Just before the doors opened at Cafe Dekcuf last night, I sat down with Mike Searle, bassist for Toronto’s Grounders. The band has been touring with Deleted Scenes in Canada recently and will follow them into the American eastern seaboard for a quick US tour. Being on the road and promoting their new music is what the travelling band is all about, as I discovered chatting with Mike.
Tell me a little bit about Grounders.
We started in 2010, an amalgamation of a few other bands that folded. We came together and started practicing lead guitarist Andrew’s songs. He had a lot of ideas which he brought to Dan, Rob and I, and we just hashed them out together. About a year later Evan joined the band and we’ve playing ever since.
It seems like fans have been waiting for you to come out with an album for a while. Did you feel that way too?
Yeah, we put out our EP last March and we’ve been touring that during spring and summer with Yukon Blonde & Zeus. Then we went out again with The Besnard Lakes to end the summer, but since then we’ve just been writing. We’re going to start recording in January. So, it’s coming. Please be patient guys, it’s on its way! We’re just finishing all the writing right now and we’re rehearsing in December. It’s definitely been on our minds quite a bit.
When did you sign on with Nevado Records?
That happened about a year ago. We met Nick Bernal when we played a show with one of his bands, Great Bloomers. He liked it, so we met a few times and worked something out. The record is coming out with them here and with Park the Van in the states. That worked out well, we have a good relationship with Nick & Nevado. He’s given us lots of great opportunities from the EP.
Whose idea was it to have every medium of music available for Wreck of a Smile? You’ve got digital download, CD, vinyl & audio cassette available on your bandcamp.
We just wanted to get it out on as much as possible. We obviously really wanted the 10″ vinyl, and CD of course, but before we signed with Nevado we did a run of cassettes on our own. We made like 50 and they all sold out at our release show. When we were talking to Nick about it he said we should do another run of them. So we did, and lots of dudes in trucks who live out in the country like ’em, cause they don’t have CD players. We like that it’s on as many mediums as possible to give more people a chance to listen to it, no matter what they use.
Do you have a large audience in the country? Are you from rural backgrounds?
Well Andrew is from Hamilton and Rob is from Bolton, which is out there. Dan & I are originally from Calgary and we really like playing out there. The biggest place for the cassettes are placed likes Saskatoon, Winnipeg & Calgary.
So what’s the best part about being in a travelling band?
The drugs & the drinking. No! I’m just kidding. Probably the coolest thing is just playing in front of as many people as we can, and hanging out with as many of them as we can. Hopefully connecting with them, cause we’re pretty chill guys, anyone can just come over and talk to us. And seeing as many cities as possible. We’ve been all over the place the last year and we’ve seen some cool places none of us have never been to.
Tell me a little about POP Montreal.
We’ve played there the last four years and it’s great. It’s one of my favourite festival to play, it’s just really fun and well organized. The guys over there do a really great job and we’ve always been treated well and on good bills. And obviously Montreal is hilarious and the food is amazing. We always have fun in Montreal, and we’re going there tomorrow!
So what’s next for Grounders?
After this mini-tour with Deleted Scenes we’re going to finish writing and get the recording, mixing and mastering all done. That’s the next big thing. After these shows we probably won’t play for a bit I guess. The next shows are in March, so now just grinding it out for the record.
Ottawa art-rock band, Pony Girl, are poised to release their debut album, Show Me Your Fears, on September 28th. Ottawa Showbox is very proud to stream it for you 10 days before the release!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Pony Girl is anchored by guy-girl pop harmonies, while songs flow from calm to chaotic thanks to excellent musicianship. Members of the band are veterans of Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa Rock Lottery, various global jazz festivals, have taught classrooms and earned university degrees in music before coming together as Pony Girl in 2012.
Take a listen to Show Me Your Fears below. I hope you like it as much as we do over here at Showbox.
Now that you have gotten a taste of the record, why not see them play it live. The Show Me Your Fearsalbum release show is on September 28 at La Petite Mort Gallery, at 306 Cumberland Street in Ottawa. Click on the poster below for more information.
Ottawa band Pony Girl are poised to release their debut album, Show Me Your Fears, on September 28th. Ottawa Showbox is proud to present you with the premiere of the first single, “Sun of the Morning.”
Pony Girl is anchored by guy-girl pop harmonies, while songs flow from calm to chaotic thanks to excellent musicianship. Members of the band are veterans of Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa Rock Lottery, various global jazz festivals, have taught classrooms and earned university degrees in music before coming together as Pony Girl in 2012.
If you are digging the single, you should go hear more at their album release on September 28 at La Petite Mort Gallery, at 306 Cumberland Street in Ottawa. I know what you are thinking, the 28th is just so far away! Come back and visit us on the 18th and be the first to hear the entire album, which we here at Ottawa Showbox will be exclusively streaming live!
In the meantime, here is some more Pony Girl. This is a live video of them performing their song “Please Do” at The Daily Grind.
Last weekend a bunch of us gathered at Fall Down Gallery for what was to be a hot, smoky music video shoot for The Love Machine‘s new song “Sorry My Dear”. The video is being made with a string of Vine videos, each 6 seconds in length. I have certainly never seen anything like this before, so the end result will be pretty interesting. With lots of confetti and dancing, I think the shoot was a pretty huge success overall. But wait, The fun isn’t over yet!
The Love Machine, along with Dan Rascal Productions, are allowing fans to get involved by submitting a Vine video of their own to be included in the final cut of the video. Here’s how it works:
1. Follow The Love Machine on Vine (handle: thelovemachine)
2. Fans can then download the song segments from the Dropbox link provided
3. Fans can make their own segment(s) and upload it and hashtag it with #TLMvine
4. The segment submitted is eligible to be in the final product!
Now check out the video teaser that The Love Machine just released!
Here’s TLM’s video description:
“We want YOU to create your own vines for The Love Machine’s newest video – Sorry My Dear.
The first thing you need to do is follow this link to a special Dropbox Folder. Inside are all the goodies you will need to create your own segments which we will review. If we like…then there is a good chance it will make the final cut of the video!
In the Dropbox folder you will find 33 Segmented clips of the entire song. We broke the song down into 6 second partitions and filmed each one. Now we want you to pick your favorite segment and re-create it any way you want. We also included the mastered song so you can think about the video as a whole and well….it makes for a nice gift too!
You’ll also notice that each clip has 3 seconds of quiet and 6 seconds of loudness! We wanted to make sure you recorded on the loud part but we also wanted to give you some time to cue yourself up. Make sure you practice and try to get it as rock solid as possible!
Get creative! Do something zany! We accept parodies of your favorite vines, stop motion whatever whatever!
Once you have your segment finished, don’t forget to tag them so we can see them.
When I first started Ottawa Showbox in May of 2012, one of the first hip hop groups in Ottawa I came across was Antiks. Consisting of emcees Jayem and Lex, Antiks released their first mixtape called Here’s The Thing back in February of 2012 and it thoroughly impressed my eardrums. Their style struck me as some blend of Beastie Boys and Atmosphere, and production quality on their first record was great. I remember thinking that I’d really like to hear more from these guys.
Well, they’ve finally delivered. Adding guitarist Ryan Farrell and drummer Derek Hillier to the group, their new album called The Thing Is experiments with some new things and contains some interesting anecdotes throughout, some of which I’ll mention in a minute. But first, believe me when I say that there isn’t a bad track on this album. Not only have these guys succeeded in overcoming the sophomore blues by going a very different direction with the new record, they also collaborated with a few talented local producers and MC’s to make things a little more interesting. Produced by Ottawa’s DJ Greg Reain, with special production appearances by Jeepz and Crack Moses, each track on the album has its own character and proves to be integral to creating an overall “feel” while listening. Ranging from melodic, reverb-heavy tracks such as “Contra”, soulful ones like “Therapy”, and definitive anthemic tracks like their collab “Walk on By” with outstanding local hip hop artist G. Grand, Antiks dug deep to diversify their sound and make and album that stood out. Their song “Step To It” sums it up nicely: “Step to it, get to it, what ya doin? A million MCs in the world, you gotta move it”.
My favourite track on the album is “Contra”, a beautifully constructed and well-written song that demands attention from the listener immediately. Other must-hear songs include “Walk on By” (ft. G. Grand), and “Willy No Man” (ft. Dynamite Motel), but as I said, this album is an ear party all the way through. I also really enjoy the interludes included on the record, two of which feature emcees Jayem and Lex rapping over the beatboxing of MC Dimz, respectively. To me, this is what real hip hop is all about. You don’t need layers of tracks and loads of production to do that, and I found it refreshing to Antiks try out some interesting things such as interludes. Their lyrical flow and the quality of their lyrical content was evident throughout the entire the album.
My interpretation is that the album (or parts of it), in a way, is their tribute to Adam Yauch (“MCA”) and the legend that is the Beastie Boys. You can hear certain similarities to classic Beastie Boys albums like Paul’s Boutique, from which they sample “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” in “JAYem & Dimz [interlude]”. Their use of raw beatboxing by MC Dimz, sampling/use of funk/soul tracks and bass lines, and scratching by DJ SoNice, to name a few things, all subtly pay tribute to the Beastie Boys and remind us of their influence on hip hop music. Big high five, guys.
Other little treats on the album include a comically inspiring clip of Sylvester Stallone reciting a clip from Rocky Balboa, anda randominterlude called “The Rap Music” which samples Charles Aznavour’s “Parce Que Tu Crois”, slowed down and popularized by Dr. Dre with his hit “What’s the Difference” off The Chronic 2001. The last track “Fooled Ones” samples the song “Everybody Plays the Fool” by The Main Ingredient, a song nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best R&B Song in 1973. What a perfect ending to an album, don’t you think?
One thing is certain – these guys are just getting started. Hearing what’s on this album, one can only imagine how far Antiks go with the kind of talent and production they have at their fingertips. I got in touch with emcees Jayem and Lex of Antiks, as well as G. Grant, to discuss The Thing Is. Read the interviews below:
Q&A with ANTIKS
(L = Lex, J = Jayem)
1. Can you guys give your take on the hip hop scene in Ottawa? What’s it like here?
L: The hip hop scene in Ottawa is definitely looking good. There’s some great groups out here, and with events like Hip Hop Karaoke, you see tons of people showing up so it’s obvious there’s a high demand for rap in the city. I think a lot of clubs focus on EDM just because the money is there right now. I like that kind of music but it’d be nice to see a few more clubs do some dedicated hip hop nights.
J: Ottawa has a very healthy rap scene. I mean there’s going to be terrible acts in every city, hopefully we’re not included with those, but with dope groups like Flight Distance, Just Poets, Zoo Legacy, and artists like G. Grand, it’s hard to say we’re not holding our own.
2. In what respects is your new album “The Thing Is” different from your previous material?
J: I think the tone on “The Thing Is” is much different than anything we’ve done before. When Lex and I started making music a couple years back we had no idea what the hell we were doing or what we wanted to sound like. We learned a lot since then so when we started recording this album, we were way more confident, knew what sound we wanted and the balance we wanted to strike in terms of humour. But ultimately we wanted to make a good hip hop record, something that we’d listen to, as opposed to trying to guess what others might like.
L: I think with this record, it’s the first time we tried to say something beyond a bunch of silly shit our friends expect us to say. Don’t get me wrong there’s some horribly immature stuff peppered throughout it, and some fun tracks, but we definitely opened up much more on this one. I think we were also trying to step our game up lyrically, a lot of that just comes with experience, so hopefully we didn’t suck to bad on that front.
3. Can you talk about your collaborations on this album?
L: We’ve got some super talented artists on this album that we were lucky to be able to scam into performing with us. G. Grand was a rapper that we’ve all loved, so when he agreed to hop on our track ‘Walk on By’, which was produced by our boy Jeepz, we pretty much sounded like a bunch of Japanese school girls that caught a glimpse of One Direction. We actually met Dynamite Motel through some friends, became friends, and then made it our mission to do a track with her. We got love for funk and jazz music so we’re glad that got represented on this record.
J: Ottawa’s got some sick producers and we were looking to showcase that. We linked up with Jeepz, who produced some awesome stuff for Just Poets and G.Grand. We got onto Crack Moses through the last Flight Distance record, reached out and thankfully he was down with working together. Greg Reain, who’s on the team, also killed it with his production. Hopefully we didn’t butcher their tracks too much or else we’re back to recording on my T-Pain app. Also shouts to MC Dimz who beatboxed on two tracks, dude is a mad talent, and DJ So Nice who did some dope scratches on ‘Perfect Machines’.
4. Which tracks are you most excited for people to hear?
L: I’m really excited for people to hear ‘Man vs. Food’ and the track we did with Dynamite Motel called ‘Willy No Man’. I think those tracks show the range of sound we can bang out.
J: For me I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond to our collab tracks. G. Grand has an awesome verse on ‘Walk on By’ and the beatbox tracks we did with Dimz are killer.
Alex Clare performing at 2013 Bluesfest on the River Stage. Photo credit to Marc DesRosiers
The capital’s most anticipated music festival of the year has finally arrived, Bluesfest 2013 is off and running.
Starting my festival experience this year was Barrie, Ontario’sBahamas. As I headed to Lebreton Flats the sky was full of dark clouds and a thunderstorm warnings looming. But Bahamas was too good for the sun to stay hidden and it finally rid us of the clouds and partied with us. Not only did Bahamas brighten our day, he had wonderful advice on how to survive the festival, ”Stay hydrated and drink light beer. Just kidding go really hard tonight and get your money’s worth.”
The only other time I saw Bahamas he was a solo act. This time around he had a full band and two amazing female back up vocalists which added so much depth. He played my favourite song, ”Hockey Teeth,” and then topped it off with a rocking cover of OutKast’s ”Hey Ya!”
I have always heard great things about The Cat Empire, but I had never seen them before. I decided not to miss it this time and am I ever happy I did. Their Latin gypsy styling with a dash of ska is pretty awesome, and even more so when you realize they are Aussies, not South American. Cat Empire had this one song that had absolutely everything. There was awesome brass, a bongo solo, a DJ scratching, two different vocals and a whole lot of dance. I like how almost every song became a jam session. A wonderful moment of the set was when they got polka circles going through out the crowd. Their new song, ”Still young,” had such an amazing super ska sound to it that now I really can not wait until The Specials.
With so many people flocking to headliners The Black Keys and Adventure Club, I made my way to Alex Clare for a combination of both, rock and some drum and bass.
The start of the set was the best ten minute delay ever, because I still got to hear three Black Keys songs while waiting. But once the Brit got going, it was easy to forget the Keys and be absorbed by the beauty. His incredible voice reminds me of Tracy Chapman during the ”Fast Cars” era. Complementing that voice was the excellent effects applied to the bass adding the DnB dynamics. I just wish it would have been louder. His originals were good, ”Caroline,” blew me away because I am such a sap. What really impressed me were his two covers, Etta James’ ”Damn Your Eyes,” and Lead Belly’s ”Irene (Goodnight Irene).”
Day one is in the books and it was a day of firsts. First time I saw Alex Clare, first time I saw Cat Empire, first time I saw Bahamas with a full band, first day of Bluesfest and first day of my vacation. Let’s go Bluesfest 2013, nine more days of music, sun and good times.
FEVERS have made it known that they’ll be releasing their new album “No Room For Light” on August 27, 2013, with album release party details forthcoming. It’s been an exciting few years for the band as they’ve achieved a lot of notoriety around Ottawa and across Canada since their original Passion is Dead EP (and even getting a shout-out from music mogul Alan Cross, who likes them for their “dark and danceable electro sound”). I have to agree with Mr. Cross. The album was produced both here in Ottawa and in Toronto by Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep, Holy Fuck) and contains an 11-song track list which is sure to have some hits on it. Listen to their first single “Dance Cry Dance” off the album below.
Fevers have released a new single from their upcoming album No Room For Light called ‘Dance Cry Dance’. In classic Fevers form, we get a perfect mix of just about everything. The dancability factor here is high, as funky guitar licks, synth-based pop fills, and tight percussive flows make this song a really exciting taste of what we’re going to expect on the album. To me, personally, it sounds like vocalist Sarah Bradley is becoming much more confident with her voice. Seeing her absolutely destroy Ottawa Rock Lottery 5.0 this past weekend with her throw-together band Black Usher confirmed this for me. The band definitely seems to be coming into their own, and I’m guessing this album will take them to brand new heights. Take a good listen to the track here. Then listen to it again.
Eric Scharf & Matías Muñoz hanging with ORL organizer Samantha Everts and Luca Fiore (Photo: Ming Wu)
The fifth edition of the Ottawa Rock Lottery, which was held at Maverick’s, blew me away. You are probably wondering what is a rock lottery? Well you take 25 members from local bands, pull their names out of a hat to form 5 bands. Then give them 24 hours to come up with 20-30 minutes of original music. And for an added twist, you assign each band a special instrument that they must integrate into their set. If all of that does not sound fun enough, consider that all proceeds of the event go the the Ottawa Foodbank and there were free draws between sets with a lot of merch from sponsors and bands.
The event’s special guest host was CBC Radio 1’s Amanda Putz. Amanda hosts the show Bandwith, which focuses on Ontario music. In her opening remarks she declared that not only does Ottawa have one of the best music scenes in the province (eat your heart out Montreal and Toronto), but “one of the greatest scenes in the country.”
First up was But I Don’t Want to be a Pirate. The band was comprised of Arturo Portocarrero (Miss Polygamy), Cody Allen (Cody Allen), James Rooke (Modern Era Pirate), Mike Libbos (The Goodluck Assembly) and Rory Lewis (Kalle Mattson). They were tasked with the coolest random instrument of the night, a keytar. Man can Rory rely shred on his guitar and he even did a solo on the keytar. They set the bar very high. And Ottawa is very lucky, as Jame Rooke won a three song EP recording from Audio Valley Recording Studio and announced he will use it to record with But I Don’t Want to be a Pirate.
The second band of the evening was Sextadeth. The band said the name was in honor of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who they assume will be sexted to death now that he is back on Earth. Fitting that the band that ended up with two drummers, also got assigned the spoons, and had an epic percussion finale. Sextadeth was, David Wisjman (Fire & Neon), Max Savage (StillNative), Peter Zachar (Those Gulls), Reverend Doctor D (The Pelts) and Riishi Von Rex (Riishi Von Rex). They played a really fun set, but unfortunately David announced at the end that “due to creative differences we are breaking up.” the crowd got a good kick out of that.
Black Usher was up third. They were two Keys, two MCs and a Macbook. The keys were Patrick Steele (StillNative) and Sarah Bradley (Fevers), the MCs were Atherton (Atherton) and HYF the GypsySun (Missing LinX) and the man on the Macbook was Jordan David (The Love Machine). Their set was awesome! The dynamics of the five members singing or spitting rhymes throughout their performance was very good. And the energy…oh lord the energy. They finished with the incredible “Weird, Odd, Strange” that could very well have been the song of the night. And it was fun to watch both MCs play on pots and pans with wooden spoons.
Fourth to the stage was Slow Dance Chubbies. As per their name, they slowed it down a little bit. Their set was full of guitar solos, incredible trumpet play and funny lyrics. The crowd got into their set singing along with the band. Slow Dance Chubbies was Connor (sorry no last name provided), Erik Hertzberg (Cold Capital), Gregg Clark (Pony Girl), Jake Ting (Zoo Legacy) and Shawn Desjardins. What happens when one band gets two drummers, another band gets none. But that did not stop Slow Dance Chubbies. Jake Ting, who had never played drums live before, took on the task and did a great job.
Closing the show was Nicolas Cage in Con Air. The band was made up of Craig Barlow (Loon Choir), Dave Nado (The Wicked Mercy), Jon Schofield (The Yips) Just Jamaal (Missing LinX) and Kalle Mattson (Kalle Mattson). All of their songs were named after Nic Cage movies, they opened with Ghost Rider Two, followed with Ghost Rider One, which led to Raising Arizona and concluded with Face Off. Nic Cage was an amazing combination of rap and slam poetry over rock. Their special instrument was the whistle, which they integrated into more than one song, the only band to do so. While the band tuned, Just Jamaal used his instrument, his vox, to keep the crowd entertained with some freestyling.
I think Amanda Putz said it best when speaking of the evening. “The talent tonight blew me away.” I overheard many people in the crowd saying “I figured this would be a train wreck, but this is awesome.” And I must agree, it was a great night. If you did not go this year, or are an artist and did not participate, I strongly encourage you to do so next year.
Every song from the show should be available by May 25, thanks to Audio Valley Recording Studio. Keep checking back at Ottawa Rock Lottery website for it.
Soul king Mike Mackey’s project Kings of Lowertown released the first single off their new album 60 More Miles due out October 2013. The track, called “Shotgun Preacher” is a short but sweet preview of what to expect form the upcoming album, and boasts dirty sounding blues riffs along with distorted vocals. It seems that this song could have very well come right out of the heart of Nashville, but Pembroke native Mackey delivers a genuine style that intersects somewhere between Alabama 3, Tom Waits, and The Doors. Too bad The Sopranos is all over, because the song would have fit right in there. 60 More Miles will be the follow up to Kings of Lowertown’s first self-titled full length, which was featured onThe Big Beat blogBest in Ottawa music 2012: 20 songs by 20 bands (Ottawa Citizen). Listen to the new track below.