Southeast Engine's folk-rock aesthetic emerged from the Ohio underground in 1999. The Wrens discovered SEE in 2006 and led Misra Records to the band later that year. The esteemed A Wheel Within a Wheel was released in 2007 and followed with 2009's From the Forest to the Sea. The latter received an 84 - Universal Acclaim - from rating aggregator Metacritic. While preserving the signature sound that garnered Forest/Sea critical acclaim, Canary marks a dramatic step forward in regards to both songwriting and arrangement. In 2010 the band toured extensively with Deerhoof and is preparing an elaborate 2011 tour schedule as well.
SEE has been playing for over a decade. In 1999, Adam Remnant (lead vocals, guitar) and Leo DeLuca (drums) formed what would later become Southeast Engine. Both attended the same schools in Dayton, OH and grew up in The Gem City during its musical heyday of the 1990s. Both the ethos and music of bands like Guided By Voices, Brainiac, The Breeders, and Swearing at Motorists made long-standing impressions upon the two young musicians.
Shortly after forming SEE, Remnant and DeLuca moved to Athens, OH, where they immersed themselves in the Appalachian old-time & folk music of the area. From there, Southeast Engine's sound - a unique hybrid of Dayton's underground and Athens' longstanding folk traditions, was born. In 2007, younger brother Jesse Remnant joined on bass, bringing with him a new component to the band - familial vocal harmonies. The multi-talented Billy Matheny started playing piano, organ, banjo, and guitar in 2008. This four-piece is Southeast Engine's current and longest standing lineup.
On Canary by Timothy Bracy of The Mendoza Line & Elizabeth Nelson Bracy of NPR:
"It's 1933 and the debt collector's after me"
Southeast Engine's brilliant new album "Canary" tells the stories of a single Appalachian family holding on through the violent deprivations of the Great Depression. While it just as easily could have been recorded six decades ago, it is replete with ghostly resonances to our contemporary lives.
Principal songwriter Adam Remnant, who's spent many years in the Appalachian town of Athens, Ohio puts it this way: "In the early part of the 20th century Southeast Ohio was full of little booming mine towns that revolved around the economy of the mines. In general, Appalachia was being exploited for its natural resources for quite a long time, and by the time of the Depression these systems were no longer sustainable."
Great records transport us immediately to a different place and time. When we hear "Exile On Main Street," we immediately become denizens of the glorious, desiccated South of France that incubated its genius. To listen to "Canary" is to be a part of the Appalachian experience, both past and present. The remarkable authenticity of writing and execution leaves no doubt as to the source of its profound emotional core. Like The Band, whose retelling of the traumas of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras helped shine a mirror on the violence of the Vietnam era, Southeast Engine has created a record that elucidates our present by referencing our past.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The detailed narratives and character studies of "Canary" are replete with enormous sadness, humor and acuity. Southeast Engine has transcended the trite conventions of protest music, alluding instead to something deeper, more personal and ultimately more affecting. The injustices experienced by the economically and politically disenfranchised in our society, is a long story, and one seemingly without end. As with later manufacturing hubs like Rochester and Detroit, the end of industry promises slow death for the community itself. In kind, the characters rendered on "Canary" are functionally expendable by the very same society they once embodied and enriched.
Despite it all, "Canary" is a hopeful album - filled with great barrelhouse melodies and brief musical nods to the 1930s era it embodies and describes, a touch reminiscent of Willie Nelson's brilliant "Red Headed Stranger." As anyone who has ever experienced real, insoluble poverty knows, there is no glamour. There is only suffering, striving and the desperate hope that hard work will lead to a better life.
No record in recent memory has better articulated these themes than Southeast Engine's "Canary."
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