Toronto-based alternative folk rockers Stem is closer to the eclectic, sometimes abrasive sound of fellow Torontonians the Leslie Spit Treeo (lead singer Terri Quayle sounds uncannily like Leslies singer Laura Hubert at times) than their more mellow, contemplative, and bluesy compatriots Cowboy Junkies, although there are occasional hints of Margo Timmins and company as well.
Formed in 1994 by Quayle, guitarists Anne Francis and Michael Griffin, and bassist Ray Gould, Stem played the thriving Toronto folk scene for a couple of years, slowly adding more rock-oriented elements to their sound. After their demo attracted some local attention in 1995, Stem landed a prestigious spot on a local unsigned bands compilation by CFNY, one of the city's most influential radio stations. Their song, "Rapid Disassociation," was one of the most popular on the disc, but rather than signed to a major label, the group wisely chose to self-release their first album. Producer John Switzer, a Toronto legend thanks to his excellent work as Jane Siberry's primary musical foil on her best albums, agreed to produce Stem, and with the help of a pair of session drummers, the foursome recorded their fine debut, 1997's Amusingly Short of Details. Although the album did well enough locally to be picked up and reissued by the Canadian distributor AVA, the group, unfortunately, split up before a follow-up could be issued.