The Baron brothers have found a new way to keep in touch as they reach their late 20s and early 30s: make a record together.
Dan, John and Matt Baron have been the masterminds behind Fiinn since 2013, and the Winnipeg indie-rock group released its debut album, Try Me, earlier in April.
"As brothers do, we weren’t always really the best of friends, but eventually, through music, we developed an amazing rapport of writing and working together," John, 31, says. "That’s probably my favourite thing to do: write music with Dan and Matt."
Instead of being battling brothers, Fiinn has actually forged a tighter bond among the three Barons, who grew up in the West End.
"I don’t think we have a rivalry, because that would make three different bands then," Matt, 27, says. "We’re able to to be honest with each other in the creative process and we’re on the same page enough that we understand each other’s ideas and where we’re coming from.
"We take our sibling rivalries out on the soccer field."
Try Me, the album and its title track, have insistent synthesizers front-and-centre in the mix and the effects-heavy production suggests lots of studio time was spent getting the echo and reverb just right.
But in the same way 21st-century technological developments such as streaming services have revolutionized music distribution, so have new apps and laptop computers put the music-production process into artists’ hands. In Fiinn’s case, Try Me is "all DIY," John says.
"Dan has really good instincts in getting really good sounds out of pretty minimal equipment," Matt says of the oldest Baron brother, who is 33. "He says he doesn’t know what he’s doing but, untrue. He does know what he’s doing."
Songs on the new Fiinn record focus on anxiety, and while worry has crept into many minds during the pandemic, Try Me’s songs were written prior to COVID-19’s appearance in the world and just after the group’s six-track EP Godsend, which came out in 2017.
"It wasn’t really by design the album has that theme, it just came together that way," Matt says. "A lot of the songs cover that internal monologue."
The brothers have their fingers crossed for a chance to perform songs from the new album sometime in 2021, as well as other tunes they have written during the pandemic. They had a live show ready to go on tour last spring but had to put it on the back burner when the coronavirus began to spread.
"These are really fun songs to hear live, if you can imagine, and really fun to play. We hope to hit up an outdoor venue and play through the album," John says.
• • •
Several new singles and promises of albums for later this year from Manitoba artists suggest a sense of optimism for the local music scene in 2021. Here are a few:
• Winnipeg’s Ghost Twin, the synth-pop duo of Karen and Jaimz Asmundson, released the single Blue Sunshine on April 16 and announced a new album, Love Songs for End Times, is on the way June 4.
• Winnipeg pop songstress Olivia Lunny dips into awkward post-breakup situations with her new single Sad to See You Happy, and recently announced a deal with Universal Music Canada and Virgin Music for an upcoming album. No date or title has been set yet, but expect it to come out later in 2021.
• City country singer David James blends traditional twang, fiddle and steel guitar with contemporary country sounds on his new single, Don’t Mind If I Do, which came out April 9. The track has some amusing lyrics: "She ain’t tryin’ to fix me, cause I’m not broken yet."
• Finally, for those who have missed browsing through and buying used records at the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s Vinyl Vault for the past year, a solution has been found. The MCO is inviting customers, one at a time and by appointment only, to shop at the vault, which is at 428 Portage Ave. To set up a time, call 204-783-7377 or email email@example.com.
A volunteer will arrive for that appointment and only one customer at a time is allowed in the tight space. Naturally, masks are mandatory.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.