This past weekend was a dream. A warm breeze blew across the city, carrying a promise of the sun-soaked summer to come. Not only that, but in the space of three days I was able to attend three distinct events featuring live music. Here are the results of my scouting, three artists you should know: Mineta, Alanna Sterling and the Silvers, and The Visit.
The thing that humbles me about these artists is their diversity. The variety of music that the people of Ottawa are able to appreciate on a regular basis is amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of this scene. As I was finalizing this list, I noticed that each group features a female vocalist… It was fully a coincidence, I promise!
Mineta, circus ska-punk from Toronto, were headlining the show and played second. Trust me, these clowns will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget! The group exhibits real chemistry and and each band member is essential to the overall sound. Their live show feels like a performance, and each musician has created their own character to play. But where does the clown stop, and the person begin? It was an interesting comparison to see them for a second time, following their appearance in February at le Chateau Cyr. They totally rocked the Chateau, and even with the smaller crowd at Targ, folks were keeping pace with the contagious and energetic beat.
Honourable mention: The Sick Sick Sicks closed the evening after a period of hiatus on the Ottawa scene. Their brand of ‘djangobilly’ is catchy and fun to dance to, and I hope to see play again in the near future. As for the opening band, the Owl Eyes Project, my primary impression was their impressive collection of beards. Facial hair aside, their music featured some interesting instrumentation and appeared to be well composed.
Pick Two: Alanna Sterling
April 16 brought me to a house show located near Lees. I wasn’t really familiar with the artists that were performing prior to seeing them that evening, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the sound and the caliber of the musicians. I’d like to highlight Alanna Sterling and the Silvers: their set was on-point, they played original material, and Alanna’s voice is absolutely incredible. Upon further investigation I’ve learned that she does a lot of acoustic/piano work, though it was her performance with the full band that really had the “wow” factor for me. Still, an artist like Alanna is worth listening to, and her talent can carry itself even without a sweet back-up band.
Honourable mention: Shout out to the Latch Key Kids for their incredible cover of the RATM classic “Killing in the Name Of”.
Many of you vinyl enthusiasts probably know that April 16 was Record Store Day, which was celebrated by some of Ottawa’s record stores.
I was in Hintonburg and decided to check out the bands that were playing at The Record Centre, one of which was The Visit. I had heard cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne play at an Artistic Showcase several years ago, and I vividly remembered the effect his music had on me. I decided to see him play again with this different project, and I’m glad that I did. The acoustics of the shop were perfect for the complex and ethereal melodies strung together by the combination of cello and vocals. It was both traditional and contemporary, meditative and complex. The Visit create music that presents an opportunity for listeners to be totally absorbed in it’s complexities, or, it also makes great background music for writing a blog post.
In its second year running, MEGAPHONO has upped the ante and significantly expanded its scope and size. The festival, which takes place February 2–5, 2016, brings industry professionals to Ottawa and gives local artists and delegates the rare opportunity to connect with those who are working in the music business.
Last year saw the release of the Connecting Ottawa Music report on the city’s status in the music industry, which presented some revelations about the challenges Ottawa faces with respect to its lack of music infrastructure and connectedness to the wider industry in Canada and North America. We at Showbox were very proud to contribute to this report by providing important data on 2014 album releases.
This unprecedented report not only outlined the barriers that are preventing Ottawa from moving forward as a “music city,” but it also offered a glimmer of hope by providing recommendations and a strategy based on core principles. One of the most critical recommendations from the report reads as follows [p.65]:
3. Connect Ottawa’s music community to the global music industry.
Advocate for Ottawa’s music community at national institutions
Facilitate exchanges with more prominent music clusters
Lead delegations to trade shows and festivals (e.g. MIDEM, SXSW)
Promote Ottawa’s music cluster to outsiders
MEGAPHONO is doing something that has never really been done in Ottawa before. Not only are the organizers tirelessly reaching out to important industry personalities in places like Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City, and London (UK), but they are actually bringing them to Ottawa over the course of the festival. This affords Ottawa artists the opportunity to have an audience with the people that might be able to advance their careers – or at least get on their radar. This includes booking agents, record labels, music publishers, film/TV music supervisors, managers, publicists, and more. Like any other business, music is about connecting with the right people, and just as the report recommends, Ottawa needs to bring industry personnel together so that coalescence can happen.
“MEGAPHONO is about getting the right people in the room to see our artists,” says festival director Jon Bartlett. “The best way to tell the story of Ottawa music is to drag industry folks here to see and hear it for themselves. If we put our best artists on stage with key music people in the room, I’m confident good things will happen.”
Attendees will enjoy four solid days of music, with all performances open to the public. Over those four days, 60 artists will be performing in Ottawa at various locations, 47 of which are local acts.
Noted music critic and author Jessica Hopper (MTV, Pitchfork) will kick things off at the launch on Tuesday, February 2nd with a keynote speech at St. Alban’s Church; MEGAPHONO will also screen a film this year called Terminal Device, directed by Ross Turnbull, edited by U.S. Girls‘ Meg Remy and with music composed by Slim Twig.
Additional panels and networking opportunities with industry reps are available to those purchasing a delegate pass. Fan festival passes are $50; delegate passes run for $100. Both are available at http://www.megaphono.tv/passes/.
Highlights of this year’s festival include:
MEGAPHONO Meltdown — MEGAPHONO after party in Hull, QC at AXENÉO7
PANELS — daytime talks focusing on music industry-related topics and conversations focused on our local music community
FREE SHOWCASES — Wednesday & Thursday afternoon showcases in the Centretown & Hintonburg neighbourhoods
Over 30 visiting delegates from LA, NYC, London (UK), Toronto & Montreal
Tuesday, February 2nd
4:00 – 6:30pm
MEGAPHONO FESTIVAL OFFICIAL LAUNCH
w/ keynote by JESSICA HOPPER
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE ACORN / EMILIE & OGDEN / PIPAHAUNTAS
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE VISIT / HEAVY BEDROOM / NOVEMBER @ BLACK SQUIRREL BOOKS
Malak is set to release her debut EP Circus Saturday night January 16 at LIVE! on Elgin.
Malak may not be a household name to most readers, but she has one of the most powerful and beautiful voices in town. She is quickly establishing herself as a versatile musician in the Ottawa scene, having already performed in various high profile events. Her sound crosses and melds genres, from jazz to classical to pop and more. For a taste of it you can stream the EP at the end of the article and you can get more information on the show here.
We sat down with Malak for a quick interview ahead of the EP release show to talk about her story and her music.
You are not originally from Ottawa, do you mind elaborating a little bit on the journey that brought you to the nation’s capital?
I lived in Cairo, Egypt until I was 16, and began voice lessons at age 7. For 9 years I studied with some of the country’s most renowned classical, jazz and pop vocal trainers. I won multiple national and international awards in the Middle East as well as Europe (Italy, Germany, Greece). I moved to Ottawa in 2011 in order to further my music education in Carleton University’s music program, as well as my career. Canada is bursting at the seams with opportunities, especially for artists. I am fortunate to be living somewhere where art can be freely expressed in all its forms and where the community truly supports its local artists and takes pride in them.
How has this background shaped your art?
Having lived in a country that experienced a lot of turmoil, especially in the revolution which began in 2011, I always took an interest in people; how they react to situations and deal with issues in their lives, and how everyone has a unique way of expressing their love towards one another. This interest in people’s individual stories inspires most of my songs. I love taking someone’s story and writing and composing as if from their perspective. It’s like writing a little autobiography for someone else.
You have named your debut EP “Circus,” and this is clearly a theme in your art. What is it about circuses that inspire you?
When I think of a circus, I don’t imagine the happy circus that one would take their family to. The circus that I refer to in my song and art in general is a colourful but dangerous place. It is a metaphor for the dark place that exists in all our minds. Everyone has their demons, and my imagined circus is the place that houses all of them, camouflaged in bright clown costumes and performing hypnotic acrobatics to be attractive. Circus is about someone who fights these inner demons but loses, and gives in to their temptations.
Can you speak to the process of making Circus? How long has it been in the works, where was it recorded, who have you collaborated with?
The beginning of the process was very experimental, deciding which of my songs should go on the album and testing out different methods for expressing each one. I was very fortunate to have Dean Watson producing this album. With every new song he and I would sit for hours orchestrating it and finding a unique sound that would effectively express it. And the result was a colourful collection of quality composed and recorded songs. I am grateful to have worked with someone with his level of skill and I am looking forward to recording my next full length album with Dean at the Gallery Recording Studio, which is already in progress.
It was also a delight and an honour to have many of Ottawa’s local talent included in the EP. “Sam Wants a Bang” was arranged by Ed Lister, who also played keys with Michel Delage on drums and JP Lapensee on bass. Raphael Weinroth-Browne of The Visit composed and performed cello for Circus – for which Mike Giamberardino of Tribe Royal recorded drums – and Mannequin. Talented pianist and songwriter, Dan Robidoux is present in all five songs on the EP. He will be appearing at the EP Release on Saturday, January 16th, as well as Justine Walker who recorded drums for Greed and will be playing drums for the show. The violin in Owe You is played by Robin Evans.
What should people expect when they attend a Malak show?
A powerful and entertaining performance. I enjoy expressing a wide array of personas during in my shows. Because my songs are about people’s stories, I enjoy telling them as if they are coming from the people themselves, which allows for a playful variety of tone and mood all through the show. I perform for my audience and from the heart, and you can guarantee there is never a dull moment in a Malak show.
What makes Saturday night’s show extra special?
If you attend this Saturday’s EP Release at Live! On Elgin, you will be contributing to charity. All merch sale profits from the show will be going to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in collaboration with Inner Wheel Club of Ottawa, so not only will you get lots of awesome music, but you’ll also be supporting a good cause. On that note I would like to briefly mention the importance of supporting your local artist. When you go to any arts event including shows, galleries, plays, etc. not only is it an enriching experience, but you are also keeping art in your community alive. Without the audience to share the art with, artists would not exist.
Beer: Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Broadhead Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Other
Pairing: A “Holiday” Playlist
About the Beer: Candy cane lovers rejoice! It might not pair well with a steak but it’s not supposed to. I had it with chocolate and it paired well. They currently have it at the brewery and I suggest you add it to your beer advent calendar.
It is however a challenging beer for the novice. My playlist for MKSC reflects that. You won’t find these songs in your everyday holiday playlist just like you won’t find this beer in your typical beer fridge.
Jim Bryson “Mary New Year’s Eve”
Starting off with this sweet song by #Ottband Jim Bryson. A reflection on how much we consume this time of year.
Tom Waits “Christmas Card to a Hooker in Minneapolis”
I like how his Christmas story is so much different than mine…
Julie Doiron “Heavy Snow”
My formative years were spent in the same region as Julie Doiron in New Brunswick. She knows about heavy snow.
Clarence Carter “Back Door Santa”
Yeah santa, please come through my back door. It’s a lot easier!
James Brown “Hey America”
Hey!!!!!! If you want your dose of James Brown HEYS!, look no further.
Dana Dane “Dana Dane Is Coming to Town”
Hip hop has come a long way since Dada Dane came to town.
De La Soul – “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa” or The Roots “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”
Take your pick! Same song, different vibes…
Beck – “Little Drum Machine Boy”
When Beck wrote good songs… Not saying this one is…
Fucked Up “David Christmas”
He’s and angry elf…
El Vez “Feliz Navidad”
Also known as the Mexican Elvis, El Vez performs a spirited version of Feliz Navidad.
Moar Treeverb “PS Xmas Dood”
My Fav on this list… #OttBand
The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
How many of us dread the family business of the holidays?
Pointed Sticks “Power Pop Santa”
Power pop kids the same as a hipster?
The Visit “Offering”
I want to leave you with a gift. An “offering” if your will. This #OttBand is one to watch for. The Offering is not like anything I have heard before. Enjoy and happy Holidays!
Contact me on twitter @danielbordage or at firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions, comments or just to say hi.
Already the city is observing a sort of berserk album release onslaught dubbed a musical harvest. But for months (almost years), The Visit has been working on their debut album to come out before the end of 2015. Tonight they celebrate the Oct. 9 release at the Mercury Lounge with Esmerine and Musk Ox.
Through Darkness Into Light is an album that folk lovers and experimental metalheads will love. It’s dizzying and even exhilarating in most of its sound. Although it sports a glacial album cover, it only offers only a warm journey through dark chambers. There is nothing still or dead about these five songs, despite there being themes of decay and death all through them.
Is there a feeling of madness to it too? Oh yes, in spades. But brought forth not in haunting vocals or aggressive instrumentation, simply precise music. As recommended to me, this is a really well appreciated album on your best headphones or sound system. It’s a methodical release, as comparable as any work that the cellist has completed in recent months. but there’s an overwhelming feeling of new life and catharsis throughout.
The Visit is still the voice of Heather Sita Black matched to Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s powerful cellist. After releasing videos and singles, and travelling far for their music last year, they still took their time coming out with a debut LP.
Just a minute and a half into “Through Darkness”, the realization hits home that Black’s voice is no longer simply an instrument. Her lyrics really tell a story that continues even after the final track, “Into Light”. Although “Offering” still chants us down a violent path that hints of bloody sacrifice and there are still plenty of harmonic howls on “Into Light”, but now there are sharper meanings connected to words we do understand. This is an epic tale woven into practiced string arrangements. “Without This Flesh” does not compromise or make a concession to invite a new listener in as the first track. It’s 14:19 long and make a point of how beautiful this duo’s music can be.
Tonight isn’t the only Ottawa album release party this week but it’s the only Ottawa New Music Creators concert of September and the first as part of the 2015-16 series. This year’s run of ONMC events is curated by none other than Raphael himself, he who walks many paths with the help of his close collaborators. Tonight, at the Mercuriy Lounge, more than a few will intersect.
It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and the RBC Bluesfest 2015 is upon us. Bluesfest has been getting better and better at including great local acts in their programming on the big stage, which for many artists is a dream come true. This year is no exception, as the festival has gone one step further to bring in more artists that are sure to rock the grounds at Lebreton Flats. Let’s dive right in with some previews of Ottawa-area musicians playing this year’s festival.
“DJ ACRO has opened for and shared the stage with a number of major artists including the likes of The Beatnuts, Mac Miller, Onyx, K.R.I.T, M.O.P, Smoke DZA, XZIBIT and a slew of other up coming and iconic Hip Hop artists.”
Bella Cat’s unique musical style has roots in soul and blues music, fusing genres and creating a sound that is distinctly her own. Her music will appeal to a broad audience, spanning all ages and tastes.
A must-see for fans of: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
If there’s one band in Ottawa that transcends genres, combines a myriad of musical styles, and has engaging and intelligent lyrical content, it’s BlakDenim. This eight-piece ensemble exudes energy on stage and are fan-favourites at Bluesfest, having played the festival in the past. Infusion of hip-hop, funk, rock, soul, and jazz.
A must-see for fans of: A Tribe Called Quest & The Roots
B&C is a three-piece high-energy, crunchy riff-driven roots blues band that are from the nation’s capital, but could just as well be from the heart of the Mississippi Delta. If you’re into raw vocals and let-loose blues instrumentation, these guys are the ones you want to see live.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix & John Lee Hooker
Saturday, July 11 @ 3:30 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
If you follow Showbox, you’ll know that this group is one of our local faves. Since enlisting some of Ottawa’s most talented musicians and reforming as a full band, this experimental “future folk” group has captured the hearts and minds of many in Ottawa. Pure brilliance.
Brandon Allan writes simple, heartfelt songs about everyday feelings and experiences. His brand acoustic folk/country rock is the kind that you can turn on and close your eyes to, as his soft yet searing melodies and lyrics leave nothing uncovered.
A must-see for fans of: The Weakerthans & The Tallest Man on Earth
Saturday, July 18 @ 3:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Brea Lawrenson’s music will appeal to lovers of pop country, which is a lot of people here in the Ottawa Valley. Her voice can go from soft and warm to powerful and penetrating on a dime, so keep your ears out for her at the Flats.
This hip hop duo consisting of SawBuck and DJ So Nice has beatmaking and production of crowd-pleasing bangers down to a science. If you’re familiar with the club circuit or hip hop scene around Ottawa, you’ve probably moved your body to one or both of these guys.
A must-see for fans of: Jurassic 5 & Run the Jewels
Sturton has made a name for herself nationally as a musician and worked with artists such as Joel Plaskett, Al Tick, Rolf Klausener, John Carroll, as well as members of Sloan and Blue Rodeo. From Japanese garage rock venues to American juke joints, she’s got a pretty interesting rap sheet.
On top of being a very strong singer and songwriter, Sturton has become well-known for her proficiency playing the harmonica – she derives her style straight from the Mississippi of old, cutting her chops at local blues establishments and learning from harmonica masters such as Larry “The Bird” Mootham and Carlos del Junco.
This veteran has been making music since 1989 and has recently started writing new material after a hiatus. Raw blues rock inspired by the Chicago greats is the only way to describe the kind of music that Nelson makes.
This band is a truly special part of Ottawa/Hull’s music scenes. The band consists of members of Timber Timbre, Last Ex, and Scattered Clouds, creating disoriented and experimental art-punk with fractured arrangements.
A must-see for fans of: music that pushes boundaries, free jazz/post-punk
Calkuta, Bender & Patience have done it again, demonstrating why they’re one of the top hip hop acts in Ottawa. Their latest album, the 18-track High Priests of Low-Life, is another example of how talented this group is. Their music has an underground aesthetic with samples and production that are anything but amateur.
A must-see for fans of: Immortal Technique & Atmosphere
Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:15 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
Grantly Franklin a.k.a G.Grand is a Showbox favourite. We just can’t get enough of his rhymes, especially when he collabs with his partner-in-crime producer Jeepz or other incredible Ottawa MC’s like Hyf the Gypsy Sun. If you’re into smooth, intelligent, and beat-laden hip hop then G.Grand is someone you don’t want to miss.
Shannon Rose has been making music for a few years now, and her full-band project – now called Gold and Marrow – is making serious waves in Ottawa. Rose has proven herself to be one of the foremost songwriters in the region, alongside others such as Amanda Rheaume or Catriona Sturton.
A must-see for fans of: Feist
Tuesday, July 14 @ 7:15 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Callum Runciman and his band Grime Kings prove that music runs in the family – his sister Caylie’s band Boyhood has also turned heads in Ottawa. Grime Kings’ brand of lo-fi esoteric, fuzzy experimentations pushes the sonic limit and defies genre boundaries.
There is no other way to put it – HILOTRONS are a quintessential Ottawa band. Lead songwriter Mike Dubue’s influences are as diverse as they are obscure. The end result is album after album of relentlessly funky and imaginative songs, proving that Dubue is Ottawa’s musical mastermind.
A must-see for fans of: Talking Heads
Thursday, July 16 @ 8:15 p.m.
The man behind the epic FRENZY parties at Babylon, Iggy Smalls knows how to get things going. Don’t miss him play Diplo/Skrillex’s afterparty at Ritual tonight (July 8).
Joe Gaspar and his band put the “blues” in Bluesfest. Drawing on blues rock influences from the ’70s such as Cream and Led Zeppelin, the Joe Gaspar Band plays songs containing heavy riffs and intricate guitar solos of that era.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix, Cream & Led Zeppelin
Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Kaleigh Watts finds beauty in simplicity by writing emotional and intense songs that create a truly incredible soundscape. Watts, who has been mentored by Juno and Canadian Folk Awards winner Lynn Miles, blends intricate acoustic fingerpicking with stirring vocal melodies.
“2009 Ottawa Red Bull Threestyle Champion, 4 Time Ottawa DMC Dj Battle champion, First title coming at the age of 15 years old. 2006 Canadian Team DMC Dj battle champions ( w/ Stylusts ) and competed at the DMC World Championships in London, England.”
“Kira Isabella has been performing her brand of up-tempo country music across Canada for more than a decade. Kira began dabbling in guitar and writing about love, life and boys. Initially, Kira delved into a variety of music, but when she discovered the likes of powerhouse country vocalists Shania Twain and Faith Hill, she knew she was hooked on country.”
Blending jazz, blues, and folk, Lucas Haneman has created his own sound and won many awards for his compositions. As an acclaimed fingerstylist and songwriter, Haneman and his band will be sure to get crowds moving at Bluesfest this year.
The best way to describe Lynne Hanson’s music is gritty, raw, and honest. It’s no surprise that she’s played shows in places like Memphis, Nashville, and Austin. With vocals that are on-point, songwriting that strikes to the core, and instrumentals that capture the soul of roots music, Hanson fits perfectly in such a stacked local lineup at Bluesfest.
A must-see for fans of: Caroline Herring
Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage
DJ Matt Tamblyn
Matt Tamblyn creates parties. If you’re one that scours town for places to get down, you’ve probably seen Tamblyn behind the decks at places like Parliament Pub or Mugshots. His repertoire includes SILK, Open Air Social Club, King of the Beach, and more.
MonkeyJunk are a Juno Award-winning modern blues rock band, proudly representing the nation’s capital across Canada. They have garnered a strong fan base internationally, touring Canada, the US, and Europe relentlessly. In just seven years, this band has become a Canadian staple.
A must-see for fans of: The Black Keys & Muddy Waters
This band takes neo-classical folk to another level, and have made a name for themselves internationally by creating beautifully textured and emotionally charged songs. Musk Ox create a rare brand of atmospheric, evocative, and harmonious music that resonates with our very core. This is a powerful, must-see chamber folk act.
This band plays the delta blues that would more typically be found in the deep heart of the Mississippi. A whaling harmonica, twangy hollow-body electric guitars, and raspy vocals – these guys are another band that keep the blues in Bluesfest going strong.
A must-see for fans of: John Lee Hooker & RL Burnside
Ottawa’s #1 party punk band, when New Swears perform mayhem ensues. Blow-up dolls, crowd surfers, whipped cream – these are all typical sights at a New Swears show. Do yourself a favour and strap on your seat belts, because this is one ride that’ll give you a concussion if you’re not ready.
These Ottawa veterans kick out serious jams, perfecting their crunchy proto-punk and garage rock sound that explodes from the stage. This three-piece band take us back to the CBGB’s era of early punk rock gods, and describe them selves as a cross somewhere between The Who and The Buzzcocks.
A must-see for fans of: Iggy & The Stooges, Fugazi
Another favourite of ours, Pony Girl creates intricate and consuming soundscapes. This is art-rock at its finest and it’s difficult to imagine a higher caliber of musicianship in this band. They will be playing many new songs from their upcoming epic Foreign Life, which has been about 10 years in the making.
A must-see for fans of: Broken Social Scene, The XX
Saturday, July 11 @ 7:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
This power trio is yet another Ottawa Valley blues rock band that is making waves in the region. I first heard of this band when I came across their cover of “Dust My Broom,” the perennial classic tune written by blues legend Robert Johnson (and also happens to be one of my favourite blues songs). Get your blues fill with RCJ.
The layered and intricate instrumentation, high-energy orchestral nuances, and Matthew Saint Clare’s unhinged vocals that can only be compared to those of Frank Black of The Pixies. All of this melds into the distinctive sounds that Saint Clare create together. However motley a crew they may seem, their heterogeneity makes for a potent combination when such strong band chemistry exists.
If you want catchy, sexy, danceable rock music, then Silvergun & Spleen is the band for you. With an electric stage presence and an attitude that will smack you in the face, this band is ready to let loose and take on the big stage for the first time. Get close, but not too close – S&S will set the stage ablaze.
The Haig have a sound that is not easy to describe, and that’s why we love them. It’s a little bit of ’90s alt-rock/grunge mixed in with a twisted horror film. Their full-throttle rock has taken Ottawa by storm and propelled the band to great heights.
A must-see for fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead
“Formed in 1989, The Jivewires have jumped many musical and national borders. Taking their music from the jazz and satire of the ’40s and ’50s greats Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Wynonie Harris, and Louis Prima, The Jivewires throw a new spin on the Jump Blues tradition.”
A must-see for fans of: ‘Swing’, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
The Reverb Syndicate are Ottawa’s premier, and maybe only, instrumental surf and go-go band. The band’s bio perfectly describes them as “reverb-drenched surf/spy-fi sounds to accompany ’60s spy films, westerns, sci-fi films and old school video games that don’t exist.” You have to see to believe.
“A rock band with few genres barred, The Superlative mix their rock with reggae, ska, pop, punk, funk, blues and more. They consistently surprise crowds across Canada with their genre-bending shows. The band embrace the rock elements many of us know and love, while putting a unique new spin to each song they write.”
“The Visit is Heather Sita Black, a vocalist unchained, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, a powerful cellist. Together they form a self-described defiance of genre, so terms like chamber or polystylistic don’t really fit the bill. The closest long-winded definition might be experimental/avant-garde classical.”
Thrifty Kids are one of the most exciting new bands in Ottawa, and have received high accolades for the few releases and shows they have played so far. Their atmospheric and relaxed sound makes them a perfect summer band, the kind of music you want to listen to when the sand is between your toes. Keep an eye out for this band, as they are getting set to do big things.
If there’s a list of bands that keep deep Ottawa’s folk roots going strong, Winchester Warm would be on top. Following in the footsteps of local greats such as Snailhouse, Jim Bryson, and The Acorn, WW’s beautiful vocal harmonies, irresistible arrangements, and heartfelt lyrics make them another addition to this city’s incredible list of folk greats.
The Yips are another favourite of ours, playing loud and fuzzy “ouija rock” – a term they coined for their distinctly creepy, overdriven garagy sound. The Yips’ shows are wild, with “rave ghosts” always appearing with sheets over their heads and letting loose. Don’t miss out on what one of Ottawa’s best bands has to offer.
A must-see for fans of: FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees
Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
“Specializing in soul music from the past, present & future from the world over, Zattar has been moving ‘soles’ since the dawn of the 21st century. Syncopated drums with a touch of nostalgia are his sounds of choice. Bringing many years of music knowledge and crate digging to every gig, expect the unexpected.”
The Visit is Heather Sita Black, a vocalist unchained, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, a powerful cellist. Together they form a self-described defiance of genre, so terms like chamber or polystylistic don’t really fit the bill. The closest long-winded definition might be experimental/avant-garde classical. The Ottawa duo have released two recordings so far and will be making their way to the Czech Republic in November for Nouvelle Prague, a international showcasing event of art from around the world. They’ve decided to share what they’ve been working on up to this point with their first video.
Nation’s capital music blog Something Always interviewed The Visit in March, in which they spoke hopefully of getting to Europe this year and to put out an album by 2015. We are glad to see that it appears that things are going the way they planned.
This expertly shot video in St. Alban’s Church was filmed in February by LOG Creative Bureau. An 11-minute foray into the untapped human voice and the complexity of a cello. The first two minutes are Raphael giving his entire body to his instrument, with his breathing as powerful as a musk ox in rut, and then to the vocalization of Heather’s attempt to explore how far her voice can take her into a song. She has perfect pitch and a seemingly intimate knowledge of her partner’s capabilities, but her body movements betray what’s really going on here — she is not making use of her voice, her voice is making use of her. The music possesses.
I’d rather not say too much about it, for fear of cheapening it. It’s beautiful and emotional. Have I already said too much? Res ipsa loquitor — the thing speaks for itself.
Flying birthday boy, Ming Wu, at Babylon in Ottawa.
February 20th has brought us such greats as Kurt Cobain, Rihanna, Angelina Grimké, and Ming Wu. How does one celebrate such an occasion? Well you get Flying Hórses, Big Dick, DJ Sweetcheeks, and Adam Saikaley to perform at Babylon… Oh, and you do so without telling the birthday boy until the afternoon of the show. Ming is an omnipresent individual in Ottawa, going to almost every single event. Ever. He always brings his camera and snaps some shots wherever he goes. His photo blog Photogmusic provides Ottawa with an unofficial photo essay of things that happen in town. Ming also has a twin brother Lenny who we also celebrated .
We’re always excited to find new artists in town making new music, and one group that has recently caught our attention is The Visit. This duo consists of an incredibly proficient cellist, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, and a skilled vocalist, Heather Sita Black. The pairing use a self-described “musical dialogue that transcends genres and idioms, reconciling soulful lamentations with aggressive, complex rhythms, and maintaining a balance between improvisation and structure.”
Their new track called “Between Worlds” is a fourteen and a half-minute long epic journey. The journey begins softly and with grace, as Raphael’s cello bellows long and restrained notes. However, before the two-minute mark, he proceeds to dominate the fingerboard much more vigorously and demonstrates why The Visit are a force to be reckoned with. Once Heather’s haunting and disarming vocals start, the rest of the song is a back and forth battle between the two. There are moments of intensity and grandiosity that would stir any listener. There are also moments of calm and sorrow. But the alluring quest from beginning to end ultimately seduces us and leaves us wanting. This push-and-pull dynamic is tumultuous, to say the least.
The Visit describe their music as “a convergence of visceral and intellectual forms of musical expression. Progressive metal, middle eastern music, and dark contemporary classical music are among the varied and seemingly disparate roots of our sound.“
I spoke to Raphael and Heather about their roles as artists in The Visit, and how their music draws meaning from certain real-world inspirations.
The cello has definitely become a point of great interest for me; I see that it has many sonic and technical possibilities that are not usually exploited. There are so many emotional landscapes that can be produced by the instrument without the use of external effects. I have found a great wealth of new ideas by returning the cello in very unusual ways and seeing it as an instrument capable of playing numerous lines simultaneously, or even occasionally sounding orchestral. I particularly enjoy using it to replicate the complex rhythms and aggression of modern metal that are such an important part of my musical personality. A large part of what we are doing in The Visit is redefining expectations of what heavy music should be. I believe that heaviness is not defined by instrumentation or context as much as energy and composition. Overall, my style as a creator of music combines emotional weight and inner darkness as well as cinematic depictions of landscapes and epochs.
With The Visit, I am able to draw upon a deeper artistic voice, one that calls upon my own personal journey in life as well as from what I see happening in the outer world. Despair, sorrow, suffering, pain, anger, rage, insecurity and shame. Connection, strength, power, aliveness, fertility, creativity, passion, compassion, love… life and death, it all comes together here. Inspired by Raphael’s compositions, I am free to express anything that arises, the urge to merge with the music, to become the music, the desire to share these experiences and emotions and to (hopefully) have others uncover emotional landscapes within themselves.
Be sure to catch The Visit alongside DVP, V, and Benoit Christie January 25 at Pressed Cafe. Doors at 7PM, tickets are $10 or PWYC.