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L.A. Beat

Utilities growing on “Heavy South”

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Local indie rock band the Utilities have released their long awaited fourth album, “ Heavy South.”

Joel Stretch of the Utilities playing his band’s record release party at the Slice, Feb. 16. Photo by Richard Amery
“ We recorded it in Edmonton with Jesse Northey in his True North Studio. We recorded for seven days and took seven months to mix it,” said frontman Joel Stretch, nothing former Lethbridge resident Jesse Northey has always been a big supporter of the band ever since their released their debut CD in 2011 when they were still in high school and followed it up with “Flint” 2012.

After that they released “Sulky Junior” in 2014
“I don’t really talk about the first two anymore,” Stretch said.
“I think we’ve improved quite a bit since then,” he continued.

Stretch is joined by bandmates bassist Colby Stolson, drummer/percussionist Drake McCheyne and guitarist Tyson Wiebe.

“We’re feeling really in synch on this album,” Stretch said.

“Drake’s drumming is the best it ever has been and my singing and playing has improved a lot,” he said.

“Jesse has always been a pretty vocal supporter of us from all the way back when we were 17ish. He put out Flint on his label Esper Records,” Stretch continued.
“So we’re really comfortable working with him,” he added.

“It‘s very comfortable. It was a very positive environment. He’s not always watching the clock. He’s always writing down ideas,” he said.

Some of the songs were inspired by the feel of Gord Downie’s last solo album.
“Four or five of the songs are inspired by the feel of it,” he said.

He said the lyrics were inspire by the routine of everyday life,
“They’re inspired by the cyclical patterns patterns we experience in life like seasons, weather patterns, work weeks and life lessons learned  from them,” he said.


Musically they were inspired by a lot of  ’60s and ’70s folk rock.
“I was listening to a little bit of late ’60s and early ’70s  music like the Byrds and Neil Young and folk rock,” he said.
“There was a lot of creativity happening then,” he observed.

The band has scattered all over the province. Stretch is a teacher by day.
So daily life means they don’t get to play together as much as they would like to.
“We all have jobs and work 40 plus hours a week,” he said.

 They made a point of releasing this record on vinyl.
“We’ve always wanted to do it but have never been able to do it,” he said adding they had to go  to a Kentucky based Palomino Records to get it done.

They also released the record on CD and digital downloads in addition to the 100 vinyl copies.
“ Heavy South” is available at Blueprint in Lethbridge and Blackbyrd Myoozik in Edmonton.

 A version of this story appears in the Feb. 28, 2018 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 February 2018 10:46 )  
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