Ottawa Showbox’s Favourite Shows of 2014
It’s been another crazy 52 weeks in the nation’s capital and it’s coming to a close. How did we get here? What happened this summer again? Who is asleep in the bathtub? Who cares? It’s time for another kind of Throwback, to what rocked this year in Ottawa!
What’s important right now is listing our favourite shows of the year in no order. Thank you to all local musicians, creators & performers who made our days & nights entertaining, and thank you to all those travelling artists who graced our city’s stages in 2014.
Photo: Joseph Mathieu
“Possibly the most anticipated act for me that evening was by a fine Brit by the name of Simon Green, better known to the world as DJ & producer Bonobo. Is there anything better than watching something you know to be good turn out to be great? The man on the bass & buttons was flanked by five other artists who added dimension to his downbeat electronica but who also let him play solo so we could meet the hard-working multi-instrumentalist he truly is…”
Photo: David Kawai
“There was a lot of pushing, shoving, moshing, pogoing, falling, crowd surfing, and general disregard for our own bodies. That’s just the kind of music it was – they truly inspired us to sacrifice our bodies and leave our collective problems at the front door while letting the music take us away. There were a few instances where I got a bit worried for some smaller individuals in the pit, but everyone made it out alive and well (save for the aforementioned bruises and aches)…”
Photo: Hanhong Dan
“These sounds overlapped and crashed into each other as Jesse spun his extraterrestrial tale on his Terran synth. On five screens you could see the images of earth (also included on the golden discs) shifting and melting as the Reactable throbbed with the voices of the children of Earth with greetings in numerous languages. The middle screen captured Jesse’s pate, directly above the Reactable and its Tangibles…”
Photo: Joseph Mathieu
“Thank Christ for Deltron Zero and the cantankerous Captain Aptos, AKA Dan the Automator. We found out exactly why he’s called the Automator by watching him orchestrate with little finger wiggles and full arm movements while pounding on a synth with his free hand. There was a live band supporting these two supers making their way through the future, as 3030 slowly became 3040, as well as the third of the trinity: Skiznod the Boy Wonder AKA Kid Koala…”
Photo: Joseph Mathieu
“Quand elle jouait de la guitare, les marques d’usage sur le corps m’ont dis qu’elle l’a joué en tabarnac sa guit’, et quand elle jouait le banjo, elle l’a joué comme j’ai jamais vu un banjo joué. C’était une performance inoubliable, et possiblement pour Lisa aussi. Le premier concert de sa saison d’été et d’après sa réaction à nos applaudissement après « Kraft Dinner » elle a été touché par notre enthousiasme. C’est pas mal facile de se donner complètement à la chevelure en statique, la voix rauque & l’humour de cette Acadienne. En chantant « Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde » pour finir la nuit, c’était un show du tonnerre…”
Photo: Eric Scharf
“One of the other big highlights was during “Paper Girl” when Leah could be seen chatting with a girl in the crowd as the song began. After a little discussion she pulled her up on stage and had her sing Leah’s first verse for her on stage. They then danced, sang together and Leah even picked her up and cradled her while spinning around. I am sure that lucky fan will never forget that night…”
Photo: Eric Scharf
“While all of the singers were extremely impressive and convincing in their unique adaptations of Nirvana’s songs, the one that really stood out for me was “Territorial Pissings” sung by Craig Proulx of Pregnancy Scares. If you’ve ever seen Pregnancy Scares before, you know that Craig is an absolute maniac on stage, his eyes filling with a possessed look while lunging back and forth to the audience. He is one of those singers that seems to really thrive off the chaos in front of him, and there was chaos as bodies were flying everywhere…”
Photo: Jeff Watkins
“The magic moment of the set came when they paused just before the last drop in “Shine a Light” and all put their arms in the air. The crowd matched them while hooting and hollering, until Constantines kicked it back into gear. The band really looked like they were having a good time, and Webb confirmed it, “It’s fun to play these songs again, I love the Constantines.” Ottawa does as well Bry, come back anytime!…”
Photo: Ming Wu
Rich Aucoin @ House of TARG (Oct. 2)
Rich Aucoin’s ‘drop everything and just have fun’ attitude couldn’t have fit more perfectly at House of TARG. With great projections, the sounds of video games all around, and one giant parachute, Aucoin was at home. He played a number of songs off his acclaimed new record Ephemeral, and made sure that every single person was involved in making this a night to remember. About a third of the way through the set, Aucoin got the entire crowd together and got local photographer Ming Wu to take a photo together. Who does that? Rich Aucoin, the eternal party, that’s who.
Day three of Ottawa Explosion Weekend was absolutely insane! It went from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. I think… I can’t completely remember. It featured so many amazing bands — Jon Creeden, ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!!, Outtacontroler, Tough Age, Protomartyr, The White Wires, Dig It Up, The Creeps, and Radioactivity all in a row! It was total madness.
Photo: Eric Scharf
“What is so great about Propagandhi is that it’s clear that it’s not just the lead singer pushing the message. Drummer, Jord Samolesky, spoke up about how he has been around for over 40 years now and has see the government go from “Liberal to Con to Lib to Con, and we are just moving more and more right, it is getting worst… it is time to start something radical, it is time for change. You are in Ottawa — start some fucking shit!” Combine that with the ever intense songs where the bass player takes lead vocals and this band packs as much of a musical punch as they do politically…”
Photo: Eric Scharf
“Even with sweat dripping off all the band members and everyone in the crowd, there was no slowing The Steamers or staggering the energy in the room. The Steamers have a great collection of original tracks that had us all dancing and singing along…”
Photo: Stephen McGill
New Swears Album Release @ Gabba Hey! (Aug. 23)
It was one of the sweatiest, messiest, most outrageous hoards of human flesh moving to music I had ever witnessed going to a show. Ever. New Swears were at the top of their punk rock game at Gabba Hey!, not giving a shit about their own well-being and somehow managing to continue playing and singing while crowdsurfing over the mass of disturbed moshing people (I was one of them). It wasn’t even moshing, because that implies that there was some set of rules or… something. This was the definition of chaos.
Photo: Jeff Watkins
“The four-piece sounded great and were thrilled to be there, constantly mentioning how awesome the bill was. Sometimes sounding like bands of the Gang of Four variety (and I say that as a compliment) Ought had my head bobbing along all show… Glad I stuck around late to check these guys out, they did not hit the stage until around 1 a.m….”
Photo: Ming Wu
“They were heavy, technical, and completely unorthodox. The way they used effects to supplement their really well-written songs is captivating, and I couldn’t help but just move erratically to what I was experiencing. I won’t say too much more other than that they kind of scared me in a really weird and good way…”
Photo: Ming Wu
Mac DeMarco @ Blacksheep Inn (Apr. 4)
This was by far the best show I have ever seen at The Blacksheep Inn. DeMarco’s neo-crooner style fit perfectly at The Blacksheep Inn, and the packed house was writhing in anticipation for him to come out and play. Once he got on stage, there was some obligatory crude banter from Mac and a wide, gap-toothed smile. The set included songs from both his first album, 2, and his latest release, Salad Days. It is a sight to see – an entire venue as nice as Blacksheep (which is host to many seated candlelit performances) explode with maniacal fans, losing their minds more and more one song after the next. By the end of it, Mac crowdsurfed his way into our memories, delivering himself into the storied history of Wakefield.
New Music: Those Gulls – Forevermore
Ottawa band Those Gulls are set to release their new album Forevermore on Ringbell Records December 18th. The band has been around for quite a while, as founding members Andrew Grosvenor and Peter Zachar began writing as a duo in 2007. Now that the band has grown in both size and sound, the five-piece is ready to launch the new record and demonstrate the evolution of their sound.
The album is captivating, and has highs and lows as one listens. There is no one “sound” on Forevermore – it is very much a blend of various influences and styles. For example, the album begins and ends with epic songs “In Between” and “After The Storm,” respectively. The reverb-laden instrumentals are grandiose, and allow the album to come full-circle upon listening. However, a strong point about this album is that the band wasn’t afraid to break free of the genre prison that many bands trap themselves in. Those Gulls clearly drew upon a variety of musical influences, and experimented with various sounds and arrangements. It also serves them well to have alternating male/female vocals shared between Grosvenor and Kate Schroder, as it allows for a back-and-forth dynamic to occur that keeps the listener engaged throughout. While the variations mentioned serve to strengthen the album overall, there are moments where it feels disjointed and slightly forced. Sometimes it can feel like a band tries too hard to cover all the soundscapes they want, which is why a lot of times certain songs get cut out of the final product.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say Those Gulls overextended themselves with the sound, certain tracks such as “Tiger” and “Cliffside” seemed out of place. However, after a few listens and appreciating the intricate and delicate nature of the song “Tiger” in particular, I almost ended up thinking of them as an intermission on the album. While minimalism doesn’t always contrast well with boisterousness on the rest of a record, in this case I thought it ended up working well.
The album isn’t all dance, nor is it all rock or pop. Fans of The Naked and Famous or Joy Formidable will feel at home with Forevermore. What it lacks in consistency, it makes up for in audacity and intriguing composition. Anyone who is heading to their album release party at House of TARG on Thursday, December 18 will be in for a pretty wild night. It’s the kind of album that would definitely translate into a high-energy, sweaty live set. Have a listen to the album stream below, and purchase the digital or physical copy through Bandcamp.
Listen here to catch an interview with Andrew Grosvenor and Peter Zachar of Those Gulls on the great new podcast in town called Buy You A Beer with David Pierce.
Those Gulls Forevermore – Album Release
Bands: Those Gulls, w/ special guests Kings Quest, Saint Clare
Where: House of TARG (1077 Bank St.)
When: Thursday, Dec. 18/2014
Cost: $7 @ door
CHUO Presents: Voicemail @ Le Troquet
Ottawa’s Voicemail rocked the year’s final CHUO Live from Le Troquet last night.
The performance was live on the radio hosted by Emmanuel Sayer, Program Director of CHUO and Ming Wu, of photogmusic. The hosts got the ball rolling by playing music by Average Times and Teenage Head, which were perfect choices before Voicemail hit the stage.
Once ready Voicemail rocked the crowd, some unsuspecting people in the audience were not ready for the rock after the more subdued show that had just finished. They are a great garage rock band from Ottawa – kind of a super group of sorts. The band features members of some of my favourite local bands — Average Times, Mother’s Children and The White Wires. They started off the set with during their first set with an upbeat covers of “Get Over You” by The Undertones, and “Softly, Softly” by The Equals, and then broke out into some originals.
To help break the ice, lead singer and guitarist Ian Manhire said, “we came from Ottawa and feels like we are on tour right now! What an awesome night. Thanks for being here!” The boys finished off their first set playing “You’ll Have To Explain,” which has such a solid drum intro and driving drumming throughout, great track.
While the band took a break, the hosts put on some Roberta Bondar for us and then an interview they had taped earlier with Ian. It was kind of funny to have a conversation with Ian while also hearing his voice in the overhead speakers. During the interview Ian revealed that they would play some covers in the second set as they had learned a bunch to play a wedding this summer and wanted to play them again.
Rested and rehydrated (beer hydrates, right?), Voicemail retook the stage for their second set of the night. They opened with one of the aforementioned covers, playing a sped up version of The Rolling Stones’ “Heart of Stone.” Voicemail then performed my three favourite tracks of theirs in a row much to my amazement. Playing “My Kind” followed by “Riot,” and capped off by “Dangerous.” It was as if they were playing a show just for me at that point, my night was made. The boys completed their set with a cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.” A perfect way to send off the final CHUO Live at Le Troquet for the year.
200e épisode de La Chasse avec Mehdi Hamdad & D-track
Des performances de Mehdi Hamdad et D-track on marqué le 200e épisode de La Chasse hier au Troquet.
Le raison d’être de La Chasse, une émission de radio du poste CHUO 89.1 FM, est de mettre en exposition la musique franco-canadien émergente. Ils ont choisi deux artistes exceptionnels pour célébrer leur 200ième émission.
D-Track en directe à Le Troquet à Hull.
D-track, ancien directeur musical francophone de CHUO, rappeur, slammeur et poète talentueux a débuté notre soirée. C’est pas tout les jours que tu vois un slammeur et rappeur qui présente avec une guitare en main, mais D-track n’est pas comme toutes les autres. Sa première chanson était « La Rivière » une tune parfaite pour un spectacle à Hull. Le Troquet de l’autre côté de la rivière de la station de radio et la chanson a un refrain bilingue qui flow. D-track est un talent incroyable de la région qui a récemment placé au quatrième rang de la Coupe mondiale de slam. Il nous a démontré sa puissance avec sa pièce « I slam. » Un poème incroyable, de son album Interlude, que j’écoute sans cesse ce matin. Après son slam, il a repris sa guitare et a joué « J’ai un fils » — une chanson au sujet de la relation entre un père baby-boomer et un fils qui s’en crisse de lui. D-track a filmé un vidéo clip pour cette chanson en Haïti et vous pouvez le visionner ici. Finalement pour célébrer le 200e de La Chasse, D-track, un ancien fonctionneur, nous a récité un discours plein de jeux de mots sexuelles qu’il a écrit pour Harper. La foule a rit sans cesses.
Entre les deux artistes les gars de La Chasse ont parlés de leur quatre ans ensemble et de comment qu’ils ont décidé de commencer l’émission de radio. Ils ont raconté des iPod battles qu’organisait D-track au Petit Chicago. C’est à un de ces battles, il y a quatre ans, qu’ils ont discuté de commencer l’émission. Les gars mettaient beaucoup d’énergie dans leur préparation et leur costume pour les battles et ils en ont remporté. C’est à ce moment de l’histoire qu’un d’entre eux a sorti le trophée des iPod battle qu’il a emprunté de Petit Chicago. C’était un beau moment. Finalement, ils ont expliqué comment la méthode qu’ils ont utilisé pour gagner le trophée.
« Le but c’est de présenter des beats pour faire le monde danser. Les filles aimaient vraiment ça, mais les gars était toutes au fond de la salle et s’emmerdaient. C’est à ce moment qu’on a joué « Rue Ontario » de Bernard Adamus pour attirer les gars et nous croyons que c’est avec cette chanson que nous avons gagné. » Ils ont ensuite mit cette chanson pour la foule au Troquet et c’est évident pourquoi ils ont gagné.
Mehdi Hamdad qui “shake it” au Troquet à Hull.
C’était ensuite au tour de Mehdi Hamdad du Mehdi Cayenne Club de jouer. Mehdi est le premier artiste à faire une prestation en directe sur les ondes de La Chasse. Mehdi est un musicien et poète avec beaucoup de charisme et d’énergie. Il a commencé en demandant à la foule de s’il-vous-plait « chanter Canada avec toute l’enthousiasme d’une carte postal qui nous vends des sables bitumineux après que je chante Oh.” La foule a hésité mais après quelques refrains on chantaient tous ensemble. Ensuite, Mehdi a démontré l’énergie et la passion avec laquelle il performe pendant sa chanson « Téléphone Jaune. » Il manquait de souffle tellement qu’il dansait en jouant la guitare et en chantant. Pour regagner son souffle, Mehdi nous a joué une nouvelle chanson, un chanson plus relaxe et pleine d’amour. Il a suivi cela avec un poème puissant et a terminé sa performance avec la cantine de Jacques Prévert, «Quel jour sommes-nous? » Si vous avez manqué le spectacle, n’inquiétez-vous pas, Mehdi passera sur l’émission « Belle et Bum » de Télé-Québec le 17 janvier.
Après Mehdi, les gars de La Chasse ont dit leurs remercîments et ont terminé l’émission avec une chanson de Fet.Nat, le groupe du technicien de son. C’était un excellent choix comme dernière chanson, tandis que j’aime beaucoup Fet.Nat et leur nouveau album fait partie de notre liste des meilleur album de la région de 2014.
The Gallop’s Tall Tale Tellers Release @ Rainbow Bistro
By Alec C. Mead of The Way Collective
Simple parameters, shining performers and an old blues bar filled with young souls. What else is needed? I got to speak with Dave Gervais of The Gallop about the EP, family and why music?
I love shows held at the Rainbow Bistro, The Gallop made a great choice to do their EP release there with Atherton, TheCareBearz and Stay Classy. The show started at 10 p.m. and went right through to 2 a.m. It felt like a quick experience, one that couldn’t be forgotten, or even slept off easily. That made the 10 bucks at the door feel like a bargain, even my uncle dug it — being from the 70s his standards are not easily met. Someone who saw the debut of Black Sabbath and Van Halen telling me “That was a night I needed,” was all I had to know. Good job everyone.
Throughout the night some people shined, one of the most obvious was the drummer of The Gallop, Paul Ross. Song after song he pumped out beats that had us all moving, within or without our minds. Thanks for bringing your energy to us brother! The pain you feel in your arms is the pleasure we felt in our hearts.
Another star of the show was Jordan David of TheCareBearz (formerly of The Love Machine). He and Atherton obviously go back because they have a serious bromanship, and that is what a group is all about. Jordan’s vibe was needed for Atherton to shine, Atherton was doing what he does for the right reasons, the love of it. After finishing he and DJ So Nice picked up and packed up faster than most, leaving the socializing till after. That’s what someone running a show wants with an act: professionalism.
Everyone involved did a killer job but it’s worth mentioning PJ Livadaris, who fronted Stay Classy and played guitar and sang harmonies for The Gallop. Most notable about this fair fellow is his voice. When a band has a full sound, your voice needs to cut through the vibrations like butter, a feat not often achieved, whether by mainstreamers or old folk who have been jamming for decades. Kudos on having a voice that is recognizable and sharp. I admire that greatly because the lyricism is what I feel the strongest about.
So when I got to the Rainbow, Dave Gervais was chilling so I quickly asked him about the EP Tall Tale Tellers. Dave discussed that he plays music to feel good, and to share with people, stating, “Live shows are a trip. That’s pretty much why [we do it].” He is a solid guy who sets goals in order to achieve them, he understands that’s how you get satisfaction, fulfilling your goals, which are a step to your dreams.
He clearly stated he is ready to do more shows and make some videos for the music on Tell Tale Tellers. “Preparation is the key to success,” is something he clearly manifested during the show and the performance of the EP. This is their fourth EP and he said there are more coming! I asked him why he likes doing EPs and he told me he likes things fresh and bite-sized. We discussed the song “Jump Ship” and how he feels about staying in Ottawa when his girlfriend goes out west. “I love you, just not enough,” says it powerfully, but I wanted to understand what his feelings were. “ I didn’t want to be estranged,” is something he mentions while telling me his family is the most important thing in his life. He told me he celebrates with them any time he can and he often finds himself laughing with his nieces and nephews.
“If there’s something you want people to know before they listen, it’s ‘now is the time.’” I told Dave he’s got a chance to say anything, his reply was, “We don’t give up, we keep playing music”. No bullshit, I like that. He tells me that he’s known the other two acts for over 10 years, such is the nature of music in Ottawa.
Ottawa Showbox’s Favourite Local Releases of 2014
Again, 2014 was quite the year for music in Ottawa. We realize that it’s next to impossible to say which album was better than the others, but we do have a list of the albums that seem to come up on our playlists more often. These are not the “winners” of the year but they are dear to our ears and we’d like to tip our hats to those that made them happen. Check out these sweet full-lengths and EPs, support these locals if you can, and enjoy the weather by putting these tunes in your pocket. Vive le six un trois!
New Music: ユニコーンEDDIE/UnicornEDDIE by Eddie Quotez
Eddie Quotez just dropped a four-song EP last week titled ユニコーンEDDIE/UnicornEDDIE. If anyone had to guess why this Ottawa rapper considers himself a unicorn I’d say it’s because he believes in himself.
The joints are personal trips into the life of Edgar Piol who’s from the 613, pop culture coursing through his veins, and who knows the value of hard work. He’s released his colourful EP all the while putting out videos for two of the four tracks. He spits fast with wit, touches on masturbation, video games and trying to be the cool kid with real and synthetic voices.
The video for “My Room” was released on Nov. 13, and a month later it’s upwards of 27,000 views. The first thing that comes to mind listening to this track is three grams of shrooms is too many! Especially if you’re just chilling in your room, reminiscing. Eddie Quotez doesn’t care though, all he needs is Internet access. The song is chill, somewhat nostalgic.
“Sleep” also had a video release back in July, filmed in Chinatown. Either you’re sleeping in or rolling up your sleeves while everyone else is still sleeping. A song that references “Ottawa born and bred” and the sound clip from Dragon Ball Z of Vegeta reading Goku’s power level… Pretty great in my mind. We should all try to get on the same level.
The songs “Unicorn” and “Down” are the first and last songs on the EP, each ends of the spectrum. Anything is possible, on the one hand, and there are things that you’re just not ready to do, on the other. Know your goals and know your limitations. And if you can rap about it over sweet beats? Do it.
Centertown Recording Alliance 4th Annual Holiday Bash @ TARG
The Centretown Recording Alliance 4th Annual Holiday Bash was a blast at House of Targ Thursday night.
One of the best thing about the holidays is bringing friends and family together. The Centretown Recording Alliance did just that Thursday night, gathering bands and fans from punk rock to garage rock to metal. The annual holiday bash featured seven bands in just under three and a half hours, and it was great. Not only did they bring a lot of people together, but in doing so they raised money for the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, a wonderful holiday gesture.
Getting the ball rolling on this night was a new band called The Stuff, a four-piece fun garage rock band. Before even playing a song, one of the guitarist/singers “This is our first show and maybe our last show, or maybe not.” I certainly hope it is not their last show as I really dug their set and their sound. On a very snowy night they played a sweet song about being in love with the summer. They capped of their set with “Christmalloween” which is a modified version of the great song “What ‘cha Gonna Wear, Wolf?” which they wrote for the recording alliance’s halloween challenge. Looking forward to more stuff from The Stuff.
Thunder Uncle bringing the metal to House of Targ in Ottawa.
Next it was time for devil horns and headbanging as Thunder Uncle brought the metal. Thunder Uncle is just one of the hundred bands that Jon Kiely plays in, but instead of playing drums in this band as he often does, he takes on lead vocals and plays a flying-v guitar. The band brought a dose of metal to the festivities and did a damn good job. I liked their track “Paper Tiger” at the end of their set.
Bringing the punk back was one of my favourite local bands going right now, Fresh Hell. They played an awesome set full of solid tracks of their debut album We Never Sleep such as “Old Sheets,” “Things Go Away” and “Home.” Christmas came a little early this year as the band played some of their new material for us and now I am all excited for new Fresh Hell. They closed with their kick-ass track “Surrounded” as many of us yelled along at the front of the stage. As the band packed up and left the stage, there was an unexpected performance. Surprises, which consists of Corey’s girlfriend Meghan on guitar and good friend Laura from Jonathan Becker and the North Fields, on accordion. They performed “Louisiana Man” by Lucinda Williams adding a little country flare to the air (video here). Sure hope there are more surprises in our future.
Things then got a hardcore as Slim and Popular took the stage. Formed by veterans of the scene the band is super tight and play really really fast. The track that really stuck as they slammed through the most high tempo set of the set, was “We Don’t Want This World.” This was my first time seeing Slim and Popular and it will certainly not be my last.
It wasn’t all fun and joy on this night though. It was the night we said goodbye to the Mnemonics. The powerpop quartet capped off their time as a band with a stellar performance full of songs off their 2014 release Too Late To Get Loud. I am sorry to see them go, but I can take solace that some of the members play in other kick-ass bands and will probably go on and form new awesome bands as well. Cheers gentlemen.
Lindbergh Babies rocking out at House of Targ in Ottawa, On.
The Lindbergh Babies took the stage after the Mnemonics to pick us all back up. They are a female fronted group that played a fast-paced punk which is just on the edge of some metal stuff. They are another band I had somehow never seen perform and it was a great time. The band also featured Jon Kiely again, back behind the drums rocking out. My favourite tune from their performance was the rocking “You Don’t Know.”
Steady Shakes killing it at House of Targ in Ottawa, ON.
The final band on the bill was the Steady Shakes. The garage-rock band are great and the lead singer, Cameron Lydall’s voice really stands out and sticks with me. It has that real punk rock rasp that I love from the old school punk bands I grew up discovering. Steady Shakes are another great local act who released some sweet music this year. I should also mention that Ian, the bassist of one of longest-running punk bands The Creeps, also plays bass for Steady Shakes. Their five-song demo will take you back in time to 80s punk rock, in sound and lyrical content. They are a must see and must listen for sure.
Just when we thought it was time to go home and call it a night, around 12:50 to be precise, Chris Cook took to the stage to say thank you. But he was not alone on stage, he was joined by Jon Kiely, Mel Sturk and Dave Banoub. Yup you read correctly, The Allrights did a little one song reunion song. They played crowd favourite “Little Black Book,” and sent us all on our way on a high note. What a night!
New Music: Elementals – s/t EP
By Andrew Elle
Elementals are a three-piece rock band from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Over the past year, the current line-up of Rick Vaughn (bass/backvox), Jamie Speck (drums) and Cody Smith (guitar/vox) have played countless shows with numerous bands, continuously improving their live set as each month passes.
Elementals was forged from the dissolution of Smith’s old band, The Apollohs. The Apollohs played shows around Ottawa and were well known for an intense live set. Smith’s honest take on rock and roll kindled a new light in many fans of honest music. After a quick EP as a duo, With An H, The Apollohs received studio time to record a follow up of B-Sides, alongside a new addition to the band, Kyle Code. After the success of those two records, a full-length album was soon to follow.
In the fall of 2013, The Apollohs hit Sonic Weapon Studios in Ottawa to start pre-production on the new record. After the tracks were laid with the assistance of Jason Koster (drums) and Kyle Code (bass), Smith went in to lay guitars and vocals. Unfortunately between the beginning and middle, The Apollohs dissolved, leaving Smith with a tough decision. Smith approached good friends Rick Vaughan and Jamie Speck from the boiled-down band, The Arcanes. The Arcanes’ project was slowing down due to a travelling member. The stars were aligned and Elementals was born.
Vaughan and Speck added years of live performance experience to the newly formed band, Speck also playing in Ottawa’s full action rock band, Pretty Little Death Machine, at the time. The new trio delivered an amazing first performance on January 31, 2014 at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa, alongside The Beaches (Toronto).
With a full album sitting in a studio in Ottawa, another tough decision laid in Smith’s hands – either proceed with the completion of an album with the old band members, or start fresh with the new members. When I asked Smith whether he would have re-started the project or felt pressured from production team to continue, he replied, “having Rick and Jamie lay down their own tracks would have been cool, because while learning with them they each added their own unique feel to the original tracks. But at that point I was just really looking forward to progressing and creating new music.”
Elementals EP is a 6 song record. The opening track, “Cali Sun,” takes you directly into the album with open arms. It’s rock, but you can’t help but feel good about it and dance. The second track, “Deconstructionist,” is the standout track on this EP. Smith’s gently soft and haunting vocals alongside Koster’s well-organized percussion takes you into the depths of the song. The third track is a unique little acoustic break called “Interlude” which was added to this EP and was not part of the original recordings. Track four, “King of the World,” stands out as it doesn’t represent the true nature of this band, but it’s a crowdpleaser nonetheless. Track five, “People as Flowers,” is an honest tune performed alongside Kara Askwith of Ottawa’s Tindervox. Track six, “Shapes,” added a perfect closure to the EP with a bass line to move your hips to.
This EP was constructed with only half the tunes which were originally recorded at Sonic Weapon Studios. Will we ever get a chance to hear them? Who knows? The truth is that Elementals are a poetic rock outfit that deliver an honest message to their listeners and fans. Rock is not dead, it has adapted. It is present in this EP. The newly formed trio will hopefully bring a new record in their own voice in the next year or so. Smith’s writing style we hope will continually be genuine and honest. With the amount of talent in this outfit, I do believe anything is possible.
Don’t forget to check out Elementals when they play Avant Garde Bar on December 13. Only $5