One Hundred Dollars
(Songs of Man)
Folk, Country, Indie
The Head and the Heart, First Aid Kit, Lord Huron
One Hundred Dollars, a Toronto-based band had an aura about them that caught our attention. Their music is laced with folk and country melodies along with a touch of psychedelic undertones and intriguing story-telling. Their 2011 album, Songs of Man has been in our rotation for a while now and ripe for review. Songs of Man has some terrific songs, but unfortunately there are a few disappointing ones that interrupt the flow and kept the album from a higher rating.
Leading the pack is singer/songwriter Simone Schmidt; she is a wonderful, talented musician. Her vocals have a rustic, authentic folk feel, and her accent provides a unique tilt for the listener. Opening the album is "Ties That Bind," this one will draw you in, the vocals in the beginning are very enticing and ghostly. The song will suddenly give way to a psychedelic, western country Jefferson Airplane feeling, a pretty unique mix you may think. "Work" is a pleasant track that is fluent, the psychedelic guitars and soft galloping rhythm make this one of the standout tracks on the album. The first two tracks really make an impact peaking our interest of what was to follow.
Track 3 "Where the Sparrows Drop" is a quaint acoustic, folksy song, seems a bit sad and reflective. It shows the bands ability to paint a story through thoughtful lyrics; the piano is a welcome addition here, something we don’t hear enough of throughout he album. The soft spoken "Brother" follows and this is another well thought out folk song. Now here is where the album takes a dive, the next song "Waiting On Another" takes us out of this psychedelic folksy vibe. It sounds very much like a Fleetwood Mac cover song, there is really nothing special about it. The album bounces back a bit with "Fires of Regret," this one will take time to grow on you. Is it a country song or a folk song? It tends to balance the two genres very well, the spacious vocals help give this song some depth and meaning. Moving on to "Everybody Wins," this one is not very good, tends to be more on the country music side and the lyrics are nothing like the first four songs… let’s move on. Can we get back that feeling from the first few songs on the next one? Well, not so much. On "Powdered Confessions" it just feels ordinary, it’s not a terrible song, as it has a nice second half, but they seem to have lost the 70’s soft psychedelics we heard early in the album. At this point with two songs left we weren’t expecting them to recapture the sounds that drew us in. Well "Aarons’s Song" is a good bounce back tune; it’s a pleasant song which features only Simone’s vocals and an acoustic guitar. The last track "Black Gold" also recaptures the vibe we have come to like from this band. It’s a song that keeps building over time and we actually hear some powerful vocal styles. The song has a lo-fi quality to it, a technique we like when it’s used correctly.
One Hundred Dollars are a good band and offer a unique side to the folk/country genre. We couldn’t get past the three songs that are smack dab right in the middle that ruin the flow of the album, therefore bringing this one down a couple notches. If you’re looking for more from this band, check out Simone’s newest project, The Highest Order. - 9/17/2014
Standout Tracks: Ties That Bind, Work