New Music: Telecomo – Promo Only EP
One of the newest additions to the Ottawa music scene is Telecomo, a three-piece garage rock band that are set to release a tape this week. The group itself is new, but the members are long-time veterans in town.
Telecomo is a trifecta consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Adam Saikaley (Ceremony/Hilotrons), bassist Gary Franks (Roberta Bondar/Ceremony), and drummer Pat Johnson (The Acorn/Silkken Laumann). As you can tell by this not-so-motley lineup of musicians, this band is a powerhouse stacked with three dudes that simply wont quit. Because why would they?
Their debut release, the Promo Only EP, contains four quick and grimy tracks that will reel you in from the first measure. I think the world could always use some more fun and punchy garage rock, and that is exactly what this band is offering us. The simple chord structures, unflashy vocals, and lo-fi aesthetic give this EP a genuine throwback feel. The Detroit garage rock gods of the 80’s would surely open their scuffed, wrought iron gates for Telecomo.
“Telecomo started up with Adam having the idea of writing some honest, minimal pop songs in a garage rock setting,” explains Franks. “Vocals up front and clear, guitars plugged straight into the amps, with the aim of being as succinct and sincere as possible in 4 minutes or less.”
Although four songs isn’t a whole lot to go off of, Telecomo has succeeded in getting their message across loud and clear: they’re fun, fast, and unreserved. They’re in your face and raw, but accessible at the same time. Right off the bat, “I Met You” sets the tone by allowing the listener to sink into Gary Franks’ flowing bass line, which is fantastically woven in with Pat Johnson’s rhythm and Adam Saikaley’s overdriven, fuzzed-out guitar chords. Each song similarly follows suit, and the the melodies are ever-present and completely irresistible.
“Around” teases us with a dark bass line-heavy verse that explodes into an chorus with reckless abandon, all the while being tempered by Saikaley’s fitting monotonous vocals and despairing lyrics. My favourite track, “Someday,” finishes off the EP by building gradually and delivering a refrain that maybe, just maybe, we can all identify with deep down as we grow older. “And all I know is / It took a long, long time to get here / And I keep thinking / Have I wasted all these years / On my fears?”
Some people may think garage music is just fuzzy power chords and unimaginative structures, but Telecomo is proof that there is more to it than just that. A little band chemistry, depth in instrumental fortitude, and damn good songwriting can go a long way. So that begs the question: what’s next for Telecomo?
“There is a lot more Telecomo to come,” explains Franks. “Right after our show this Thursday, we’re driving to NYC to recorded with Jonathan Schenke for two days. We’re hoping to get a 7″ and a full length album out from that session before the end of the year… and then tour and tons of merch!”
Telecomo is releasing their Promo Only EP tape with Mushy Gushy and DJ Lamb Rabbit at Black Squirrel Books this Thursday, May 12, and also playing at the brand new venue Bar Robo on May 21 with Homebody, Brave Radar, and Whimm. Listen to the EP below.
New Music: Heavy Bedroom – I Saw An End
Ottawa is full of strikingly talented musicians, many of whom have made themselves very comfortable beneath the under layer that we call Ottawa’s music community. It should come as no surprise that many of these creative types take on more than one project, whether in the same artistic field or something completely different.
Heavy Bedroom is the side project and brainchild of Alex Maltby, who you may recognize as guitarist of local experimental noise rock band Roberta Bondar (soon to be name-changed due to their name’s resemblance to an astronaut, to whom the band is completely unrelated). A few years back we heard about a new act in town that was an offshoot of Bondar, and something different altogether… mind you, with the same experimental aesthetic and mysterious, fatal undertones. Thus, Heavy Bedroom was born.
The band also consists of Maltby’s Bondar counterpart, drummer Tyler Goodman, ex-New Teeth and still HAMILTON bassist/supporting vocalist Matthew Gilmour, and Cory Lefebvre on synth & guitar. Collaborations, I would argue, are an incredible way for artists to explore the depths of their creativity and unhinge themselves from any artistic confines they may find themselves in at times. Hearing I Saw An End for the first time really blew my mind, as you can hear their forces all coming together to create this short, yet masterful album.
Maltby released some demos and performed as Heavy Bedroom, but never fully released anything serious until now. That, of course, doesn’t go to say that the self-titled release a couple of years back wasn’t worthy of its own release and praise. I was a huge fan, and had it on repeat. To hear the mixed and mastered versions of I Saw An End is exciting, as it embodies a project that is no longer just a “side project,” but something that more people will hear in full and surely enjoy.
As mentioned, the album has a distinctly mysterious and affected feel to it, one that admirers of Chad VanGaalen will savour. Maltby’s vocals are delicate and subdued, which compliments the melodic, clean reverb guitar heard on songs such as “Hell Is Not” and “I Ate Apples,” as well as darker, heavier songs such as the title track and the consuming, haunting finale “I Left It.” However, there is also a dissonance that emanates from the album as well, with episodes of discord and tension that balance with the moments of peace and subtle beauty. This is where the greatness of not only the album, but Heavy Bedroom lies. There is no fear to pursue both the dark and the light, and to make the listener balance on a tightrope between the flight to heaven and the fall to hell. The band allows us to become attached, but not too comfortable. The next turn in any given song can never be anticipated. This can be heard no better than in the song “The Sun And Its Glare,” which begins with noisy havoc and ends in melancholy:
Goodbye, my friend. I’m leaving you here.
The album was recorded and mixed by another Bondar co-conspirator Gary Franks (Roberta Bondar, Silkken Laumann, CEREMONY, ex-As The Poets Affirm) and mastered by Sam Seguin. The incredible cover artwork was done by Penny Davenport, check out more of her work on her website.
Have a listen to the Heavy Bedroom’s new album I Saw An End below, and don’t miss them open for Kalle Mattson at Raw Sugar Cafe on Thursday, Oct. 15!
RBC Bluesfest Day 2: Sly & Robbie + Bonobo + Jeff Tweedy
Bon bien: Bluesfest!
A Friday table d’hôte menu that starts with three local acts at the same time is torture for those inclined to stay in to eat. It can be hard to avoid gorging on the radio’s snacks or travelling to the smorgasbords of neighbouring metropolises, but once in a while there are feasts to be had here too. RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest opened the kitchen at 1800 hours and set locals Silkken Laumann, Cold Capital & Angelique Francis to begin feeding us.
Ottawa’s own Silkken Laumann (from Detroit, MI) played both sides of the border at RBC Bluesfest on the River Stage on July 4, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Silkken Laumann could easily be from Detroit, MI as Rolf Klausener introduced his newest band, but I swear I’ve seen that bassist Gary Franks before in another eponymous band of a female Canadian… And Pat Johnson & Adam Saikaley? We have two guys in Ottawa named exactly the same! Silkken proved pop EDM is good at any time of day, even though they ended their set slightly early. There’s something uplifting about Saikaley beaming as he buttons and Franks making love to his bass guitar as Klausener offers info: “This song is about not fucking it up,” and, “this song is about going on a post-breakup fuck-spree.” Peppered swear words and social commentary on American quality of life are also for any time of day! And cheers to the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” cover.
Cold Capital opening the Black Sheep Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
I caught the middle of Cold Capital‘s set, playing some bluesy rock with a country twang for the patrons of the Black Sheep Stage. The local five-piece band have been featured at the Canadian Music Week in 2013 and are plowing through the country rock waves with lyricist Erik Hertzberg at the helm, his brother Nick on keys, John Cote on drums, Matt Muir on guitar & Andrew Erlandson on bass. We checked out their debut EP late last year, which is available for free download on their bandcamp page.
Inside, Angelique Francis, a young up-and-coming talent from the west end, filled the Barney Danson Theatre. This 16-year-old has a stage presence for which many performers strive perhaps because she’s already had nine years to practice on stage! Her voice ranges from warm to delicate, and from quirky to refined and she writes with a look into the life of a teenager that a lot of adults should and do appreciate. The effects of peer pressure (“Come on, baby”) and the increasing issue of homeslessness are just two examples of her subject matter. She was backed up by Michel Medrano Brindis on drums, Miguel de Armas on keys & the ubiquitous Marc Decho on bass guitar. She played an hour for the full theatre and for those of us lucky enough to have a closed circuit TV outside on a busy weekend for this local gem. Good luck tonight in T.O. Angelique!
Before I could make it back to the River Stage, I thought to exit the front of the Canadian War Museum but was blasted with solo act Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish fame singing about driving on the highway, not wanting to be a DJ and finding that perfect spot on the “Radio.” This, his third single from his third country album, was enough for me. I’ve read it rumoured on the wikis that he wrote an R&B album before going rural but I wasn’t going to wait around to find out if he played any.
Bonobo, AKA Simon Green, played with vocalist Szjerdene & a four-piece band on the River Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014 Photo: Joseph Mathieu
Possibly the most anticipated act for me that evening was a fine Brit by the name of Simon Green, better known to the world as DJ & producer Bonobo. Is there anything better than watching something you know to be good turn out to be great? The man on the bass & buttons was flanked by five other artists who added dimension to his downbeat electronica but who also let him play solo so we could meet the hard-working multi-instrumentalist he truly is. See “Cirrus” from The North Borders & “All In Forms” from Black Sands for some solid chill out tracks.
Szjerdene, the finespun voice on his newest album The North Borders, held sway over the audience from her first appearance. The sun setting on the River Stage, the weather so beautiful as to be completely unnoticeable, and her dress the likeness of a nebula only made us love the set even more. Her spectral voice sang her own songs from Bonobo’s fifth studio album and my favourites by Andreya Triana from Black Sands (“Stay the Same“).
Loose rock rubadub reggae from music legends Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang at RBC Bluesfest on the River Stage on July 4, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
The stage was set for Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang, the hardest working dream team of legendary rhythm producers from Jamdown. Holy crap, you guys. Find a list of their collaborations and you’ll come across their well-rounded estimate of 200,000 songs played or produced. If we use the well-rounded estimate of 40 years of their work together (since they joined forces mid-70s), we can suppose that they would have had to work on 13 and a half songs a day for the last 14,610 days… This is only possible because percussionist Lowell “Sly” Dunbar & bass boss Robert “Robbie” Shakespeare are a maelstrom of creativity, and because they are sought after by thousands of artists who know their sound to be the sickest. Their hypeman Nambo Robinson fulfilled his duty without putting his trombone down all night. When he wasn’t pumping us up with his horn he had it in the crook of his arm, introducing the Taxi Gang and special guest Bitty McLean. Their road manager Peter G made his way to the stage as a prime vocalist with a penchant for serenading the prettiest lady he could find in the crowd. “I don’t like how far I am from the people right now,” he cooed, probably to the relief of that prettiest lady’s boyfriend.
After a history lesson in the evolution of roots, reggae & rock you’d think the night would be over… but over at the Black Sheep Stage Jeff Tweedy started playing his own “blues.” The charmer from Illinois quipped: “Blues isn’t about making yourself feel better, it’s about making the other guy feel worse. And that’s how I can call my music blues.” His position as an alt rock household name is secure and so is his dynasty now that he’s begun jamming & producing tunes with his son Spencer. The scion Tweedy drove the drums behind his father last night, as they are practicing their songs from their collaborative album Sukierae, which will be out in September. Once the crushing electronica bass from the Bell Stage started to make its way over the Museum, the sire Tweedy pulled out the big guns: Wilco & Uncle Typelo tracks. The rolling hills of the crowd were alive with many sighs and cheers that night…
Zedd crushing it on the Bell Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014. Photo: RBC Bluesfest Press Images
What I missed on the Bell Stage were two superstar deities cut from very different cloth: Journey, the demigods of arena rock from an era past, and Zedd, the daemon prince of EDM sent from the future. Crowd-pleasers to be sure, but since I’m not pleased by crowds I settled for hearing & seeing their shows from afar. Frankly, I didn’t really have the option to avoid them completely because the one thing they do have in common? Ils font du bruit en tabarnac!
Improvising a Festival-filled Evening of Jazz @ Ottawa Fringe Festival & TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
I finally got off my lazy tukhus and took in Ottawa Fringe Festival‘s music series on Wednesday, June 25. Last night it was Adam Saikaley’s his quintet interpreting Miles Davis to celebrate the Ottawa Fringe’s 17th year of performing artists.”Get ready,” bassist Marc Decho told me. “We’re about to do some crazy stuff.” They played the five tracks from Filles du Kilimanjaro by replacing the trumpet with Alex Moxon’s guitar and the tenor saxophone with Linsey Wellman’s alto. The powerhouse five are Adam Saikaley on keys, Linsey Wellman on sax, Mike Essoudry drumming, Alex Moxon on guitar & Marc Decho on bass. From start to finish, I thought this is the reason we like live music — jazz music. The jazz method is the best way to enjoy a small group of people using the most beautiful tools humanity has ever created: musical instruments.
For a moment, Decho left this reality with a low-fret solo and almost put Essoudry to sleep as his lids slowly closed, continuing to drum. Saikaley worked his back into the keyboard and brought the arranged song back to a jam, that strayed from Miles Davis into a Sound Providers or J-88 kind of sound. Beautiful sessions, right up until “Mademoiselle Mabry (Miss Mabry)” at the end. I can’t wait to see them again or any other of Saikaley’s projects. Our Kid Whiz Sacha confided that he’d seen Gary Franks of Roberta Bondar & Saikaley jam for about 25 minutes once, and they sounded like a thunderstorm.
The Adam Saikaley Quintet playing sick jazz at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in the Fringe Courtyard on June 25, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
We jumped the fence and walked a jaunt over to City Hall, Marion Dewar Plaza to be exact, to watch another jazz group celebrate performance art.
Bill Frisell has always been known for his dope projects and this evening’s Go West was no different. He led his four-man jazz ensemble below a giant screen on which the 1925 silent film Go West played as they added music to the story. Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr & Kenny Wollesen all played with Frisell on June 24th for his GUITAR IN THE SPACE AGE! at the NAC Studio. Having been on-and-off bandmates all through each of their impressive musical careers they’re synergy was palpable. They orchestrated Buster Keaton’s character into new a light for a packed tent of jazz lovers as the OLG After Dark Series promised they would.
The movie is classic and it made me want to cheer for the main character Friendless as he exploded out of a barrel that rolled off a moving train, and bemoan his bad luck in NYC where he couldn’t even deal with foot traffic. The story of this drifter making his way through the USA and inevitably befriending a cow named Brown Eyes on a ranch was beautifully complimented by the four jazzmen, from the dinner bell going on Wollesen’s cymbal, to the bulls chasing Friendless through a climactic crescendo, and finally to the uplifting denouement of an 89-year-old story brought back to life. It was an ultimate remix that earned them a standing ovation.
Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr & Kenny Wollesen playing Go West at TD Ottawa Jazz Festival for the OLG After Dark Series on June 25, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
Both festivals are still going to put on some amazing plays & performances by the time Canada Day Weekend rears its head, so here are some more great shows to consider:
Stacked DJ lineup at Black Sheep Inn this Saturday + contest details
If there’s one thing that The Black Sheep Inn is really good at, it’s throwing a hell of a party. Well, this Saturday will be no exception as some of Ottawa’s premier DJs in the scene get set to man the decks and create absolute chaos. The DJs include:
Review: Silkken Laumann ‘Not Forever Enough’ + NYE album release bash @ Babylon
What better way to bring in a new year than plan a long-awaited album release AND have a big, loud, and sweaty New Year’s Eve bash at the same time? Well, the guys in the Ottawa dance-pop group Silkken Laumann thought of it, and they sure know how to throw a hell of a party.
New Music: Roberta Bondar – Pleather Bed
Roberta Bondar (Photo: Kathy Roussel)
Things have been a little backed up these days for me, and posts have been few and far between. For that I apologize, but I couldn’t miss getting this explosive new track by Ottawa’s Roberta Bondar out there. It’s off their upcoming EP, which many of us are very excited to listen to in its entirety. In the meantime, see what’s in store and check out the new track “Pleather Bed”.