Friday, December 10, 2010

Discovery of the Year

The Acorn
I never would have heard of this band except for my friend Jonah Eller-Isaacs playing them on a podcast I recorded with him last year. The two songs he played—“Hold Your Breath” and “Glory”—came from the album Glory Hope Mountain. Instead of trying to explain how much the band meant to Jonah and how that drew me into be a fan, I asked Jonah to explain it in his own words:

"It was an opening set by the Canadian band The Acorn that first caught my attention, a set strong enough that the headliner is lost to me now. I discovered later that it was the band's first set in the United States, and they left the Union Hall audience with a collectively dropped jaw. It wasn't just the music that drew us all in; it was their energy, a spiritual Tesla coil of energy that electrified the enraptured crowd. I took home Glory Hope Mountain and listened, and listened, and listened. It was like being a teenager again, that obsessive love, the poring over lyrics and album art, the search for connection and meaning in another's artistic vision. Of course, I had just been handed a potentially terminal cancer diagnosis, which heightened the emotional stakes of, well, everything, and certainly made it easier to fall madly in love with a tender album like this one.

When The Acorn returned to Union Hall for their first American headlining set, I made sure to bring a crew of friends, knowing that they would all be hooked, as they were. I approached the band after the show and said, “Look, I know this is kind of intense, but I'm dealing with a cancer diagnosis right now, and your album has been a balm for me. It’s lovely and beautiful and thank you.” And then the touring female vocalist and I had a good long cry.

I've seen The Acorn numerous times since then, and when they played Mercury Lounge earlier this year, Steve had just finished an interview with the band. He had explained my love of the band and their music, and as the band began their song “Glory,” the lead singer Rolf Klausener dedicated the song to me. Sweet, to be sure, but I don't think Rolf knew how deeply that particular song spoke to me. At “Glory’s” emotional peak, Rolf sings “Oh, the morning sun has come, and you’re not there.” It’s a terrible necessity of living with chronic illness that one must confront the question of mortality; I've always imagined that line anticipating a Jonah-less morning. And yet The Acorn's music fills me with hope—hope as in esperanza, the middle name of Rolf's mother, to whom Glory Hope Mountain is dedicated. As long as bands like The Acorn keep producing music of depth, resonance and meaning, I will continue to find hope."

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