BeatRoute – ‘You Can Count On Me’ Review

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The Karpinka Brothers – You Can Count on Me

By Spencer Brown

You Can Count On Me_The Karpinka Brothers_AlbumCoverArt-f

Saskatoon’s Aaron and Shawn Karpinka release something rarely heard with You Can Count on Me: an upbeat, happy album. Even the darker moments, such as the chorus on “One of These Days” where “our dreams won’t seem so far away” are tempered with hope. The closest the Bros Karpinka get to angry is on “Tetherball,” where the antagonist “mistakes them for someone they can bat around, someone who comes running when they call, someone chained down to the ground” but even here, they see through the ruse and walk it off with heads held high.

While the Karpinka Brothers are often thought of as a folk band, they have solid pop sensibilities that glimmer all throughout their jaunty beats and offbeat, duelling vocals. There are definite hints of Unrest, Lemonheads, Smoking Popes and other early ‘90s alt-rock luminaries, along with more contemporary influences such as John K. Samson and Joel Plaskett. If you are in need of a pick-me-up to go along with your morning routine, You Can Count on Me is it.

Country Standard Time – ‘You Can Count On Me’ Review

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Country Standard Time

August 21, 2015

The Karpinka Brothers, You Can Count On Me – 2015 ( Self-released)

By Lee Zimmerman

Considering the fact that these two siblings are virtually unknown on this side of our northern border – that despite the two albums (“One Brick at a Time,” their 2008 debut and “There’s a Light,” released in 2012) that have paved the way for their new release, the giddily-titled “You Can Count on Me.” It comes as something of a surprise to find them so immediately engaging – and more than that, so consistently irresistibly charming as well. Imagine combining enlisting a Cajun ensemble to play the music made by a venerable pop purist like Buddy Holly, and you’ll then get an idea of what the Karpinka clan has to offer.

“You Can Count On Me” reinforces that notion even further, thanks to its cheery melodies and a sound capable of making converts even on first encounter. Happily too, the fact that they hail from a distant place like Saskatoon, Saskatchewan doesn’t diminish their irrepressible attitude. On songs such as “You Can Count on Me” and “Lost and Found,” the energy and approach are so effortlessly upbeat, one can’t help but wonder where that enthusiasm comes from. Indeed, the aforementioned Mr. Holly would likely have been pleased to claim a pair of songs like “Tetherball” and “Who Says Dreams Don’t Come True” as two of his own. So too, the track that follows, “Far Away” purveys the unabashed innocence of the early Hollies or Kinks.

Part of the reason for their effusive persona may have something to do with the simple subject matter at hand. There’s nothing headier here than their various discourses on romance and relationships, and even the tunes that touch on mistrust and betrayal are instances are relatively rare. When, on “You Can Count on Me” and “Heaven Help Me Through the Hard Times,” they express some wariness about infidelity, they refrain from outright accusation, all the while ensuring that the optimism remains intact. Given today’s generally pessimistic perspective, it’s no small gift to be able to count on that.

No Depression – The Karpinka Brothers Prove It’s Still Cool To Be Kind

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No Depression

The Karpinka Brothers Prove It’s Still Cool To Be Kind

by Lee Zimmerman

August 3, 2015

Mention the Karpinka Brothers and it’s likely that there will be people who think you’re referring to a family acrobatic act. Mention they’re from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and it’s likely you’ll get another look of puzzlement, as if to say, “Where the hell is that?” The most probable answer is that it’s somewhere in Canada’s furthermost hinterlands, probably boasting some frigid conditions.

Considering the fact that these two siblings are virtually unknown on this side of the American border, despite their two albums — One Brick at a Time (2008) and There’s a Light (2012) — it’s little surprise they inspire such misconceptions. And yet, the band’s music is instantly engaging. It conjures up the feel of a Cajun combo attempting to emulate the classic pop of Buddy Holly with more than a hint of the Everly Brothers besides.

Prone to dressing in matching shirts with a musical mindset that would best befit a busker, Aaron and Shawn Karpinka have made a clear commitment to their community. They freely hand out copies of their new releases and take up residence as entertainers at assisted living facilities, where they’ve garnered a committed following.

“Those are our favorite shows actually, because you hear them singing along when they can’t speak, and you see them clapping and dancing when they don’t move very much,” Aaron told the StarPhoenix. “It reminds you what music is about.”

Naturally, there’s reason to view such agreeable attitudes with suspicion, and even cynicism. We don’t like our musical heroes to simply be nice guys. They have to have a bit of an edge in order to make them credible and convincing. It doesn’t help matters that their initial album was recorded in a single day, and that their mother — their mother — was the person most responsible for its distribution.

“Our mom peddled it,” Aaron told the same interviewer. “She promoted us like she was Don King or something.” It’s little wonder that, after they introduced their mom to Gordon Lightfoot, and he asked her to assess their talents, she raved about the boys. That’s a mother’s prerogative of course, but then again, getting mum’s endorsement doesn’t exactly advance the rock star myth. Neither does that fact that the standout song from their sophomore set is tellingly titled “Everybody Wants to be My Friend.”

“The song comes from asking what real friendship is,” they’ve explained. “And we’re happy to be friends and bros to everyone.”

Their upcoming release, You Can Count On Me, reinforces that amiable image even further, thanks to its cheery melodies and a sound capable of making believers even on first encounter. Personally, I’m hooked. The lesson: Sincerity needn’t be sappy and it’s actually okay to be agreeable. Especially if you’re situated in place like Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

CBC Music – Musicians tell you where to go

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CBC Music – Musicians tell you where to go

Gallery posted by Andrea Warner in Country

Most musicians are true road warriors, kicking up thousands of kilometres under their feet as they tour the world. They see the ins and outs and undersides of big cities and small towns and everything in between, which makes them pretty great unofficial travel guides as well.

We asked some of our favourite artists to tell us about the best places to eat, drink, play and stay. In the gallery above, find out about the to-die-for breakfasts, hiking hotspots, coffee hookups (there is a lot of love for Halifax here!) and how an ant hill in Medicine Hat became one band’s most cherished memory.

The Karpinka Brothers’ Shawn Karpinka

“This prairie boy has loved New York since I spent two weeks there on my honeymoon. I saw amazing concerts every night, and visited tributes to my heroes like Strawberry Fields in Central Park, and Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn. My favourite restaurant there is Veselka, a 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant that reminded me of home. From seeing celebrities struggle to hail cabs to the satisfied smile of a busker belting a cappella soul classics outside of the Guggenheim, New York is a reminder that we are all sharing this beautiful world together. It’s my favourite place in the world.”

Canadian Beats Interview – The Karpinka Brothers

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Canadian Beats

Interview – The Karpinka Brothers

July 31, 2015 Tara Thompson

By: Tara Thompson

The Karpinka Brothers hail from Saskatoon and they are gearing up to release their new album, You Can Count On Me, on September 4th. This will be the third full length release from the group.

Can you introduce yourself for the readers who may not be familiar with you and your music?

Aaron: We are a band made up of two brothers who are proudly independent musicians. We pour our hearts and souls into the writing and performing of our music and our objective is to make people feel happy when they see us live.

Shawn: We are two brothers who are the best of friends, hoping to spread joy through music to as many people as we can, from playing care homes to bars and everything in between.

What was the writing process like for this album?

Aaron: I usually come up with either a verse or a chorus melody which I give to Shawn. He then writes the rest of the melodies. He usually tackles lyrics and I fill in the rest with guitar parts. Like sprinkles or frosting on a delicious cupcake.

Shawn: I would sit on my own and finish ideas that my brother would show to me, and then we’d come together again to create our harmonies. We try to keep everything even between us for writing contributions.

You say that this is the first album to reflect the two personalities between the two of you. Why did it take three full length releases to get to that point?

Aaron: That is mostly in a lyrical sense. There were two songs on this album where I wrote the lyrics where traditionally Shawn had wrote most of them in the past. They just came out that way and I think I was exercising some demons. Expressing some hurt I felt in my heart and it was very therapeutic for me and helped me bounce back.

Shawn: It’s just taken time to grow as a songwriting team where we are both expressing ourselves equally. Our songs are from our hearts and very personal, and I think we’ve just reached a point where we are encouraging of each other to express what we need to. It helps that we get along so well.

Many albums take quite some time to record but You Can Count On Me was recorded in just two days. How did you manage to get 11 songs down in that short amount of time?

Aaron: We couldn’t afford too many days in the studio. It’s a savings plan! Just kidding. We like to pride ourselves on capturing the vibe and happiness in the room when we play and we feel too many takes drain that out of us and it’s not what we are about. We play music because it’s fun. It feels good. We take pride in what we do but are not perfectionists by any means.

Shawn: We’ve learned to take the snapshot of where we’re at and move on. We had so much fun making the album live in the same room with the band for the first time, and I think you can even hear it in the recording too.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming tour?

Aaron: I’m excited to connect with people and put smiles on their faces. Also I can’t wait to see parts of the world I’ve never been to! I’ve never been to New York City and we have a show there!

Shawn: I’m just so excited to be touring coast to coast for the very first time, and to play as far away as New York, a city I fell in love with on my honeymoon there.

What songs are your favourite to play live?

Aaron: I like playing them all and just enjoy the happy place I go to when performing. There is nothing more beautiful than a room full of people smiling, getting along and dancing together.

Shawn: It really changes with every show, and it’s whenever I see a look on someone’s face that says they relate to what we’re singing, and maybe they even start singing or dancing along. I love whenever that happens.

What’s your most memorable fan experience?

Aaron: I like when people come up to me after a show and tell me ‘I couldn’t stop smiling that whole set!’ I’ve heard it many times and it makes me feel so happy. Like we are doing what we set out to do!

Shawn: We were once asked to play with a group of people who struggle with mental disabilities and who meet to play songs together, and in their song book we were incredibly honoured to find one of our own songs.

Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Aaron: I would love to have Leslie Feist’s voice on one of our songs some day. It’s something I just think to myself when I hear her voice. She’s one of a kind.

Shawn: Jay-Z. Or Beyonce. Or both.

Since we’re all about Canadian music, who are your favorite Canadian bands/artists?

Aaron: Ron Sexsmith is a songwriting hero of mine. I have all his records and have seen him play live around 10 times. I also really admire Bahamas, Basia Bulat, Joel Plaskett and from a young age our Dad said ‘If you want to learn how to write good songs, listen to Leonard Cohen.’

Shawn: We had the honour of playing at our hero Gordon Lightfoot’s show once, where he asked our mother, “Are these guys any good at all?” So I would say him.