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Funeral Lakes - North American Martyrs

Artwork for the brand new album, North American Martyrs, from Kingston, Ontario indie rock duo Funeral Lakes.

The Kingston, Ontario-based indie rock duo Funeral Lakes has returned with a new offering, an eight-track album titled, North American Martyrs, which will be self-released on April 5, 2024. Funeral Lakes was formed in 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia when the duo -Chris Hemer and Sam Mishos- were self-producing music in their apartment searching for an outlet for their creativity in hopes to find a way to express their fears and frustrations. Hemer and Mishos decided to go the DIY route and learned and honed their musical talents at every level, and without a normal recorded process, the duo began working diligently on their self-titled debut album (2019). With everyone stuck at home in 2020 and scheduled plans tossed aside due to the pandemic, Funeral Lakes began work on new music, which ultimately led to the release of their follow-up EP, Golden Season (2020) and their Redeemer EP (2021). North American Martyrs was performed, self-produced, and recorded by Chris Hemer and Sam Mishos in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, with additional engineering, drums, and vocals provided by Arden Rogalsky, and bass guitar, upright bass, and additional vocals provided by Michael Broadhead. The album was mixed by Jonas Bonnetta (Port William Sound) and mastered by Heather Kirby (Dreamlands Mastering).

Funeral Lakes' sophomore album, North American Martyrs, is a bold and thought-provoking exploration of nationalism, history, and settler identity in Canada. The album serves as a critical reflection on the role of cultural production in shaping national myths, drawing inspiration from Canadian historian Daniel Francis's insights on the nature of myths in organizing the past into a coherent narrative.

The album's thematic core revolves around unsettling glorified narratives of Canadian history by shedding light on their purposeful omissions. The title track, "North American Martyrs," sets the tone by reframing the Jesuit missionaries as a sinister force in the broader colonial context, challenging the traditional celebration of their legacy. This reframing extends to all the topics covered in the album, from the North-West Mounted Police to WWI, highlighting how these narratives have been glorified through dominant storytelling.

The album's title itself is symbolic, suggesting that these figures and events are akin to martyrs, celebrated after their deaths and transformed into symbols that are difficult to criticize or question. Through commemorative practices like statues, monuments, and songs, these individuals become elevated to mythical status, hindering meaningful discourse about their true impact and legacy. North American Martyrs aims to unravel these myths and memory constructs, encouraging listeners to reconsider their understanding of Canadian history and identity.

Musically, Funeral Lakes deviates from the dream-pop-infused sound of their previous EP, Redeemer, and returns to their indie rock roots. The album's opening track, "Robber Baron Fantasy," sets a lively pace with its foot tapping melodies and harmonized vocals. "Hometown Hero" delves into a more folky rock landscape, while lyrically, exploring themes of heroism and national pride.

The title track, "North American Martyrs," stands out as a poignant and powerful reflection on colonialism, with its haunting lyrics, melancholic melody, and melodic guitar work. "Echoes (Interlude)" provides a brief respite, with its ethereal soundscape serving as a reflective pause before the album's second half. "Eyes To the Sun (National Myth)" and "Generals Die In Bed" further explore themes of nationalism and war, offering a critical commentary on the glorification of war heroes and the realities of conflict.

Overall, North American Martyrs is a compelling and intellectually stimulating album that challenges listeners to reconsider their understanding of Canadian history and national identity. Funeral Lakes' return to indie rock is a welcome change, allowing their thought-provoking lyrics to shine through against a backdrop of energetic and engaging music.


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