Various Artists, City of Roses (2011), Rockerie Records
Windsor, Ontario, Canada has been tagged ‘The City of Roses’, for its infused structure of multiculturalism, warm climate, and advocated involvement in peace (both politically and inter-personally). Living in a city you learn facts and fictions about your surrounding area. For instance, there are 100-150 species of roses within the world. Here’s another, the Windsor coat of arms has not one but two floral sprays, each containing roses.
Thus, to see Windsor as a multicultural stigma within Canada doesn’t surprise me. On the end of another election day gone the way of the Business class, we see a new opposition: the working class. Some can see this as the end of a ‘middle class’, and in some ways this may be true, but in another, a select number of votes came from an unusual source .. the artists. Those anarchistic, fire-breathing, harmonica toting poets spoke up. So, it doesn’t surprise me to see that a city so rich on working class politics can be so high class on a grass roots arts campaign. And succeed.
Breaking open this compilation disc (which was assembled by musician Jamie Reaume as a charity project for The Hospice of Windsor-Essex) is the excellent ‘Unnatural Disaster’ by Dave Russell. A genius in songwriting, he opens the gates to what is a cavalcade of songwriting success .. local brilliance at its best. Dave Russel has quickly become a favorite in the local acoustic scene, but don’t let this wooden stringed unplugged box in his hand fool you .. he may be the best musician in the city. A local Wilco-esque lumberjack of pop, opening this album pushes him to the upper echelon of local talent in a hurry.
Followed are a series of eclectic bands and songs, sounds and people who create the cityscape of what is a true artistic hub in Canada. One Man’s Opinion, who recently broke up, push out their most catchy tune ala the swan song ‘Save the Last Chord’ . At first listen I was skeptical, but after a few listens I admit I couldn’t get this song out of my head. The power pop continues with Inoke Errati‘s “Make Outs & Movie Stars”, a song catchy enough to be blasted on national radio and lead by what could be Windsor’s answer to Rivers Cuomo .. the true pop kings of southern Ontario. The producer, Adam Miner‘s soft poetic embrace of hermetic songwriting kicks in the center of the album. What a rush of upbeat, thank-goodness tunes.
Windsor see beautiful waters and wildlife, instrumental artist can bring this form of fast indignation to life. Reaume’s Foreign Film Star and (WH)Y.ME.?? showcase a brilliance in poetry without words. They blow out the speakers in intelligence. Yet a ghetto can shine bright too .. the heavy side of the city! Blasternaut‘s “Fever Fever!” is a song that Danko Jones only wishes he could write with members of Wolfmother and/or Jet but couldnt get the talent because they are rollicking through our own city. Greasy power tunes in the vein of Black Mountain are abundant in this city. Windsor is evolving as an Atomic Sludge/ Stoner Rock/ Fuzz Sound city and bands like Blasternaut, The Van Danglers, The Hung Jury (who are now repackaged as The FourJury), and The Standstills are making good ground. The latter (who hail from Oshawa but have been making frequent treks to Windsor’s music scene of late) is making a garage rock sound so big I wanna call it ‘post arena rock’. A power duo with a catchy song that could rival The Black Keys latest bluesy cereal box. Remember the name, The Standstills
City of Roses, our city, has a soft side as well. Tara Watts, who is a staple in the downtown scene always delivers. As beautiful as she is to look at, her words and rhythms are just as touching. An elegant, dark soul in the city. Dusty performs a great southern blues tale in ‘The Ballad of Ronnie Joe’ (featuring guest harmonica from Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe of Big Sugar), a dirty ditty filled with Texas oil and Detroit crime. A guitar teacher to the rest of the city. Leighton Bain follows those blues with a great rollicking acoustic tabernacle that truly delivers.
Since writing for The Windsor Zene, I have been challenged/blessed with the opportunity to review local music: challenged in that I review a copious landslide of musical genres; blessed in that I write reviews pertaining strictly to local talents and get a chance to be part of a burgeoning movement in Canadian music. Windsor is that value cereal box which gave you a variety of flavors. While Montreal gives us the Avant-Garde, Toronto has the radio power pop, Vancouver does the greasy rock and Winnipeg has a Heinz 57, we can agree that Windsor is a face-punch of all these genres., producing full flowers blossoming at any genre. A plentiful city of hearts, guitars, and roses. Roses. The rose as a prolix genre .. well Windsor can be a that of a prolix for the artistic flair that grows in these streets.
Jamie Reaume is a busy guy. Apart from playing several nights a week at various bars, taverns, pubs and clubs around town (including his own full on band jam night, Tuesday Night Music Club, at The Manchester Pub every Tuesday night), he’s also been a member of some of Windsor’s most popular and successful rock outfits. From the sonic melodicum of the under-rated Foreign Film Star to the power trio QOTSA-esque riffery of The Golden Eagles, from taking a step back from the spotlight to play guitar with Dave Russell & The Precious Stones, or putting together a new alt. rock supergroup called Awkward Sex (featuring members of One Man’s Opinion), Reaume eats, breathes and sleeps music. And for someone with a powerful set of lungs, he also has a heart equally as big.
Years ago, Reaume launched Winter Rose, a series of compilation albums put out to assist local Windsor charities. Consisting of donated tracks from various friend musicians, these were principally funded by Reaume himself in an effort to give back to the community who took him in from the mean streets of Chatham many years ago. While the Winter Rose compilations did really well, Reaume always wanted to do better.This Thursday, Reaume launches his latest CD, entitled City of Roses, with all monies raised going towards The Hospice of Windsor-Essex. Featuring new or unreleased tracks from local bands like Inoke Errati, One Man’s Opinion, The Hung Jury, Dave Russell, Vultures!, Tara Watts, Dusty (featuring Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe), Leighton Bain and more, as well as some vintage nuggets from bands like Blasternaut and Reaume’s own solo venture, Foreign Film Star.
This Thursday night, Reaume is throwing a CD release party for City of Roses at The Manchester Pub (546 Ouellette Ave.) and it’s going to be a rock and roll funfest, with live performances from two of the album’s contributors – Dave Russell (with The Precious Stones in tow) and Blasternaut – plus The Manchester’s resident Thursday night house band, Vice Aerial, a jam band supergroup featuring Daren Dobsky (Magic Hall of Mirrors, Is There A Band In The House?), Josh Zalev (Huladog, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses), Mark Calcott (Huladog, Theory of Everything) and Luke “Big Lou” Pelotte (The Crawford Yard, The Hung Jury, Theory of Everything). Tickets are $15 (which includes a copy of the CD), with all money going to the Hospice. Advance tickets are available at The Manchester or JamSpace. You can still attend without getting the CD, but there will be a $5 donation at the door.
TWZ recently spoke to Reaume about the compilation.
So tell us a bit about this latest compilation, City of Roses…
Jamie Reaume: It’s been around 6 years since I released the Winter Rose compilations, (and) I had an opportunity for corporate sponsorship with Blackburn Radio this time around and I wanted to showcase some of the talent Windsor has in it’s scene in 2011. The album is an amazing snapshot of one corner of Windsor’s scene, this easily could have been a double release. It was a pleasure to organize and I thank Blackburn Radio for their generous contributions.
You’ve done several charity compilations for Windsor before. Why do you think doing these kinds of things are worth doing?
JR: It’s a great way to get people to work together, hopefully this will be a spark for bands to play together, appreciate each other, go to more local shows, maybe even collaborate. We have so much talent in Windsor, this compilation’s mission is to expose that while at the same time bringing people together for a good cause with a local focus.
How did you go about with the line-up for this year’s CD?
JR: I really wanted to hand pick songs that I love from artists around Windsor and some cool friends from Sarnia and Toronto. If people had unreleased music I was all for that as well, we actually had some songs recorded or remixed for City Of Roses specifically, huge honour. When I received everyone’s track I stitched together a lovely ride for the listener starting at one end of the genre spectrum and calmly flowing through to the other end. Windsor is rich with songwriter’s and soundscapers, this compilation is proof of that.
What tracks stick out to you?
JR: Here are my Top 5: “American Primate” by Meters To Miles, because it has a brilliant catchy attitude. “Lolita” by The Hung Jury, because it crushes your chest, gigantic. “The Wander” by Between Blinks, because it’s about zombies, listen close. “The Ballad Of Ronnie Joe” by Dusty, because Dusty is epic and the song features Mr Chill on harp and he’s a bad, bad man. “The Hardest Part”, by Leighton Bain. a really great performance, beautiful voice.
What is it about Windsor that creates such musical diversity do you think?
JR: The musicians I know are really passionate and honest, often working on many projects at the same time. True colours burn the brightest and widest.
What have you got planned for the CD release party?
Dave Russell & the Precious Stones will be opening the night, Blasternaut follows, Vice Aerial finishes. Great bands, Great food, great drink at The Manchester with a bunch of friends. Sounds like a party.
City of Roses CD Release Party, featuring Dave Russell & The Precious Stones, Blasternaut and Vice Aerial, Thursday May 5, The Manchester Pub (546 Ouellette Ave.), 8pm, Tickets $15 (includes CD)