February 26, 2012

Interview with Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers

Prior to his album release, In the Time of The Great Remembering, last fall, the encounter with Nova Scotia singer songwriter, Ben Caplan has completely changed my prospective toward solo artists. The dynamic of his performance exceeds what an individual can bring to the stage and his music steals my soul and ears for the entire set.  In fact, I've listed him in Top 5 performances of the year and have witnessed many of his Toronto shows since then.

If you know me well, you can easily imagine me going on and on about music that I am excited about. I've been singing his parises to all my friends, including my dear friend Bryen Shi. We were both lured to his musicianship. Bryen, I and some of my friends have interviewed Caplan (once again) from a different 180 degree angle, before one of his residency shows at the Supermarket.  Enjoy.

In the Time of the Great Remembering is available at bencaplan.ca and you can check out the insights from my last interview with him (Click here: part 1 and part 2)

February 24, 2012

Download Paperlions's Album, Trophies

This may sound like awesome news – A Free download of PEI pop rock band, Paper Lions' sophomore masterpiece Trophies. If I didn't have the copy, I would have been jumping up and down on the couch right now.

The band recently posted a link for the free download. All you have to do is to give them your email.  They will periodically update you any news and releases via email.

Before providing you the link, I also want you to know the story behind it. The members posted this message on the Facebook yesterday:

"Some of you may have noticed that we’ve started doing something that, for us, is a little different. Today, we’d like to tell you why.

In August of 2009, we raised the money to rent a studio, hire a producer, and record Trophies. A few months later, we were approached by a record label that wanted to release Trophies on our behalf. After a period of negotiation, we signed a deal with that company. They released the record in September of 2010, and everything was dandy.

Fast forward to the present: we have yet to see a paycheque for a single record sold by them. If you bought our record on Amazon or iTunes, or even at a record store, we didn’t get that money. We don’t know why. We don’t know if it’s being held somewhere, or if it’s been spent.

We asked ourselves, what do we do now? Hire a lawyer? That would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Ultimately, we just want people to hear the music. And in reality, this experience has given us an excuse to do something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

So we’ve decided to give Trophies away in exchange for your email address. And we feel pretty good about it.
Follow the link, click on “Free Download”, enter your email, and Trophies (with Traveling as a bonus track) is yours for the taking.

Thanks everybody.

PS. We will only use your email addresses to occasionally update you with news about the band. We will never give your email addresses to anyone else.
PPS. If you ever bought Trophies directly from a band member (at a show, from the back of the van, etc.) we did get that money. It was used for gas."

This is so awful and outrageous. I couldn't help but feeling anger against these people who took an advantage of good people. But I’m so respectful of the band's decision to share their album for free, just because all that they want is to have more people listen and enjoy their music. Click here to download your copy

So I have a huge favor for you all: Let's spread the word among your family and friends. And next time when they are in town,  let's tell the band how awesome they are. 

Check out the interview that I did in last December

February 23, 2012

PS I Love You with Army Girls and Most People

Toronto based indie music organization, Wavelength closed their 12 chapter with the a stellar lineup at the Garrison on Sunday, February 19th with P.S I Love You, Burning Love, Army Girls, MoTEM, and Most People.

Most People appeared on the stage as early as 9:30 p.m, however, to my surprise, the venue was quickly filled out with fans to witness the act. The duo showcased fun drums and maneuvered several gears at once while pumping up beats from the mac, which took the audience to a milky way of infectious melodies. Continuous toe-tapping led to a dance party in my shoes for the entire set. 

Army Girls hit on the stage as the third band of the night, another duo performing that night. They deployed solid guitar jamming and pulsing drumbeats. That's all it took for the duo to craft such rich yet raw sounds, while floating impeccably with Carmen Elle's vigour and aesthetic voice. It hooked me right away from the beginning to the end, while ogling the stage not to miss any moment of the prominent performance and it was definitely my highlight of the night.

Kingston’s beloved pop rock sensation, PS I Love You at last took over the stage after four other performances, which seemed to be a long wait. The appearance further got delayed for another 20 minutes due to technical difficulties. By the time the band showed up on the stage, I couldn't help experiencing some exhaustion. Yet it was worth the wait to witness new tunes from their sophomore album, Muster Sessions, which is currently available for free download. The set list of the night, in fact, consisted mostly from the new album. The new addition to the band the bassist/synth flourished the sounds of Paul Saulnier. As much as I loved listening to the new tunes from the album, I have to admit that I missed witnessing some tracks from the last album, Meet Me at the Muster Station, especially their gimmick of Saulnier's mind-blowing guitar solo.

February 22, 2012

Q &A with TNG

After listening to some tunes from Toronto rock band, TNG’s new album, It's About Time... one thought was growing rapidly in my mind, vigorous classic rock tunes with a lively voice and hammering rhythms instantly ringing in my ears. -' If they can capture so much energy in the recording material, what are they like for their live shows?' Then I found out that one of their latest shows at Parts + Labour was interrupted in the middle of the performance by the police, due to the noise. This only got me more exited. I had an opportunity to ask some questions. Enjoy!!!

1.  What does TNG stand for? And what does the band name mean to you?

Jeff: It’s a toss-up between Three Nice Guys or The Nice Genies. We’re actually just down with keeping it an acronym. Acronyms are hot right now. LOL.

2.If you described TNG in one word, what would it be and why?

Jeff: Raw.

3. Your debut album, It's About Time..., was released in summer of 2011 after 3 years since the formation of the band. How was the process of song selection for this record?

Jeff: It was difficult. There was a lot of push and pull between including new material or putting a lot of our old stuff on the album. In the end, most of the songs on the album were songs that had been written in the few months before the album release. Most of it is very new, but we still wanted to give some of our old stuff justice.

4. The album enclosed the high energy of the band.- It is the album that makes me want to see TNG live. Was it a challenging aspect to capture some of that on the record? 

Jeff: It was definitely challenging, but I think many rock and roll bands have that problem. We dealt with it by recording most of the album live off the floor, which I think helped preserve our loose, raw feel. The tunes were cut as if they were live with Evan, Frank and I in the same room, with the vocals recorded after. It’s always hard to reproduce that live energy, but I think we came pretty close.

5. It's already six months from the album release. Do you think these songs from the album represent the path you are heading to or has it been evolving into a different form (forms)? 

Jeff: Already I think we’ve started to grow a little since we released these songs, but they definitely point in the same direction that we’re going. We’re becoming more focused on the sound we want to have, and It’s About Time… displays the beginning of that, but I think the next album will be a more concise picture of who we are.

6. Any particular songs that you like to perform from the album and why. (I am personally a fond of You Better Run, Ringing in my Head and Turn your head. )

Jeff: I’m partial to Hit Me, but You Better Run is also a favourite of mine.

7. If you could tour across Canada with anyone from Toronto, who would it be?

Jeff:  Opening for Death From Above 1979 would be a good match I think. We would probably have to cut some of our slower stuff, and mic the shit out of the bass drum, but I think we’d work well together.

8. What's on your playlist right now?

Jeff: I’ve been listening to Fucked Up’s new album “David Comes to Life”. It’s pretty intense. Cage the Elephant’s new live disc is also in the rotation.

9. The last show at Parts and Labour on Feb 2rd was shut down by the police. What happened?

 Jeff: Apparently we are just too loud for the side of Queen West. I don’t think they are used to wild rock and roll shows at that bar.

10.  A couple of shows coming up in Feb-April in Toronto. What can we expect from these shows? 

Jeff: Hopefully a lesser police presence. But definitely a wild time including kazoo solos, dancing flowers, stage dives, and shin kicks. Catch us March 3rd at the Silver Dollar. If you want all the show details, check us out on facebook.com/tngrules
Thank you so much Jeff for your time. No one can stop TNG. They have a number of upcoming shows for you to check out as below.

March 3rd at the Silver Dollars
March 17th at the 460
April 13th at Not My Dog
April 20th at the Velvet Underground

February 17, 2012

Arkells covers Lana Del Rey's Video Games

It was the Saturday Night Live's performance of  'Video Games', which made an American singer songwriter, Lana Del Rey, all hyped up with mixed responses from the general public. Personally, as it is not a topic of my interest I can't be bothered whether or not she would make it as some label the performance as ' one of the worst performances in SNL.( I agree to some extent with the critics that there is a lack of emotion in the performance.) However, it is a different story if a band that I like covers the song.

Hamilton poop rock outfit, Arkells unveiled an acoustic version of the song. The raspy voice gradually escalates to an emotional climax along with soft harmonies. This version of the tune may change your perception of the song. Give it another shot before disliking the song?

February 14, 2012

Shovels & Rope announced an early spring tour in North America

It was not too long ago when Charleston based root rock duo, Shovels & Rope rocked my heart out, opening for Butch Walker and the Black Widows last October. I fell in love with the impeccable chemistry between Michael Trent (of The Films) and Cary-Ann Hearst.

They just announced a new spring tour with fellow musicians, Johnny Corndawg and Robert Ellis at Drake Underground on March 28th. I am already sensing the epicness of this now. Pencil it in your schedule.

Video Release: Wildlife, Sea Dreamer

Who doesn't like a rival fight? - Especially when a group of hipstars is beaten up by an awesome band? 

Toronto power rock quintet, Wildlife have released a new video, Sea Dreamer, from their debut album, Strike Hard, Young Diamond. It includes TTC trains, street bowling,  horse mask, gear breaking and rival fighting.-exciting. But more importantly, the energetic vocal resonates with striking guitar riffs and alluring synth beats, which electrify listeners drastically to jump on the bed, while the sounds swell up to a spark of vigor. The only way to release the tension is probably to see them live. 

Wildlife is known for lively and sweaty performances. Our next chance to witness them is at Lee's Palace on March 22nd. Get ready for an early spring sweaty night!!!

February 9, 2012

White Rabbits Heavy Metal

It's been almost three years since New York based six piece, White Rabbits debuted their sophomore album, It's Frightening in the spring of 2009 with the smash hit Percussion GunI became fond of this song quickly, while enjoying the thunderous drum rolls with a tenacious vocal in the song.

A few years have passed since. White Rabbits are now ready to  impress us with their new release, Milk Famous, which is set to be released on March 6th. The first single off the record is Heavy Metal.  I'm very surprised with this new release, as it is quite distinctively different from their last record. In fact, I hardly realized that it was crafted by the same band. Let's see how the whole album turns out. 

February 8, 2012

Zeus Anything You Want Dear

Toronto rock band Zeus unveiled another song prior to the album release, which is set for March 24th.  'Anything You Want Dear' from their upcoming album, Busting Visions, was released exclusively through Rolling Stone Magazine yesterday. Have you checked it out? 

The second sneak-peak from the album is a song that represents what the four-piece can deliver through melodical harmonies and up-tempo tunes. 

Click here to get your copy of Anything You Want Dear. 

February 3, 2012

Edgar Breau, Patches of Blue

"The idea that everything is subservient to the song itself, it's all about the song not the players, not me, not history or autobiographical detail but getting the song to work on a very primal gut level that holds the interest of the listener. "

Edgar Breau - he might be labeled as the front man of Hamilton punk band, Simply Saucer since 1979.  However, over there last few decades he has cast aside some of his previous incarnations and has been venturing on a new solo journey down different musical paths, while still being a major part of the punk band. Now he is ready to unleash it in the form of his new solo album, Patches of Blue. Breau kindly answered some questions for Music Psychos. Check it out. 

1. The new solo record, 'Patches of Blue'-What does the album title mean to you?

Patches of Blues loosely means periods of melancholy, the blues, as the title song goes, 'just like a summer sky, I have my patches of blue'. There's a more remote reference to Picasso's 'blue period'. It also signifies a style of music that is based on roots music, be it jazz, blues, country, sea shanty, soul, funk, trippy folk all genres which can be found on the CD. It's about my 'coming out' as a songwriter as I’ve forever been associated with proto-psyche punk, which I still love, but which is no longer the exclusive genre I write and record in. I've been exploring other avenues with my songs now for years and felt I had to release a recording demonstrating this.

2.'Patches of Blue' was crafted with a number of local artists, including Bill Dillon, Ed Roth, Colinna Phillips and a few more. How was the recording process? Any stories from the studio?

Although the session players on Patches of Blue are 'local artists' many have an international stature, such as guitarist, Bill Dillon, who has recorded with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson and Dan Lanois among many others. Brian Griffith played guitar on the Daniel Lanois produced Willie Nelson album. Songstress, Colina Phillips, has recorded with Alice Cooper, Bruce Cockburn, Anne Murray, and sang live with James Taylor. Mike Trebilcock, who sang harmony, is a Juno award-winning artist, formerly with the Killjoys. The keyboardist, Ed Roth played with Rick James, Merryweather, and garage/punk band the Ugly Ducklings among others.

Basically I would go in and lay down the song in acoustic form add a ghost vocals and then we'd bring in the rhythm section to solidify things and finally add the rest of the mix. My producer, Michael Birthelmer, though a very serious musician and arranger often would go into comedy routines while we were recording just to lighten things up a little.

3. You've played different genres in one form or another for the last 3 decades. What stays consistent throughout changes in your musical style?

I think the idea that everything is subservient to the song itself, it's all about the song not the players, not me, not history or autobiographical detail but getting the song to work on a very primal gut level that holds the interest of the listener. 

4.What has been the most noticeable change in the music industry?

Oh I think the DIY methods that allow just about anyone to get their music out there is the biggest change.

5. Do you have any musical motto?

Drill deep; know where it all comes from...which is gospel, blues, jazz, folk. 

6. You've recorded a completely different set of songs with members from your punk rock outfit, Simple Saucers, Kevin Christoff. How has the relationship with Christoff evolved with the changes?  

Kevin has played on all my later solo CD's he's continued to evolve as a musician like myself, exploring jazz and prog avenues. He's always been a very fine bass player and gave Simply Saucer its distinctive progressive punk sound. 

7.  Aside from the legendary guitarist, John Fahey, who would you name for your influence in Patches of Blues? 

Syd Barrett and Ray Davies come to mind immediately as well as English folk influences like Steeleye Span and Pentangle, Malcomb Holcombe, Brazilian guitar player Bola Sete, Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Chet Baker, Dylan

8. What's on your playlist right now?

Keith Tippett, Sir Douglas Quintet, some Albert Ayler, Miles Davis, Gorecki's Symphony #3 

9. If you could go back to a particular place or time, where would it be?

France in the middle ages 

10. Any plans for the Spring/Summer?

I'm planning to tour the east coast of Canada promoting my new recording, doing live show, festivals

Thank you so much Edgar for your time. You can preview three songs off the album for free from here

February 1, 2012

Donlands +Mortimer, What You Offer

Timing is a very interesting component of our lives. Whether you call it coincidence or destiny, it sometimes defines the path that you are heading on next.

I came to know Toronto six-piece, Donlands + Mortimer, from Don't Touch That Dial, the recent Bowie tribute night at the Garrison via Now Magazine. Then, a few days later, I received an email regarding their first single release, What You Offer. Good timing, wasn't it?

Donlands + Mortimer have spent the last 3 years composing songs, which define themselves and their sounds. At last, they are ready to unleash a complilation of their efforts in the form of a new album, New Mythology in Spring 2012. Prior to the release, they've offered a nice sneak-peak piece off the album, What You Offer, Kicking off with a gentle angelic vocal of Carmen Elle, the song evolves its rhythmic velocities and vigour of the vocal. It is fun to listen to the capacity of her expression as it varies within the song.

Before the full album release, you can taste a bit of D+M and Music Psychos will be keep you posted on any news from them.