Adventures in Your Own Backyard

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Adventures in Your Own Backyard
Studio album by Patrick Watson
Released April 16, 2012 (2012-04-16)
Genre Chamber pop, folk
Length 47:51
Label Secret City Records
Domino Records
Patrick Watson chronology
Wooden Arms
(2009)
Adventures in Your Own Backyard
(2012)
Singles from Adventures in Your Own Backyard
  1. "Into Giants"
    Released: January 25, 2012
  2. "Lighthouse"
    Released: June 11, 2012
  3. "Step out for a while"
    Released: August 20, 2012

Adventures in Your Own Backyard is the fourth studio album by Canadian group Patrick Watson, released in April 2012. It is the band's follow-up to the Polaris Music Prize-nominated 2009 release Wooden Arms, but by comparison is a musically simpler and more emotional album.

Recording and production[edit]

Adventures in Your Own Backyard was recorded almost entirely in a home studio next door to Watson's apartment in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal.[1][2] The location was chosen for several reasons: the band wanted to return to the city after several years of touring,[1] they felt that they would produce their best work by avoiding the time constraint and stress of recording in a professional studio,[3] and it also allowed Watson to care for his two young children in between recording sessions.[4] According to drummer Robbie Kuster, the relaxed and informal environment "really let [the band] dig in to the writing and the arranging" of the album.[5] However, the album's title refers to more than just the physical location of where it was recorded; as Watson explains,

"We did record it in our backyard, so there’s that aspect, but to me, backyard means the people you have around in the back of your head, not where you have your barbecues. Everyone has their own definition of what a backyard means, and I also think that after seeing so much while travelling, it was exotic to come home and pay attention to the details of where we live."[6]

Though the band is named after its lead singer, Watson, he maintains that "when people say 'Patrick Watson' I don’t think of me... I think of an entity"[2] and has cited the track "Morning Sheets" as an example of a song whose tune was written by someone else (Kuster and Mishka Stein).[7]

Release[edit]

In 2011, the band had already revealed that they planned to release an album sometime in the next year, but the title, tracklisting, release dates and tour dates were not officially announced until January 25, 2012.[8][9] The track "Into Giants" was also released for streaming online and later officially made available for purchase as a single on February 21, 2012. In anticipation of the album's release, American music magazine Paste named Patrick Watson one of "10 International Acts to Watch for in 2012".[10]

On March 15, the band played at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas,[11] where Rolling Stone magazine named them among the 25 "can't-miss acts" of the festival.[12] National Public Radio hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton were in attendance and reacted very favourably to the band's performance; Hilton was moved to tears by what he called a "magical" moment that was his "most profound... of the day", while Boilen called it the best show of the festival and predicted the album would be one of the best of 2012.[13][14]

The album's launch was supported by three sold-out concerts at the Corona Theatre in Montreal on April 15, 16, and 17.[6] A music video for "Into Giants", directed by Brigitte Henry, was released on April 24, 2012.[15]

Web series[edit]

External video
Patrick Watson Adventures on YouTube. The first in the band's web series, this video was filmed in Rouyn-Noranda in September 2011 and released online in April 2012.

To accompany the album, the band will release a series of web videos described by Watson as a collection of "stories in people's backyards". The videos will combine musical performances as well as documentary elements and are inspired by American filmmaker David Lynch's 2009 web series Interview Project.[16] The first video, released on April 16, was shot in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec during the Emerging Music Festival (French: Festival de musique émergente) in September 2011.[17] It features an interview with a local restaurateur Conrad Morasse as well as a small outdoor concert by the town's train tracks.[17]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label
Continental Europe April 16, 2012 Domino Recording Company
Canada April 17, 2012 Secret City Records
Germany April 20, 2012 Domino Recording Company
United Kingdom and worldwide April 30, 2012
United States May 1, 2012

Music and lyrics[edit]

Everybody wanted to make a touching album, twelve songs that just touched people. I think that was our only rule. You know, we're known for [using] bicycles and branches [as instruments], but I think that writing great songs is still the most important thing for a band to be doing.

—Patrick Watson[18]

The songs of Adventures in Your Own Backyard are described as "boisterous and pretty, alive and roaming, fairytales with Watson’s skimming falsetto",[2] and continue in the band's signature style of cinematic and orchestral pop.[4][19] Like the band's previous release, Wooden Arms, the album contains a few unusual instruments, including a glass marimba on one track, but in general features less of the experimental sound, opting instead for "an eloquent, perhaps deceptive, simplicity"[19] and more mature production.[18] According to Watson, the album is much subtler and "a bit more grounded, less airy... still kind of dreamy but with its feet on the ground",[2] and he expressed a desire for his audience to focus more on the emotions behind the music than simply on the instruments used in its creation.[1] He also expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the previous album, saying that singing its songs didn't give him the "melodic goosebumps", and for this album wanted to write songs that just "felt really good to sing".[18]

Writing for The Globe and Mail, music critic Brad Wheeler noted the band's stylistic changes, calling Adventures in Your Own Backyard "a dreamy bath of chamber-pop and fancy cabaret, less clacky without the kitchen-utensil or bike-wheel percussion of Wooden Arms and slightly more grounded than Close to Paradise".[20] It was also described by another critic as a "pensive and downtempo affair", with "slow-burning melodies [that] take entire songs to ignite memorable hooks".[21]

Thematically, the album was inspired by the concept of home, and especially the group's native province of Quebec.[22] The track "Strange Crooked Road" contains stories from the family of a friend of the band, while "Words in the Fire" was written at a campfire in northern Quebec.[22] In addition, the album's lyrics were intended to provoke the listener into taking a second look at the world around them, which Watson explains by saying,

"Fundamentally, I’d like to write songs that people can carry with them in their daily life and bring them some sort of adventure. Maybe they’ll notice stuff they’re missing that’s right beside them. I hope my music can allow people to catch little details, like when they’re walking down the street, and bring a little bit of creativity and magic to the everyday world."[6]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 70/100[23]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[24]
Consequence of Sound 3.5/4 stars[25]
Edmonton Journal 4/5 stars[26]
The Gazette (Montreal) 4/5 stars[27]
The Globe and Mail 3.5/4 stars[20]
The Grid 6/10[21]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[28]
La Presse 4.5/5 stars[29]
Now 4/5 stars[30]
Toronto Star 3/4 stars[31]

Adventures in Your Own Backyard mostly received positive reviews from critics. Olivier Robillard Laveaux of Voir called it "magnificent" and "a success in every way",[3] while Bernard Perusse of The Gazette called it "another haunting, atmospheric gem that doesn’t base its resonance on singsong hooks"[4] and "somewhat unsettling, often dreamlike, but never predictable and always challenging".[27] Jian Ghomeshi of the CBC Radio One show Q called it a "really beautiful record" and predicted that it would garner the band a lot of attention.[18]

However, Dave Simpson of The Guardian gave the album a mixed review, calling it "pretty stuff, with breathtaking production which doesn't quite conceal a shortage of strong songs" and saying that the album "doesn't land enough killer blows".[28] This opinion was echoed by Chris Bilton of The Grid, who said that though the album contains "worthy sonic adventures", few of them are "memorable enough to get stuck in your head".[21]

The album was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize on June 14, 2012.[32]

Commercial performance[edit]

Adventures in Your Own Backyard was the top-selling album on the Canadian iTunes Store for the week ending on April 22.[33] The album debuted at number two on the Canadian Albums Chart with 14,670 copies sold.[34] On June 28, 2012, the album was certified gold by Music Canada, for shipping over 40,000 copies nationwide.[35]

Tracklisting[edit]

  1. "Lighthouse" – 4:46
  2. "Blackwind" – 3:54
  3. "Step Out for a While" – 4:03
  4. "The Quiet Crowd" – 3:56
  5. "Into Giants" – 4:28
  6. "Morning Sheets" – 3:24
  7. "Words in the Fire" – 3:53
  8. "The Things You Do" – 3:58
  9. "Strange Crooked Road" – 3:43
  10. "Noisy Sunday" – 4:01
  11. "Adventures in Your Own Backyard" – 4:51
  12. "Swimming Pools" – 2:54
iTunes Store bonus track
  1. "The Things We Do" – 4:44

Personnel[edit]

  • Simon Angell – guitar
  • Robbie Kuster – drums
  • Mishka Stein – bass
  • Patrick Watson – vocals, piano

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brunet, Alain (April 7, 2012). "Patrick Watson: dans une arrière-cour près de chez vous...". La Presse (in French). Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Michaels, Sean (April 12, 2012). "Patrick Watson: The art of giving goosebumps". Hour Community. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Laveaux, Olivier Robillard (April 12, 2012). "Patrick Watson: Chez les géants". Voir (in French). Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Perusse, Bernard (April 10, 2012). "Patrick Watson: Enjoying the buzz, avoiding the pop". The Gazette. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ Opolko, Frank (March 29, 2012). "10 question challenge: Patrick Watson". CBC Music. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Leijon, Eric (April 12, 2012). "Curious spaces, familiar places". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ Wheeler, Brad (April 15, 2012). "Patrick Watson: Sparking the imagination for the Quiet Crowd". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ Hudson, Alex (January 25, 2012). "Patrick Watson Announces Adventures in Your Own Backyard, Shares New Track". Exclaim!. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Patrick Watson Announces New Album". Relix. January 25, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ Saunders, Hilary (January 28, 2012). "10 International Acts To Watch For in 2012". Paste. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ "SX Schedule: Patrick Watson". SXSW. 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  12. ^ Eisen, Benjy (March 8, 2012). "SXSW 2012: 25 Can't-Miss Acts". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ganz, Jacob (March 16, 2012). "SXSW Late Night Dispatch: Thursday". All Songs Considered: The Blog. National Public Radio. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  14. ^ Boilen, Bob; Robin Hilton; Ann Powers; Stephen Thompson (March 19, 2012). "Possibly Life-Changing Musical Discoveries from SXSW 2012". Esquire. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ Villeneuve, Nicole (April 24, 2012). "Watch the new Patrick Watson video, "Into Giants"". Aux. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ Hudson, Alex (September 7, 2011). "Patrick Watson Plans Backyard Web Series Ahead of New LP". Exclaim!. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Adventures in Canada's Backyard: Patrick Watson and the History of Rouyn-Noranda". George Stroumboulopoulos. CBC.ca. April 18, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c d Watson, Patrick (April 12, 2012). Montreal rockers Patrick Watson perform on Q. Interview with Jian Ghomeshi. Q. CBC Radio One. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Cubarrubia, R.J. (March 9, 2012). "Patrick Watson Finds Wonder in 'Backyard' Album, Wacky Instruments". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Wheeler, Brad (April 13, 2012). "Disc of the week: Patrick Watson". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c Bilton, Chris (April 18, 2012). "Review of Adventures in Your Own Backyard". The Grid. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Doherty, Mike (April 16, 2012). "Patrick Watson’s ‘sugary’ coated new album keeps it simple". National Post. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Adventures in Your Own Backyard Review at Metacritic.com". Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  24. ^ Monger, James Christopher (2012). "Review of Adventures in Your Own Backyard by Patrick Watson". Allmusic. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  25. ^ Freed, Nick (May 3, 2012). "Album Review: Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  26. ^ Sperounes, Sandra (April 16, 2012). "Patrick Watson’s latest musical Adventures snuggle your innards". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Perusse, Bernard (April 10, 2012). "New Music Reviews: Watson, Raitt, Florence + the Machine, Counting Crows, Good, Pinsent, Keelor, M. Ward". The Gazette. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  28. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (April 19, 2012). "Patrick Watson: Adventures In Your Own Backyard – review". The Guardian. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  29. ^ Côté, Émilie (April 14, 2012). "Patrick Watson : vrai, beau, et terriblement bon". La Presse (in French). Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  30. ^ Huffa, Joanne (May 3–10, 2012). "Album review: Patrick Watson, Adventures in Your Own Backyard". Now 31 (36). Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  31. ^ Rayner, Ben (April 17, 2012). "Patrick Watson’s new album a (relatively) direct hit". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Polaris Prize long list includes lots of Toronto bands". Toronto Star, June 14, 2012.
  33. ^ The Canadian Press (April 24, 2012). "Adventures in Your Own Backyard by Patrick Watson top selling album on iTunes in Canada". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  34. ^ Daniell, Mark (April 26, 2012). "Jason Mraz tops Adele on charts". Jam!. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard". Music Canada. 

External links[edit]