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.
Ottawa Explosion day three found itself to be quite the killer day Friday night. From the astounding and mind-blowing lineup that The Dom to Peach Kelli Pop playing twice in one evening. Day three was one for the books.
Tightlip kicking things off at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
At the Dominion Tavern, Ottawa’s Tightlip was the first to play. With orange rasps of the vocals, green-blue and magenta grit of the guitar, deep red basslines, and drumming as blue as robins eggs, the band kicked up high expectations for the night – and morning. The vocals ripped through the crowd and added a sunset orange and scarlet tint to the room. The rasp from Ashleys’ throat projected into the audience. The cold drumming added contrast to the warmth emanated by the vocals. Crashing and unapologetic, the drumming was thick but skeletal. While the drumming bubbled and burst through, the bass rumbled wine reds, and maroon relentlessly. The guitar bit back and squalled with the bass while emanating pale blues with the solo work and beautiful magenta hues the lower the notes got. Tightlip is a band that keeps it tight but radiates a wild and untamable energy. Whether you’re bitter or having a good time, this is a band to listen to in those moments.
Next up was the ever lovable Leather Jacuzzi. Not just a hot tub band, no – they are the hot tub band. They shine with well-timed noise that remained melodic, rhythmic, and rapid. Indigo and magenta splashed and mixed together as the vocals powered through. The guitar work unleashed the chaos and let soft pinks bubble and filter through. Keeping its awe, the guitar was muted and quick. Wrapping it all together was that bass. Within the wall of entropy, a deep resonance was added and sprang forth. Like an abstract painting, the maroons that the bassline provided seeped between the rest of the colours and dared to provide the backdrop. The shallow crashing drumming not only managed to drench the scene in an ice blue, but also captured attention due to its shallow cymbals and full and thick toms. Leather Jacuzzi is the band to see if you’re looking to party. When they’re on the bill, the promise of a good time is sealed in fate.
Sof leading DOXX on stage at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
DOXX were up next and brought a true ferocity to the Dom getting people moving, screaming, and fist-pumping along. Reds turned into burnt orange, turned into rich earthy tones from the overdriven guitar, each chord ramming itself into the next with force. Wrapped in relentless emotion was the harsh and frigid drumming. Kieran added neon blue and celeste to the scene with his drumming – icy, bone-like, and booming.
Jeff played a back and forth game on his bass with Brit’s guitar, adding a golden yellow hue to the scene, the bassline split away from the rest and sewed itself back in seamlessly. It set the tempo for the way Sof moved – alongside the rhythm of the guitar. She found a way to drive the anger through and through while simultaneously adding purple, red, and some blue-greens to the mix of colours.
Radiation Risks absolutely rocked the stage at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
Penultimately was the wonderful and insanely talented Radiation Risks. Possessing a stage presence not many are capable of, their exuberance radiated in forms of lime greens, and neon yellow. Meanwhile cyan, deep purple, and a shock of orange ripped through the neons. The guitar riffs took the form of yellow and lime, waving through the atmosphere while the chords spiked orange into it. The vocals added to the greens, ragged and ripped right from in the singer’s throat producing vivid forest greens. The drumming was thrashing and added cyan to the mix and the deeper the sound he produced the deeper the hue. The basslines rattled one’s rib cage and produced violent purples meshed with warm red to orange undertones. It was subtly violent and fucking messy. Radiant of wildly unique energy the band is one that is certainly worth seeing live due to the one of a kind performance they bring every night.
Bleu Nuit gave it their all at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
The last band to take over The Dom was Bleu Nuit, from Montreal. Mellowed out post-punk that borders indie, they set an obscure scene and painted an even stranger picture. Playing with synths, they shot neon blue and neon green into the scene. Even the guitars painted greens and yellows due to their heightened tones and diminished sounds. Psychadelic acid trips are induced by the band. The drums were full and warm – red, magenta, neon and vibrant pinks streaked through the air. The bass and guitar combined to create a kaleidoscope of strange high pitched frequencies which roughly translated to vivid neons. The vocals were the only muted element, having remained relatively calm and tame while the rest let loose. The vocals were what painted the softer shades of orange and ochre that melded into a gradient of neons. Entrancing, and soulful, the vocals grabbed at you with their softness.
To finish the night I headed next door to the 27 Club, where Peach Kelli Pop played their second set of the day. The band kicked into upbeat songs and immediately the vocal harmonization burst into light and airy vivid pinks that molded into periwinkle and baby blue. Sprinkles of yellow chimed in with the higher notes that were plucked lower on the fretboard. The drums provided similar shades, having incorporated light greens in the mix. The drumming was warm, light, and even splashing. The basslines blended effortlessly into the rest of guitar work, rumbling beneath your feet and maintained a chestnut rose to crimson shade. Everything came together like a burst of confetti.
While in the midst of their set, they ripped out “Astro Zombies“ by The Misfits and absolutely rocked the crowd. Peach Kelli Pop never fail to amaze and they know how to work the crowd. They’re the fun upbeat summer bash band that is sure to show you a good time.
Ottawa indie-folk veterans Amos the Transparent celebrate their 10-year anniversary as a band this year with the release of a brand new album—fittingly titled Anniversaries. They also collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to release a special limited edition pilsener to mark the occasion. You can read more about the album and special edition beer here.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was on-hand at a packed 27 Club to catch the action. Amos the Transparent were supported by Rumfit Mosely and The Love Machine. Check out the gallery below.
New Swears are pretty fresh off their latest LP called …and the Magic of Horses, released through Dine Alone Records earlier this year to much acclaim. But it appears like they’re bursting at the seams to keep putting out music, as they are showing no signs of slowing down.
For those who are familiar with New Swears’ music videos, this one fits right in. There’s snow. There’s nudity. There’s gratuitous violence. There’s animal costumes. You know, all the regular ingredients. The video features Nick Nofun, the former drummer of the band, going on a wild chase along with an unknown rabbit creature and eventually falling into a pit. Where does that pit lead, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to watch and see for yourself.
The band will be playing a huge New Year’s Eve party at The 27 Club, aptly titled New Swears Eve. Formal dress encouraged, tickets are $3o adv and $35 at the door. Doors at 9 pm.
Watch the video for “Illuminati Knights” below, and support the causes by purchasing the tracks here.
Toronto’s Casper Skulls are currently wrapping up with touring their first full length album Mercy Works, released on Buzz Records November 3rd. The band is one of the newest editions to the label’s boundary-pushing roster, and their latest effort follows the dense and complex lo-fi sound played through early 90’s tape decks. Mercy Works is an ambitious attempt to explore the unknown, examine self-growth, religion, grief, and real lived experiences, and was co-produced/engineered by Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dilly Dally). The post-punk, garage, and art-rock influences are sprinkled throughout, as the album bleeds with thick guitar riffs and intricate instrumental arrangements.
We sat down with singer and guitarist Neil Bednis before their show this Friday to discuss the band’s sound, their new album, best sounding venues and touring as a couple. Check out the interview below.
Interview with Neil Bednis
In just a couple of years as a band you have already garnered comparisons to some of my all-time favourite bands such as Television and Pavement. How did that feel after only a 7-inch and an EP? And do these comparisons come into play when you are writing new music, such as your latest release Mercy Works?
NB: It’s flattering that people would associate our music with those bands. We were really influenced by that kind of music growing up and those bands are part of the reason we wanted to start playing music in the first place. Obviously with our early releases our influences are on our sleeves but I think that was necessary for us to discover our own sound. I think Mercy Works still has elements of those early sounds but we definitely moved into a more melodic direction. “You Can Call Me Allocator” was the first song written for the record and it set the tone of the writing of the record. I think that song in particular is a perfect example of what we are as a band. The verses are talky and the chorus is more melodic and lush. On the record I think we explore the extremes of both those sounds.
Speaking of Mercy Works, how was it to work with Josh Korody and Alex Newport, who have worked on releases by Fucked Up, Dilly Dally, At The Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie, just to name a few?
NB: We had previously worked with Josh on our Lips and Skull EP, so we already felt comfortable recording with him. After seeing our live show, Josh thought it’d be best to do a lot of the record live off the floor which had never done previously. I think recording that way created a really positive start to the record. We wanted to explore a couple different musical ideas on the record (i.e. strings, acoustic guitars, 12-string, baritone) and Josh kind of let us take the reigns on that stuff. It’s always a really fun time whenever we get to see Josh and I’m really glad he was part of the record.
We heard of Alex from his work he did on the first Weaves record and the Pissed Jeans stuff. Ian from Buzz Records had Alex’s information from working with him on the Weaves record and he was able to put us in touch. Alex lives in Los Angeles so we had to make most of the mixing notes over e-mail but we really love what Alex did to the songs.
Your sound seems like it would lend itself great both in a small club and in the big acoustics of a church. What are some of the favourite venues you have ever played and explored in live?
NB: Just off the top of my head, Lee’s Palace and the Garrison in Toronto are two of my favorite sounding venues. The vibe is always really nice at those venues and I haven’t really played a show where we’ve have had any trouble getting the sound we want. The Townehouse in Sudbury has a lot of sentimental value to us. Mel and I discovered a lot of great music going to shows there and we played our first show ever at the Townehouse as well. I also really enjoy playing this place in Washington D.C. called Comet Ping Pong. Our friend Lisa does a lot of the booking there and she creates a really homey vibe to the shows she puts on. It has more of a DIY vibe to it and you can eat pizza and play ping pong as well as watch awesome music!
For those who have never seen you play, what should they expect live compared to the recording on the album?
NB: I think the live show brings a more lively energy to the songs. I don’t mean to say the record isn’t lively but I think the show has a rawness to it that is different from the record. For songs like “Chicane, OH” and “You Can Call Me Allocator,” we’ll play the songs a little faster just to give the songs a bit more of a bounce. We tried to make the record have more lush moments with the strings and acoustic guitars which aren’t present in the live performance. Overall, I think if you like the record you’ll like the live show.
How has touring the new album been going so far?
NB: The tour has been going well! We’re happy to be playing these songs for people and seeing how they translate live. We’re really excited for the few dates we have with Land of Talk. They’re one of our favorite bands and we’ve been obsessed with their new record. We’ve been playing these songs in small clubs and have been kind of tailoring our set lists toward that. For these shows we’re hoping to play some of the more slow burners off the record that’ll translate better in bigger halls.
I have always been curious what it would be like being in a band as a couple?
NB: It’s really nice not to have to leave each other when we tour. I think sometimes we struggle separating band stuff from our personal lives. For example sometimes at dinner we just end up talking about band stuff so we need to check ourselves every now and then and just talk about other things that have nothing to do with music. Most importantly, we need to be a couple first and band mates second. It’s a really special thing to get to make art and share failures and successes with someone you’re with.