We’re excited to present the first look at Nightshades‘ new video for “Double Vision,” which appears on the recent self-titled album released on November 15th.
The album is somewhat of a departure from their previous EPs, slowing things down and simplifying the song structures while maintaining the sludgy and gritty elements that many of us know and love. While the tempo has slowed a bit, lead vocalist and guitarist Mallory Giles chose to hone her songwriting skills and focus on lyrics and melody over speed and complexity of instrumentation.
“After the ‘Wendy EP’ we wanted to take some time to write a full record. Things came together pretty slow,” she explains. “I had a huge writers block last winter and it was scary. I thought ‘well that’s it. I guess that’s over’.”
“I was grabbing at straws, trying to find inspiration and I ended up borrowing a bass off a friend. I started fiddling around with it and it became this cool new way of looking at music. I wrote a few of the songs off this new album on that bass and transferred it to guitar. Just playing with power chords and slowing things down, developing less complicated structures. Just taking it easy, and focusing on melody and story.”
“I think that’s kind of where we were all at. Just growing up, and chilling things out. And once Dean joined the band, his style of bass playing was pretty relaxed, and we were into it. We still have some heavy songs that Geoff wrote, and I don’t think we’ll ever not be a heavier band, but things are less rushed now. I think I was kind of hiding behind speed before because I wasn’t very good at my instrument. Playing really super fast felt easier and less scary. Now that I’ve developed as a guitarist, and we’ve grown tighter as a band, we can take a step back and just like..go slower. It’s funny, cause we’re still pretty fast, just not as insane as we used to be.
Nightshades channel the fuzzy sounds of 90’s alternative bands such as The Breeders and Sonic Youth, bringing with them punchy and distorted tracks that draw listeners in. Any fans of Kim Deal-era Pixies will surely fall effortlessly into Nightshades as their new self-titled album maintains a fun and upbeat aesthetic throughout, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, the songs seem more carefully crafted and it’s obvious that the band took time to put this one together.
Another thing that doesn’t take itself to seriously is the video for “Double Vision.” Directed by filmmaker Rob Bennett, the concept sees Giles going on some terrible first dates which take psychedelic turns.
“On those dates I would see like figments of my imagination like masked unicorns and masked characters and they would try trip me out while I was out with these guys,” Giles says. “IOn the day of the shoot, we were sticking to the plan, but we ended up having fun and trying different shots of us dancing and stuff, and me lip synching… It turned into this whole other thing that we all found really fun, funny, and great. It feels like a real rock n’ roll music video now. Not too serious. Not too much sense made. The original concept was actually pretty dark. I think it’d be cool to write a play or a short out of it one day.”
“Working with Rob was easy. He had killer gear, was a total pro, and had some really great on-the-fly ideas too. Rob is a musical mastermind in his own right and knows a ton about rock n’ roll. So making a rock video with him was effortless.”
Nightshades are set to released their new album on cassette this Saturday at The Rainbow, along with Montreal art punks Smokes, Ottawa heavy-hitters Bonnie Doon, and up-and-comers Slow Dawn. Tickets are $7 and doors at 9 pm, 19+ only. Check out the new video for “Double Vision” below, and stream to the new album online here.
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.
After a very, very last minute decision to go to a show, I was set to take on Pressed Café on the 13th of April. For those who have never been, Pressed Café is a small coffee house and bar on Gladstone Avenue. The venue is one of the smallest I’ve seen to this day and the room itself seems to be designed to fit maybe thirty people seated. This “full house” standard was once broken, but that is a different story for another time.
On the 13th, Pressed was not a full house, however, everyone left with hearts filled with something they’d come to the venue without. For me, it was pride and hope, and lungs filled with the smoke from the fog machine (yes, they did indeed have one).
Nightshades was the first to perform, and Mallory (guitar and vocals) even admitted that at practice the night before, everything sounded amazing. But when she went on that night, she felt like it just wasn’t as good. However, I beg to differ. Their sound, although described as garage punk, thrash, or grunge, is astoundingly similar to The Breeders, and Mallory’s voice is so much like Kim Deal’s that I was completely blown away. Her vocals sweet and melodic but with a little depth that you wouldn’t expect. She didn’t hold back at all, and laughed off not being able to quite remember the set list, joking around that it’s what professional bands do. The overall sound of the band, going past just describing it as The Breeders, is gritty. Accompanied by a strong baseline that caused the building to shake was a heavily distorted guitar and some really unique drumbeats.
If you came to see Nightshades for a heavy and overpowering guitar sound, you’ve come to the wrong place. Dean’s bassline is the focus, it’s aggressive but doesn’t make a big deal out of itself and when Geoff pounds the drums, it’s truly something else. It’s not like most drummers that I’ve seen that go at the drums like Grohl. This is something that came from the late 80’s and transitioned into the 90’s. Not quite the anger from the grunge movement but definitely holds a strong element of it. It’s so well put together and the fact that the band itself seemed so into what they were doing just created a more positive experience overall. A favourite of mine was by them is for sure a song called “London Bass” because the bassline is prominent but has a unique build with the guitar.
The next band to play was one by the name of Look Vibrant. They’re a band that seems to be a bit of noise rock with a psychedelic twist to it. Here’s a better visual for you. Remember back in the 70’s when kids would get high and listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon? This is a band that you would probably do the same thing with. They’re an incredibly unique band, and believe me when I say I’ve never heard anything like them. There are falsettos used in every song, but it feels just right in a strange way. With many keyboards, drums (with a broken crash symbol), and some synths, this band of five is impressive. How they fit these instruments that look like they shouldn’t be able to go together, I won’t understand, but they managed to do it all. The overall style of the band really caught my eye because they seem like what would either be considered hipster or very 80’s, but when they began, I was blown away by the harmonies and by how lost they got in the music. Not to mention how much they enjoyed performing for a small room despite the limited amount of space. Overall, the performance was one that drew you in either out of curiosity or because you genuinely enjoyed it. It was soothing and if you ever find yourself in a place where you might have a creative block or just need something to listen to while laying on your floor thinking about the rest of your life, by all means, find their Bandcamp and all of their EP’s. I especially recommend the song “Clouds” if you are going to do the aforementioned.
The last band,Smokes, was a band I found myself enjoying a lot more than I thought possible. With small moments between all the members and the way they threw themselves into it, it really set the tone of the show and created a positive atmosphere. Everyone felt like they were part of something. The genre was a strange one and verged on punk and rock, bordering it all but throwing in elements that you wouldn’t see in either. When I say that, I mean they managed to throw in a violin into the mix of guitars, and drums, changing the sound of it with many pedals, but nonetheless, it was incredibly impressive. When you learn that those few sounds that sound like a synth are in fact a violin, it blows your mind away completely and all notions of what a punk band needs to be are blown out of the water. These guys push the boundaries, and I mean that in a good way. They certainly make explorations with their music. Playing the bass more like a guitar, plucking at the violin strings, combining some guitar into that and an intricate drum beat that doesn’t remain the same throughout the entirety of every song, it was incredibly impressive to watch. They took absolutely every detail into consideration to make sure it sounded ideal. Not only that but the movements throughout the performance really proved for a more enjoyable show and challenged photography if you tried to get a shot of just one of the members. All in all, their distinct sound which faintly echoed that of Depeche Mode’s was truly money well spent. Their lyrics were insightful, especially in the song “Body Heat,” allowed emotional connections to the songs they performed.
After all the songs, save one, were performed, it was exactly 10:59 pm. People scattered and started to help dismantle the drum kit, and packed up equipment while others got a beer and handled the merch tables. During that time, I went and thanked the bands and talked to them a bit about their show (making sure they weren’t in conversation or too busy). It turns out Look Vibrant was thrown into an Ottawa show and they didn’t really realize it, but went with it anyway and drove back to Montreal for a show the very next day.
Pressed is an intimate venue where you can go up to people, start a conversation, and just simply connect with the bands, which is exactly what I did. Some engaged in conversation, others exchanged information and it was left at that but overall, everyone was incredibly friendly and pleased to have a conversation with you.
I strongly suggest you keep a lookout for these bands if you want your mind blown, your creativity to flow, and to hear a strange and artistic take on your favourite genres. Your experience will be a pleasant one, you can hold me to that, and if for some reason you don’t find yourself tapping your foot to at least one of the songs, a least you got out of your stuffy home.
Since 2012 the Doldrums Festival has been an annual respite from the cold and slushy tail end of winter in Ottawa.
This year, the two-night festival is taking place at Club SAW in the heart of the nation’s capital on March 24 and 25. Doldrums Festival is a great example of independent Ottawa organizers and musicians working hard to showcase the best and brightest this city has to offer. This year’s edition features all local acts and is made possible thanks to the support of community-oriented businesses such as CHUO 89.1 FM, Dave’s Drum Shop, Spaceman Music Ottawa, Happy Goat Coffee Co., and Ringbill Records.
If you’re into dreamy, psychedelic and experimental vibes, night one is a sure bet with a solid dose of synth and effects-driven acts – Destroy Clocks, Church of Trees, Kate Schroder and sbsst. Leave your preconceived notions at the door and be prepared to be taken on an otherworldly musical adventure.
Night two shifts gears from the whimsical to the rocking, as Saturday focuses more on electric guitars and grandiose percussion as the driving force. Expect an all out party filled with energy, as performances by Prayer Wheels, Nightshades, Shadowhand and The Vile Bodies are sure to get the crowd going.
So this weekend, escape the winter blues and march your way through Ottawa’s slushy sidewalks to Club SAW for two great nights of local music with a little bit of something for everyone. Check out a recent interview with Church of Trees by Sometimes Always below.
CityFolk is expanding its programming this year to include more local artists from the Ottawa/Gatineau region. Musical Harvest – dubbed “Marvest” – is an event series offshoot of the larger and newly rebranded CityFolk, and it will take place in small, unconventional venues in the Glebe neighbourhood September 17-20. All the locations are easily accessible and close to CityFolk’s main grounds at Landsdowne Park.
This free concert series is a result of the festival organizers taking interest in the growing strength of Ottawa’s music scene. They are rethinking the festival format to be a ‘hybrid’ between the traditional big-festival happening on a specific site and the more disparate, yet expansive, South By Southwest showcase-style venue-based festival (based in Austin, TX). Although the two formats are rarely combined, Marvest represents CityFolk’s desire to support Ottawa’s local musicians and provide them stages from which they can share their music with a wider audience. Moreover, this series will help support the local businesses that have offered their space to be converted into a concert venue for the festival.
Organizer Mark Monahan was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen: “What we’ve been seeing over the years with Bluesfest and Folk is that more and more local artists are submitting to be part of the programming,” he said. ”We’ve seen the list of acts grow from 200 to 450. I think the scene right now is better than it’s ever been in the 25 years or so I’ve been involved in local music.”
The Aberdeen Pavilion will host Marvest shows in addition to 13 local shops in the Glebe. The venues include The Aberdeen Pavilion, The Wild Oat, Metro Music, Octopus Books, Black Squirrel Books, House of Targ*, Kunstadt Sports, FarmTeam Cookhouse, David’s Tea, The Unrefined Olive, Original Burger, Whole Foods, Local, and Irene’s. (* House of Targ is the only venue that is not free).
Showbox’s Marvest showcase will take place at Original Burger Joint on Bank St. in The Glebe. (Photo: John Olsthoom, Apt613)
Of the 60 of local acts chosen to play Marvest, nine were specifically selected to release their new albums during this time. These acts include many familiar faces: Loon Choir, Alex Silas and the Subterraneans, James Leclaire & the Cable 22’s, Waters, Lost to the River, Ilvekyo, John Allaire, Moonfruits, and the Brook.
Day two of Ottawa Explosion got off to a rocky start thanks to the fact that it was raining sideways, but Mother Nature pulled through eventually and ultimately delivered another beautiful night for punk rock.
Boyhood not letting the rain dampen their spirits at Ottawa Explosion Weekend in Ottawa, ON.
Getting things started outside despite to downpour was Ottawa’s very own Boyhood. Led by Caylie Runciman, Boyhood are experimental and dark, and perfect fit for the gloomy evening. Boyhood played a great set with some pretty sweet beats and cosmic sounds, and this was most apparent during the performance of their new song “Sooner Than You”. If that song is sign of the band’s direction and evolution, then I am thrilled. The ’80s synth undertones, as well as the grimy and funky bass lines by Luke Martin made people forget about the rain and get lost in music. It was also great to hear them play songs off the 2014 release When I’m Hungry, like my favourite “Fresh Meat”.
The rain continued to fall as I made my way to Mugshots to see the kids in Weed Mom. The band unfortunately had to deal with some sound problems outside of their control, but they persevered. The band is young, fun and finding its place. The subject of their songs made me laugh as they went from one song about making out with your friends to another song about the pains of having sex with someone with a big dick. As the sound started to improve, Weed Mom played their debut single “Plum Tree”, which I really like. To top everything off, guitarist and singer Sasha pulled off drummer Tyrin’s shirt and ate sushi off his chest. Oh Weed Mom, I am excited to see you bloom.
It was an emotional show for Ottawa’s Nightshades. On one hand it was positive, as it was the band’s tape release party for Wendy, their second EP in less than a year. But it was also sad because it marked the last show that bass player Sarah Grant will play with them as she is about to leave to travel the world. The band is in good hands, as Sarah said, “CBC learned about me leaving and have offered Shad to replace me… it will now be Nightshads.” In all seriousness, they have another bassist lined up and Nightshades will go on. They played a set filled with music off of both albums. They also had to struggle through some sound issues, we could barely hear the guitar and sometimes could not hear the backup vocals. Highlights were “Broken Bag”, “Teenage Fool”, and their new single “Wendy”. Sarah – we at Showbox wish you the very best going forward!
With the tears wiped from our eyes it was time to summon daemons, dance with goblins, and draw pentagrams with Black Tower. Ottawa’s three-piece got the rain to stop thanks to their pact with the devil. They opened with their latest single the solo-laden and driving “Death March” to set the tone. No moment of the set better summarizes Black Tower than when bassist Scotty said, “This song is called ‘The Dark Lord’, it is about the Dark Lord.” Lead singer and guitarist, Erin Ewing, has an intense and haunting voice, perfect for their metal-inspired punk rock. She has moments of guttural vocal fills, with the occasional incendiary high-pitch screaming part that ignited the entire courtyard.
Lightening things up was new wave punk band Century Palm from Toronto. It was hot, sweaty, and packed inside Mugshots for their set. Their music is really fun and was a great change of pace from Black Tower and the rest of the heavy bands I was about to see. During their set lead-singer Andrew Payne asked the crowd, “we cool?” The crowd cheered and he smiled. All I could think was, “we are not cool, my sweat is sweating it is so humid in here.” The band treated us to a new song off their upcoming album which was pretty cool. But what really made their set was when they pulled a saxophone out of nowhere and I fell in love.
Coliseum slaying it at Ottawa Explosion Weekend in Ottawa, ON.
Back outside it was time to take it up a notch with Coliseum. I was sure it was going to be a good show as local artist and all-around great guy Jordan went straight to the front of the stage. When Jordan is up front and dancing, you know you are seeing a great band that it takes it to the next level. It was equally sweet to see the lead-singer and guitarist give him props after the first song and say, “I remember you.” The band played a killer set full of awesome songs like “Used Blood” and “Black Magic Punk”, as well as songs off their latest album Anxiety Kiss. But their music was not the most important part on this night. The was the comment made by singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson: “It is so great to see so many women involved in front and behind the scenes at this festival, unlike some jock shit like at Rock Fest.” He continued, “Gender inequality is not just a punk issue, but a human issue and it is a beautiful things you have here.” Well said, sir.
Now inside SAW it was time for Meat Wave from Chicago. They played fast short songs and once again Jordan danced so you knew it would be good. This noisy three-piece was strongly endorsed by Big Dick, as both members Johnny O and Dave Sec sang, cheered, and clapped loudly. Meat Wave’s lead-singer and guitarist, Chris Sutter, shared a little information with us: “This is our first time in Canada, home of Rush, Nomeansno, and hockey… sorry about that last one.” Burn. Really glad I saw these guys and discovered another cool band.
Closing out the night was one of my must-see acts, Obliterations, a hardcore band from LA. The band play fast, intense, and in your face. Which is doubly entertaining as the lead-singer’s face reminds me of Weird Al. They opened with “Scapegoat” and blasted straight ahead playing other greats like “Sick Feeling” and “Narcissist”. Unfortunately they experienced some pretty serious technical difficulties with the guitar amp and head crapping out. Eventually someone came to the rescue with a new amp and head and we were back in business. They picked up were they left of, just slamming through the set, capping it off with lead singer Sam James Velde walking through the crowd and standing on the bar. Don’t miss these guys.
Ottawa garage/punk trio Nightshades have just released their new EP Wendy, their second release in just over six months. The band has garnered a lot of attention since forming in February of 2014, and were asked to play a set in the Deifenbunker during MEGAPHONO earlier this year, and an opening set for Fucked Up during the Ontario Scene Festival in May.
Nightshades leave nothing to the imagination. There is a visceral quality to their music that penetrates both through living room speakers and on stage, connecting with listeners immediately. However, Nightshades has made a slight departure from previous work. Their new sound is much deeper, darker, and more dissonant than 2014’s The Beauty of Dreaming EP, stripping away some of the pop elements and replacing them with a heavier, grimier aesthetic that hits hard. More noticeable on the new EP are the layering of instruments in particular songs, such as the lead guitar in “Nail File” and “London Bass”, adding something a little different to the record.
“We wanted it to be nothing like the first one that’s for sure,” explained drummer Geoff Clark. “As for our goal for the sound, we just were going for something that we could all get behind. We wanted it to be fast and dirty, and in the end that’s what we got.”
Lead vocalist Mallory Giles’s echoed, disaffected vocals are a welcome contrast to the aggressive overdriven bass lines by Sarah Grant and unforgiving onslaught of percussion by Clarke. Sonically, the EP pays homage to garage acts of old like The Gories, playing some quick, fun, and upbeat tunes but also not afraid to tap into their darker side with songs like “Wendy” and “London Bass,” the latter of which is even garnished with some synth elements, something new for Nightshades.
One of the strongest tracks on the record is “Elevator Eyes,” the longest song on the album clocking in at a whopping two minutes and 43 seconds. It is a quintessential summer party song, going back and forth between quick verses and slower breakdowns. The EP ends with the frantic and discordant “Red Racer”, leaving us on a cliff edge wanting more of their new sound and style.
Fans of no-bullshit garage and punk rock will enjoy Wendy, however it is just barely long enough to satisfy the listener’s craving. Most of the songs are finished in the blink of an eye, making the experience of listening and diving into the EP a brief and somewhat frustrating one only because there’s a sense that this band has so much more to give. I guess that means we’ll just have to keep Wendy on repeat until Nightshades (hopefully) treats us with a full-length LP at some point in the future. Listen to Wendy in full below.
If you’ve ever had the chance to catch Toronto’s Fucked Up live in concert, you’ve been witness to something that stands on its own in Canadian music. There’s nothing like it. Melding lead singer Damian Abraham’s explosive, and often unintelligible, vocals with a roller coaster of instrumental layers, melodies, and arrangements, Fucked Up has set itself apart from other bands and garnered international praise for reinterpreting what it means to be in a hardcore punk band.
Having been around for the better part of a decade, Fucked Up took its music to a different level with 2008’s Chemistry of Common Life, ultimately winning the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for their effort. Their 2011 album David Comes to Life, a 78-minute rock opera for the ages, cemented them as one of Canada’s most important bands and a game-changer. Not only was David Comes to Life a sonically and conceptually brilliant work, but it was a de facto “fuck you” to those who said punk bands have limited intellectual capacity and musicianship – not to mention, when’s the last time you heard a 78-minute long album by a punk band-turned-rock band?
Their latest album, 2014’s Glass Boys, is a logical continuation of Chemistry and David, and even includes some notable collaborations including those with Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, Alexisonfire’s George Pettit, Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, and Kurt Vile.
Damian’s raspy and forceful vocals aren’t for everyone, and some that can get on board with Fucked Up’s songwriting have a hard time digesting his style of singing. However, it grows on you. Seeing a band live can completely change one’s perspective of that band, and I would say this is especially true for Fucked Up. Damian is a playful, talkative, and all around teddy-bear of a guy. You might not think so when he is on stage sweating profusely without a shirt on, but he and the band suck audiences in and spit them back out as fans by the end of the show.
Clue: Using a putter in the bunker won’t do you any good.
What you could win
One pair of tickets to Saturday May 9th’s show of Fucked Up playing with Dead Tired, Doomsquad, and Nightshades at Ritual as part of Ontario Scene. The draw will take place on Thursday, May 8, at noon. We’ll announce the winner over social media (and contact directly) shortly after noon. Good luck!
It has only been four months since we started presenting monthly shows at Mugshots and the momentum just keeps building. On Feb. 20 we presented Montreal’s party pack No Aloha, along with some of our favourite local bands Bonnie Doon and Nightshades at the jail bar. The cold didn’t stop an influx of people from countering the depressive effects of winter and letting loose within those brick walls. Here are some pictures from the night to prove it!