Band page created in 2008.
Dan Workman, Brett Paulin
Sully Sullivan, Ryan Roantree
Grunge Noir Emotive Post-Rock...or something.
Ten Kens are from Toronto, so odds are they'll be indie-famous after their record comes out, because it's pretty solid through and through, has memorable tunes and a definite dramatic flair.
Another fresh signing to the FatCat roster, Ten Kens eponymously titled debut album was released in September 2008. Familiar yet idiosyncratic, with an already finely honed sensibility towards conveying their own volatile mix of bittersweet melody and spiked, lysergic alt-rock, Ten Kens traverse a wealth of emotional terrain. Lyrically oblique or cryptic, suggesting worlds of possibility, their album is
by turns introspective and belligerent, shot through with a pensive air and a contrary swagger, relayed via cavernous reverb.
Comprising Dean Tzenos (guitar), Dan Workman (vocals), Lee Stringle (bass), Ryan Roantree (drums), the origins of the band are rooted in 2003, when friends Dean and Dan began collaborating together. Building on a shared musical affinity, they jammed and rehearsed as a three piece utilising several different drummers for the first year, before deciding to rent a townhouse to write and record an album entirely by themselves. From start to finish, that process took over a year, with the pair of them seeing very little sunlight.
Once recorded, the fruit of their labours was burnt to disc and circulated, and following a spate of label interest culminating in their signing to FatCat, they decided to flesh out the line-up, began playing shows, and set about recording their debut album proper. A record very much informed by their earlier recordings, but sounding fresh and revitalised, Ten Kens is very much informed by a collective drive and ambition, and firmly places them in the realm of their contemporaries, recalling the likes of Liars, Black Mountain,
Black Heart Procession and Arcade Fire.
Recorded at Breakglass Studios in Montreal with Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Pretty Girls Make Graves), Ten Kens brooding, West Coast psych-tinged oeuvre and the presence of the space seemed almost naturally aligned, but it was the recording process itself that informed the shape of the record. Laid down in June 2007, the band recorded practically all day and all night for two weeks straight. The bands goal was simply to capture the spirit unique to each song, but the album naturally possesses a widescreen sense of drama that pervades the entire LP, the songs sitting together as a tangible, fully
Ten Kens are gearing up to release their second album on FatCat, the aptly titled 'For Posterity', which sees them looking forward to the future with a renewed sense of vigour and artistic purpose.
Whilst 'For Posterity' is a very different beast to the self-titled album, many of the elements that yielded such a critically well received debut still survive and are enhanced. Ten Kens continue to be an idiosyncratic band that find delight in toying with the listeners expectations, often at multiple points within a single song. 'Johnny Ventura', the first track from the new album is a prime example, introducing a Roky Erickson-like howl from Dan Workman over the top of a crushing guitar riff, before stopping abruptly for a brief ethereal mid-song interlude, perfectly demonstrating the bands ability to juxtapose quiet introspection with unabashed belligerence.
Indeed, it is the range of contrasts which make 'For Posterity' such an intriguing listen. Heavenly vocals appear hauntingly over dark sludgy guitars which then themselves provide a platform for a surprisingly spiky post-punk riff, or the prelude to a screaming deluge of noise. Still, whilst the band sought simply to capture the spirit unique to each song, the band have maintained the ability to record an album with a sonic narrative, through the widescreen sense of drama that characterised their self-titled debut. However, whilst the musical intent of that was to make a tangible body of work, 'For Posterity' feels more like a spirit, haunting the listener with a brooding dread that runs throughout the album and binds its contrasting musical elements together.
With 'For Posterity' due for a summer release date, US and European tours are currently in the planning stages.