Archive for the ‘ music ’ Category

Charge of The Light Brigade Release The Defiant Ones

The vision of Charge of the Light Brigade is truly a focused one. Even the most reluctant of listeners will agree; with The Defiant Ones, this is a band that certainly cannot be stopped.

The debut LP from Charge of the Light Brigade combines intense, punk-influenced melodies with an irresistible pop sensibility yet there are no tracks that pander; instead, this collection of thirteen tracks has a vision that will leave listeners helpless.

Guitarist/songwriter Luke Sneyd has long been a fixture on the Toronto scene, originally as the guitarist for electro-rock act Mountain Mama.  Two solo releases included an early demo of his track ‘The Prisoner’ that was a finalist in the Unisong International Songwriting Contest, and the video won him a Top 5 spot in the Great Canadian Band Challenge, competing for a deal with Universal Canada.   And now, with new songs and new collaborators, The Defiant Ones is an honest and earnest culmination of five years of work.

Strong themes of doomed heroism and the terminal tick of relationships gone awry abound here.  They’re heard in the resilient sprawl of ‘Fastest of The Losers’, the furious early 90’s punk stomp of ‘Charge!!’ and finally, a moody but ultimately fulfilling cover of ‘Atlantic City,’ which serves as the album’s closer.  Each track drives its way into your subconscious with alarming and altogether defiant grace.  It’s an honest approach that fuels the entire record.  Candid emotions are abundant in every song.

Charge of the Light Brigade is a collaboration between songwriter Luke Sneyd and producer Marc Koecher, with bassist Jason Eagan (Clockwise, Ryan Luchuck), and drummers Zack Mykula (Bella Clava, Inhumanoids) and Owen Tennyson (Blue Peter, Rough Trade).

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Belated Interview with: Strand of Oaks

It was a week before Christmas when I saw Strand of Oaks perform for the first time.  I actually didn’t intend to.  We’d planned toarrive fashionably late to the Wooden Sky show so that we wouldn’t have to sit through the interminable opening act.  I should have trusted the guys in The Wooden Sky to line up a decent opener.  In the future, I won’t blow off opening acts for events such as this.

We arrived late, of course, and stand in the back of the church, surrounded by the guys from the main event.  Eventually, we find a seat on the bench of the organ in the back.  We’re elevated above the audience, the acoustics are spot on in this sublime little church in the heart of Toronto.  Around us the world rages on, and for the next few hours, we’re completely isolated.  This sounds fantastical, but at times the room seemed to shimmer with the crisp notes of a lone electric guitar.

Tim Showalter, a short, stocky, long-haired guy in skinny jeans is filling the room with unexpectedly sweet notes.  Even after the show, the lyrics stuck in my head.  Of course, it may have been the best show of 2010 for me.

I managed to catch up with Showalter about a week later.  And for a long time I didn’t write anything about it.  It was a rough night, I had an interview right after my chat with him that didn’t go nearly as well, and I didn’t think I could do Showalter or Strand of Oaks justice.

But I’ve been listening to his albums pretty steadily since, and being a supporter of his Kickstarter project I’ve just received his demo tape of his new album Pope Killdragon.  It’s personal, and in many ways it’s quite different from his final product.

Showalter is personable, a Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania native, he’s a schoolteacher turned musician.  He’s personable in a way that puts people immediately at ease.

The problem with writing about Strand of Oaks or Pope Killdragon or Leave Ruin, is that you can’t come close to explaining it.  It’s sad in a heavy way, but an uplifting way as well.

Pope Killdragon is a sad album, not as sad as his first album Leave Ruin, but sad in it’s own way.  The song, Daniel’s Blues, is a fictional account of Dan Akroyd after the death of John Belushi.  The story had intended to be humorous for a tribute record for a friend, but ended up sad and melancholy.

“When a comedic actor plays a dramatic role, it’s so much more poignant.  Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love is heartbreaking,” says Showalter.  The beauty of absurdity is that it’s often linked so primarily with sadness.  We share the same views of how tragic the profession of comedy is.  Sometimes the funniest people, are the saddest.

“There’s beauty in obtuse things.  I honestly don’t know what some of the songs are about, I have a feeling, I don’t know specifically, they don’t have to hear me complain about a particular break up, they can make up their own story,” says Showalter.

“I don’t think a lot.  I don’t overthink.  I don’t think they’re good or bad, I just wrote it,” he says, explaining that a lot of the songs aren’t necessarily allusions to anything specific.

Showalter has a sort of free-form approach to music, it seems like he can play so casually.

“I worry about my guitar coming unplugged or will my pedal stop working not about will I sing well,” he laughs, on the topic of stage fright.

“World war one vets explained all the awful stuff they’d seen through fantasy,” explains Showalter, perhaps hinting at where his stories take root.

“Sauron was J.R.R. Tolkien’s answer to Hitler, raising orcs and what not.”

It feels difficult to really do justice to what Strand of Oaks is really capable of.  Check out his albums here!

– Bryan

TRAVIS Vs. Classified

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t heard of Classified. When moms start singing some of the words to his songs “Anybody Listening?” and “Oh… Canada”, you know he’s pretty famous.

Just like every other interview, I’m in pre-game mode. I’m running my questions over in my head and feeling extremely anxious. Just as I get collected, my phone rings.

“Hey, this is Classified, how’re you doing?”

I wanted to stay calm and tell him I’m good but instead, I said, “I’m kinda nervous.” Lucky for me, Classified is a pretty cool guy and tells me not to be. There’s a friendly tone in his voice as he asks me a little bit about myself and where I’m from. My first question for Classified is about where his name came from.

“I came up with that name when I was 16. I always tell people I wish I had some crazy story about it but I got nothing.” Like all artists, he didn’t have a name in the beginning and couldn’t stick to one he liked. “When I was looking through the newspaper, I saw classified so I started coming up with a bunch of different things to play off the word.” Eventually, people started calling him Classified and the name stuck.

Unlike most rappers, Classified didn’t grow up in a big city like Toronto surrounded by inspiration. He grew up outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the small town of Enfield, which has a population of around 3,000. While in high school, Classified, along with a couple other guys started rapping where they became known as “the high school rappers.” “We rapped at school dances, which gave me the energy and hype that made me want to do this.”

After high school, Classified moved out of Enfield to live in Halifax. “I think being from a small town, you can’t just focus on that one area you’re from because the world’s a lot bigger than that small town. When I moved to Halifax and started doing stuff there, I had to start thinking bigger. Instead of focus on Halifax, I started focusing on Canada.”

From that mindset, Classified has gained a fairly large fan base throughout Canada not just by his music, but communicating with his fans. Since he’s usually online, he’ll talk to fans through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. After shows, Classified isn’t someone to say “no” to a fan. “I’m going out signing autographs, taking pictures and doing whatever they want. After 10 years of doing this, I think that’s what’s built my fan base. They know that I appreciate them coming out and I’m not just there for a pay-cheque.”

As a producer, Classified is always looking for new talent to work with. Since he lived in Halifax, he holds contests there to find young rappers to work with and hopefully give them a name. To do this, they have to have the drive and the attitude to take hip-hop seriously. “It’s a rare breed, it’s hard to find that artist that’s really going to take it to the next level and really going to push their shit,” Classified said.

Since he’s become big name in the Canadian rap game, I asked where he would be if he weren’t who he was today. “Luke Boyd [his real name], the computer support technician. That’s what I was doing before I started hip-hop full-time.” Classified was laid off from his job at MT&T in 2003, the same year his album “Trial & Error” was released. “I had it all planned out. Let me get my unemployment and go hard on this music shit for a year.” On the second last day at work, he was offered another job that would pay $40,000 – $50,000 a year. Instead of taking the spot, he chose to be a full-time hip-hop artist and producer. “My parents were fucking loosing their mind but it worked out. I really wanted the music shit and when my unemployment ran out, I started making money from shows. I kept covering my bills and every year, I become more and more successful. I think the parents are happy now with my choice.”

With Classifieds next album “Handshakes and Middle Fingers” being released March 22, he said it’s going to be the same quality music as the other records. Each new album, Classified tries to step up his songwriting, rhyming and production. “It’s just the next step of my life, what I’m going through and what’s happened to me over the last two years. I just put it together, put some beats over it and rap it.”

– Matt Main

The Alexisonfire Video

This is a little something we whipped up a few months back.

– Bryan

Cancer Bats are Going to the JUNOS! (And so is Bieber…)

Justin Bieber’s not the only Southern Ontarian that’s going to the Junos (I’m kidding I know there’s more than that little Ellen-headed highschooler).  The Cancer Bats will be there too in what will no doubt be the widest spread of musical genre’s ever.

The band is nominated for Rock Album of the Year with their recent release Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones.  Other contenders include Die Mannequin, Finger Eleven, Hail The Villain (isn’t this the opposite of Protest The Hero?  Why won’t anybody agree with me on that?), and Matt Good.
“I can’t think of better news to finish off a 17 hour drive!” says lead vocalist Liam Cormier after driving from Thunder Bay to Toronto overnight.
This is the band’s second Juno nod.  The JUNO Awards of course, will be on CTV on Sunday March 27th, broadcasting live from the Air Canada Center.

The Darcys at Steamwhistle Breweries

My friends, The Darcys are doing some big stuff in 2011! Check ’em out!

The Darcys- A Live Film from Adrian Vieni (Wood & Wires) on Vimeo.

– Bryan

Architect’s New Album The Here and Now To Be Released January 25th

By Curtis Sindrey

On January 25, 2011, the UK’s ARCHITECTS will unleash their most ambitious album of their career, The Here and Now. It’s not an angry album, nor is it a negative one – it’s an album that’s steeped in positivity. “I can’t think of anything I’m more proud of in my life,” smiles frontman Sam Carter. “It feels like the whole time we have been a band we have been working towards something, and this is it.”

Downtrodden from a punishing schedule, ARCHITECTS found themselves collectively questioning their existence; tired and burnt out from a hectic American tour. “We were fed up and it felt like everything was getting to us,” reflects Sam. “We were fed up of being in a band, fed up of being away from home, and then one day we were all sitting around and it clicked and we were like ‘shit, we’re really, really lucky to be doing what we are doing, we are living our dreams and we should be having the most fun ever! Tom was like ‘we need to live in the here and now, and enjoy every day we have’,” continues the front man.

“And his comment made sense to all of us. We realized we should grow up and stop moaning about what we haven’t got and enjoy what we do have. We forgot the fun side of everything we were doing as a band – we were in America, five mates together having a massive laugh and doing what we love.”

A flurry of activity ensued with songs being demoed on laptops, rehearsed during sound checks and a newfound positive attitude culminated in the creation of The Here And Now.

The album also features guest appearances from two of rock’s finest front men: Andrew Neufeld from Comeback Kid provides a hardening example of hardcore purity on “Stay Young Forever,” while The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato’s piercing attack adds a sting to the powerful closer “Year In Year Out”.

Architects’ newest album will be in stores January 24th 2011.