Streaming Cafe

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grey Kingdom (Spencer Burton of Attack In Black)

by Malcolm Petch

When you read Grey Kingdom’s bio, your first thought is that you’ve somehow stumbled upon the text for a graphic novel. Either that, or the imagination of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes has spilled over onto Grey Kingdom’s website (though there is rather much more blood than Calvin would normally envision). You’ll have to check it out for yourself to see what I mean.

So you turn to Grey Kingdom’s record label, Dine Alone Records, for more insight. And there it is: the proof that Grey Kingdom is keeping good company with label-mates like Hey Rosetta, Dinosaur Bones, and the ubiquitous City and Colour.

Grey Kingdom is the solo-artist stage name of Spencer Burton, a singer songwriter from Ontario. On CBC Radio 3 he lists himself as a Rock Singer Songwriter, as well as Folk, but it’s obvious from his music that he’s more college-crowd oriented than Top-40 oriented in his writing. And, sure enough, there’s an RSS blog feed from Grey Kingdom: “This Thursday, May 20, I’ll be on 103.7 Brock Radio playing some songs and putting on a few of my favourite records” – Brock Radio being, of course, the college radio station at Brock University in Ontario. So besides his talents as a singer songwriter, Burton also spends time as a late-night disc jockey.

Grey Kingdom’s music is acoustic, natural, and really enjoyable. Also keeping busy as a member of the Canadian indie band Attack in Black, it’s obvious Burton can express himself in a wide range of musical styles. As the solo artist Grey Kingdom seems to land more on the acoustic side of the spectrum, although songs like ‘Haunted’ (the full length version, not the EP version) still feature a full rhythm section.

Burton says his solo career started when he and Daniel Romano, another member of Attack in Black, recorded a few of Burton’s songs in their home studio while the two other members of AiB were away. “I’ve always been writing and recording songs,” says Burton, “I’ve just never really had a place to put them. With Attack in Black the songs would very rarely fit onto a CD. They’re generally a different style of music so we wouldn’t really have a place for them.” Burton and Romano played the songs for Dine Alone Records, who liked them enough to release them. Burton recorded a few more of his songs, and Dine Alone released both an EP and a 7” vinyl of the music (the release entitled “The Grey Kingdom”) – plus a full-length record (entitled “Eulogy of Her and Her and Her”).

The Grey Kingdom- Wood & Wires Live from Adrian Vieni (Wood & Wires) on Vimeo.

Grey Kingdom is on tour promoting his release of “Eulogy of Her…” and will be appearing at Streaming Café on June 25th, along with co-Canadian artist Young Wife.

Young Wife is the touring name of Allie Torrance, a singer songwriter from Saint Catherines, Ontario. She classifies herself as Grunge/Minimalist/Psychedelic, and sounds a little like an energetic Julie Doiron.

June 25th promises to be an evening of well-written songs and enjoyable performances. As always, if you can’t be here in person you can always join us online at www.streamingcafe.net at 7pm Pacific Standard Time.

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