Recent reviews of Keep Full Ambitious
Based on his own reputation as a drummer, and the personnel joining him on this first solo outing, you might expect Kenton Loewen’s the Crackling to take a space-bound, improvisational trajectory. Think again! Loewen’s direction is inward on this earthy, sentimental collection of neo-folk songs, which he pitches in the region of sometime boss Dan Mangan and Bon Iver.
Lending their chops to Keep Full Ambitious is a roll call of Loewen’s impressive friends and collaborators, including Gord Grdina on guitar, Fond of Tigers drummer Dan Gaucher, JP Carter on trumpet, plus Loewen’s old Mother Mother bandmates Jeremy Page (bass) and Debra Jean Creelman (backing vocals). Again, this exceptionally capable gang reins it in big-time for Loewen’s simply effective melodies and generally pensive pace.
The disc still has its virtuoso moments, like Tyson Naylor’s piano throwdown on “First Drop”, and there’s seriously fiery guitar work distinguishing numbers like “The Family” and “Reticence”. But it’s interesting to note that the first half of Keep Full Ambitious is the most successful, where it relies mostly on strong hooks and Loewen’s pleasingly gruff voice (as in the lovely “Of Deceit”). He’s as comfortable as a grown-up singer-songwriter as he is expressive and daring on drums, and this is a convincing debut that could conceivably score Mangan-magnitude attention—something I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting after catching and quickly forgetting a one-man version of the Crackling last year. Motherfucker’s good-looking, too. Some folks really have it all.
The Crackling's the stage name of Kenton Loewen, who's best known for having toured as a drummer with the likes of Dan Mangan and Mother Mother. He's dubbed his solo musical project The Crackling because he loves hearing things burn.
"The Three Of You" kicks off The Crackling's Keep Full Ambitious album, which came out April 5. Although Loewen trained as a jazz drummer, don't be surprised if the tune more closely resembles Mangan than it does Mats Gustafsson or any jazz musicians he's played with in the past. The electric guitar freak-out at the end will probably draw Loewen plenty of comparisons with the likes of NQ Arbuckle.
Kenton Loewen takes you places. In the opening track of his first album, the Vancouver, BC songwriter responsible for the Crackling travels from fond nostalgia to guitar-grinding rage in three minutes flat. When he keens, "oh my dear, oh my love" at the end of the first verse, his falsetto perfectly articulates the emotional tenor of longing and loss. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a well-placed burst of mawkish organ. A trained jazz drummer who's played with West coast indie luminaries such as Dan Mangan and Mother Mother, Loewen has blossomed into an expressive songwriter with the ability to create evolving melodies and intense arrangements. Guitars and organ, solid vocal harmonies and the odd gust of trumpet support Loewen's warm, slightly gritty vocals. From the unsettling harmonics of "Reticence" and "Of Deceit" to the more sentimental timbre of "First Drop" and "China Shop," this impressive debut traverses plenty of musical ground.
(File Under: Music)
This is the first full-length solo recording from Kenton Loewen, best known up to this point in time as the drummer for Dan Mangan, Mother Mother, and the Gordon Grdina Trio (as well as a long mind-boggling list of other acts). If you think you know what to expect from drummers, think aga