Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Meredith Shaw - Trouble - review!


Toronto’s Meredith Shaw has a brand new EP hitting the shelves this week. It follows her 2011 critically acclaimed debut album Place Called Happy, and is the first in a series of ‘tringle’ (three song) independent EP’s. Each of these EP’s will have guest musicians and producers and for the opening track,Trouble, she partners with East Coast musician Joel Plaskett himself.





Co-written by Shaw and Plaskett, Trouble is the new song of choice to crank up in my car on a sunny day. With Plaskett’s great shaky vocals in the background and Shaw’s upbeat, happy voice upfront and center, this is a great single to lead out this new group of records. Singing about getting into trouble and just not caring, they put a fun twist on everything from crappy Mondays to annoying city traffic. With the clean electric guitar strumming away, the tambourine shaking in the chorus and the hand clapping keeping time, this song is just plain fun. It’s like modern bubble-gum pop and I love it!



The second track Call it a Night (co-written with her normal songwriting partner Patrick Ballantyne) keeps the catchy, fun song groove going. With the shuffling drums, quick catchy guitar strumming and strong vocals, I was singing “Oh My My” along with Meredith before I was even through the first listen. The closing number,Have You Met My Heart (co-written with Simon Wilcox), is a slower ballad full of heart and meaning, powerful enough to be a single on its own.

It’s great to see artists releasing material with the 7”vinyl format in mind. In some cases, a full album is not in order and just a few short songs are sufficient. I often cringe when I see a new album released with 15-20 songs on it, knowing that most are usually half-assed and just thrown in to fill up the disc. Sometimes less is more and in these short EP’s there seems to be more thought, passion, and consideration put into them. I’m looking forward to the rest in this series.

Click here and see the video for her brand new single with Joel Plaskett called Trouble! ->



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Revisiting a classic - Eater's The Album!


 
How do I describe the sound of punk rock? Some may mention the steady, simple and fast drum beats. Others may describe the power chords being played on fuzzy distorted guitars and perhaps trebly, tingy sounding bass forming the lead structure of the song. And then there's the vocals ripping off lyrics about… well anything that they can complain about.

If I were asked to describe a band that would best describe the vintage classic punk sound, I would choose the former London punk band called Eater.

Eater consisted of four young teenagers under the age of seventeen. The line-up for their sole full length album called The Album was Andy Blade on vocals and guitar, Brian Chevette on guitar, Ian Woodcock on bass, and Phil Rowland on drums.

The Album is filled with sixteen short songs including covers of songs by Lou Reed (Sweet Jane, Waiting for the Man), Alice Cooper (Eighteen.. except their version is titled fifteen) and David Bowie (Queen Bitch). The remaining songs are written primarily by band members Blade and Woodcock. Their fast, rough and aggressive punk rock formula stays steady throughout, so steady in fact that all songs basically sound the same. Song similarities would usually cause me to lose interest quickly, however, this is what I expect from these early young punk rock bands and for some odd reason it seems to work.  

In their short lifespan, from 1976 to 1979, Eater released five singles and one LP. They played with some fairly big names in the UK punk rock scene including The Buzzcocks and The Damned. While their immaturity (as if the word ‘mature’ ever got tossed around much in punk rock) may have contributed to their early demise, I’m sure that the constant bad reviews from the press didn’t help. Regardless, their impact on the London punk scene left a lasting impression. I frequent many websites and blogs run by punk rock fanatics and most (as do I) classify The Album as essential in any punk rock collection.
 
 
Below you will find the second song on The Album called Public Toys. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This Ship - All the Stars and Elements - Review!


The debut LP titled All the Stars and Elements from Halifax indie pop-rock band This Ship just hit the online world on May 22nd. It has five long numbers filled with chilling harmonies, complex drumming, artsy guitar and pretty much any other instrument they could get their hands on. Hell, they even use their hands with steady, fun clapping that's sure to be an audience favourite at their live shows.




The band consists of Bethany Fulde on vocals and guitar; Justin MacPherson Wiles on vocals, keyboards and keytar; Jordan Stephens on vocals and bass; and Adam Martin on vocals and drums. Their influences include The Beatles, Wintersleep and Arcade Fire, yet they sound completely original. All the songs are clocking in at well over five minutes apiece (two are over seven), which usually makes me nervous as long songs tend to be filled with repetition (heres looking at you Don McLean) or ridiculous showboat soloing. However, This Ship keeps me interested. It's almost as if they use a progressive rock formula of multiple instrument and vocal layers, yet they do it all with a fun indie pop-rock sound.



Just being a band for a little over a year, This Ship has been keeping a steady flow of shows under their belts finishing two Ontario and Quebec tours in 2012. Their calendar is quickly filling with gigs this summer as well to support the release of All the Stars and Elements including a show in Fredericton at the Gallery Connexion on Saturday June 1st. As an added bonus, they are stopping in Quebec at the end of their tour to record a new three song EP, really keeping the momentum rolling. I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for this release.


The band is scheduled to appear on the June 3rd episode of Homemade Jams on 97.9 CHSR FM. Host Bondo always proves to have thorough and entertaining interviews so it will be a great opportunity to get acquainted with This Ship.

You can download All the Stars and Elements on their Bandcamp page here, and pay by donation. I'm not sure if there will be a physical CD or vinyl release for this album, but here's hoping!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bones Malones – BOOMHAÜS - review!


I have been in the process of starting a Maritime Vinyl radio show on Fredericton’s community radio station 97.9 CHSR fm. While I have been partaking in the training and sitting in on a few live shows I have also been trying to volunteer around the station in any way that I can. One area where they always need help is reviewing albums from the bottomless pile of CD’s that are sent to the station weekly to be considered for on-air. This is a great opportunity that I can’t pass up, opening a new door for me to discover new and old Canadian indie bands and labels. Like a kid in a candy store, I dug through their pile of CDs. I did the forbidden, and chose and album solely on its cover (or is that just books?). Luckily, it worked out for me on the first try as I got a soon to be released album by Bones Malones from Montreal, Quebec called Boomhaüs.

 
 
Now, let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way early. Yes he has the same deep raspy growl singing style as Tom Waits and yes this will prevent some from giving him credit for originality, but fret not! Bones Malones is the real deal. He has the talent and ability to hold his own and be proud. His two prior albums, Barn Recordings (2010) and Calyptrophone (2011), were released independently and Boomhaüs is being released under Hybride Park Musique (I could not find any information on this label and it could very well be his own. If anybody has more information on this label, I would love to hear! You can reach me at casadiarecords@gmail.com). This album contains some songs from his prior independent albums as well as a handful of unreleased tracks so it is a great starting point for new fans like me discovering Bones Malones. It is being released this coming Tuesday, May 21st.

Known as a local favorite in Montreal, Bones has been performing for the past ten years including a few cross Canadian tours. With his deep and raspy voice, rumbling drums that rarely use cymbals, a reverb heavy harmonica, and a saxophone that will purposely hit sour notes just at the right moment, Boomhaus gives us a great dirty blues sound and it works! If this dirty sound alone is not enough to drag you in, his cover of the Littlest Hobo theme Maybe Tomorrow will be sure to make you smile and give the record a chance.

It’s hard to find much information on Bones Malones on the web. All I found was a website that hasn’t been updated in months with a biography tab that says “coming soon”. The mystery is kind of exciting, thinking that I may have stumbled onto something new, but it’s also a shame. I’m still new at CHSR but I hear of people tossing CD’s aside and not giving them a fair shot simply because there is absolutely no information on the artist. In today’s internet heavy world, I hope musicians like Bones Malones will take the time and realize the importance of portraying themselves online. Here’s hoping Bones has his biography and upcoming plans up online soon, but in the meantime I encourage everyone to give this album a shot. It was a pleasant surprise stumbling on a gem like this, I’ll be sure to give this ‘judge an album by its cover’ technique another try.

 

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Poor Young Things - "The Heart. The Head. The End." - review!

Poor Young Things are one of the fastest moving rock bands in Canada, waiting for nobody to make things happen for themselves. Since their move from Thunder Bay to Toronto in November 2010, everything seems to be falling into place nicely for the band. In the little over two years since this move, they were signed to Bumstead Records, toured relentlessly, released their debut EP Let It Sleep, won an Emerging Artist of the Year award from Sirius XM, and are now releasing their debut full length album called ‘The Heart. The Head. The End.’ on May 21st. Who knows how far they will go if they keep this momentum going.

Don’t expect any pop rock, folky ballads or electronic sounding gimmicks when you get Poor Young Things, you`re getting nothing but good old fashioned Rock and Roll. Sure, it may not be the formula that most new bands are using to get noticed, but they prove that the tried and true method of forming a rock band and hitting the road hard can still pay off. In 2012 alone they had played in excess of 100 shows across Canada and the United States. These, along with the cross Canada tour they are beginning this month to support this new LP, shows they have no plans of slowing down.

Poor Young Things consists of Matt Fratpietro on lead vocals/guitar, Michael Kondakow and Dave Grant on guitars, Scott Burke on bass and Konrad Commisso on drums. Whether it be the catchy chanting of “wash away your warpaint” in the song Warpaint, the group singing in Revolver, or screaming “The End” on their closing number Ghost Notes, they will have you singing/screaming along before your even through the first listen.

When I reviewed their EP Let It Sleep last year, I was drawn to the great sound that producer/engineer Jon Drew (Arkells) achieved and he is back for more! He always seems to have particularly great mix on the drums. This, along with the damn near perfect instrument levels with the vocals front and center, really makes for a great sounding rock album.

Poor Young Things’ label Bumstead Records, deserves some recognition in their own right. They are really starting to make some noise in the Canadian music scene releasing albums from artists such as The Trew’s, Tim Chaisson and Two Hours Traffic. Bumstead has also been known to release many of their albums on vinyl, so here’s hoping they follow through with a vinyl release of ‘The Heart. The Head. The End.’. The combination of a hard working band like Poor Young Things and a small passionate label like Bumstead Records is a great recipe for success.




Be sure to pick up a copy of this solid debut upon its release next Tuesday, and also mark June 8th on your calendar as they will be stopping in Fredericton playing at the Lava Vodka Bar. If they keep moving as fast as they have been, this may be your last chance to see them at a small and personal venue like this one.  

Here is a trailer for ‘The Heart. The Head. The End.’ Including their debut single Sign Of The Times.


 

 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Crash course on the Tuff Darts!


 
I own a few great rockabilly records by Robert Gordon in my collection and have been on the lookout for more of his albums. Recently, I found out that he was the former lead singer of a punk rock band from the 1970’s called the Tuff Darts. So, I picked up a copy of their 1978 debut album Tuff Darts! released on Sire Records in 1978 and it turned out that Robert Gordon never even played on this album, but I was not disappointed.

The Tuff Darts were part of the first batch of punk rock bands formed in New York City in the 70’s. They opened for some very notable bands including the New York Doll’s and became one of the staples at some New York City bars including CBGB’s. Robert Gordon was an original member of the band along with Jeff Salen on lead guitar, Bobby Butani on guitar, John DeSalvo on bass and James Morrison on drums. This line-up performed on the compilation album Live at CBGB’s. Between recording this compilation album and their debut album Tuff Darts!, Robert Gordon decided to leave the band to pursue a solo rockabilly career. Gordon was replaced by Tommy Frenzy on vocals and drummer John Morelli replaced James Morrison. This was the line-up for the album I have, but it too was short lived as they disbanded shortly after it was released.

I would consider the Tuff Darts’ sound similar to a band like Television. They were not heavy sounding punk rock like the Ramones, but the group photo on the album cover, the back cover photo of Butani with a gun pointed at DeSalvo with smoke coming out of his mouth, or having “thanks to nobody” on their liner notes, few could question them being classified as punk rockers. If this isn’t enough, their lyrics seal the deal. Lyrics like the following from the song Fun City: “I’m sick of the crap I gotta take in this town; If I didn’t love it I swear I’d burn it to the ground”; have punk written all over them.

While the band may have been short-lived, some members continued to perform and re-record songs off of this album. Jeff Salen recorded an album with Robert Gordon in 1994 called All For the Love of Rock ‘N’ Roll, playing guitar on five songs and writing four including Slash and Love and Trouble which were from the Tuff Darts LP. Jeff Salen went on to record a few solo albums in 2005 and 2007, also revisiting a few songs from this album: Head over Heels, All For the Love Of Rock N’ Roll and Love and Trouble.

All members from the line-up on this album except Butani reformed in 2002 to celebrate the CD release of Tuff Darts!. They went on a short tour after and recorded a new album called You Can’t Keep a Good Band Down in 2007. Unfortunately, the following year Jeff Salen died of a heart attack.

Its finding albums like this by mistake that keeps the adventure in record collecting. I love discovering somebody I like such as Robert Gordon and tracing back his history. Even though in this case I never found a Gordon album, I did find something interesting. Now I just need to find myself a copy of Live at CBGB’s!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ross Neilsen Band - Resurrection - review!


One of Canada’s hardest working blues rock acts, Ross Neilsen, is at it again releasing his sixth studio album Resurrection. This album is the first attributed to the Ross Neilsen Band, and seems to put a final nail in the coffin of The Sufferin’ Bastards. Regardless of the name change, the only major switch is replacing Shawn Worden with Jim Guitar on bass. Karl Gans is still holding strong on drums: full of dynamics and feeling, sounding better than ever.

Ross and the boys ventured down to Maurice, Louisiana to record this album with singer/songwriter Anders Osborne handling production. This is Ross’ third trip down south with Redemption and The Shack Up Sessions being recorded in Mississippi. The blues from the deep South is definitely rubbing off on Ross, you hear the fresh bluesy riffs in his guitar and (believe it or not) even more growl in his voice. Even with all this bluesy influence, this is still the most rock and roll record I have heard from Ross, the bluesy feel is just icing on the cake.

There were a few familiar tunes as Ross revisits the songs: When My Trouble’s Gone and Heartache Apart from his previous solo album The Shack Up Sessions. When My Trouble’s Gone has some added backup vocals, a distorted guitar and … well, the rest of the band, yet it still doesn’t lose the personal feel it had with Ross and his acoustic guitar. Heartbreak Apart, on the other hand, was totally revisited replacing the slow tempo acoustic number with a fast-paced, shuffle drumming, distorted vocal, rocking tune. This song was my favorite on the Shack Up Sessions so I am definitely partial to the original. When I first heard the fast pace at the intro I got a little nervous, but they came through giving it an entire new, crank up the stereo, fun sound.

This album doesn’t have a weak song in the mix. In my opinion, any of them could be a single and I really feel this album is going to go far with Ross and the band. Whether it is the fat distorted guitar sound on Walk On Buy or Ross’s palm muting rhythm leading into the epic lead guitar riff in Daddy Taught Me, there is something on this album for all rock and roll fans. Plus, Ross’ guitar solos can still give me chills.

Resurrection is due out in stores and online on May 21st and as always, Ross and the boys are touring heavy. He starts his Canada-wide tour supporting Resurrection on May 11th and ends at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton in September. All this, plus having 50ish shows under his belt so far in 2013, makes Ross one of Canada’s hardest working rock blues artists and his hard work sure is paying off on this album.

 

 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bob Marley and The Wailers - Live Forever - review!


One of the best parts of my daily routine is getting an email from www.popmarket.com notifying me of the music deal of the day. If you haven’t discovered this site yet, you are in for a treat. Pop Market has daily and weekly deals on vinyl, CD’s, and music blurays/DVD’s. These are private sales that come to the company from various distributors, so you never know what they are going to have. For example: Monday there can be a half-price sale on a deluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac Rumours and then Tuesday it is replaced by a discounted price on David Bowie’s newest vinyl release The Next Day. They give you a hint of what will come each day of the week but no details, only what artist. This mystery is a part of the fun. Words of warning, there are only limited quantities of each item and they often sell out so don’t wait until the last minute.

I recently took advantage of their sale on the Bob Marley and the Wailers Live Forever box set. This is a live recording of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ final concert on September 23, 1980 at The Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bob and his band were touring to support their final studio album called Uprising. Nearing the end of the tour and after two sold out shows at Madison Square Gardens in New York, Bob collapsed while jogging in Central Park. Two days later, even though he was still feeling very sick, Bob decided to play this final show in Pittsburgh.

When this album came in the mail, I immediately played it before I read the liner notes explaining how sick he was and the significance of this being his final performance. Even before knowing these details, I was completely happy with the performance. I loved the raw-ness of the recording/performance, hearing tape hiss and feedback. I didn’t feel it was as great a live album as Babylon By Bus but definitely enjoyed hearing new performances of all of my favorite Bob Marley songs. Once I read the liner notes and really understood how he was feeling and the significance of this recording, I enjoyed it at an entire new level. He was far from sounding like a sick man performing, his voice full of energy and character. There wasn’t a bad performance in the entire set. It’s hard to imagine what was going through Bob’s head at this point, just visiting the doctor after his collapse days prior who likely gave him his death sentence. The fact that he could portray such a positive vibe in his music regardless of his circumstances amazes me.

The packaging for this album is beautiful. The three 180 gram albums are housed in a hard cover book, with the record sleeves forming the pages full of liner notes and pictures. Three beautiful discs are housed in poly lined paper sleeves, before being placed in the pages for added protection. I really felt like I was getting a quality product. Also included was the entire show on two CD’s and a reproduction of the program from the tour. I would be satisfied with this album paying full price, but getting it shipped to my door from www.popmarket.com for only $42 made me one happy customer.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable!

 
 
After many months of contemplating I finally took the plunge and bought myself a brand new turntable. Many people know that I often buy older turntables and refurbish them to the best of my ability so I definitely enjoy vintage tables, however I have been struggling to find the “right” vintage table. I like to keep things as simple as possible with turntables. The less moving parts the better; I want something built to last a lifetime. This ‘need for less’ completely voids all automatic turntables as options having too many electronic circuit boards that make them, what I consider, throw away electronics. I was on the hunt for an attractive looking table (style is important), simple controls and fully manual operation. So in short I want a motor, a platter and a tonearm.

The sky may be the limit on what you can spend on something like this, but definitely not on what I personally could spend. I put myself on a $600 budget and after countless hours of searching and reading online I managed to narrow it down to two brand names: Rega and Pro-ject.

While I liked the Rega turntables and how they sounded, it just didn’t do it for me in regards to style. Matte black or dull silver finishes were the limited options at least in my price range. Pro-ject has more selection with their Debut turntable having a choice between eight colors. These color options, the carbon tonearm and Ortofon 2m Red cartridge made the Pro-ject Debut Carbon the right choice for me. It even fit into my budget at $449 + tax.

Below are the specifications on this table:

Speed
33, 45 (manual speed change)
Drive principle
belt drive
Platter
300mm metal with felt mat
Mains bearing
stainless steel
Wow & flutter
+/- 0,10%
Speed drift
+/- 0,80%
Signal to noise
- 68dB
Tonearm
8,6”, Carbon
Effective arm length
218,5 mm
Effective arm mass
6,0 g
Overhang
18,5mm
Tracking force
10 - 30mN
Included accessories
RCA cable, lid
Power connection
110/120 or 230/240 Volt - 50 or 60 Hz
Dimensions
415 x 118 x 320mm (WxHxD) lid closed
Weight
5,6 kg net

 

I am very satisfied with this table. The factory installed Ortofon 2M Red stylus has a great crisp sound that only gets better as time goes by. I guess what they say is true; you do need to break in a stylus.

Sound and Vision magazine did a review on the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon in September 2012 and had a great explanation of the advantages of having the carbon tonearm comparing it to golf clubs. If you tap on the side of a metal golf club you will hear a ringing noise but if you tap on the side of a carbon golf club you will hear nothing but a soft click. The carbon makes the tonearm have no echo and carry virtually no sound. This quietness causes no interference with the sound coming directly from the stylus.

I love the “hanging weight” style of anti-skating on this table. A quick explanation of anti-skating: when a turntable is spinning, the natural force causes the tonearm to pull towards the center of the record; anti-skating is offsetting this force and pulling the tonearm towards the edge of the record. This allows the same amount of force to hit both sides of the groove. There are two common types of anti-skating controls, one being a knob that controls a spring under the table pulling the tonearm towards the edge of the record and the other being a weight that hangs on the tonearm causing torque to pull the tonearm toward the edge. I have always preferred this weight anti-skating compared to the dial having experienced many problems with the latter through my repair projects. Even without these repair issues, the weight just looks cool!

Another bonus with this table is that the cables all plug into the back of the turntable rather than being hard wired. So if you want to upgrade or replace the cables it is an easy switch.

I bought this table at Cox Electronics in Fredericton, NB from Rick Bastedo. I highly recommend visiting Rick and telling him what you’re looking for in a table. If you want a full automatic turntable rather than manual, Rick will be able to help you with this too. Rick is full of knowledge on anything vinyl related and has been in the record/turntable industry for decades formerly owning his own record store in Fredericton called Magic Forest Music Store. If Rick doesn’t have the model in stock you are looking for, rest assured he will do the research to get you what you want. He can order in tables made by Pro-ject, Rega, Audio Technica, etc. So even if you don’t see what you’re looking for on display, just ask Rick!