New Music: kinda, actually, sorta (an EP) by Tossin’ Socks
Tossin’ Socks, a local banjo and guitar duo, recently released their debut five song EP, kinda, actually, sorta (an EP).
The boys, Sheehan and Marc Leguerrier, play acoustic folk music heavily rooted in punk rock ideals and love. Guitarist a singer Sheehan Jordan is the lead singer of Ottawa punk trio The Tenenbaums which certainly influences the sound.
Kinda, actually, sorta (an EP) features four originals, with some really funny titles such as “Stroman Sucks” and “Chicken Noodle,” as well as a cover of 70’s rock band Half Japanese’s song “Put Some Sugar On It.” Both Marc and Sheehan sing on songs and while both their voices are quite different they work well together.
I love the final song of the EP, “Die Die Die (666).” It is a prime example of the overlap in folk and punk. This song could be played super loud and fast with 3 power chords and have people slamming up against each other crashing the stage to sing a long. But it can equally be just as they played it, nice and slow with a banjo and an acoustic guitar.
Have a listen to kinda, actually, sorta (an EP) below and look forward to the day when Sheehan returns from his latest adventure in Vietnam.
New Music: E/SCAPE by Drae
Photo/Artwork design by Champagne Photography.
Local hip-hop artist Andre Thibault aka DRAE recently dropped his debut album E/SCAPE.
DRAE has been producing and mixing music for artists from the Capital region, Toronto and Montreal for years, but it was now time for him to step out and take center stage himself. The 11 track release blends hip-hop, electronic and has flares of dub steps, his calling card as a producer. The beginning of the album has you thinking this is going to be pretty dark, especially the album’s first single “Nightmare.” The tone begins to shift and isn’t all serious and dark, songs like “Drink Up” and “Wild N Young” will make you want to party all night thanks to the fun beats, party lyrics and sing-a-longs.
E/SCAPE is not short of great cameos by some of our favourite locals such as Yusso, Aron the Alien and Nicholas Poupponeau of Zoo Legacy. Poupponeau features on the second single “First Time” which is an uplifting song with lyrics praising the magic of being in love for the first over a very positive and grooving rhythm, even including finger snaps in the beat. I can picture this song perfectly fitting in on the club scene and having people grinding and swinging their hair around on the dance floor.
Many people have moved on from dubstep, and while DRAE does not focus on it, it creeps in through out the album and then he drops the bass and gives you heart palpitations in “Almost Famous.” I can only imagine how hard that drop with hit you live. BOOM.
Have a listen to E/SCAPE below and if you like what you hear go party with DRAE and his boys Yusso and Aron the Alien for his album release show at Mercury Lounge this Friday November 11. More information on the album release show here.
New Music: Self-Titled by Saint Clare
Ottawa’s Saint Clare just released their much anticipated debut self-titled EP. The album features great psychedelic and garage rock with jiving keys and absolutely exceptional performance by the horns in the band, some of the best I have heard outside of ska in some time.
The first song sets the tone for the whole album with its rocking flares and blazing beat right out of the gate. That did not slow into the next two songs, including their first single “Cheatin.” My favourite track from has to be the second song “Goodbye to the Ghost” which has everything I look for in a song. It makes me reminisce, makes me feel, it transports me into his shoes, the music makes me want to dance, the chorus makes me want to sign-a-long and the song has an “oh oh ohs” breakdown. I mean, what more can you ask for?
There is a vocal dispare to lead singer Matt Saint Clare’s voice which channels The Cure’s Robert Smith. I say this as a compliment since Matthew Saint Clare’s voice has me hooked and makes me want to adorn a little more black. But don’t be fooled – this is no copy. Saint Clare’s voice is still uniquely his own and one can certainly feel everything he is going through in every song as his voice fluctuates ever so slightly driving home real emotions. All of this is topped with perfectly executed brass which I just can’t praise enough as the perfect complement to the song writing.
For those who didn’t know, Saint Clare is Matthew Saint Clare (Guitar and Vocals), Richard Jeffrey (Guitar and Vocals), Casey Comeau (Piano, Organ, and Vocals), Morgan Grant (Saxophone), Nick Di Saverio (Trombone), Ryan Shannon (Bass), and Daniel DeVries (Drums).
All songs on the new self-titled full length were recorded and mixed at Little Bullhorn Studio in Ottawa, Canada by Jarrett Bartlett, and mastered at The House of Miracles in Cambridge, Canada by Andy Magoffin.
Check out Saint Clare’s most excellent self-titled album below and go see them live this Friday, November 4 at Bar Robo for the release party (info here) or November 5 at Bistro de Paris in Montreal.
New Music: The Guacamole Incident by Taco Bandits
One of the most appropriate album titles of all time, The Guacamole Incident by Taco Bandits, dropped about a month ago and I am sorry I am just getting to it now.
The ska reggae vibes are strong in the Taco Bandits and The Guacamole Incident will surely have people skanking away the blues of the imminent harsh Ottawa winter. The newest ska-reggae band to hit the capital is made up of members of Sidelines, Fleeba and The Sentries. Their debut six track EP is a lot of fun and everything you want in a ska album, it has some fast moments, some slower moments, great sing a long opportunities and a whole lot of obvious dance breakdowns.
Two tracks that really stuck out are “Smile Politely” and “I’ll Repute.” “Smile Politely” has the perfect 90s ska and pop punk up stroke feel and flow to it. The band also samples “Believe, believe in me, believe…” from the Smashing Pumpkins’ hit “Tonight” which is pretty sweet. Where “Smile Politely” is 90s, “Seeing Red” has a more 80s rude dude vibe which transported me to dingy clubs in England when bands like The Specials and the English Beat where just kicking things off over there.
A really cool element of the album is the the radio distortion and clips musical clips throughout the EP. It starts in the intro and is weaved throughout with some great modern and older ska vibes. Feels like a very fitting tribute to the bands that influenced Taco Bandits to make the music they do.
Grab some chips and salsa or toss on your best dancing shoes and sink your teeth into The Guacamole Incident below.
New Music: Sleepy and the Noise – Altitudes
There’s some new music coming our way at the end of the month. Ottawa power-pop trio Sleepy and the Noise is fresh out of the womb and ready to rumble, as they get set to drop their debut 4-track EP called Altitudes later this month at Bar Robo.
Originally, Sleepy and the Noise began as a small solo project by Christian Pasiak. While enjoying making his own music as a singer/songwriter, Pasiak got the ambition to grow his performance and add some accompaniment. It wasn’t long until Kira Montfort (Lora Bidner, Kaleigh Watts, Alexy and The Otherside) and Sarah Fitzpatrick (from one of our favourite local folk-rock groups, Steamers) joined the ranks and the complete trio was formed.
“Since we were adapting Christian’s solo songs to a band context and adding our own individual flare, it was more a case of tuning up and perfecting songs, rather than writing,” Fitzpatrick recounts. “But we also had a clear idea of what we wanted from the get go.”
“Recording was a really great experience, since we were working with David Gervais at Swell Studios and he really quickly got a clear idea of the sound we were going for and had lots of suggestions. Since we’re a trio, working in a recording environment lets us try out a bunch of ideas that are harder to try live, like layering different instruments and vocals to fill out the sound.”
Their sound is full and raw, but not overdone or aggressive. Those partial to Pavement or Dinosaur Jr. will be able to sink into Sleepy and the Noise’s sound right away, as they take us on a fun ride that is not only short and punchy, but also contains several moments of cunning lyricism and undaunted instrumentals.
“Lyrically, I take as much from social theory and post structuralist philosophy as from other musicians,” Pasiak clarifies. “But I really appreciate John K Samson, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird – and some leftover angst from the 90s like Propagandhi. As for the sound of this EP, we were trying to get a little taste of our musical variety: the ‘sleepy and the noisy’. Since this is the debut, tried to keep it lighter, even though lyrically these songs document struggles with anxiety, especially My Medusa.”
My favourite track, if I had to choose, would be the song “Mountains & Valleys,” one that elucidates Pasiak’s word-smithing abilities and strong use of metaphors and imagery in his songwriting. Moreover, some irresistible guitar tones and backup vocals by Fitzpatrick makes it one that you won’t be able to resist having on repeat.
Be sure to head to Bar Robo on Sept. 30 for Sleepy & The Noise’s EP Release Party, along with new sensations Mushy Gushy and DJs from Bonnie Doon providing the soundtrack to the night. Doors at 8pm, $10.
New Music: The Way You’ve Aged by Jonathan Becker
Photo credit: Blair Smith
Jonathan Becker (Dead Weights/The North Fields) just released a new solo EP The Way You’ve Aged.
The EP is more North Fields and less Dead Weights – but 100% Jon Becker. Four songs straight from the heart by a man with a raspy voice and his acoustic guitar recording in a back room with a Crown Royal bag as a microphone shield. If you are sick of the heat and want the return of sounds of fall and winter than you are in luck with this one. If that fall and winter aren’t what you are looking for, The Way You’ve Aged also transports you to a dimly lit bar where smoking is still allowed and Becker is sitting on a chair on a small riser playing to the regulars.
The title track sets the tone for the EP with lines like these: The difference is where we become untied and the things we use to help us stand upright / We’ll still smoke cigarettes in the park on Dundas West / We’ll lay in the dead grass and I’ll close my eyes, picture you painting looking your best, as November purrs in the soft light / I love the way you’ve aged.”
The next three songs follow the themes of relationships, bad habits and growing older, which makes them very relatable.
The album was engineered by Dead Weights bandmate Steve Robillard at Capital Rehearsal Studios and mastered by Dean Watson at Gallery Recording Studio, both in Ottawa.
Turn the lights down low, crack a beer and a smoke (if you’re into that kind of thing) and sink your teeth into The Way You’ve Aged (streaming at Exclaim) on a late night where you feel like deeply connecting with a total stranger. You can also catch him playing Thursday Sept. 22 with Fire Next Time and Jordan & Watts at Bar Robo, info here.
New Music: Slack Bridges EP1
If you were to explore the depths of Ottawa’s music scene, it wouldn’t take long to run into your fair share of folk rockers, singer-songwriters, or punk and garage bands. However, when it comes to bands that make soulful, funk-driven tunes meant for getting a little sweaty while tearing up the dance floor, only a few bands in the area come to mind. Perhaps the irresistible R&B hip-hop fusion of Blakdenim might get you going. Maybe the sexy throwback soul sounds of The Split are the kind of thing that make you want to bust a move. But one thing’s for sure – of the relatively few active soul/funk/jazz bands in Ottawa right now, no one sounds quite like Slack Bridges.
Slack Bridges is a newer band in town, having formed in the latter part 2015 and just released their debut, EP1, this past May. It is comprised of six musicians whose musical resumes are long and varied. Lead singer Matt Gilmour, for example, grew up as a dedicated member of the Ottawa punk and hardcore scenes, cutting his teeth as a youngster performing at all ages shows and learning what it meant to be part of a community. For over a decade, Gilmour has been musically active in various capacities, playing in bands such as HAMILTON, I Refuse, We The Accused, and currently Heavy Bedroom and Slack Bridges.
Although participating in punk bands growing up, Gilmour admits that he’s always had a voracious appetite for funky soul music. “I’ve become aware of my blind spots and have begun to revisit the merits in popular soul and contemporary R&B that I loved, which includes influences like James Blake, Eric Roberson, Kwabs, and James Fauntleroy.”
Bassist Garett Barr grew up also listening to punk rock, but it didn’t take long before he explored some new horizons, including funk, soul, calypso, afrobeat, and hip-hop. He managed to sharpen his skills over the years playing bass in the now defunct reggae band Tea for the Voyage, and as a founding member of the popular local group Mackenzie Rhythm Section.
Saxophonist Julian Selody graduated from the esteemed Humber College and even played a gig with world-renowned group BadBadNotGood on a European tour stop. Guitarist Chris Elms has been making hip hop beats his entire life. Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Ross is a seasoned musician and has lent his diverse abilities to artists spanning multiple genres. Keyboardist Marcus Ward has honed his jazz piano skills while playing in a yacht-rock cover band Pleasurecraft. Needless to say, there is no shortage of experience and skill in this group.
Slack Bridges is all about combining different visions, influences, and styles and turning them into a unique cohesive sound. EP1 is the product of countless meetings and band practices hashing out exactly what that sound would be. Barr describes the approach as “destroy to create” – someone brings a small song idea to the table, and the band jams and builds on that idea as a group. It normally gets taken in five or six directions before they settle on a final idea.
“For a bunch of music nerds, it’s definitely a really fun way to compose, even if it means sometimes going crazy together,” laughs Barr.
EP1 is a groove-laden, intricately layered onslaught of soulful jams that are clearly the product of time, effort, and a lot of chemistry. Each track off the 4-song EP offers a display of each member’s strengths, at times allowing Barr’s bass lines and Selody’s ardent sax to take the lead it tracks like “Lion City” or Ward’s irresistible keys to reel us in on “All For You.” Gilmour’s deep and dynamic vocals tie it all together, offering daring melodies and smooth, seamless transitions between notes in the same vein as Leon Bridges.
After playing a handful of shows and releasing their debut, Slack Bridges is on the brink of finishing up the writing of EP2, another 4-track effort due out this fall. “We know that what we’re doing is unique to Ottawa and we wanted to get some recordings out ASAP,” explains Barr. “We figured that we didn’t need to wait until there was enough material ready for a full length.”
The band has stated that they’ll be refraining from releasing physical copies of their EPs, but you can hear everything digitally at http://slackbridges.bandcamp.com/.
This article is cross-published between Ottawa Showbox and Ottawa Beat, the city’s new music newspaper. Find it in issue 3 of the paper at various locations around town August 10th.
New Music: Graceland by Steve Adamyk Band
On the heels of opening for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at Bluesfest, Steve Adamyk Band dropped their brand new album Graceland July 29th.
Ottawa’s most prolific pop-punker Steve Adamyk has done it again with an excellent 13-song album with all the energy, “wo-ohs”, and power-pop perfection we have come to expect from Adamyk and his band. This certainly isn’t a Paul Simon album. The band, which has always been fronted by Adamyk, has seen some moving parts over the years. It currently features Pat Johnston (of many bands in Ottawa, notably The Acorn), and Max Desharnais and Seb Godin (Sonic Avenues). The album also features guest vocals by the eclectic Mike Kroll and LA’s pop-punk sweetheart Colleen Green which really adds to the raucous energy.
As great as it was to see some of these songs live before RHCP it is wonderful to get our hands on another album by Adamyk, this being his fifth. Just like their live performances, this album doesn’t really ever slow or give you a moment to relax, with most songs coming in at under two minutes. And just because it is pop-punk, power-pop, or garage… or whatever you’d call it – don’t think all these songs are love songs or about partying. Songs like the angry “Die Dead Forever” and the dark “False Teeth” show Adamyk’s depth beyond the prototypical sound of the genre. Fret not though, there are still super catchy tracks like “Carry On” and great rocking tracks like “Swallow You Whole” that will win you over right away and make you want to sing a long.
Put on some shades, a white jumper and chow down on a grilled banana and peanut butter sandwich while you have a listen to Graceland. If you like what you hear, the album is available in Canada on iTunes and Spotify via Royal Mountain Records, and there is vinyl in the works.
Track Premiere: Stay Classy – Gentleman
We’re stoked to be premiering Stay Classy‘s brand new single “Gentleman” right here on Ottawa Showbox. After taking an 18-month hiatus to adapt to some major life changes, this supergroup of local talent is back at it with this punchy new track.
If you aren’t familiar with the band, Stay Classy consists of Gavin Dyke (Black Dogs), Allan Gauthier (The Love Machine), Jamie Kronick (Scattered Clouds/Ben Caplan) and PJ Catsiyannis (The Gallop/Brights). Each of these gentlemen have proven their skills beyond a reasonable doubt in this and other projects, and didn’t hold back with this one.
“Gentleman” is the 5th single that Stay Classy will release, adding it to their repertoire of irresistible punk rock jams. It was engineered and mixed by David Gervais (The Gallop/Mushy Gushy) at Swell Studios in Hintonburg, Ottawa and Mastered by Dean Hadjichristou at All Buttons In, in Barrhaven, Ottawa.
You can expect the band to play this track (and perhaps a few other new ones) this Saturday at Bar Robo, as they get set to support their buds in a new garage rock outfit Mushy Gushy. Mushy Gushy is releasing their debut tape and will have lots of copies, so swing by and hang with us. Have a listen to Stay Classy’s “Gentleman” below.
New Music: Two Jar Grind
New three-piece Two Jar Grind, featuring members from Ottawa and Montreal, recently released their self-titled folk punk debut.
From the very first second of the first track “Here’s To All I Never Had” you can’t help but draw parallels to early acoustic Against Me! thanks to shouting vocals bursting with simple honesty. I say this gushingly of a band I have fallen in love with where all three sing and features a guitarist, accordion player and percussionist rocking a washboard. Yes, a freaking washboard!
Two Jar Grind: (from left to right) Kirk Jordan, Nicole Lefebvre and James Brown.
As I listened to the songs on the six song debut, I really felt like I was sitting down with the band as they worked their way through figuring out their place in the world, their priorities and their ambitions. You instantly feel a friendship forming with them.
There are so many great sing a long songs on this album and I can’t wait to get a chance to see them live, especially hearing people shout a long to “Stick ‘n’ Poke.” Check out the album their debut below and keep your eyes peeled for this trio.