The art of the short but sweet record is the basis for many EPs that aren’t products of the realities early bandhood, and are perfect grounds for punk bands, heck the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ last punk-focused record was 2007’s Is Is EP. Blank Canvas by California’s Chameleon Technology, clocks in at just barely 12 minutes but packs enough in to dignify a statement of quality over quantity.
The album opens on the frantic bass of “No Safe Word” before dropping into a frantic thrash through a track so dense and fast that it’s possible to forget it’s only a minute and a half in length with everything it fits into that time. The vocals are appropriately aggressive and abrasive, and the instrumentation is both unhinged and surprisingly sophisticated for the style, but always works nevertheless. There are couple weird dips in the sound that almost seem like weird mastering defects but whether or not they are intentional they may take a few listens to not jar the listener.
Crowd call and response moments open “Serin’s Vending” which takes a slightly more straightforward party-thrash-rock path, calling to both Be Your Own Pet’s frantic playing and writing style, and even at times BYOP vocalist Jemina Pearl’s vocals in some verses. The rhythm section comes alive in a breakdown section where the drums and bass get the space to ring beautifully, thanks to a perfect recording.
“Lifestyle Science” plays a bit more fast and loose with the techniques that float over its straightforward thrash. Strangely recorded shouting vocals and burned out guitars create a feeling of post-going-over-the-top antics that still want to start a fire.
The band slows down considerably on “Self Repair” which opts for a more charming indie rock with an edge sound. The track might be the most poppy and accessible track on the record and it works quite well especially with the great mix of the reverb-laden guitars and cleaner vocals. This said even with the distorted moments it is a complete side-step from the earlier tracks that may prove a little jarring to those leaning more towards the heavier side.
On album closer “Blank Canvas” the band shifts the sound slightly closer to their punk side, while mixing in catchy riffs, and some addictive vocals. The earlier half’s bass controlled sound definitely sounds stronger than the guitar focused verses later on in the song, as the bass is buried more and more as the track goes on. Some rhythm centric bridges and freestyle drumming through verses near the end of the track freshen it up to take its final chorus with insane energy.
Blank Canvas is proof of how much talent Chameleon Technology can fit into less than two minutes, and in these small bursts they truly soar. Whether the speed, length or pop-leanings is to blame, their longer tracks while more accessible and varied tend to feel a little out of place with the fast rock and feel exceptionally long after the shorter tracks. Overall however there’s not really a bad track on the record and it more just matters which half you’d want to listen to more.
Vintage Trouble at Mavericks – Ottawa Live Review
Reviewed by Owen Maxwell
Wednesday Sept 24, 2014
California retro-soul revival band, Vintage Trouble, played their second Ottawa show this year on Wednesday September 24 at Maverick’s and they haven’t lost any steam. With support from St. Louis opener Papa Rey, the show was a trip back in time and despite the small venue the band managed to match the energy they gave at Bluesfest this summer.
Stage Presence: 3/10
Musical Ability: 2/10
Originality: 0/10 (spinning records)
Crowd Reaction: 4/10
The night got off to a weirdly paced start with Papa Rey, a radio and stage DJ from St Louis. Rey played a selection of soul, blues and rhythm and blues records perfectly in line with Vintage Trouble’s sound. Unfortunately this was less than engaging as Rey brought little to the music itself, his constant interjections (with volume lowers each time) made it hard to stick with the music and seemed almost unprofessional for a professional host and DJ. The whole thing just felt a little out of place and overstayed for a live show, where the crowd was looking for live music. That said the selection of music was sublime and the mostly older crowd engaged with it near the stage.
Stage Presence: 10/10
Musical Ability 9/10
Crowd Reaction: 10/10
When Vintage Trouble finally hit the stage the crowd was thirsty for them and by all accounts the crowd was quenched. The band walked on stage looking like they had just walked out of a time machine from the fifties and launched into their set with the prophetic “High Times (They Are Coming).” Â After that the night was a party, singer Ty Taylor was wailing and moving around the stage like a madman, and the crowd followed his every move. Taylor’s constant call and response had the concert feeling like a church sing-a-long in the best possible way, and every time he called the crowd to throw their hands in the air there was no hesitation.
Then the band slowed things down for a bit to play through the acoustic tracks from their new Swing House Sessions EP, a startling change at first considering the energy at the start of the set. The change worked well though, the songs helped spotlight the instrumentation and some of Taylor’s stellar vocals. The switch also gave fans time to recharge for the last third of the show with one of the big showstoppers by the name of “Run Like The River”. The song was full of roaring sound and back and forth’s with the crowd screaming “Run baby run!” But the song hit its highpoint right as it seemed to finish. Near the end Taylor started running through the crowd, keeping the chants going, and then just as the band was finishing he climbed up on the bar. The second the band cut out he started a clap and got the crowd chanting and as soon as the band started again Taylor was running through the crowd again and parted them like the Red Sea to return to the stage.
The end of the show was highlighted with several of Taylor’s ecstatic dance moves and a trust-fall crowd surf, the latter of which gave fans insight into how hard he was going as he had sweat heavily through his blazer, no small feat. The band ended on a professional note with a shockingly proper bow before they hilariously for the second time in months walked right off stage and through people to get to their merch table.
Photo by Lee Cherry
Interview with Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble
By Owen Maxwell
It’s not often that a band can make you feel like you just stepped out of a time machine, but California retro-revival rockers, Vintage Trouble, pull it off perfectly. The band is the real deal, playing old-school rhythm and blues mixed with a bit of rock, pulling of some amazing stage antics and some outfits lifted right from the fifties. I spoke with lead singer, Ty Taylor, about the band’s new acoustic EP, The Swing House Sessions, and where their aesthetic comes from.
The band has such energy to them, why did you decide to slow things down for an acoustic EP?
Well there are a few reasons for that. We’ve been touring relentlessly recently and our only time to write has been on the bus, meaning all of our songs have been coming out acoustically anyways. We wanted to show our fans both sides of our sound so this allowed them a peek at our writing process too. We also really loved how artists like Otis Redding or The Rolling Stones would always have that one quiet nugget on every record like “As Tears Go By” that turned them from a one-sided band into artists, we wanted to make a whole album of that kind of sound.
Many of your recordings just don’t have the incredible electricity your live sound does, why do you think that is?
On record you just can’t match the experience of a live show. You’re not only missing the visual component but the ability to play with call and response that we do live. There’s also the fact that we had only been playing together three months when we made our first recordings, it’s more practiced live than on record. Personally I think that’s how it should be; the live show should always outdo the record.
The first time I saw your band the energy and call and response you brought to the performance made it seem almost religious to me. Do you have any religious background that might explain this?
Well I was brought up going to church and I’m actually an ordained minister so that definitely plays a significant role. People want to yell though, when you give them that call and response, you are allowing them to release all that pent up energy from all the garbage they have to deal with in their life. That experience allows them a spiritual release akin to some kind of religious experience.
Not only does the band sound like they come from the fifties but you all dress that way too, where does this aesthetic come from?
Well the music definitely plays the biggest role. I always admired bands from back then who would wear suits on stage, so we’re partly emulating that. At the same time though, I also see it as a sign of respect, you wear a uniform to go to work, I don’t want to go on stage looking like I just walked off the street. If you’re wondering if this is how we usually dress though, the answer is yes. I’m wearing a shirt and tie right now and we’re not even playing for a few hours. We’re all lovers of vintage fashion so we thought we’d express that live.
Your stage antics in particular are some of the craziest I’ve seen, I haven’t heard of anyone climbing over seats on Letterman before. Where does this come from?
I like to let the music dictate what kind of energy we bring. I’ve always seen the audience as a fifth member of the band. When I start a call and response or run through the crowd, I’m getting them to play their part and energize them too. We haven’t had a single crowd let us down yet. We once had a show where an audience member jumped on stage and started dancing around and bumped into some of the equipment. I wasn’t mad though because I felt we’d brought that energy out of him and that was worth it.
Who are your major influences?
The biggest would be Tina and Ike Turner, The Rolling Stones, a bit of Led Zeppelin, Little Richard, Chuck Berry. Our sound mixes rock and rhythm and blues together so it’s mostly a mixture of that. One of our favourite modern influences was definitely Amy Winehouse though; she was driving soul for a modern audience.
What’s the best show you guys have played?
Our favourite headlining slot was playing in an old castle in Santiago, Chile. The acoustics were amazing, the crowd was diverse and alive, the atmosphere was just crazy and the excitement we could elicit from them made it unforgettable.
Our favourite show in general though is a toss-up between opening for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park which was a dream come true and opening for The Who in Madison Square Garden. The Who show will always be special for me after my nephew told me how amazed he was from our show.
What’s next for the band?
We’ll be touring for the next few months and then we’re releasing a new LP on Bluenote Records that should be coming out by the end of the winter. We love this label and playing for them has always been a dream of mine.
Photo by Lee Cherry
Ottawa Folkfest 2014 – Foster The People
Foster The People delivered to the audience a spectacle for both the eyes and ears, on the first day of Ottawa’s 2014 Folk Festival. The night of September 10 in Hog’s Back Park was cold and damp. However California indie rockers Foster The People didn’t let the weather dampen their performance in any way, shape or form.Â
As 9:15pm approached, a crowd composed of all generations flooded towards the Eh! Stage. With a light rain cooling down the atmosphere of the festival, fans were only beginning to gear up for the performance of the evening. Foster The People took the stage and the crowd by storm, emerging to a dazzling display of luminescence for their song “Pseudologia Fantastica”. Eh! Stage had been transformed to resemble a crystal cave with large translucent crystal sculptures and a vibrant, enchanting light display.
The frontman Mark Foster belted out each song with skill, as he swayed back and forth to the rhythmic lull and dancing bass lines. What was previously just a trodden down field of grass soon became the dance floor of a nightclub with the audience moving freely to the beat. Foster The People performed song after song including crowd favourites such as “Coming of Age”, “Houdini”, and their break out hit “Pumped Up Kicks”. Bassist Jacob Fink’s back up vocals accentuated the band’s performance, backed by Mark Pontius playing a pounding drum line like in the song, “Miss You”.
Foster The People are touring on the heels of their recently released sophomore album Supermodels. The Folkfest lineup this year includes Lorde, Serena Ryder, The National, Neutral Milk Hotel and many more great acts.
Review and video by Ryan Stubbs
When: Sunday, July 27th @10pm
Where: Marquee Ballroom, 2037 Gottingen Street
Def Jam Rapper YG brings the heat to Halifax this weekend. If you don’t have to work Monday then this late set is just the think you need to keep the weekend poppin. The California kid may be young but he’s had some recent chart success with platinum and gold singles included the one below featuring Drake. YG is on the rise.[youtube id=”VN4upVaDFFs” width=”620″ height=”360″]