Bahamas

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HearYa session alumni, Bahamas, has a follow-up coming out to his excellent 2012 effort – Barchords. For those not in the know, Bahamas is the moniker for Canadian singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen. The lead track is All The Time and it’s down below. Here’s some info from Afie himself.

This feels like a self-titled record to me. The songs seem to have a definitive quality to them, and they ended up going to all kinds of unexpected musical places. I really thought I was going to make a traditional folk record but as the recording evolved I started having some pretty different ideas. I started playing this game like, ‘what would 80s Van Morrison do if he were producing this?’ or ‘what about John Williams?’ It all came together in a simple, naive and direct way and I was really energized by the process. And I got to play a lot of guitar…I feel like I’ll get another chance to make a folkie record somewhere down the road. For now, this is me.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Bahamas is here

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Bahamas, Live Session #111

by oz on March 26, 2013

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One of my fondest memories at SxSW 2012 was watching Bahamas at Antones at noon on Wednesday with a crowd of about 40 people. I attended with Woody, who was not yet a Bahamas fan. As Bahamas founder and lead singer, Afie Jurvanen, demonstrated his impeccable guitar skills on his electric Strat, Woody began to light up. As if sensing that Woody was converting, Afie seemed to stare directly at him as he crooned into the microphone. Woody leaned over slowly and whispered “He’s singing straight into my soul right now.”

We had a quick laugh and then were entranced with an incredible half-hour set by Bahamas. The tone of Afie’s guitar was overshadowed by the tone of his silky smooth vocals which are accented by his band of angelic backup singers and gentle percussion from Jason Tait, who previously played with the Weakerthans, Broken Social Scene and the FemBots. It was after that set that we met Afie and tentatively booked a session for a TBD date in the future in Chicago.

The session is pure magic. All the musicians in one room and only one microphone. This is what live sessions are about – simplicity and unbridled talent at the epicenter. The songs represent a mix of both Bahamas albums, Pink Strat and Barchords, released by Jack Johnson’s label Brushfire Records. And you’ll get a bit of that beach vibe when listening to Bahamas, but Afie’s Canadian roots somehow make his albums all-season affairs, suitable for both summer barbecues and winter nights by the fire. Take a dip into the session and check out those albums. If Bahamas doesn’t break like the Lumineers at some point soon, I’ll be shocked.

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Bahamas Band Introduction

Exclusive: Bahamas – Already Yours

Exclusive: Bahamas – Till The Morning

Exclusive: Bahamas – Montreal

Exclusive: Bahamas – Southern Drawl

Download the Bahamas Live Sessions as a zip file.

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We just wrapped up recording a live session with Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen), one of the highlights from our SxSW trip last year. “Lost In The Light” is a standout song from this year’s Barchords release. Afie describes the song’s meaning as follows (via Facebook):

This is song about the death of a relationship. On one hand, you mourn its loss. On the other, you celebrate all that was good about it while acknowledging all of its flaws. It’s about acceptance and revelation. It’s just a song that’s trying to make sense of something that was complex…

Afie’s vocals are incredible, but his guitar skill is not to be overshadowed. The backing vocals will also make your jaw hit the floor at a live show.

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Bahamas – Barchords [Album Review]

by oz on April 11, 2012

I fell in love with Bahamas back in 2011. The band was really just Canadian singer/songwriter, Afie Jurvanen, so I suppose I just admitted falling in love with a man in 2011. It was a confusing year for me.

Bahamas released Barchords in the US back in February via Brushfire Records – Jack Johnson’s label. I’ll admit upfront that the music snob in me assumed that any music released by Brushfire must first pass the “mainstream commercial appeal” sniff test and require that artists perform in board shorts and barefoot. Ukuleles are preferred, but not a prerequisite. Bahamas meets these requirements in part (his sound is very accessible to the FM radio crowd), but I learned something watching Afie at noon on Wednesday at SXSW. The dude can write songs. He has mastered the electric guitar. And the dude can sing. He also makes the crowd do really weird things to each other (more on that in a minute). But the bottom line is that Bahamas has the core ingredients to break big one day.

Let’s dig into Barchords and that SXSW showcase for a bit, shall we? The album starts off with “Lost In The Light.” It’s a breezy track that’ll have you swaying side-to-side in your ergonomically correct cubicle chair. Afie’s smooth Martin Sexton-esque vocals are accented by hypnotic guitar riffs that magically transport you to a vacation in your mind. Then the backup singers jump in and punctuate the song with the heavenly “oohs” and “aahs.”

“Lost In The Light” was played early in his set list at SXSW – a set that I dragged Woody to because he was not a Bahamas believer. Those hypnotic guitar riffs quickly put him in a trance and as Afie scanned through the crowd he fixed his stare on Woody. Woody leaned to me and whispered  “I think he’s singing into my soul right now.” I glanced around the rest of the crowd and saw guys trying hard not to dance. Packs of late twenty-something girls were bouncing around in dance circles. Directly in front of me, some young couple violated every public display of affection law as they slow danced (even to fast songs), caressed one another’s cheeks with the backside of their hands, stared at each other with shit-eating grins – I’m pretty sure they had their hands in each other’s back pockets. And who can blame them? Grab-assing can get tiresome and those pockets are like  hand hammocks. But what had me smiling is that their love fest was set to a back drop of break-up song lyrics:

Even counting sheep
Don’t help me sleep
I just toss and turn
Right there beside you
So if someone can see me now
Let them see you
Let them see you
See you through
All the hard things we’ve all got to do
Because this life is long
So you wouldn’t be wrong
Being free leaving me on my own.

So Woody, a non-believer, was converted into a Bahamas fan and we both reaffirmed our beliefs in the power of love. In all seriousness, it’s rare at SXSW to see an artist that plays the guitar and sings so well. It’s also rare to find back-up singers of this caliber touring with an upstart. As you work through the album, you’ll find the first single, “Caught Me Thinking,” an upbeat song that should be added to every backyard BBQ playlist. You’ll also find stripped down cozy ballads like “Montreal” and “Overjoyed” that lull you into a dream state and M. Ward-inspired acoustic tracks like “Any Other Way” and “Time and Time Again.”

Nearing the end of the album, you’ll also find a gem (possibly the album’s best track) in “Your Sweet Touch.” The guitar solos shine here, so much in fact, that it points out a weakness in the album. Barchords could possibly benefit from more of this throughout the album. It certainly appeals to the Black Keys fan in me. But maybe it just serves as a teaser for what’s in store on future releases from Bahamas. Either way, I’ll be listening.

You can listen too, by playing around with the embedded stuff below including an acoustic version of “Lost In The Light.”

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