Two Hours Traffic Foolish Blood
“Jangly melodies and plush fair-weather chorus-driven indie pop”
The right producer can be a transformative influence, teasing out the cohesive and singular sound a band has struggled to realize. When Canada’s Two Hours Traffic met Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case and the New Pornographers) they meshed immediately and delivered a polished and clean production that’s jangly and spotlights the acoustic textures, bubbly rhythms and singer Liam Corcoran’s confident and definitive tone – think Stephen Malkmus’ crisp, youthful charisma.
“I Don’t Want 2 Want U” is not as juvenile as the title suggests; rhythms are supported with percussive claps, surf-guitar solos and coupled male vocal harmony gives the song an authentic summery gallop. Continue reading →
The Trews …Thank You and I’m Sorry
“High energy rock fronted by raspy words, driving guitars and good times”
[Editor’s note – The Trews are the best rock band in music today. Period. That is not an opinion; it is fact. Go buy all their records now.]
This EP is a relief for those of us that gave up on rock n’ roll when seemingly overnight the laptop became an instrument. Canadian quartet the Trews pick up the baton of rock and carry it forward, spitting beer in the faces of the sissy rock plaguing our radios. Since ’97, the Trews grit the definitive rock trinity (guitar, bass and drums) with singer Colin MacDonald’s charismatic and signature rock growl (think early Soundgarden-era Chris Cornell).
Storming the gates with the EP’s strongest track, “The Power of Positive Drinking” recalls the first time anyone’s father spun Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” A jutting riff blisters through a foot-stomping beat, MacDonald’s hooky chorus, with the best sounding drums in ages – the power of high production. The three minute anthem is defiant to settling down, “Say what you will / Leave if you must / I won’t expect you / Will get back your trust / We can’t pretend that none of this ever happened.”
All seven tracks blister along with strong listenability and classic rock n’ roll cadence, baring widespread appeal. …Thank You and I’m Sorry will surly be one of the strongest rock n’ roll releases of 2013.
Engineered by Gordie Johnson and Jason Dufour Recorded at Revolution Studio, Toronto Mixed at Pedernales Studio, Spicewood, TX by Gordie Johnson Mastered by Howie Weinberg Produced by Gordie Johnson and John Angus MacDonald www.thetrewsmusic.com
Steph MacPherson Bells & Whistles
(Cordova Bay Records)
“Surrender to achingly sung vocals & infectious country”
Achingly beautiful, channeling infectiously bright melodies and well-arranged lyrics, Steph MacPherson dazzles on her debut LP, writing with the pen of a powerful voice. From British Columbia, this touring Canadian star is making a statement in 2013, and tunes such as those on Bells & Whistles should not fail to deliver commercial airplay in the New Year ahead and beyond.
With bright choruses, uplifting anthems like “Bent & Unkind,” “Bells & Whistles” and “This One,” the artist displays a voice clear and unrestrained, packed with emotion and color. Each track is compellingly produced, with gorgeously lush instrumentation in both light rock and country fashions.
“Something in You” breathes easy with a slow tempo, heartbreaking vocals, and resonating pianos that pound at the chest with its melodic fists. “The Distance” provides meaning to a rough world, blending in the soft touch of sustained electric guitars matched with MacPherson’s moving voice. The track is powerful, in that no other instruments are involved.
Her style is immediate and fresh. The instrumentation never fails to satisfy, its quality undeniable. Steph’s songs are sung with a seasoned, confident voice similar to artists such as Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, and Colbie Caillat. Truly a treat to listen to.
Produced, Engineered & Mixed by Jason Cook Mastered by Joby Baker Recorded at Baker Studios, Cook Studios & Nimbus Studios Mixed at Infiniti Studios www.stephmacpherson.com
On Thursday, July 12, Canada’s Supreme Court issued five rulings regarding existing or proposed tariffs issued by the Copyright Board under the Copyright Act, four of which directly dealt with music copyright law. The decisions concerned music downloading and streaming, film and T.V. soundtracks, and the distribution of video games on the internet. Overall, the Court ruled in a more flexible Copyright Law.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s Copyright Decisions Regarding Musical Works:
1. Entertainment Software Association v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 34
The Entertainment Software Association is a coalition of video game publishers and distributors who make downloadable copies of video games available online. SOCAN, who administer the right to “communicate” musical works with the permission of copyright holders, requested that the Copyright Board institute a tariff for downloading these video games, which include copyrighted musical works, on the internet. Continue reading →
The Axiom M3 speakers are in a class by themselves. For a pair of hi-fi bookshelf speakers under $500, they’re practically a steal. For our purposes, we put the M3s through a variety of tests, both in a stereo listening environment and also in a recording situation.
For pure music listening, the M3s outshine nearly every other competitor in the sub-$1000 price range. Highs are crystal clear, there’s absolutely no mud in the mids and bass response is phenomenally tight. They can easily handle everything from jazz to hip-hop to heavy metal
Now, you might be wondering why we’re reviewing a pair of stereo speakers, since we’re primarily a magazine for musicians. Ah, we were getting to that. In a home recording situation, it’s a great idea to listen to rough mixes in a variety of settings. A lot of producers will do the “car test,” where they listen to a mix on car speakers to simulate how many consumers will end up hearing the tracks. But another important test is on a good stereo system. Remember, your fans might end up listening to your tunes on an iPod, but don’t short change those out there who still maintain quality stereo setups. The Axioms would be a perfect tool in the engineer’s arsenal when it comes to mix testing, allowing for a truly great listening experience and chance to test mix changes on high-quality bookshelf speakers.
At the end of the day, you could spend a fortune on stereo components. So it’s good to know that when it comes time to pick out a pair of great-sounding speakers, Axiom’s got you covered at a price that’s hard to resist.
Pros: amazing sound, no clipping at high volumes, great stereo imaging and balance.
From first glance at Canadian hip-hop dynamic duo Philly Moves, it’s clear that there’s something different about these artists. MC/lyricist Tynan “Tragic” Phelan was born with writing in his blood, as his grandmother, a published poet, nurtured his writing from a young age. Hype man/producer Jonathan “Rockwell” Desilva fell in love with music riding in the back seat of his father’s car, as he blared The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. Together, the two are like musical dynamite, and their passion for the craft emanates from every word. Their respect for each other is palpable. “I never really considered music as an option and to be honest, let my skills as a writer go to waste until Jonathan and I started collaborating,” says Tragic. “His soundscapes speak to me, and really bring out the best in my abilities.”
Producing a unique sound characterized by thoughtful wordplay, rhythmic breakbeats and a cunning use of samples, Philly Moves pays homage to the true spirit of hip-hop. “At our core we are soulful and old school, sampling directly off of vinyl with heavy drum beats and thoughtful, charismatic lyrics,” says Tragic. And the duo shows no signs of slowing down. In just two short years, Philly Moves has embarked on a self-booked tour across Canada, played Canadian Music Week and has been named Ottawa’s Favorite Band by Faces Magazine. Along the way, Tragic and Rockwell have rocked stages with Del the Funky Homosapien, Lupe Fiasco and a host of other talented acts.
Their second full-length album, How to Drink Yourself Famous, just dropped last month. Tragic says the duo wants nothing more than “to keep doing us. To be able to have done what we’ve done already, making tons of people happy, performing with legends in front of huge crowds; in my mind we have already become a success.”
“Mystifyingly beautiful, intensely layered and adventurous”
Angelic Canadian Kathryn Calder (New Pornographers/Immaculate Machine) sings with abandon, fearlessly ushering in the new. Bright and Vivid is an exposé, an adventure, and offers listeners a broad palate crossing multiple genres and instrumentally-erected boundaries. Calder also, at times, bares one of the most furtive and innocent synth/voice combos since the Postal Service era (sans-any undermining emo pretenses). Her songwriting explores the limits of keyboard-driven melody while dodging the alluring, yet passing chill wave. She tinkers with unusual chamber pop instrumentation: invoking strings and superficial electronic orchestration. Although her voice in the New Pornographers is traditionally unmarred by production effects, here she asserts distortion and veils her tone in the music.
“Walking in My Sleep” recalls Figurine, where indeed twee is conjured, but Calder takes a matured route. Drums, electric guitars and vibrant lyrics build on her roots as the chorus arrives on a riff. Throughout her sophomore release, the songwriting focuses on the kind of change and independence the album, in every sense, is uniquely sewn.
Then there are larks like “All the Things,” where vocals hide beneath the folds of instrumentation, emerging momentarily midway, where Calder’s soft tone rises from plucking violins and bowing cellos, singing “Finally, I see how it truly is / And it has taken me a while.”
Calder has come into her own, forking from the New Pornographer boy/girl interplay, tightening a signature sound that’s textured and gem-filled. She’s created something uncommon and extraordinary in pop music: an album loaded with melody-driven hooks, depth and complexity. Bright and Vivid resurrects the sound of pop music long ignored and finds a way not to simply renew, but to break ground and challenge the listener. (File Under: Music)
Hope & Ruin is the culmination of a decade’s worth of grit, road-wear and hard rock bombast. The Trews deliver something sorely missing in today’s rock landscape – a complete album. With the iTunes Singles Chart dictating the flavor of the month, it’s wholly refreshing to hear a record so well conceived from front to back.
The track list opens with the anthemic “Misery Loves Company,” kicking things off with Taylor Hawkins-like drums, before giving way to the band’s signature blend of hooky choruses and tight vocal harmonies. Not to compare the two, but harmonies this precise are typically reserved for Def Leppard LPs.
Immediately, the band takes advantage of another musical notion slowly disappearing from modern rock – dynamics. “One by One” slows things down, allowing the album to breathe, while giving us a glimpse of the unplugged beauty the group is more than capable of. For further proof, check out their 2009 acoustic album. It’s numbers like “One by One, “People of the Deer” and the equally hard rocking title track that display the keen melodic sensibilities The Trews have mastered over the past 10 years.
Special note must also be made of the production quality. The drums, especially, fill the room with a presence that that contemporary rock albums lack due to over compression and a cold, digital “thinness.” These are what drums and guitars are supposed to sound like – played by real people, in real locations, through real amps. Toss some late-’70s Van Halen on the turntable, and you’ll know what we’re talking about. (Bumstead Productions)
Produced by Gord Sinclair and John-Angus MacDonald // Mixed by Mike Fraser // Recorded at Bathouse Studios in Kingston, ON
The Buckhead Theatre // Atlanta, GA // February 10
On the first stop of a ten-date tour, Kevin Drew told two stories. One credited drummer Justin Peroff because Peroff had food poisoning that day, vomited for five hours, but still wouldn’t cancel the show. The second was about how Drew’s jacket was stolen the night before and about the lack of success trying to buy a new one. The audience graciously offered him not one, but three jackets. After the third jacket was thrown onstage, Brendan Canning joked, “I left my belt at home,” and two belts were thrown onstage. All jackets were returned when Drew called coat check at the end of the show.
In between conversations and silliness, the eight exceptional musicians that currently make up Broken Social Scene carefully executed two and a half hours of nearly non-stop rock, blending many songs together with jazzy, improvised segues. During true song breaks, the mass of instruments sounded like an orchestra warming up as they got on key together, granting credibility to the band’s self-described “baroque pop.”
Half the band traded keyboards, guitars and bass with the exceptions of Charles Spearin (horn and banjo), Peroff (drums only), David French (small percussion set, flute, sax only), and Lisa Lobsinger (vocals, hand percussion, keyboards). Interspersed with the band’s biggest hit songs was nearly the entire Forgiveness Rock Record. Forgiveness highlights included Lobsinger’s first recording,“All in All” and her melodica playing on “Ungrateful Little Father,” David French’s flute part on “Sweetest Kill,” Sam Goldberg and Andrew Whiteman’s dueling guitar solos on the band’s current single “Forced To Love,” Whiteman’s vocals on “Art House Director,” and another jam during a short breakdown in “Water In Hell,” a new Canning song.
If you’re a fan of early garage rock, The Ramones, or The Gaslight Anthem, this band is for you. The White Wires’ brand of rock & roll is a throw back to that gray area between garage rock and punk: when the rock had gotten rougher, but the punk aesthetic hadn’t quite gotten to flipping a giant middle finger to the Man yet.
Now certainly, Ian Manhire’s crew of Ottawans do have a punk sneer to them – but it’s the sneer of the Ramones covering “Warm California Sun”…and that’s about as fun-loving a sneer as you can get. People seem to forget that sing along hooks and celebrations of beaches, summer love, and cars were serious staples of proto-punk long before aggression and pogo dancing. But The White Wires embrace this notion over the course of 12 songs (all under three minutes) – pure garage pop, power chord energy.
Without a hint of irony, they rock their way through songs like “Let’s Go To The Beach,” “Be True to Your School,” and “Summer Girl,” with an infectious sincerity that would make The Beach Boys proud. Those themes don’t make for a deep listen, just an unapologetically fun one. So if you believe there’s still a place in 2011 for power chords to be hard rocking AND fun, check this album out. (Dirtnap Records)
Produced by Yogi // Recorded at Meatlocker Studios