Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Hill & the Sky Heroes: "11:11" (album review)

After spending years supporting and touring with a veritable who's who of Canadian rock, Hill Kourkoutis is stepping out on her own.  Recording as Hill & the Sky Heroes, the Toronto singer releases her debut album 11:11 on June 12th.

Kourkoutis isn't afraid of mixing up genres.  She bounces around from smoky lounge ("Love Isn't Safe") to twangy meandering roots ("The Better Way") to blues rock ("In Retrospect") complete with booming vocals.

What really strikes you when you listen is Kourkoutis' personality.  She's bold and seemingly larger than life. One moment she's playfully sultry and seductive ("There's a Lie On Your Pillow"), the next she's grabbed you by the throat, poised to kick your ass ("A Bitch Like Me").

She's part Canadian Florence Welch, part "Only Happy When It Rains"-era Shirley Manson, with a dash of Lindi Ortega to keep things grounded.  Heck, when Kourkoutis gets really riled up, like on "No Man's Land" and "The Human Spectrum", she even pushed Polly Harvey territory.

11:11 is as intense, fearsome, compelling, and thoroughly enjoyable a debut album as you are likely to hear this year.  One question remains though: where has Hill been all my life?

Hill & the Sky Heroes play the Drake Underground on June 11th.

Best tracks: "A Bitch Like Me", "The Better Way"

Track listing for 11:11:
  • Beam Me Up
  • There's a Lie On Your Pillow
  • Love Isn't Safe
  • The Better Way
  • Rent An Ocean
  • In Retrospect (You Were the Asshole)
  • No Man's Land
  • Doctor, Doctor
  • The Human Spectrum
  • A Bitch Like Me
  • Starseed

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