Hamster-Gate

CHRISTINE FELLOWS at Rancho Relaxo (370 Queen West), Friday (March 1), 11.


CHRISTINE

FELLOWS at Rancho Relaxo

(370 Queen West), Friday (March 1), 11

pm. $6. 416-920-0366. Rating: NNNNN

her album isn’t even out yetand Winnipeg chamber pop charmer Christine Fellows is already making it known she won’t stand for any lazy “chick with piano” comparisons.Fair enough. Her sombre-toned The Last One Standing (Six Shooter) album, awash in gentle strokes of viola, cello and glockenspiel, doesn’t really sound like anything by Paula Cole. And I don’t recall Tori Amos ever trying to slip a metaphorical reference to “angry hamsters” into a love-gone-wrong song.

How she manages to maintain her composure while conjuring the picaresque image of ill-tempered rodents in that Roadkill tune, I’ll never know. I’ve got to hold my sides every time she hits that line.

So why hamsters? Some unfortunate childhood pet-handling mishap perhaps?

“I’ve never actually had a hamster in my life,” insists Fellows from her Winnipeg home. “I was just thinking of some creature that runs on the wheel inside my head. It could’ve been a lab rat, but I liked the word “hamster.’

“Believe me, there was much debate amongst the other writers I get together with around here about keeping that hamster bit. They were all, like, “Umm, I don’t know about hamsters.’

“My friend John (John K. Samson) from the Weakerthans was adamant that the hamsters line should stay in, so it’s in there.”

In fact, Samson had more to do with the way Fellows’s disc came together than just the vote of confidence on the rodent controversy.

Along with playing bass, singing and dropping in the odd guitar solo, a friendly pre-recording writing competition between Samson and Fellows inspired a helpful change in her approach to composition.

“We had this thing going where we’d each write one song in a day and put it down on a four-track recorder. Three of those songs wound up on the album, and Roadkill was one of them.”

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