Calgary’s music scene is undergoing a magnificent musical uprising as local bands are coming into their own with innovative sounds, capturing the attention of lucky listeners far and wide. The Ashley Hundred is one of these outstanding acts that are stamping their brand new sound on a not-so-new genre.
By bridging the soundscapes of traditional acoustic folk and new age sonic ambiance, The Ashley Hundred has successfully created a fresh branch of music which falls somewhere between The Fleet Foxes or The Avett Brothers and DIIV or Beach Fossils. The band fondly refers to this unique sound as “folk-adelic,” which perfectly captures its one-of-a-kind nature and the uplifting feeling their charming tunes ignite within listeners. The creative geniuses behind this vibrant sound are: Brett Cassidy (banjo, lap steel, vocals), Chad Dalley (drums), Andrew Franks (guitar, keys, vocals), Carson Stewart (guitar, keys, vocals) and Jordan Moe (bass, vocals).
Beginning their musical careers in the most humble of ways, these five young men started playing traditional acoustic folk music for fun in 2012, using their basements or parks and forests around Calgary as their stage. Stewart explains that, after exploring their folk capabilities as nothing more than a hobby, the guys began to see potential in taking their music more seriously. “We started off playing for fun, just experimenting with our sound and playing in random places. Then, when we realized we had something special, things just kind of took off.”
Two years later, the band is set to release their debut EP, Postcards From The Moon, this month. The EP instantly captures the attention of listeners with soaring vocals, insane banjo riffs and modern psych-pop elements. It’s this perfect merriment of juxtaposing sounds that makes their music stand out and, when listening to the lyrical wisdom and instrumental mastery that the record possesses, it is simply astounding that none of these guys were born before 1992.
When asked what influence such an extensive soundscape, the band explains that they are individually influenced by a wide array of genres, from old school folk to progressive rock to modern electronic. “We each enjoy different types of music,” Cassidy says, “but then we also listen to some of the same stuff. It’s like a crazy Venn diagram of five different music tastes that sometimes overlap. All these different sounds influence our music.”
If these guys weren’t already cool and smart enough as is, they also came up with a unique band name that has an eclectic, historical significance. In 1822, General William Ashley sent out the following ad: “To Enterprising Young Men: The Subscriber wishes to engage One Hundred men to ascend the River Missouri to its source to be employed for one, two, or three years.” This ode to the past successfully summarizes the great adventure these talented men are on and will surely follow them along the incredible musical trajectory they’ve established by creating an entirely new branch of folk within Calgary’s expansively vibrant music scene.
The Ashley Hundred will release their debut EP, Postcards from the Moon, on March 29 at the Palomino.
By Kayla Beattie
Photo: Sydney Fream