We’re thrilled to premiere a new video by Ottawa experimental psych-rock group Casa Lagarto for their track “Lights Out.”
“Lights Out” was previously released in January 2017 as a demo, however the polished version heard in the video will appear on their upcoming debut album which they have called Shed It, and will be exclusively released digitally on January 19th. Although the 3-track demo EP is all the band has released publicly since their inception in 2015, they’ve played live regularly in town and often taken an experimental approach to their performances. Casa Lagarto describe themselves as “some kind of experimental desert rock n roll. They are influenced by the sun, the sand, and the lizard,” and their music feels like the soundtrack to a Hunter S. Thompson novel.
The band members are familiar musicians in the music scene here in Ottawa, featuring the talented lineup of Travis Kinnear (Fire Antlers), Arturo Portocarrero (Lost To The River), Grant McNeil (Tropical Country), Jason Barkhouse, and Jonny Yuma (The Yips). The video itself tells a story comprised of three separate car advertisements from the mid-1900’s and was produced by band member Jason Barkhouse. Barkhouse runs Black Lab Studio in town and has recently been more active in production/post-production of creative content and music videos for band like Del Bel (see that video here).
Casa Lagarto will be playing with Montreal’s Bloodshot Bill and Chris Landry and the Seasick Mommas at House of Targ this Thursday, December 7th, so be sure to get out there and catch the band live. Doors at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. Check out the video for “Lights Out” below.
Honestly, a winter’s concert at Pressed Café is as cozy as it gets.
On the first Saturday of March, it was quite warm in there and not everyone had room to sit down, many stood hugging walls and counters. Toronto’s Charlotte Cornfield and her band headlined a set of her newest songs from her upcoming album to be released this Friday via Consonant Records. She played “Big Volcano, Small Town” and “Aslan”, the earliest singles from Future Snowbird as well as the recently released “Mercury”, a song that features Ought’s Tim Darcy.
Her debut LP Two Horses dropped in 2011 after she put out two six-pack EPs in 2008 (It’s Like That Here) and 2009 (Collage Light). Since then, she’s been touring, writing songs, collaborating, and even being mentored by members of Broken Social Scene at the Banff Centre for the Arts last fall.
Wax copies of Future Snowbird were available and they quickly disappeared into fans’ arms. The bespectacled Canadian troubadour’s folk rock is framed in matter-of-fact lyrics about home, the road, and her sadness of being landlocked—all of which are a great backdrop to many a morning’s coffee or seeding party.
And somehow she manages to sing about serious, often upsetting moments while still laughing on stage, which is funny in itself.
Someone who also howls with pain on stage and looks like he’s having a blast is Ottawa’s Isaac Vallentin. Themes of self-deprecation and dark times don’t seem to match Vallentin’s grin in between his songs—he is a jolly performer. He was also grateful to play his final show in Ottawa hosted by the Arboretum Festival, and he sincerely thanked Rolf Klausener who worked the door that night.
Perhaps his gratitude was best summed up with, “I smoked pot with Chad VanGaalen because of Rolf!”
Isaac Vallentin playing Pressed Café, March 5, 2016. Shitty photos: Joseph Mathieu
Yes, Isaac Vallentin is leaving Ottawa—though not forever? Hard to say, since he’s been offered a one-year scholarship at the peculiar Fabrica Research Centre in the Italian wilderness. A multimedia designer by trade, Isaac will not only be learning to create better, faster and stronger designs, he’ll also learn to speak much more with his hands, as is common in Italia.
If he loves us, he will follow up last summer’s debut release of Hedera with his second LP before he flees for the Old Country. His set showcased many new songs, the only recognizable one of which was “Walk Out Together” off his Love & Devotion 7″ from November, so the chances are good that another album is currently being populated.
No pressure, IV.
The evening hosted by Arboretum started off with a gritty, psychedelic solo set by Trails. A young woman named Allie and her loop pedal welcomed the winter travellers into the café with simple riffs and a striking voice as she doled out a mix of experimental dream noise. Tracks from a bedroom floor, very personal sounds, are recent additions to her Bandcamp page (and one solitary track on this one). These have been adding a smattering of shoegaze and dream pop to the city’s underbelly at a pace that suggests there is more to come.
And I think it’s safe to saw that that would be lovely.
Ottawa is full of talented musicians that write music full of soul. Yet, there is one that stands out in particular. Keturah Johnson is a musician that has spent her years in the Ottawa music scene playing dimly lit bars and open mics surrounded by cold stone walls as a solo artist. Without exaggerating, her musical presence in a room is spellbinding – very few people have a voice and a style that can completely silence a crowd. If that wasn’t enough, in 2014 she and three others formed The Heavy Medicine Band. The combined talent and full sound we get with Keturah at the helm is, as far as I’m concerned, unparalleled in Ottawa.
The Heavy Medicine Band has released two 2-track EPs in the last year and played a handful of shows for us to grasp what they’re all about. However, after listening to their brand new 4-track Conduit EP a few times over, it’s clear that the band knows exactly what they are and what sound they are going for. Keturah’s usual grimy, raw folk and blues influences are heard in the sublayers of the EP, and the newer psych/shoegaze elements that we hear reverberate into our ears are more than welcome. The resulting effect is a short album that is completely coherent in its construction, and shows just how dynamic this band is. The guitar tones that Keturah and Rob Cooke combine are mesmerizing, and her vocals are as good or even better than we’ve ever heard. The resulting effect is haunting and ethereal.
With this one, you really need to find a comfortable place to lay down, put on some headphones, and close your eyes. This music speaks for itself, so have a listen below.
Ottawa’s ghostly Ouija rockers The Yips and grungey psych-pop band Organ Eyes have teamed up for a banger of a four-track split on Bruised Tongue.
The first two tracks belong to The Yips. They kick off the album with a long time favourite of mine, “Let Go.” The very dancey track has me constantly thinking of Heath Ledger’s Joker as the chorus repeats “why so serious, so serious?” It has given me thrills every time I listened to it live and it is great to finally get a recorded version. Now I can get chills as I walk to work or cook supper. The second track “Obsession” really puts singer Kerri Carisse‘s vocals on display as the song gradually grows in intensity. The Yips keep impressing as they evolve musically and as a band, but still manage to stay true to that eerie vibe that attracted so many in the nation’s capital to them.
The second half of the split tape is when we hear Organ Eyes‘ contributions. “Expectations” takes a lot of the ethereal, spacey sound we love and applies it to this more upbeat, skippy beat. Organ Eyes aren’t typically a band whose music you’d be able to dance to, but this song is an exception. The back and forth vocals between Sam Pippa and Cam Steacy make for a good balance and discourse in the song. Organ Eyes are one of those bands that makes you wonder how a band from one of the coldest capitals in the world can make listeners feel like they’re lying on a beach. The song “Turtle Speed” is anything but, as it starts off with a feel-good lo-fi guitar riff and then bursts into Cam’s rapid vocals. The song gets increasingly frenetic but never loses its catchy pop underpinnings, even as Steacy’s guitar lets loose as the bass and percussion fill out the rest.
It’s not every weekday that you see a music venue fill up with patrons, but the last Thursday a good-sized crowd at House of Targ. It’s no wonder, as the lineup was stacked and local psych-garage trio Organ Eyes were also releasing their new tape Daze Pace. This release, for me, was the focal point of the night, but Blonde Elvis and Hooded Fang wowed reckless late-night showgoers, myself included.
The show was co-presented by Arboretum Festival, Exclaim!, and Debaser, who are all trusted music masters in their own right. The night was pushed back a bit as the first opener, Blonde Elvis, got stuck in some pretty brutal traffic on their way from Toronto. Anyone who has traveled that stretch of the 401 knows that it can be a hellish few hours of driving, especially if things get slowed down by commuter traffic or a crash. We’re just glad they made it safe, and no one complained as one or two beers were consumed before the music started.
Blonde Elvis at House of Targ, Nov. 27
It wasn’t long before the Blonde Elvis took the stage and performed a quick but strong set. Since they were a bit late, lead singer Jesse James Laderoute made it clear that they would try to keep it going as they were tight for time. But that didn’t stop him from making light of the situation and joking around, making the crowd chuckle. They launched into their song “slow fall on egypt,” which absolutely blew me away. Laderoute’s vocals were bang-on, and he didn’t miss a note. Along with his other past project Young Mothers, he used to be involved with Slim Twig a few years back, and I can hear some of that sonic remainder in Blonde Elvis’s music. These guys are amongst a really great group of bands in Toronto, and are sure to keep achieving more success as time goes on. I really enjoyed their high energy set, and hope to see them in Ottawa again soon. I just wish I had seem them open of Thee Oh Sees last week in T.O.!
Organ Eyes new tape ‘Daze Pace’ and the Targ Zine
Local psych rockers Organ Eyes were up next, and it was a big night for them. Although not the headliners, they shared the glory because Thursday night was the tape release for their new album Daze Pace. They are one of the main reasons I Targ’d it up – I find Organ Eyes to be such a mystical, strange band in Ottawa. I mean that in the best way possible. The talented trio, made up of guitarist/vocalist Sam Pippa, bassist/vocalist Cam Steacy, and drummer Jon Bennet, are not the kind of group to settle on one sound or style. Coming off the release of their atmospheric album Visual Meetings in January 2014, Daze Pace seems like an opportunity for the band to experiment a little more and inject some rawness into the mix. Organ Eyes explored their lo-fi garage rock side with songs such as “Boca Breeze,” Spooky Cough,” and “Dog Gone,” but also stir things up with more melodic songs such as “Skinny Girl” and “Hardly Know Her.”
The set opened with an unreleased track called “Papavangelou,” and was comprised of most of the heavier garage tunes on the new album. After Cam gave Showbox a very nice shoutout, the band played my favourite song on the album, “Cave Song” (how did you know, Cam?). The deep, muffled bass line and tame verses exploded into a catchy and distorted chorus, all while flowing with bizarre lyrics from Cam. The song makes the listener feel like they’re spiralling downward as it progresses – and I love every second of it.
Organ Eyes closed out the set with another great tune called “Cocoon,” leaving us all wanting more. They certainly riled up the crowd and gained a few new fans at Targ, and hopefully sold lots of their really sweet neon green cassettes!
The final band to come on were the indie rockers from Toronto, Hooded Fang. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t really heard them before, but myself and many others were really getting into it once the band hit their stride. They had a bit of guitar trouble during their second song, but luckily Jesse James Laderoute swooped in and saved the day by supplying his axe. The band jammed on during the transition and everything went smoothly. Their music is slightly disjointed, but has a really funky groove that any listener could get into. As the set went on, everyone seemed to ease up even more and get into the rhythm. I really enjoyed the tones and reverb of the guitar, it reminded me of that surf sound that I love so much with a hint of punk influences in there. The arrangements were captivating and the aesthetic of their music translated really well live, which was aided by the new sound system at Targ – I really noticed a difference in the overall audio quality from past performances during Hooded Fang’s set. I couldn’t stay the whole time, which was a bummer because I was really into their performance. But hey, unfortunately buses don’t run all night long!