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.
It is almost impossible to listen to popular radio these days without hearing a song new or old by USS. They brought that same type of energy and then some to the show Monday night. While The Elwins and Shotty Horroh might not be as well known, they are certainly worth checking out after their great performances.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to capture all the action. Have a look to the gallery below.
It was only appropriate that they’re touring their new album called Be More Kind, as the British singer-songwriter spent much of the night emphasizing the importance of looking out for one and other and the greatness of community. He kicked off the set with the title track of the new album, followed by another new song “1933.” If fans were nervous that the show would only be new material, they quickly had that fear quashed as the band launched into “Get Better” and “Recovery.” While they did play several more songs off of Be More Kind, they also explored the rest of his catalogue playing “The Way I Tend to Be,” “Vital Signs,” “Wessex Boy,” and the awesome “The Ballad of Me and My Friends.”
Turner knows how to put on a show and truly deliver for the crowd. I mean, he should by now given that this was his 2242nd show. He did his usual speech about how punk shows have no rules except two, don’t be an asshole and if you know the words you have to sing a long.
He also specifically took the time to dedicate “The Next Storm” to the victims of the recent tornadoes, which has the perfect inspirational lines for the situation: “Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed… I don’t want spend the whole of my life indoors, laying low, waiting on the next storm.”
He isn’t just about words kind words though, he is also about putting on a damn good show with his actions. Not only was he sweating through his shirt almost instantly due to all his running and jumping around, most of which with a guitar strapped to his chest, he also took the time to go down to the crowd for some sing a longs and encouraged fans to start a circle pit at one point. All of this culminated in the encore when the band played “Four Simple Words” and Turner left his guitar behind to go stand on the crowd and then crowd surf his way to the “best dancer in Ottawa.” Once there he slow danced with, then moshed with fans while singing only to once again be crowd surfed back to the stage when the music picked back up.
Whether you love Be More Kind and Frank Turner’s current musical direction or not, it is impossible not to be blown away and have a blast at the live performance.
Sam Coffey and his band of merry men known as the Iron Lungs have come a long way from when I saw them a few years back at House of TARG, where Sam puked off the front of the stage after rolling around in the crowd too much. They are a pretty professional looking band now, still all rocking their matching jean jackets, although this time around the front man opted out of the uniform and sported something that can only be described as a cross between a luchador outfit and Liberace. They also deliver so many cliche rock n’ roll moves, but they come off more as satirical and lighthearted, which makes them a lot of fun.
Since signing on with Dine Alone Records their tunes can be heard all over the radio, much to my delight and obviously much of the crowd. It is not every show where you see so many people signing along and bopping up and down to the opener. To top everything off, they treated us to their now signature dueling guitar solos on a double neck guitar. Even after seeing it done several times, and not really being a fan of guitar solos, I still find it super cool.
Check out the great photos below of all three bands, thanks to the great work of our photographer Aidan Thatcher.
The third annual Hopped and Confused music and beer festival was capped-off by the Canadian rock group I Mother Earth providing everyone with a throwback to the 90’s, featuring their original lead singer Edwin. The day also featured performances that made you want to dance and sing along by Bleeker and The Damn Truth and was kicked-off by an absolutely rocking set by Julie and the Wrong Guys.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to capture all the action, check out the gallery below.
The third edition of Hopped and Confused music and beer festival at Mill St. Brewery in Ottawa was once again a great success thanks to incredible sets by Bedouin Soundclash and The Rural Alberta Advantage and the amazing sound quality.
Bedouin Soundclash—yes that band whose night felt the song years ago—are still at it and still making crowds of people dance the night away with their signature upbeat reggae-rock vibes. Their set was a great mix of tracks from more than a decade of music featuring, but much to my liking focused largely on tracks from Sounding Mosaic and Street Gospels which featured most of my favourite songs. It was a lot of fun to dance to tracks like “Shelter,” “Criminal” and their partial cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Briston” which they perfectly spliced into another track. And just when I thought I might go home without hearing my favourite track “Jeb Rand” they dropped it on us during their encore under the shiny bright moon.
Paving the way for Bedouin Soundclash was one of Canada’s best bands and possibly best kept secrets, The Rural Alberta Advantage. This three piece performs with such a full sound you would think they would have to be at least five members to do what they do. Their songs have great range from their slow opener “White Lights” off of their new album The Wild, to more rocking numbers such as “Don’t Haunt This Place.” The band provided a perfect mix of new and old to give something to fans new and old. And they certainly crammed in a lot of music given that they weren’t the headliners. The Rural Alberta Advantage also found the time to play my favourite track, “Frank, AB” which I strongly recommend you give a listen. The wonderful performance was capped off with “Terrified” off of their 2014 album Mended With Gold, which gave the drummer one last chance to show off and for the band to treat the crowd to one last set of gang vocal “wooo” and “ohhhs.”
I arrived a little late so only caught a little of Caveboy’s performance but really liked what I heard from them and unfortunately completely missed Birds of Bellwood. That being said, lucky for you our photographer Aidan Thatcher did not miss a beat and captured the great shots below of all the bands.
Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
The first band to rip open the night was Spell Runner, from Albany, New York. Their wild playing bordered power punk and garage punk, teetering from one to the other. The drumrolls, guitar riffs, and throaty screams melded together and created a chaotic unity.
The guitar playing was of higher pitch and let loose. Each stroke came quickly after the last while leaving a resonance that echoed in the background. Deconstructed and split into two parts, the guitars seemed to squabble with one-another whilst adding a spacey sci-fi-esque sound to the songs. It painted the atmosphere with several shades of electric green, and yellow. The solos were rapid and executed with ease. They provided teal splashes and they drew you in.
The vocals dominated with the throaty screams that ripped from the lead singer. They created the illusion of the instrumentals mellowing out around them. Amidst the technical issues, the stage presence and sheer power of the screams were enough to get people moving and thrashing. The wild screams blasted bursts of irritated reds through the soundscape and allowed for rusty oranges to come through in bubbles.
The bass rumbled in the background and incorporated deeper greens due to the heavy weighted tone. It wasn’t quite warm but it droned on, having kept a steady tempo while snapping in an aggressive edge. Buried in the midst of mass amount of noise, it found a way to stand out and rattle your ribcage.
The drumming remained warm and hollow. They didn’t boom and cling to the air. Instead, the sound fell short, one beat after another. The fills and rolls tied the songs together in a grimy fashion. Tainted in raw golden orange, sunset yellow, and yellow-green, the drumming provided something to thrash to while maintaining a welcoming presence.
Next up was Ottawa’s own thrash metal band World War 4. Crossing over to punk and doom metal, the band brings forth something unconventional yet they do it in such a way that it blends together near perfectly. The fusion of chaos and disorder find a mutual unity within this bands music.
The guitar progressed with violent chugs of muted chords that would unleash themselves wildly, deep navy blues and lime greens taking over progressively. The riffs had a sharp tone to them and splashes of celeste would spray across the field of vision. Meanwhile, the bass found a deep rumble in the background and served to stabilize the wild guitar riffs. It too was played without mercy and with brutal ferocity. It was the steel blue backbone to the mess.
The vocals cut in with brutality and rage. Throaty and as rough as the guitars chugging, they showed absolutely no mercy whatsoever. The vocals cut in with rusty oranges and brutal murky yellows. The sounds ripped from the very back of the throat were a deep stark burgundy, contrasting with the tones of the guitar.
The drumming was quick and each beat fell viciously after the next, having melded into a disarray. Vehement, the crash of the cymbals was brutally cold and sprayed trails of teal across the field of vision. Meanwhile, the snare and the toms found a thick, full, warm sound that couldn’t be ignored.
The last band of the night was High Command. Dissonant aggression and tight drumming, slow buildups, and wild basslines, the band did not disappoint.
The vocals came from exhaled screams, and quite literally ripped themselves free from the lead singers body. They were meant to comes out. Matched to the overall intensity, the seasick green that erupted from the vocal stylings was incredible. Backed by the enraged reds of the power chords, there was nothing held back. Every ounce of energy and soul was thrust into each song. The guitar playing was quick in tempo, and there was much tremolo, despite this, the hostility did not waver and only became more prominent.
The bass seemed to follow the guitar but would rip out its own deep solos that couldn’t help but catch my attention. Adding to the thrashing, it provides a depth to the pieces. Brutal, brisk, and murky, the swampy colours it radiated fit perfectly together and created a backbone to the guitar.
The drums were boney and full. Cold and thrashing, they held absolutely nothing back and gave everyone something to headbang to. The sheer frosty feeling they possessed took over the atmosphere and really drove the moshpit home. The brutality was remarkable and there was nothing quite like it.
A crossover show of punk and metal is something that is generally turned down or slightly frowned upon but I must say that these bands absolutely throw those notions out the window. They are must sees that will inevitably change your viewpoint on the genre.
Ottawa;s very own Jonathan Becker & The North Fields recently played the album release show for their new album Sober Dawn at Babylon Nightclub in Ottawa. They were supported by other local favourites Claude Munson and John Aaron Cockburn. It was a wonderful night of music and an awesome way to celebrate such an excellent album. You can read our full write up of the album and have a listen here.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to catch the action, check out his photos below.
Last weekend was stacked with good shows. No matter what I chose to do there was an equally solid show happening elsewhere. One of the options was Mushy Gushy, No Aloha, and Casa Lagarto at Black Squirrel—and there are no regrets.
The night started off with friends hugging and smiles abound. It’s always nice to see a lineup where the bands know each other or have worked together in the past. The weather was warm and soggy, but the sky was clear and folks began to trickle in as local garage-psyche marvels Casa Lagarto took the stage.
Casa Lagarto is a mashup of well-seasoned artists in the community, including Jonny Yuma (formerly of The Yips), Arturo Portocarrero (Lost To The River), Grant McNeil (Tropical Country), Jason Barkhouse (Black Lab Studios), and Jonathan Pearce (Winchester Warm/Mushy Gushy) filling in for Travis Kinnear who just recently celebrated the birth of his first daughter. Their set was tight and their arrangements came through crisply into our ears.
Casa Lagarto at Black Squirrel. Photo by Matías Muñoz.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Casa Lagarto’s music could be the soundtrack to a Hunter S. Thompson novel. I mean that in the best way possible. I feel like their music would fit perfectly into an acid trip on a desert highway in Nevada somewhere. Casa’s sound is clearly influenced by psych and rockabilly, taking elements from various styles and making them their own. Johnny Yuma’s low, brooding vocals enthralled the audience and his exquisite clean guitar tone could give you goosebumps. Jon Pearce filled in perfectly, and somehow knew the songs like the back of his hand. Some key tracks they played were “Lights Out” and “Scarecrow,” and I highly recommend you go dive deep into Casa’s albums on Bandcamp. The group layered their sound well in the live setting, using the intimacy of the bookstore to enhance their individual instruments to create a warm and rich atmosphere for us all to enjoy the show.
Next on deck was No Aloha, a summer-friendly garage rock group from Montreal that has some loving fans here in Ottawa. As an aside, we presented No Aloha at Mugshots back in 2015 along with Bonnie Doon and Nightshades and it still remains one of the funnest shows we’ve ever done to date. They are fresh off the release of their new EP Cigarettes for Optimists and rocked the house at Black Squirrel.
No Aloha at Black Squirrel. Photo by Matías Muñoz.
This group may seem like a bunch of slacker rock dudes, with their long hair and rarely-groomed faces. However, they’re anything but. This band is well-rehearsed and have a chemistry that is instantly noticeable when they hit the stage and start playing together. With flying guitar riffs, impactful percussion, and Ben Griffiths’ smooth vocals, this group injected some energy into the room. They dug into their impressive catalogue from the past few years throughout the set and pleased the audience and got some bodies moving. Black Squirrel is a versatile venue for all kinds of shows, and the place was perfect for the diverse sounds of this lineup. Lets hope these dudes come back to Ottawa soon, because they’re a party.
Last up was Mushy Gushy, an Ottawa “butt-rock” band that takes a fun spin on rock and roll. While it’s hard to imagine these guys ever not having fun, this night was bittersweet. Kyle Woods, the original drummer and founding member of the band has recently moved to Toronto and got a job there (congrats to him!). But the show must go on. Thus, this show was to be his last as he moves on to new journeys. While this kind of mutual parting is difficult for friends and band mates, it was clear that the sweet outweighed the bitter. Kyle was radiating smiles and hugs, and obviously this was to be a memorable night for him and the band as they decidedly wanted to end his tenure with a bang.
Mushy Gushy consists of more music scene veterans here in Ottawa—bassist Jon Pearce (Winchester Warm), drummer Kyle Woods (fmr. Kalle Mattson), guitarist Cory Lefebvre (fmr. Baberaham Lincoln), and vocalist Dave Gervais (fmr. The Gallop). But more than anything, this group of buds just wants to have fun, and that is evident in their compositions. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and that’s refreshing.
Mushy Gushy at Black Squirrel. Photo by Matías Muñoz.
The ‘Gush have released two excellent EPs so far since coming together in 2016—Tight Snake and More Butter. I just can’t wait to hear what their third release will be called with titles like that. We presented their tape release party at Bar Robo a few years back, and let me tell you—it was a time. Kyle carried the whole set through, and he played the drums more fervent than ever. His rhythm was flawless and his beard was flying to-and-fro to the uptempo rock and roll his group performs. Cory’s fluttering guitar riffs flew over Jon’s steady bass lines as the tracks kept the crowd energized and engaged. They had the crowd singing the irresistible catchy “Oh Oh Ohs” in “Heartbreak Motel” and had booties shaking during “Summer Lusting.” Closer to the end of their set they played their most well-known jam, “Schemestress,” at which point the night hit its climax. The song is a feel-good summer tune, and the hook will grab you and hold on tight. David Gervais’ songwriting is on point, and his vocals add the finishing touch to their part pop, part-garage rock sound with just enough catchiness and grit to go around. All in all, it was a night of good vibes and good memories were made.
Punk band Metz rolled through Babylon a few weeks back, presented by Ottawa Explosion and CHUO 89.1 FM. The band, which was originally formed in Ottawa and is now based out of Toronto, has gained some much-deserved notariety over the years for their music. They released their debut album through Sub Pop, were nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in 2013 and 2015, and their latest release Strange Peace was recorded by the one and only Steve Albini (most known for his work with seminal punk rock band Big Black). Supporting Metz were local noisemakers DOXX and Deathsticks, which turned out to be an explosive night.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to catch the action, check out his photos below.
Ottawa’s Jonathan Becker & The North Fields recently released their debut full-length album Sober Dawn. The album builds on the success of the band’s previous EPs as well as their excellent live show which has graced many bars and pubs across Canada—and a few big festivals such as Ottawa’s Bluesfest and Cityfolk.
The twelve-song release is soaked in roots and folk with country flares and a certain punk-rock ethos surely amassed by the various influences of the many members, some of which currently play or have played in several bands around town. With that in mind it isn’t hard to understand why Jonathan Becker & The North Fields are for fans of Lucero, Drive-By Truckers, Waterboys, Replacements and Leatherface.
Fans of the band will hear a familiar sounds right from the first song “Tiger Lilies” from the band’s 2015 EP Cigarettes, Strings, and Other Breakables. The track was previously my favourite song by the band and they somehow found a way to make it even better. The combination of Becker’s gritty voice perfectly meshed with Laura Sinclair’s delicate keys and Luke Pearson’s guitar had already wowed me. Then version on Sober Dawn sounds crisper and all the instruments and vocals complement each other just that much more this time around.
Another song that may be familiar to some is the lead single “New Blood,” which the band has been performing live for some time now. It is great to finally hear the song in recorded form. The very catchy chorus makes it perfect for sing-alongs, arms wrapped around your friends at the show or by yourself at home thinking of what to do next. I’m also a sucker for songs with local shoutouts, so the opening line about local tattoo artist Jesse Germs opening Otherside Tattoo parlour immediately puts a smile on my face.
Becker’s impactful songwriting and gruff vocal style is unavoidable in the best possible way. I love it when a band has a calling card or some great consistent feature that makes you go “That is 100% a Jonathan Becker & The North Field song” for all the right reasons. The songs on the album, while rocking and intricately assembled, are very accessible and ones so many of us can relate to. From love to cold sobering mornings of lost love, to the interwoven good and the bad side of alcohol consumption, you can’t help but feel like Sober Dawn is the best sounding house show you have ever attended with a friend needing to open up and share some introspection.
It is also important to highlight the musical progress of this band and not just their frontman. The instrumentation has gotten tighter and fuller over the years, while still feeling very true to their beginnings. I also love the additions of Marlena Pellegrino on violin and Pascal Desgagne on pedal steel guitar really help elevate certain songs to that next level.
Catch Jonathan Becker & The North Fields live at their “Sober Dawn” album release show July 27 at Babylon supported by Claude Munson playing with a duo, as well as Little Suns frontman John Aaron Cockburn. Details can be found here. In the meantime, listen to the album below and learn all the words so we can sing along together.