Busted limbs, broken noses, and a little bit of blood on the face is nothing out of the ordinary for Ottawa’s party punk rockers New Swears. They’ve just released a video for the track “Dance With The Devil” off of their new record And The Magic of Horses, and they crank up the gore factor to 11. That’s why we love them, along with the fact that their music will incite a party anytime, anywhere it is played. And The Magic of Horses is the band’s third full-length album, and their first with Dine Alone Records to be released June 23rd. The 10-track album is sure to be chock-full of summer party anthems with dirty melodies that beg to be blared in backyards across the country, which should go perfectly with the smell of barbecue smoke and pissed off neighbours.
The video’s timely release today also coincides with the Ottawa Senators’ first game of the NHL Conference Semi-Finals, a game which will surely have the streets packed with booze-filled hockey lovers. While we all hope the Sens avoid the kind of injuries that the band sustains in the video, we certainly wish them the best. Get amped up for the game and watch “Dance With The Devil” below, just make sure the kids are out of the room.
Don’t miss the New Swears Weekend happening at House of TARG June 23/24, they’re going full force with two record release shows back-to-back. Tickets available here.
Looking for an alternative to congested big-box dance clubs? Well, tonight there’s an all-new dance party coming to Chinatown’s infamous afterhours resto, Shanghai (651 Somerset St W) which features 90sOrBust DJs PJ & Palm D’or on the decks. They’ll be digging into new and classic r&b and hiphop, promising a blockparty vibe, with jams played out in full. It is aptly titled A Night Called Best (ANCB).
Inspired by South-east Ottawa’s legendary all-ages dance clubs and basement parties of the early 1990’s, the ANCB crew aim to bring a positive and inclusive hiphop and r&b event to Ottawa partygoers looking for the real deal. The night brings together a huge mix of hiphop supporters including House of Paint Urban Arts Festival, Arboretum Festival, CHUO 89.1 FM, and notable hiphop artists and DJs.
“We’re hoping to offer a more intimate alternative to the club scene, in the tradition of TimeKode, Feels, Ceremony, and Open Air Social Club,” explains co-organizer and DJ Palm D’Or. “If it’s a success, our hope is to start showcasing emerging hiphop before the party every month.”
Future editions of ANCB are what will set it apart from regular club nights – They aim to feature pre-party warm-ups showcasing curated local hiphop artists and producers, presented by CHUO FM r&b host Nicky Jean, 613 hiphop artist/manager David Sackey.
Artists interested in showcasing at upcoming editions can reach the crew at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via facebook.
A Night Called Best
– r&b + hiphop party –
w/ PJ + Palm D’or
651 Somerset Street W (at Bronson)
10pm / $7 door / no one turned away for lack of funds
19+ / all ages
Day four of Megaphono wrapped up with a jam-packed lineup at Hull’s Axeneo7 art gallery. Online tickets for the show had already been sold out for a week and at 10 o’clock, an hour and a half before the first band was to go on, it was announced that tickets at the door were sold out as well. From 11:30 until 2:00 am the crowded gallery housed some of the best acts we had seen this week.
The night kicked off with a rousing set from Toronto artist, Michael Rault, accompanied by a three-piece band who’s infectious jams were a harmonious balance of psychedelic infused pop hooks quickly drew in the gathering crowd. They opened their set with “Real Love,” a comfortable bass-driven track punctuated with well-timed drum fills. As they played on, I couldn’t help but feel that their sound was a perfect combination of Tame Impala’s bass lines and Young Rival’s hooks, especially on their second last song, “Too Bad So Sad.” Michael wrapped up the set with a soulful bluesy guitar solo and the band finished with a coordinated bang.
Across the hall, Darlene Shrugg didn’t waste any time getting started, as the five member art-rock outfit quickly busted into raucous jam. The eclectic group, which included members of Ice Cream, U.S. Girls and Slim Twig, who would later close out the night with a DJ set, played their first track, “Inherit” with restrained intensity. It was clear that all of the members were personally invested in the music, and they finished with a coordinated flourish. This was mirrored by the crowd. Some die-hard fans were immediately dancing and signing along. Through the next few tracks the band played to their strengths, namely the contrast between the singing voices of each member, minus the drummer, who certainly made up for it with her intensity behind the kit. Each song was an interesting mix of discordant and familiar chord progressions and piercing vocals, finishing with “First World Blues.”
Back in the lobby, Hull’s very own Scattered Clouds drifted into their first brooding experimental number. The crowd was immediately drawn to their pulsing and, at times, pummeling synths, which effectively created an ominous psychedelic atmosphere. At this point, the venue was at full capacity with standing room only as the three-piece drove on in an impressive display of multi-instrumentalism, syncopation and controlled noise. Driving bass lines and interesting hypnotic rhythms from the percussionist succeed in creating a macabre soundscape of reverb that matched the red lighting as the band worked their way through most of the tracks from their latest record, The First Empire.
Even before Scattered Clouds had finished, people started filling into the larger room across the hall in preparation for local favourites and headliners, New Swears. You could see quite a few New Swears t-shirts in the crowd as they waited patiently in front of red and green backlit signs sporting the band’s name. Right away the band busted into a quick rendition of “Day Dreaming,” from their latest album Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever. Underneath a flurry of confetti a mosh pit was already underway, and by mid way into the second song there was already a broken mic stand and crowd surfing as the crowd sang along and danced with reckless, but friendly, abandon. This continued and amplified throughout the rest of the set as they played through favourites “Two Darts,” “Stay Gold,” and the requisite “See You In Hull.” The show climaxed with the family-friendly “No Fun,” which soon had the whole crowd singing “I’d rather be fucked than be myself” over and over again while the band formed an impressive human pyramid as they played their instruments. For a very accurate representation of the atmosphere at this show, check out the end of the video for “Stay Gold,” linked below.
With the walls sweating and the oxygen levels in the room severely depleted from all of the people occupying such a small space, people went in search of a much-needed breather. Many preceded outside to a welcome bonfire under the stars while others visited the bar as US Girls and Slim Twig started their DJ set to wind down the night. All in all, it was a fantastic way to end a sincerely enjoyable, but exhausting week.
Since its inception in 2012, Arboretum Festival has increasingly become a seminal part of Ottawa’s cultural identity. Its organizers – primarily Rolf Klausener and Stefanie Power – are sharpened blades, cutting through all the music and food industry bullshit to bring us something real and something to call our own. I have had the pleasure of being at each and every Arboretum thus far, and watching it grow has been a wonder to witness.
However, this growth and development doesn’t come without hard work and dedication. At many points I’m sure there were times where the organizers wanted to jump ship, because that would be the easy thing to do. But creative people are a little crazy. Sometimes it can feel like you’re standing still on the train tracks, waiting for the train to come and run you over. But the reward for creating and maintaining something such as Arboretum is unparalleled. The importance it has had for the arts in our city cannot be understated.
I was out of town for the first few days of the festival this year, and was only able to make it onto Albert Island late in the afternoon Saturday when the music had started. There were a series of crucially important panels earlier in the day that I had to miss for logistical reasons, which I regret not being able to attend. We will post all the videos of these panels as soon as they are made available, as they help demystify much of the issues surrounding the unceded First Nation’s territory (upon which lied the new location of Arboretum Festival this year on Albert Island) and how it relates to communities in Ottawa/Gatineau. The precursor to these conversations were meetings that were held months back:
We had a chance to meet with a council member at Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, we spoke with activists from the Free The Falls movement, others from the Algonquin community, had ongoing discussions with Windmill, and concerned members of our community. […]
One thing we did see was a common need amongst all parties for awareness and harmony for all people, not only here in the Outaouais, but globally. Instead of cancelling the festival, we decided to move forward and facilitate public discussions, offering people a chance to come to the land, ask their own questions, and learn from those willing to share. The chance to connect is what made all the difference for us, and we hope it will for you as well. – Team ARB
As the final day of Arboretum 2015 got rolling on the music portion, I entered the beautifully decorated grounds only to see many smiling faces in this little paradise. The sounds of Montreal’s Saxsyndrum (Art Not Love Recs) were coming from the main stage, which was perfectly erected between the two warehouse buildings on Albert Island.
This experimental drum duo, to the best of my knowledge, was originally from Ottawa and has since relocated to Montreal. The band started with Nick Schofield on percussion and David Switchenko on tenor sax, but have since expanded to a full band, giving them a fuller and more radiant sound. Saxsyndrum’s music is in a class of its own, as their instrumental layering and obscure song structures captivated the growing audience in front of the stage.
The digital and electronic elements of their music is tempered by the incredibly talented instrumentation, creating a sonic blend that is electrifying to listeners. A highlight of the set was seeing A.P. Bergman of Montreal’s soundscape specialists Year of Glad provide powerful and enchanting vocal parts, with such ferocity that his veins barely made it through in tact.
Regrettably, I missed the great new band New Fries open things up at the Alley stage in Hull, only to catch their last frenetic song in exchange for finding sustenance for the rest of the night at Subway. To get an idea of their live show, read the review I wrote about their Sappyfest performance a few weeks ago (new the bottom of the review).
New Fries set the dial to “weird” perfectly for the next band to play the Alley stage – Hull’s Fet.Nat. This band is one of the region’s most imaginative, bizarrely creative acts. Their music is laden with groove and funky undertones, yet strewn with disjointed arrangements, irregular time signatures, socially derisive vocal diversions by singer JFno, and otherworldly instrumental experimentations. Alongside JFno reside some incredibly talented musicians – Linsey Wellman on saxophones, Pierre-Luc Clément on guitar, and Last Ex/Timber Timbre’s Olivier Fairfield on drums and synth. Their latest album, 2014’s Poule Mange Poule, was one of our favourites of the year.
Their set started off with an impromptu choir containing around ten people of all ages. This was a new experience for all of us, and only added to the chaotic nature of their music when performed live. They brought up Phillipe Charbonneau (Hilotrons, Scattered Clouds) to be the choral conductor, and he did an excellent job. JFno got the audience involved and closer to the stage, and even teased the people up on the balcony at Gainsbourg Pub as they watched on. Many people that were just there to have a drink and were unfamiliar with the bands looked pretty confused, wondering what all the commotion was about. But Fet.Nat played their obscure sounds and the vibe loosened up as people got into it.
The children in the choir were a little apprehensive at first, but then embraced the fun on stage as they screamed, and particularly seemed to enjoy making exotic bird sounds at one point in the set. JFno even lifted up his shirt half way through the performance, probably because there was a bachelorette party of some sort happening nearby. I don’t know. All in all, Fet.Nat did what they do best – push boundaries while delivering entertainment that you won’t find anywhere else.
Next up was Weights & Measures. They are a three-piece instrumental math rock band formed in the late 90’s in Ottawa, and rarely play shows anymore. I was unfamiliar with these guys before the Arboretum announcement, probably because I wasn’t in Ottawa back then. Their drummer is Jeremy Gara, and he also the drummer for a little band you may have heard of called Arcade Fire. With his primary commitments in Arcade Fire aside at the moment, he seemed happy to be back home to play with his old band. Gara, along with his bandmates Kevin Jagernauth and Samir Khan, completely took over Hull with their performance. Although it was about a 15 minute walk from the main festival area, the Alley Stage in Hull actually drew a significant crowd of people.
I can’t overstate how impressive Weights & Measures were live. Even after 11 years apart, their riveting guitar riffs, thunderous percussion, and penetrating bass lines blended together as the crowd watched in awe. Everyone that was there now understands this band was so well respected, as they made their complex and intricate arrangements seem easy. Their songs were explosive, robust, and at times hypnotizing. Many times throughout the set it seemed like a song was ending, and everyone cheered, only to find out that the song was not over and vice versa. Hopefully Weights & Measures will continue to play more shows, as their music remains timeless and can blow away just about anyone that appreciates music.
As I headed back to the Main Stage on Albert Island, Austra‘s performance had just begun. She was the final artist on the main stage, signalling the final set of the regular Arboretum program. She has become a synth-pop staple in Canadian indie music, delivering song after song of catchy and energetic compositions. I like to think of Austra and her band as Canada’s CHVCHES – even those who don’t appreciate pop music can get on board with how good their songs are.
As usual, Katie Stelmanis’ enthralling vocals took centre stage. Even with thumping beats and bone-shaking synth, Stelmanis’ classically-trained vocal chords were the most impressive instrument on stage. Her voice carried over over the Ottawa river, bounced off the Gatineau Hills, and ran wild through the Ottawa Valley. They played some new tracks that I failed to hear the names of, which could be an indication of a new LP sometime in the future. With everyone returning from the Alley Stage, the crowd was filling up in the main stage area and many started dancing – a bodily reaction that is almost inevitable when listening to Austra’s music. After playing some crowd pleasers such as “Lose It” and my personal favourite “Beat and the Pulse,” Austra bid the crowd adieu, but not before letting us all know that the Arboretum performance was her favourite Ottawa show yet. I think we’re onto something here.
The night capped off with a bizarrely intense set from Toronto’s Phédre in the warehouse. I really enjoyed their set, but found their music very difficult to describe. However, I highly recommend them to those with open minds, as their music and videos really push boundaries. DJs Matt Tamblyn and Zattar finished off the night by doing what they does best – they just keep the sweaty party going. All in all, this year’s Arboretum offered so many new things for the community, and not only provided great music for us to experience, but also challenge us to think, engage, and acknowledge the mountainous issues our region’s aboriginal communities face.
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!
The Saturday of Ottawa Explosion Weekend is an annual marathon of amazing music. The music starts at 12:30 and goes past 2 a.m. I am no runner, but if all marathons were this awesome I would certain take it up.
By the time I made it down, the all-female trio Old and Weird from Halifax were setting up. They had a very interesting sound and what was really cool was how often they switched instruments. Each member played a few songs on the drums throughout the set, which I had never seen before. So they did in fact “Show Me Something” I had never seen before. They also performed a pretty cool song about Kurt Cobain (video above).
Next up was Ottawa’s Grime Kings. Fresh off their Stanley cup victory, ok sorry that is a very lame joke. If you were ever concerned about the future of music in the capital, look no further for hope than this band. They are making strange, progressive and experimental music and I am not sure if they are all even of legal drinking age yet. They are somewhat disorganized at times and have a hard time with tuning (self-proclaimed) but I really like what they are doing musically. Oh and boys, you don’t just tease a crowd and say you are going to play a John Mayer cover and not deliver, you owe us. Hahaha.
One of the many new discoveries of the festival for myself was the most excellent Idle Bloom from Nashville. They have a psych-pop sound with a female lead and two female backing vocals which all work tremendously well together. They opened with the very cute and heartfelt song “Day You Were Born,” and played a great set from there. I am very glad they made the long trip to Ottawa.
It was now time for the Dirt cult records showcase. Kicking it off was Feral Trash from Moncton, New Brunswick. The lead singer/guitarist seemed to be fighting through an illness as he had to look away after almost every verse or chorus to cough, but it didn’t hold them back. They played fast catchy music with no big filler between songs. There is no better example of this than their great track “Dead Weight” (in video above). It is so good and such a sweet sing-a-long song.
As Monty Python would say, now for something completely different. Noisy Ottawa rock duo Big Dick followed up. Like or hate their name, the band plays a perfect mix of heavy music with catchy moments excellent for crowd participation. I am a sucker for their track “Medic.” Drummer, Dave Secretary, introduced a song by saying “This one is new so it’s going to be awful.” The song actually kicked ass and I am now anticipating another amazing release by the duo. Favourite moment of the set was when they hit the first chord of the very rocking “Colours” and Davey’s face lit up and he quickly joined them on vocals.
One of the things about Ottawa Explosion is you discover so many amazing bands which is awesome, but you also run the risk of falling in love with a band that may never return to Ottawa. Sometimes though you discover a band and they blow you away so much you make the effort to never miss them when they swing by. For me that is Needles//Pins, who absolutely killed it last year. They played a great mix of new and old, songs like “Best Friend,” “Pulse,” “I Don’t Mind” and “I Heart Your Drugs” which all blew me away. But it was also great to hear their new songs, which fit in great with their set. Trust me, see them, buy their stuff, just don’t miss out on Needles//Pins you will not be disappointed; they are one of Canada’s finest. Thank you Vancouver for giving us such a great talent.
Up next was the explosion of the festival. With the band running late and the crowd looking restless Emmanuel took the mic to announce the unfortunate news, “I am sorry to tell everyone New Swears won’t be playing as they were rushed to the hospital. They tried to repel down the building to the show and fell.” As the crowd laughed, he assured us “They are all dead it’s not funny.” But then thanks to a Ottawa Explosion Weekend miracle the boys covered in bandages, dirt and wearing hospital garbs crawled onto the stage. The always crazy, destructive, costumed, high energy local garage punk band really got the party going. As they began their set, organizers started throwing inflatable beach toys (including a shark, mats, beach balls, flamingos, etc) into the crowd. The place was whipped into a frenzy of dancing, singing, crowd surfing and moshing. New Swears gave us a taste of their new album set to be released later this summer, playing a couple of tracks off it. They also found time to play all the favourites including, “Two Darts,” “See You In Hull,” and “Paradise.” With time running out on their set and probably needing to be hooked back up to the IV, they closed with a rambunctious cover of Bob Segar’s classic “Old Time Rock N’ Roll.”
After New Swears it was time for the Dirtnap Records Showcase. My buddy Matias covered the hoyl cow knock my socks off showcase, which included Voicemail, Sonic Avenues, Steve Adamyk Band and The Marked Men, read it here. I then made my way to Avant-Garde for some more great bands. First up was locals Dead Weights. Their set was such a party. A smaller venue and so many of my friends packed in singing every word. We also got to see the first, and probably last, crowd surfer in the bar’s history during the line “I’ll pick you up” from their song “Fall Down,” thanks JS. The boys played a great set with many of my favourites from their new album Dead Ends and Closed Doors, such as “Barely Breath” and “Friends First.” It was also sweet to see the guys from Montreal’s Panic Attack join them for the last song.
Joining Dead Weights on stage was the perfect segue, as Panic Attack was up next. This was the case of another great band that I missed at Pouzza and got to see at explosion, it’s nice how that works out. They are freaking great and played a really solid set. Their 90’s era punk rock sound had me feeling nostalgic and it was a lot of fun.
Next was one of the bands that traveled the furthest for the festival, Latex Squad all the way from Hamburg,Germany. The lead singer/bassist was so very happy to be here. “I can’t believe I’m actually in Canada.” Funny enough they then played a song with the chorus “I hate everything about you.” They later joked that they were the “Ramstein of northern Germany.” They played really fun 70’s style garage punk. I really liked their track “Cyborg of Love.” It was also very cool to see the drummer sporting the new White Wires shirt.
I ducked into Ritual next door to catch some of METZ and sadly missed Dagger Eyes, next time. Closing down Avant Guarde was Asile. Their set was heavy, fast, hard, thrashy and in French, not the regular end of night act for the bar. I loved it.
As the set ended I quickly hustled over back to SAW to catch the end of the Crusades set. The band is packed with heavy hitters in the Ottawa punk scene, including festival organizer Emmanuel on guitar and lead singer/guitarist of The Creeps, Skottie on bass. I only got to see a few songs, but funny enough the lead singer of Panic Attack joined them on stage for a song, making his third appearance of the night. Busy guy.
Well there you have it, a lot of words about an absolutely amazing day! Ottawa Explosion Weekend is just the best time of the year.
Delicious Ontario craft beer, a small-town tavern, and the legendary The Slackers’ sweet sweet ska sound… Friday night was amazing.
The Windsor Tavern in Vankleek Hill was packed to the brim with rude dudes and rude girls all having a reckless time. Fans were bussed in from Montréal and Ottawa by Beau’s All Natural Brewery Co. It is one of the best deals in town, $25 gets you a concert ticket, roundtrip on the bus, and a brewery tour.
The Slackers playing to a packed house at the Windsor Tavern in Vankleek Hill.
The Slackers, formed in 1991 in Manhattan, haven’t lost a step. They play with great energy and pump out non-stop wonderful ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub. People were clearly feeling inspired as the majority were dancing and singing throughout the entire set, it was quite a sight. One track in particular that really got everyone going was “Married Girl,” which they saved for last. The wonderful song is a perfect representation of The Slackers groovy upbeat style. One of the coolest parts of the show for me was when they performed a ska cover of The Misfits’s “Attitude.” I have always been a really big fan of covers that cross genres and this was a good one. Soaked in sweat, spilt beer, and good times, we jumped back on the bus to Ottawa to finally give our feet and vocals chords a rest. Thank you Slackers, this was a show I will not soon forget.
Audio rocking out at the Windsor Tavern in Vankleek Hill.
Before The Slackers, the stage was set by Audio. The punk rock band feature Beau’s brewers Kevin James & Andrew Bartle, and co-founder Steve Beauchesne. I had never seen them live before, only listened to them online, and I was quite impressed. They played great original tracks and did not seem intimidated to be playing for a crowd of ska lovers. Steve, wearing a Beau’s shirt, also provided everyone with a good laugh when he said, “I hope everyone is enjoying the beer, it really works in my favour if you do.” The crowd was most certainly enjoying the Beau’s and the beats.
Getting the night started was the funky reggae folk group from Saint John, New Brunswick, called Earthbound Trio. Their tunes made me want to dance with a steady slow jamming groove. It is also always very refreshing to see a band play with a stand-up bass. I had a chance to chat with the guys after the set and as good as their music is, they seem like even better guys. Check them out live if you have a chance and listen to their hilarriously named EP, Lettuce Turnip the Beet.
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.
What were you doing when Canada won gold in Olympic men’s hockey this year?
No matter what you answered, there is no way it was as much fun as the what Ottawa’s party boys, New Swears, did. Got rip-roaring drunk at 7 a.m., wrestled, skateboarded down stairs, jumped off a roof into the snow and had a dance party in the street. Thankfully for all of us, they turned it into a music video.
Check out the super fun and ruckus filled video below for their new song, “No Fun,” off their upcoming album Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever.
Also don’t miss you chance to party hard with New Swears for a great cause at Babylon on May 3rd for the 1SquareFoot fundraiser, event info here.