DEK: This is part 2 of ‘The Gift of Music,’ a series of articles penned by our very own Arts & Life Editor Marcus Medford; this time, he gives a late introduction to the psychedelic-shoegaze sounds of Winnipeg-based band Living Hour and their self-titled debut album.



It feels good to give gifts, and this Christmas, I’d like to give as many as my budget will allow–especially to you, the lovely readers of The Underground. ‘But Marcus, how can you get a gift for hundreds of people, one which they will all enjoy and that won’t put you even further in debt?’ The answer is ‘with music.’ This year, I’ll be celebrating the holidays by sharing my new music recommendations so that you’ll have something to listen to when you can’t bear to hear “Jingle Bells” one more time.


Have you ever gotten a gift and enjoyed it so much that you felt you had been missing out before it came into your life? That’s how I feel about Living Hour’s self-titled debut album. The Winnipeg-based five-piece released their debut in February 2016, but I didn’t learn of them until this past fall when they played an enchanting set at The Drake Underground..


The music of Living Hour isn’t the kind of music you dance and party to; rather, the members of the audience opted to sway side to side in a trance-like rhythm while the band played. You couldn’t hear a single side conversation, and even the members of the band themselves hardly spoke to each other, only exchanging directions and a handful of smiles.  My favorite parts of the night were the three-part harmonies on songs that rang through the air like a beautiful, haunting wail and the intermittent trombone notes. The vibe at the show was so low key that one of the few times lead singer, Samantha Sarty, spoke into her mic it was to request the lights be dimmed to be “less like a spotlight and more…moody.”


That quote is a fair reflection of Living Hour’s musical style. The band describes their sound as “psychedelic chill dreaminess,” and they are often labelled as a shoegaze or psychedelic dream-pop group. In the early days of Living Hour, the band spent time in various basements throughout southern Winnipeg, writing dreamy love songs inspired by the cinematic sky of their hometown. The pleasantly unreal feel of their music has persisted and continues to be a defining feature of their songs. The album combines fuzzy, melodic, psych-rock inspired riffs with washed-out textures and powerful, stirring vocals to create a sound that pours over the space and engulfs its audience. This quality makes for the perfect soundtrack for your summer chill sessions, day or night.


Moody is certainly a good word to describe Living Hour’s music but defining what kind of mood and which emotions it elicits is up for interpretation. None of the songs are innately “sad” or “happy,” with lyrics that can switch from joyful to crushing in the span of one song–listen to “Seagull”. While there are certainly elements of dream-pop on the record, the drums and the guitars that are prevalent throughout give it a little more edge, making it less sleepy than other similar artists and songs.  Guitarist Gil Carroll explains, “We were out to create our own little world. I definitely wanted to tap into a unique kind of headspace. I’m super into the Winnipeg local scene, and I love tons of the bands that come out of here, but I really wanted to create something that people might think was weird.”


Standout track: “Seagull”, “Steady Glazed Eyes”