Friday, 1 March 2019

Wine Lips

Wine Lips made a tour stop at the Mansion Thursday night (Feb 28) in support of their new record Stressor. In a killer high energy bill supported by local juggernauts The Straight Teeth and the Meringues, the show was an unstoppable sonic locomotive. The Wine Lips are a potent trio that blends three distinct ingredients into their rock n roll cocktail that will leave you staggering. Guitar and vocals are handled by Cam Hilborn, a kind of Boogie Nights meets Dazed and Confused character...stoner porn star if you follow. His reedy voice and crisp crunchy guitar dominate the upper mid range leaving the bottom for Richard Stewarts relentless funkerocious bass. Imagine Jack Black and Flea had a love child who was in a Bad Brains cover band and you have half an idea of what Richard brings to the show. There is zero slop in the playing in spite of stage spanning swagger and passion, and this weapon grade blend of raw energy and mechanical precision is perhaps most acutely displayed by the drummer. Aurora Evans draws immediate comparison to Ginger Baker if painted in the broadest strokes. Redheaded basher with serious chops backing a three piece powerhouse. But I would argue the Baker comparison undersells this player. She swings like a sledgehammer, but keeps time like swiss watch. She thunders nonstop filling every available moment with killer fills but holds down the bulk of the groove with a piston pulse and never misses a stroke. I would imagine you would only get this combination of power, speed, raging feel and quantum precision if Optimus Prime played drums for Motorhead. Wine Lips, they are eclectic, they are electric, they are heavy, they are fun. Check out the LP Stressor, or their video for Electric Lady here. This is what is going on.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Cleopatrick: Making It Happen In 2018

On June 23, 2017 I dropped by the Mansion to see a band VooDoo Rockfest Organizer Joe Matthews was excited to have playing his festival that year. A two piece rock band out of Coburg, a formula that is popular among young bands if only because it means splitting the door less ways, and less gear to carry. I was surprised to see the band playing in the dining room, and not upstairs on the main stage. This is where a local singer/guitar player will play a Monday night as a residency gig, not touring rock bands. But these were young dudes from Coburg just starting out, so they played to a dozen or so people if you include the bar staff and the supporting band. I reviewed that show saying

"...they take the best of Sabbath's killer riffing and apply Zeppelin's musicality and Soundgarden's sensibilities with infectious hooks that grab you right in the guts and drag you into set. You can't ignore this band. You shouldn't ignore this band. I am going to pay very close attention to this band."

I wasn't the only one who noticed Cleopatrick's talent, since that show the world has figured it out too. Their Spotify account blew up with 22K followers, 750K monthly listens and over 18 million plays for their top 10 songs. So on December 7 2018, scarcely 18 months after their humble downstairs show for more empty chairs than cheering fans they are coming off a 3 month tour of 33 dates in 5 countries spanning both sides of the Atlantic and returning to a packed crowd on the main stage of the Mansion before playing two nights in Toronto having sold out their original gig at the Jam Factory. (If that seemed like a lot to say in one sentence, that was a lot to do in one year) The journey from the first floor to the second floor by way of Europe, the internet, and a shitload of rock n roll.

 In their own words "fuck whatever you think rock is, it's different now". Cleopatrick ladies and gentleman, this is what is going on.

Friday, 23 November 2018

American Rage

American Rage
The Wilderness

From the opening bass drone, you know this isn’t your average Wilderness tune. Usually a fun, relatable, gritty rock band that knows how to throw a party everyone is welcome at, that all changes with their latest single American Rage. Suddenly I find myself using words like weight, anger, insight, commentary, reaction and power. Jonas’s voice while always musical has never growled with such earnest discontent. Gone are the references to late nights, long roads and beers drank. In their place are potent religious images, stark observations of a toxic culture, and dark foreshadowing of things to come. Life on the road touring the US and Canada in the Van Of Misfit Boys as given these guys more than a tighter set and some wild stories. The miles and the years, the cities and the people have left a mark on their souls and their music. Maybe even a few scars. This is a hard hitting track, with braver chord progressions, heavier drops, more powerful emotions than anything The Wilderness has brought to life thus far. It is a serious evolution, and I am seriously impressed with it. Some songs are best heard live in a room full of people all singing along, but this is one you will want to put on the headphones and really let it take you on it’s journey. The Wilderness live show has reached exciting new heights in the last year, their recorded music has acheived new depth as well. These guys should be really proud of this one, I am confident it will resonate with listeners. This is what is going on.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Life As A Vampire
8-Bit Heroes

8-Bit Heroes is the latest musical project from the prodigious multimedia creator and Factory co-founder Justin Holland. Holland takes the mic with Sean Davey on drums, Aidan Morris on bass, Ira Smith and Matt Clarke on guitar in the radio ready rocking pop punk powerhouse. Their first video has dropped with Life As A Vampire, and don’t let the 8-Bit lofi moniker fool you, it is music video as cinematic short with the level of technical professionalism we expect from a Factory production. Having done broadcast quality videos for the likes of Forty Seven Teeth, Goldwing, Brielle and LUK it’s not like there isn’t a wealth of experience and expertise behind this outing. The video is the high energy, tongue in cheek story of Jack (sexy Dennis Clark) being turned undead by his demonic girlfriend (sexy Kat Cross). Inter-cut with performance footage of the band in action the video serves as an excellent introduction to the sound, style and ambition of this project. 8-Bit Heroes is a professional grade band with a radio ready sound, a broadcast ready look, and star shooting goals. Look out for them as they blast out of the gate, this is what is going on.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Dancing In Dive Bars

Dancing In Dive Bars
The Wilderness
Listen HERE

Wilderness releases a new single, co-written by Kody Paul but still 100% true blue Jonas. A slice of the lowlife song that betrays so much about the man, transplanted from Canterbury these many years Jonas is a Kingston boy now. He may slip in the accent on the word dancing (dawnsing) but the song is so grounded in townie life you can almost smell the old Toucan carpet by the second verse. The song could easily be snuck into a set by the Bruce Springsteen cover band that plays too loud and none of the sweat-soaked flat-broke revellers would even notice. It’s fun and familiar, like walking into your favourite neighbourhood pub and having the bartender know your name, and not to ask for money until midnight when the your paycheque hits your bank account because like you he’s been here before. We’ve all been here before, dancing in dive bars.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Wilderness cements itself as Kingston’s answer to New Jersey working class folk rock like our very own Jonas Springsteen and the Queen Street Band. Adding the sexy sound of saxophone with newcomer Nick Lennox, the now 6 piece has layers of power and emotion in their sound as well as their lyrics. Always authentic, always real, the band releases a new video for their song  Hurry Up And Wait that captures them at their rawest, sweatiest, tiredest, rockingest, laughingest best. Friends together on a journey both harrowing and joyful, gruelling and uplifting. Shot during their recent northern Ontario tour, it couldn’t be anymore Canadian. Songs that could be the soundtrack to any one of a million late nights that ended in cold mornings The Wilderness gives as a real good feel alright rock song, with a hint of a reggae groove to keep you going like an extra large double double at a truck stop Timmy’s halfway to nowhere Ontario. Check em out live at the Brooklyn, recorded or in video. This is what is going on.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Record Deal Ushers In New Age

In a move that will reinvent popular music, industry veteran Cliff Fabri forms brand new record label and signs alien grade genius artist Konig.

What happens when a  jock with a play-to-win attitude and the confidence that goes along beating the opposition by playing harder and smarter gets involved in the music business? Whether it was promoting shows, managing bands or developing new recording artists, Cliff Fabri has never cared what other people think he’s “supposed” to do. He does what he thinks is going to give him the results he wants. Bodies at shows, paying gigs for his bands, chart success for his artists. Cliff understands that music is a business, but it’s a wild one. It is driven on the all sides, whether it’s the talent, the audience or the executives, by fragile egos and fickle tastes. It is a creative industry, and that carries through all aspects. Writing, performing, producing and promoting all need to be constantly reinvented and pushed into fresh new directions. Cliff isn’t afraid to push. In fact if you ask him why he thinks his most famous client Avril Lavigne exploded the way she did, he will tell you that was her secret too. She was driven, oblivious to expectations and not afraid to push. Together they took the scruffy country singer from Napanee and turned her into a pop punk princess with multiple chart topping records. Sports also taught Fabri something else, be on a winning team. Whether it was working with the Matrix, Joshua Sarubin or LA Reid, Cliff knows he isn’t going to do anything alone. Put the right people in the right positions and push down the field taking every yard until you hit the endzone. There is no trophy for second place.

Nadia Pacey is a wonderfully strange talent with a mind as creative as it is expansive. She is not a musician, although she sings wonderfully and writes music in multiple genres. She isn’t a filmmaker but her videos are slick, stylish and original. She isn’t a baker but she makes an incredible blueberry pie. Nadia is a creator. She is a wellspring of cultural artifacts. A diverse and prolific media forge. One of her creations is Konig, an act of meta-self-actuallization, as Konig is Nadia. Konig sings with a voice of pure innocence, catchy slowburn dreamy pop songs full of bizarre and dark imagery. She appears on stage with a chair and a sheet and plays pretend like a child. Or in a caricature of hyper maturity with a stuffed butt and bra and her sexy friend Kelly who does an amazing trick. No matter her stage show the music is beautiful and haunting and catchy and fun. You will leave any of her shows wondering what you just saw, how much of it was real, and singing one of the choruses that wriggled inside your brain. There isn’t anything you could easily compare Konig to, because there is no one quite like Nadia. She is original and bold and doesn’t follow any of the rules or meet expectations. She plays with convention like it was toy, for fun and without malice.

Link to Konig's original indie video for Point of Light

Cliff has been helping his friend Mark Monahan promote the Ottawa Blues Fest. In tandem with the world class event he has built a talent contest called She’s The One. The event is designed to attract and showcase fledgling musical talent. Always looking for the next play, Cliff openly admits it doubles as an audition to be his next pop project. Working with Kingston industrialist Greg Rosen, whose fortune was made in steel and real estate, Cliff has started his own record label - PS Records. Along with top industry connections made throughout his illustrious career, Cliff has assembled a championship franchise team. The endgame is global market penetration and chart topping success. Good isn’t good enough; the goal is to be the biggest and the best. For a man who once stood in an office with Jimmy Iovin looking at a first gen prototype of the Beats headset he would eventually sell to Apple for $3 Billion, the pinnacle of success isn’t as impossible a dream as others might think. Never be afraid to push, up and out and beyond.

History will marvel at the sheer good fortune that a man with global ambition and an international career would just happen to operate out of the same small Canadian city as a singularly talented and potentially world changing artist. But there you have it, if this were a work of fiction this part might seem a little far fetched, a little too convenient to be real. And yet it is. Cliff saw Konig perform on a tiny stage in a bar in Kingston in front of 40 people, many of whom weren’t previously aware of her work. As is usual at any Konig performance there was a flurry whispered “oh my god” “she’s so good” “this is really unusual” “is this some kind of performance art thing”. Sitting quietly by himself at the back of the room, Cliff saw something else. Originality, talent, fearlessness, charisma. You can’t teach those things. You can’t buy them either. But if you’re really smart you can recognize them in their rawest form and align yourself early their development. That was exactly what he did. Nadia Pacey, Konig, was signed to PS Records in the spring of 2017. For the first time in her career she will create with a team, collaborating with some of the most accomplished minds in the industry. The most genius of which will be wise enough to allow her to do exactly what she needs to and only polish where her technical expertise falls short. This project will generate interesting and enjoyable original music. That is a certainty. But to those of us who have been watching these proceedings the closest, there is a very real chance something much more important could come of it as well. The music business is in crisis and is changing, it needs to reinvent itself to remain relevant in the coming decades. There is enough talent, motivation, vision and resources in this partnership to stewart that transition and be the catalyst for the future of popular media. 

You don’t agree? $3 billion for a pair of headphones. This is what is going on.