Living amongst the immense musical talent in a city like Chicago is eternally inspiring. But standing apart from the crowd can be a never-ending challenge. So Canasta came together in early 2002 when six friends joined forces and augmented the standard rock set-up with piano, violin, keyboard and trombone, in an effort to craft a more ambitious strain of majestic, ultra-melodic, orchestral pop. Canasta's music is nothing if not eclectic; you'll hear everything from bouncy, horn-spiked ditties and soaring, heart-breaking epics to moody, country-tinged narratives and rollicking, guitar-driven anthems. But at heart, they're a pop band, infusing each song with instantly hummable melodies atop lushly layered arrangements.
All of this comes together on the group's first full-length album, "We Were Set Up". Engineered by Ted Cho, founder of Poi Dog Pondering, and mastered by Mike Hagler (Wilco, Neko Case), it assembles eleven new songs on top of two re-recorded favorites from their acclaimed "Find the Time" EP. It's a record that, for the first time, truly captures Canasta's sophisticated songwriting and dynamic musical palette, winning them comparisons to Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian, The Decemberists, The New Pornographers, Sufjan Stevens and Wilco. In keeping with the band's collaborative spirit, "We Were Set Up" also features contributions from vocalist Edith Frost and members of the Coctails, Freakwater, and Archer Prewitt's band, among others. The self-released album has already sold out once and since entered its second pressing.
CANASTA'S PRESS QUOTES
"...Canasta can be called an indie-pop band for good enough reasons, but on their debut album We Were Set Up they display both an ambition and a sense of range that any number of early 21st century American groups described in similar terms would be wise to follow... subtle... mesmerizing... stunning..." Ned Raggett, AllMusic
"...effortless, effervescent pop that doesn’t call undue attention to its carefully constructed layers of intertwining melodies... the ork-pop genre has produced some of the best bands in the Chicago underground in the last decade... Canasta certainly deserves a place on this list." - Jim Derogatis, Chicago Sun-Times
"...Imagine the prize musicians from six adjacent counties' high school orchestras growing up and coalescing to form a pop band inspired by Queen, Kraftwerk, and Nick Drake... each song is a barrage of hooks and nuanced performances... [Canasta's] value to the pop music scene continues to grow..." - PopMatters
"...one of the most vibrant pop sounds to emerge from Chicago in years..." - UR Magazine
"...one of Chicago's best pop bands... "We Were Set Up" doesn't disappoint..." - Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader
"...smartly constructed songs that balance traditional pop and indie-minded subversiveness..." - The Onion
"...inventive arrangements... remarkable catchiness... Canasta looks primed for a considerable breakthrough..." - NPR's "World Cafe"
"...impressive orchestral pop... really could catch on at any moment in a big, big way... listening to We Were Set Up again for the first time in a long while, I can’t believe I was able to put it down in the first place." - Tom Lynch, New City
"...pop phenoms... lyrical, buoyant pop tunes recalling the delicacy of Belle and Sebastian and the lush, upbeat melodies of The Shins..." - Flavorpill
"...Out of nowhere comes a band that sounds ready for primetime... could sneak its way onto some year-end top ten lists..." - Real Detroit Weekly
"...miniature blockbusters for the head and heart... earnest, literate and lonely in all the right spots... the result is transcendent..." - The Daily Herald (Chicago)
"...one of Chicago's most promising and hardest work bands..." - Illinois Entertainer
"...nothing less than blissful... a revolution just might ensue..." - Badger Herald (Madison)
"...I was hooked from the opening organ chords... pure chamber pop bliss..." - Splendid
"...incredibly tight and consistent throughout 13 tracks of pop goodness..." - OnMilwaukee
"...4 Stars... quality music is evident with just one listen..." - The Pitt Times (Pittsburgh)
"...musical diversity, quirkiness and loads of talent fuse into an eclectic 13-song set... indelibly stylish and hard to pin down..." - Midwest Beat
"...Canasta's broad sonic palette defies pat descriptions... delightfully askew songwriting..." - INtake (Indianapolis)
"...smart and subtle... never cluttered or convoluted... both Belle & Sebastian and The New Pornographers would be proud to claim it as one of their own..." - Plague of Angels
"The fact that there's just so much going on that you're still hearing something new on the fourth listen is really impressive to me... These guys are unsigned by the way, so to any labels reading this: What are you waiting for?!" - Skatterbrain.org
"...a brilliant collection of intelligent, compelling, ultra-melodic orchestral-pop songs... every time I think I have dissected the album from top to bottom, I find something new to love about it..." - Breakthru Radio
"...a delicious find... What's not to love about this band?" - WXPN (Philadelphia)
"Best Songs of '05: Slow Down Chicago - Canasta" - WXRT's "Local Anesthetic" (Chicago)
"...on the cusp of national acclaim... believe the hype..." - songs:illinois
"...one step away from blowing up... label reps, listen to this band, now..." - Gapers Block
"Top Ten Albums of 2006: We Were Set Up - Canasta" - Kwaya Na Kisser
"Number 1 Album of 2006: We Were Set Up - Canasta" - Creekside Review
CANASTA HAS PLAYED WITH...
Barack Obama * Wilco * Clap Your Hands Say Yeah * Macy Gray * Kaiser Chiefs * Sloan * Devotchka * Voxtrot * Grizzly Bear * Menomena * The Lemonheads * The Delgados * The Dears * The Posies * Jeremy Enigk * The Clientele * The New Amsterdams * Crooked Fingers * American Music Club * Longwave * Earlimart * Nebula * Imperial Teen * Califone * Edith Frost * Annuals * Adam Green * Elf Power * Jill Sobule * The Cool Kids * Starlight Mints * Aqueduct * Nicolai Dunger * Eleventh Dream Day * The Earlies * Page France * The Kingsbury Manx