Back in May, we celebrated our five-year anniversary with a couple of shows at The Record Centre. That was a whole lot of fun, but we’re not quite done yet. Because why stop there?
Over the past five years we’ve had the opportunity to meet countless musicians in Ottawa, go to hundreds of shows, and really dig deep into the music landscape here. These artists continue to impress us, inspire us, and keep us doing what we do. It’s been our mission and raison d’être to support these musicians through coverage of new album releases, interviews, live reviews, and much more.
We’ve put together a compilation called Five Years – Ottawa 2012-2017 which contains music that has impacted us since Showbox started in 2012. This span of five years, in our mind, was a crucial period in the Ottawa music scene. More DIY musicians than ever before came out of the woodwork and made albums, and many were released independently without labels. Some music was underground, some wasn’t.
Different types of music pervaded throughout this period, demonstrating Ottawa’s potential hub in the Canadian landscape. Our hope is that this compilation will act as a snapshot of a strong and robust local music scene in Ottawa between 2012-2017, and allow folks to have a view into the music that came out during this period. It goes between garage, punk, hip hop, folk, and
While we could have double or tripled the size of this compilation with all the incredible artists out there, we kept it modest and capped it at 51. So while this list is encompassing, it’s certainly not meant to be comprehensive by any stretch. Please enjoy a free stream and download of the Five Years – Ottawa 2012-2017 compilation below.
A huge thank you to all the artists who contribute their music to this compilation, and to Pascale Arpin for designing such a good album cover. Enjoy!
The compilation is PWYC, and any proceeds will be donated to Girls+ Rock Ottawa in memory of Jean Sebastien Belleau. A special fund in his name has been established for the maintenance, repair and preservation of their growing instrument library, made in the spirit of honouring JS’ much deserved legacy as a passionate supporter of the Ottawa music scene.
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.
The sun was beating down as I made my way around all the construction at Lebreton Flats. I broke a sweat trying to get there in time to catch the opening acts, but that’s not saying much for a guy who sweats tying his shoes. With country singers Jason Aldean and Kira Isabella on the bill this evening, I was navigating a sea of cowboy hats and plaid shirts tied around waists before I even got into the festival grounds. Guess I missed the memo on tonight’s dress code.
Since the openers all started at the same time, I knew I’d be rocking the ol’ festival split – which usually means going halfsies on two sets in the same time slot, leaving one stage early to catch the other act. But with Thrifty Kids, Saint Clare and River City Junction all starting at 6, I was going three ways and had to make it quick.
Thrifty Kids got me off to a lovely start, in the Barney Danson Theatre, which was a great atmosphere for their style of mellow surf pop. I really like this band, and this was my first time seeing them, so I would’ve loved to see the full set but I was soon on to the next one.
Caroline Addison of River City Junction performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 9, 2015. ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Danyca MacDonald
On the quieter and shadier side of the museum, River City Junction was trucking through their set on Monster Energy stage, formerly the Blacksheep Stage. This Montreal three-piece play a smooth blend of Delta blues, and funky country rock ‘n’ roll, and lead singer/drummer Caroline Addison is an absolute pleasure to watch.
In true Bluesfest fashion, there were baby-boomers in lawn chairs everywhere, and I thought to myself, “Oh, here you all are!” because the crowds on the other side of the museum were largely plaid-clad teenagers cheering for Kira Isabella or assembling by the Claridge Homes Stage waiting for pop-rapper Hoodie Allen to start.
Saint Clare performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 9, 2015.~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Scott Penner
I made my way down toward the river with the sounds of Saint Clare in the air as I approached the Canadian Stage. These guys (and gals) are a really fun band to see live, with the psychedelic/power-pop vibes tastefully accented by the keyboards and the brass section.
Ronnie Baker Brooks performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 9 2015. ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Danyca MacDonald
After heading back to the shade of the museum by the Monster stage, and catching some quality Chicago blues courtesy of Ronnie Baker Brooks, I returned again to the Canadian Stage for the hip-hop stylings of Ottawa’s BlakDenim. For those who aren’t familiar, I’d compare this group to the likes of The Roots and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. So yeah, pretty hype.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 9, 2015.~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Scott Penner
I stuck around this same stage in anticipation of my big highlight of the evening, The Screaming Eagle of Soul – Mr. Charles Bradley. A member of the NYC-based soul-revivalist Daptone Records family, Bradley is one of the most earnest and genuine performers I’ve ever seen. His ’70s-style suit and slow-motion dance moves are endlessly charming, and he just oozes love for everyone around him. He wooed the crowd with his rendition of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, and Bradley’s own heart of gold was on his sleeve as he descended from the stage at the end of the set to meet the audience – it was hugs and handshakes and picture-poses all around, and you can just tell that this is why he does what he does. Truly heartwarming. I left feeling full of love and ready to hit the hay.
It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and the RBC Bluesfest 2015 is upon us. Bluesfest has been getting better and better at including great local acts in their programming on the big stage, which for many artists is a dream come true. This year is no exception, as the festival has gone one step further to bring in more artists that are sure to rock the grounds at Lebreton Flats. Let’s dive right in with some previews of Ottawa-area musicians playing this year’s festival.
“DJ ACRO has opened for and shared the stage with a number of major artists including the likes of The Beatnuts, Mac Miller, Onyx, K.R.I.T, M.O.P, Smoke DZA, XZIBIT and a slew of other up coming and iconic Hip Hop artists.”
Bella Cat’s unique musical style has roots in soul and blues music, fusing genres and creating a sound that is distinctly her own. Her music will appeal to a broad audience, spanning all ages and tastes.
A must-see for fans of: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
If there’s one band in Ottawa that transcends genres, combines a myriad of musical styles, and has engaging and intelligent lyrical content, it’s BlakDenim. This eight-piece ensemble exudes energy on stage and are fan-favourites at Bluesfest, having played the festival in the past. Infusion of hip-hop, funk, rock, soul, and jazz.
A must-see for fans of: A Tribe Called Quest & The Roots
B&C is a three-piece high-energy, crunchy riff-driven roots blues band that are from the nation’s capital, but could just as well be from the heart of the Mississippi Delta. If you’re into raw vocals and let-loose blues instrumentation, these guys are the ones you want to see live.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix & John Lee Hooker
Saturday, July 11 @ 3:30 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
If you follow Showbox, you’ll know that this group is one of our local faves. Since enlisting some of Ottawa’s most talented musicians and reforming as a full band, this experimental “future folk” group has captured the hearts and minds of many in Ottawa. Pure brilliance.
Brandon Allan writes simple, heartfelt songs about everyday feelings and experiences. His brand acoustic folk/country rock is the kind that you can turn on and close your eyes to, as his soft yet searing melodies and lyrics leave nothing uncovered.
A must-see for fans of: The Weakerthans & The Tallest Man on Earth
Saturday, July 18 @ 3:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Brea Lawrenson’s music will appeal to lovers of pop country, which is a lot of people here in the Ottawa Valley. Her voice can go from soft and warm to powerful and penetrating on a dime, so keep your ears out for her at the Flats.
This hip hop duo consisting of SawBuck and DJ So Nice has beatmaking and production of crowd-pleasing bangers down to a science. If you’re familiar with the club circuit or hip hop scene around Ottawa, you’ve probably moved your body to one or both of these guys.
A must-see for fans of: Jurassic 5 & Run the Jewels
Sturton has made a name for herself nationally as a musician and worked with artists such as Joel Plaskett, Al Tick, Rolf Klausener, John Carroll, as well as members of Sloan and Blue Rodeo. From Japanese garage rock venues to American juke joints, she’s got a pretty interesting rap sheet.
On top of being a very strong singer and songwriter, Sturton has become well-known for her proficiency playing the harmonica – she derives her style straight from the Mississippi of old, cutting her chops at local blues establishments and learning from harmonica masters such as Larry “The Bird” Mootham and Carlos del Junco.
This veteran has been making music since 1989 and has recently started writing new material after a hiatus. Raw blues rock inspired by the Chicago greats is the only way to describe the kind of music that Nelson makes.
This band is a truly special part of Ottawa/Hull’s music scenes. The band consists of members of Timber Timbre, Last Ex, and Scattered Clouds, creating disoriented and experimental art-punk with fractured arrangements.
A must-see for fans of: music that pushes boundaries, free jazz/post-punk
Calkuta, Bender & Patience have done it again, demonstrating why they’re one of the top hip hop acts in Ottawa. Their latest album, the 18-track High Priests of Low-Life, is another example of how talented this group is. Their music has an underground aesthetic with samples and production that are anything but amateur.
A must-see for fans of: Immortal Technique & Atmosphere
Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:15 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
Grantly Franklin a.k.a G.Grand is a Showbox favourite. We just can’t get enough of his rhymes, especially when he collabs with his partner-in-crime producer Jeepz or other incredible Ottawa MC’s like Hyf the Gypsy Sun. If you’re into smooth, intelligent, and beat-laden hip hop then G.Grand is someone you don’t want to miss.
Shannon Rose has been making music for a few years now, and her full-band project – now called Gold and Marrow – is making serious waves in Ottawa. Rose has proven herself to be one of the foremost songwriters in the region, alongside others such as Amanda Rheaume or Catriona Sturton.
A must-see for fans of: Feist
Tuesday, July 14 @ 7:15 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Callum Runciman and his band Grime Kings prove that music runs in the family – his sister Caylie’s band Boyhood has also turned heads in Ottawa. Grime Kings’ brand of lo-fi esoteric, fuzzy experimentations pushes the sonic limit and defies genre boundaries.
There is no other way to put it – HILOTRONS are a quintessential Ottawa band. Lead songwriter Mike Dubue’s influences are as diverse as they are obscure. The end result is album after album of relentlessly funky and imaginative songs, proving that Dubue is Ottawa’s musical mastermind.
A must-see for fans of: Talking Heads
Thursday, July 16 @ 8:15 p.m.
The man behind the epic FRENZY parties at Babylon, Iggy Smalls knows how to get things going. Don’t miss him play Diplo/Skrillex’s afterparty at Ritual tonight (July 8).
Joe Gaspar and his band put the “blues” in Bluesfest. Drawing on blues rock influences from the ’70s such as Cream and Led Zeppelin, the Joe Gaspar Band plays songs containing heavy riffs and intricate guitar solos of that era.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix, Cream & Led Zeppelin
Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Kaleigh Watts finds beauty in simplicity by writing emotional and intense songs that create a truly incredible soundscape. Watts, who has been mentored by Juno and Canadian Folk Awards winner Lynn Miles, blends intricate acoustic fingerpicking with stirring vocal melodies.
“2009 Ottawa Red Bull Threestyle Champion, 4 Time Ottawa DMC Dj Battle champion, First title coming at the age of 15 years old. 2006 Canadian Team DMC Dj battle champions ( w/ Stylusts ) and competed at the DMC World Championships in London, England.”
“Kira Isabella has been performing her brand of up-tempo country music across Canada for more than a decade. Kira began dabbling in guitar and writing about love, life and boys. Initially, Kira delved into a variety of music, but when she discovered the likes of powerhouse country vocalists Shania Twain and Faith Hill, she knew she was hooked on country.”
Blending jazz, blues, and folk, Lucas Haneman has created his own sound and won many awards for his compositions. As an acclaimed fingerstylist and songwriter, Haneman and his band will be sure to get crowds moving at Bluesfest this year.
The best way to describe Lynne Hanson’s music is gritty, raw, and honest. It’s no surprise that she’s played shows in places like Memphis, Nashville, and Austin. With vocals that are on-point, songwriting that strikes to the core, and instrumentals that capture the soul of roots music, Hanson fits perfectly in such a stacked local lineup at Bluesfest.
A must-see for fans of: Caroline Herring
Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage
DJ Matt Tamblyn
Matt Tamblyn creates parties. If you’re one that scours town for places to get down, you’ve probably seen Tamblyn behind the decks at places like Parliament Pub or Mugshots. His repertoire includes SILK, Open Air Social Club, King of the Beach, and more.
MonkeyJunk are a Juno Award-winning modern blues rock band, proudly representing the nation’s capital across Canada. They have garnered a strong fan base internationally, touring Canada, the US, and Europe relentlessly. In just seven years, this band has become a Canadian staple.
A must-see for fans of: The Black Keys & Muddy Waters
This band takes neo-classical folk to another level, and have made a name for themselves internationally by creating beautifully textured and emotionally charged songs. Musk Ox create a rare brand of atmospheric, evocative, and harmonious music that resonates with our very core. This is a powerful, must-see chamber folk act.
This band plays the delta blues that would more typically be found in the deep heart of the Mississippi. A whaling harmonica, twangy hollow-body electric guitars, and raspy vocals – these guys are another band that keep the blues in Bluesfest going strong.
A must-see for fans of: John Lee Hooker & RL Burnside
Ottawa’s #1 party punk band, when New Swears perform mayhem ensues. Blow-up dolls, crowd surfers, whipped cream – these are all typical sights at a New Swears show. Do yourself a favour and strap on your seat belts, because this is one ride that’ll give you a concussion if you’re not ready.
These Ottawa veterans kick out serious jams, perfecting their crunchy proto-punk and garage rock sound that explodes from the stage. This three-piece band take us back to the CBGB’s era of early punk rock gods, and describe them selves as a cross somewhere between The Who and The Buzzcocks.
A must-see for fans of: Iggy & The Stooges, Fugazi
Another favourite of ours, Pony Girl creates intricate and consuming soundscapes. This is art-rock at its finest and it’s difficult to imagine a higher caliber of musicianship in this band. They will be playing many new songs from their upcoming epic Foreign Life, which has been about 10 years in the making.
A must-see for fans of: Broken Social Scene, The XX
Saturday, July 11 @ 7:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
This power trio is yet another Ottawa Valley blues rock band that is making waves in the region. I first heard of this band when I came across their cover of “Dust My Broom,” the perennial classic tune written by blues legend Robert Johnson (and also happens to be one of my favourite blues songs). Get your blues fill with RCJ.
The layered and intricate instrumentation, high-energy orchestral nuances, and Matthew Saint Clare’s unhinged vocals that can only be compared to those of Frank Black of The Pixies. All of this melds into the distinctive sounds that Saint Clare create together. However motley a crew they may seem, their heterogeneity makes for a potent combination when such strong band chemistry exists.
If you want catchy, sexy, danceable rock music, then Silvergun & Spleen is the band for you. With an electric stage presence and an attitude that will smack you in the face, this band is ready to let loose and take on the big stage for the first time. Get close, but not too close – S&S will set the stage ablaze.
The Haig have a sound that is not easy to describe, and that’s why we love them. It’s a little bit of ’90s alt-rock/grunge mixed in with a twisted horror film. Their full-throttle rock has taken Ottawa by storm and propelled the band to great heights.
A must-see for fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead
“Formed in 1989, The Jivewires have jumped many musical and national borders. Taking their music from the jazz and satire of the ’40s and ’50s greats Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Wynonie Harris, and Louis Prima, The Jivewires throw a new spin on the Jump Blues tradition.”
A must-see for fans of: ‘Swing’, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
The Reverb Syndicate are Ottawa’s premier, and maybe only, instrumental surf and go-go band. The band’s bio perfectly describes them as “reverb-drenched surf/spy-fi sounds to accompany ’60s spy films, westerns, sci-fi films and old school video games that don’t exist.” You have to see to believe.
“A rock band with few genres barred, The Superlative mix their rock with reggae, ska, pop, punk, funk, blues and more. They consistently surprise crowds across Canada with their genre-bending shows. The band embrace the rock elements many of us know and love, while putting a unique new spin to each song they write.”
“The Visit is Heather Sita Black, a vocalist unchained, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, a powerful cellist. Together they form a self-described defiance of genre, so terms like chamber or polystylistic don’t really fit the bill. The closest long-winded definition might be experimental/avant-garde classical.”
Thrifty Kids are one of the most exciting new bands in Ottawa, and have received high accolades for the few releases and shows they have played so far. Their atmospheric and relaxed sound makes them a perfect summer band, the kind of music you want to listen to when the sand is between your toes. Keep an eye out for this band, as they are getting set to do big things.
If there’s a list of bands that keep deep Ottawa’s folk roots going strong, Winchester Warm would be on top. Following in the footsteps of local greats such as Snailhouse, Jim Bryson, and The Acorn, WW’s beautiful vocal harmonies, irresistible arrangements, and heartfelt lyrics make them another addition to this city’s incredible list of folk greats.
The Yips are another favourite of ours, playing loud and fuzzy “ouija rock” – a term they coined for their distinctly creepy, overdriven garagy sound. The Yips’ shows are wild, with “rave ghosts” always appearing with sheets over their heads and letting loose. Don’t miss out on what one of Ottawa’s best bands has to offer.
A must-see for fans of: FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees
Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
“Specializing in soul music from the past, present & future from the world over, Zattar has been moving ‘soles’ since the dawn of the 21st century. Syncopated drums with a touch of nostalgia are his sounds of choice. Bringing many years of music knowledge and crate digging to every gig, expect the unexpected.”
The longest day of Bluesfest 2014 so far began with hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun beating down on many soon-to-be-burnt-to-a-crisp bodies. I wrote about this last year, but I was a little bummed to see that more people didn’t come out to see some of the local artists earlier in the day – especially since it was sold out for Lady Gaga later on. However, a nice little crowd gathered for Kalle Mattson in the early afternoon at the Claridge Homes Stage.
Kalle Mattson has had a great year so far – he released an acclaimed album that garnered a 7.6/10 on Pitchfork (not an easy feat!), a few European tours, a nomination for the Polaris Music Prize long list, article written by yours truly for Mixtape Magazine, and now playing the big stage at Bluesfest. He played many songs from his new record Someday, the Moon Will Be Gold such as “An American Dream,” as well as my personal favourite, “Darkness.” The depth of his most recent work clearly translates live, as his vocals go from whisper to crescendo with his band staying strong behind him. Kyle Woods’ drumming keeps the emotional expulsion in time, but also adds to softer and often heart-clenching moments. The performance resonated amongst those listening intently, and although it wasn’t as filled with people as we would have liked, the audience showed their support and were thoroughly entertained throughout.
Blakdemin playing on the Black Sheep Stage at RBC Bluesfest 2014. Photo: Matías Muñoz
I missed the last bit of Kalle’s set to check out Blakdenim, a relatively new and exciting hip hop/soul/jazz group here in Ottawa. This nine-piece outfit combines impressive instrumental arrangements, vocal hooks, technically strong rapping, a DJ on the decks, a brass section, percussionists, and backing vocals to give a full and soulful sound to their music. I was not too familiar with their music before this set since I had never caught them live, but I’d heard a lot of great things about this band over the last year. They are a must-see band here in Ottawa, as they break down barriers not only with their genre-spanning style, but with politically charged and socially conscious lyricism. The performance was briefly halted when some lady working for the festival came on stage right before their last song, took one of the stage mics and asked someone with a certain licence place number to come see her immediately. The MC, Precise Kenny Creole, then grabbed the mic and said, “You also have to buy our album too, whoever you are.” It definitely relieved the awkwardness of her interrupting the set. They played a lot of really great songs including a dope funky cover of “So Fresh, So Clean” by Outkast, but my favourite track was “Horticulture” off their new album VANGARD(EN) which you can listen to here.
I also got to check out a bit of The Digs, who are a “neo-soul” group who have a weekly funk night at The Drake in Toronto. Although I didn’t see much of their set, it was obvious that everyone on stage loved playing music together. They did their own interpretation of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” which caught many people’s attention, and it’s the reason I was pulled into their tractor beam while walking by. Kids and moms were dancing their hearts out up until the minute the band left the stage.
One of the acts I was looking forward to most today was Black Joe Lewis, who played at the Bell Stage. Formerly known as Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, our man Joe decided to lose the adorable name for his backing band and deliver that in-your-face, bluesy garage rock sound on his new record Electric Slave. His music at times reminds me of some gritty and raw combination of early Black Keys and White Stripes. While still a newcomer to his music, I’ve really gotten into this latest album of his in the last little while. Yup, it’s the kind of album that can only be listened to at a grossly inappropriate volume. My favourite song is “Skulldiggin,” which is all-out distorted, raw blues rock. Yes, there were a lot of elaborately dressed Lady Gaga fanatics bored out of their minds listening to iPods during his set, but a few of them were bobbing their heads. Not bad for a group of hardcore Gaga fans who showed up four hours before her set to stake their claim to a close spot…
Last for me, but not least, was Matt Andersen & the Mellotones. Once again, I had seen a few videos of this guy playing solo but had never familiarized myself with his music very much. I was pretty impressed by what I had seen in the past, but always just assumed that he was just a viral video craze not unlike the story of Gotye – a talented artist who was bound to be estranged by the very people to whom he owed his fame. However, I was seriously mistaken.
This hefty fellow from New Brunswick absolutely stole the show (at least until Lady Gaga wore an octopus dress). While his version of blues rock is a little too clean for my taste, there is no debating that this man belongs on stage. With nine guys behind him backing him up, his booming voice filled Lebreton Flats and definitely caught people’s attention as they began to flood in for latter acts of the day. I really enjoyed his song “My Last Day,” which is inspired by musicians who have passed away and is about what he would do if it were his last day on earth. But the absolute high point for me was his version of Joe Cocker’s version of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Let’s just say it was the closest I’ll probably ever come to experiencing Woodstock ’69, as Matt harnessed the spirit of Cocker’s groundbreaking performance.
Although I was disappointed that I had to miss Andrew Bird, it was another day of discovering great new music and enjoying the summer sun at one of the biggest weekends of the year in Ottawa.