Ottawa used to be a lumber town. For some reason, it got chosen as Canada's capital. Beneath the federal veneer, its rural origins linger, drenched in woodsmoke, bar-brawls and glinting saw blades. Two hours down river from Montreal, the woods get a little thicker and the air a little cleaner. It's a place where the city lights merge with constellations, and where The Acorn was born.
A disciple of folk with a strong penchant for experimental pop music, Rolf Klausener started writing under The Acorn moniker in the summer of 2002. Initially an excuse to teach himself home-recording, these furtive experiments would eventually become The Acorn’s first full-length release, a mellifluous, electro-acoustic tribute to the Ottawa region, The Pink Ghosts.
By 2005, The Acorn grew to include the talents of artful guitarists Jeff DeButte and Howie Tsui, as well as inimitable drummer Jeffrey Malecki. In those early years, the band recorded and toured extensively, making its name with magical live shows, and helping to spawn Canada's next wave of folk-tinged pop which grew to include Plants and Animals, Bell Orchestre, Timber Timbre, Great Lake Swimmers, Julie Doiron, Ohbijou and many more.
After several independent releases, the band was signed to Toronto's indie stronghold, Paper Bag Records (original home of Broken Social Scene, Stars, Rock Plaza Central, Born Ruffians). In 2007 and after months of interviews and ethno-musicological research, the band created its most ambitious and widely-acclaimed record to date,
Glory Hope Mountain.
Not quite biography nor musical folk tale, Glory Hope Mountain, recounts the early life of Klausener's Central-American-born mother. The album's song-stories harbor the triumphs, discoveries, sorrow and life-affirming adventures of a life both remarkable and happily modest. Armed with drums, gut-strings, ukuleles, marimbas and the collective’s best songwriting to date, The Acorn created a stirring musical document.
Since the release of Glory Hope Mountain, The Acorn have toured Europe and North America extensively and accrued a cord of critical love for both their live show and their recorded output. They've graced the cover of Canada’s National music magazine, Exclaim and were nominated for the 2008 Polaris Award.
In the US, Glory Hope Mountain spread furtively throughout the underground making fans of musicians first. The band mingled waters with an informal family of new bands drawing from folk forms, playing its first US shows with critical darlings Bowerbirds, Phosphorescent, Cave Singers and later touring England with Brooklyn's Akron/Family.
They were hand-picked by Tuscon AZ legends, Calexico for their 2008 “Carried To Dust” US tour. 2009 saw the band tour Europe four times befriending and supporting the likes of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes as well as opening a large-scale UK tour for Mercury Prize winners ELBOW. With a live show that can range from spacious, whisper-quiet folk to poly-rhythmic freak outs, The Acorn spent a lot of the year sharing festival stages with artists ranging the full gamut of contemporary folk/rock from Mirah, Neko Case and Sharon Van Etten to The Flaming Lips, Okkervil River and Herman Düne.
In the summer of 2009, the Acorn retreated from two years on the road to an isolated cottage in Northern Quebec to begin work on their third full-length album, No Ghost. Songs took shape at all hours, crafted from hazy late-night improvisations, early morning melodies pulled from the thinning threads of sleep. Modernity clashed with the bucolic via exploratory percussion, feedback, acoustic textures and the natural surrounding sounds. The band then traded trees for telephone poles to finish recording in a sweltering heatwave at Montreal's Treatment Room Studios (Plants & Animals, Angela Desveaux). There, the breezy ease of rural surrounds was buried under sweat-caked skin and cracked asphalt, birdsong drowned out by thick air and engine hum. Set for a June 2010 release, No Ghost is a recording swaddled in dichotomy: togetherness and isolation, acoustic and electric, destruction and restoration.