BEST ALBUM – PLANET S READER’S POLL

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THE KARPINKA BROTHERS: YOU CAN COUNT ON ME

It’s only been a few short years that The Karpinka Brothers have been a buzz-band on the local scene, but man have they made the most of their time — both in this city and, increasingly, across Canada! And the best part about it? Their attitude, demeanour and way they treat people (from fans to ink-stained music critics to, I’d assume, everyone they meet) has remained just as sunny and awesome as the sweet indie-pop they make. These guys deserve big things, and it’s great to hear that our voters are returning the love that they so consistently put out!

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME – ABSOLUTE PUNK REVIEW

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Reviewed by Gregory Robson
8.0
The Karpinka Brothers – You Can Count On Me
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2015
Record Label: Self-released

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is not exactly a musical hotbed, but one band is doing everything to change that. The Karpinka Brothers, fronted by Shawn and Aaron Karpinka, perform a sterling form of old-school Americana that demands wider audiences. You Can Count On Me, the third album from the Canadian outfit is easily their best to date and looks to position the band as one of Americana’s beacons in the months and years to come. Very little of You Can Count On Me sounds modern, that is to say the album mines the same sonic terrain as that of Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers, and hot damn, is it something.

The album opens with the inviting and amiable “Careful What You Wish For,” a warm and rollicking slice of hook-laden 60s pop. That vibe carries over to the buoyant title track, a cheery and hopeful kernel that is ridiculously catchy. The same playful guitar lines that welcomed “Careful What You Wish For” return on the hip-shaking and beer-swilling “One Of These Days,” a breezy and effortless pop song that is as magnetic as it is concise. One of only two down moments arrives next in the form of “Lost and Found” a song that builds on the momentum of “One Of Those Days” but ultimately falls very short. The same sense of precision, polish and crispness that marked the previous three songs is definitely missing on “Lost and Found.” Thankfully the band recovers on lead single “Tetherball,” a sunny and bright rollick that belies a darker subject matter.

One of the strongest of the lot is the dusty, western cut “Who Says Dreams Don’t Come True,” a winsome valentine to a significant other that possesses some of the strongest vocals on the album and easily one of the strongest hooks. On an album that has many keepers, few shine brighter than “Who Says Dreams Don’t Come True.” You Can Count On Me rounds towards the finish line with “Far Away,” a cocktail of sha-la-la-la’s that unfortunately wades in the tepid waters of “Lost and Found.”

Not content to mire in mediocrity, The Karpinka Brothers close out You Can Count On Me with two of their strongest songs to date. “You Don’t Scare Me” opens with jovial guitars and a veneer that is equal parts rustic, vernal and witty. You Can Count On Me concludes with “Heaven Help Me Through The Hard Times,” a song that is easily the band’s apex composition. Arguably the only ballad on the nine song album, “Heaven Help Me,” is lingering, potent and deeply rewarding. In short, it’s the kind of song that bands can spend years trying to craft and never once achieve. The fact that Shawn and Aaron Karpinka have written such a song on only their third release points at exactly why they have won over Canada.

Perhaps the best part about You Can Count On Me is how simple and unadorned it is. There’s nothing superfluous or synthetic about any of these nine songs. Just two guitars, a bass and a drum kit. Not only that the songs are immediate and accessible, with only one lasting longer than three minutes (“Heaven Help Me Through the Hard Times”) and one not even two minutes in length (“Tetherball”). That commitment to simplicity is exactly why The Karpinka Brothers are poised to win America over in the months and years to come.

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME – PLANET S REVIEW

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The Karpinka Brothers – You Can Count On Me RELEASED TODAY!

by: Craig Silliphant

I once wrote that The Karpinka Brothers were, “the glowing, thumping heart of the Saskatoon music scene,” and those words still stand. You Can Count On Me is the third full-length album from the brothers, and as always, it’s a deeply earnest and buoyant collection of songs. In fact, their music would seem somewhat ironic if you didn’t know that they really do mean every word and every note.  They’re likable and generous guys (they volunteer regularly to perform at a local long-term care home), and their music sounds like, well, like them.

Following in the footsteps of other harmonizing brotherly musical luminaries, The K-Bros are sometimes twangy like The Louvin Brothers and sometimes dreamy like The Everly Brothers. While retaining those classic sounds, they have leaned into an ever-so-slightly more modern swagger, like a band that has fallen out of time from the 50s or 60s to land here, taking on the quirks of more contemporary artists like say, Joel Plaskett or Daniel Johnston. Though there’s not distortion or feedback or anything, a few of the tracks have licks or bounce that go beyond a stock music reference like ‘upbeat’ into the realm of, ‘hey, this shit kinda rocks!’  The lyrics are generally joyful and positive, but even when they’re skirting around the edges of heartbreak and life’s setbacks, they still feel like they’re flying a bright flag of optimism.

Here’s the thing; The Karpinka Brothers are a strange contradiction that may throw more cynical listeners, but their sunny music is quite infectious. Anyone can go out and try and sound like some cool indie rock band with a howling, writhing Iggy Pop wannabe singer, but it takes real guts to go and sound like yourself.  The Karpinka Brothers are building a foundation of popularity on that idea, as well as the notion that their hearts are true, which radiates from their music in spades.

Karpinka Brothers Reaching New Heights

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Karpinka Brothers reaching new heights

Shawn, right, and Aaron Karpinka have found enough recent success with their band, The Karpinka brothers, that they have made music their full-time gig.

Photograph by: Liam Richards, Bridges

The Karpinka Brothers — Aaron and Shawn — feel their careers are at an all-time high.

“It feels like we have an upward trajectory more than a downward spiral. It feels like we’re more in the sky than in the toilet. Its feels more like we’re succeeding than failing,” Aaron says.

The Saskatoon siblings have shared their sound at dingy bars, festivals and even a local care home. Now, with a new album release just weeks away, they are preparing to take it further than ever before.

Their third full-length offering, You Can Count On Me, comes out Sept. 4.

“It’s drastically different from anything we’ve ever done,” Aaron says.

This is true both for sound and lyrical content. It’s the first time one of their albums has featured electric guitar.

“I just want to hear the notes sound a little different and ring out a bit more,” Aaron says of the choice.

It’s also the first time Aaron has shared lyrical duties with his brother.

“It shows both of our personalities,” Shawn says. “We have very different personalities, and I think it reflects that.”

They only had two days in the studio, which Aaron chalked up to budgetary restraints. Even so, it was plenty of time.

“It was actually closer to one, but we booked the studio for two so we thought we might as well go into the studio and hang out,” Shawn says.

Their no-nonsense recording schedule is nothing new. The brothers like to have all their ducks in a row before heading in to lay anything down. They’re also willing to let a song come out however it was played, even if it’s not note-perfect.

“If there’s imperfections — and there were — we just left them in. Now when I listen back they make me smile,” Shawn says.

The accompanying tour starts Sept. 10 and will take them as far west as Vancouver, as far east as Charlottetown, and south of the border for their first time ever in New York City. It’s a massive undertaking, so big that both brothers have quit their day jobs to make music their full-time gig.

“I just found I didn’t have time. I’m married, with family and a life beyond music, and getting ready for the album release was taking up all my time,” Shawn says.

For all the new venues they’ll see, there’s one Saskatoon spot they don’t plan to start passing over. Later this month they’ll play the Parkridge Centre Special Care Home in Saskatoon for the 25th time. It all started when a local promoter suggested them as a good fit for the venue.

“We’d never done anything like that before, and we went and gave it a try, and it turned out to be some of the best musical experiences we’ve ever had,” Shawn says.

Aaron remembers one man who could barely speak beckoning him over and whispering, “When you were playing, my ears are open.” They consider the shows a great learning experience.

“You have to pull emotions and responses out of people who maybe weren’t even expecting to see music that day,” Aaron says.

The love of performing in whatever venue they find themselves in drives the siblings. Even with music now being their only source of income, they don’t let themselves feel the pressure on stage.

“I have to have the blinders on from anything financial, or exposure-wise, because it will take away from what I’m doing it for,” Aaron says.

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.