This April, Canadian crooner Whitebeard is taking listeners on a journey into what he’s calling Nashipeg; a bold fusion of north and south that is best embodied in the new single from his latest album Plaid Is the New Black, “Paris.” “Paris” has the look and feel of a country song with the cosmopolitan construction of a standard pop single, and though the combination of contrasting flavors is a lot to take in at once, it’s without a doubt one of the more fascinating sonic cocktails I’ve heard from a Canadian artist in the last few months.
The hook in the chorus is very modest, but it doesn’t fail in warming up the chilly percussive strut that haunts the bassline in the background of the track. I don’t want to hear a lot of recycled beats in contemporary country music, and thankfully, Whitebeard doesn’t waste my time with anything even close to that dribble in “Paris.” The groove is original, supple and matches up well with the anti-liberal approach taken to the strings. It’s not the excess that we’ve become accustomed to in so many of alternative country’s big name releases this year, but then again, I don’t think that it’s trying to fit in with that crowd or any other established “scene,” honestly.
I do wish the guitars would have been just a little bit louder in the master mix, because there’s a lot of underscored color in their licks that I found to be more exciting an element than anything that the drums or the keys have to share with us here. The arrangement is very meticulously structured, which makes it all the more frustrating to find it buried in a lot of exoticisms and needless frills that don’t do much for the narrative in the lyrics or the prowess of the guitar’s forsaken pummel.
The verses get somewhat predictable the deeper we get into the song, but they’re a step up from the weaker material on Plaid Is the New Black, in which I felt like Whitebeard was trying way too hard to appeal to a younger generation of folkies and eccentric hipsters. His adherence to individuality in this single is admirable, as is his commitment to making a song in his own unique way, but there’s something to be said about satisfying the majority as it relates to upping your album sales, and that seems to be something of a concern for Whitebeard in the album that gave us “Paris.”
He’s still got a long way to go before you can anticipate seeing him on the cover of any mainstream music publications, but there’s no question that Whitebeard is taking the steps that he’ll need to take to get there in “Paris.” He’s expanding on his now-signature formula, incorporating strange new influences that will eventually forge an even more interesting persona in later works, and touching on sonic territory that a lot of his closest rivals would normally shy away from. This isn’t Whitebeard’s watershed moment, but this single has given me a gut feeling that says we’re not all that far away from seeing that very moment in the near future.
Unless you’ve been following his scene specifically, you’ve probably never heard of the singer/songwriter Whitebeard, but his latest album Plaid Is the New Black and its star single “Paris” are nonetheless a pair of releases that you should take a look at this spring.
Whitebeard mixes influences from R&B, pop, country, soft rock and folk music when he approaches the drawing board prior to making a new track, and while his melting pot of melodies can yield demanding listens every now and again, “Paris” is actually one of his more accessible songs to date. There’s still a whole lot of intricacies to behold in the lighthearted harmonies that adorn every verse, but next to the bloated So Far So Good, this is an undebatable upgrade.
The foundation of “Paris” is the vocal harmony that wisps through the stanzas at the start of the track and comes into full-form in the chorus, and it’s steeped in a minimalist look that I think Whitebeard wears better than most. I’m not loving the percussion in this song, but it’s so distant in the master mix that I don’t find it as big an annoyance as what I can only assume to be an accordion that painfully moans over the string parts. The vocal track salvages everything that these two elements discard with impunity and makes “Paris” a lot more palatable to both casual fans and hardcore indie disciples alike – which, in itself, is really no easy feat to pull off for any artist, regardless of talent.
I’d recommend keeping a close eye on this character in the wake of Plaid Is the New Black. Whitebeard is coming into his own and carving out a sweet little spot for himself in the hierarchy of the Canadian underground, and though he still needs to sharpen a couple of his tools in ballads like “Paris,” he’s got a moxie that I don’t see taking him anywhere but into the spotlight (once he figures out his aesthetics a little more than he has here). 2019 has been an exciting year for emerging indie artists around North America, and this musician – and his new single - can definitely be counted as among the season’s more curious stories.
. » » Whitebeard drops new Single
A troubadour with pronounced country influences, Whitebeard crosses the water for his song’s title and sentimental inspiration before name checking his way around the rest of the world. He handles it all like a seasoned pro and that works just fine for my ears.
If it’s been a while since you hit play on an authentically immersive Blues Rock track, Whitebeard’s single “Bent Out of Shape” is the perfect reintroduction to the ambience of the melodies combined with the emotivity of the lyricism.
Bent Out of Shape was just one of the singles found on the Canadian up and coming artist’s latest album “Plaid is the New Black”.
Even though there may be plenty of artists still playing plenty of odes to the roots of blues with their archaic takes on sound, the overwhelming amount of vocal harmony combines with the intricacy of the guitar progressions until you’re left with a mesmeric hit of aural synergy.
You can check out Bent Out of Shape along with the rest of the album by heading over to SOUNDCLOUD now.
Review by Amelia Vandergast
Culture Vulture Magazine
Imagine my surprise! In fact, consider my utter astonishment when Alan Curtis’ CD found its way into my player and the first track, "Ten In Heaven" kicks of like an old ELO tune. Strangely worrying. Luckily things improve quickly - I don’t have time to fall of my chair - and earthier tones come to the fore. I think there’s an Elvis Costello record or two loitering in Curtis’ album racks, so, still stuck in the ‘70s, but generally, that’s no bad place to be. The ‘70s were ace; I loved ‘em, and so does Alan Curtis. His debut borrows plenty from the decade that birthed new wave, glam rock and the singer-songwriter. He helps himself to the bits he likes, files the rest away, and has turned out a collection of rockers, ballads and quality guitar pop. Of course, times were simpler back then, and More Than I Can Be is to be enjoyed on that level. Uncomplicated fun. Isn’t that the best sort?
RadioIndy is pleased to present Alan Curtis with a GrIndie Award for the CD "More Than I Can Be"
On his first solo album, "More Than I Can Be," Alan Curtis blends an array of roots rock influences with creative arrangements. The CD opens with "Ten in Heaven," a retro allusion that could lend itself to the likes of Brian Wilson or The Traveling Wilbury's while not swaying too left of contemporary. Through vocally driven songs, Curtis establishes his unique character while also keeping the layering fresh and engaging throughout. With a heartfelt piano ballad as heard on the title track "More Than I Can Be" followed by dance inducing beats, Curtis's love for rock n roll is lucid in each song. Feel the driving drum beats on "Greed (Money, Money, Money)" while vocals belt out melodic lyrics and the organ holds solid chord progressions. If your old Tom Petty records have lost their thrill, this new CD may be a solid successor.
-Max B. and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team
You might have heard Curtis wailing away as the frontman for local AC/DC tribute band Whole Lotta Angus. But we'll wager you've never heard him like this. The singer shows his softer side on this striking debut, crooning nine personal tunes that owe more to the melodicism of Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Elton John than they do to three-chord blues-rock. Let there be pop.
Winnipeg Free Press
WINNIPEGGERS who know Alan Curtis only as frontman for AC/DC tribute band Whole Lotta Angus will get to see him in a whole new light on his latest solo offering.
Instead of hard rock, Curtis's songwriting strength leans heavily on the blues, reggae and soul. There is some of classic-rock influence in songs like The End's in Sight, the boogie-blues of Lil Black Dress and Stormwarning, but he proves even more adept at summery acoustic tunes and reggae-based numbers like Don't Change, the socially conscious On the Sidewalk and Where's Doris Day, all which should appeal to fans of Sublime and Michael Franti. Curtis handles keyboard and vocals, leaving the sizzling lead guitar work to Len Milne, who also produced it at his studio, Bedside Studios.
The album might claim it goes up to 11, but it rarely does -- instead we get to see another side of Curtis, one who isn't afraid to dial it back a bit. Impressive, no matter what the volume. Three and a half stars. -RW-Winnipeg Free Press 2011
Junior's Cave Online Magazine
Alan Curtis is a master of songwriting and king of mesmerizing and beautiful lyrics that become his best trademarks. He has a familiar sound that fans can relate to; yet, he adds a touch of his own personal flavor into his music fans will find refreshing and fun when they pick of his album. He pours his heart and soul into his music, and this certainly comes through when one listens to Alan’s songs. In this spotlight with the artist, Alan speaks candidly about his music and the path he is taking in life. Enjoy!