Poll Leak 3: The Five Most Original Songwriters in St. John’s?

Being original trumps being good: it's harder to do. But these five managed to craft a sound as unique as it is playlistably good.

There’s no such thing as “best” in music, it’s all a matter of personal taste, but for the sake of starting some conversation, and because of popular demand, our August issue will be a “Best of St. John’s” issue.

We asked the people of the province about their favourite local everything of the last year. Below are the five artists that received the most votes for the category of “Most Original Songwriter in Town.”

Pick up a copy of the forthcoming August issue of The Overcast to see who won in that categories, and many, many others.

For a lot of music fans, being original trumps being good, because every day we’re exposed to plenty of “good” music, but how much of it is truly unlike anything else? The five artists below tickle both fancies: they manage to craft a sound as unique as it is playlistably good.

In alphabetical Order:

Aaron Powell (AKA Fog Lake) 

Can you really be called a local lo-fi legend before you’re even 25? Is legend too big a statement for someone without grey hair and their best work behind them? Not in this town, apparently. He is prolific, and profoundly good at his spare, moody, ethereal craft. You could playlist his finest songs alongside musical wizards like Sigur Ros, and he’d fit right in.

Ilia Nicoll

Sophisticated, distinct, interesting … Ilia’s music elicits a plethora of easy, fitting  adjectives that will never quite do her justice. Her music, like her voice, has the grace and command of a Sarah Slean or Joni Mitchell song. And she plays that guitar so nicely, too. Lucky for you she’s about to release a new album.

Jake Nicoll

Jake’s solo albums have showcased his talents with a multitude of instruments, and demonstrated his musical innovation and boundless jumps of genre. But this new album he’s just put out is as accessible and immediately engaging as it is true to Jake Nicoll’s sound. And it’s a good enough album to stand up to any Canadian album released yet this year by fellow “unique” artists who are getting chart-topping, festival-headlining buzz. Take Mac Demarco’s slightly over-rated (though quite good) Salad Days: Jake’s new Run to the Rocks album trumps it. P.S – He built his own amp to use on the record.

Meg Harnum (AKA Scrambled Meggz)

Megan Harnum’s voice will punch you in the heart, and part of the charm and strength of her songs is that they embrace the uniqueness of her voice by doing some remarkably innovative things with stacked vocals, best demonstrated in the song below. Her vocally driven music is made even more distinct by a penchant for often putting atypical instruments at the foreground of her music, or for the fabulous DiFranco-esque way she uses a guitar. Lastly, even if inadvertently so, she has a true understanding of what “lo-fi” is. (A method of recording to create a certain soundscape, not just a shitty recording, as most people mistake lo-fi for). Also, her album title, “I’m in the Desert and It’s Raining,” c’mon, album title of the year. All her song titles are always great too.

Thom Coombes

There’s no way someone should be able to pull off Thom’s sound and sound so pure, genuine, and at home in it. He’s a rare wordsmith, backed up by the originality, and sui generis cult appeal of a Shotgun Jimmie or Silver Jews Or Bill Callahan. Either you hear Thom and you get it or you don’t. And those who get it are in a fanatic cult in this city. He’s also admirably prolific, releasing as many as 3 albums a year, and they roam many a genre while still being distinctly him, from country-tinged acoustic songs, to broken-keyboard synth pop.

 

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