The Bottomfeeders
CD review: Waterview
By: Dan Brisebois

Dave Hurwitz – (vocals/mandolin/guitar)
John Armstrong – (vocals/guitar/harmonica/bodhran)
Mike Thatcher – (vocals/washtub bass)
Andre Sperling – (accordion)
Coral Palm – (vocals/guitar)
Pete Moffat – (vocals/fiddle)
Bill Morrison – (vocals/guitar/banjo/mandolin)

With all the new groups coming out these days trying to find a ‘sound’ to make themselves different from all the rest, the debut from The Bottomfeeders is like a refreshing trip to the west coast. WATERVIEW is 7 lifetimes in the making. All hailing from Vancouver Island, they were together sharing common youths and then playing the circuit a full decade before their 2001 INDEPENDENT debut.

Right from the opening of the title track, it helps set the mood – a friendly jaunt through traditional West Coast offerings, mixed with Celtic, polka and bluegrass influences. But it’s the album’s diversity that makes it easily one of the biggest sleeper hits in recent indie memory. Graceful harmonies around Coral Palm in “Wait Some More” … the tranquil image you instantly visualize around the traditional Canadian folk ballad “The Jealous Lover” … make no mistake about it – these guys and gal are serious musicians, with the craftsmanship one naturally gains with music they love to play.

It’s the band’s playfulness in tunes like the “Spruce Bug” ( if you don’t like a good accordion driven frolick – you WILL shortly … ) If you don’t know what a geoduck (pronounced gooey duck) clam is – don’t worry. Neither did I until hearing John’s Armstrong’s clever “(My Gal Left Me For A) Geoduck Clam”. In fact it’s the band’s whimsical side that gives the band it’s charm. “Gooseneck Barnacle Pickers” and “Clamdigger” – what the band claims as a ‘waltz anthem’ … you just know by the titles these folks know their fish – and know how to fun. Like the rest of the CD, all you have to do is close your eyes while listening to it and you can practically smell the Pacific Ocean harkenening back to a day when life wasn’t so serious … by the way – I’m Albertan and the closest I’ve ever been to these places is opening a can of clam chowder soup. But one listen and I dare you to not at least consider buying a boat – or joining the navy … or something to rid your self-guilt about being a red meat-eating land-lubber.

If you have to put a ‘tag’ on them … think of The Bottomfeeders as a West Coast Rankin Family before they went commercial mixed with The Irish Rovers and a flair for the silly. A fisherman’s life couldn’t be made out more eloquently, capturing one of the country’s few ‘roots musics’. A refreshing splash of originality is just what Canadian Music needed and The Bottomfeeders give you that splash – and all the fish tales that come with it. Contrary to what the country’s marketing juggernaut marketing machine may want you to believe, Canadian music is not derived of whatever the current fad is. It’s a big country and its music diverse. The Bottomfeeders have conquered their little island.