The recording of Dark Mean’s debut album began sometime in 2007. During this period band members Mark Dean, Billy Holmes, and Sandy Johnston released two “work in progress” EPs without expectation. Little did they know Frankencottage and Music Box would become quite well received in the blogging community, downloaded in over 100 countries, lectured upon by a music professor in Brazil, and find the band rousing audiences into massive sing-alongs in cities reaching far beyond the steel cast borders of a hometown, Hamilton, Ontario – all of which motivating the trio as they emerged from the secluded lodgings of Algonquin Park and headed back into the studio, barely aware of the surrounding anticipation for their debut album.
NEW MP3 (cleared to post): Dark Mean – “Smoke Lake”
MP3 (cleared to post): Dark Mean – “Happy Banjo”
An almost eerie level of mystery has built around the band donning such a simple name and even simpler song titles. A contradictory nature begins with the music: whimsical while monumental, traveling between overt classical pop to dream-like ambiance, the band manages to juxtapose sounds and styles without sacrificing personality or coherence, and, perhaps most notably, with uncanny ease.
Sandy Johnston and Billy Holmes, who seem to play anything and everything, are both essential to the band’s sound. Unassuming yet intricate acoustic sections, banjo riffs that will make you smile, driving drum patterns that don’t hide behind unnecessary flash, and well-crafted arrangements that are nearly impossible to fault are just some of their contributions. Mark Dean’s vocals draw the pieces together, and his phrasing and sense of melody on the record is something truly special.