There must be something the air in Alberta that breeds great country music artists, and Elizabeth MacInnis is about to add her name to the list. With her debut album MacInnis, a well- travelled and well know background singer and commercial voice, has placed herself directly where she belongs, centre stage and in the spotlight.
'One Eye on the Highway' is an eleven song collection of original tunes, capturing moments in a girl’s life and times. Personal, emotional and revealing but not without its humorous moments.
Braids’ 2011 debut, Native Speaker, was an under the radar success for the Calgary crew’s modest brand of trance pop. The album had its share of accessible elements, somewhat outweighed by a cerebral, distanced approach to the material which didn’t make for the warmest listen.
On Flourish/Perish, the band goes with a lighter, well-crafted and more inclusive sound, and does it sans guitars, except for closer ‘In Kind’. They do it with such a confident and restrained touch that the usual tsunami of massed snyths and mucho loops never really materialises. Instead, over the space of an hour the album shows its stuff in sonic striptease style, with grabby manipulations of drums lines and Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s vocals in particular. The mix and emphasis is interesting in its variety. At times obscured by florid synth washes, at others rendered in distorted wails and indecipherable lyrics, it’s the vocals which are the glue binding it all together.
Overall, Flourish…builds on the inflected trance pop of native speaker without recycling too much. The beauty and flair on show here is to be commended in view of the acrimonious events during its recording, leading to the departure of influential keyboardist Katie Lee.
As an album bereft of singles, Flourish/Perish isn’t a concept album but like that ilk, is best appreciated in one long listen, confident enough in itself to insist you take a time out from the gone-in-sixty world to pay it attention.
Submitted by Don Graham Photo: Bobby Curtola at the Stokey Centre
Parry Sound, Ontario, on Georgian Bay in the scenic 30,000 islands, is the birthplace of Canadian treasure and hockey legend Bobby Orr. It’s safe to say that Bobby Orr pretty much is omnipresent in the town. Everywhere you go are reminders of him, pictures, signs and a museum. But for one night, August 15th, 2013, the town belonged to another Canadian legend, another Bobby, Bobby Curtola!
Curtola and his five piece band of brothers The Sensational Hot Rods, slipped into town for a one night concert. The show was at the Stockey Centre on Bay Street in Parry Sound, a beautiful newish venue seating about 750 people. Coincidently the Stockey houses the aforementioned Bobby Orr’s Museum and souvenir shop.
Pulling up to park for the event we noticed how full the parking lot was and a glance inside the lobby let us see a huge crowd milling about, chatting excitedly about the concert. With only three or four weeks of lead time, the Stockey was sold out for The Bobby Curtola Show. Amazing how his legion of fans adore him, or I should stay, STILL adore him, fifty years into his remarkable career.
Curtola’s first big hit, the gold record selling Fortune Teller was released to radio in 1962. That’s over 50 years of staying power. This was pre Beatles, JFK was still alive and the expression “if they can put a man on the moon why can’t they…..” was not part of our everyday vocabulary.
It takes considerable eggs for an up and coming act to turn away from the sound of a successful debut album. Add this T.Dot fivesome to that short list. The brash nihilism of 2011’s ‘My Divider’ isn’t entirely banished from the scene (“Pacifist in Camouflage”) but it’s a more thoughtful, reasonable, inward looking version.
The unit’s power is still evident but it’s now servicing songs which are more structured and nuanced, some to a fault. It’s all in the service of Ben Fox’s instructive narratives, with lots of space to indulge his flair for the dramatic (“Explosions in the Sky”). Every track here gets full service from bassist Branko Scekic, keyboardist David Wickland, drummer Lucas Fredette and guitarist Josh Byrne, who’ve jumped into the new, more textured material with a zest which elevates such as “Don’t Decide” and “Career Criminal” to another level.
All the more weird that the production sounds stifled most of the time, like the band’s playing in a whole other room. I get that it’s all about Ben; still, on Shaky Dream the band’s stepped up its game significantly and the album’s end game doesn’t really reflect that.
Ben, he’s still channeling Julian Casablancas even when the songs might have benefited from another treatment. When he’s got it good, it’s very, very good; otherwise it brings a sameness to some of the tunes they could’ve lived without.
This is one whack piece of trash porn and I mean that in a bad way. To make a genuine assessment as complicated as Avril is the happenstance that the lame and grimy lyrics are often wrapped in undeniable hooky and slickly executed music.
Nothing wrong with soft porn pop; heck it’s the staple diet of a slew of hip hop and modern r’n’b performers but damn, if you’re gonna do it, dude, do it right.
"I got this for you, a little Thicke for you/ A big kiss for you... big dick for you," is about the lyrical high point here, the kind of riff that would make Justin Timberlake cringe. JT’s shadow hovers around numerous tracks here as does vintage Prince and an enitre gym bag full of modern tricks. You get yer upbeat soul tracks, yer falsetto harmonies, yer blend of real instruments and electronica and it all adds up to little of substance.
Perhaps in an attempt to put some ‘new’ on it, Thicke’s vocals do serious sound shifting at many places throughout, leaving the impression he wasn’t able or didn’t care to put a personal stamp on the material. Want proof? Check the conceptual and sonic train wreck that’s track 2 through 6, a trash-compacted mess of neo-soul and watery funk so solidly welded together it’s impossible to tell them apart.
Central Ontario group Western Avenue, consisting of Nikki English, Keith Robertson and Matt Williams have their fingers firmly placed on the pulse of what’s popular in today’s country music. This band is a compact self contained unit that has all the ingredients for success in the country, country pop market. Great musicianship, extremely strong vocals and most importantly strong songs, lyrically and musically.
Their latest single to radio ‘Wherever You Are’, is a perfect showcase for the band. Musically the performance is top drawer, the production stands up to current sounds on today’s radio, crisp, clear and good separation. Vocally, pure tight and sincere, great delivery and pleasing sonically. The song, written by Dave Woods and lead singer Nikki English is a strong piece of work and deserves to be heard.
I hope they get the radio attention they merit in todays “play the known artists” formats. If they get their shot, they will become one of the “known artists”. Keep doing what you do guys, hope to hear a lot more from you in the future.
This muchly anticipated ‘comeback’ album is everything fans had hoped for and more. Seven years in the making and the first since stepping away from Paper Bag Records, these hardcore guitar heroes haven’t lost a step in this collection, which blazes from start to finish.
Still wearing their influences on their sleeves, so you’ll hear Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Swervedriver and like that, delivered with powerful love and no reverence. The T.Dot four-piece kick out an awesome noise; bigass boom-bastic drums, soaring, reverb-laden guitar lines, chest-thumping bass and roaring vocals combine with a take-no-prisoners ‘tude to make listening to this album all in one go a strenuous experience.
Infinite Repeats sounds sharp and clear-headed thanks to producer/drummer Jon Drew (Fucked Up, Tokyo Police Club) who knows this stuff inside out on account of he’s the cause of much of it. Commanding from start to finsih , it sounds very much like the band’s picking up exactly where they left off. That they pull it off without sounding dated is a testament to their fierce commitment and clear vision. On such as ‘All Hands’ and ‘Thieves Watch’, that vison appears more inclusive of current heavy music tropes. That their approach works is demonstrated by the fact that material fits snugly with the bulk of the album’s Uncut-branded songs like ‘Older By The Line’, ‘Washed Out’ and ‘Stay Gold’.
Post-punk, neo hardcore hasn’t sounded this bracing and urgent in some time.
Just reading the liner notes and song titles makes you want to sing and do a little soft shoe and tap. Then you put on the CD by the ‘Broadsway’ girls and they have got your attention from the first medley of ‘Together’, that introduces you to them by singing their hearts out to ‘Together Wherever We Go/Side By Side/Glory of Love’, a great combination of songs that my parents sang at house parties when I was a kid.
‘Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy’ is actually performed slow and sultry and is reminiscent of Judy Garland and Gospel all rolled into one. ‘Cloudburst/Oleo’ has a great, happy arrangement, right down to the ‘shave and a haircut – two bits’ running throughout, and has hints of Manhattan Transfer style vocals.
The Moon Medley offers ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon/Blue Moon/Moonglow/Moon River’, ending with an interesting choice of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’, which actually fits in with the other classic Broadway/Pop tunes. ‘I Know Him So Well’,’What You Don’t About Women’ really show off the incredible voices of Heather Bambrick and Julie Michels and their wonderful and unique harmonies.
Bad news for any of y’all working on the ultimate breakup album. It’s just been done to the hilt on The Long Goodbye. Velan’s one for digging deep in his subject matter, usually managing to drape his lyrics in catchy, world beat inflected arrangements. This un’ s all about getting stuff off the Velan chest and dude has lots to get rd of.
As befitting the album’s narrow focus, that being the post-breakup break apart, the music is stripped way, way down, bringing no good news and no place to hide from Velan’s brutal soul-baring. This is a tough listen in one go and if you’re in a good relationship it’s probably not the best album for hanging on the couch with your baby.
Hard and cold it may be at most times but the boy can spin a tale that’ll turn lonesome me into the lone man standing. The fact that Velan plays most of the instruments himself adds to the ‘last stand’ feeling, the only element of any hope loitering around the project. That comes out to play most forcefully on 'Gorgeous Morning’ but even as the echoes of hope are still faint in your mind, he drops the dire fatalism of ‘Did We Ever Have A Chance.” and it’s back to painting it black.
This is a collection of songs so intimate and cathartic they’re best appreciated by listeners in a similar state of mind.
The night of July 9th 2013, I got a late, but happy notice from the concert promoters that I’d be able to see the legendary 2 tone ska band, The Specials (known for bringing the 2nd wave of ska back in style in the late 70's/early 80's). It was my first time going to a concert alone since I wasn't able to get anybody to come with me but I also wasn't about to bail on seeing them (I’ve luckily seen them twice before in 2010). Walking through the Kool Haus crowd of middle aged people wearing fedoras, creepers and sun dresses, I got the feeling I was the youngest person there (being 20), which makes sense considering the band’s success started before I was born.