By Brett Sandford
CALGARY — It’s been four years since we’ve heard from Neal Moignard as Knots. The solo singer/songwriter who sailed into the sunset with 2012’s White River of White Lies has now returned armed with a ‘90s college rock-fueled missile, blazing through the late summer sky, with the forthcoming Four Years in the Shade.
The album’s debut track, “Higher Power,” immediately states that Moignard and his newly assembled band deserve our undivided attention. The track intelligently marries the sounds of his earlier influencers, like The Microphones, to the ilk of Pavement and a slew of DIY music titans. Guitars feverishly blast with equal parts panache and groove, while Moignard’s confident vocal delivery dances around a spirited rhythm section to deliver a sound that’s altogether new and inviting, yet also to be admired with a sense of nostalgia.
After peeling back the curtain on previous Knots material (2009’s The Blistering Sun, the Pale Moon, Hahahaha saw the band tour across the country with Calgary-turned-Montreal art rock stalwarts BRAIDS), there’s a curiousness about what prompted such a significant update in sound. Moignard admits it was a combination between a chance meeting with guitarist Lauchlin Toms (Violence, Port Juvee) at the recently defunct — and greatly missed — Good Luck Bar and a first-of-its-kind residency offer at CJSW radio.
“When I met Neal, I looked at him and said, ‘I used to watch you when I was younger. I loved your music in that era,’” explains Toms about their run-in.
“I was totally out of form… I just thought that maybe Lauchlin would be a good guy to put me back in the headspace,” remembers Moignard. With the offer of a residency by CJSW music director Whitney Ota to conceptualize, write and demo the new Knots material in the station’s studio space, the creation of Four Years in the Shade began.
Throughout the next six months at CJSW, the two wrote song outlines that would grow to become the album. Before turning to friend and neighbour Craig Fahner (Feel Alright) to record, Moignard and Toms recruited bassist Jared Larsen and drummer Dylan Cameron (Empty Heads) to complete the sound. The newly minted Knots took the rough songs into the studio and put down the record in a two-day barrage. “The connection in the room was amazing,” beams Toms of the process. “The direction of the music took on a life of its own.”
Witness the release of Knots’ Four Years in the Shade via Bart Records on September 7th at Broken City with guests Fiver, Feel Alright and We Knew.AB, Alberta, Broken City, Knots, Neal Moignard