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Combining elements of both rock and folk music, along with disturbingly personal sentiments and a voice that is able to channel both the falsetto highs of Neil Young and the wavering raspy low tones of Leonard Cohen, Toronto's Hayden Desser has spent most of the last decade creating uniquely affecting music. The critically acclaimed yet criminally ignored musician first appeared in the early '90s armed with only a four-track tape recorder like his heroes in Sebadoh and Pavement. Coupling his unnaturally low range with an extremely detuned guitar, Hayden recorded his self-released cassette, In September, in 1994, and much of the material included evolved into his first official LP, 1995's Everything I Long For. Released on his own imprint, Hardwood Records, the debut disc was at the same time beautiful and horrifying, with insights into the humanly mundane as well as more troubling tales that still retained an oddly personal edge. A few lucky breaks, including a U.S. tour with Guided by Voices and some MTV airplay, brought Hayden a bit further into the spotlight and generated enough interest for the disc to be picked up later by the Geffen offshoot Outpost Recordings. Over the next few years, Hayden remained remarkably productive, issuing a slew of indie singles and EPs that have since become out of print collectors' items. 1996 saw the release of the four-song Mild and Hazy 7" (Hardwood Recordings), which included a thunderous cover of the Pixies' classic "Gouge Away," as well as a hard to find split 7," Lunar Landing Confirmed (Squirtgun Records), with Canadian cohorts Poledo, whose Mitch Roth and Kid Lunch (aka Joshua Malinsky) went on to become fixtures of Hayden's touring and recording band. He was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1996 Steve Buscemi-directed film Trees Lounge, for which he provided the moody but decidedly rocking title-track. 1997 was ushered in with yet another 7," Carry on Mentality on Canada's Landspeed Records, as well as the singer/songwriter's first EP, Moving Careful (Sonic Unyon Records/Hardwood Records). A fitting continuation of the first LP, Moving Careful was a mostly acoustic eight-song outing that continued the Hayden tradition of finding haunting beauty and heartbreak in things as simple as a haircut or a shared cigarette. As the year closed out, the artist began working on his second LP, which would represent both a mild stylistic divergence and the beginning of a series of unfortunate events. The Closer I Get, released by Outpost in 1998, was Hayden's first international release, as well as his first completely major-label outing. The record was a slight shift from his past efforts and featured a full band on most tracks along with a more rock-oriented feel in comparison to his earlier folky efforts. The first single, the drum machine-powered "The Hazards of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees," received modest airplay, and touring stints with Juliana Hatfield and the Tragically Hip brought Hayden to a slightly larger audience, but as critical applause and adoration from his disarmingly loyal fans increased, major commercial success was never in the cards. Within the next year, Outpost was dissolved and Hayden was dropped from the Geffen imprint altogether. Over the next few years, the Toronto-based singer disappeared from the public eye altogether and was rarely seen outside of his hometown. An absence of any new material continued for this period of time, but despite his reclusive status, a growing Internet fan base kept hope alive and waited patiently to hear anything at all. A few mysterious rumblings began in early 2001, and by the middle of the year it was announced that Hayden was at work in his home studio on some type of new recording. 100 handmade copies of the Skyscraper National Park CD, Hayden's third full-length surfaced at the end of the summer, and based on the instant buzz, a second limited-edition run of 1,500 were made for a short Canadian tour that fall. Despite his long absence, the shows were a series of well-received and mostly sold out affairs, and the second pressing of the disc disappeared almost as quickly as the first. With such positive feedback and open arms welcoming him back to the music scene, Hayden was finally persuaded to release the record to a wide audience through the now Universal-distributed Hardwood Records in October of 2001. The 11-track disc is a step back toward the quieter early material, albeit with a newfound sense of playful happiness and a greater reliance on the higher range vocals that were avoided earlier in his career. Hayden has come and gone, but the endearing nature of his material won't allow him to completely disappear, and neither, it seems, will his fans.In 2002, Hayden surfaced with the live effort Live From Convocation Hall. This double-disc record captured a sold-out stint in Toronto and included material from Hayden's three previous albums as well as a cover of Neil Young's "Tell Me Why." ~ Peter J. D'Angelo, All Music Guide

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