The Unsung Colony

by Norfolk & Western

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about

Portland, Oregon got its name from a coin toss. The two founding fathers wanted to name it after their east coast hometowns, Portland, Maine or Boston, Massachusetts. It was tails. It was 1843. So it goes.

Fast-forward one hundred and fifty-six years. Every name has a story. Some are legendary, some are unsung. Norfolk & Western, the name of a former east coast rail line, was also co-opted to the west on a similar whim: A photograph of a Norfolk & Western boxcar adorned the first album cover of the fledgling band, and it stuck. They could have been Southern Pacific. So it goes.

About five years into the life of the band Norfolk & Western, something happened. It's hard to pin it on one thing, but like the city they call home, fortune smiled on them, and something awakened. Trade, industry, ideas...it all coalesced and they flourished. The Unsung Colony is a document of this. The band members wrote the songs together in true collaboration, guiding them in different directions. If Norfolk & Western were a colony--the players hunkered down in studio isolation--this was their Constitution. And to emphasize that their intentions in musical exploration weren't imperialistic (to rape and pillage, to ape and plagiarize) they seized on the "unsung" qualifier.

Opening with the sound of film threading into a projector, "The Longest Stare" announces the record with a resounding and intimate descending chord progression. It draws the listener into the melody and story, carrying them along an accelerating river to the thunderous finale. The verses are turned out like scenes, with close-ups, cuts, and deft pacing, eventually unfolding into a panorama, if only for a moment, before too much information is revealed. From embers to wildfire, from a drip to a deluge, Norfolk & Western is telling a story of metamorphosis: both fictive and biographical. The musical spectrum is wide and enthralling. It's intimate and challenging.

The Unsung Colony was recorded in the storied halls of bandleader Adam Selzer’s Type Foundry Recording Studio, with a supplementary field trip to a small town high school for symphonic (orchestra bells, timpani, etc.) embellishments. It is the fourth official LP from the band increasingly known for their orchestral-like dynamic range, appealing melodies, and universally compelling storytelling.

Building support for their unique music with a long history of national and international tours, (including as of recent M Ward, The Decemberists, and Devotchka), a swiftly increasing fan base, and sincere praise by the most discerning music critics, the launch of The Unsung Colony will find the band finally headlining their own tour this November. Known for performances that truly astound, the present lineup of Adam Selzer (guitar, vocals), Rachel Blumberg (drums, mallet instruments, vocals), Dave Depper (bass, piano, vocals), Peter Broderick, (violin, saw, banjo, accordion), Corey Gray (trumpet, piano), Amanda Lawrence (viola) and Tony Moreno (guitar) delivers the strongest performances to date, pleasing crowds with their dramatic shifts between calm and calamity, decorum and dissonance, wall of sound and waltz.

credits

released 24 October 2006

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