Canadian Music Week

CMW Review: The Wet Secrets, Hannah Epperson, May 4, The Mod Club

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Though Hannah Epperson was, as she put it, “surrounded by the detritus” of the bands who would later be taking to the stage, her own setup onstage was relatively minimal. Armed with just her violin and a loop pedal, the barefoot Epperson was accompanied by Steven Foster of Omhouse on additional percussion/electronics and though there was just the two of them, they managed to create a pretty full sound, with the arrangements highlighting Epperson’s somewhat breathy vocals. She described her final song, “The Farthest Distance,” with it’s lyric, “We are the greatest distance apart” as “a fuck you to hashtag culture,” adding that real life is complicated and that you can’t simply end a conversation by adding a hashtag to it.

Taking things in a different direction after Epperson were The Wet Secrets. While Epperson sang about “all of the voices inside of your head” and about human connection, the Edmonton band sang about a different kind of human connection. “This song is about love and hate and knife fights in our hometown,” announced bassist/vocalist Lyle Bell as they launched into “Nightlife,” which mutated into an extended disco-esque jam in it’s latter half. With their horn section, marching band uniforms, and synchronized dance moves on the part of Kim Rackel and Emma Frazier, the band puts on a pretty entertaining show. It’s kind of funny to think that a band who initially started out a kind of a goofy side project has now been around for over a decade, but then again, if they keep putting out songs as catchy as recent single “I Can Swing A Hammer,” it’s not all that surprising.

Hot Docs/CMW Review: Aim For The Roses (2016, John Bolton)

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Aim For The Roses is a story about obsession. It’s a common theme for filmmakers, though director John Bolton takes an uncommon approach in his film, which is fitting since the subjects of Aim For The Roses each have rather uncommon passions and uncommon approaches to life. In a way, it’s the story of one man’s obsession with another man’s obsession.

Aim For The Roses tells the story of Mark Haney, a Vancouver musician described by friends and associates in the film as “kind of a renaissance man” who “wears interesting suits” as well as “a monomaniacal, obsessive character.” Amongst Haney’s many obsessions (which also include a passion for Archie Comics) is his fascination with Canadian daredevil Ken Carter, who made a bit of a name for himself in the 1970s and ’80s through various stunts and who apparently considered himself to be greater than Evel Knievel. We see Carter’s story unfold through some archival footage as well as dramatized segments playing out in conjunction with the story of Haney’s decision to create his own double bass concept album (also entitled Aim For The Roses) based around Carter’s life story.

It’s an intriguing and entertaining look at Haney’s creative process and inspirations, which include the creation of various characters to represent different elements of Carter’s story as well as composing a musical representation of the first 499 digits of Pi to run throughout the score. He definitely seems like an interesting character, though his quirks are perhaps topped by those of Ken Carter. After all, it takes a certain type of person to willingly risk his life multiple times for the sake of making, in Carter’s own words, “the ultimate statement.” Ultimately, Aim For The Roses is about the quest to make something more of yourself and the journey one must go through to make that ultimate statement.

CMW Mega Preview Part 2

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Here we go with the second half of our CMW Mega Preview, highlighting one band for every letter of the alphabet. Except for Q and U, because nobody really likes those letters anyways. Check out Part One here.

Mangled Meat

Based on the photo alone, this Guelph based electro-industrial artist seems like a freewheeling, fun loving sort of fellow. On the subject of CMW bands with meat-related names, honorable mention also goes out to Chicago’s Meatwave, who get bonus points for naming themselves after an Onion headline.

The former singer for Modern Superstitions takes thing in a more electronic direction for her solo project.

In a previous life, this Ottawa band was apparently known as Oompalunatiks. ooluu is a much better name, so good on them.

Sackville’s Partner put on a fun show and are pretty good at stage banter. They’re playing the Silver Dollar for 3 nights in a row, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to check them out.

Return For Refund
You might think it’s a bit obvious to make a joke about asking for a refund if you aren’t impressed by this band’s set and you’d be right … but I’m not above making obvious jokes. This should be abundantly clear by now.

Secret Guest
I love these guys! I hear they’re going out on a tour after this with TBA! (see above re: obvious jokes)

Twin Peaks
Who else is totally stoked about that Twin Peaks cast announcement that came out the other day? Maybe this band is. (Public service announcement: This isn’t the Chicago garage rock outfit, but rather two ukulele playing ladies from Fort St John, BC, which could also be good.)

Great band. Nothing funny to say here. Just go see them.

The Panic Manual wrote about this Brooklyn based electro-pop artist’s song “Homecoming” a while back, so rather than say anything more about her, I’ll just tell you to go and read that. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

X Ambassadors
I’ve never even listened to these guys, but I get the impression that they’re fairly popular and they’re one of only 2 bands whose name starts with “x” on the lineup so I basically flipped a coin. They’re also playing a hotel ballroom with Tegan and Sara so that could be interesting I guess. Or go see something at The Silver Dollar instead. Whatever, you’re going to do what you want to do and I’m not the boss of you anyways.

Yngwie Malmsteen (and also Zakk Wylde)
We close out the alphabet with two guitarists who will both be a part of the Generation Axe show at Massey Hall alongside Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi. Stop by and maybe you’ll see some Arpeggios from Hell! The most extreme!

CMW Mega Preview Part I: A Band For Every Letter of the Alphabet

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Canadian Music Week will soon be upon us once again, taking over various venues across our fair city from May 2 – 8. And because I don’t have any better ideas and it seemed to work well enough for us last year, we have decided to once again preview CMW by picking one band for every letter of the alphabet and explaining why you should spend your precious time checking them out next week … or just saying random shit about them. Here we go!

Acid Dad
He’s cool, he’s groovy, he’s tripping balls – he’s Acid Dad! OK, not really, but Acid Dad are a psych punk band from New York, which actually sounds a whole lot better than watching somebody’s Dad on acid.

No, not Scott. Rather it’s Chris Baio, taking a break from Vampire Weekend to bring us some ’80s-inspired synthpop sounds. He may also possibly be dressed somewhat like a waiter – only time will tell.

Collective Soul
C’mon and shine!

Dorian Gray
Part of the fun of fests like CMW is checking out random international bands who’ve travelled a fair distance to play some shows and Italy’s Dorian Gray, who’ve been going since 1989 and have a mildly psychedelic, mellow sound, definitely fits that bill.

Any band that defines their sound as “noise dance” is a must-see in my books. Lend these eyeballs your ears.

Fat White Family
Noisy, shambolic, and quite often in various states of undress, the Fat Whites are rock and roll at it’s best. Or worst, I haven’t quite decided yet. Either way, they’re definitely a band worth seeing during CMW.

Grown Up Avenger Stuff
Did they get their name from a piece of Robert Downey Jr. dialogue from one of those Marvel movies? I don’t know, and I’m too lazy to look it up right now, so let’s just assume that’s the case.

Holy Holy
Famed producer Tony Visconti and drummer Woody Woodmansey are known for their collaborations with the late David Bowie and they bring their tribute to the Thin White Duke back to Toronto for a Sunday night show at The Phoenix.

If Birds Could Fly
I may go see this Appalachian duo just because their name reminds me of this moment from WKRP:

JEFF The Brotherhood
This Nashville brother duo brings the seriously scuzzy rock ‘n’ roll jams. They rock. Do it up.

According to their bio, members of this Swedish five piece used to be in a progressive metal band, though they seem to lean more towards a spacious piano-based sound and list Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Mew as influences.

Lemon Cash
Based on their press photo, I assume that this Ottawa indie/pop/rock band are given to hanging out in taverns across our nation’s capital waiting patiently for someone to take their drink orders. They’re willing to wait for a few more minutes, but really, they could just take their business elsewhere, so hurry up already. They’ve got other things they could be doing, you know …

That’s enough alphabetizing of bands for now. Part 2 is on it’s way soon. Stay tuned.