Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dynamic Duo Week: Pack it In

As is the case with most situations in life I am to eat my words yet again. Naturally, no sooner do I tear down on a specific idea, place or thing (in this case, Vancouver) then is a light suddenly shed upon my innocent world which proves me ignoramusly wrong. Next thing you know, people are going to start calling me on shit like making up words.

What happens when you take one of my favorite bands, The Black Keys, and give them a sex change? You get The Pack A.D. I hate to generalize and pigeon hole a band, but just listen to this shit. It's fantastic music, but there were a couple songs which even I thought was a bit of a rip on the Keys (and this coming from a guy who hasn't written an original song in years).

At the end of last summer, they released their second full length, Funeral Mixtape which has garnered a lot of attention for these two ladies and placed them in venues around North America. Now, we just have to flip a coin to see if they'll be the next big thing, or end up snorting lines of coke from the leftover dredges of the headlining bands in the corner floorboards of the backstage room.

Time will be the judge.

-Carry on your heavy spirit, it'll tire eventually

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dynamic Duo Week: Big in Japan

I need to say something a little bit contentious: Vancouver, you're falling behind. The rest of Canada is churning out some awesome tunes, and while you've been a hotbed for the best of Canadian Hip Hop, I'm a bit disappointed at your performance in the rock sector. Sure, you have Black Mountain, but don't think that'll hold forever.

See, that's what I would have said BEFORE I learned about Japandroids. Fortunately, Vancouver and I have now kissed and made up. For this glorious reunion, we can thank Brian King and Dave Prowse; Two friends who decided to get together, start making music, and after a while, got sick of looking for a bassist.

However they, as so many duos can quickly realize, found that bass is optional, and a duo can still blast enough noise to render you sterile. With two EPs under their belt, JPNDRDS have just released their first full length Post-Nothing. They've been doing shows in and around Vancouver for almost 3 years, and have taken the odd weekend trip to locals around Canada. However, just this month they have been lucky enough to finally score some true time away from the grind and are doing a North American tour. Take a look at their page and you might be able to catch them somewhere near you.

And if you don't believe me, then I might just cry.

-Gotta trust in love when love is all you got

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take it back

Birthdays always cause me to get a bit nostalgic. To the average person, this would mean thinking fondly of old memories and looking up old friends. To me, this means digging back through my music library.

I started this birthday as I've started every birthday for nearly 10 years: by listening to Happy Birthday to Me by The Vandals. This quickly threw me back into my teenhood love of punk rock. I immediately started listening to the classics; Lagwagon, NOFX, Dropkick, Flogging Molly. All was right in the world.

It was thus, fitting, or perhaps telling, that I would, during this time, stumble accross The Roman Line. To make life simple, this is drag 'em out, drink 'em down, rowdy boys, gang-vocaled punk rock. Fueled in a line similar to Dropkick or Floggin, The Roman Line is Ontario's answer to Canadian Irish descendants who want to play music.

So enjoy the tune, and try not to get drunk just watching the video.

-What men like you have witnessed, I have endured

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to me, Love SK

So, this is one of those one's I'd been holding onto for a special occasion. For starters, I talk about Jordan Cook too much (and still don't have the bloody album), and for finishers (huh?) you don't talk about a band this epic on any old day.

"There is something in the water of Saskatoon."

No shit.

Wide Mouth Mason
was one of my favorite bands when I was growing up. They found a fantastic mix of blues, funk and rock. In recent years, I've discovered my new God (sorry Dave) Mr. Jordan Cook. Add to that Curtis Scarrow (one hell of a shredder himself), SJ Kardash on bass, Danny White on drums, and Manitoba's own Big Dave McLean and fuck me sideways do you get something special.

So special, why not call it Guitarmageddon? I could talk forever about talent, tightness, songwriting ability and other traits which make this supergroup amazing, however there is really only one thing you need to know: They fucking love playing music.

-For my birthday, I want rock

Monday, April 20, 2009

What the hell is this?

I'm still not sure if this is going to be the trio, or just another solo album. So far, we've got the JM Duo, but Pino is missing from the picture.

Either way... just listen to that groove. That's an 8 string guitar (bass and guitar on the same neck) and it sounds oh so sweet.

-Nobody's angel but your own

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I've always respected Ben Harper a great deal, even when I didn't enjoy the music he was creating. He has to be one of the hardest working musicians in the industry and is constantly changing things around and experimenting with new directions to keep his music constantly pushing forward.

After years of solo acoustic work, tours with the Innocent Criminals, and a collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama, I don't think anyone could have predicted his next step. At the same time, we shouldn't be surprised when he hooks up with a Texas blues rock band called Relentless7.

I think Ben has realized what so few musicians stumble across in their lives; music needs to evolve to stay interesting. This statement is particularly true if you are doing it for a living. Nothing could be as satisfying as stumbling across a new sound and exploring a world which was previously foreign to you. If you don't believe me, just watch how much they are able to get into the music and agree that Ben likely couldn't still perform Steal My Kisses with that kind of intensity.

-Give us more than we bargained for

Friday, April 3, 2009

Prehistoric Elephants

I grabbed a copy of Mastodon's latest effort, Crack the Skye the other day. I admit, I walked into this album as a skeptic. After Blood Mountain, one of the most epic and original pieces of work in the metal world, likely for decades, I figured it would be an impossible act to follow.

Before I give my 2 cents on this album though, I do have to give a caveat. Whatever I feel or say about this band and album is sullied, because they're cheating. I pretty much figured that anyone able to write music this complex, strange and convoluted must be on acid. Low and behold when I realized how right I was.

Life has not been easy as a member of Mastodon. To say that the past few years of success under Blood Mountain have been a cake walk would be a massive understatement. Brent Hinds (Vox/Guitar) suffered a brain hemorrhage that almost killed him. Bill Kelliher (Guitar) suffered from a case of alcoholism which debilitated his body so badly, he was "days from death". Brann Dailor's (Drums) mother was left homeless after her boyfriend died in their sleep. This is only the start of a long list of things which plagued the band.

However, come shining out the back-end is Crack the Skye. I was almost guaranteed that Mastodon would suffer post-success syndrom, but I was so very wrong. Some people might complain about a 9 track album, however it comes in just under 60 minutes, and is some of the most mind-warping shit you will hear. 13 minute epics such as The Last Baron are achievements which most people only dream of accomplishing.

Really... what have you done with your life?

-Show me fire with no smoke