Grammy nomination for Cape Breton musicians

todayNovember 12, 2023 8

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Mabou natives Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan and their band Alvvays have been nominated for a Grammy award.

The nomination in the Best Alternative Music Performance category is for the band’s song Belinda Says from their album Blue Rev.

Alvvays (pronounced always) formed in 2011. The spelling derives from the fact that another band on their label was already called Always.

Rankin is the daughter of the late John Morris Rankin, virtuoso keyboardist and pianist for the Rankin Family, whose death in an auto accident in 2000 was noted in a New York Times obituary.

Alvvays was the subject of a feature-length article last year in the British newspaper The Guardian, which described their music as being made “with a brutally exacting eye.”

“There is a world that we insist on inhabiting, and to get into that world it takes a lot of time,” Rankin told the Guardian. “It takes a lot of work to make things sound rough, and pretty, and strange and familiar.”

The album Blue Rev is named for the vodka-based alcopop Rankin and MacLellan drank as teens growing up in Cape Breton, while the song that earned Alvvays the Grammy nomination references Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is a Place on Earth.

“I’m pretty picky about the arc of a song and not afraid to abandon things to the cutting room floor,” said Rankin.

Rankin started writing music with her neighbour, keyboardist MacLellan, and later met guitarist and partner Alec O’Hanley.

She released the solo EP She in 2010, and Alvvays was formed the next year, with lead singer and guitartist Rankin recruiting MacLellan, O’Hanley, drummer Phil MacIsaac and bassist Brian Murphy.

The band members lived in Charlottetown before relocating to Toronto. Their self-titled album, released in 2014, topped the U.S. college charts.

Alvvays received a SOCAN songwriting prize nomination in 2018 and was shortlisted for a Polaris Music Prize, and won a JUNO for Alternative Album of the Year.

“What the band forgo in flashiness they make up for in quality control; they like to take their time to make things perfect, a rare luxury in a world where indie bands often have to pump out records in order to be able to tour – the only place any band can realistically hope to make a living,” wrote the Guardian, which called Blue Rev “one of the best records of the year.”

Alvvays’ music has been described as jangle pop by the music press, but Rankin has said the band’s emphasis is primarily on strong melodies rather than on a specific genre.

She also acknowledges that she was immersed in Celtic music from childhood, and that it has a discernible influence on the way she sings and writes melodies.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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