New Music: Jon McKiel Releases ‘Memorial Ten Count’

Jon McKiel has just released his latest album, ‘Memorial Ten Count’. Taking its name from the ten-count toll rung in honour of a champion boxer’s passing, the album was recorded in ‘the nether regions of Nova Scotia’ with Aaron Mingle of Cousins and Joyfultalk alumni Jay Crocker and Shawn Dicey. ‘Memorial Ten Count’ skillfully mixes grand ideas with raw sound, using fuzzy audio, echoed acoustics and thought-provoking lyricism to create an album that’s hard to forget.

‘Memorial Ten Count’ opens memorably with heavy bass-driven ‘Boss,’ with McKiel’s echoing vocals proclaiming peaceful but anxious defiance of authority. Next is ‘Impossible GIF,’ which pairs stilted guitar riffs with agitated, technophobic lyrics lamenting the collapse of modern communication, capturing a true sense of unbelonging.

Having been released early as a promotional single and paired with a video capturing quiet winters in the towns surrounding McKiel’s native Tantramar marshes, ‘Brothers’ stands out as one of the album’s strongest songs. A gentle track of sleepy nostalgia, ‘Brothers’ is a soothing combination of family memories and hometown wistfulness.

Following on this strong start to the album, McKiel continues firing off solid tracks. ‘Jewel In The Sun’ blends a mellow bass-groove and idyllic lyrics with an ambient psychedelic feel for a relaxing yet surreal experience. Transitioning over seamlessly from this, the bright sound of ‘Unknown Source’ contrasts perfectly with the mind-melting infinity and transcendental metaphysics of the lyrics.

One of the album’s most memorable tracks and its first official single, hard-rock jam ‘Conduit’ is a fittingly energetic protest song – powerful, passionate, and chaotic. Decrying police brutality and challenging their authority at a fundamental level with significant philosophical heft, ‘Conduit’ both takes a firm stance against oppression and makes an earnest plea for change. Building on this chaotic, energetic feel is ‘High Five (Living a Lie),’ where blues-rock influence in the guitar work compliments the chanted repetition of the lyrics to create a hypnotic yet unstable feel.

While the tail-end of ‘Memorial Ten Count’ features a significantly more subdued energy, it’s a fitting end to album’s diverse spectrum of sounds. ‘Still Remain’ is a slow, dreamlike track discussing the struggles of identity and communication, with a sense of lingering alienation in the drifting tempo and haunting refrain. Following the bizarre, surreal ramblings and jarring instrumentals of ‘Turf War,’ the album winds itself down to the perfect conclusion in ‘Memory Cook.’ Downplayed to a serene, intimate lull, ‘Memory Cook’ is an introspective journey of bittersweet memories, questioning both family teachings and personal history.

Complex and compelling, ‘Memorial Ten Count’ is a skillfully executed album with broad range and insightful words. Whether intense and impassioned or subtle and passive, McKiel’s sound captures an authentic, personal feel. A quality album from a talented musician, ‘Memorial Ten Count’ will leave you thinking about it long after it’s finished.