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Vinyl Histeria – ‘A Systemic Problem’: Port Cities & Other Canadian Bands Sound Off on Female Representation in Music


Vinyl Histeria chatted with Port Cities and other Canadian acts about female representation in music during The Great Escape’s “Canada House” showcase at The Green Door Store in Brighton earlier this month. You can check out their interview with Port Cities, Mo Kenney, Like A Motorcycle, and more here.

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The Line of Best Fit: Nova Scotia’s Port Cities reveal unreleased track ahead of UK dates


By The Line of Best Fit

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Port Cities’ members Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon have each played a key part in Canadian music as collaborators and individual artists in their own right.

Stone’s been a prolific songwriter while Guthro’s worked with the likes of Halifax hip-hop hero Classified and EDM crew Neon Dreams, and MacKinnon’s 2012 album was nominated for an ECMA .

With a name inspired by the creative ethos at their heart (a port city is a place where cultures and histories collide), this trio of celebrated Nova Scotian songwriters hail from the harbour hamlet of Cape Breton. The sound of Port Cities fuses the respective pedigree of its members into a gutsy and nuanced rootsy-rock hybrid.

The band’s self-titled debut album was released last year and ahead of shows this week in the UK, Port Cities reveal an unreleased track, the strident “Where Have You Been”. Catch them in Brighton at The Great Escape and follow them on Facebook.

Port Cities play two Brighton shows this week: Green Door Store on 19 May and Latest Music Bar on 20 May.

Music

Port Cities (2017)
1. Back To The Bottom
2. Don’t Say You Love Me
3. In The Dark
4. Sound Of Your Voice
5. How To Lose You
6. Half The Way
7. On The Nights You Stay Home
8. Where Have You Been
9. Burn That Bridge
10. The Out
11. Body + Soul
12. Astronaut

Bio

bio-picA port city is a place where cultures and histories collide, where goods and ideas are imported and absorbed into the local bloodstream. The trio of celebrated Nova Scotian songwriters who now call themselves Port Cities honour that tradition. Their chosen name isn’t just indicative of where they’re from (the harbour hamlet of Cape Breton) but what they do: fuse divergent styles and experiences into a singular roots-rock sound.

Port Cities’ self-titled debut may be the group’s first effort together, but its members share deep, intertwining roots in the Maritime music scene. In addition to releasing three solo albums, Carleton Stone has written songs for and with everyone from Quebecois soul sensation Bobby Bazini to beloved acoustic troubadour Donovan Woods. Dylan Guthro has parlayed his own folk/RnB fusions into match-ups with Halifax hip-hop hero Classified and EDM crew Neon Dreams (whose 2015 single “High” featured Guthro alongside rap superstar Waka Flocka Flame). And Breagh MacKinnon is a jazz-schooled chanteuse whose 2012 album, Where the Days Went, was nominated for an ECMA Award; she has since lent her voice to recordings by East Coast pop icons David Myles and Ria Mae.

Port Cities is a collaboration six years in the making. The trio first crossed paths in 2011 at a songwriter’s workshop hosted by Gordie Sampson, the Nova Scotia native who has become one of the most in-demand writers and producers in Nashville (his roster of past collaborators—Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Florida Georgia Line among them—could fill up an entire Grammys telecast). That initial meeting would eventually lead to triple-bill tour in 2014 that, MacKinnon recalls, “was originally supposed to be a songwriter’s circle, but by the end, it had more of a band feel than three musicians performing separately. It was just magic when we sang together. Shortly after that, we started throwing around the idea of making it official and starting a band.”

After building a fervent fanbase in Eastern Canada through steady gigging over the past two years, the trio laid down the bed tracks for their debut album in Nashville, tapping into Sampson’s deep Rolodex of ace session players. But then they took the recordings back home and “just messed with things,” Guthro explains. “We’d do these big weird group vocals, create and experiment with sounds—and through that, we landed on a vibe that’s consistent across this whole record.”

The result is a perfect balance of Nashville and Nova Scotia, of the rustic and atmospheric, of indie intimacy and the sort of arena-pop anthems that betray Port Cities’ globe-trotting ambitions; the fall of 2016 saw the band set out on their maiden cross-Canada and European voyages. It’s a record that draws on Port Cities’ collective songwriting expertise, but also reveals the dark emotional undercurrents lurking beneath the heavenly harmonies and heart-racing stomp of “Back to the Bottom”, or the intimations of infidelity tucked into the relaxed country-rock lilt of “On the Nights You Stay Home.” Even on the album’s most ebullient tracks, nothing is as it seems on the surface: the gentle Afro-pop groove of “How to Lose You” coaxes the tension out of a love song that’s consumed with the possibility of loneliness; “The Out” is a disco-kissed break-up song perfect for dancing on your own.

As Stone explains, “One thing we all seem to connect with lyrically is showing a less-than-perfect idea of love, and not being scared to talk about how everything is not great, or call out a lot of what normal, traditional love songs would be about.”

The album closes with the desolate ambient ballad “Astronaut,” a song that invokes outer-space imagery only to send us crashing back down to Earth, contrasting childhood dreams of interstellar exploration with the harsh, hopeless realities of navigating adult life. It’s a fitting finale for an album that’s nestled in the liminal space between familiar and foreign, pairing sounds that comfort with lyrics that confront. Because that’s the thing about living in a port city: the place you call home is also a gateway into the great unknown—and, at any moment, that scenic, open-water vista can give way to crashing waves and fierce undertows.

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Shows

Shows

Saturday
July 29th, 2017
George's Island Tall Ships Concert
Halifax, NS
Port Cities - Tall Ships Festival
11:00 AM
Joel Plaskett Emergency & Port Cities Rock Georges Island
Port Cities: 12:30 pm - Joel Plaskett: 1:30 pm
Buy Tickets
Friday
August 4th, 2017
The Old Confidence Lodge Studio & Stage
Riverport, NS
8:00 PM
Saturday
August 5th, 2017
The Big Fiddle/Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion
Sydney, NS
Port Cities Full Band - Tall Ships
7:00 PM
Thursday
August 10th, 2017
The Forks Festival Site
Winnipeg, MB
2017 Canada Summer Games Festival
5:00 PM
Saturday
August 19th, 2017
Nicholls Oval Park
Peterborough, ON
Peterborough Folk Festival
4:00 PM
Tuesday
August 22nd, 2017
Exhibition Place/Bandshell Park
Toronto, ON
Port Cities Support to Colin James
7:30 PM
Main Stage
Sunday
September 3rd, 2017
St. Mary's Church
Indian River, PEI
Port Cities Trio with Tomato Tomato
3:00 PM
Buy Tickets
Saturday
September 9th, 2017
Scotiabank Centre
Halifax, NS
Port Cities Supporting K.D. Lang's “Ingénue Redux” Canadian Tour
7:30 PM
Buy Tickets
Friday
October 13th, 2017
Legacy Centre
Slave Lake, AB
7:00 PM
Saturday
October 14th, 2017
Alumni Hall Theatre (Lakeland College)
Vermilion, AB
8:00 PM
Friday
October 20th, 2017
Bert Church Theatre
Airdrie, Alberta
7:30 PM
All ages show
Buy Tickets
Wednesday
October 25th, 2017
Daysland Palace Theatre
Daysland, AB
DaysArts Concert Series
7:30 PM
More info @ daysarts.ca
Buy Tickets
Friday
January 19th, 2018
Capitol Theatre
Moncton, New Brunswick
8:00 PM
Buy Tickets

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