The City Streets and The Jazz Age

I don’t believe in the review process, good or bad.  Preference is something so minute that one cannot decide for others.  In a way, I guess, I only write good reviews.  What’s the point of writing a bad one?  If I don’t like something I won’t listen to it, and I won’t pass it on to my friends, it’s counterintuitive to talk about something one doesn’t like.  That being said, I’ve been listening to The City Streets newest album The Jazz Age and enjoying it.

Photo Credit: Genevieve Lui of The Take Media

It reminds me of Attack in Black meets The Arkells.  The Jazz Age is out for free on the band’s website but donations are gladly welcomed.

When I call Rick Reid, the lead singer and guitarist, he’s just returned from the library, le bibliotheque, he says with laughter in his voice.  He admits his French is not as good as it should be to live in Montreal.  He picked up The Neil Young Archives, an 8-disc collection of unreleased and demo tracks by Young.  This is the first thing he tells me and he speaks so passionately about the collection that I can tell he’s excited to listen to it.

The band moved from Edmonton a short while ago as a personal choice to be closer to a bigger scene.

“It was time to move on,” Rick says, “We wanted to challenge ourselves, what could we do in a new city, a new music scene that’s huge and really supportive, and if you’re lucky it’ll open more doors for you.”

Rick says he regrets not learning French, but in Alberta there was little encouragement to learn, they’re still doing their best to get by.  He says, “I understand more than I can say.”  A feeling I am all too familiar with.

The conversation, inevitably turns to books, it’s my common ground with musicians sometimes.  Or perhaps it’s just my common ground.  He just finished The Cloud Atlas, a collection of six short stories that wind together.  He lists of his favourite authors:  Henry Miller, J.D. Salinger, Don Delillo, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Dave Eggers, and he could go on and on.  He adds that he reads all the philosophers that are readable.

It’s important to him to take in art.  “Reading is my biggest art form other than music,” Rick says.  He’s best at writing songs, but wouldn’t be opposed to writing a novel.

“People always ask my influences and they mean musically, but to me it’s writing and philosophically how you view the band.  The Refused were about revolution, they weren’t cutting edge, but it was the way they’d go about things.  We have our ideas.”

The band indulges in different art forms.  The band is a place to have creative outlet.  Rick writes songs, sings and plays guitar.  Matt plays bass and is responsible for the booking.  Mark is the drummer and takes care of the web design and artwork.

The City Streets lives true to their image.  They live a romantic lifestyle and supplement it by constantly being hungry for more and more knowledge and art.

The Jazz Age

The Jazz Age isn’t a concept album, but there’s a story within it, a true story at that.  “It’s the summation of a period of time in our lives,” Rick says.

“After touring like crazy for, y’know, three years and two records and doing it for the first time we were all in our early twenties, we weren’t popular, and we were touring.  All of our personal relationships were falling apart.  There’s a happy medium but you don’t know.  We sacrificed everything for this and it was romantic.  We weren’t balancing reality.  We were kinda assholes in our personal lives.”

The album was written within a four-month span.  “There were a couple of stragglers on either side over the course of the year.  We wrote the last song right before we went into the studio.  When you’re in the middle of shit, it might come across as trite or over the top.  I can’t gain any insight if I’m in it.  I can’t write while I’m drinking either, some people swear by it, but I can’t.  After a year of turmoil we sat down and looked at it.”

The Jazz Age was a time of liberation and open-mindedness, and then when you come home it’s all crashing down.  Rick admits they neglected their relationships to make the band work.

What’s the next step for The City Streets?

“To not have to work day jobs.  To have a rehearsal space and wake up and play.  Matt was EI for a year.  It’s hard to keep a job when you’re on tour.  It’s a pretty sweet lifestyle though.  I worked for Exclaim! doing distribution, and then some horrible flyer job that was eight hours a day in the suburbs, then a factory that made pewter trinkets and souvenirs, which was horrible.  It was a very “Springsteen” nightmare of working a factory and getting up at 4am, you hold out until you can’t.  down side to not knowing French, you’re limited to what you can do.”

The Jazz Age is available for download here.  They’ll be in Toronto at The Drake on September 15, and Rancho Relaxo on September 16th, definitely worth coming out to see.


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