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.
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.
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
Throwback Thursday: Paperjack – The Effort I’ll Never Get Back (2001)
By Zachary Houle
It was the summer of 2000. I frequented the Second Cup on the corner of Bank and Somerset, as it was a favourite coffee joint, and still is. However, anyone visiting during that time got a bit of a treat while getting java. You got a preview of Paperjack’s sophomore (and final) album, 2001’s The Effort I’ll Never Get Back. My memory is foggy, but one or two of the guys worked there. Anyhow, over the store’s PA system, a rough mix without vocals would be frequently playing, simply because the dudes who worked there were in the band and they naturally wanted to show off their latest creation.
If that says anything, The Effort I’ll Never Get Back had a fairly long gestation period – recorded in scraps at various studios and put together meticulously. When the goods finally dropped, courtesy of Kelp Records, one thing was clear, and is even much clearer in retrospect: this was a band giving its all. In 2014, listening to the album again, it’s apparent about how much of a concept album this is about being in a band, knowing full well that this might be the group’s last shot at the big time –whatever that big time was. Their hearts were on their sleeve and they poured whatever finances they had into the project. Indeed, the photo on the insert of the disc coyly is shot from the inside of a vehicle – a homage to Double Nickels On the Dime? – as the driver is passing by a Scotiabank branch on the 417 as he reaches for the radio controls.
My first encounter with Paperjack, sort of, wasn’t a positive one. In the mid-90s, I was writing music reviews for the Ottawa Citizen’s High Priority page for teenagers (back when the paper tried to cater to a young audience) and I said something in a review about the latest Furnaceface album being overproduced. Ben Wilson, who would become the frontman for Paperjack and was, at the time, a graduate of Glebe Collegiate, wrote a letter to the page on June 26, 1995, telling me that “Furnaceface’s release is not a ‘mess’. Rather, it’s a display of what the band can achieve musically. After all, who wants a CD that does not give a full picture of the band’s abilities?”
Little did I know at the time that Paperjack, so named after a book by local fantasy writer Charles de Lint, would become one of my favourite bands, after seeing them perform at Carleton University, where the band members were studying, and buying their 1997 disc Ross, which only hinted at the promise of the group. I think I eventually realized that Wilson, the singer/guitarist, was the dude who wrote to me in High Priority (I have a long memory), and we talked about it and buried the hatchet.
But Wilson’s words reverberate with me as I write this piece. Clearly, The Effort I’ll Never Get Back is indeed a full display of what the band could achieve musically. It paints a full picture of the band’s abilities, a shot at going completely for broke. And, yes, it’s a record about being in a group. Opening song “You Guys Are Awesome” is about the other bands that peppered the scene: “Did you have a good time? / Did you have fun? / You guys are awesome / Did you have space? / To pack in the van? / You guys are awesome.”
Later on, on the haunting “Let’s Be Super-Nice to Each Other”, Wilson, who channels Stephen Malkmus, sings, “I never kissed a musician until I kissed Sarah,” who becomes a “sister” when he joins, presumably, the musician’s union. “All of these plans / And working for the man / With all my sisters and brothers.” So, yes, The Effort I’ll Never Get Back is about the trials and tribulations of being in a group with the foreshadowing that this could be it, this is one shot at reaching glory and the need and reliance on other people to help attain that.
But what makes The Effort I’ll Never Get Back a special album is that it is a human album. The vaguely post-rock instrumental “Cloak & Dagger” is notable in that it includes a very noticeable flub that stops the song briefly. For all that the disc is about doing your best and trying to reach out to as many people as possible, it is also an acknowledgement that perhaps your best isn’t all you’ve got, and, indeed, this might just be pessimistically the effort you’ll truly never get back.
However, even though the record is certainly meaty and gives you grist for the mill in what it takes to be a successful band, the record is, in a word, fun. It flat rocks out gleefully. This is embarrassing, but, to this day, I’ve been known to practice air guitar to “F* Off” in the company of my cat in the downtown Ottawa apartment I share. Congratulations, Paperjack. I think you’re the only local band I’ve done that to.
Aside from that song, The Effort I’ll Never Get Back is studded with gems. “Break Things” is a nod to Replacements-style alt-punk. “Blist”, which was something of the “single” from the album, considering that it showed up on a compilation from Fine Records of Ottawa acts, also hums with vital energy. “Nod of Satisfaction” has a melancholic riff that slithers into your cranium and never lets go. And “Stranger Means Danger” is a strum of a song that also makes a memorable mark with its acoustic and electric guitars stabbing at each other with a remarkable melody.
What’s more, though, this LP also shows off the musician’s musicianship. “Grain of Salt” is notable for its polyrhythmic drum pattern that makes the tune sound somehow foreign, as though it gestated in a dark continent. “The Alpine Swiss” is a slacker of a song that, yes, recalls Pavement, but a version of Pavement that wasn’t interested in sloppiness or playing as though they’d spent too much time at the beer taps. “Master Card” – another nod to the debt these guys went into to make this record? – chugs and churns with the guitars pointing a counter-attack to the rhythm section.
All in all, The Effort I’ll Never Get Back is among the very finest records that this city has given birth to. And, truthfully, Paperjack never really got the respect they deserved. I recall seeing the band play at an outdoor festival in Confederation Park sometime after the album’s release, and the outfit was in the middle of playing “Blist”, I believe, before they got the power pulled on them mid-song – they’d gone over their allocated time limit, no matter how good of a time those in the audience were having, forcing the group to quietly leave the stage with a meek “thanks.” Typical Ottawa bureaucracy at work.
Although Paperjack is no longer, remnants of the band still linger. Wilson works at a job in the federal government as a speechwriter, and I believe he has a family. He and Brennan Pilkington have formed a “hypnotic space folk” band called Orienteers that have been active in Ottawa since 2008. The other guys? Who knows? Still, if I ever need a fond memory of a seemingly simpler time, a time before 9/11, a time before the war on terror, and a time before the Great Recession (which has impacted writers like me), The Effort I’ll Never Get Back is what I turn to.
In that letter to High Priority, Wilson concluded, “Critics of anything tend to say too much – try just paying attention and respecting things for what they are.” I couldn’t come up with a better statement to describe Paperjack’s final album. Just pay attention and respect it, because, when all is said and done, it still holds up as a damn fine statement of the very best that the Ottawa music scene has had to offer. It’s durable and an excellent effort that rewards the listener, even if Paperjack never truly got the accolades that they so clearly and dearly deserved. A “Nod of Satisfaction”, indeed.
Zachary Houle is the Canadian Music Editor for PopMatters.com, a Chicago-based webzine that attracts 1.3 million unique visitors globally each month. He also reviews books for bookwookie.ca. In addition to his music and book writing, he has had freelance journalism published in SPIN, the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and Canadian Business. He also dabbles in fiction and poetry, and his work here has been published in literary magazines in Canada, the US and the UK. He was a recipient for an emerging artist grant from the City of Ottawa, and was nominated for a US Pushcart Prize for his work.
Weekend Music Roundup: Dec. 4 – 7
Looking for live music in Ottawa this weekend? Ottawa Showbox has you covered with the Weekend Music Roundup.
Thursday Dec. 4
Friday Dec. 5
Saturday Dec. 6
Sunday Dec. 7
Interview: Sarah Cogan of Thrifty Kids
By Andrew Lacelle // Featured photo by Paul Dzioba (Fritz E Fotografie)
“Dance gave me tempo, art gave me creativity, and musicals gave me rhythm.”
I’m never sure what sparks my interest in bands. Ottawa is full of them, and honestly, I’m never sure if there is ever enough. Back in June, I was introduced to a singer/songwriter Sarah Cogan. Through a mutual friend’s recommendation, I invited Sarah out to open up the show.
After her set, and my enthusiastic applause, I spoke with Sarah and asked what she had planned for her music. She explained she was working on forming a full band outfit. This made me even more excited! Just a few months after Thrifty Kids were released upon Ottawa. Their first single “Cherry Wine” was a huge hit amongst their fans and people around town.
Interview with Sarah Cogan of Thrifty Kids
In a short web interview, I asked Sarah about some of the inner workings of Thrifty Kids.
So who are in Thrifty Kids?
S.C – Thrifty Kids. consists of Dylan Frankland (Lead Guitar), Cam Alford (Bass), Jordan Gauthier (Drums), and myself (Vocals/ Guitar).
Do all the other band members contribute or are you the primary songwriter?
S.C – Our songs thus far have been predominantly written by myself. But as we progress as a band, our songs will be written together. Who knows what’s in store? Can’t wait to find out.
What sparked your passion for music?
S.C – My passion for music comes from being exposed to so much art as a child. My parents had me cascaded in all the arts growing up. I found myself indulging into musicals, films, dance, guitar, and more. They allotted me the opportunity to do it all. And I’ll be forever indebted to them of doing so, because it brought me to where/who I am today. Dance gave me tempo, art gave me creativity, and musicals gave me rhythm. All combined, is the concoction of Sarah.
Did you find it hard as a solo artist to move your music into a full band?
S.C – The transition of solo to full band was anything but difficult. It was exciting. Coming together with other musicians and creating is one of the most fulfilling experiences out there. My fellow band-mates contributions to my songs have made them complete.
When you write your music do you have certain “format” or does it just flow from the heart?
S.C – To oversimplify my songwriting format, it would be best described as melody-driven. The core of my songwriting is the melodies, soon after lyrics begin to “flow” from there.
How would you describe Thrifty Kids music?
S.C – I would describe Thrifty Kids as melody-influenced, indie-surf rock. (Yeah, we’re a bit all over the place.) We like to think it keeps things interesting.
Acoustic versus Electric? I’ve seen you play both. Which do you prefer?
S.C – It ideally depends on the setting/ atmosphere. When it comes to writing, most likely takes place on the acoustic. When it comes to full band, the electric always wins. Not only does it look cool, it just brings the ultimate full band sound.
Thrifty Kids – awesome name, what are its origins?
S.C – As much as I’d like to spill a whole back-story about how our name came to be, it was a tagline on a photograph that was taken of us, in the midst of thrift shopping. Rummaging through old photos, we stumbled upon it. It just seemed fitting to us – simple yet recognizable.
Thrifty Kids sound has rested in my ears in my heart. I could only describe them as a refreshing sound in this over-talented city. They are truly the latest evolution in what Ottawa has to offer. Thrifty Kids latest release “Granola” came out alongside a video. This Thursday you can check out Thrifty Kids live at Cafe Dekcuf. They will be playing alongside Montreal indie/pop/folk rockers Motel Raphaël and Sarah Bradley of Ottawa’s FEVERS.
Thursday, Dec. 4
Cafe Dekcuf (221 Rideau St – above Mavericks)
Doors are at 8pm
10$ for advance tickets. 19+
Band Facebook Page
This Saturday Is Going to Change Your Life
This Saturday is going to change your life. Actually, you might just end up doing some Christmas shopping alongside other quality humans, participating in a discussion about accessibility in our music scene, and seeing a few Canadian bands at the top of their game. Either way, you’ll be glad you went out.
The day kicks off with the first annual GABBA! HEY! HOLIDAY! SALE! from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gabba Hey!, a.k.a. the Capital Rehearsal Studio, has increasingly become more of a centre for nice, fascinating people to make great things together. Put on by local record label Bruised Tongue, the sale is looking to be another prime gathering. Artists, clothing designers, and creators from around the city will be there to connect and maybe make some extra change for the holidays. Admission is pay-what-you-can (PWYC) and some proceeds will go to the Ottawa Food Bank. There will be vegan snacks. Gabba Hey! is an otherworldly place where good people come together, and there are dance-offs on Valentine’s Day.
Then, at Raw Sugar from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Debaser and Weird Canada are hosting a free discussion entitled FRYQ: THE GATHERING. A panel, curated by moderator Emily McQuarrie, will lead a conversation focused on accessibility in Ottawa’s music scene. The event will hopefully be a step toward being more inclusive of individuals who consider themselves to be outsiders in our community. Exclusion due to age, race, disability, gender, and sobriety will be touched on. Let’s have a talk about what we can do to find a space where we all belong.
At 8 p.m., the all-ages FRYQUENCY’S ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY will take us into the night. To celebrate the twelfth edition of Weird Canada’s concert series, Mugshots will be hosting an evening of psych, noise and weirdo-rock provided by Grime Kings, WTCHS and Fet.Nat. PWYC entry will also get you a copy of the Fryquency zine, finally finished after months of work from a crack team of local lizards. Last time I caught Grime Kings, lead singer/songwriter Callum Runciman continued to solo for nearly two minutes after a song was done. This show is a must.
Those are a few things that are happening Saturday. Come in from the cold and into warm rooms with art, tea and grunge bands.
Hooded Fang + Organ Eyes (tape release) + Blonde Elvis @ House of Targ
It’s not every weekday that you see a music venue fill up with patrons, but the last Thursday a good-sized crowd at House of Targ. It’s no wonder, as the lineup was stacked and local psych-garage trio Organ Eyes were also releasing their new tape Daze Pace. This release, for me, was the focal point of the night, but Blonde Elvis and Hooded Fang wowed reckless late-night showgoers, myself included.
The show was co-presented by Arboretum Festival, Exclaim!, and Debaser, who are all trusted music masters in their own right. The night was pushed back a bit as the first opener, Blonde Elvis, got stuck in some pretty brutal traffic on their way from Toronto. Anyone who has traveled that stretch of the 401 knows that it can be a hellish few hours of driving, especially if things get slowed down by commuter traffic or a crash. We’re just glad they made it safe, and no one complained as one or two beers were consumed before the music started.
Blonde Elvis at House of Targ, Nov. 27
It wasn’t long before the Blonde Elvis took the stage and performed a quick but strong set. Since they were a bit late, lead singer Jesse James Laderoute made it clear that they would try to keep it going as they were tight for time. But that didn’t stop him from making light of the situation and joking around, making the crowd chuckle. They launched into their song “slow fall on egypt,” which absolutely blew me away. Laderoute’s vocals were bang-on, and he didn’t miss a note. Along with his other past project Young Mothers, he used to be involved with Slim Twig a few years back, and I can hear some of that sonic remainder in Blonde Elvis’s music. These guys are amongst a really great group of bands in Toronto, and are sure to keep achieving more success as time goes on. I really enjoyed their high energy set, and hope to see them in Ottawa again soon. I just wish I had seem them open of Thee Oh Sees last week in T.O.!
Organ Eyes new tape ‘Daze Pace’ and the Targ Zine
Local psych rockers Organ Eyes were up next, and it was a big night for them. Although not the headliners, they shared the glory because Thursday night was the tape release for their new album Daze Pace. They are one of the main reasons I Targ’d it up – I find Organ Eyes to be such a mystical, strange band in Ottawa. I mean that in the best way possible. The talented trio, made up of guitarist/vocalist Sam Pippa, bassist/vocalist Cam Steacy, and drummer Jon Bennet, are not the kind of group to settle on one sound or style. Coming off the release of their atmospheric album Visual Meetings in January 2014, Daze Pace seems like an opportunity for the band to experiment a little more and inject some rawness into the mix. Organ Eyes explored their lo-fi garage rock side with songs such as “Boca Breeze,” Spooky Cough,” and “Dog Gone,” but also stir things up with more melodic songs such as “Skinny Girl” and “Hardly Know Her.”
The set opened with an unreleased track called “Papavangelou,” and was comprised of most of the heavier garage tunes on the new album. After Cam gave Showbox a very nice shoutout, the band played my favourite song on the album, “Cave Song” (how did you know, Cam?). The deep, muffled bass line and tame verses exploded into a catchy and distorted chorus, all while flowing with bizarre lyrics from Cam. The song makes the listener feel like they’re spiralling downward as it progresses – and I love every second of it.
Organ Eyes closed out the set with another great tune called “Cocoon,” leaving us all wanting more. They certainly riled up the crowd and gained a few new fans at Targ, and hopefully sold lots of their really sweet neon green cassettes!
The final band to come on were the indie rockers from Toronto, Hooded Fang. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t really heard them before, but myself and many others were really getting into it once the band hit their stride. They had a bit of guitar trouble during their second song, but luckily Jesse James Laderoute swooped in and saved the day by supplying his axe. The band jammed on during the transition and everything went smoothly. Their music is slightly disjointed, but has a really funky groove that any listener could get into. As the set went on, everyone seemed to ease up even more and get into the rhythm. I really enjoyed the tones and reverb of the guitar, it reminded me of that surf sound that I love so much with a hint of punk influences in there. The arrangements were captivating and the aesthetic of their music translated really well live, which was aided by the new sound system at Targ – I really noticed a difference in the overall audio quality from past performances during Hooded Fang’s set. I couldn’t stay the whole time, which was a bummer because I was really into their performance. But hey, unfortunately buses don’t run all night long!