Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Artist: One, Album: A Matter Of Truth, Song: Do You Feel My Love

"How do you feel my love?  Do you feel it as I walk away?"  One were a reggae/ska band from Toronto.  They formed in 1990 and released their indie debut in 1992 entitled, A Matter Of Truth.  I remember them getting a lot of airplay on a local Toronto alternative station, CFNY 102.1, as a result of their New Music Search contest.  The band had a couple of very catchy singles called, Magdelin and Time For A Change.  This was a very good indie release and it featured local artists, Chris Murray from King Apparatus (see blog 7/19/11) and Maria Del Mar from National Velvet (see blog 12/16/10).  The album was a mix of original tunes as well as covers from artists as diverse as Dr. John and Eddy Grant.  The album was actually partially recorded at Eddy Grant's Blue Wave Studio in the Barbados and Eddy plays guitar on the band's cover of his song, Do You Feel My Love.  Anyone listening to music during the 80's would be familiar with Eddy's big hits like Electric Avenue, I Don't Wanna Dance or Romancing The Stone but his catalogue both as a member of The Equals and later, as a solo artist, are top notch in my books.  The song, Do You Feel My Love, is actually one of my all time favourite tracks and One does a bang up job with it here.  You can check out the tune on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zC1HN4ngbk&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=1&feature=plcp).  The band would eventually go on to sign with EMI for their final release in 1994 entitled, Smokin' The Goats, before breaking up permanently in 1995.  Front man, Chris Taylor, who had already graduated from law school before starting the band, returned to law and is now one of the biggest entertainment lawyers in Canada.  He represents some big time artists like Nelly Furtado, Drake and Billy Talent to name a few.  He also founded Last Gang Records with another partner when he had a difficult time getting a record deal for a little known band named, Metric.  That band and the label seem to be doing fine now!  Taylor is a true visionary and it's great to see someone with such passion and drive who also came from such humble beginnings to achieve success and use that success to further independent music in Canada.  Unfortunately, this debut CD from One is a very rare commodity these days and at the time of this blog, there were no copies available on-line.  However, their EMI release, Smokin' The Goats, is available for download on Itunes and I did notice that it includes one of their earlier singles entitled, Magdelin, which is also worth seeking out.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Artist: Jimmy George, Album: A Month Of Sundays, Song: Four Feet From Shore

Jimmy George were a Celtic rock band from Ottawa, Ontario.  The 8pc band which included mandolin, banjo, accordion and fiddle players, formed in 1991 and established themselves as the nightly entertainment for a small pub in Ottawa called, The Duke Of Somerset.  However, by 1993, their energetic live presence was beginning to spread and they landed some opening gigs for The Spirit Of The West (see blog 5/28/11).  The band's growing popularity also caught the ear of CBC personality, Bill Stunt, who agreed to produce and help fund the band's debut album, A Month Of Sundays.  The album was released in 1994 and was picked up by Cargo Records and later, MCA for distribution.  The band played shows coast to coast in Canada as well as some select cities in the U.S..  Many of the members travelled to Europe as well, to busk in the streets of London and Dublin.  The band would go through a number of member changes throughout the years but the group responsible for their debut recording was Eric Altman, Joel Carlson, Steve Donnelly, Michael Eady, Jeff Kerr, Mike Lawson, J.Todd and Mickey Vallee.  The band would follow up their debut with a sophomore release in 1995 before disbanding in 1997.  The band has regrouped on numerous occasions since, to play the odd show in the Ottawa area.  You can read about them at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jimmy-George/.  You can also check out a recent reunion show on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StWKFwv3Wds).  Four Feet From Shore is one of a number of very strong tracks included on their debut recording.  You can watch the video on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_q5h3yLE7Q).  The album is a very difficult find today but there were used copies trading at Discogs for $40 and new copies from New World Cd's (http://www.newworldcds.com/) for $24.99.  The band did release a compilation in 2001 entitled, Same Shit Different Day.  That release includes a live version of this song as well and it is available for download from Tune Vault (http://tunevault.com/).  The members have all gone on to play in other Ottawa based bands.  Namely, 40 watt monkey (see blog 11/14/11) included members J.Todd and original drummer, Rob Porter.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Artist: Zumpano, Album: Goin' Through Changes, Song: Some Sun

Zumpano were a rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia.  They were Carl Newman, Jason Zumpano, Michael Ledwidge and Stefan Niemann.  They formed in 1992 and were part of the exciting new wave of nineties alternative rock that was beginning to garner international acclaim.  They signed with Sub Pop in 1994 out of Seattle.  Sub Pop had just signed fellow Canadian acts, Eric's Trip, The Hardship Post (see blog 3/24/11) and Jale (see blog 9/12/11).  Unlike those bands, Zumpano seemed to have more of an affinity with 60's inspired pop than grunge rock.  They even covered a Jimmy Webb tune for their debut in 1995.  Webb is one of the finest songwriters in American history and has penned songs for groups like The 5th Dimension and The Supremes.  The band would release their sophomore album, Goin' Through Changes, a year later in 1996 before breaking up.  Some Sun is a deep album cut from this release and you can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvkjJ0pJuao).  Carl Newman would go on to form the band, The New Pornographers, in later years and if you like that band, you will definitely find some similarities in sound with Zumpano.  Jason Zumpano has also had a few musical projects since the band's demise.  He has recorded with bands like Sparrow, Attics and Cellars as well as Destroyer.  He recently issued a solo album in 2006 under the title J.Zumpano.  You can purchase the Zumpano album, Goin' Through Changes, from Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Artist: 49th Parallel, Album: 49th Parallel, Song: Close The Barn Door

49th Parallel were a rock band from Calgary, Alberta.  They formed during the early sixties under the name Shades of Blond.  They had one single before changing their name to 49th Parallel.  The band signed with Gaiety Records (see blog 7/18/11) out of Thunder Bay, Ontario and they in turn, licensed the band's music to other labels across North America.  The band had numerous singles between 1967 and 1969 and toured all over the U.S. and Canada.  Unfortunately, they had a ton of personnel changes and as a result, their self titled debut was hastily put together using pre-recorded and released singles as well as studio outtakes.  Close The Barn Door was actually the b-side to their highest charting single, Twilight Woman, in 1969.  You can check out the track on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcrKy05bDQM).  The final incarnation of the band would eventually become, Painter (see blog 4/13/11).  Dan Lowe, the guitarist in both 49th Parallel and Painter, would go on to form the bands, Hammersmith and Prototype (see blog 8/11/10).  49th Parallel's music received a resurgence in popularity thanks to classic rock radio and Pacemaker Entertainment (http://www.pacemaker.cd/) re-issued the album in 1995.  You can purchase the album from Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Artist: Johnny Max Band, Album: It's A Long Road, Song: Too Many Fish

"She caught me on the fishing line but we didn't get to shore.  She tossed me in a holding tank, went trolling out for more.  Now throw one back into the sea, it's the sporting thing to do.  She brought you up into the boat.  Now you're in here too."  The Johnny Max Band are a blues band from Toronto.  They've had a changing cast of talented blues musicians but the steady member has always been front man and founder, Johnny Max.  They released their debut album in 2000 and have since released 5 albums.  They have been nominated for Best Blues Album Of The Year twice, in 2008 and 2011 respectively.  Unfortunately, they came up short both times to fellow Canadians, Fathead (see blog 11/5/10) and Jim Byrnes (see blog 9/27/11).  The Juno nominated, It's A Long Road, was released in 2010.  The album was recorded at the legendary Metalworks Studio.  Too Many Fish, is a wonderful southern blues rock tune with fantastic horns, clever lyrics and some of the grooviest dirty guitar I've ever heard.  This song is so cool it is ridiculous.  Johnny is a bonafide entertainer and a true music lover at heart.  He often hosts radio programs about the blues and surrounds himself with some great players.  You can check out a promotional video on the band that was released in conjunction with this album on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCNz7sgPiZ4).  You can check out the song, Too Many Fish, on You Tube as well (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5fy3cCUC7Y&blend=1&lr=1&ob=0).  You can purchase the album, It's A Long Road, from Itunes.  Johnny Max is playing shows in Ontario currently and you can keep tabs on him and the band at http://www.johnnymaxband.com/.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Artist: Esthero, Album: Breath From Another, Song: That Girl

Esthero is a singer songwriter from Toronto.  She began plying her trade at various open mic and coffee house stages around the city before meeting Doc McKinney.   The two began recording demos together and soon landed a deal with Sony's WORK label.  Esthero's debut, Breath From Another, was released in 1998 to critical acclaim.  It's laid back beats and jazz undertones meshed perfectly with the popularity of trip hop that was growing throughout the nineties.  That Girl is a very cool track with wonderful horns care of Bryden Baird who recently toured with Feist.  You can watch the video for the song, That Girl, on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ-6vzIqsg4&ob=av2e).  Her debut was nominated for Best Alternative Album Of The Year in 1999 but she lost out to Rufus Wainwright.  Esthero would switch record labels and part ways with Doc in the seven years between her debut and her sophomore album which was released in 2005.  However, the lay off didn't hurt her popularity as her list of collaborations during that period was second to none.  She has worked with just about everyone in the hip hop genre such as Kanye West, Timbaland and The Black Eyed Peas.  Esthero has been playing the odd engagement in Toronto since 2010 in anticipation of her next release,  Everything Is Expensive.  The release appears to be delayed but may finally see the light of day this year.  You can keep tabs on her at http://www.nearlycivilized.com/.  Her debut is a difficult find today.  At the time of this blog, there were copies trading on Amazon between $5 and $50.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!    

Monday, January 23, 2012

Artist: Jelleestone, Album: Thirteen, Song: Money (Part 1)

"Money can't buy me happiness but I'm happiest when I can buy what I want anytime that I want."  Jelleestone is a hip hop artist from Toronto, Ontario.  He actually split time growing up in both Toronto and the Bronx, New York.  It was in New York where he witnessed the growing popularity of hip hop for the first time.  By the nineties he was playing clubs in Toronto with his first group called, ORB ("Original Rude Boys"), which had some minor success opening for acts like Black Moon and The Pharcyde.  His big solo break would come when he released his debut single as part of a Rudimental compilation.  The notoriety ushered in a deal with Warner Brothers and the eventual release of his debut album, Thirteen, in 2001.  The lead single, Money (Part 1), was a huge hit and maybe one of the finest hip hop tracks to come out of Canada.  With it's unrelenting G-funk groove and slick production, the single helped the album gain a nomination for Best Rap Recording in 2002.  Jelleestone was also nominated for Solo Artist of the Year.  He came up short on both fronts losing out to Swollen Members and Hawksley Workman respectively that year.  He returned in 2005 with a sophomore release featuring fellow Canadians, Nelly Furtado and Saukrates (see blog 8/13/11).  You can follow Jelleestone at http://www.myspace.com/jelleestone.  You can check out the video for the song, Money (Part 1), on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rNBDQvQ-9c).  The album, Thirteen, is a very difficult find these days.  Your best bet is to snag a used copy through Amazon before the prices become astronomical.  There were copies trading between $5 and $100 at the time of this blog.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!    

Friday, January 20, 2012

Artist: Billy Newton-Davis, Album: Love Is A Contact Sport, Song: Deeper

Billy Newton-Davis is a r&b singer born in Cleveland, Ohio but who developed his successful recording career in Canada.  Before moving to Canada, Billy enjoyed some success south of the border in both music and stage.  His first gig was performing as a back up singer to Gloria Gaynor ("I Will Survive").  During his time in New York, he performed in a Broadway play featuring the late Sammy Davis Jr..  Upon arriving in Canada, he continued his stage performances but as well, began recording music.  His debut in 1986 was entitled, Love Is A Contact Sport, and it featured the hit, Deeper.  Although there was an established r&b and soul scene in Canada which even predated Billy's own success, the genre wasn't mainstream and only a few very popular artists made headlines.  Hard to believe when you compare it to it's popularity today.  The 80's changed all that though and luckily for Billy, with the release and success of this album, he became one of the more popular faces of r&b in Canada.  There wasn't even a Juno awarded for this genre of music until 1985!  I would suspect Michael Jackson's Thriller release in 1983 may have had something to do with the new award.  However, it probably should not have taken us two years to figure it out.  Nonetheless, Billy won two Juno's in 1986 for Most Promising Male Vocalist and Best R&B Soul Recording of the Year.  Not bad for a first swing.  Billy would release his sophomore album in 1989 and once again, win a Juno.  He then joined the popular vocal group, The Nylons, for a number of years.  Today, Billy has continued to re-invent himself and has had some recent success thanks to a DJ named Deadmau5.  He has a new remixed single with Deadmau5 which is due for release this spring.  You can follow him at http://www.facebook.com/billynewtondavis.  You can hear his first hit, Deeper, on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcoxWi7fODM&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=1&feature=plcp).  Unfortunately, Love Is A Contact Sport, is a very difficult album to find these days.  At the time of this blog, there was one copy trading on Ebay for $15.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Artist: The Gamblers, Album: Have You Ever Thought..., Song: Against All Odds

"Take a look at me now.  Well there's just an empty space.  And you coming back to me is against all odds and that's what I've got to face."  The Gamblers were a ska band from Trois Rivieres, Quebec.  They were Maxime Couillard, Nicolas Denis, Jean-Philippe Duranceau, Dany Guimond, Philippe Lachance, Robert Larouche and Jean-Francois Richard.  They formed in 1998 and released their first independent EP in 2000.  They signed on with legendary ska label, Stomp Records (http://www.unionlabelgroup.com/stomp/), and in 2003, released their debut full length, Have You Ever Thought....  It was a strong release that showcased the band's ability to mix various styles of music ranging from rock and punk to reggae and ska.  Unfortunately though, it would prove to be their last release as well.  The band would later change their name to The New City Gamblers.  One of the highlights from the album is a cover of the Phil Collins' hit, Against All Odds, that was featured in the 80's movie of the same name.  You can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ1W4tsU394&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=2&feature=plcp).  The band opened shows for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones as well as label mates, The Planet Smashers and The Kingpins.  They broke up in 2005 and a couple of the members joined the dance pop band, The New Cities.  You can purchase the album, Have You Ever Thought..., on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Artist: Buzzd, Album: Frog From Above, Song: Lonely Man

Buzzd were a rock band from Toronto. They were a 3pc band that included Brad Kazer (Kaiser), Barry Coffing and Dale Penner.  However, the liner notes for this particular release would indicate that a number of other artists contributed musically as well.  There are also some statements in the liner notes about the benefits of marijuana and the need to end it's prohibition.  Thus, I assume the band's name is somehow a derivative of that issue.  Musically, there isn't much written about the band but it appears as though they only had one release entitled, Frog From Above, in 2001.  The album was recorded in both Toronto and Los Angeles.  The band signed with Linus Entertainment.  Penner produced the album while front man, Kazer, wrote all of the songs.  There are some strong tunes on this release but the song, Lonely Man, is my personal favourite.  You can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUauUXML5aI&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=1&feature=plcp).  I'm not sure what happened to the band or the members following this release.  There is a Facebook page that links Kazer to some other bands like, Orchard, that were playing in the Toronto area during the nineties (http://www.facebook.com/group).  You can purchase the album, Frog From Above, on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Artist: Year Of The Monkey, Album: 68, Song: Disaster Strikes Back

"Now disaster can always strike."  Year Of The Monkey are the production team of Ron Lopata and JK Kanakis.  Both men were members of the Juno award winning R&B band, Jacksoul.  They have also worked with many artists in the Canadian music industry as session players, co-writers as well as producers.  In 2007, they decided to combine their talents under the moniker, Year Of The Monkey.  The name stemmed from the fact that they were both born in the years associated with the Chinese horoscope sign of the monkey.  They also invited some musicians along that they both had worked with in the past.  Names like the late, Haydain Neale from Jacksoul, Tomi Swick, Tara Slone (Joydrop), Lindi Ortega, Jully Black, Andy Stochansky and Lindy (see blog 11/26/10).  It is a very cool collaborative effort with some wonderful songs.  The clear favourite for myself is a track by a songstress named, Simon Wilcox (http://simonwilcox.com/).  She is actually the daughter of famed Canadian musician, David Wilcox (see blog 9/12/10).  She has a few albums to date and actually has released the same track, Disaster Strikes, on her own 2007 release entitled, The Charm And The Strange.  The version recorded with Year Of The Monkey retains the haunting quality of the song but it isn't as delicate sounding.  You can check out the tune on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDp0paVlILY&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=2&feature=plcp).  You can read about the band, Year Of The Monkey at http://www.yearofthemonkey68.com/.  Tragedy struck Ron and JK when they lost their band mate from Jacksoul, Haydain Neale, to lung cancer in 2009.  Haydain was actually involved in a serious traffic accident just prior to his death in 2007 (the year of this release) which had placed him in a coma.  Ron Lopata has his own production company called, Keen Music, and you can follow him at http://www.ronlopata.com/.  The album, 68, is available for download from Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Artist: Bob Snider, Album: The Street Takes You In, Song: Ash Hash

"I can't remember where I put the bed.  Well I ain't moved it since '71.  I got a real sneaky feeling that I'm about to fall down.  Oh I hope I can find my way to the ground.  I'd hate to spend the whole night up floatin' around in the condition I'm in."  Bob Snider is a singer songwriter from Toronto.  While born and raised in Toronto, he moved to Nova Scotia where he began writing his own songs during the mid to late eighties.  He decided to give music a shot at that point and he moved back to Toronto.  He started busking on street corners as well as playing open stages around the city.  The musical community embraced him with open arms as did fans alike.  He released his indie debut in 1989 which was produced by former Blue Rodeo member, Bob Wiseman (see blog 1/6/11).  He was signed to EMI and released his major label debut in 1995.  He would go on to release 2 albums with EMI and the last release entitled, Words and Pictures, was nominated for Best Roots and Traditional Solo Album of the Year at the Junos in 1998.  However, he lost out to Ron Sexsmith (see blog 9/9/10) that year.  The label also released a live tribute concert in 1996 called, Poetreason.  A who's who of Toronto's independent scene at the time, had contributed songs like Moxy Fruvous, Johnny Trash (see blog 8/9/10, 1/21/11), Change of Heart (see blog 6/30/11), Kids In The Hall, The Leslie Spit Treeo (see blog 8/26/10), The Lost Dakotas (see blog 4/26/11) and The Sympathy (see blog 7/20/11) to name a few.  His songs have also been recorded by artists such as Ashley MacIsaac (see blog 7/30/11) and Strato-Chief (see blog 8/9/10).  Bob is back in Nova Scotia these days.  He has published two books on songwriting and performing and is now with Borealis Records (http://borealisrecords.com/.  He has six albums to date and you can follow him at http://www.bobsnider.ca/.  Ash Hash is actually one of the first songs he ever wrote and it originally appeared on his indie debut album entitled, You.  That album is a very difficult find today.  However, in 2001, an independent U.S. release entitled, The Street Takes You In, was released which includes this song along with a number of his other earlier compositions.  You can check out the song on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxOPL-hPLlU&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=3&feature=plcp).  It is available for download from Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Artist: Doug and the Slugs, Album: Popaganda, Song: Day By Day

"Bad news don't ruin my appetite.  Don't let the papers tell me if it's wrong or right.  I just do what I do and I do it day by day."  Doug and the Slugs were a rock band from Vancouver.  They formed in 1977 and made quite a name for themselves on the club circuit with their unique themed costume parties.  Their music was vibrant and upbeat; the perfect compliment to their quirky sideshow antics.  Before long, Vancouver's little secret was out and The Slugs found themselves selling out shows across the country.  They were signed by RCA Records in 1980 and released their debut album, Cognac and Bologna.  The lead single, Too Bad, skyrocketed to the top of the charts and in 1981, was nominated for Single Of The Year at the Junos.  Unfortunately for the band, they lost out to Martha & The Muffins (see blog 1/25/11) and their hit, Echo Beach.  The Slugs would go on to release a total of 6 albums by the early nineties.  They were Juno nominated for Most Promising Group in 1983 but again, lost out to fellow Vancouverites, The Payolas.  Regardless, the band has firmly entrenched themselves in Canadian musical history with some of the catchiest and fun rock and roll tunes ever produced.  Popaganda was their fourth release in 1984 and it featured this well known song, Day By Day.  You can check out the video for the song on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-JhtQYaKOM).  Doug and the Slugs were Doug Bennett, John Burton, Simon Kendall, Richard Baker, Steve Bosley and Wally Watson.  Sadly, frontman Doug Bennet passed away in 2004.  The band has recently recruited singer, Ted Okos, and continues to perform.  You can follow them at http://www.dougandtheslugs.ca/.  The original album, Popaganda, is likely out of print these days and very hard to find.  However, a very good compilation of the band's work entitled, Slugcology 101, was released during the late nineties and it also includes the song, Day By Day.  You can purchase this album on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Artist: The Nines, Album: Calling Distance Stations, Song: Take What You Want

The Nines are a rock band from Toronto.  The founder of the band is multi-instrumentalist, Steve Eggers.  He started the band in 1994 with the release of their first independent EP which caught on with college radio and attracted the attention of Polygram Records.  However, an actual full length release wouldn't occur until 1998 when the band released their album with The Barenaked Ladies' label, Page Music.  Since then, they have released 5 albums; their most recent in 2011 which is a collection of unreleased material.  The band has toured internationally and has gone through a number of member changes but the mainstay and creative centre for the band is Eggers.  Calling Distance Stations was their third release from 2006.  They have a 60's inspired power pop sound that would be similar to XTC and Jellyfish.  Andy Partridge (XTC) and Jason Falkner (Jellyfish) both contribute musically to this album as well.  XTC needs no introduction to most.  A major new wave band from Britain with some wonderful songs like Dear God, Senses Working Overtime as well as the classic Making Plans For Nigel.  On the other hand, Jellyfish, were only together for a few years and maybe two albums but are often reflected upon when speaking about the history of power pop.  Their debut, Bellybutton, had a wonderful song called, Baby's Coming Back, on it that I played heavily.  So certainly not bad company for Eggers to be keeping and it likely speaks to how talented an artist he is.  You can keep tabs on The Nines at http://ninespop.com/.  One very cool tune from this release is the song, Take What You Want.  You can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHTNbmojv9I).  You can purchase the album, Calling Distance Stations, on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Artist: Moonlight Graham (Greer), Album: Palookaville, Song: Time Flies

"Gotta get on an airplane and get out of here 'cus time is no longer on my side.  How the time flies."  Moonlight Graham is a singer songwriter by the name of Graham Greer.  Graham was born in Montreal but raised in the Cornwall, Ontario area.  He rose to prominence during the nineties as the front man for the band, The Barstool Prophets (see blog 8/23/10).  They signed with Mercury Records and had a string of solid albums and successful radio singles during the mid to late nineties.  They also toured Canada constantly during those years with band's like 54-40, Junkhouse, Big Sugar, Our Lady Peace and Moist to name a few.  They also opened for The Dave Matthews Band in Canada.  By 1999, the band unofficially stopped recording and touring and Graham went on to produce a record in 2003, under the moniker, Moonlight Graham.  The album, Palookaville, is a solid listen and perhaps a hidden independent gem.  The music is more alt country in comparison to the music of The Barstool Prophets although his trademark vocal styling and strong songwriting are certainly comparable.  There are so many good songs on this release and every listen seems to add more to their appeal.  Time Flies, is one such example and you can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_xTs9fkXa8&blend=1&lr=1&ob=video-mustangbase).  Graham would follow up this album with a sophomore release in 2009.  However, this time he chose to release it under his given name.  You can follow Graham at http://grahamgreer.com/.  You can purchase the album, Palookaville, on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Artist: The Reason, Album: Fools, Song: Work With Me

The Reason are a rock band from Hamilton, Ontario.  They formed in 2003 and independently released an EP which won Best Punk Recording Of The Year at the Hamilton Music Awards.  The exposure helped the band land some gigs with other punk acts like Alexisonfire and No Use For A Name.  More importantly though, it led to the release of their debut album in 2004 with Smallman Records.  Some member changes ensued and 2007 brought along their sophomore release, which again, showed the band's sound becoming more refined and mature.  They were signed to Warner Music as a result and in 2010, their third album, Fools, was released.  It was produced by Steven Haigler in North Carolina.  Steven's resume includes production work with bands like The Pixies and Fuel.  Once again, The Reason take a huge step forward from their punk roots with this release.  Work With Me is an absolutely stunning song from this release and you can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxAQTmJb5ro&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=2&feature=plcp).  You can also check out the band playing the song unplugged in bathrobes on a hotel balcony in Calgary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPKgm5dH6tA).  The band appears to be playing shows locally at the moment and you can follow them at http://www.thereasonmusic.com/.  You can purchase the album, Fools, on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Artist: Bodega, Album: Without A Plan, Song: Don't Have A Clue

Bodega was a rock band from Toronto, Ontario.  Andrew Rodriguez was the primary member and founder of the band.  He wrote all the songs and self produced their debut in 1997.  Andrew was actually born in Sweden but moved to Montreal as a child and later relocated to Toronto.  His music has often been described as 60's inspired yet I would add very unique and hard to categorize.  His songs certainly push the boundaries of popular music and that is likely why his debut received such a favourable response upon it's release.  It led to cross Canada tours as well as a Juno nomination in 1999 for Best Alternative Album Of The Year.  Unfortunately, Bodega lost out to Rufus Wainwright.  Nonetheless, the exposure helped the band befriend former Flaming Lips' producer, Dave Fridmann, for their sophomore release in 2001, entitled, Without A Plan.  The album was produced in upstate New York and was another strong offering which featured the talents of Toronto musicians, Kurt Swinghammer and Howie Beck to name a few.  Don't Have A Clue, is the hardest rocking song on the album and perhaps in their entire discography.  It is the polar opposite of 60's inspired pop music and it clocks in just under 2 minutes.  It's one of those tunes that you wish was 4 minutes in length.  You can check it out on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1GAiIGjyJo&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=3&feature=plcp).  The band would break up following this release and Andrew would begin to release music under his own name.  He released his first full length album in 2007 and appears to be still playing and recording.  You can follow him at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Rodriguez/.  He also worked with Sam Roberts on his debut single, Brother Down, and joined Melissa Auf der Maur's band for a brief stint following Bodega's breakup.  Bodega's albums aren't widely available today but you can purchase Without A Plan from Zunior.com, CDBaby.com as well as Maplemusic.com.  Thanks for reading and enjoy! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Artist: Dutch Mason, Album: Wish Me Luck, Song: Polk Salad Annie

"You know what she couldn't cook up she'd put in a pipe and smoke it."  Dutch Mason was a blues musician from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  He grew up in a very musical family and started playing drums in his parent's Dixieland band.  A few years later, he learned guitar listening to Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis.  However, by the age of 19, Dutch was learning about the blues like most young kids through late night radio broadcasts from the U.S..  After hearing B.B. King, he traded in rock and roll for the blues.  He started gigging for a living which turned into a profession that would last him close to 50 years.  Most of those years were tough, playing bars in small towns across Canada for little or no money.  He did it for the love of the blues and because he needed to in order to survive.  He developed arthritis and diabetes during his later years yet kept performing.  In the end, he became just a vocalist and often performed from a wheelchair.  He would eventually open for his childhood idol, B.B. King, in Montreal at the Forum.  B.B. nicknamed him The Canadian King of the Blues which was later modified by a former band member to The Prime Minister of the Blues.  He has received The Office Of The Order Of Canada honour and on his 60th birthday, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien sent him a plaque wishing him a Happy Birthday from "One Prime Minister to Another".  He is a Juno winner and was inducted into the Canadian Blues and Jazz Hall Of Fame.  He has 15 albums to his credit and his last release in 2004, featured his son, Garrett Mason, on guitar.  Garrett is also a Juno award winning blues musician (http://www.garrettmason.com/.  Sadly, Dutch passed away two years later in 2006, of complications related to his diabetes.  A true legend who dedicated his life to the blues.  Much of Dutch's musical output was his own creative interpretations of other people's music.  His album in 1979, entitled, Wish Me Luck, included a very cool cover of the Tony Joe White classic, Polk Salad Annie.  You can check out the song on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL_Ia3xXdRs).  The song was also included on his last release in 2004 entitled, Half Ain't Been Told.  You can purchase Wish Me Luck on Itunes.  You can read about Dutch and his legacy at http://dutchmason.com/.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Artist: Al & George, Album: CFNY New Music Search 1992, Song: Least Machiavellian

"I am the least Machiavellian person I know."  Al & George were a musical comedy duo from Toronto.  They were high school mates, Al Rae and George Westerholm.  Al was more into the literature aspect of comedy while George was more musically inclined, but together they were a perfect compliment.  They did some touring both at home and abroad.  They were actually nominated for an award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.  They released one album in 1986 during their time together called, The Al & George Story, which featured the band, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet.  That band became quite famous for their work with The Kids In The Hall comedy troupe.  Nonetheless, Al & George's big comedic break came in the form of a song in 1992 called, Least Machiavellian.  George had enlisted the support of fellow musicians, Chris Greaves and Dino Naccarato for the recording and the song was entered in a Homegrown talent contest, put on by local alternative rock station, CFNY 102.1.  The song received some very good exposure through that contest but unfortunately, was never released because the guys decided to break up.  George would form the band Sinphonic with Chris and Dino and re-record and release the song on their debut album called, Ammunition.  But other than that album, the song was likely only ever released on the CFNY New Music Search Compilation from 1992.  It is a very difficult disc to track down these days and it featured some great bands.  Both George and Al have gone on to have very productive careers in comedy.  Al is the artistic director for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has won the Just For Laughs National Comic Competition here in Canada.  He also writes for the show, Little Mosque On The Prairie and has won a Gemini award.  George has also had success writing for shows like This Hour Has 22 Minutes.  He released 3 albums with the band Sinphonic and has two solo albums.  His 2007 release included a very popular song called, Trevor, which garnered him an overwhelming response on CBC when it debuted.  You can watch him perform it live on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N-HhIYmHeo).  You can keep tabs on George at http://georgewesterholm.ca/.  At the time of this blog, I couldn't find any copies available of the CFNY New Music Search Compilation from 1992 or Sinphonic's Ammunition release which both include the song, Least Machiavellian.  You can hear the song on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBcqcGk19sc&blend=1&lr=1&ob=video-mustangbase).  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Artist: Young Liars, Album: Colours - Single, Song: Colours

Young Liars are a 5pc band from Vancouver, British Columbia.  They create electronic pop music in the same vein as bands like France's Phoenix or Sweden's Miike Snow.  Anybody unfamiliar with those two acts should seek out the songs, Too Young (Phoenix) and Burial (Miike Snow).  Beautiful stuff.  However, not to digress because The Young Liars are as good as these aforementioned bands.  The Young Liars are Jordan Raine, Tyler Badali, Andrew Beck, Angelo Ismirnioglou and Wesley Nickel.  They've been creating significant buzz on the Vancouver indie scene since 2010, playing sold out shows in Canada as well as the U.S..  Their music is both pop sensible and infectious.  They find their influences in artists as diverse as David Bowie and New Order.  They are all multi-instrumentalists and despite the electronic nature of the music, the band performs all of their music live.  They originally released their debut EP independently over a year ago but have recently signed with Nettwerk Records and a re-release is scheduled within the coming months.  The lead single, Colours, is currently available on Itunes along with some alternate mixes.  You can check out the track on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVYZKtXmA0s).  You can follow the band at http://www.facebook.com/YoungLiars.  The band is currently working on their first full length release that will hopefully be available in 2012 sometime and are also playing shows in the Greater Vancouver area.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Artist: Santers, Album: Guitar Alley, Song: Can't Shake You

Santers were a rock band from Toronto, Ontario.  They won a Homegrown talent contest put on by local radio station, Q107, in 1980, which led to their signing with indie label, Ready Records.  Santers likely stood out as one of the few hard rock bands on Ready's roster.  The label was shared by artists like The Spoons, The Demics, Steve Blimkie (see blog 2/10/11) and The Extras (see blog 9/18/10).  Santers were brothers Mark and Rick Santers along with Rick Lazaroff.  They released their debut album in 1981 and created quite a buzz both at home and abroad.  Over the course of 5 years, the band toured internationally and opened for bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Oyster Cult as well as the Scorpions to name a few.  Guitar Alley was likely the band's most commercially successful release in 1984 and their last as a band.  They enlisted the support of Rik Emmett from Triumph for production purposes as well.  Coincidentally, Rick Santers would join Triumph in 1986 for four years, eventually helping to replace Emmett when he decided to quit the band.  Guitar Alley featured a cover of Free's All Right Now which charted in many countries but the original classic off this album is the tune, Can't Shake You.  You can check out the tune on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyIiMPWsS1c).  The band actually ventured into the studio for a follow up release but it was never completed because of Rick's departure to Triumph.  However, in later years, the album eventually titled, Top Secrecy, was released along with a couple of compilations of the band's work.  Unfortunately, they remain difficult finds today and some are now out of print.  You can contact the band through their website at http://www.santers.com/ for copies of their compilation release entitled, Cold Fusion, that includes this track.  You can also purchase used copies on Ebay and Amazon of the Guitar Alley release that are currently trading between $10 and $70.  Itunes doesn't have any of the Santers' releases specifically but they do have a 20th Century Masters Millennium Collection: The Best Of Ready Records (1979-1985) Volume II which includes the track, Can't Shake You.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Artist: Mark Ripp & The Confessors, Album: Long Story Short, Song: Protected

"Most of the romance is rusted away, dust on the roadside day after day.  Been on the road so long.  Now you feel like you wanna go home and be protected.  Place where you know you belong, where you're not rejected."  Mark Ripp is a musician from Toronto, Ontario.  He started playing in folk clubs during the eighties and started his first band, The Bel-Vistas (see blog 12/1/10), by the end of that decade.  Getting your hands on anything from that band these days is very difficult which is too bad because they were really good.  Mark actually posted some old footage of the band doing a stripped down cover of Springsteen's Brilliant Disguise at a show backstage in Edmonton that is worth checking out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5azkL0sZSNQ&feature=related).  The Bel-Vistas had some successes during the nineties, touring the country and opening for acts like The Tragically Hip, Tom Cochrane and Blue Rodeo.  Their music was a blend of country and rock.  The band also secured a publishing deal with Sony Music Canada.  Mark Ripp is a hugely underrated lyricist and he continues to write and record some wonderful songs today with his new band, Mark Ripp & The Confessors.  They released their first album in 2002 and Long Story Short is their sophomore release from 2010.  The album was self produced by Mark and it includes some strong tracks like this one entitled, Protected.  You can check the song out on You Tube  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_dHwhyZdgw&list=UUppSJ2-WmKhVgELd07MXO3w&index=2&feature=plcp).  Mark is currently working on releasing a follow up album in the coming year.  You can keep tabs on him at http://markripp.com/.  Mark also has his own You Tube channel where he has posted some of his work.  An edited version of the CD release party for this particular album from 2010 which was held at the Cadillac Lounge in Toronto is posted on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFH-FpHUdDk&feature=bf_next&list=UUzgZubjm5G0I1WIlIKAZg7A&lf=plcp).  The song, Protected, closes out the video montage.  You can purchase the album, Long Story Short, on Itunes.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!