The Provincial Archive – Common Cards (time-limited download…)

There’s a lot of music comes through the Backseat Mafia front-door mail flap, as you’d probably expect.  Perusing the stack of titles I came upon The Provincial Archive and I was snagged with the name.  That understated, everyday-sounding handle evokes secret societies with niche and/or subversive agendas; not so much the illuminati or opus dei, more the Trystero of “the Crying of Lot 49” or the Bureau of Historical Preservation in Paul Auster’s “Oracle Night”.  Either way, maybe in due course we will find out what Craig, Nathan, Bram and Ryan are really up to… For now, forget how they are planning to undermine modern society or whatever it is they’re working on, and enjoy the new single.


Based in Edmonton, Alberta they have released one previous album, 2010’s “Maybe We Could Be Holy” (I went slightly off-task and had a try when I should have been plugged into “Common Cards” – I am definitely going back for more once I’ve finished this…) and a single, 2011’s “Drive”.  You can get ‘Maybe…” through bandcamp.

“Common Cards” feels so neatly put together – not passionless, not lacking in freshness, just very carefully worked-out. There’s a hint too much cymbal-shimmer during the chorus knocking it down from an otherwise perfect piece of production.  The bass throbs with the dolorous threat of inevitability.  That same weary sense of foreboding permeates the vocals: jealousy, competition, the horror of being over-shadowed (“terrified of losing to a wealthy hand”).  Our narrator knows how tawdry, how desperate his position is.  And entwined with all the above “Common Cards” sinks its hooks further in with some delightful moments that you will blink and miss – and then rush back searching for: the descending picked guitar and glockenspiel at 0:35 and the tumbling drums that open the track for example. You can listen now below, or on soundcloud and, for a limited time only, you can download it through their website.

The Provincial Archive will be touring throughout Europe this autumn and you can catch them in the UK on the following dates:

Sep 23                     The Windmill                                   London
Sep 25                     The Galli: Music In The Forest       Bristol
Sep 26                     The Chambers                                 Folkestone

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