Archive for the ‘CD Releases’ Category

Having played North By North East and Canadian Music Week, Windsor’s The Blue Stones are expanding their already impressive resume with their sophomore album How’s That Sound?

Recorded with Brett Humber at Sound Foundry Studios in Kingsville, drummer Justin Tessier and guitarist/vocalist Tarek Jafar are trying to send a message to radio stations. After the release of their first self-titled EP they mailed copies to every college radio station in the country, and did not exactly love the responses.

“We don’t really try to focus on genre specifics when we’re making music,” says Tessier, “we submitted [the first] CD to a lot of college stations, and we got a lot of response back saying that they didn’t necessarily want to have such poppy music.”

This was not a problem, apparently, for submission shows like NXNE and CMW, as these guys earned themselves slots in both festivals. Doing so may not have been everything they dreamed, though.

“If you are gonna play CMW or NXNE because you wanna start exploding in Toronto or on the Canadian music scene, I don’t think that’s the proper way to go about it,” said Tessier, “It’s a good, what Tarek and I like to call a resume show. It’s good to be able to tell people in the industry, like booking agents or record labels, if you’re into that sort of thing, that you’ve played these shows. And that means a lot to them because it’s a submission show. It’s like, we were good enough to get in.”

Tessier and Jafar will admit that there are merits to doing these sorts of shows, but they will put a caveat on that. To other bands hoping to play festivals like this, look at it as a networking opportunity, rather than the chance to make your career.

But even with the success of being chosen for submission shows, The Blue Stones were still looking to improve. The replies to their music from college stations had stuck with them.

“We understand that we’re not in any way an out-there radical band,” Tessier continued, “But we didn’t like the pop responses. Some stations that are playing some of our favourite bands weren’t playing us, and that was kind of bugging us.”

So back into the studio they went, this time to Sound Foundry out in Kingsville.

“It was an awesome process. Oh my god, it was so much fun going out there,” gushes Tessier, “It’s just so cool that he’s got this studio out in the county where you can just relax, you know. You do a couple takes and then you get a little worn out, you go outside, and it’s just beautiful. Summer in the county, and there’s birds everywhere, and just, you know, green as far as you can see.”

This was a huge difference from the back of an off-hours metal shop in Toronto, where the first album was recorded.  The tracking environment can be considered a big influence on this new disc, one that could possibly help Jafar and Tessier get the response they are after.

“So this next album, it’s called How’s That Sound,” explains Tessier, “It’s almost a response to these stations that said ‘you guys are too poppy’. So we went and we made an edgier sound. We used a lot of analogue stuff, we didn’t do any digital processing with the guitars or anything, which we did on the first album, and now it’s going to be a response. We’re gonna send it back and say how’s that sound?”

Check out The Blue Stones when they release How’s That Sound along with Menos Mal and The Tyres on Saturday, Novemeber 3rd at FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. W, main level). The show begins at 10 pm, 19+ are welcome, and admission is $5 at the door.


CD Review: The STiG – This Lovely Filth EP

Posted: April 25, 2012 by Windsor Zene in CD Releases, CDs, Previews, Reviews

As happens fairly often in Windsor, a band will be officially releasing their newest piece of work via a CD release party this Friday, April 27th.  This time the band is The STiG, and this is their first official release ever, an EP entitled This Lovely Filth, which was recorded with Mark Plancke at Shark Tank Studios in March 2011.

The band takes it’s name from the British TV series Top Gear, where a masked car driver known only as The Stig tests out cars. Their style of music, though, is not the sort to make you want to drive recklessly.  The entire EP is on the slower side of things, with clean, well defined recordings and lyrics that are interesting to pay attention to. The entire thing has a distinct Blue Rodeo feel, in fact.

The theme of the album is rather dark, according to frontman Jeff Stiles, commenting on how we have replaced the word need with the word want, how we are fighting wars for nothing more than the chance to go shopping. Hence the name This Lovely Filth.

The first track, Who Are You? Features Jeff’s lethargic, laid back vocals over some groovy instrumentals. The main guitar riff is almost danceable, if taken out of context of the rest of the song, and the drums are rich, a full, close sound that provide a steady beat along with some growling bass.

Block It Out has more of a country feel to it, with Jeff’s slightly nasally vocals complimenting well a guitar tone that isn’t quite not twangy.  Great mixing, the chorus really coming together with a twinkling guitar riff coming in, and rolling drum fills tying it all together. The bridge sounds almost like a march woth Jeff’s spoken word piece over top, before moving seamlessly back into the main riff of the song.

The third song is a particularily slow one,  the head-bobbingly groovetacular No G. This one makes me imagine a high school dance, everyone swaying side to side, hands on hips and around necks as the disco ball spins…. Coming into the solo, it really wakes you up, with a big, creamy tone that stands out completely from the rest of this track.

Following the theme of dark ideas and “what has our society come to?!” we’ve got a song about internet porn. Fitting. Ask Jolene is about addressing the girl on the computer screen, thinking past the fact that she’s naked.

Closing out the album, Scarecrow puts another picture in my head. Listening to just the clean guitar guitar, I’m see the end of a 90’s romantic comedy, a slow-mo montage of the hero running to catch whoever he’s after. Pretty specific, but give it a listen and you’ll get it. Actually, bringing up the 90’s, that’s a vibe that runs through most of the disc. But in a subtle enough way as to not seem like an homage, luckily.

This Lovely Filth will see it’s official release this Friday, April 27th at FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. W.) where The STiG will be playing along with Tony Coates. Admission is free, doors open at 9 pm, with music starting around 10.

Falling with Glory is an extremely hardworking band that fits well in rock and pop-punk shows. Their live performances are quite the thing to see, with custom lighting, fog machines, and more energy in four guys than in a case of Redbull. The first song they released was available on The Windsor Zene Sampler for January 2011, and Fight With Honour caught my attention immediately. Since then they have had this as well as other songs played on the 89X Homeboy Show, shot a music video, and have gotten up to 1 442 likes on Facebook! Because we all know that’s really what counts.

Probably their best accomplishment to date, however, is the recording and upcoming release of their first EP, The Cities Will Fall. Tracks have been available for your listening pleasure on Youtube for a bit now, but the official release is set to take place this weekend. On Friday, February 24th, Falling With Glory will be playing at The Room Nightclub (255 Ouellette Ave.) along with The Tragedy of Mariam and Intra Meridian. Certainly a great lineup of pop-rock bands that is likely to draw quite a crowd.

The EP itself, indeed, the reason for all the fuss, is certainly worth it. A very well recorded disc (or download) of six songs, the entire thing was recorded, mixed, and mastered at SLR Studios by Marty Bak, and has the wonderful, shiny quality that all of Marty’s work tends to possess. Definitely a great combination of producer and band, with styles that compliment each other well and that have culminated in an exciting sounding new local release.

Starting with the cleverly titled Intro, it is immediately apparent the amount of work that went into the production of these songs. Space-like and a tad creepy with maniacal female laughter, this is a pretty epic track that is an immediate warning to listeners; This is not a garage recording, and these guys are not a garage band.

On the track From the Start we hear a mixture of modern sounding, dancey synth and tribal-esque drums. Our first look at the band’s lyrics, this track has a great message, one of following dreams, working towards a goal, and staying above the influence of anyone else’s negativity. The vocals are sweet and pleasant, but the conviction behind the words is easily heard.

This is a band I can strongly recommend to fans of A Day to Remember. The vocals here tend to stay away from the screaming you’ll find with ADTR, but there are a lot of similarities elsewhere. Add to that some definite Avenged Sevenfold influence, and you’ve just about got the idea of these guys. Solid songwriting and arranging for catchy, radio-friendly tunes is likely to help them take their act far, as well as their penchant for meaningful lyrical content

The song Crash is a great example of this, a heavy-sounding track that addresses drunk driving. Party music like this often jokes about these sorts of issues, putting the emphasis on fun above than anything else. Here, Falling With Glory points out the obvious dangers of getting behind the wheel after consuming. An eery segment of dialogue puts things in a different, more real perspective than just the music would have done, an effective tactic for sending a message and making their song memorable.

This groups’ eclectic style of electronic, pop, metal, and punk makes for an exciting listen, and it’s hard not to feel pumped up afterwards. Comprised of talented and hardworking musicians, Falling With Glory is a band to watch in the coming years.

The Cities Will Fall EP gets a rating of two Converse All-Stars and a pair of skinny jeans. Check out their CD, and their live show.

Falling With Glory officially releases The Cities Will Fall EP on Friday, February 24th with Intra Meridian and The Tragedy of Mariam at The Room Nightclub (255 Ouellette Ave.) tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door, doors open at 9 pm and 19+ are welcome.

CD Review: The Hypnotics – Static Fuzz Radio

Posted: February 1, 2012 by Windsor Zene in CD Releases, CDs, Previews, Reviews

For a group that planned only to be a for-fun recording project, The Hypnotics really don’t have much to complain about. Their first full-length album has already reached number eleven in the Canadian College Radio Charts, hit number one in Windsor multiple times, and received airplay in cities across the country. All of this even before it’s official release.

Static Fuzz Radio is the follow-up to the bands debut EP, Soul at Seven, which came out in October of 2010. Their new album was recorded at Chemical Sound in Toronto, a studio known for it’s use of analog gear, and has recorded such acts as The Black Keys, Hunter Valentine, and Tokyo Police Club. It was produced and mixed by Dean Marino (of Papermaps) and Jay Sadlowski.

Set to be officially released this Friday, February 3rd at FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. W. Main Level) The Hypnotics will be joined by James O-L and the Villains, The Nefidovs, and Paul Jacobs (now working under the moniker Raised By Weeds). Admission to the show is free, and the album will be available in both CD and vinyl formats.

This CD is a great ten-song collection of vintage-sounding surfy garage rock. Moving through the songs you’ll find a lot of varying influences that the two song writers draw from. The Brothers Konstantino, Dave and Mike, handle the bulk of that, and leave the beat-writing to drummer TJ Dowhaniuk.

Opening with Here She Comes Now, listeners are treated to some lovely fuzzy bass before the full song kicks in with some new-wave sounding garage punk. The bouncy sound of the song fronted by Mike’s adorably unique vocals makes this song the epitome of the band’s sound, and a great introduction to what they do.

TV Blues is one of my favourite songs, and I first had the chance to hear it when they played an opening spot for Orphan Choir at the 2011 Harvesting the F.A.M. Festival. This was a great gig for The Hypnotics, exposing them to a larger audience than had previously been able to enjoy them. This track I find to be particularly enjoyable for it’s terrific guitar riff and fuzzy tone, played at a moderate, plodding pace. All elements really fuse together to create a spectacularly groovy tune.

Getting a bit more punk, Lipstick on My Collar is a much different feeling, missing a lot of the higher sounds you’ll find in previous tracks. Still with that new-wave sound to it, this track features a nice guitar solo, a beautiful bass lines, and ends with a surprising and amusing “cha cha cha!”

Holiday in the City is an example of Dave’s songwriting and vocal abilities. This is a song that requires some dancing shoes, for sure. A very fifties-inspired sound, there are some great drum fills on this one, and the whole thing rolls through it’s boisterous two and a half minutes with a lot of energy.

By this point in the album it’s very easy to see why college radio stations are eating it up, and now we’re into a song about love gone wrong, which could only be expected. Nobody But You features some of the best drum-work to be found on the CD, providing an interesting background and really helping the song to stand out. TJ’s diverse musical background is now really becoming apparent in his playing with this group.

The second side of the vinyl starts with Radio City, a heavily rock-influenced piece. A very 60’s sound and more aggressive performance gives this song a unique feel. A great mix of all elements, this track can easily be imagined as a live performance.

One of the more popular songs off the album so far, Our Generation is The Hypnotics’ song about the current state and mindset of young people in our society. Think Bad Religion’s 21st Century Digital Boy done with a surf-rock feel, and you’ll get the idea of this track.

She Gives Me Everything is another rock song, one with some great sing-a-long lyrics. Upfront vocals,atop a bed of punky guitars, fuzzy bass, and quick drum beats.

Seemingly a follow-up to Nobody But You, A Modern Romance is asking for another chance. This is one that will likely induce dancing in listeners, with it’s poppy rhythm and quick beats.

Closing off the disc is another one I highly recommend, Paradise Beach. A very different sound that it’s preceding songs, it’s got watery sounding coming from the left, and an altogether stripped down feel. A good one for swaying along to, this is a low-key track with a great groove and feeling to it.

To pick up your copy of Static Fuzz Radio, visit The Hypnotics on Bandcamp, or go to their show at FM Lounge this weekend.

Static Fuzz Radio will be released by The Hypnotics at FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. W, Main Level) on Friday, February 3rd, along with James O-L and the Villains, The Nefidovs, and Paul Jacob. Doors open at 9 pm, admission is free, and 19+ are welcome.

One more band is looking to add their name to the list of notable releases of 2011, and they’re doing it at the last possible moment. Or maybe the first possibl;e moment for releases of 2012.

On New Year’s Eve at The Coach and Horses,Windsor’s post-grunge outfit Awake to  a Dream will be releasing their six song debut EP Living The Immoral Life.

The album opens with an outdoor ambience which lasts twenty three seconds, just on the edge of being too long. When the instrumentals kick in, you’re hit in the face with some full, rich sounds that shortly thereafter dissolve into some very upfront, very unique vocals. Titled Solstice, the lyrics to this track either inspired the band’s name, or the name inspired the song, but either way, both in lyrical content and music this song is a great introduction to the band. The song itself flows in a way that emphasizes the different elements of playing and production until a sudden break around the 3:20 mark. Here, we are suddenly hearing the band through a telephone before the full frequency spectrum returns, reminding you of how nice the tones of everything actually are. Close on outdoor ambience.

The cut from cicadas to a more rock-influenced song is a bit surprising, but that’s what these guys are about. Here on Tainted we find not only a faster tempo, but crunchier guitars, a more rock influenced beat, and an overall heavier sound. Chris Wilbur’s vocal stylings are certainly better suited to this yelling, chanting, wholly more aggressive sound.

With Shadows we’re back to birds and bugs, but layered under the simply played, nicely reverbed electric guitar, it sounds pretty great. This song is like compressing the first two into one, in that it starts off suggesting something slow and rather soft, and then suddenly turns into something far beefier, if not exactly upbeat.  Throw in some creepy whispers, thickly layered vocals and rolling drum beats, and this track holds a fair bit of interest. The drum sounds on this one are pretty awesome; huge and deep in a way that belies the bedroom it was recorded in.  Thumbs up to the arrangement on this one.

The aptly titled Youth talks about growing up and coming to terms with the world. Slower and more lyrical-based, this song really channels the 90’s grunge that Awake To A Dream seems to take influence from. This track could easily fit onto Soul Asylum’s 1998 album Let Your Dim Light Shine.

Force of Habit is altogether different from the other songs on this disc. My favourite of the six, it’s got a great swing to it; very energetic and bouncy.  Keeping in tune with the rest of the album, it changes a bit throughout, but always returning to that initial catchy rhythm. The mix is dynamic and interesting, showcasing all elements of the song without making any one particular component stand out too much.

Always a crowd pleaser at their live shows, The Importance of the Bass Guitar is an interesting concept with a heavy blues influence.  The first half will throw you off a bit, but that’s intentional. The lack and then addition of the bass will help to teach those who “don’t know how to hear the bass” exactly what to listen for, and how strange music can sound without it (not counting The White Stripes).

Awake to a Dream will be releasing their debut CD Living The Immoral Life at The Coach and Horses on Saturday, December 31st along with Slyde, Dreams Destruction, Perpetuate, and All Against I.  Tickets are $4 in advance, $5 at the door, you must be 19 or over to attend, and doors open at 9 pm.



CD Review: Crissi Cochrane “Pretty Alright”

Posted: November 17, 2011 by Windsor Zene in CD Releases, CDs, Previews, Reviews

Crissi Cochrane, Pretty Alright (2011)

When Halifax indie pop songstress Crissi Cochrane left Halifax, Nova Scotia – an internationally recognized port of music and song – for little ol’ Windsor – an internationally ignored city of unrecognized talent – there were many in the city and scene who collectively scratched their heads and wondered if perhaps she had been grossly misinformed on Windsor or perhaps was on some sort of narcotic that perhaps we should all be trying.

But as it turns out, her move was a labour of love, as she was the significant other to Michael Hargreaves, the singer/guitarist from Windsor’s kings of Pop, Michou (and Canada’s according to a recent XM Radio awards ceremony). She switched the countless bars and unheard voices of the Maritimes for the countless bars and unheard voices of Windsor, easily fitting in with her honest story telling and hard work. Shortly after her arrival, she co-founded an open mic/arts & crafts bazaar at The FM Lounge, and immediately won over an often fickle music scene with some fantastic pop folk songs that showed a story telling beyond her years.

This Friday, Crissi Cochrane returns to the FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level) to release her latest EP, Pretty Alright, a six-song tale of the the many faces of love produced by Michael Hargreaves and Crissi herself and mastered by another Michou members, Stefan Cvetkovic

The beauty of Crissi’s songs – shown in glorious brilliance on these songs – is that she is the person that many past singers almost became. She has the grit we’d hoped Lisa Loeb would eventually develop, the complexity that we’d hoped Holly McNarland might garner, or the true love that Cat Power may one day find. Now I’m not suggesting she’s writing songs better than any of these, it’s just that this feels like what many of them may have missed.

The lead chapter – as this almost feels like a love story being sung rather than read – is entitled “I Won’t Try To Break Your Heart” and swings in right away and warms you up. It introduces you the smiling cheerful girl who is in the middle of a conversation with a lover who is obviously not making the same efforts as she is. She’s offering up her heart to her would-be suitor, proclaiming her hopes, wants and desires and her promise that she “won’t try to break your heart” but that she  “didn’t come here to play games”. There’s still a hint of Halifax in her voic and style, a faint ghost of the Maritime “sound”, that makes her story telling all the more believable. This is the only track not produced by the Hargreaves/Cochrane tandem, instead handled by former Yellow Wood songwriter Adam Rideout-Arkell. Cvetkovic guests on the drums and Curtis Perrin and Stefan Seslija add some deliciously tasteful horns.

“Oh, how badly I need an anchor,” the second chapter – “Go” – begins, “the shorelines fading fast.” The girl in the story displays immense strength in a slower song that seems to deal with the companion’s contemplation with leaving the relationship. The protagonist cements her convictions and tells the other one that quite simply, if they can’t take the person she is, then perhaps he should just go.

The third chapter – “Drive All Night” – falls out of the story and seems to be an open love letter from Crissi to Michael. It’s the lovelorn tale of a girl missing her boy as he’s out on the road away from home for stretches at a time – something Crissi endured many times the past year or so with Hargreaves’ Michou touring the country for long stretches of sometimes weeks at a time (Crissi would get somewhat of her own back with her own East Coast tour a few months back). A tender song about how sometimes the longing can be as sweet as the moments together. Local songbird Jackie Robitaille guests on backing vocals for this one.

“Never Will” catches us up with the protagonist from the first two chapters. But picture that while he left the apartment, she’s decided to move to another city. Time passes by and over time the fights seem overblown, the wounds perhaps exaggerated and the good times reflecting even more. But now, every now and then, she thinks of him. “I know, we never really talk, and probably never will,” she muses aloud. “I hope it’s all for the distance…” A gorgeous song.

In the fifth chapter, “Fine”, she’s returned to her hometown to confront him and is immediately torn by the obvious chemistry she has with him but by the sudden rush of the inadequacies that the relationship had at the end. “I have no doubt, it’s just you and the rest I could do without,” she tells him one night in a darkened park. “Now it’s only time, before I’m yours and you’re mine, and everything will work out…fine.” Another tear jerker that shows what the power of a complete story can do. It will entice you more to keep listening to a complete record rather than skipping to the next “hit” single.

The final chapter is a gorgeous outro highlighted by some delicately powerful musical nuances, from sweet sounds to rhythmically entrancing guitar, building a mesmerizing bed of sound for Crissi to tell the final tale over. Entitled “The Needle”, it tells the tale of our heroine finally realizing her own strength and her conviction in herself. She recognizes things can she cannot fix (“Nothing lost and found is ever new again”) to enjoying the simple things in life to perhaps even falling in love again (“I got some errands that I’d better do, see you tomorrow, yeah, sure, I’ll call you…”). A beautiful closer to a great wave of storytelling.

Now, I’m pretty sure this album wasn’t actually supposed to pan out like a connected love story and it probably isn’t. But hey – I just a found a stash of those crazy narcotics that brought her to Windsor and that’s what it felt like to me. But regardless of the connection, this is one heck of a collection. If you’re already a fan of Crissi Cochrane, then this recording will not surprise you. You knew she had this in her. You knew it was coming. If you’ve never experienced her, this is a great starting point. She’s only going to get better.

Crissi Cochrane, Pretty Alright EP Release Party with special guests Michael Hargreaves and Mary Stewart, Friday November 18, The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level)

Eric Welton, Kill Them With Kindness (Wotown Records/Spur of the Moment Media)

Eric Welton has been one of Windsor’s most enigmatic songwriters of the past decade, ever since he crash landed on the Rose City’s shores from the distant galaxy of Chatham-Kent.

His catalogue of music is vastly underrated – locally and nationally – and, depending on his mood, whims, friends and associates of the moment, touch on just about every gamete of emotion, situation and nuance. He is a songwriter’s songwriter, letting the songs and melodies dictate the direction each album will take him. From 2006’s understated 16-track debut ziGZag (home to live favourites “Dog”, “Another Day” and “Bright Lights”) to the follow-up in 2007, an e.p. (which featured his live classic “Drunk Man Trilogy”, as well as pop gems “Won’t Stop” and the gorgeous “What It Is For”), Welton showed he had the songwriting chops to write undeniably catchy pop classics that stuck around for days and months on end after each show or CD listen. A year later, he switched from his indie pop stylings with an almost alt. country flair for 2008’s Fool Heart, which yielded several more live staples, such as “Cold Hearted Woman”, “Flea” and the heart breaking “I Don’t Believe In You (Too Far Gone)”. In three years, Welton had produced three offerings chalk full of instant sing-a-long classics and emotionally crushing ballads, performing at all the live venues downtown. Welton’s songwriting always seemed to be better appreciated, however, by the city’s local musicians more than the public. A solo performer in the studio (he recorded, produced, wrote and performed everything on his first three releases, except for Fool Heart‘s “Fool Heart Blues”, a collaboration with former Golden Hands Before God guitarist Steven Gibb), his live backing band featured many of the area’s most respected performers, such as Jackie Robitaille, Tara Watts (The Locusts Have No King), Damien Zakoor (The Swillingtones, The Vaudevillianaires, The Golden Hands Before God), Eryk Myskow (The Hung Jury, ASK), Andrew MacLeod (Years of Ernest) and the late Bradford Helner (The Hung Jury, Huladog, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses). Over the next few years, he seemed to almost abandon his solo career when he joined up with Chatham’s (and one of Canada’s) finest psychedelic rock outfits, Square Root of Margaret (lead by his cousin and long time friend Po Kadot).

Following the release and limited touring for Square Root of Margaret’s last album, 2010’s WYSIWYG, Welton once again began work on his next solo release and now, three years after his last, he has finally unveiled his most solid release yet, the deliciously schizophrenic Kill Them With Kidness (which he releases this Friday at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), backed by Eryk Myskow, Josh Zalev (Huladog, Vice Aerial, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses), and Luke “Big Lou” Pelotte (Theory of Everything, The Hung Jury, Vice Aerial)).

While prior releases showed off a minimalism that was both refreshing and ear-pleasing, with this release Welton has added a multitude of layers to create a grandness and lushness not present on previous efforts. This time around, the minimalism is more pronounced and the epic truly shines. Once again, Welton handles the bulk of performance, except for steady bass work from long time live associate Eryk Myskow on most of the record and one song guests in some vocals from Years of Ernest’s Andrew MacLeod (on “Every Day”) and percussion from SROM bandmate Ben Srokosz on the opener.

The frantic indie rock of the under-a-minute lead off track “Kooler” segways nicely into the groovy plodding of the title track. On “Kill Them With Kindness”, Welton once again displays that being wordy is sometimes backseat to a solid beat and groove, as he sings “I want/what you want/and you want it all/I know/what you know/and you know/it all” over a bouncy rhythm that would be best heard on a sunny Sunday afternoon with the window rolled down.

The guitars ring loud again in the circle round gang vocal rocker “Gone” before delving into the beautiful piano driven pop ballad “The Evil In Your Violence”, written in direct reaction to the tragic events surrounding Scott Funnel’s attack last fall. “Have you heard?” he croons over a gorgeous keyboard riff. “They’ve gone and changed your world. And everything you knew, you had believed … is gone, erased with every kick in the head.” For those who remember those horrible weeks when we nearly lost our friend, the refrain “The evil in your violence is permanent” will ring with a haunting shiver.

A beautifully and somewhat faithful cover of an older Square Root of Margaret song, “Hazel Eyes”, uplifts the record from the heaviness of the prior track, and Welton, free from the restraints of writing a song, showcases one of his finest strengths on record – his layering of vocal harmonies, some simple and obvious, some so layered or obstructed your brain hears them without realizing just how many voices they are hearing.

“Every Day” could easily be an anthem for many in today’s world. It seemingly tells the tale of a man suffering from an immeasurable vices who justifies his demons and self-destructions by simply praying to his maker for forgiveness. Andrew MacLeod (Years of Ernest) capably assists Welton with the harmonies with another bouncy song that sounds like it could easily have fit on the alt. country Fool Heart.

With the next track, “Spherikal”, the album takes a decidedly more (controlled) experimental approach. Dabbling in electronics and vocal chants and swirls, what it lacks in lyrical content it more than makes up in substance. His tenure in Square Root of Margaret has definitely rubbed off in his own songwriting and this could easily have been an instrumental (of sorts) on an upcoming SROM release.

He briefly swings back to his minimalist indie folk-pop with “I Know I’m Dying” before jumping into what could be the electropop dance hit of the year. I don’t mean locally either. “LC/DC” sounds like the the final masterpiece that LCD Soundsystem was working on before his head exploded. Trace elements of what makes bands like Holy Fuck, Justice and Thunderheist continue to control dancefloors in clubs across the country. Driven around a monstrously dirty and almost Death From Above 1979 bass line from Eryk Myskow, Welton adds layers of electronic skin, veins and muscle to create a driving 8+ minute ditty that would have the same effect on a dancefloor in Montreal or New York that it would in Windsor. This song needs to be played just when the crowd is at it’s sweatiest and drug addled. This is what losing inhibitions on the dance floor sounds like.

It closes with a song, “unOther”, that seems to incorporate everything that Welton’s music encapsulated on this record. Quirky lyrics (“I said if you’re the cat and I’m the mouse – eat me!”), pulsing driving rhythms lead by vocal melody and simple instrumentation, layered upon each other to a degree that a princess couldn’t hear the pea, swerving from idea to idea with the greatest of ease.

Which to a degree, is what Eric Welton’s music is all about. Never being constrained by what critics or audiences seem to think pop music should be and simply throwing his own experience and inner songs against the wall and hoping that what sticks isn’t the shit but the shinola. Kill Them With Kindness is a bold and brave songbook of Welton maturing and branching out of his home studio comfort zone and finding a Hunter S. Thompson world of song that defies to be shackled by the FM radio pre-sets.

Eric Welton presents the Kill Them With Kindness CD release party, Friday October 28th at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), with special guests Chatham’s Long Lots.

It’s become a cult tradition, seemingly as much about the members own musical fancies and ambitions than the audience’s approval. Every few months, since the end of summer in 2010, a group of musicians (most of whom play in various other successful local projects) – under the collective guise of Star Trek: The Band – announce a show with little fan fare and little promotion, taking the stage together to create a live musical moment. But not just any musical moment. They’ve united to create a completely unique, completely unrehearsed, completely improvisational score to episodes of the original Star Trek series (the one that birthed Captain Kirk and Spock, amongst others).

Led by “Captain” James Oltean-Lepp (of James O-L & The Villains and The Sean Connery Supergroup), the massive sonic orchestra weaves and mingles amongst each others sounds, creating soundscapes that travel from the simple groove to cacaphonist aural orgies, while episodes of the Star Trek series is shown on the back drop behind them. Rob Williams (Lastertears) manipulates the show’s audio through effects, keying in signature sounds and important dialogue, while guitarists Bohdan Pidskalny (Orphan Choir, James O-L & The Villains and The Sean Connery Supergroup), Colin Wysman (What Seas, What Shores and Space Vampire) and Oltean-Lepp himself dance around each other in love and war. Joe Rabie (Surdaster, Cellos and Red Rows) holds down the spider web bass lines, occasionally twining with fellow bassist Kyle Lefaive (James O-L & The Villains and The Sean Connery Supergroup), who also tackles additional guitars and percussion. Multi-instrumentalists abound throughout the line-up, like the variety of aliens who inhabit the Star Trek Universe: Martin Schiller (87 Things For The Future, Whats Seas, What Shores and Space Vampire)  tackles percussion, drums, bass guitar and multiple electronics (he assumed Rob Williams’ post on audio for the last performance), Murad Erzinclioglu (Surdaster and (wh)y.m.e(??)) manipulates the MC-303, percussion and other electronic audibles, Muzzin‘s Tim Nantais manipulates electronics as well as playing the trumpet, Dave Odette returned to the stage with his didgeridoo and Jamie Greer (The Vaudevillianaires, The Golden Hands Before God, The FourJury) returned to his Golden Hands roots with an assortment of percussive toys (tambourines, maracas, triangles, and…sandpaper??). An army of some of the city’s most reliable back beat soldiers fill the multiple drum kits, including Caleb Farrugia (James O-L & The Villains, What Seas, What Shores and Space Vampire), Alex Carruthers (Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers and Red Rows), Damien Zakoor (The Vaudevillianaires, The Golden Hands Before God, The Swillingtones, The Tyres), Adam Bombardier (Surdaster and Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers) and Bradford Helner (The FourJury, Twistin’ Tarantulas, Huladog, NOT_Digital). Guest players have included Kyle Marchand (Orphan Choir, What Seas, What Shores and Cellos) on guitar, Two For The Cascade‘s Holly Brush on theramin, Hardcore Al on keyboards and Sean Connery Supergroup frontman James Steinhoff.

And now finally, after four missions (including a complete scoring for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), Star Trek: The Band has released it’s first recording, a live album of the complete recording of their score from their June 24th sountrack for the classic episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”. You can download the psychedelic journey FREE at the group’s bandcamp website and find out about upcoming “missions” at their Facebook page.

Years of Ernest, A Crooked Storyline

Years of Ernest have slowly become Windsor’s most dependable band. They may not write the catchiest tunes or have the loudest amps, but they can always be counted on to put on a world class rock and roll show full of great riffs, sweet harmonies and the feeling that even song was meant. It’s no surprise that their long awaited debut album, A Crooked Storyline, is equally dependable.

On this album (which in today’s world of EPs and 10-song albums is remarkably long, stuffed with thirteen tracks), Years of Ernest delivers a refreshingly nostalgic brand of rock and roll that can best be described as a quilted veil of pure Canadiana. It feels like an ode to Canadian bands like The Rheostatics, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip or Save This House and older era Spirit of the West. If you were take the best elements of each of those bands – the great harmonies, the sonic layering, the murky underbelly and the engaging storytelling – you would end up with this band. Which is perhaps a product of the musical intimacy Years of Ernest has over most other bands. Three of the four man band – guitarist Leigh Wallace, bassist Paul Loncke and drummer Joey “Wiseguy” DesRoches – have been playing for years together as part of The Locusts Have No King, one of Windsor’s best known and beloved bands. And singer/guitarist Andrew MacLeod feels comfortable in the mix of these brilliant tempered musicians.

Which is part of the beauty of the aural landscapes created within A Crooked Storyline – you can actually feel the band’s chemistry in each song. There isn’t a stutter or a note slip, no blemish or after thought, no filler or wasted movements. These songs are carefully constructed stories that pull you in with their simple rhythms, catch you in its musical net and guides you over the waves to the stories MacLeod sings you with all the passion of a Maritime troubadour (which incidentally he kind of is).

The opening song “Madman” starts the disc off with a quirky swagger and introduces you to the world of MacLeod’s stories. “Who here can believe/In a singer singing every song in the same key/Our day is coming soon/A ten step standoff at the hour of noon/I may live in my cocoon/But I know you never gave me your respect to lose”.

The second song, “My Mouth”, has all the makings of a giant hit. Like in the same way that Spirit of the West’s “Home For A Rest” or Tragically Hip’s “New Orlean’s is Sinking”. It’s an undeniable beat and sing-a-long bridges and it’s not impossible to imagine a large festival crowd singing along in unison to “If it gets any hotter we’ll burn this place down!”, pumping their fists in the air to the driving stomp of Leigh Wallace on the guitar.

Speaking of Wallace, he handles the vocals on the third track “See Right Through You”, a great roots rocker. Wallace has been a major player in Windsor’s music scene for over a decade, playing in some of the city’s most respected and beloved outfits, from the lush indie pop of The Butterfield Gateway and Caught in the Moss (both of which he partnered with Cloverjoy‘s Adam Gilchrist) to his guitar work in The Locusts Have No King, Wallace’s unique and fluid fret work has inspired many of the scene’s finest songwriters and in this track, Wallace shows he’s been inspired by his peers. This definitely feels like the product of working alongside David Dubois and despite feeling like maybe it could have been a Locusts Have No King song, it just feels cleaner in this songbook. Years of Ernest make this feel more Blue Rodeo than the Drive-By Truckers.

“Ought To” is another stand-out, a plodding driving tale of remorse from MacLeod – seemingly at missing someone (a lover or family member) but more-so himself for not making more of an effort to keep in touch. Or maybe even care. The backing vocals of Wallace and DesRoches shine through like little rays of sunshine in an absolute gem of a recording.

Wallace handles the microphone again on the Rolling Stones-y rollick “Season Plays Treason”, which features some great driving by Joey DesRoches. Despite being one of the more recognizable faces in the local music scene, DesRoches (aka “The Wiseguy”) is perhaps one of the more criminally under-rated musical minds in town. He’s a master arranger and co-ordinator in the studio (as evidenced when he held court over one of the gang vocal sessions for Surdaster‘s upcoming album) and he plays his percussion with feel over ego. He knows when to go balls out but also has the instinct to know when less is more. A wise man once said to me that sometimes it’s what you don’t play that makes the most difference, and it’s in this regard that the Wiseguy shows he is indeed a wise man. Every hit, every crash, is intended and necessary, simple as that. There are no excessive displays of cymbal smashing or excessive fills or rolls. He gives the song’s exactly what the song requires – what it needs – and that is it. And he does it with a deft grace that is so flawless you almost don’t notice its precision.

Bassist Paul Loncke is a similar beast to DesRoches. The dexterity of his bass lines are so smooth and subtle that you don’t realize the layers he’s sewn under the covers of the guitars. But on the murky funk-folk of “Dark Lords” he gets more of a chance to shine. Loncke has long served as a great backline to some great musicians in the city, starting with a successful run in 90’s rock outfit The Scarecrows (that also featured George Bozanich and George Manury to name a few), a band that used to pack The Loop with regularity and ease. His work alongside former Dresden Sky singer/songwriter Erin Gignac and his other gig in The Locusts Have No King have pushed him to find the limits from total constraint to gunning like a motorcycle and his feel is perfect for this project as well.

The album closes out with the rocker “Cover Up” (keeping with the Canadiana feel, this album almost steps into Danko Jones territory), another great story by MacLeod. It’s an ominously mysterious song that could be interpreted in several different ways – at first I thought maybe it was about two kids trying to cover up something they’d done, but after repeated listens, it now feels like a song about one brother singing to another while they’re being abducted (and I’m probably still wrong). “They were lions and lambs/Hunger in a dead land/Holding off the bloodshed/Brakes are nearly gone/He was dressed as a friend/Headed toward the same end…”

All in the all, this album feels like a classic album. It’s a start to finish storybook (as much as it is a songbook), about some interesting characters, by some interesting characters. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable listen through from start to finish without worrying about keeping your finger on the advance button. Each song has its own feel and identity and enough intrigue to listen to what it’s saying.

And now, we have Years of Ernest’s CD release weekend. That’s right. Weekend. They’re throwing two CD releases parties at two ends of the city. The first is a free admission show on Friday July 1st at The Dominion House Tavern (3140 Sandwich St.) in the West End (with special guests Meters To Miles), followed by a downtown show on Saturday July 2nd at Villains Beastro (256 Pelissier St.) with a minimal $5 cover (or for $10 get admission plus a CD!), with special guests George Bozanich and Paul Farah.

You’ve waited a year in earnest. Now go get what you deserve.

Fri. May 20: Poughboy brings about the End of Men

Posted: May 18, 2011 by Windsor Zene in CD Releases, Previews

This may cause a little bile to creep up into some people’s mouths, but I’ve been a fan of Poughboy since day one. While their frenetic and spastic live shows, seemingly spontaneous songs and nearly unintelligible vocals, and abrasive online presence seemed to initially (and for some people still) create a sense of bewilderment coupled with disgust, they hit a nerve in this guy. As much as I’m a fan of the perfectly constructed pop song, there are days when my ears and very soul ache for something that is disjointed, caustic and acerbic to rip apart the monotony of what I’m feeling and let my mind restart from scratch (such as yesterday’s miserable gray day where listening to the Jesus Lizard‘s Goat and Liar albums back to back, followed by the MelvinsHoudini and Stoner Witch finally rebooted my soul). And that is where Poughboy comes in, both aurally and visually.

Upon first seeing them (and subsequently listening to their debut release, an extremely DIY EP entitled Is Your Mother Around?), I was immediately hooked, although initially it was because I thought I was witnessing a Touch & Go version of Steel Panther or Spinal Tap. This couldn’t be for real, could it? After all, three fifths of the band (vocalist Adam Craig and guitarists Vincent Manzerolle and Brandon Butzu) were fresh off the dissolution of one of Windsor’s greatest instrumental maestros (although Craig was on his natural instrument, the drums, and Butzu held down the bass), the bombastically underappreciated heavy math rock of Measured In Angles (whose album History of the Engine was one of 2006’s finest releases, local or otherwise), and drummer David Allan was a rising new star as the drummer in Explode When They Bloom (he’s since gone on to be in other great local acts like Cellos, Which Witch, and long time alt. rock band Area 51). And bassist Darryl Derbyshire sure seemed more Mark Deutom than Derek Smalls.

Is Your Mother Around? was soon followed up with a proper debut, entitled The Gift (which featured many re-recorded versions of songs off IYMA, including the fantastic “Chuck Berry” and “Cocaine and Gasoline”) and a few more shows. Still I wasn’t entirely sure these guys were for real or simply pulling the proverbial wool over everyone’s eyes (including their own).

It wasn’t until the gigging got more intense and they released their follow up to The Gift, a majestic box of nuggets called simply Sorry, that I realized they were the real deal. They were taking an oft over looked scene, that of the serious noise rockers like the aforementioned Jesus Lizard and Melvins, or Cop Shoot Cop and Big Black, and fist fucked into sounds from bands as diverse as AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails and Incesticide-era Nirvana – like a TurDucken of music. To incorporate this new musical growth, a sixth member began to appear at live shows, multi-instrumentalist Martin Schiller (87 Things For The Future, What Seas What Shores, Space Vampire, Star Trek: The Band). Poughboy was here whether we liked it or not and they never failed to impress (or revolt).

This realization was capped off with one of the show stealing performances of last December’s FunnelFest, when Poughboy literally tore the music scene a new asshole and served it back to everyone in the form of vomit coated escargot with a hint of ballsack. These guys were arrogance and confidence personified and no matter what the critics can say, their music live (and on record) is as tight as Mother Theresa’s anus. That previous spontaneousness is actually a well planned out and executed musical revolution that is as much about awakening as it is about forced masturbation.

And now it comes to this.

This Friday, appropriately right before the sheep and their ram have declared an impending Judgment Day (and they said we’d never see a T-1000 in real life!), Poughboy are releasing their heavily anticipated opus End of Men, a 15-song soundtrack for the forthcoming apocalypse that just very well may be their own White Album (or Blight Album). Packaged with a 36-page cover table book of artwork and representations guaranteed to excite, titillate and offend (perhaps as a finger poke nod to the absurdity of Radiohead’s “newspaper album” release for King of Limbs earlier this year), End of Men is worth the price of admission.

While the Touch & Go presence that was so obvious in early material is still present in the background, Poughboy have matured (well, musically at least) into their own wrecking ball of sound. Their are so many influences present (conscious or not) that they’ve simply re-materialized as what any great band inevitably seeks to become: they’re own voice. This album is monumental, from the epicly powerful “End of Men” to the sing-a-long debauchery of “Gadgets/Teledildonics/The Clutch” (which I guarantee will have more than one of you chanting “Hands up, who wants to fuck!” not only at the show but at church on Sunday) this album delivers in a big way and already may be fit to be crowned 2011’s album of the year. It is a deconstructionist’s cookbook, that starts with a Tool-esque introduction (aptly titled “Introduction”) that segues beautifully into a monster ball crusher called “Rock Salt”. This is the kind of anthem that makes you want to chug Jack Daniels right from the Devil’s teat while your masturbating with a baby seal. “Too Tight” is as close to the Twist as Poughboy could venture and by twist I mean the head of your penis off while dancing. Don’t worry, you can sew it back on while you’re drawn down to the sludgery bottom with “The Fuck Politics”. “Tape 1: My Love Will Eclipse The Fucking Son” is an electronic cacophony that serves as a schizophrenic sorbet to gear you up for the second half of the album with mind bending effectiveness. “The Brazilian” takes over and welcomes you to the New World Order with a swagger usually reserved for rhinos on too much fermented fruit. The Tom Waits meets Big Black “Two Shivs” and the aforementioned “Gadgets” carry through the second half, leading into a highlight and sneaky track entitled “Blackie Lawless Can’t Touch Me Now” that takes sampling to a whole new level of both homage and “Go fuck yourself”. “The Pink Sock” and “The Canary” are both as close as Poughboy will ever get to playing straight ahead rock and roll and even that’s about as close as this humble reporter will ever get to actually fucking Natalie Portman in a phone booth in the Nevada heat (which is pretty fucking far). The penultimate “The Fashion Dyke That Ate Dennis” is an aural descent that gives the listener one final warning to get out before the inevitable “End of Men” occurs, with all its glorious sonic layers and levels of Hell. “Man It Up” closes out with a debaucherous shout out to AC/DC’s “Jailbreak”.

From the accompanying coffee table book for "End of Men"

Sonically, Poughboy has never sounded tighter or better produced. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the kind of polishing that mainstream bands like Nickelback or Finger Eleven strive for, but closer to the aural sects of producers like Sylvie Massey (Tool, Rage Against The Machine) or Butch Vig (Nirvana’s Nevermind). They’ve managed to wrangle in all the elements without sacrificing the source or letting the production become the product itself.

So if your ears haven’t gotten too soft on a steady night of Ben Harper or Jack Johnson, if you’ve still got a burning in your belly for what rock and roll has always been about, or you simply like to slow down and watch the carnage after a car wreck, you would serve your eyes and ears well by heading to Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) this Friday night when Poughboy finally opens the corals for the Four Horsemen’s steeds and unleashes the End of Men.

But don’t say you weren’t warned.

Poughboy ‘End of Men’ CD Release with special guests The Mad Ones and (wh)y.m.e.(??), Friday May 20, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm