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Photo: Jensen Gifford

There is popular music and unforgettable music. O&AL belong in the latter category.

An acronym for Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, O&AL is a London, Ontario band fronted by singer/songwriter Olenka Krakus and members Sara Froese, Evan Brodie, Christian Hegele, Simon Larochette,  Jeff Moon and Kelly Wallraff.

Influenced by her Polish roots and Canadian upbringing, Olenka delivers songs that resonate with passion. The songs don’t just play for you, they speak to you. And many of them relate specifically to her Polish heritage, especially her memories of Communist Poland and the country’s folklore.

Olenka Krakus Photo: Rob Nelson

Supported by a mix of instruments such as the cello, violin, accordion, trumpet, saxophone, lap steel, mandolin and glockenspiel the music resonates with an eclectic mix of traditional Eastern European ballads and North American country and folk tunes.

It’s a sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello but which manages to exist entirely on its own.

When Olenka and her band recently played at Toronto’s Gladstone hotel (as part of the NXNE festival) the crowd gave them a rousing ovation. And rightfully so.

Here is a taste…

It’s the sort of music that you can listen to over and over again and with every listen it creates a deeper impression.

The band’s newest album And Now We Sing is packed with memorable songs. It’s really worth checking out.

"And Now We Sing" album cover by Patrick Schmidt

"Motel Blues" lyrics

The band is also set to play a string of shows later this summer and fall so, if you get an opportunity, make sure to go. The truly great thing about small concert gigs is that they are so intimate and the bands always give it all they’ve got.

In the meantime you can listen to some of the tunes online on the CBC Radio 3 website.

And have a look at this interview that we conducted with Olenka during her NXNE show.

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Say hello to Paula & Karol – my new favourite band!

By Anna Piszczkiewicz

First off, many thanks to YouNxt for asking me to dust off old stories that I’ve done over the years; we’ll be releasing these on a regular basis starting next week. However, before I dig into the past work, I thought that an introduction to what’s coming up on Na Luzie (Laid Back) would be appropriate.

I’m constantly scouring the internet in order to seek out talent that’s somehow related to both the Great White North and the home country. That’s how I discovered Warsaw-based duo Paula i Karol (Paula & Karol) – a duo that’s making music unlike anything else in Poland’s capital.

Photo courtesy of Tomek Ratter

Their indie-folk sound is as warm and charming as your grandma’s kitchen.

And the kids, they love it!

Their debut album, Overshare, released just two months ago, disappeared instantly off Empik’s shelves. The pair did confess to printing only 3,500 albums but, hey, the store’s racks were emptied.

And some time before that, the twosome was nominated for the ‘Discovery of the Year’ prize by Pulp (a leading Polish music magazine).

Oh, and the Canadian connection?

Paula is a native of North Bay, Ontario.

See Paula & Karol, chatting from their cute kitchen (red and white checkered tablecloth included) Saturday, Feb 19 on Na Luzie (OMNI 1) starting at 7 pm. (Repeat Friday, Feb 25 at 2 pm).

Until then, sample some tunes by Paula & Karol.

Word of warning: you’ll fall for them.

I did.

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We’ve got some exciting news. YouNxt is teaming up with Na Luzie (Laid Back) – the Polish-Canadian television program airing on OMNI to bring you some of the most interesting and entertaining segments produced by Host and Reporter Anna Piszczkiewicz. We’ll also regularly provide previews of the show’s newest episodes.

So, stay tuned and enjoy…

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