Ottawa’s lo-fi garage rockers Expanda Fuzz just released a new video just in time for Halloween, for their aptly named song “Ghosts and Flowers” off of their brand new LP Cotton Candy Jet Engine.
I mean I think we can all agree that nothing says Halloween like ghosts, flowers, blurred vision, and acetaminophen… or maybe they are waking up from a night of a little too much boos. Sorry I couldn’t help it.
The video is shot in a way that truly matches the band’s lo-fi vibes. From the shots of the sunflowers in the garden to the mannequin in the medic tent surrounded by old school medical supplies, this video really captures the fuzzy ambiance and slow driving flow of the song.
For anyone who has ever seen the band perform or seen their previous videos, note that this is one of the first time you ever get a chance to see Niki Nine Doors without her infamous 60’s mod chic white sunglasses.
Check out the video below and go listen to the rest of the most excellent Cotton Candy JetEngine and grab yourself of copy of limited edition cotton candy pink vinyl.
Hull post-punk group Scattered Clouds recently released an incredibly well animated and intense video for their new single “Justice.”
The song is powerful and dark which makes sense given that it is inspired by the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi at the hands of Ottawa Police. The band describes it as “a minimalist yet violent interpretation of the abuse of power and unlawful vigilantism rampant in the police force.” The band’s lo-fi sound, haunting lyrics and driving drums really complement each other and allows the emotion and rage to boil to the top.
The video has some very impressive animation work layered over some old nondescript black and white video footage. The intensity, anger and violence builds throughout the video, culminating with what appears like blood splatter pulsing on the screen to the beat of the drums. I was especially moved by the powerful imagery of the blows to the head under the watchful eye of the law during the chorus where “justice” is repeated several times.
Washington DC’s Sneaks performed at St. Albans Church on the second last day of Ottawa Explosion, battling heat and spiritual presences as she performed most of the songs on her self-titled debut EP, with a few additional jams thrown in. Sneaks kept her songs quick and to the point, none of which exceeded two minutes (her seven song EP comes in at well under 10 minutes), opening with a brief rendition of “This Is.”
As a solo act playing bass to a drum track, Sneaks nonchalant, matter-of-fact lyrics and lo-fi vibe really carry each song with vaguely-relatable lines, what appear to be inside jokes with herself and seemingly random words. The catchy chorus of “Tomorrow maybe / today for sure” during the fourth song of the set had me quickly singing along. Before moving on to the next song she briefly looked around the front of the church behind her, and pointed out that there was some “supernatural stuff going on,” and then proceeded into her single “X.T.Y.” Sneaks wrapped up with “True Killer.”
Shortly after Sneaks finished up, Gatineau’s FET.NAT began to set up their gear facing each other in the middle of the church floor where all of the pews had been removed. FET.NAT dived into their set with reckless abandon and formed an instant connection with the crowd, which completely encircled them during their performance. The amazing acoustics at St. Albans really made the show an immersive experience and most of those in attendance were quickly grooving hard to the energetic, off-kilter rhythms and intentionally abrasive sounds that permeated the church.
Unfortunately, for those of you reading this FET.NAT is one of those “you really had to be there” type of acts. I know that it sucks to read that, but it sucks more for me trying to write about it. While SNEAKS is as wonderfully DIY-simple and straightforward as it gets, FET.NAT’s music is precisely engineered chaos, practiced and preformed by an insanely tight band. The crazy combination of soprano sax, live drums, and electronic samples somehow fits well with the distorted franglish vocals, piercing guitar riffs and odd songs structures. I personally challenge anyone to attempt to cover one of their songs.
FET.NAT opened with the first track from their latest EP, Stop Saying It’s So Beautiful, with the aptly titled “VEGAS PARIS,” wherein the main refrain is those words repeated as the chorus as a digitally modified vocal sample. “Dre,” also on the same EP followed shortly after. The band rounded out the set with “WTF Jumpin’ Bean” and “Blunt l’Inspecteur.”
Throughout the set they managed to maintain a super fun, engaging and energetic atmosphere. This was definitely one of my favourite shows at Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2016 and if you are ever presented with the opportunity, I highly recommend seeing both of these acts, albeit for completely different reasons.
Here is a taste of FET.NAT playing “WTF Jumpin’ Bean” live at Pop Montreal a few years ago.
Fire Antlers just released his debut EP, Crawl. Fire Antlers is a solo project of Travis Kinnear who plays guitar and sings and is accompanied by his sidekick the 975 Rhythm Ace FR 8L on drums.
Kinnear writes that “Fire Antlers was created under the belief that people want to kick their feet up and listen to simple pop tunes about sensible things… like colonizing Mars, or inappropriate dance moves.” Don’t think I could have said it better myself. Crawl is lo-fi garage pop album and perfect for fans of Mac Demarco and stripped-down weird jams. The EP was produced by Cam Steacy (Organ Eyes/Heavy Traffic), and he also plays on a few tracks. Anyone who know’s Steacy knows he is no stranger to this sound. Sticking with the theme of local collaboration, the album art was done by Jonny Yuma.
The standout track for me is the fifth track, “Joy de Vivre.” The song brings me back to a time where songs sounded a little different. Feels like a sad song by a rock n roll crooner. With closing lyrics like this you will understand why; “Well I guess that’s all for the sympathetic side of me, I feel bad, but that’s what you get for trying to mess with my joie de vivre. If mutual anger made us whole, then I’d rather be an empty soul.” I also just love the title “Joy de Vivre” being a sad song, that is why you never judge a book by its cover.
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
Shakey Graves 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
Toronto’s Alvvays 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.
It is finally here! I have seen them live three times now and am very excited to see Blue Angel now have some recorded material. Blue Angel are Bruised Tongue‘s all female all-star band that consists of Roberta Bondar’s Lidija Rozitis, Organ Eyes’s Sam Pippa, and Caylie Runciman of Boyhood. We’re big fans of all three of these ladies’ main projects, but this collaboration is something special. The three song self-titled EP is raw, rocking, grungy, grimy and noisey, while still delivering powerful vocals from all three members.
There’s something about screaming on a lo-fi recording that just does the trick. These girls do what they want, how they want it – and don’t look back. Keep an eye out for Blue Angel inciting absolute mayhem in venues all around town.