Canada, as a music scene, is definitely doing something right; the sheer volume of incredible female vocalists coming out of there in recent years (particularly its major cities, Montreal and Quebec) might be quite shocking, but remains warmly welcomed by people such as myself. As you may have guessed, I'm quite a sucker for dreamy chamber pop bands with female vocalists like Stars, The Most Serene Republic and Feist. Another of my favourite female vocal styles originates from across the pond in Bristol, UK where in the 90s, Portishead and Beth Gibbons started out the wave of trip-hop and quivering female voices that aided the popularisation of bands such as Massive Attack. Flotilla, hailing from Montreal themselves, do a good job of combining the two styles into a chillout pop album of light classical indie, with occasional progressive and trip-hop influences.
As a five (and occasionally six) piece, headed by Veronica Charnley, Flotilla create a layered and minimalistic selection of well-placed riffs and sounds - giving the unnervingly intertwined organic sounds of piano, harp and strings an individuality which they themselves produced in recording. Certain songs (notably Charlie, I'm Through) do break convincingly into a full band sound, but at all times the voice remains the focus of the arrangement. There's even an erratic disco piece towards the end of track Clouds. However, never does an instrument break out of the background, and even amongst such an accomplished set of gifted musicians every single one knows well his or her place and boundaries. They manage to provide an ecletic backing to a confident singer - with an experimental edge reminiscent at times of Portishead, occasionally parts of the more experimental side of Radiohead, but more often than not of bands like The Most Serene Republic, Feist and St. Vincent.
Although their album came out in 2009, I count Flotilla as a band to watch in 2010; their first album never really caught on, and for that reason such a stunning follow-up will take its time to be appreciated. They have touring planned for next year in the USA, where if they don't start to take off, something is seriously wrong.
File Next To - Joanna Newsom, Kings of Convenience, St. Vincent
Flotilla - Charlie, I'm Through (MP3)
Flotilla - Meet Me Outside (MP3)