Look out. The Cowboy Junkies are entering one of their legendary creative periods.

The Canadian band, which formed in 1985 and earned a hard-won reputation as one of the smartest indie rock bands of its generation, is on the cusp of releasing four records in 18 months.

Bassist Alan Anton explains:

“We were working on what would have been our next record. We started about a year ago, and we got to the point that we had just a lot of material, so we thought we would break it up into two records, which became three, and then we decided to do a fourth just to see if we could challenge ourselves.”

The band will be in Maine for concerts Friday at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield and Saturday at the Strand Theatre in Rockland.

The first of the four albums, “Remnin Park,” stems from the time that band leader Michael Timmins spent in China with his family.

They went east for about three months in 2008, living in a small town on the Yangtze River. Timmins’ wife taught English at a local school, while the couple’s three kids took classes. Timmins roamed. “Remnin Park” reflects the adventure.

“Mike soaked up a lot of stuff and came back with songs that were not culturally Chinese or anything, but had a lot of Chinese vibe in them,” Anton said. “He came back with street recordings of local sounds, which we turned into loops and songs. It has that feel to it.”

The Cowboy Junkies are known for their unconventional sounds and recording techniques, and their mixing of blues, rock, country, folk and jazz. They used ambisonic microphones, which enable multichannel recording and mixing capabilities, for their first record, “Whites Off Earth Now!!”

“The Trinity Session” followed, escalating the band to cult status and Juno Award nominations as Canada’s best band.

Except for Anton, the Junkies are a family unit. Peter Timmins plays drums, and Margo Timmins sings.

The Cowboy Junkies are fiercely independent, as their four-CD project suggests. The band has lacked major-label affiliation for more than a decade, which suits Anton just fine.

“When we were with a label, we spent a lot of time just battling them about all kinds of stuff, business stuff,” he said. “So now, instead of spending energy doing negative things, you spend that energy doing positive things.”

Like recording four CDs in 18 months. 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]


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