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Ghost Notes Calgary band Cowpuncher experiments with rock and roll on its latest LP by Alex J MacPherson

I

n late November, Cowpuncher released Ghost Notes, a collection of snarling alt-country songs tinged with the spirit of rough, honest rock and roll. The third album to emerge from Cowpuncher’s Calgary skunkworks, Ghost Notes marks a significant change of direction for the band. What began live as a loose folk-rock collective has evolved into a lean, tightly wound rock band. But according to Matt Olah, the group’s gravel-voiced and splendidly mustachioed frontman, the new record was never meant to change anything. “That’s just what we sound like,” he says from a McDonald’s restaurant in Edmonton, a fixture of the touring musician’s peripatetic lifestyle. “We don’t have the forethought to be like, this is the sound we’re going for. Maybe we’re getting better at it, but we’re not even really good at being, like, let’s make this kind of song. It’s more like, this is the idea and let’s go with it. We used to be more in

the country mode and we’re leaning more into the experimental rock mode now — and again, that wasn’t something we planned. It’s just what happened as we kept playing and kept writing.” Olah formed Cowpuncher in 2009 as an outlet for the country songs he was writing at the time. The group quickly grew into a loose collective

of Hammer Of The Gods. It proved a potent combination, and Cowpuncher began to attract attention after the 2010 release of The Brown Album. “When I go see a show, I like to go and pump my fist and I want to see some guy sweating” he says, explaining that live performance has always been central to the band’s musical vision. “A lot of what I go see in the

…we like to sweat it out and put on a rock show and jump around and hurt ourselves and wreck stuff and kick over beers… matt olah

of like-minded musicians, talented instrumentalists joined by their love of roots music. But while the band played edgy folk and rock-flavoured country, their shambolic live performances were straight from the pages

folk realm is so fey and precious and low-key that it just puts me right to sleep. For better or worse, we like to sweat it out and put on a rock show and jump around and hurt ourselves and wreck stuff and kick over beers Continued on next page »

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Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  
Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  

Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)

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