About the Beer: In the beginning of my beer crusade, breweries were going for strong drinkable beers. The trend in the last few years is to bring down the ABV so that we can enjoy a bit more beer and still be able to walk without compromising flavour. Lumbersexual is a prime example. At 3.5%, they were able to get the iconic IPA bitterness with only 23.6 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units).
If you are reading this, or know of Ottawa Showbox, you most likely know what a Lumbersexual stands for. We all have noticed that beards are the facial hair trend du jour. And dressing up like a lumberjack without having picked up an axe is bleeding into our urban landscape. I’m enjoying this movement as I fall in this category. I finally fit in! But I do swing an axe. I also stream Netflix nightly and have a 7.5 hour a day sit-down job.
Like its namesake, the session IPA is not what it appears to be. At first glance, you’ll be drawn by its scent – a pleasant hop flavour and aroma, mimicking that of a big, bold IPA. On closer inspection, you’ll find that the hops provide approachable bitterness. It has a refreshing, low alcohol content while maintaining a certain calculated ruggedness. This urban woodsman is a very palatable, easy drinking summer beer.
It was a hot, sweaty, and steamy night at House of TARG as Steamers released their new album Years on May 29.
Steamers playing their album release party at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON.
Drummer Phil Castiglione stood alone on stage with a guitar in hand and played the hilarious “Breaking the Law,” a Robots!Everywhere!! song about stringent tobogganing by-laws. As he struck the final chords the band joined him, Phil jumped behind the drums and they broke into the title track. The power folk six-piece ensemble were on point as they played the album from start to finish. Yearshas a lot of the songs we have all grown to love and sing along with, such as “This is a Song,” “Stay Here to Bleed,” and “Head North.” In the middle of the album rests “Strings and Skins,” a song guitarist Garret Barr introduced as “a song about my grandfather who played music right until the day he died.” It was a powerful track which, like many of the others, translated incredibly well live.
As the room got hotter and hotter, the band finished up Years and it was time to dive into the rest of their catalogue and songs they love to play live. They went back to where they started the show and played the Robots!Everywhere!! song “All My Friends Are Here,” a song that the band has made their own. It was abundantly clear that his friends were there in great numbers as there were times you could hear them screaming the lyrics better than you could hear the band. The band capped off their set with the always fun and super interactive “Wolfpack Presley”. I mean how often are you encouraged to howl like a wolf at the top of your lungs? The crowd was having so much fun they wouldn’t let Steamers leave without one more song. So they picked up their instruments and summoned Ottawa Showbox’s own Matías Muñoz on stage to help them cover “Jasper” by Aiden Knight (video above).
Bonnie Doon getting weird at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON.
Before Steamers, Bonnie Doon and Cory Levesque played great sets. Bonnie Doon were the punk band sandwhiched between two folky acts, and they did not seem phased at all. They played a bunch of songs from their 2014 self-titled debut album, including “Hot Dinosaur,” “Messy/Clean,” and the ever so popular “Pizza Shark.” They also played some really rocking unreleased tunes. One can only hope this means that a new album is on the way. I have said it before and will say it again – no one can deliver pterodactyl-like screams quite like Lesley Marshall can. That may sound off-putting, but it is quite the opposite and it adds a very cool dimension to their sound.
Cory Levesque accompanied by Laura Sinclair playing House of TARG in Ottawa, ON.
Kicking off the sweaty evening was folk singer and cat lover Cory Levesque. Cory plays in a few local bands (Fresh Hell, Jonathan Becker and the North Fields) so it is always a treat to see him play solo. He opened with a stripped-down version of “Broken Chords and Melodies,” a song he just recorded with a full band for a split with Jon Creeden. Showing his true stripes, Cory introduced a love song as “I wrote this song about my cat because I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time.” The song in question is “Let’s See The World” from his 2012 album Little Piece of Me. Another treat during Cory’s set was the beautiful addition of Laura Sinclair on piano for a good portion of the songs he played.
Cory Levesque and Jon Creeden are known for their emotional and honest acoustic sets. In the new OTTAWA SPLIT they each assembled a band of merry men to help them out and the result is incredible.
The six-song split begins with Cory Levesque and Friends. Levesque’s normally softer folk tinged with punk undertones gets kicked into overdrive from the very first note of “Broken Chords and Melodies.”
Levesque shed some light on the album, “All these songs are based on happenings and feelings about Ottawa and the people surrounding me within it. The words might not be very direct but, trust me on this. I could not be more thankful or grateful for the amazing people involved in my life and my music.”
What I am thankful for is that there is now a high-quality recording of my favourite Levesque song, “What A Mess.” The powerful track of losing physical control in the face of anger and illogically taking it out on inanimate objects can certainly resonate with many of us. I know it does with me.
The next three songs belong to Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish (amazing Simpsons reference). These songs appeared on the Capital City EP Creeden released in December 2014. Hey, they were great then and they still are. “This is a few songs I wrote last year about Ottawa and a couple of my favourite places and people,” wrote Creeden. “It was inspired by a weird gift given to myself and Cory Levesque by our buddy JS.” The first two songs are about two infamous Ottawa house venues, Scum House and Robot!House!! The final song, “Clothing Optional” is about one of Ottawa’s favourite moustached concert goer, J-S. The song perfectly describes him, his antics and of course that wonderful perfectly maintained and groomed stache. There are very few people who attend more shows, sing at the top of their lungs to every local band, and have as much fun as J-S.
The amazing thing about this release is just how Ottawa it is. Six songs about people and places that are, or were, parts of the Ottawa punk rock scene. The other exceptional part is looking through the credits and seeing all these familiar names as band members and contributors to the gang vocals. A great snap shot of one wing of the Ottawa musical family.
Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls had the entire soldout crowd singing, clapping and dancing for their entire set Sunday night at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa. The capital was probably full of sore throats and tender hands Monday morning considering the constant fan participation in the amazing set by one of England’s greatest artistic exports, Frank Turner.
There are very few musicians out there that genuinely look like they are having as much fun and exude that much energy from behind a guitar and a microphone. His energy is contagious. You can’t help but sing along and clap at every opportunity, and with Turner, there are plenty of opportunities to be heard and participate. There was something extra special about this show, not only was it the first of his little mini-tour, it was the first proper show with a band of 2015 for Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls — quite the honour for Ottawa.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls playing to a soldout crowd at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Stephen McGill
This was the most balanced set I have ever seen Frank Turner play, featuring music from every album as well as songs from the yet-to-be-named and far-from-released album. This made the set pleasantly unpredictable, such as playing songs he often keeps for later on, or playing the usual encores like “Four Simple Words” and “Glory Hallelujah” very early on. Frank also took this mini-tour to test drive some new material including such as their next single “The Next Storm,” a song about fucking up called “Good and Gone,” and a song about playing chess against death. I love the direction of the new songs, they were a little more rocking than those on Tape Deck Heart. Don’t fret though, they did make time for the staples and crowd favourites throughout the show playing “If I Ever Stray,” “Photosynthesis,” “Plain Sailing Weather,” “Try This at Home,” and “Substitute.” The performance also spanned almost two full hours which was such a treat.
At his core, Frank Turner is a bleeding heart punk rocker from a small town in England. This shines through in how much he connects with the locals wherever he plays in an effort to make every show an intimate affair. He changes the lyrics in many of his songs to reflect the city he’s playing in, like he did during “The Road,” or playing a cover of local or national musicians. Last time he was in town, Frank covered Jim Bryson, this time around he played “Bigfoot” by The Weakerthans, which he introduced by saying, “My favourite songwriter ever is from Canada. His name is John K. Samson and he sings in The Weakerthans.” He also took the time to encourage us all to picket outside of the Lone Star because of how irate it makes him that the employees are forced to wear tacky cowboy hats.
With all that covered, the band played “Recovery” and “Ballad of Me and My Friends,” before leaving for a short break. Having caught their breath, they returned to the stage to close out with “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” and “I Still Believe.” There are very more perfect ways to end a set with a song focused on how music can save a soul with a closing line of, “Now who’d have thought that after all, Something so simple, something so small. Who’d have thought that after all it’s rock n roll.”
Cory Levesque playing to a soldout crowd at Ritual in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Stephen McGill
Getting the night started was local singer-songwriter Cory Levesque. Cory is a humble bearded man with a big heart and an acoustic guitar, sometimes a harmonica. He played great heartfelt tracks like “Where I’d Rather Be,” “Fuck Redial,” “Filling the Void,” and “The Time Will Come.” The crowd loved everything about him, hooting and hollering the entire set. They weren’t the only ones, Frank Turner sat by the side of the stage for most of the set bobbing and clapping along and gave him a big shoutout on stage. Cory is just so real on stage, looking shocked, shy and almost uncomfortable every time the crowd clapped for him and showed him love. He gave back by bringing up a member of the crowd to play harmonica for him on “Broken Chords and Melodies” (video below). It was a lot of fun to see Cory back at it playing solo as he has spent a lot of time on his other project, punk rock band Fresh Hell.
On a sweltering hot day this June, The Steamers recorded a live album at Robot!House!! and it’s finally available for your listening pleasure. Steammates features three originals by the local power-folk band as well as three very special covers. What makes these covers so special, is that the artists they covered, Cory Levesque, Jon Creeden and Robots!Everywhere!!, joined them for the performances.
The Steamers set up the performance so that they bounced from originals to covers constantly mixing it up, and they nailed it. The recording of the EP doesn’t only capture the music, but does a great job of representing the comedic personalities within the band. The humour gets going early, as they introduce themselves to Stittsville, Ontario (playing in Centretown) and say they are a band from Niagara Falls. The little comments and jokes can be heard between tracks.
The opening track, “Blue Skies,” is the seven-piece’s flagship track which got people singing along right away. They then get into their first cover “All My Friends Are Here” by Robots!Everywhere!!, which also features great sing along portions. Up next is the heavy and emotional original called “Mike.” You can really feel the hurt in the lyrics and the still quiet of the crowd. Getting back to the covers and keeping with the heaviness, the band is joined by Cory Levesque to play the bleeding heart ballad “Words Are Hard These Days.” In their final original, the band really shows its folk roots with the harmonica-driven tale of being stranded in a dead-end town in “Stay Here to Bleed.” Rounding out the album is the track that excites me the most. I never had a chance to see Jon Creeden in a band (missed those Dead Weight days) so it was really cool to see a full band sound combined with his powerful vocals on “Tired.” As you can tell on the recording, I was not alone in my excitement, as many people joined in and were looking for some love from the man.
Take a listen to Steammates below, and note that all EPs purchased help support a Steamers full-length in the works for Spring/Summer 2015. Hmm, steamy goodness!
The night of Thursday, April 17th marks the start of the Easter long weekend. What better way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the arrival of the Easter Bunny than bringing the titans of Ottawa punk into one venue and have them go head to head, leaving it all on the line.
Without dishing all the tricks up our sleeve, Steve Adamyk Band, Finderskeepers, and a split set between Robot! Everywhere!! & Cory Levesque will be utilizing more than just the stage. If you choose to take part in this, you will be surrounded by non-stop mayhem. You will be directly involved in non-stop mayhem.
The amazing Kaylie Seaver will be painting live art and selling her pieces all night, her imagery and style is unlike any other. She’ll be auctioning off her live art canvas at the end of the night, so don’t be afraid to bring a little extra cash to support local art and get a sweet deal on a one-of-a-kind painting.
There will also be shitty projections throughout the night, because really, who doesn’t like shitty projections? What more do you want from a $100 projector from Kijiji?
The one and only Davey Quesnel AKA DJ Male Nurse will be spinning the best tracks to keep the party going after the bands finish.
The Centretown Recording Alliance just released its Christmas song challenge compilation. The compilation features great originals and covers that range from very festive to songs that would make Scrooge and the Grinch proud . The only thing that might be better than the songs, are the excellent band names. Some of my favourites are, Misfit Toy Money, Chris Cringle and The Allbrights, The Steve Adequate Band and On Dancer, and the Baby Jesus Family Fun Times Band.
I asked Christopher Cook, member of the Centretown Recording Alliance, how this compilation came to be. “The Christmas compilation is a collection of songs recorded by a rag tag group of friends and friends of friends that we refer to as the Centretown Recording Alliance,” said Cook. “It’s the 7th in a string of recording challenges we’ve done where we record songs based on a theme or challenge. This one was pretty straightforward — a cover or original song about Christmas or the holiday season. The challenge is based mostly on the idea of solo/home recording but everyone approaches it with different levels of technology/experience/collaboration which makes for fun results.”
So who is this Centretown Recording Alliance? Who is this rag tag group of friends and friendly friends’ friends? The Centretown Recording Alliance, is a group of musicians from Centretown Ottawa who take part in regular recording projects as a means of challenging each others’ creativity and encouraging musical growth. The Alliance includes members from many established Ottawa bands. Generally most participants are from the Ottawa area, however there are several participants (satellite members) who’ve either left Ottawa and continue to participate or spend enough time in and around Ottawa that they are given official “Centretown status.” Cook added that, “Generally, we refer to the ‘spirit of Centretown’ so anyone who’s interested in supporting and encouraging creativity and developing the scene is free to participate.”
This is the 7th challenge overall, and the second Christmas one. It all started back in 2010 when a fellow by the name of Matt Wells, who used to be in the Centretown Cripplers with Christopher suggested the idea. “The general motivation being that we had a large group of friends, both people in bands and not, who had a lot of talent and interests outside of the more formal music groups they were involved in. Matt thought we should create something to challenge everyone’s creativity and output,” said Cook. They had 11 submissions in the original challenge and since then have done other album challenges and also single song theme challenges (Christmas, Canada Day, etc).
So take a listen to some fun tunes below and change up the same old mundane sound of Christmas. I also strongly encourage you to check out the rest of the challenges and other cool songs posted The Centretown Recording Alliance here.
Bloody Boy Blue among the balloons and the chaos at ROBOT!HOUSE!
House shows are my favourite form of concert to begin with. Then add 100 balloons, birthday cupcakes and sangria, living room moshpits, a keytar, bands playing split sets and a drunken naked closer… yup, I LOVE ROBOT!HOUSE!
Jon Creeden belting out during the Beards vinyl release show at Robot! House!
What do you get when you host an album release show on a Monday night in a house? You get Jon Creeden belting out songs in front of 30 people in the living room of Robot! House! You get a kitchen with homemade stew and cake. More importantly, you get a bunch of friends gathering to listen to awesome music and support wicked musicians. You get to be a part of something everyone should discover: house shows.
I walked into Robot! House! just too late to catch the two-song mini-set by Robots!Everywhere!!, but I am sure Phil rocked it like always. Up next was Cory Levesque. Mr. Levesque always plays great tunes, but even better, he makes everyone laugh at least once a show. He claims to be bad at jokes, and that might be true, but I have yet to see him live and not bust a gut. At this particular show it was his amazing death-defying harmonica solo during “The Time Will Come.” There must have been something caught inside as the poor guy almost choked to death, yet everyone there could not stop laughing. All kidding aside, the thing I love about house shows is how the crowd (a bunch of friends) just jumps in and sings along all the time. A prime example of this is the beauty, “Where I’d Rather Be,’’ where everyone pipes in to sing “I’d rather be on the road…”
Some wicked dudes singing their little hearts out!
Up next was the wonderful surprise, Ty Trumbull of Scoop Trumbull and The Wrong Notes. I was excited as soon as I saw him at the mic with a banjo in hand instead of a guitar. Every time I see someone play the banjo I am blown away. No offence to all you guitarists out there, but there is something more magical, even foreign about watching a solo artist perform on a banjo. Trumbull is quite the lyricist. I absolutely loved his closing song about Joe Laflamme. Laflamme may be the most interesting Canadian ever, read more about him here. And check out the wicked song below (live in Toronto version, could not find another online). And try to tell me you don’t just love the line ”headed to North Ontario to find my name, to run with wolves while men dressed as sheep against the rain.’’
It was now time for Jon Creeden to take the floor. He is touring the recently reworked album Beards which was finally released on vinyl (splatter, orange or black…all of which are very sexy). He opened by paying tribute to our host, Phil, playing a Robots!Everywhere!! song “Zombie Smoothie.’’ The big guy was flying through songs off of Beards when he took a break to wipe the sweat from his brow. “I don’t get how I sweat so much and don’t get skinny.” If you have never seen Jon play, you are doing yourself a disservice. He pours all he has into every performance, look how red his face is in the picture above. Jon is punk rock on an acoustic guitar with steady dose of lyrics people can relate to. From heart ache to friendship, Beards is full of great tracks. The crowd of locals helped out their friend and sang along to pretty much every song. He loved it. “Thank you so much! This means a lot and will take a few days to sink in, you think you are just sitting in a living room watching, but this feels pretty good.”
Check out the wicked new version of all your old Creeden favourites , or newly discovered favourites, on the re-release of Beards, streaming below. I love the new backing vocals on “One Coast to Another” and well you just can’t go wrong with adding “The Captain” to the album. Buy it digitally for 8$ or catch him on tour and toss him 15$ for the sexy wax copy.