New Music: More Butter by Mushy Gushy
Ottawa’s one and only butt rock band (self-described) Mushy Gushy just released their second EP called More Butter, which also happens to have “butt” in the name…
What is butt rock, you may ask. Well, Mushy Gushy’s sound can best be described as a good blend of experimental garage pop with the occasional hint of surf rock. It makes for some good time rock that makes you smile, bob your head, and maybe even sway your hips. It’s perfect for those hot summer days on the way to the beach, but also excellent for those warm summer evenings on a patio or at a cottage.
The experimental side of things is very present from the get go in the opening track “Around the Bend” from the effects on the vocals, the reverb on the guitar, the well placed whammy bars and the smattering of sound effects subtly lingering in the background.
My favourite track on More Butter is track three, “Schemestress.” This pop number is very catchy both musically and lyrically. Lines like this “I could move mountain babe I’m just going to need some time / I could guess what you’re thinking but I can’t read your mind” are simple but greatly crafted and very relatable feelings to many of us, I’m sure. That is often what really makes a song. It is not always about complicated progressions and incredible prose—sometimes the best medicine is music you can just put on and sing along with while you relate to what the writer was feeling at the time.
Now go put some toast in the toaster, boil some corn on the cob, and pop some popcorn because all the the butter you need is on this album, which can be streamed below.
Be sure to catch Mushy Gushy on the Claridge Homes Stage at Ottawa Bluesfest starting at 4 pm on Saturday July 15th. More information on passes here.
New Music: Sailor Jupiter – s/t
One of Ottawa’s best new bands, Sailor Jupiter, has finally recorded some highly-anticipated music for us.
The band’s self-titled debut is six songs of garage and noise rock gold, and effectively demonstrates why Ottawa’s garage scene continues to be one of North America’s hidden gems. The album opens fast and hard with riot-girl fuel “Beat It Son,” followed by the loud, raucous, and quick “Can’t Surf.” I can honestly say that before listening to “Can’t Surf,” I had no idea there was so much anger about not being able to surf in Ottawa. With the first two songs done in less than 2 minutes, Sailor Jupiter slows it down and finds their garage groove. Songs like “Dead to Me” and “Jesus Freaks” pull back on the speed but maintain the intensity that we experience throughout the record. The overdriven fuzzy riffs and pounding bass lines take us down into the depths of what Sailor Jupiter are all about – in your face and unrestrained.
Sailor Jupiter are part of a new generation of the garage and noise rock bands coming out of Ottawa. The path was paved before them by other local veterans like Bondar, Bonnie Doon and Boyhood, and none of these bands are showing signs of slowing down. The album was recorded by Matt Ferrier and mastered by Cameron Steacy of Organ Eyes. Check out Sailor Jupiter’s self-titled debut below for youself and don’t miss them when they play in town.
Rock n’ Roll Hot Dog Party with Greys & Brat Kings @ House of TARG
Photo by Eric Scharf
Greys and Brat Kings played excellent sets Thursday night at House of TARG, and then we all rang in Friday with midnight hotdogs. Only at Rock n’ Roll Hot Dog Party. Ottawa Explosion did it again, gathering two great bands and topping it off with free late night snacks in the form of hot dogs and veggy dogs.
Brat Kings rocking out at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Kicking off the night were Brat Kings from Toronto/Montreal. The three-piece were a perfect balance of punk rock snarl and pop punk “woooos,” and sing alongs. With tougher sounding songs with titles like “Girl, Quit the Cocaine” and songs about rat tails, counterbalanced with softer love songs such as “Quick Coasting,” some may call it an identity crisis. But I call it the unity of my two favourite elements of punk rock all in one band. The other aspect that stood out was their amazingly animated drummer Theo Mckibbon, who looked genuinely pissed off at his kit the whole time. The man looked possessed while wailing on the drum set, and this was particularly true during the band’s final track which also featured a booming drum intro. Keep an eye out for a new 7″ from Brat Kings coming out soon on Hosehead Records featuring one of my favourite tracks from their set “Good Drugs.” They will also be working on a full-length shortly which will certain rock.
Greys building up our collective hunger with their tasty rock at the House of TARG in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Greys were up next and they displayed a lot of bravery considering they were the only thing standing between the crowd and mounds of hotdogs. The Toronto-based four-piece rocked us playing a bunch of killer fast-paced tracks off their amazing debut album. Greys channel early and mid ’90s noise rock and blend it with aspects of punk rock. Songs like “Flip Yr Lid” could of come right out of Seattle 20 years ago with its distorted sound and unabashed vocals. Then the band answered back with tracks like “Aderall” and their closer “Use Your Delusion” where one really sees their punk rock side coming through. Lead singer and guitarist, Shehzaad Jiwani, just loved that water at House of TARG. “Seriously though, I know I have said it before, but the water is really good,” he said. “It’s got lemon in it and I’m not sure if that is it, but it’s free right over there.” The band also took the time to dedicate the song “Guy Picciotto” to “a guy name Shawn Scallen” – as if we didn’t all know who he was. Do not sleep on these guys next time they roll through town. They are a powerful band with a lot of energy, and great guys too.
With Greys done it was time for the mountains of hotdogs to be unleashed upon the crowd. Everyone lined up in a surprisingly orderly fashion and chowed down as the early morning hours of Friday dawned upon us. I really like the new twist on an old Ottawa classic that was the Rock n’ Roll Pizza Party from back in the day. Well done, gents.
Hot dogs on hot dogs on hot dogs. Hot dogs are piled high at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON for the Rock n’ Roll Party. These bad boys are were handed out for free at midnight.
Centertown Recording Alliance 4th Annual Holiday Bash @ TARG
The Centretown Recording Alliance 4th Annual Holiday Bash was a blast at House of Targ Thursday night.
One of the best thing about the holidays is bringing friends and family together. The Centretown Recording Alliance did just that Thursday night, gathering bands and fans from punk rock to garage rock to metal. The annual holiday bash featured seven bands in just under three and a half hours, and it was great. Not only did they bring a lot of people together, but in doing so they raised money for the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, a wonderful holiday gesture.
Getting the ball rolling on this night was a new band called The Stuff, a four-piece fun garage rock band. Before even playing a song, one of the guitarist/singers “This is our first show and maybe our last show, or maybe not.” I certainly hope it is not their last show as I really dug their set and their sound. On a very snowy night they played a sweet song about being in love with the summer. They capped of their set with “Christmalloween” which is a modified version of the great song “What ‘cha Gonna Wear, Wolf?” which they wrote for the recording alliance’s halloween challenge. Looking forward to more stuff from The Stuff.
Thunder Uncle bringing the metal to House of Targ in Ottawa.
Next it was time for devil horns and headbanging as Thunder Uncle brought the metal. Thunder Uncle is just one of the hundred bands that Jon Kiely plays in, but instead of playing drums in this band as he often does, he takes on lead vocals and plays a flying-v guitar. The band brought a dose of metal to the festivities and did a damn good job. I liked their track “Paper Tiger” at the end of their set.
Bringing the punk back was one of my favourite local bands going right now, Fresh Hell. They played an awesome set full of solid tracks of their debut album We Never Sleep such as “Old Sheets,” “Things Go Away” and “Home.” Christmas came a little early this year as the band played some of their new material for us and now I am all excited for new Fresh Hell. They closed with their kick-ass track “Surrounded” as many of us yelled along at the front of the stage. As the band packed up and left the stage, there was an unexpected performance. Surprises, which consists of Corey’s girlfriend Meghan on guitar and good friend Laura from Jonathan Becker and the North Fields, on accordion. They performed “Louisiana Man” by Lucinda Williams adding a little country flare to the air (video here). Sure hope there are more surprises in our future.
Things then got a hardcore as Slim and Popular took the stage. Formed by veterans of the scene the band is super tight and play really really fast. The track that really stuck as they slammed through the most high tempo set of the set, was “We Don’t Want This World.” This was my first time seeing Slim and Popular and it will certainly not be my last.
It wasn’t all fun and joy on this night though. It was the night we said goodbye to the Mnemonics. The powerpop quartet capped off their time as a band with a stellar performance full of songs off their 2014 release Too Late To Get Loud. I am sorry to see them go, but I can take solace that some of the members play in other kick-ass bands and will probably go on and form new awesome bands as well. Cheers gentlemen.
Lindbergh Babies rocking out at House of Targ in Ottawa, On.
The Lindbergh Babies took the stage after the Mnemonics to pick us all back up. They are a female fronted group that played a fast-paced punk which is just on the edge of some metal stuff. They are another band I had somehow never seen perform and it was a great time. The band also featured Jon Kiely again, back behind the drums rocking out. My favourite tune from their performance was the rocking “You Don’t Know.”
Steady Shakes killing it at House of Targ in Ottawa, ON.
The final band on the bill was the Steady Shakes. The garage-rock band are great and the lead singer, Cameron Lydall’s voice really stands out and sticks with me. It has that real punk rock rasp that I love from the old school punk bands I grew up discovering. Steady Shakes are another great local act who released some sweet music this year. I should also mention that Ian, the bassist of one of longest-running punk bands The Creeps, also plays bass for Steady Shakes. Their five-song demo will take you back in time to 80s punk rock, in sound and lyrical content. They are a must see and must listen for sure.
Just when we thought it was time to go home and call it a night, around 12:50 to be precise, Chris Cook took to the stage to say thank you. But he was not alone on stage, he was joined by Jon Kiely, Mel Sturk and Dave Banoub. Yup you read correctly, The Allrights did a little one song reunion song. They played crowd favourite “Little Black Book,” and sent us all on our way on a high note. What a night!
Finish What You Started Fest: Frustrations, ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE! and Nightshades @ Gabba Hey!
Frustrations, ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!! and Nightshades capped off another great you of Finish What You Started Fest Sunday night at Gabba Hey!
Nightshades getting the night rolling at Gabba Hey! in Ottawa.
Kicking off the night was Ottawa three-piece garage rockers Nightshades. The band formed this year and has a very familiar face on bass, Sarah Grant of RawRawRiot who I have seen several times. Their set was fun and up-tempo featuring great originals such as “Beauty of Dreaming” and “Middle of the Night.” Anyone who reads Showbox knows I am such a sucker for female vocals in garage rock and punk rock, and well Nightshades has two female vocalists who really complement each other. Their tracks were great but it’s almost impossible to cover Minor Threat in your set and not have that become the highlight. The irony of the matter was they chose to cover the preachy straight-edge anthem “In My Eyes” while drinking Old Milwaukee. Look forward to seeing them again as they have me intrigued.
ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!! and some of his “best friends” singing along.
Up next was the one man punk rock party Phil, aka ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!! His set started with people giving him space at the front, but that did not last long. The very nature of ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!! shows is the crowd participation and the funny stories/explanations before every song. He played many of the favourites such as “Best Friends,” “I Miss The Old You!! (a.k.a. We’re Going to Mexico (a.k.a. 400 bucks!)),” “Red Hair, Blonde Hair” and “Ottawa Explosion.” In a twist, Phil reached back to last year when he wrote little songs about bands and people involved with Finish What You Started Fest. On this night, he played the one he wrote about organizer Ska Jeff, watch video from last year here. Phil also played a new tune, a hardcore song about helping “a big metal head with long hair find his hair elastic in a mosh pit in Quebec,” called “I Lost Something in the Pit.” This is by far the heaviest song Phil has ever written, and possibly a new direction…? During the last song of the set “Zombies” a cake was presented to Franky (Ottawa Pop Punk) and he got to blow out the candles for his birthday.
Closing out the night and the festival was Frustrations from Detroit, Michigan. This was the first time I ever watched punk rock while eating cake and may I say it was quite delightful. These guys were a high energy noisy-punk band who must commend as they did not appeared phased by the fact many people had left. They sounded really tight and really loud. Their drummer took over lead vocals for a track which is always pretty cool to watch. The song that really stuck with me from their performance was “Surgeon” off of their latest album Negative Reflections.
This was another great year for the DIY festival put on by Finish What You Started and an excellent way to celebrate five years. Congratulations Jeff and thanks for all you do for Ottawa.
Finish What You Started Fest: No Aloha, Alement and Ain’t No Grave
No Aloha, Alement and Ain’t No Grave were just what the day called for, playing a matinee show. There is something special about punk rock in the afternoon. The show was in a house on Gladstone, where veggie burgers and veggie dogs were also being served hot off the BBQ.
No Aloha fit right into Ottawa with their super catchy garage rock. Songs like “My Baby K” had people singing and dancing in the basement. They also gave everyone a taste of things to come by playing a new song called “BLT.” It was a wicked fun set and a great way to get ready for a Saturday night.
Alement crusting it up in the basement.
The secret band turned out to be Alement from Philadelphia. Alement played at a completely different pace than the other bands. Their style was reminiscent of crusty punk rock, which got a couple of guys moving. It was the first time I ever saw someone mosh in slippers. Their heavy and fast music was very loud and a cool mix between the other two bands.
Ain’t No Grave playing during Finish What You Started Fest in Ottawa.
Opening the show was local cow punk three-piece Ain’t No Grave. The band was pretty cool and interestingly had no bass player, just two guitars. Their instrumental tracks would sometimes transport me into a spaghetti western. Ain’t No Grave did a very good cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” which I truly enjoyed. The guitar work on the track “Falling Through The Sun” sounded more like a banjo than a guitar.
Mother’s Children LP Release Show with Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs @ House of Targ
It was a night of extreme highs and some really sad lows during the Mother’s Children LP release party at House of Targ Friday night.
Ottawa’s Mother’s Children took to the stage without their normal bass player, Davey Quesnelle, as he had injured himself and doctors would not clear him to play (low). In his place was Josh (Remi Royale). They started to play the “Gang is Back” but Josh was just not cutting it. So they appealed to the crowd for someone with “a funny hat that can play bass and know our songs.” Answering the call was, Seiji, the bass player for Average Times. He killed it and the band played an awesome set full of songs off their new album Lemons (high).
The band even threw in a Ramones cover, which turned out to be quite “serendipitous,” because as they finished the song we all got the news that the last surviving original Ramone, Tommy, had just passed away (low). It was sad to hear the news of Tommy Ramone passing, but there was no better place to be than at a punk show in the town’s leading punk venue. We’ll keep rocking while you start resting Tommy. The new songs are stellar and the band which is half former Sickfits and half former Million Dollar Marxists put on a great show. Davey couldn’t help but sing backup vocals all night and when it came time for the final song, he jumped on stage, took up the bass and played defying doctor’s orders (check out the video above)(high).
Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs killing it at House of Targ in Ottawa
Opening for Mother’s Children was one of the best musical discoveries of last year, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs. When they played Ottawa Explosion Weekend last year I was instantly a fan of their sound, look, and attitude. All sporting matching sleeveless jean jackets with their own band patch on the back, the boys from Toronto played an awesome set of their rock n roll. Fresh off the release of their second full-length album, Gates of Hell, they treated fans to new songs and older tunes as well. Some of the highlights were without a doubt the very sing-a-long friendly songs like “Lose that Bitch,” “Hold Me Close” and “All To Myself.” (high)
The fellas clearly enjoyed themselves as they posted this the next day on Facebook “We played House of TARG last night in Ottawa. It is without a doubt the coolest venue we’ve ever played. The service, the environment, the pinball and the PEROGIES! They even had a zine. Wizards of TARG, The Iron Lung army salutes you.” Come back any time boys.
My pal Brett with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies at House of Targ in Ottawa.
Lastly, it is also worth noting that after their set at Bluesfest earlier that day, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies stopped by for some pinball and to check out some local music. He was very laid back, down to earth and super cool with people approaching him to chat and snag a photo. Pretty darn cool. (high)
Ottawa Explosion Weekend Day 4 – New Swears, TV Freaks, Steve Adamyk Bank + more
You’d think that after three days of non-stop live music, partying, moshing, and general disregard for our overall health, the crowd at Ottawa Explosion would thin out a bit as the days wore on. It was just the opposite. Saturday saw more people and more music than any other day so far, and the atmosphere was full of excitement and anticipation. We were all ready for one hell of a night, with events scattered around the city.
My day started with one of my local faves New Swears. For those who aren’t as familiar with Ottawa bands, New Swears are the funnest, most ridiculous, self-destructive group of guys in the entire region. Maybe even the province. Maybe even the country. Their late afternoon set kicked off in the same fashion as always – countless floatation devices and blow-up pool toys, bodies flying everywhere, and some great tunes coming from the four guys up front wearing ripped up hospital gowns (and ripped up underwear) with bandages all over their body. Some songs that got people going mental were “Rather Be Dead,” “See You In Hull,” and their bad ass new single “No Fun” which will appear on their new record coming out in late summer before their European tour. Ending with their own version of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” which ended with multiple crowdsurfing bodies colliding and half the band on the ground in a pile of dirty, sweaty human flesh. The tone was set and it was pretty much everything you could ask for from the same guys that snowboarded down their stairwell with snow they brought in from their yard.
New Swears at OXW 2014
After, there were a couple of sets happening around the corner at Vertigo Records, so I headed that way and crammed in with all the others. Philly punk rockers The Abandos were first up, and they played quite a few of songs that were short and sweet. They ran into a few problems with feedback, which is completely understandable since the bands were essentially playing in the crowd due to limited space. Their music was fast, frantic, and full of energy. Lead vocalist Street Kyle’s ultra-fast and ultra-aggressive vocals really stood out and I dug the crunchy reverb he had coming from his guitar. The songs got heavier and heavier as the set went on, and they surely garnered some new fans.
The Abandos @ Vertigo Records, OXW 2014
Between sets I went and got a sub and mixed a little bourbon+ Coca Cola concoction, thinking I was really smart. I returned to the venue only to realize it was filled to capacity. I was locked out with a few other poor bastards, watching Ming Wu dance his little heart out to TV Freaks up front inside. But we made the best of it, and there was only a thin pane of glass separating us on the street from the band. Hailing from Hamilton, ON, they were super heavy and fun to watch on stage. Their music reminds me of the good ol’ days of punk rock, and their live show is one that I think Iggy Pop would get a kick out of. Even a homeless gentleman came up and had the time of his life watching the band from outside, and received a fist pump from the drummer on the other side of the glass.
After the Vertigo sets, things kept on going over at Club SAW. One of my most anticipated lineups of the festival was the Dirtnap Records showcase. I pretty much love everything bands on this label put out, so we were all in for a treat. First up was Voicemail, which is fronted by Ian Manhire of The White Wires. With WW only playing a few shows a year, it’s so great to see Ian on stage doing his own thing with Voicemail. Their tunes are straight-up fun garage music, with the same spirit as WW minus the surfiness. They ended on a great note with a cover of ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Next up was Montreal’s Sonic Avenues, a band I discovered recently and absolutely fell in love with. I can’t get enough of their garage punk-pop sound, and their set did not disappoint. The high point of their set was when they played the song “Automatic” from their latest record Mistakes, whipping the crowd into a frenzy that lasted the rest of their set. My favourite track off this new album is “New Vogues,” which sounded even better live. Do not miss these guys when they come to town!
Another one of my local faves is Steve Adamyk Band, and these Explosion veterans took over the SAW courtyard next. During Sonic Avenues’s and SAB’s sets, a legion of sweaty, hungover people were up front belting every word of their songs. The guys from Needles//Pins, amongst many others, were joining the band in singing such catchy punk tunes like “Wait For Your Number,” “Speed It Up,” “Katakombs,” and a few new tracks like “Careless” off their new album Dial Tone to be released July 1. Guitarist Davey Quesnel ripped it up the whole set, and with years of band experience under his belt, his technique was infallible up there. His balance, however, was not – Davey took a pretty big spill over the monitor at one point, but he got up and shook it off like nothing happened. An internet high five to Davey for that one. Even Adamyk’s former Sedatives bandmate and Ottawa Explosion organizer Emmanuel Sayer was singing his heart out and loving the shit out of life as the band played.
Steve Adamyk Band at OXW 2014
A bummer was that I only caught the first few songs of The Marked Men, who came from Texas to play Explosion this year. Probably the most anticipated band of the festival, The Marked Men had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the first stroke of the guitar. These guys have been around since 2002, and although they haven’t released a record since 2009, they showed no signs of slowing down. They ripped through songs, and the energy exuding from the band on stage seemed to demand an equally strong reaction from the crowd. Below is a video of the band performing the song “On The Outside” at Explosion this year shot by Chris Cook of Finderskeepers.
Many of us went to Ritual Nightclub for METZ afterwards, but there were also events happening Avant Garde, House of Targ, Cafe Dekcuf, Mugshots, and Club SAW (inside). By the end of the Dirtnap showcase, there was no denying that this was not only the best night so far, but that this was the strongest year of the festival yet.
New Swears support 1squarefoot initiative with fun and feasting @ Babylon May 3
It was a rainy night for Dark and Stormy featuring New Swears, a pie eating contest and charity at Babylon…’twas a most excellent Saturday night in May.
New Swears are rambunctious and ruckus personified (R ‘n’ R). The local four-piece band made up of party animals play awesome garage rock and always whip the crowd into a frenzy. The crowd was moshing, dancing, and singing from the very first song, “Two Darts,” which happens to be a love song about saving one of the last two cigarettes in the pack for your girl. Wearing nothing but flowery leggings and shades, the boys played us some of their great new music including “No Fun” (new video here) and older party anthems the fans came to see like “Rather Be Dead” and “See You in Hull.” For the last song they started pulling people on stage, so I rushed on and threw guitarist Scru Bar on my shoulders so he can rock out on top. Another show, another barn burner by the New Swears. I can’t wait to see them again and get my hands on their sophomore album this summer.
New Swears participating in a pie eating contest at Babylon in Ottawa.
Before the show, with alcohol flowing quite well throughout Babylon, the boys from New Swears got the pie eating contest going. Scru Bar was victorious in the band’s round of the competition – the man can eat those pies like nobody’s business. I am not sure if there was a prize for other participants, or what was going on other than a lot of whipped cream everywhere and a lot of laughs. Everyone cheered, so rock on.
The whole show was a fundraiser for 1squarefoot, which is an initiative aiming to have a skateboard park built in downtown Ottawa. They raised $740 Saturday night, which works out to another 18 square feet of skate park. Here is a little more information on the great cause:
Ottawa Skateboard Community Association, with support of the Rotary Club, has secured funding for a fully custom concrete permanent skateboard park in the McNabb Park at the corner of Gladstone and Bronson in Ottawa. The McNabb park has allocated approximately 13,000 square feet of space for the skateboard park and $300,000 to build and design the skateboard park. Given the budget, the skate park will not be able to fully utilize the space we have been allocated and the park will end up at around 7,000 square feet.
Their goal is to collect $200,000 through our program called “1 square foot”. We think every great challenge can be accomplished by tackling the issue in small pieces- or in this case, square feet. Every $40 donation gives them one more square foot of Skate Park. You can donate here.
The Yips release their new album Air Loom to the world and throw a massive party at Gabba Hey
My body aches. My shoulder feels like it was bent all the way back in the wrong direction. There are bruises on my arm and legs. These are the signs of one hell of a night shared between music fans, friends, and those looking to conjure out their inner demons through some good ol’ fashioned ouija rock. Ottawa’s The Yips amassed all these souls together at Gabba Hey Saturday night for the release of their new LP Air Loom, put out on physical cassette tape and digital formats through Bruised Tongue.
I’ll avoid going too far into album review mode, but you should go listen to Air Loom right here and decide how you feel about it.