A couple of Ottawa’s best are releasing new albums within the next week. Hilotrons (Kelp Records) and The Steve Adamyk Band (Dirtnap Records) are offering up new material and kicking off 2013 with full force. Hilotrons’ At Least There’s Commotion contains a bit of everything, melding different themes, sounds and styles in the final product. Personally, I’ve listened to the album streamon the CBC websitea couple times over and love it. Having taken some time off Hilotrons’ releases for five years, Michael Dubue hasn’t missed a step with this album. An excerpt from a recent CBC feature explains:
Beneath its edgy, pop exterior, there’s quite a melancholy aspect to this record. It seems like a collection of love songs, or at least an album full of songs about dynamics between men and women.
“Almost,” Dubue clarifies. “Some of them might seem like it’s all between lovers but there’s a bunch that are between friends and family. The narrative of the record is from the point of view of someone who suffers borderline personality disorder and also from the perspective of their friends and family.”
The Steve Adamyk Band is also set to release a 12-track full-length appropriately titled Third. The band has made some great strides since forming in 2010, and overcame a bit of adversity with changes in the band. The album won’t disappoint anyone who likes the dirty, garagy, pop-punk with lots of drive – it is a great listen from start to finish. Even though a lot of the tracks are shorter in length, songs like “Eyes” (my fav) and “Not a Witness” will have you moving involuntarily to great tunes, one after the other. The song “Katacombs” was premiered on SPIN last month, and was referred to by them as a “White-knuckle pop-punk gem”. Let’s be honest, there isn’t a bad song on this album so take a few good listens. Having seen these dudes absolutely tear up Arboretum Music+Arts Festival last September really had me thinking, “Holy shit – there really are awesomely loud and talented bands that live in Ottawa”.
Here’s the latest teaser from one of Ottawa’s most dynamic, talented and intense acts, Roberta Bondar. The video features drummer Tyler Goodman and a preview of Night Danger, but not much music to please our ears until new material from their upcoming album comes out in the near future. Roberta Bondar is coming off a huge opening performance for The Acorn at the Black Sheep Inn on January 25, where they blew the sold-out crowd away with permeating music that could be heard throughout all of Wakefield. The video is directed by Travis Boisvenue.
Check out this brand new video by Partus Films for Claude Munson & The Storm Outside’s (Up & Up Music) song “Driftwood”. This is the first song released from their upcoming EP, which will be coming out at next week’s release party at Mercury Lounge on December 20th. The video really compliments the beauty of the song well, using an intricate stop-motion technique that must have taken a lot of time to film.
Here’s the press release along with the video. Have a look!
We are proud to present Driftwood; a stop motion adventure that takes you from the shores of a seaside village to the depths of the imagination. The video breaks wave with the release of Claude Munson & The Storm Outside’s self-titled debut. We wanted to craft something that embodied the underlying tone of the album; a vessel of maritime imagery, magical vistas and of course, the conflict of a storm burning both within and beyond. Follow a young boy whose loneliness is doused by the comforts of a ghostly entourage and discover an artist’s music that has the power to lift you above your storm.
Driftwood is a Partus Film
Video produced by Claude Munson & Craig Allen Conoley
Ottawa is buzzing with new bands making new sounds, and Trees are one that jumped out at me as being different from the rest of the pack. Their new album Catzenatica really pushes the envelope, bringing a refreshing sound and unique approach to songwriting. Not only that, but the album sounds great – it is very well produced and achieves an aura that one can get lost in.
Although Catzenatica is experimental, it is still really accessible – even those who may not be as receptive to this kind of musical approach will appreciate how the album was put together. From the outset, opening track “Mild Jamaican” starts as a whirlwind of eerie sounding vocals, effects and instrumental noises. This really piques the interest of the listener, because one normally expects to determine how an album will “feel” once they start listening to it. However, in my experience, the best albums are the ones that leave you guessing as they unravel, never fully allowing for the listener to get too comfortable with the overall product. Lead singer Jonathan Matthews’ dynamic vocals are on par with those of Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks, breaking any notion of standard lyrical phrasing and testing the limits of of his voice. From low to high to falsetto, the intricacy and originality in his voice is really well-suited for the type of music his band is making.
Tress obviously has a myriad of influences, merging styles and approaches to songwriting in one album. They create a dreamy, reverb-driven soundscape that echoes with beautiful guitar tones and flowing bass lines. The percussion is unique and guides the unconventional direction of the album, but it doesn’t overpower or drown out the delicate sounds of the guitars. This is often a very fine balance, because experimenting can often lead to getting carried away with one instrument over another. But this is not the case on Catzenatica, as a near perfect concoction of instrumentation, effects, and melody is achieved throughout the record. The layers of sound really stand out, and helps to create the overall ambience the band was going for in the recording.
Perhaps beginning as a three-piece instrumental band without a lead vocalist did them a lot of good, since there is a very clear emphasis on achieving a distinct sound from the instruments. Of course, the addition of Jonathan completes the package and makes Trees more accessible to a wider audience, but I think developing a strong sonic/instrumental basis first really helped the band hone their talents and overall sound they were striving to achieve.
Crystal Castles is one of those bands that I credit for broadening my musical horizons. As soon as their self-titled came out in 2008 I knew there was something about this music that I was becoming attached to, but I couldn’t explain it. I also didn’t understand it much at all, all that electronic stuff really baffled me (And it still does to an extent). But it got me to branch out and explore new sounds, appreciate layers, sound quality, and much more. I was somewhat turned off by the fact that my friends Kevin, Kathy and I stayed up super late at Bonnaroo (2009) after a crazy hot day to see them come on, and left the entire crowd just standing there as they were 45 minutes late. I was pretty pissed, but the short set they did end up playing was insane. Like, out of control fun and I still remember the placement of lights on stage, Alice’s voice penetrating every cell of our bodies, and music basically causing an earthquake around us. I forgave them. Plus they did a song with Robert Smith in the meantime so I can’t stay mad.
Anyway, when III came out I was pretty excited… But I didn’t expect to hear what I did. It is on another level. They have refined their sound so much that it’s almost intoxicating to listen to the album. The entire thing is worthy of praise, and the opening track “Plague” really sets the tone for the whole thing. Anyway put your headphones on and just listen, you’ll understand.
I thought recently that it’s a little unfair to just exclusively post about Canadian music, when there’s an entire world of great stuff out there. Obviously I have an infinite amount of love for my compatriots… I think it’s really impressive how much awesome, diverse music comes out of Canada. So I’m going to give another country some attention today, one that will always have a spot in my heart. in 2010, I did a month-long road trip all around New Zealand with a great friend, and everything about the country touched the core of my spirit. The landscapes, the natural environment, the wonderful people, and also the music. With a tiny population of only 4.4 million people, New Zealand has had some great sounds come out of their country. I discovered bands like Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Dropn. But one band that I really think deserves some attention here in North America is Kids of 88. Their 2012 album Modern Love is all around incredible to listen to – it’s well produced and is has so many solid tracks on it. Here’s a great video for the song “Tucan”, one of my favourites off the record. Hear Kids of 88 takes me back to that place I was a few years ago. The nostalgia!!!
Things have been a little backed up these days for me, and posts have been few and far between. For that I apologize, but I couldn’t miss getting this explosive new track by Ottawa’s Roberta Bondar out there. It’s off their upcoming EP, which many of us are very excited to listen to in its entirety. In the meantime, see what’s in store and check out the new track “Pleather Bed”.
The Balconies have come out with a creepy new video for their song “Do it in the Dark” just in time for Hallowe’en. This is one of the best songs off their debut EP Kill Count and is sure to catch the attention of lovers of Canadian indie. The three-piece who are from Ottawa, now in Toronto, are well on their way to developing a solid fan base with the release of singles like this one. We sure do miss them here in Ottawa, last time I spoke with lead singer Jacquie Neville at Maverick’s she said she and the band would be up for having a conversation about their music and sudden success. Keep an eye out for that, a perhaps even a Balconies video feature. To watch the video, follow the link below.
Here’s a great new video for the opening track “Light Years”, from her new album This is How We Swim. Don’t forgot to see her play tomorrow night (Oct. 18) at Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield along with Kite Hill, Blue Hibou and Kim Barlow.
One of the main reasons music is such an important part of my life is that it can be made to reflect any number of emotions, situations or states a person may be in. Even just as a listener, you have the power to scour your music library and find that one perfect album, whether it’s a celebratory anthem or somber hymn of loss. Japandroids wrote a triumphant song that speaks to a generation in The Night of Wine and Roses, while Elliott Smith’s song I Better Be Quiet Now reaches the deepest recesses of emotional toil and loneliness. Although drastically different, I love each song for the same reason and they represent aspects of who I am and things I have experienced in different ways. And then there’s Graceland by Paul Simon, which is an album I love but have no idea what he is talking about.
On her sophomore album This is How We Swim, Lisa Bozikovic takes those emotions and experiences and transposes them to a metaphor in our natural environment: water. It can be transformed into different states, molded into beautiful sculptures or formed into violent waves that consume us. This motif of water and transformation melds beautifully with music – like the transformations we go through in life, water molds itself to its environment and is in constant flux. The way she incorporates instrumentation into her songs also makes the listener feel surrounded by it. The opening track Light Years is an example of this; dreamy undertones and soft harmonies give the sense that you’re sitting in the sand watching the waves approach your feet.
Lisa Bozikovic @ Raw Sugar Cafe (Photo: Ming Wu)
This is How We Swim is also full of references to water. Lisa completed a residency on Toronto Island, which surely influenced her decision to make H2O a central character on the album. I enjoy that she doesn’t try and secretly attempt to include the symbol of water into her songs. Rather, the theme helps define the entire thing and accentuates the emotion she is putting into song – which can be an excellent technique to translating thoughts and experiences (often painful) into music. In this sense, the album is a complete package. You are taken on a little journey from song to song (not by boat thought, you have to swim) and no track feels out of place.
Her voice is distinct, soft and dynamic. A stand-out points on the album for me are in the title track pre-chorus:
Again and again you do tell me, That this is not your time for love
You say there’s nothing inside me to give you, So run run run run run
And I just don’t know how to hear you, When you say this is not your time for love
For in these arms I find such comfort, And I’d rather swim than run
To me these lyrics solidified my thoughts that this album was a true expression of that which lies buried deep within. The second bit is a reply to the first, each sung with hopelessness in her voice. This melancholy tone that she touches upon at a few points on the album is an excellent contrast to the points when she sings beautifully. Nowhere on the album is this more evident than in the short, yet powerful song Into the Waves – one gets the sense that she’s floating away from shore and giving up on all that she used to know. The control and expression of her voice really demonstrate her incredible musicianship.
In a sea full of little singer/songwriter fishes, Lisa Bozikovic stands out as a Nemo. The way in which she tells a story using symbols is not only effective, but unique too. This is How We Swim is great accomplishment, and will fit in perfectly between Japandroids and Elliott Smith in my CD collection.
Be sure to see Lisa and Kite Hill play at The Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec on October 18th alongside Kim Barlow and Blue Hibou.