April 27, 2012

The Dudes: Barbers, Thieves and Bartenders

As the band name The Dudes indicates, Calgary based alt rock outfit are all about manly sweaty live shows and a passion for Rock 'n Roll. With their recent release of Barbers, Thieves and Bartenders, which is the initial effort of a trilogy of their albums to be released in 2012. Teamed up with Jeff Dawson at Mush Room Studios and The Den from Vancouver, the quartet deployed their 6 tracks of expansive musicianship: from onslaught of earsplitting scream in Tear it Up, groovy alt-country rock tunes, American Girl and Saturday Night to emotive ballads Good Times. Listening to this album excites me to know more about the 2 upcoming albums.

The Dudes are currently on a Canadian Tour and stopping by in Toronto Tomorrow, Saturday April 28th at Horseshoe Tavern. Who will be joining me?

Tour Date
April 13 Whistler, BC TWSSF

April 14 Kelowna, BC Habitiat

April 19 Edmonton, AB Starlight Room
April 20 Regina, SK O'Hanlon's
April 24 Montreal, QC Petit Campus
April 25 Ottawa, ON Cafe Dekuf
April 27 Waterloo, ON Maxwell's
April 28 Toronto, ON Horseshoe Tavern
April 29 Peterborough, ON Red Dog Tavern
May 1 Sault St. Marie, ON Loplops
May 2 Thunder Bay, ON  Crock's Pub
May 3 Winnipeg, MB The Lo Pub
May 5 Calgary, AB Wyckham House
May 9 Nanaimo, BC Queens Hotel
May 10 Victoria, BC Club9One9
May 11 Tofino, BC Legion
May 12 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
July 6 Kelowna, BC  Waterfront Park

You can listen to their first single off the album, American Girl here below.

fun. at Kool Haus on April 25th, 2012

"The rule at fun.s shows is to sing along as loud as you can."- As stated by Nate Ruess, the front man of the New York orchestral pop trio, fun., they delivered a frenzied and 'fun'tastic performance, fully participated by the audience at Kool Haus on April 25th. 

The opening act, Miniature Tigers shot the long-waiting audience with their infectious bazooka gun of 80s infused pop tunes. The crowd warmly welcomed the quintet on the return to Canuck soil since their last show in 3 years ago. Charlie Brand, the singer shared his excitement be backwith the crowd by making sweet comments between songs.

My eyes were attracted to Brandon Lee,  the bassist who was dancing his ass off from the beginning to the end with his rhythmical beats. When Algernon Quashie, key/vocal joined Lee and Brand, during one of their songs, Cannibal Queen, dancing back and forth on the stage, i felt as if I was at my friends karaoke party, when everyone shamelessly shows off their dance moves.

After been warmed up with Miniture Tigers' set, the stages heat cooled for a while as the 30 mins wait between the acts felt forever. Anxiety was what we all had in common. Then all of a sudden screams from the crowd blasted like a bomb when fun. at last stamped on the stage with a powerful opening tune, One Feet.Yes, we were just waiting for something to happen just as the song said. It was so easy to feel the escalation of the momentum from then on with their hit tunes, including Waking the Dog. Ruess was swinging from left to right, hop-step-jumping on the each corner of the stage between the members as to make sure to greet each one of us. His Broadway,(or I would even say, Glee- reminiscence vocal was something that people only at the show can appreciate, especially today, where it is hard to witness the true compelling vocal due to the advanced technologies such as Autotune. his lively voice echoed profoundly to the bottom of listener's hearts. He also showcased his sweet side as introducing All the Pretty Girls to celebrate one of the attendees' Stephanie's birthday.

Once the drum roll of the smash hit single with Janelle Monae,  We are Young, commenced, it was the climax of the night, while each one of the audience sang along so loud. Encouraged by Ruess 'Carry me home tonight'-the left side of the venue chanted, while the other half added a layer on the tune by humming  'nah nah nah nah na na.", I  pressed a shutter to capture the moment in my heart while nostalgically remembering their show back in March during SXSW. As it came closer to the end of the song, the venue was to explosive with the screams of excitement. 

April 22, 2012

Sonic Boom Record Store Day - April 21, 2012

As part of International Record Store Day 2012, Sonic Boom invited a string of bands which comprised the best elements of the Toronto indie scene to date. The free show brought in large crowds and left me with an air of nostalgia - This is how record stores must have been in the heyday of vinyl records. Not to say that record stores are dying or that the colourful characters that like to peruse the thousands of obscure cd's and vinyls on offer are in vast decline but it's a digital age that we live in and independent record stores must have felt the pinch that is the intangible immediacy of online music stores coupled with music piracy.

From 1pm on this particular Saturday afternoon Sonic Boom was transformed into a busy hub of music fans both young and old, eager to get up close and personal with the impressive acts on offer. Sonic Boom did a great job of hosting the event, offering free pizza and good prize give aways. It was very all refreshingly welcoming. Something unique to Sonic Boom and Toronto in my opinion

It's not often that you get to be so intimate with the acts but it certainly felt different to be crammed into the isles between the record bins, leaning against The Very Best of Kenny Rogers vinyl while having The Darcys ferry their equipment to the stage. It's refreshing. It gives the man on the street and in fact the bands themselves an opportunity to interact in the perfect setting.

The Darcys shoehorned their gear onto the small stage backed by a surround of mirrors. It's a far cry from the setting of some of their recent shows but in that way it had its own charm. They played a short but impressive set of elctro-prog-art-rock. Mike le Riche put in a particularly impressive performance of musical multitasking partially hidden by the PA system. If you think that this sort of show wouldn't include as much vigor as another more high-profile show the sweat soaked shirt of  vocalist Jason Couse would carry a pretty strong argument.

Born Ruffians followed The Darcys after a short intermission. I must admit it was the fist time I'd ever seen this band, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Luke Lalonde got the set underway with a solo performance of a song which I do believe is part of his solo project (sorry I didn't catch the name of the song, shameful and unhelpful I know!). The rest of the band looked on patiently as he expressed his fine musicianship with narrative lyrics and a smooth familiar vocal performance. For me it was the highlight of the day. The rest of the band provided great support to Lalonde's talent in the songs that followed. I felt that the band really made an effort to engage with the few hundred people that had gathered by that time. Their cheerful relaxed style was easy on the ear and left the crowd content with this unique experience.

Written by Nicholas A Mitchell

April 19, 2012

Q +A: the Jimmyriggers

Bands are transient beings; people will always come and go. It’s just the nature of the beast.- The bassist, also one of the founders of the band, David Perce acclaimed. Montreal based alternative country band, The Jimmyriggers have undergone significant transformations in the past few years with the departure of their past members and the new addition of  Kevin Moquin and Lewis Handford. The quartet evolved not only as a band, but also its sound, while the budding chemistry amongst the members has enriched their tasteful melodies. With the last release, I Stand in the Weeds, The Jimmyriggers have been on the radar of many media outlets, including Exclaim! magazine, quoting them as "Canada's truest contribution to the alt-country genre." However, their quest has just started, while crafting their own sounds and  galvanizing their audiences. The members of The Jimmyriggers kindly answered questions for Music Psychos in the midst of their busy schedule. Check it out: 

1. What does the band name, “The Jimmyriggers” mean?

David: The word “jimmyrig” is an adaptation of jerry-rig, or jury rig. It essentially means to build or fix something without the proper tools. When I came up with the name, more than anything I liked the way it sounded. But it made sense for us too when we first formed the band several years ago. At the time we were a trio of musicians with diverse and somewhat dissimilar musical interests. But somehow when we played music together, we stood up, and sounded good. The band was essentially jimmyrigged.

2. The formation of the band (duo) was led by open mic sessions that David and Andre had participated. What was the biggest factor that made you decide to work with each other? What motivated you the most to work with him?

David: I can't say there was any one thing that made us want to work with each other, it sort of happened gradually.

Andre: We each collaborated with different musicians, and had our own separate projects for a short while between the time we met and when the Jimmyriggers first formed. But we often went to see each other's shows because we had struck up a friendship through playing at open mics.

David: What was noticeable about Andre from when I first heard him sing is the power in his voice, and its distinct tone. It blends well with mine. I suppose what drew me to want to perform with him was how good we sounded when we sang together. Then again, he makes everyone he sings with sound great.

Andre: From my perspective the band formed around the same time that alt-country was becoming a more important influence in my own songs. There weren't all that many people around that I knew who were interested in blending rock and country in a way that I didn't find kitschy or gimmicky. David's material seemed to suit mine fairly well, so it seemed natural to collaborate.

David: That’s a good point. Our tastes in music seem to overlap at just the right spot.

3. With the changes of members between the debut album, “Traveling Salesman, Killer on the Run...” (2007) and the new album, “I Stand in the Weeds”, (the departure of Ram Krishnan and the new addition of Kevin Moquin and Lewis Handford), what has been the biggest impact on The Jimmyriggers? What dynamic(s) has changed on the stage or live performance with new members?

David: Well the biggest change is that we’re now a four piece, so our sound is a little fuller. But with the benefit of hindsight I would say that there was very little impact on the band itself. We kept playing shows, and singing our songs, and having just as much fun if not more, only with different people. Bands are transient beings; people will always come and go. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Andre: It should be mentioned that before Kevin and Lewis came on board we'd already started to change our approach when working on new material. We played with R.D Harris for about six months before we even started working on the second record. And compared to the early years of the band we started to spend more time jamming and letting the song arrangements develop gradually, whereas in the band's first incarnation we tended to come up with our arrangements fairly quickly. So far the more measured approach has continued with Kevin and Lewis.

David: That’s true; there was a transition period after Ram’s departure where we took our time getting things organized before making “I Stand in the Weeds”. But since its release we've been on a few tours and I think we're starting to hit our stride. We also made sure to take our time to find the right musicians to play with. And both Kevin and Lewis fit right in, not only for their musical abilities, but also because they're great guys who are fun to hang out with.

4. How was the recording process of “I Stand in the Weeds”, with a producer, Mark Goodwin and drummer, R.D Harris?

David: It was a lot of fun. I personally learned a lot from working with Mark, somebody outside of the band who could listen objectively to our songs and find ways to improve them. And Robert was just the drummer we needed to make this record too. He worked really hard on our getting the right rhythm for our songs and I'm very proud to have worked with him.

Andre: Yeah, we benefited enormously from having Mark's input in terms of arrangements, instrumentation and composition (Mark wrote the string and choir parts), as well as his playing abilities. We took the care to develop the songs fully, and as mentioned Robert went to great lengths to ensure that each song had it own particular flavour in terms of the drum sound. While we tried to be as prepared as possible when recording the bed tracks we took a rather more spontaneous approach in the overdubs. The guitar overdubs in particular were a lot of fun - we had no real time constraints so Mark and I recorded a whole slew of things and just used what worked best.

5. How would you describe the difference between Montreal and Toronto music scene?

David: I've always been impressed by how willing people in Toronto are to support live music. This isn't to knock the Montreal crowds - there are a lot of people in Montreal who support independent music and we're extremely grateful - but it seems like if you placed a dance club with a DJ next to a live music venue in Montreal, the club would always win out.

Andre: There's some truth to what David is saying but there's also a lot more bands in Toronto, so I imagine it's more competitive. As far as playing goes, there isn't much difference to me.

Lewis: I find that there are many differences between the Toronto and Montreal music scenes. Montreal has a very definitive French music scene that is quite successful and self contained. Aside from the obvious bands like The Arcade Fire, Sam Roberts Band, and Broken Social Scene, who have had great national and international success, there are numerous francophone bands that have found a lot of success in this city and have a very strong Quebec following. These bands stem from a culture that has a long history of change and continues to struggle and maintain its French identity. I have only spent a small amount of time in Toronto but from my experience I have found that the music scene there has a strong connection to the rest of the country. There is a lot of history and connection to the great songwriting and performing talents of Canada such as Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, Neil Young, and Dallas and Travis Good (of The Sadies) just to name a few. They have all spent time there and honed their craft in the local scene yet maintain that national “Canadiana” identity.

6. In the past, you guys have toured mainly in Quebec and the East Coast. Do you have any festivals or place/cities that you would love to play?

David: I like touring so I’m willing to load up the van and drive to wherever people would like to have us play. It would be fun to play SXSW...

Andre: Anywhere's fine I suppose, but I do prefer small to medium sized rooms and would rather avoid outdoor playing entirely.

David: I can understand that to a certain extent. We’ve played a few outdoor shows and the sound quality can be a bit unpredictable.

Lewis: I have had the pleasure of touring Canada numerous times and seen a very diverse number of venues and festivals. I absolutely loved the Winnipeg folk festival. I had the pleasure of seeing The Levon Helm band perform while I was there and I have to say that it is one of the best run festivals in North America. Aside from that; I find that theatre shows are the best venues to play. They have the ambiance of a large venue yet feeling of the room is very intimate.

7. Do you have any albums or artists that you are currently listening to?

David: Right now I'm spinning Sarah Burton's “Mayflower” (she's Toronto-based - go see her!). And Sarah Jane Scouten's “Magpie Waltz” is still getting a lot of airplay in my car.

Andre: Bob Dylan's “Time Out of Mind” and “Soul Journey” by Gillian Welch, but there's a vinyl record fair in a couple of weeks, so I think some garage rock or early proto-punk might be in order.

Lewis: I have a few artists I am listening to right now. Kathleen Edwards new album “Voyageur” is on steady rotation on my iPhone but I also am a vinyl addict and my latest record I am digging is Queen: Live. It’s a 2 record album from their 1979 European tour. They're probably near the top of my top 10 favourite bands.

8. What's next for the Jimmyriggers?

David: We've got a ten day tour of Ontario coming up at the end of May, including two shows in Toronto the week of the 21st. We're also keeping our fingers crossed that somebody drops out of the Montreal Jazz Fest because apparently we aren't too far down on the short list.

Lewis: We also hope to tour more around Ontario as well after these upcoming May dates, and we aren’t ruling out making a few weekend trips to the Maritimes throughout the summer.

Thank you guys so much! The Jimmyriggers are rocking out at Silver Dollar Room on Friday, April 20th with Lee Mellor and the Key Frames. What else can I ask for aside from good music and drinks on Friday night! I hope you can join me! 

April 17, 2012

NXNE announced the first round of lineup for 2012

One of Toronto’s biggest music/film/ interactive festivals, NXNE, unveiled the first round of this year's lineups. It includes The Flaming Lips, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, Bad Religion, Mathhew Good, Of Montreal, Purity Ring, The Men, Death Grips, Metz, The Black Belles, Yamntaka//Sonic Titan, and more. 

I wonder if Wayne Coyne, the frontman of The Flaming Lips, will walk on the crowd at Yonge and Dundas square in his signature man-sized plastic bubble. That would be awesome to witness.  

To check out the complete list, go to the official site. 

This year's NXNE will be held between June 11th-17th across the city. The 5 days wristband is only for $50 plus HST. 

Dry the River, Shallow Bed

London based folk rock band, Dry The River have been on my radar since SXSW. It is not an over exaggerated to say that they are the hallmark of the current sentimental folk scene. Their debut studio album, Shallow Bed,  was finally unleashed in North America today, after the UK release on March 5th and their first tour in this continent. They've worked with Peter Katis (a producer of Interpol and The National) to compile a collection of 12 tracks, which is full of aesthetic melodies and layers of harmonies, enchanted with nostalgic string verses.

Their songs, including History Book and New Ceremony gradually expand its the tension, while building its momentum with Peter Liddle's angelic vocals. It leaves me with an orchestral feel at the end of the song and a tide of emotions. If you like Fleet Foxes and Midlake, you should check them out. 

Currently, Spinner is offering a free full album listening on their website. Keep your eyes on this band! 

April 16, 2012

Download Cuff the Duke's Cover Album, In Our Time

Toronto folk rock sensation, Cuff the Duke are ready to conqure the American land with the release of their latest album, Morning Comes. As a brief introduction to the band, the quartet is currently offering a free covers album, In our time via Filter Magazine. They've covered various genres from Dum Dum Girls to John Lenon and all the songs are coloured by their signature melodic folk tunes. You can grab your copy from here.

The track list is:
'Cold Blooded Old Times'- SMOG's
'Smothered in Hugs'- Guided By Voices
'Always Looking'- Dum Dum Girls
'I Hear You Calling'- Billy Fay
'Instant Karma'- John Lenon
'The Diamond Sea'-Sonic Youth

Don't forget to check out their latest album, Morning Comes. Here is a music video of 'Standing on the Edge' from the album. Enjoy.

April 10, 2012

The Rebel Spell to perform in T.O on Friday, April 13th

Do you guys remember B.C based noise pop band, SSRIs? The lead guitarist, Elliot has an on-going side project called, The Rebel Spell.

With the last year's release, It's A Beautiful Future, the hard rock/punk band is stretching their legs to the East Coast in this spring and they will stop by at the Hard Luck Bar on Friday, April 13th in Toronto. (Oh, by the way, it's Friday the 13th!!!) They can showcase Torontonians what they've gained in the last year's tour in Europe, including in Ireland, Germany, Frnce, the Netherlands and Belgium with UK Punk legends, The Restarts.

Check out their latest music video, It Can't Be Just Me.