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.
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.
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 SlackBridges.
SlackBridges 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 SlackBridges.
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.
SlackBridges 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, SlackBridges 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.
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.
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 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.
It’s that time of year – bands are in full bloom for the summertime. We’re very excited to premiere the debut EP called Tight Snake by a new group in town, Mushy Gushy. This 4-track garage pop EP is a quick burst of fun summer tunes that’ll be sure to inject some life into any backyard BBQ or pool party. Mushy Gushy is a new 4-piece group consisting of a few Ottawa music scene vets – bassist Jon Pearce (Winchester Warm), drummer Kyle Woods (fmr. Kalle Mattson), guitarist Cory Lefebvre (Baberaham Lincoln), and vocalist Dave Gervais (The Gallop).
This new “butt rock” band (don’t worry, I have no idea what that means either) played their first ever show at Black Squirrel Books this past May, opening up for Telecomo at their tape release party. Their set was wild and fun, and you can really tell this band loves playing together.
Speaking of which, Showbox will be presenting Mushy Gushy’s tape release show on July 16th at Bar Robo, along with other great local acts, Stay Classy and Elementals. Taking us late into the night, Kitchen Party DJs will be spinning your favourite jams, too. If you want to see a bunch of really talented buds play really fun music, I suggest you mark that date off on your calendar. Check out the Facebook event here and have a first listen to Tight Snake below.
These days, it’s pretty normal for bands to form and dissipate in relatively short timespan. Sons of Pluto are an exception, as their formation at Ottawa U in 2010 began as a celestial collision of various talents that ended up merging not only into a band, but also a tight-knit group of friends. And while their lineup has evolved in the years since the band’s genesis, Sons of Pluto have stayed true to their roots and not let other gravitational forces pull them apart.
All cheesy space references aside, Sons of Pluto are a band influenced by a variety of musical genres and art forms that transcend eras. These include “a distinct combination of classical, rock, indie, musical theatre, punk, jazz, gospel, R&B, and chart toppers dating back to the 50s the band tries to take the best of all of those genres and construct something as catchy as it is meaningful.” Very ambitions, to say the least.
One thing that should be pointed out is that Sons of Pluto are set to release their debut EP The Age I’m In June 24 at Pressed. It seems strange that a band as active as this throughout the years hasn’t released an album yet, but it says something about their prowess on stage and ability to reel in a dedicated fan base with their tractor beam (sorry, I had to). With this album being a few years in the making, there is a lot of anticipation for its release this Friday.
The Age I’m In is a quick 5-track effort that explores various themes and sounds, from facing the journey of time that we all must face in the opening title track, to the dark oceanic metaphors in “Lorelei,” to the crumpling of the earth’s terrain to bring two lovers together in “Mountains.” The album makes its potency known immediately, and draws the listener in without giving away what’s coming next. It leaves us hanging with tranquil reverb-heavy guitar tones, and then barrages us with layered and textured crescendoes. This is most recognizable in the divine title track that that builds with delicate and intricate guitar work from Brian Lee, as lead singer Damien Broomes’ formidable vocals meld perfectly with the instrumentation. Fans of The Dears, Amos The Transparent, or TV on the Radio would surely fall comfortably into this record.
Kristina Vogel’s violin and ukelele come across beautifully, creating deep soundscapes for us to frolic in for a little while. She takes the lead in the song “Mountains,”one that marks the mid-point of the album. Although this track is a serenade with ukelele, gentle vocals, and quiet keys, to me it was one that probably had the most impact. No tricks, no effects to hide behind – just raw emotion and metaphorical brilliance.
If there was one shortfall of this record, it would probably be the track “Black Hearted Lover.” It’s not even a bad song, however the placement on the album felt a bit forced and thrown in there. The crunchy lead riff and rock n’ roll stylings just didn’t fit right on the album, one that is otherwise woven with complex instrumentation and excellent production. Although this one didn’t quite feel in place, the track is somewhat redeemed with good lyrics.
All in all, Sons of Pluto have finally delivered their first album, one that has been worth the wait for fans and clearly a product of a lot of time and effort. Their album release party at Pressed, this Friday, June 24 with special guests Beau Réal. Tickets are sold out.
A new band in town, How Far To Mexico, is ready to break onto the scene in a big way this weekend. We’re excited to premiere the exclusive first full listen of their debut EP Drought, a 4-track effort that incorporates jangle pop and psych rock elements. Their so-called “psychedelic escapism” comes though as reverb-laden, twangy guitar parts, mesmerizing drum patterns, pulsating bass lines, and singer Jamieson Mackay’s relaxed yet pervasive vocals. Let’s just say it’s the kind of music that can take you somewhere else on a beautiful summer day while soaking in some sun in a park downtown. The sound and style recalls influences such as The Smiths or early R.E.M with a pronounced and definitive pop appeal – and, frankly, a sound that the world could use a little bit more of.
Drought will be made available on CD or a limited run of tapes, or online on Bandcamp.
The new EP, Cry Baby, by local surf rock group Thrifty Kids contains one of the early contenders for song of the summer.
The 4 song release starts off with the super catchy and brief “Cry Baby,” which clocks in at just over a minute and a half. It may be short, but it hooked me right away. Musically it makes me want to run for the beach and dance around in the sun with warm sand beneath my feet. It also has an awesome video which features all members of the band eating raw onions and crying. This song will certainly get a lot plays on all my devices this spring and summer and make it onto many of playlists.
The rest of the EP while great is a little slower after coming out of the gate so quickly out with “Cry Baby.” The song that really stuck with me of the remaining tracks and had me bobbing and humming along too with a big smile on my face is “Sail Away.” This is Thrifty Kids’ second release and the band is certainly growing into their own. Their fun and upbeat sound resonates perfect for this time of the year.
Have a listen to Cry Baby below and keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next Thrifty Kids show.
Ottawa’s newest hardcore band DOXX recently dropped their first EP where they channel the hardcore of old.
The four-piece which includes members of Creep Wave and Blood Nail have traveled back in time and brought 80’s hardcore back with them. The longest song of the self-titled EP clocks in at a whopping 2 minutes and 16 seconds. I absolutely love how straight forward and in your face it is. Music doesn’t always have to be complicated, sometimes it just has to be honest and angry. And there is a lot of that in the words delivered by lead singer Sof.
I really like the whole release, but my favourite has to be “Baby Doomer.” The song is sung from the perspective of a baby boomer talking to the younger generation and not understanding any of his privilege or spoils. “Stop complaining, stop paying rent, get off your ass and make an investment, it’s easy, just do it, i know what’s best for you cuz i’m a baby doomer,” sings the baby boomer. To which Sof replies “baby doomer baby doomer fuck you.” I can see a lot of people getting behind this song and wanting a piece of the mic.
The EP is capped off with a cover of London, England’s Rudimentary Peni‘s song “Blissful Myth,” a song dating back to 1983, that is not a big fan of marriage.
Check out the EP below and see it live Friday April 29th as they open for one of the best punk bands going right now, Downtown Boys at Zaphod Beeblebox. More info here.