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.
During Ottawa Explosion’s fourth day, the outdoor stage at Club SAW was rocked by the Mint Records Showcase featuring The Smugglers, NEEDLES//PINS, Tough Age and Expanda Fuzz.
The iconic Canadian garage rock band The Smugglers headlined the wonderful evening. The band from Vancouver, BC existed from 1988 – 2004, and just recently reunited for select shows in 2017. Lead singer Grant Lawrence, who many know as a host on CBC Radio 3, is wildly energetic and engaging as a frontman. He kicked off the show by saying: “Ottawa, it is so good to be back in the city that birthed The White Wires, Stand GT, Resin Scrapers, The Creeps, Million Dollar Marxists, Tokyo Sex Whale and so many more!” That was quite the tribute to the locals here, and many of the aforementioned bands had members in the audience. He continued “Since the last time you saw us in Ottawa we have had nine children and one heart attack.
They call themselves a rock n’ roll band, which they most certainly are, with hints of surf and very danceable garage (maybe those terms weren’t cool back when they were). Their sound is amazing and infectious and had people dancing and singing along non-stop. I try to make a point to not comment on a band’s attire, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the full suit and rubber boots look sported by many of the members.
The band played a high energy 12-song set featuring “Vancouver BC,” which Lawrence mentioned “was almost a hit on Much Music,” the International Smuggler Dance Competition judged by the drummer of NEEDLES//PINS and “Booze” which was dedicated to the drummer of The Gruesomes, a band from Montreal that changed Lawrence’s life, who happened to be from Ottawa. They closed with “Rock n’ Roll Was Never This Fun” and thanked us all for attending what could be one of the last Smugglers shows ever. It is bittersweet that my first Smugglers show may be my last, but I’m ecstatic that I got to see them play my favourite festival.
NEEDLES//PINS took to the stage before The Smugglers and were full of apologies from the get go. After playing their opening song “Drop It” they said “Feels so good to be back, I can’t believe we missed an Explosion I’m sorry. We will never miss another.” I sure hope the Explosion team holds them to that as I love knowing I will see this band every year. Before launching into “Best Friend” they urged us all to high-five our best friend which was a really fun moment to watch happen all around them in the packed Club SAW courtyard.
They also played a bunch of music off their new record, Good Night, Tomorrow, which hadn’t been released yet but is now available. The new tracks sounded great and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the album. Their set featured one of the cutest and most heart-warming moments of the festival. Not everyone knows that even though the band is from BC, one of their members is from the Ottawa Valley. Emmanuel Sayer (OXW organizer) noticed some of the family members, mostly older, sitting by the stage during the set and ran them over some earplugs. What a gentleman. It is always awesome to see NEEDLES//PINS perform, they are incredibly talented but also just such nice and positive people.
Tough Age, formally from Vancouver and now based in Toronto, played Ottawa Explosion again and are becoming a festival mainstay. The new-ish, stripped down three-piece (formally a bigger band) have really embraced some post-punk influences and sound with their new music, such as the song “Not That Bad.” I, and a couple of people I was chatting with, really dig it. One of the things that blows me away about this band is how the guitarist and bass player just switch instruments back and forth throughout the set. I have massive respect and am in awe of bands that can do that, it’s just wild. Member Jarrett Samson said in closing, “I’m excited to see NEEDLES//PINS and if they don’t play “Drop It” I’m going to burn this tent to the ground.” Lucky for him and all of us, NEEDLES//PINS opened with “Drop It” as mentioned and we all avoided a catastrophe.
Opening the Mint Records Showcase was local duo Expanda Fuzz. I was unfortunately running late and missed some of their set, but as always what I did hear was most excellent. Their fuzzy and drone garage style sound has this perfect slow crawling build that leaves me wanting more. In a short time as a band, they have already released a bunch of great music, but I am constantly going back to the first song I heard them play “Flavour: Zombie.” Every time I see them perform that song I get a big smile on my face and have to bob my head. I’m glad that even arriving late, I managed to catch it.
We are just so damn excited for our anniversary festivities this weekend (May 26/27) that we’re giving away a few pairs of tickets. We’ve been fortunate enough to become close with a lot of musicians in Ottawa since Showbox came on the scene in May of 2012, and we couldn’t be more stoked to have such talented friends play shows for us on Friday and Saturday at The Record Centre. We’ll be raffling off some free swag at the events from some cool businesses like Bar Robo, Beau’s All Natural Brewery, The Record Centre, and more. We’ll also be selling some limited edition Showbox merch as well, you won’t want to miss out!
Friday, May 26, will feature stellar performances by Jon Creeden, Expanda Fuzz, and one more act TBA.
The next night on Saturday, May 27, will feature intimate and mesmerizing performances by G.Grand & Hyf, Keturah Johnson, Claude Munson, and a rare comeback performance by our faves – STEAMERS. You can find more information about the artists here.
Tickets are available online now, but you also have a solid chance to win some free ones this week. Simply answer the question below and you’ll be entered to win a pair of tickets to our 5-year anniversary for you and a friend!
Ottawa’s droney post-punk outfit Expanda Fuzz has released a new video for their single “Sonic Halo.” The track appears on bandcamp along with a cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” in the wake of founding member Maurice White’s death last year.
The track is a minimalist psychedelic trip, with rolling percussion, a fuzzy lead guitar part, and mesmerizing vocals by Niki. The video’s aesthetic is dark and ominous, taking place in a remote field at dusk and featuring characters with strange masks and costumes. The video is not as dark and creepy as their video for “Flavour: Zombie” released last year, and it also contains beautiful colours of the sunset. However, the smoke-breathing Grim Reaper-type character also leaves the viewer with chills down the spine, and it’s not the kind of figure you’d want to run into on a dark, empty farm.
Although the song is just over two minutes long, it’s great to see a video being made that perfectly suits the sound of Expanda Fuzz. This song could have easily been incorporated into season one of True Detective, or even Apocalypse Now. The video accurately reflects that kind of imaginary trip into the darkness.
Expanda Fuzz is playing JUNOfest March 31st with Dilly Dally, No Fuss, and The Dirty Nil at House of TARG. Ticket and wristband information can be found here.
Switches and Expanda Fuzz brought the garage to Bar Robo Thursday night.
Expanda Fuzz getting down and fuzzy at Bar Robo.
Local garage rock duo, Expanda Fuzz, opened the night playing songs off their new debut album Bleuetswhich they released on beautiful wax that night. Expanda Fuzz are a very interesting combination of drone and garage sound with pop lyrics that will make you swoon. This duo, equipped with a drum machine was only playing their second show ever, having first played at Ottawa Explosion. Their second track, the lead song off of Bleuets, “Flavour: Zombie” is such a great song and gets me from the first note. One half of the band is Chris Page of such bands as The Stand GT, Camp Radio and his great solo work. Page is one of the nicest people ever, I promise just talk to him and try to tell me different, and has an ageless voice that has simply become part of the capital region’s sound. They mostly played songs off of their new album, most notably “It’s Your Glow, UFO” where the other half of Expanda Fuzz, Niki Nine Doors‘ voice shines. They ended their set playing “Devil Town” by Daniel Johnston. They may be a new band, but on stage they look like they have been doing it for years.
Switches from Edmonton rocking out during their first ever show in Ottawa.
Headlining was Switches from Edmonton. “We are very excited to be here, its our first time in Ottawa and we are going to play some songs for you,” were the first words out of their mouth. This female fronted punk band with a hint of synth where a delight. I had listened to them a few time online, but Tara’s vocals live just have that extra oomph which is then complimented by both other female vocals. Switches also happened to play my favourite “15 Beers” off of their LP “i just wanna” as their second song, a new theme maybe? Take note bands playing Ottawa, hahaha. I was loving the set and didn’t think it could get much better, when all of a sudden Tara took to the mic and said, “We are going to do a Tracy Chapman cover now. Can anyone guess which one?” We all screamed “Fast Cars” and were very pleased to be right. Yes you read that correctly, everyone in attendance last night got to see a 80’s punk synth rendition of “Fast Cars.” It was a total game changer. And just for good measure after a couple more of their own great songs, they also covered Shangri-Las. You know that American pop girl group from the 1960’s, oh what a treat. Switches closed with “Push Pull” and the absolutely rocking “Spinning Out” from their new EP All My Darlings.
Switches reminded me of a female fronted version of The Sedatives with a little more bite and I say that as a massive compliment. Heck, they should play together next time they are in the same city. They have four dates left on their tour, Quebec City, Montreal, Peterborough and Toronto (more info here). I strongly urge you to go check them out then and next time they are near.