Canadian folk/punk band The Weakerthans can thank their existence to leader John K. Samson, who decided to leave those precocious veganarchists, aka Propagandhi, to make more melodic music. Now Samson is spreading his wings in an even more poetic direction with his soon-to-be-released solo EP entitled City Route 85.
This marks a return to solo work for Samson, whose last such effort was 1995’s Little Pictures. The plan is that City Route 85 will be the first in a series of probably three EPs that are inspired by the roads in his hometown of Manitoba. His label, ANTI-, gracefully wrote up the three-track effort that is just Samson’s third solo endeavor since his debut in Propagandhi in 1991.
“The City Route 85 of the record’s title is the formal name for Portage Avenue, one of Winnipeg’s main thoroughfares. Samson begins his musical study of this storied street with the song “Heart of the Continent,” set at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, where a demolished building is resurrected by a narrator struggling to evoke the losses and despair that haunt the city and its people. “Grace General” travels west along Portage to Grace General Hospital, seen through eyes preparing to face the death of a loved one. The closing song, “Cruise Night” finds a young man desperate to join in the strange and innocent tradition of driving aimlessly up and down Portage Avenue, a social activity Winnipeggers have participated in on Sunday nights for as long as anyone can remember.”
The completely acoustic EP has Samson feeling a kind of anxious excitement regarding the complete focus of the album on Samson and his minimialized performance.
“All I really get is more nervous,” Samson told Exclaim.ca. “I guess there is some terrifying fun involved in trying to hold an audience’s attention with just a voice and a guitar.”
The EP will be released November 3rd by ANTI-/Epitaph and will be available as a 7″ vinyl and digital download. Samson also said the next two releases will hopefully be out within the next 18 months and should involve north and south of Winnipeg.
City Route 85 EP Tracklist:
01. Heart of the Continent
02. Grace General
03. Cruise Night