Hillbilly Highway – Couple big releases rocking the road


by Sheldon Birnie

Sometimes life has a way of flying by out here on the Highway at what seems like a thousand miles an hour. There’s no time to smell the roses from the passing lane, friends. But luckily, there are some good tunes dropping out here to keep the gas pedal pinned.

Yesterday, two of my favourite groups currently pumping stuff out on the Hillbilly Highway dropped new records. I’m speaking here of Saskatoon’s Deep Dark Woods, and their new album Jubileeand Nashville’s own Those Darlins and their new LP Blur the Line. I’ve been anticipating both for months now, and now they are here.

I had an interview lined up with the boys in Deep Dark Woods back in June, at Sled Island. But it was cancelled due to cataclysmic events beyond our control, which left the band stranded in Canmore for days as flood waters rose and raged around them. Since then, we have yet to reschedule. I wanted to ask them about their inspirations behind their particular brand of bleak roots rock, and the characters that populate the lyrics. I was also curious about their work with producer Jonathan Wilson, who was behind Jubilee, and previously one of my favourite records of 2012, Father John Misty’s Fear Fun. While the two records sound starkly different, I am curious about how Wilson worked with the band to capture the haunting aesthetic that abounds on Jubilee. I guess I’ll just have to listen to the record, over and over as I have been for the past week, and let my imagination run wild as the leaves fall, and the world around us grows grey and cold.

Blur the Line is another LP that is perfect for the grey autumn months. While clearly a rock record, with a hint of twang showing at the roots, the subject matter and the tone are darker than the Darlins’ previous two releases. I’ve been a fan since I caught them opening for King Khan & The BBQ Show at the Albert back in 2009ish, and this latest release delivers on the promise of their past output and sees the band evolving with every step. Here’s to hoping they’ll make it up over the 49 this time around. Winnipeg could use a dose of the Darlins.


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