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.

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.”