New Music: Don’t Give My Love Away by My Friend PJ
My Friend PJ, the project of long time Ottawa music scene member PJ Catsiyannis, recently released a new EP titled Don’t Give My Love Away.
Yes, PJ Catsiyannis is back making music with his new solo project My Friend PJ, which features Michael Laing and David Gervais. Many people may recognize PJ from his most recent bands Stay Classy, The Gallop, and Brights. Others who have been kicking around the scene for a while may also remember him from his earlier punk rock bands Thin Ice and Rivals from many moons ago.
Don’t Give My Love Away is a four song EP chalked full of emotional lyrics, as the title would suggest, and very catchy indie melodies, riffs and hooks, as we have come to expect from PJ’s projects.
While the title track is undoubtedly positioned to be the lead single with its great sing a long potential and a topic we can all relate to, the other three tracks are very strong in their own right. From the excellent harmonies and brake down in lead track “Liars,” to the beautiful self-doubt and guitar work in “Throw Me Away.” However the highlight of the EP for me is track three “Selfish Needs.” I love the return to some more punk rock sounds with the palms mutes, angrier tone in the vocals and on point drumming.
Don’t Give My Love Away is just the beginning as My Friend PJ intends to release more new music in 2019. If this is the appetizer, I can’t wait for the main course.
Have a listen Don’t Give My Love Away below and go see them live at The 27 Club this Friday November 9, as My Friend PJ opens for Edmonton’s Scenic Route to Alaska, info here. Advance tickets can be purchased online on the Spectrasonic website, or at Vertigo Records and both Compact Music locations.
RBC Bluesfest Day 4: Iggy Azalea, Alvvays, Nas & Shakey Graves
RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Mark Horton
A sweltering Saturday
afternoon, with crowds that were much more manageable than on Friday
, made for a great day 4 of RBC Bluesfest
. Save for a bewildering set from Allie X
, everything I caught on the day was pretty captivating.
Shakey Graves performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11, 2015. ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Scott Penner
beamed with charisma and perfectly captured an Austin, Texas, vibe during his set in the early evening at the Canadian Stage. Indie-folk rock in the vein of Tallest Man on Earth with some blues sprinkled in, he even controlled some of the driving percussion with his own feet and a suitcase drum. He engaged the crowd and spoke of songwriting as a teenager, when everyone feels like they already know it all. For those in the audience who didn’t already know Shakey Graves, he surely left a lasting impression.
Nas performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11, 2015.
~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Scott Penner
Hip hop legend Nas
showed that he still has it when he rocked the Claridge Homes Stage performing hits from his career that spans more than a decade. Shouting out cassette tapes and former peers like A Tribe Called Quest and Boogie Down Productions, it was refreshing to see someone still commanding the stage so many years later. Opening with the energy of “The Don”, his set lost absolutely no momentum moving forward. Gems like “Halftime” and “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” had intro medleys that made them sound fresh and new. Though a veteran, Nas shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Alvvays performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11, 2015. ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Mark Horton
have gone from playing venues like Ottawa’s Zaphod Beeblebrox to the largest music festival in the world, Glastonbury
, in only the span of a year. This meteoric rise is likely based on the strength of their eponymous debut, and their infectious single “Archie Marry Me”. Their dreamy brand of indie pop, and the floating voice of lead singer Molly Rankin perfectly gelled with the fading day in Ottawa. “Adult Diversion” and “Ones Who Love You” join aforementioned “Archie” as highlights of the set.
Iggy Azalea performs at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 11th, 2015. ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images
The interesting thing about having Iggy Azalea
headline the day after Kanye West is that they’re both pretty polarizing figures. While Kanye West alienates some with his persona, no one can question his music. Iggy Azalea on the other hand poses some interesting questions when it comes to her place in hip hop and popular music overall. Having a hip hop icon like Nas basically open for her only serves to further that scrutiny. Despite all this, if you view Iggy Azalea as a pop artist (like how one would view Vanilla Ice in the early ’90s), then there’s not much that you can fault her for. She is dynamic, attractive, and knows how to work a crowd. She was engaging with choreography and her hits like “Fancy” and “Work” had everyone bouncing. Though her set clocked in at less than an hour, she worked hard on that stage. If you can get past her almost-offensive Southern US affectations, then you might even say that she’s a star. Looking around at the smiles in the crowd of mostly young females, I’m sure they’d say as much.
Roots Album Release: Alex Silas’ Family Reunion
Saturday night, Alex Silas and the Subterraneans celebrated the release of their album Roots in a special edition of Bars & Breakbeats at Ritual Nightclub. Rocksteady Bookings loaded the lineup from top to bottom with nerdcore, alternative rock & hip hop balladry that swept away an involved crowd.
Alex Silas took to the stage for fourth or fifth time that night, finally as the frontman of his band that defies definition. Well, short-winded definition. It’s bilingual, it’s rock, and it’s hip hop beats with a dash of alt country. Silas took to the stage with a drumroll and started off with “Mouton Noir,” the first track of Part 2: Lotus of Roots. The aggressive beats & rhymes contrasted the recorded melody of Katie Bourque on the verse, as he reflected on his vagabondism and his search for a little more excitement in everyday life. Looking for love, making the most with what you got & giving peace a chance all shone as his favourite themes from the first song onwards. A confessed love of psychoactives, definitely another clear theme of the evening, was riffed on often as that possibility for adding spice into life. As the subject matter of the introspective “Alpine,” he shared his worries and the story of his pépére battling and dying of alcoholism.
The crowd was rapt, most of them sporting different versions of “HIP HOP HIPPIE” tees, as Alex Silas made musical love to them just as our MC Sully forewarned. Sully a.k.a. Shaun Sullivan, a spoken word poet, is also featured in Roots on the previously mentioned “Alpine.” His encouragement of the night’s performances were hilarious the night through. He carried us from act to act, warmly presenting artists who know how to speak for themselves but got the love anyway.
As Silas metaphorically bearhugged us with his considerable biceps, the Subterraneans brought the album to life with gusto. Liam Burke on guitar, the recent addition of Matt Robillard on drums and J2xF on beats, keys, MacBook & bass were on point for their proud leader. Really, it was more of a family reunion than a performance. The violin of Brigit O’Regan was one of my highlights, showcased on “Lions and Tigers and Bears.”
Missing LinX warmed up the stage before Alex Silas stepped up, bringing the energy of the evening to a peak. Hyf the Gypsy Sun, Prufrock & Just Jamaal take their poetry to the next level with a tangle of heavy bass and beat that ensnares the listener. Their political & social rhymes charged the night, stabbing out at injustice and preaching perserverance. Their sound is primal. It gave me the feeling that something big was coming after us in the wilderness.
Eddie Quotez killing it at Ritual on Saturday for the Roots album release.
Polishing the stage for the Ottawa rap royalty was my discovery of the evening: Eddie Quotez. Half cheerleader, half enfant terrible, fully a unicorn to be reckoned with. His style was raunchy, glib and speedy. “I only have one rule for my set — everyone has to participate. Say it with me: PAR-TI-CI-PATE!” His first song came out swinging and left us wanting more, immediately. His professed sexual desires & nerdy metaphors pushed the crowd to start moshing and afterwards start chanting Eddie’s name. Alex Silas joined him on the bass for a song, just as Eddie later joined Silas for “Last Song.”
Best song of the night was “Game Over,” introduced as: “This song is about loving somebody so much that you let them use Player One.”
Ottawa’s The Stringers playing for Ritual on Saturday, November 15.
As Alex Silas plays alternative rock with his hip hop, so The Stringers brought out the rockers in all of us. Their indie shreds & alt hooks had the floor dancing and chanting as they made their way through their recent EP See You At 7. They bridged the gap between the other hip hop acts & the headliners, playing sweet new songs and covers, one from the Arkells and another that everyone knew by heart, “All the Small Things” by Blink 182. Hats off to Jordan Lewis for indeed bringing the four-string thunder. Hey, his mic should have been louder though. All four lads were charming, especially in matching HHH tshirts.
Before a small pause in the program, Sully invited the second group of the night to come up. A trio known as The Adding Maching took to the stage. E.on, Defckon & R.A. the ADDwolf didn’t take in a single breath as they boomed through a fast-paced set — it was all exhalation. Backed by J2xF on the beats, they barreled through stage-thundering dance moves and jumped into the crowd to start a little pit. Their rhymes were so plentiful, so tightly packed, it was alliteration.
Sully had set the tone by walking through the crowd at the beginning of the night, performing three poems before he presented the acts. He covered his boozin’, the homeless in the city & “L.I.V.I.N.” Then he let “craziest motherfuckers in the city,” those Bastards, level out a horror-soaked set. Peek-A-Boo, their debut EP, just released last month, and they’re already set on releasing an LP this December. Their roar came from the dark part of my cranium, reminding me to pack a Louisville bat in my trunk from now on.
Captain Trips a.k.a. Odcmplx a.k.a. Fly on the Waltz a.k.a. one mean Bastard, howling for the night to start.
The Adding Machine & Bastards both ran similarly in agressive lyrics, but each with their own distinct styles. Both have new albums coming out soon and were joined by special guests during the sets. The Adding Machine had Eddie Quotez run the gambit and Bastards were joined by Andre KING Thibault & Aron the Alien for a special track that led to Ottawa expat Aron performing a song he really needed to spit. “Hometown (613)” had the whole of Ritual screaming out our area code. It was enough to warm the heart of Prince Luke, who almost didn’t make it to the show. Alex Silas & Doc Savage joined in for the anthem that made everyone feel part of the family.
Bombay Bicycle Club @ Algonquin Commons Theatre
British indie rocker band Bombay Bicycle Club are half-way through an 11-week tour of the world, from Oceania to America, passing through Iceland on the way to Europe, South Africa, and finally home to the UK. The zigzag through Canada & the States saw the indie freak poppers stop at one of the lesser-known venues in Ottawa, the Algonquin Commons Theatre. Their set on Friday, Oct. 17 had a sold out floor of fans from near & far in the 613.
They opened with several hits and kept the energy high throughout their set. The lights & visuals show was truly worthy of an international tour, very epic. They had the quintessential deep space shot of stars upon stars backlighting a falling human figure. What arena rockers don’t have that? At times, I felt like that white shape of a person, floating free in sound. I’m a fan of BBC enough to know that “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” is a great track to wake up your friends after a night of partying, but the show reminded me that their music is of an eclectic variety that drastically changes from album to album.
Bombay Bicycle Club performing at Algonquin Commons Theatre on Friday, October 17th, in Ottawa.
Their newest LP is number four in five years, named So Long, See You Tomorrow. It is as synthetically (see esthetically) pleasing as their critically-acclaimed A Different Kind of Fix (2011) but with a more distinct sound. In fact, the album is a paradox because it sounds like none of their other albums but each song is difficult to differentiate from the other at first. It is, however, an album with many twists & turns, full of surprises.
They played hits like “Shuffle” & “Leave It” with acoustic tunes from their earlier album Flaws. “Lights Out, Words Gone” used the album art from So Long to animate the seven circular screens behind the band into spinning circles of walking people. The likenesses of each bandmember in “Carry Me” and the dancing skeletons were enough to distract even the most seasoned fan. “Feel” struck me as a melting pot of Cuban, devotional Indian & anthemic pop rock. It was an earful, made mind-numbing with the imagery of a dancing viper on the seven cricles.
Liz Lawrence, who did more than just backup vocals, sang all of Lucy Rose’s parts from the studio albums with style. It was the most charismatic of the band’s performances, because she moved from behind the synth booth to the forefront regularly. Guitarists Jack Steadman & Jamie MacColl were close to each other but could have been unaware of the others’ presence the whole time. Still, even from the seats it was an entertaining concert.
Bombay Bicycle Club playing the Algonquin Commons Theatre on Friday, October 17, in Ottawa.
The Algonquin Commons Theatre is aiming to be an entertainment hub lined up with impressive musical guests over the next few weeks. The end of the month will see Big Wreck, Royal Tusk & The Caverners grace the stage in the Robert C. Gillett building. It’s equipped for big names & big sounds.
I’ve been doomed to leave schools just before new additions: after leaving elementary school Laurier-Carrière they replaced a dozen portables with a new wing, after graduating high school Franco-Ouest a massive atrium with classrooms & new teachers’ lounge was added, my quick stint at Ottawa U’s School of Business was the last time they had the Vanier building that felt more like a dungeon than a faculty building, and then of course Robert C. Gillett, the former president of Algonquin College, erected the Student Commons, not to mention the Centre for Construction Excellence, the years following my time in their Journalism-Print program. Woe is I, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the new digs at my old school.
The new building is too full of goodies to review here, so I’ll stick to the theatre, which is a state-of-the-art sound haven, with moulded ceilings & a centralized sound booth to perfect the acoustics. There are two balcony levels & a ground floor that was packed to the nines with very pleased Gonq students on Friday night. I noticed several bright-eyed ruffians rush out as soon as the show was over, having had a great start to their weekend already. Although it’s been there since 2012, the Algonquin Commons is off to a great start as a bright & loud new venue for the east end.