Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Pot That Blends Us All

Few things make me happier than good friends and good music.  As such, by logical extension, one would assume that when good friends make good music... it's a pretty damned awesome thing.

And one would assume correctly.  Old comrades of the Rogues and general all-around-awesome dudes, the boys in Melting Pot have been creating a perfect blend of rock, blues and soul that strikes a chord with my musical core on the best and worst of days.  Some of their songs are uplifting, others can knock you on your ass.

And what's better than great music?  Free great music.  For the month of March (hurry, only 2 days left), Melting Pot is graciously GIVING AWAY their latest EP, Somewhere in this Debris, over at New Music 10.  You'd be a fool not to pick this album up, even if only to listen to my two favourite tracks, "What You Need" and, featured below, "It'll Be Alright."

-Little man you're a boy, little boy you're nothin at all

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CMW 2012 Roundup

I saw a lot of bands last week... I mean A LOT of bands.  I partied my ass off and I left a puddle of spilled beer and sweat wherever I went.  This went to the point where I got so sick that I bailed on work on Monday, and I'm pretty sure I still have a headache (read: hangover) on Tuesday evening.  Yet still, I forge on and try to at last write my CMW 2012 round up. Festivals like CMW and NXNE are always fantastic experiences and while I enjoy seeing the bands that I know and love, part of me always enjoys the unexpected element of festivals, such as mobile breastfeeding units with giant, flashing tits on top:
Did I stutter?

First, to the city of Toronto... I love and hate you.  I've experienced only 5 CMWs and maybe another 4 NXNE's, but there is a recurring theme at Toronto shows that just pisses me off: no one gets into it.  I spent 8 years in Montreal, and let me tell you, while I'm pretty sure I like Toronto more on the whole, at least Montrealers know how to lose their shit at a show.  I like to get pissed up 'n move around... and you know what: fie on you people for looking at me strangely.  It's a rock show... you know... rock already.  My biggest awards of the fest go to Russ from The Mercy Now, Steve from Bella Clava, Harley from Waster (MB represent!) and the chubby drunk guy without a shirt that kept grinding his sweaty ass up on me during Thursday night's Jordan Cook set at the 'shoe.  I saw you guys actually getting into the music, I saw you guys actually enjoying yourselves and I saw you guys supporting the bands with screams, sweat and swagger. You guys are the true heroes.

That said, we should also sing the praises of those wonderful folks who gave us the tunes to groove to.  As such, I present to you my top 5 CMW 2012 acts.  Judging criteria were things such as how hard you fuckin rocked, how many minds in the room were blown and the size of the puddle of sweat you left at your feet.

5) Rockyard (Friday, 3am, Hideout)
I'll preface this by saying that at 3am, at the end of what was one of the greatest musical nights of my life, though suffering massive exhaustion, I wasn't expecting much when walking into the Hideout.  We'd played with Rockyard before, but fuck me... you boys win the most improved player award.  This band was always tight and a lot of fun, but the energy, intensity and fun they brought to the stage (coupled with copious quantities of Jager and beer) was enough to turn the place into an orgy of rock, booze and people just waiting for last call to go have sex.  I also tip my hat to Matt for dealing with crazy Hideout stripper dancer better than anyone I'd ever seen.  I think you actually creeped her out a bit when you hovered over her, screaming out lyrics.

4) Hey Sugar (Thursday, midnight, Bovine)
Hey Sugar ended up here not only because they played a fantastic set at the Bovine, but also because they fought through adversity.  I saw them on Wednesday night at Velvet with around 5 other people and a deaf sound man on ecstasy who needed to feel more bass to get off.  Quite literally, it was the worst mix I've ever heard in my life: something between the loudest fart you've ever heard and ongoing thunder.  I talked to the band and their manager after and the boys were pretty down on the situation.  Fast forward a day and they owned the stage in front of a close-to-packed Bovine, playing like the night before was just a bad dream.  They ripped off one of the tightest rock sets I've ever seen played and even with a pretty dull crowd (way to go, Toronto), were up to all kinds of antics on and off the stage. Of course, hardly anyone danced, but a few of us still raised our firsts and screamed "HEY" as we were Standing at the Crossroads.

3) Bella Clava (Wednesday, 9:30pm, Horseshoe)
While feeling angry for only learning of Bella Clava this summer, I was even more angry after this was my first live experience.  So many chances to rock, completely squandered. Combining so many elements of music that I adore - riffs till the cows come home, southern 70s feel, epic vocal harmonies, powerful organ droning in the background, and a rhythm section to root the madness into reality - the masked ones were a perfect combination for kicking off my CMW experience.  Energy to boot and enough rock to fill a quarry (uggghhhh... just awful), Bella Clava was still able to get an early-night crowd at the Horseshoe moving and into the music: not an easy task.  Also, I previously nominated Steve Suitte for riff-rock God... I'd like to go ahead and second my nomination.

2) Starvin Hungry (Friday, midnight, Bovine)
I had seen this band as a 4 piece in Montreal back in the early 00's.  They were one of my favorite local bands who belted out an incredible yet creepy hard rock sound.  However, little did I know that I wasn't experiencing the truest form of Starvin Hungry: a two-piece formed from the Milchem brothers.  Their tightness and connection was enough to lend to the theory of sibling 6th senses and the sound did not suffer in the slightest from the loss of 2 members.  Perhaps it was the opportunity to sing along to some of my favorite songs from my early 20s or perhaps it was that two brothers got up on stage and played a set without a fucking care in the world what the audience thought of them.  I'll tell you right now... we all thought very good things.

1) Jordan Cook (Thursday, 10:30pm, Horseshoe)
Part of me hates to give Jordan this award.  I think I've donned him with this honour at nearly every other festival I've ever seen him play... whether he's alone or he's smashing ear drums with his band.  I quite literally wanted to just put an asterix and omit him from this list, since it just feels like he cheated.  The problem is that Jordan is on a different playing field from the rest of us.  Stumbling and staggering his way around the stage, one hand flailing a mic stand around his head while the other plays riffs on his 6-string that most guitarists I know can't even play with 2 hands... Mr. Cook has learned how to truly own a crowd.  Lurking around the stage, eyes piercing through the audience for someone to stare through, Cook's eerie, powerful voice and frantic stage presence are only topped by his guitar playing, which one would assume he had to sell the souls of himself and his extended family to obtain.

"If you don't feel like death after last week, then you weren't doing it right."

PS: To the guy who writes the billboards at Duffy's... no, my band is, in fact, not a group of communist scientific intellectuals, but thanks for coming out.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

CMW - Schedule 4

I feel like a corpse of a man... but here we go again:
9pm - Mad Ones @ Bovine
10pm - Speaking Tongues @ Rancho
11pm - ... I'm taking suggestions
12am - Last Years Men @ Silver Dollar
1am - Mercy Now @ Silver Dollar
2am - The Dirty Nil @ Bovine
3am - Revolvers @ Silver Dollar

-Let's do this thing... once more

Friday, March 23, 2012

CMW - Schedule 3

Let's do this... again...and again... and again...

9pm - CATL @ Comfort Zone
10pm - The Noble Rogues @ Duffy's Tavern
11pm - Biblical @ Bovine
12am - Starvin Hungry @ Bovine
12:15am - Little Foot Long Foot @ Underground Garage
(yes... I have a clone... or I'm going to flip a coin)
1am - Flash Lightnin @ Bovine
2am - Ian Blurton + Huron = Happy Endings @ Bovine
3am - Rockyard @ Hideout

Sweet merciful crap, tonight might kill me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

CMW - Schedule 2

Want to try to find me tonight?  Good luck.

10pm - John K Samson @ Great Hall
10:30pm - Jordan Cook @ Horseshoe
11:30 - Pack AD @ Horseshoe
12am - Hey Sugar @ Bovine
12:50am - Monster Truck @ Horseshoe
2am - Indian Handcrafts @Lee's Palace

...and now you know

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CMW - Schedule 1

Want to try to find me tonight?  Good luck:
7pm-9pm - Rehearsal w/ The Noble Rogues
9:30pm - Bella Clava @ Horseshoe
10:00pm - Hey Sugar @ Velvet
11:00pm - Harbinger @ Ballroom

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ola... kinda rocks?

It's rare that I am sent music to review.  While it's not really my schtick, the few times people go out of their way to send me something, I feel it only polite to give a listen and provide some feedback.  There's an interesting conundrum an amateur reviewer has between feeling as though they should provide some positive press for a band who contacts them and truly speaking one's mind.  As I sit down to listen to this album and begin to write... only time will tell where this post goes.

Olaroks, a Toronto four piece, reached out for a review of their 2011 album Somebody's Girl. Beyond this, I can't tell you much about the band except what I gleaned from their liner notes and a pretty sparse web presence.  At a very high level, there's nothing wrong with this album, but at the same time, I can't claim that there is anything overwhelmingly right about it either.

There are elements of this album that are really good.  Technically, its a tight and very proficient album.  All players have their chops together and Ola, their female front woman, has a solid voice that delivers a fairly consistent story and message across the album.  Their style has a catchy element with solid, pop sensibility. The songs are well arranged, decently balanced and even make use of a few extras and gimmicks like flutes.

But... so what?

I'll preface this by flat out stating that they simply might not be my style, however, the issue that I have with this album is that it doesn't push the envelope in any spheres.  The songs are all too safe and listening to each track, I seldom get the feeling like anyone in the band is taking a huge risk or doing something that takes them outside of their comfort zone.  After 34 minutes of music, only a handful of noteworthy moments stay in my mind.

We catch a glimpse of  where this band could be if someone really put themselves out there in my favorite track, the unfortunately titled "bum song."  However, the draw to this track is in the raw intensity of guest MC Louis Stroud.  If the most impressive part of your album is a guest artist, there is a bit of a problem.  While I wasn't a fan of it, at least the closing track "I like your bitches" tried to be something a bit unique, and not just through lyrical quasi-shock, but in the structure of a more original, unpredictable song.

Olaroks is the kind of band that one could easily enjoy as background to a chilled pub scene; and that's fine if it is your goal.  However, in my mind, a band should always strive to create music that insists on your attention.  Olarocks has the foundation of a solid band with talented musicians, however, if they want to take their tunes to the next level, they have to be able write a song that makes me give a damn.

-Where were you when we threw ourselves to the ground and let go of everything?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's in Your Genes

What kind of a friend would I be if I didn't give a nod for the much-anticipated release of Talk Sick's second full length, , Genetics? It's now been just over a week since I got to catch their album release at Katacombes in Montreal (which is such an awesome venue). Through that week, my media player tells me I've spun the new album at least 5 full times, with some songs reaching into the 10-15 plays range.  In short... I've started to get a good feel for it.
And this I can say after letting this album wash over me: this is a solid piece of work.  The boys find a way of combining a driving punk feel with ridiculous technical proficiency and vocals that attack you from all directions.  The album simultaneously sounds like no band you've ever heard before while still invoking the memories of countless punk bands from my youth (The Casualties, Sick of it All, New Bomb Turks & Trigger Happy to name a few).  With 14 tracks weighing in at a sprinting 25 minutes, this is an album you can enjoy in the time it makes to make dinner, and likely still have time to set the table.  The only warning I'll give is that you may start smashing the fine china as you mosh along to songs like, my personal favorite, Religion.

Still, flatware and porcelain aside, take a listen to Talk Sick's new album.  It's fun for the part of the family that likes fast punk and vocals that grate along your spine.  As for the rest of the family, someone tell them that they're boring and lame. You can listen to a track below or check out the whole album here.

-We fit so well it hurt to pull apart

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fuel Up

I'm starting a new job today, which likely means I should be doing something more productive with my last few minutes of unemployment other than blogging, but I just really like doing this.

Fittingly as I re-enter the corporate world that I find one of the most abrasive, loud and intense bands I've heard in a while.  I don't have too long to set it up, but check out Retox from California.  Blurring together a ton of different genres and a lot of noise, this four piece has come from the ashes of a number of bands to create a sound which flies in the face of many typical bands.

Right... shut up, Shane.

I never saw you walk in the door and I never heard you leave.