Ottawa indie-folk veterans Amos the Transparent celebrate their 10-year anniversary as a band this year with the release of a brand new album—fittingly titled Anniversaries. They also collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to release a special limited edition pilsener to mark the occasion. You can read more about the album and special edition beer here.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was on-hand at a packed 27 Club to catch the action. Amos the Transparent were supported by Rumfit Mosely and The Love Machine. Check out the gallery below.
Ottawa indie-folk rockers Amos the Transparent are celebrating 10 years as a band with the release of their new album Anniversaries Saturday night at The 27 Club. And why not celebrate the occasion with some delicious craft beer? Music and beer go together like wine and cheese. The band has collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to release a special limited run of Amos Anniversaries beer—a 5.2% pilsener that will please the palate for many.
A decade and four albums later, Amos the Transparent have cemented themselves as a quintessential folk-canadiana. They have performed at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, CityFolk, SXSW, WayHome, The Strombo Show, CBC’s Q, and even the Big Sound Festival in Australia. They’ve also hosted an annual holiday show around Christmas time that always sells out. Needless to say, Ottawa loves Amos.
I caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Chandler to talk about the band’s longevity and the new album. Have a read below.
Amos the Transparent releases Anniversaries Saturday, May 12 at The 27 Club along with another veteran Ottawa group who have gotten back together for a few one-offs—The Love Machine—as well as Rumfit Mosey. Ticket and show information can be found here. Upcoming shows:
May 12 — The Ottawa 27 Club
June 21 — Ottawa Dragonboat Festival
July 8 — RBC Bluesfest
August 25 — Neat Café (Burnstown)
Interview with Jonathan Chandler of Amos the Transparent
This band has been together for 10 years now, which is much longer than most. What is the glue that has kept Amos around until now?
JC: Honestly, the fact that we are indeed friends has kept it fresh over the years. Because we genuinely like each other, I think that creates an open space for everyone to feel valued and feel free to discuss concerns or ideas. A band is indeed a relationship—a big complex family relationship—and just like a regular one, you need to work at it.
How have families, new business ventures (like Shoebox Recording Studio) and the passage of time affected how Amos approaches writing music?
JC: Scheduling has never really been an easy task with this band and it’s numbers but with growing families and big boy (and girl) careers, the windows become even smaller so that element of compromise and understanding has to be pretty strong. That said, we have our regular scheduled time that we meet weekly and everyone knows that that time is precious so we use it to the best of our abilities. Be that writing, rehearsing or just having everyone present to chat about concepts or ideas.
The band collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to make an Anniversaries beer. What is that about, and how did this partnership come together?
JC: Last summer Chris ended up running into Big Rig’s Brew Master Lon and Chris Phillips and they ended up, you know, sharing compliments about each others ventures. The idea of celebrating the 10-year milestone with a record came up and Lon expressed interest in helping out in any way he could, because, you know he’s a gem. Fast forward many months and we reached out to Big Rig and the plan of launching the Pilsner together was put in action. We’re really stoked about it—the beer is awesome and it’s just a cool piece of memorability to hang on to.
Is there anything you can think back and laugh about now when looking at yourself in your early 20’s being in a band?
JC: I laugh at the idea that I once thought we could take a 9 piece band on the road. Mind you when this band started, I wasn’t a newb to touring but my expertise was definitely not… seasoned. There are photos of us playing NXNE or festivals of the likely with trumpets and a line of singers… just absurd.
The new album explores many sounds and textures, keeping listeners engaged throughout. Can you talk about a common theme or meaning behind ‘Anniversaries?’
JC: From a writing perspective, these songs span a couple years. When I listen to the finalized album, I listen to the music and arrangements that we made as a collective, as opposed to the lyrics. I feel that musically speaking, the band is at its best and most comfortable right now and it shows with what we’ve made here, as a collective. I’ve always found myself struggling a bit with lyrics, trying to not sound redundant or foolish (which I know I’ve missed a couple times!). Regardless, there are many songs here about reflection and acceptance and I do feel that some of the words are among those I’m most proud of.
It seems like the band is still having fun. Does this mean we’ll get another anniversary in 10 years from now?
JC: I think we’ve explored the option of calling it quits enough times that we know where we end up at the end of that conversation—making another record! So, as long as folks might be interested in hearing new songs, I’m pretty sure we’ll supply some in one way or another.
The headliners that will grace the stage at Mooney’s Bay include Sam Roberts Band (21st), Broken Social Scene (22nd), Wintersleep and Hollerado (23rd), and Matt Mays (24th). If all those Juno award winners and Polaris Prize nominees aren’t enough to get you excited for these free concerts, note that they will also be joined by Crown Lands, Amos The Transparent, M. T. Walker, Dizzy, Ellevator, Gianna Lauren, Fast Romantics, Rebelle, Old Man Grant, Birds of Bellwoods, Midnight Vesta, Rory Taillon and Craig Cardiff.
So mark your calendar, stock up on sunscreen and get ready to head down to Mooney’s Bay in late June to cheer on some racers and take in some most excellent performances.
Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Beck, Jethro Tull, Courtney Barnett, and more to headline Ottawa Bluesfest 2018
RBC Ottawa Bluesfest has released its initial 2018 lineup, which will hit the stages July 5 – 15, 2018. Many whispers of Dave Grohl and his band of Foo Fighters being added were making their way around town, and the explosive rock band is one of many exciting inclusions in this year’s edition. The Dave Matthews Band, which was confirmed a few weeks back, will also headline the festival and give festival-goers a reason to get excited.
Other notable acts include Blue Rodeo, Jethro Tull, Beck, Zeds Dead, the War on Drugs, Courtney Barnett, BROCKHAMPTON, Chromeo, Colin James, Shaggy, Oh Wonder, Ghostface Killah, Passenger, Machine Gun Kelly, Shawn Mendes, Naughty by Nature, the Strumbellas, Keys N Krates, Grandtheft, Hanson, Benjamin Booker, Noname, Dear Rouge, Kimbra, and more.
Some stellar Ottawa acts were also announced, including Catriona Sturton, Alanna Sterling & The Silvers, Amos The Transparent, Cody Coyote, Graven, Her Harbour, Okies, TAPAS, and many more.
A one-day pre-sale will begin early on February 15 at 10 a.m., with an adult festival pass starting at $209 (+ HST). A full-festival pass will start at $139 (+HST). All tickets will go on public sale February 16 at 10 a.m.
Check out other options and more details on the Bluesfest website. Have a look at the line up (so far) below.
We’re getting excited to present Sight & Sound: An Audiovisual Experience on March 4 featuring the music of Ottawa veterans Amos The Transparent and the prodigy known as Trails. This will all be going down at The Record Centre in Hintonburg (1099 Wellington St.) and LES666 will be providing a visual art installation that is sure to create the a fully immersive experience for audience members. Needless to say, we’re pretty honoured to be working with the JUNO host committee and OMIC for this special night.
We’re giving away a couple passes for this event, so be sure to enter today!
It began as any stress-filled night of a student in finals week, in an exam room. As I anxiously scratched out my final exam of the semester, I anticipated what my night would bring. Deciding relatively last minute that my final night in Ottawa before heading home for the holidays should be spent bringing in the break with gusto, the annual Amos the Transparent Holiday Show seemed like my perfect solution. Although somewhat unfamiliar with the groups, I was excited to head out with friends and kick off the season with a bang!
Mere moments before arriving at Zaphod Beeblebrox, I ran into a friend who was quick to amp me up on Amos the Transparent. An Ottawa native, he was familiar with their sound and show’s energy and assured me I was in for a time.
When I did finally arrive, Mountain Eyes was ramping up. He was sporting a carefully selected mountain-themed sweater, which made it easy to confirm exactly which artist he was. Mountain Eyes brought his unique vibes through his original tracks. I snapped a couple pictures, grabbed a beer and got myself ready for what was now set to be a good night of music. After a quick turn around, The Stringers took to the stage. The crowd started to fill the floor and it was nice to see a mixed crowd all there for the same reason, good music and holiday cheer. The Stringers brought energy to the crowd with their own original tracks from their album, which features an alternative indie rock sound. They also treated us to what they explained to be their first song, which was an unexpected, yet well received, Amy Winehouse cover.
When it finally came time for Amos the Transparent, they took the stage with more energy than I could have expected. Bringing out a number of their original tracks, each musician plays to their own talent and strengths, putting power behind each song. Recently, the band has been covering influential songs of each of their personal music journeys, which has been dubbed the Undercover Sessions on YouTube. These songs included anything from Radiohead to the Beatles. They kicked off the evening with Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” and also brought to the stage Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”
Needless to say, as a Haligonian, my new life in the Ottawa music scene is still very much in its “toddler years.” The world is new and exciting, and I have the chance to experience anything and everything Ottawa has to offer for the first time. This Holiday Show put on by Amos the Transparent was no different, as once again I went in, blind to their music, aside from the few YouTube videos and rave reviews from friends, and I left far from disappointed.
Usually we try to do a post for each new video when we can, but July has been crazy hectic with festivals, vacation, new music and new videos. So we decided to highlight five recently released videos by some great local bands. They are posted in alphabetical order for you viewing pleasure.
Amos the Transparent — “That’s the Life for Me “
The video begins with the orchestral folk-inspired indie six-piece on stage of a high school gym playing to what looks like a good ol-fashioned sock hop. The video is super cute and perfectly follows the lyrics, a story of growing up, falling in love, starting a family and growing tired of television. My favourite scene is when the singer and his love fall for each other in the back kitchen of a pub, very well shot. The song is from Amos the Transparent‘s latest album This Cold Escape. Like what you hear and see, check them out August 15th at the Blacksheep Inn with special guest Cody Allen.
BlakDenim — “One Hit”
BlakDenim‘s latest video is more on the simplistic side, but you can afford to do that when you have so much going on musically. The group delivers hip-hop infused with jazz and soul elements, and also features a really impressive brass section. The video is black and white and bounce between Precise Kenny Creole spitting the rhymes, the band singing as they chill by the water near Mooney’s Bay and the band on stage performing. You don’t always need an epic video, sometimes it is best to let the song speak for itself. “One Hit” appears on BlakDenim’s new EP Vanguard(en).
Buck N’ Nice — “What Was Wrong With Me”
“What Was Wrong With Me” is the third video single from the debut album, Us Versus Them, from Buck N’ Nice. The video is dimly lit and often in black and white for the powerful and introspective song about growing up the victim of ruthless bullying. Once again this is another example of deep lyrics not needing the flash of intense visuals, just the words and the look of pain in his eyes. Buck N’ Nice are among the many local hip-hop acts making a lot of noise in the nation’s capital and putting Ottawa on the hip-hop map.
The Souljazz Orchestra — “Shock And Awe”
Veterans of the Ottawa scene, Souljazz Orchestra are at it again with a video for the super infectious and dancey track “Shock and Awe”. The video is set on the very familiar pedestrian bridge that goes over the Queensway near Island Park Drive. I love how the video begins with a shot of traffic below and then pans to the band. The camera then focuses on one member at a time and their name scrolls across the stage. Nice touch. The video also features great moving shots of Ottawa landmarks including the graffiti wall near the Albert Street Education Centre and the decommissioned rail bridge near the water treatment plants. My favourite is when they pause to let a woman walk by on the bridge. Great work by Souljazz as always.
The Superlative — “High Anxiety”
The Superlative have a history of releasing some pretty funny videos (check out “Life is Good“) and their latest release is no exception. The video revolves around quite possibly the worst talent search in history. They frame it as a “video star search,” and they got everyone: a breakdancer, mad scientist and workout junky. The poor judges, played by singer Charles Lapointe, guitarist Kiel’s wife Heather and local musician Richard Barrie (Rich Chris, The Valveenus and Pistols at Dawn), provide the most entertaining with their hand drawn sings showing their rejection of the contestants. Special shout out to the sign that read “- ∞”(minus infinity) I laughed quite hard. “High Anxiety” will appear on the band’s third album, In Love & Debt, which is expected to drop later this year.
Owen Davies – “Mystic”
Owen Davies is at it again, collaborating with director Pascal Huot for his latest video “Mystic” off his new album of the same title coming out August 1. Although Davies isn’t technically Ottawa-based, he works closely with Huot (member of Pony Girl) and the new label So Sorry Records which is based in the nation’s capital. If there’s one thing you will learn about Davies and Huot in their creative endeavours it is that they are unrestrained and unflinching when it comes to the unordinary. Davies refuses to maintain a specific folk “sound” – he’d rather experiment with textures and electronic elements while keeping the folk essence at the core. Be warned – this video starts out nice and peaceful, but the ending is PG-13 due to blood and gore. Stream Owen Davies’ new album Mystic exclusively here.
Again, 2014 was quite the year for music in Ottawa. We realize that it’s next to impossible to say which album was better than the others, but we do have a list of the albums that seem to come up on our playlists more often. These are not the “winners” of the year but they are dear to our ears and we’d like to tip our hats to those that made them happen. Check out these sweet full-lengths and EPs, support these locals if you can, and enjoy the weather by putting these tunes in your pocket. Vive le six un trois!
Saturday marked a highly anticipated night at the esteemed Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC, as Ottawa’s favourite indie rock band Amos The Transparent released their third LP This Cold Escape. The intimate, cozy vibe of Blacksheep was the perfect fit for Amos’s release party, as the crowd reflected what we love most in the band – some calm and unwound, others lively and full of spark. The room was alive and ready for what was to come.
HIGHS at Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC.
Opening things off were a great band from Toronto called HIGHS. I interviewed lead singer Doug Haynes last year upon the release of their (then) new s/t EP, which I have since really come to love. Although only containing five songs, the EP really paints a picture of how good this band is. I know that’s not much to go on, but I liked how there wasn’t much production interference on the record. By that I mean when listening to it, one feels as though they are sitting right beside the band and hearing exactly what they sound like in “real” life. When David Byrne said, “The better a singer’s voice, the harder it is to believe what they’re saying,” I believe he meant that much can get lost between the moment a note is played in the studio to the moment the album is pressed. With HIGHS, nothing is lost – and their live performance on Saturday night proved just that.
First of all, something has to be said about this band’s chemistry and ability to play/sing off each other. Karrie Douglas not only plays keys with precision, her voice is an equally important addition to HIGHS’s music. She and Doug craft their lyrical melodies and phrasing such that they both layer perfectly and weave in and out like a comfy quilt. In no place is this more evident than in their song “Nomads.”
HIGHS lit up the room with their flaring and intricate guitar riffs shared by Doug and Joel, which seem to guide the spirit and feel of most of their songs. Their music has a Graceland-esque quality to it, which may be a result of the afrobeat influences and infinitely catchy rhythm and melody. They also played a surprising cover of Talking Heads’s “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” The song started off with Joel on synth playing an indecipherable intro that flowed into a unique version of the song that the band really made their own. Not everyone can cover Talking Heads, not well at least. But the crowd joining in on the words with smiles on their faces meant that it was a hit. Hell, I’m surprised the bar didn’t erupt into an all-out dance party during that one. Don’t forget to catch HIGHS on November 7 as they stop at Mavericks here in Ottawa on their tour supporting Twin Forks (featuring Chris Carrabba, ex-Dashboard Confessional).
Amos the Transparent got on stage not long after, and the room seemed to take on a distinct energy. The Blacksheep Inn is one of those little corners of Canada that will bring out the best in musicians. Its dim, candlelit lit interior and pristine sound creates an atmosphere unparalleled anywhere in the region – visually and aurally.
You know those bands that have certain songs that you wish would just be a little different? Perhaps the band tried too hard to achieve something and got lost along the way. Or maybe they made a bad chord change or phrased the lyrics in a way that made you cringe. I have never heard a song by Amos that is like this. Each song is crafted with strong hands and constructed in a way that keeps people hooked, like a good book. There is a simplicity to the music that is refreshing – not too over the top or pretentious in any way. But there’s also a depth to it that allows listeners to be immersed, particularly a concept album such as this. Since becoming a band in 2007, Amos The Transparent has learned how to draw listeners into their grasp better and better with each album.
This was exemplified a couple of years back when I saw Amos for the first time at Zaphod’s. I knew that Amos had garnered a following and received generous airplay across national radio, however it wasn’t until I got there and saw the sold out crowd interacting with the band on stage that I realized how special they are. This is Ottawa’s band. There was a love that existed between the crowd and the band that night in 2012, and that same love was present this past weekend.
Their performance, much like their new album This ColdEscape, exuded emotion and demanded listeners’s attention. At the end of the title track we hear screams anda voice fading out, as if going further into the void until out of view. And then there’s hard-hitting, powerful lyrics:
I lay my love down, as she whispers to me – You’re just as much a part of life to me, as death and his certainty.
Seeing the band play the album front-to-back added to my interpretation of it, as the atmosphere and ambiance fit with its presentation beautifully. Opening with what has grown to be one of my favourite tracks, “Out The Window,” Amos dove right into their new material and reinforced to all of us why that love still exists.
The band had projectors set up on either side of the stage, showing random videos from the past that worked well with the old-time feel of Blacksheep. There were also radio broadcasts included in the recording between songs, which feature local Ottawa radio personalities Jen Traplin and Andrew Elliott from Live 88.5 FM.
Amos The Transparent performing their new album This Cold Escape at Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC.
The album has a range of songs, none of which sound too similar. The folk-roots feel of “That’s The Life For Me” or the twangy “Bury My Bones” was contrasted with the darkness felt in songs such as “Death & His Certainty” or aggression of “Out To Sea.” The closest Amos comes to the playful catchiness of past hits “Says the Spark” or “Sure as the Weather” is the title track, which had us all wanting to sing along.
Lead singer Jonathan Chandler’s distinct voice was right on, and in perfect harmony with Olenka Reshitnyk’s backing vocals throughout the set. Lead guitarist Dan Hay showed the degree to which he has mastered his instrument and technique, particularly when taking on elaborate solos and playing difficult fills with ease. I also recall watching drummer Christopher Wilson playing so fast that he almost blew a vein in his forehead, without missing a beat.
It should also be mentioned that another adored local musician, Kalle Mattson, was featured on the song “City of Ghosts.” This came as a surprise to me when listening to the record, and it’s so good to see musicians who have played lots of shows together team up and collaborate in the studio. Both Kalle and Amos are having career years in 2014, as both of their recent releases are their strongest, most impactful works (at least in my estimation). The album was also produced by Chandler himself – it’s always so impressive to me that an entire album can be made with the help of a direct-to-fan album funding campaign (PledgeMusic) and then also take care of aspects such as production on top of actually writing and recording the music. Oh, how the industry has changed!
Amos ended things off with not one, but two encores. The crowd burst into smiles and song as the band played favourites “Lemons,” “Sure As The Weather,” and “Says The Spark” from previous records. In fact, as I was by the door watching, I could see a local guy in his mid-twenties doing a very interesting interpretive dance to the songs just outside the bar. I’m not sure the band could see him, but anyone who was there to witness this impromptu routine surely had their night made after that.
Check out their first single and title track off This Cold Escapehere.
The first day of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest began much like it has in previous years – a flood of humans hoarding towards Lebreton Flats to feast on the biggest festival of the year in Ottawa. The clouds were ominous and it had rained intermittently throughout the day, so many were surely nervous about the prospect of getting poured on all night (especially since it was pretty chilly out). But that didn’t stop the hoard. With the Claridge Homes Stage now at the far end of the flats taking up the space where the entrance normally is, the lineup was an absolute nightmare. *TIP* – GET TO BLUESFEST EARLY. SEE LOCAL ACTS. BEAT HELLISH LINES. But concert-goers were in good spirits and mother nature was cooperating as the festivities got under way.
Let me make an observation about this year’s festival. The sheer number of people on the grounds is staggering. I’m saying this as a good thing, mostly. I am starting to get the feeling that Bluesfest is outgrowing the space at Lebreton Flats. And as exciting as it is to see our little city have one of the best music festivals in the world, the bottlenecks are getting worse, beer lines are a bummer, and the hoard at the entrance was jaw-dropping. More than ever before, I looked out into the crowd and realized that the pants Bluesfest used to wear simply don’t fit any more. Not a bad problem to have I suppose.
Amos the Transparent on Day 1 of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2014. Photo: Matías Muñoz
I missed Danny Brown because of work, and the world did not end. But I was lucky to catch most of Amos the Transparent‘s set at the Black Sheep Stage as I wormed my way through the crowds. They played some great songs from their catalogue, including one of the catchiest tunes ever written in Ottawa, “Says the Spark” off 2011’s Goodnight My Dear, I’m Falling Apart (download it free here). Amos is releasing their new concept album This Cold Escape later this year, and I was lucky enough to catch up with Dan Hay a few months back to talk a bit more about it. With all the mystery surrounding their new release, it was a treat to hear new tunes like “This Cold Escape” and “Death & Uncertainty.” With Jonathan Chandler’s rich beard in full force, the band dominated the stage and played to their strengths to old fans and new listeners in the crowd. It was nice to see some of the younger high school kids getting into it as well, as Amos has been a staple here in Ottawa for years. The band’s newest member Olenka was on point with her vocals, meshing with the rest of the band really well and demonstrating that a little chemistry can go a long way. Once again, Amos proved why they are one of the leading bands to come out of Ottawa.
Tegan and Sara performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Once again I slithered through the crowd, past some bright pink urinals, past delicious smells from the food vendors, past a few asshole lawn chairs in the middle of the busiest thoroughfares between stages, over a few high school kids inexplicably laying down, and so forth. When I made it to the Claridge Homes Stage for Tegan and Sara, they had already opened with their song “You Drove Me Wild”… at least I think that was the first song. I have never been one of those Tegan and Sara super fans. I was never super excited to see them live or be on top of new releases from them over the years. I was just never that excited. But now it was my turn to finally see them live. I tend to reserve my final opinions about a band until I see them live in order to get a real idea of what they’re all about.
I was really impressed with their stage setup, the lights, and the sound of the whole performance. I liked that they took the time to talk to the crowd in between songs, messing around and having fun. There was no pretension or sense of “we’re doing you a favour by being here” that sometimes happens at these types of festivals. They were cool, laid back, and extremely entertaining.
Earlier on in the set, one of the ladies mentioned that Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 was their best show last year, and that this year’s crowd had a lot to live up to. The audience responded with a wave of cheers and applause, making sure that Tegan and Sara enjoyed themselves this time around. With the clouds parting and the beautiful orange and purple colours beaming from the west, Tegan and Sara played great songs one after the other. One of my favourites was “Walking With a Ghost” off their 2007 album So Jealous. They told us that they were going to play a few older songs, that one included, from back in the day – joking around that maybe they would even dig into their demos from 1998. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but their set was stuffed with fun, upbeat tunes as well as a few slower, more serious ones. I realized how good these ladies were the moment I looked around and saw kids, teenagers, 20-somethings, middle-aged men, mothers, and grandmas all singing the hook to the song “I Was a Fool” together.
They ended with the international mega-hit song “Closer” and everyone went wild. I have to admit, it’s one hell of a fun and catchy song. Now that I’ve finally seen Tegan and Sara live, I can honestly say I appreciate their music much more. I had never given them a fair chance, but their charming antics on stage along with their incredible performance made me realize why they are as big as they are. They’re hard workers and it shows. I think that this goes to show the importance of live music to a band’s career – there has to be a separation between what happens in the studio and what happens on stage. If a group can captivate an audience on stage without simply trying to reproduce their studio sound (i.e. incorporating other ‘entertaining’ elements) then that, to me, is the sign of true artists. Tegan and Sara wrapped up the night for me, as I didn’t stick around for Blake Shelton. Why? Because a) don’t get me started on country music, and b) The Voice is the epitome of what is wrong with the music industry today.