, or one warmed by friends or a lover, a home - or something perfectly close enough to one.



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