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Night Marcher – Modern Maze – Album Review

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Modern Maze cover by Shaun Thomas

Salt Lake City’s Night Marcher, piloted by Rob Reinfurt, tours the genres of nostalgic rock music from folk to psychedelic on their latest album Modern Maze. The record hears Reinfurt fronting on guitar and vocals with Austin Nicholsen (Leftover Cuties, Brightside) on bass, Shaun Thomas (The Weekenders) on drums and Peter Adams (Macy Gray, John Oates, Josh Groban) tickling the ivories. Staying true to their name, Night Marchers according to Hawaiian legend are the ghosts of ancient warriors, the sound is exotic yet familiar.

The first song “Scars” has a slow, thoughtful folk feel while its predecessor “Broken Path” is strongly gospel influenced. They really drive the old-school vibe home on “Saint,” riffing in unison like GFR. “Holy Ghost” takes a newer spin on the sound, with indie rock vitality not unlike The War On Drugs, whereas “Shoved” sounds like a Jack White-collab with The Sheepdogs. 

Jazz themes prevail along with the blues on closing tracks “Screaming Jesus” and “Kro,” finishing the album with a practiced, nuanced heartache vibe. Closure is a fickle thing for a record, as an artist you want to give the sense that the story has ended but the tale is not yet finished and Reinfurt’s Night Marcher hits that metric quite successfully. 

Night Marcher 1 credit @thevortman


Divinity Roxx – ImPossible – Album Review

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DivinityRoxxImPossibleCover_ITUNES

The people behind pop music rarely get enough attention and recognition, that goes double for bass players. Divinity Roxx has earned a name as musical director and bassist for Beyoncé, bassist for B.o.B., and playing in front of President Obama to name a few. The latest record, ImPossible, finds her once again stretching her solo talents and pushing out some amazing bass-driven funk-pop that certainly proves how much you can accomplish with just a bass and a knack for pop.

The sad voicemail that starts “Miracle” gives a dark opening to the album’s funk-driven pop. “Break Down These Walls feat. Anhayla” opens on some heart-wrenching piano and even more rapid vocals from Roxx. The track epically builds to its intense chorus full of vigor and powerful drumming.

Roxx let’s loose another prolific bassist groove on “Can It B SO Hard feat. Victor Wooten” where bass fills and solos give the song a rare energy. The track mixes dark riffs with catchy reggae choruses to make a truly one-of-a-kind tune. “Stinger (So Real)” runs on a sturdy bass line, guiding the song well on its own. The chorus mixes catchy lines with dark lyrics to craft an ambivalence few artists are willing to try.

Clacking drumstick create a sense of urgency on “We Are” and Roxx does her best between her voice and bass alone to build the energy to her catchy solos. The added instrumentation to the final chorus section of the song is subtle and effective but unfortunately the last chorus does overstay it’s welcome by the time the song ends. “The Book” provides a quick little break, full of jazz guitars and some sultry lo-fi vocals.

There’s a fun call and response on “WhachaDoiNWhereUATWhoUWit feat. Derrick Baskin and Daniel J. Watts” that mixes into harmonies later in the track for even more playful vocals. The horns sound like a slow jam take on a James Brown horn section, and the rap solo by Watts is a great surprise. The driving keyboard riffs of “Question feat. Derrick Baskin” are a little disorienting, but they become background noise up next to the delightful harmonies and bass grooves. The lyrics like many on this album are wonderfully personal and feel genuine on every line.

Roxx’s bass pedigree is obvious on the stellar riff of “Let U Go” which is so funky it has Shaft overtones at times. The bass turns up the funk hits on the chorus where it does more work than the rest of the band combined. “Hey U feat. Daniel J. Watts” finds Roxx taking a back seat for Watts’ spoken word discussion on racial issues. The background vocals from Roxx and the arrangement she provides for Watts leaves a great groove for him to rap over.

Just When U Think feat. LD” drives on a killer bass riff, matched a great chorus of child singers. Roxx’s vocal sections are fast and vicious and the verse from LD are a deliciously playful throw to universally accessible issues of adulthood. ImPossible ends on the Spanish-flavoured “I Like It feat. Yani Marin” with the authoritative vocals of Marin and Roxx’s non-stop attack of vocals playing to the beat hard. The instrumentation creates a seductive groove to move to and every time the guitar jumps on the riff the attitude jumps up a notch.

DivinityRoxx Ian Frank Photo


Post Death Soundtrack – The Unlearning Curve – Album Review

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The Unlearning Curve

Post Death Soundtrack’s newest LP The Unlearning Curve takes familiar sounds and vibes and combines them in a way you have never heard, nor felt, before. With members living literally across the country, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, this is the band’s second release, following up 2008’s Music As Weaponry.

Kenneth Buck, Steve Moore and Jon Ireson are Post Death Soundtrack, a group that challenges genre definitions and music’s own limitations, attempting to create something that is completely transcendent. The sound is electronic and organic, new and old, nostalgic yet unusual.

The Unlearning Curve sounds like the child of psychedelic rock and dream pop parents. “That Which Is” starts the record slow and groovy, reminiscent of The Cure, it feels like that eerie calm before a heavy storm. Followed by “You Can’t Go Back Now,” the track gives us some on point vocal harmonies and a playful electric guitar riff that dances around them. As listeners we are becoming accustomed to the Post Death Soundtrack sound and this interesting mix of electronic noises is indicative, culminating in a controlled chaos of an ending that is wonderfully jarring. The song “Beauty Eyes I Adore” is the most unconventionally conventional pop track on the record with more grounded vocal harmonies and some wild electronic noises, here’s lookin’ at you Bowie. “Little Alice” features a Sergeant Pepper sound-alike followed by some heavy grunge guitar. A beautiful piano tune accompanied by some really cool vocal parts, “Through the Gates” sounds like a dream drifting on the edges of a nightmare. “Dance with the Devil” is a chill track peppered with synth tones, that could easily be the next great song ruined by too much radio play. The concluding track “Transform in While Light” sounds like an iconic 80s pop song and puts the album to bed with a solid conclusion that still leaves listeners wanting more.

The Unlearning Curve in its entirety is very well paced. Conceptually, we get the feeling that the story/record/piece of art as a whole is moving forward, and exploring new possibilities along the way. The album is available for your listening pleasure on May 27.

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THE SCENE


The Starved – Pretty Liar – Album Review

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Dark psychedelic rock records are few and far between these days, with Iggy Pop‘s latest and possibly final record slowing down similar records from both Queens Of The Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys, but for those looking a good fix of moody punk rock, Toronto’s The Starved can feed your hunger. Their debut EP Pretty Liar, even has touches of Pop, no doubt thank vocalist/bass player/producer Norelle French‘s time working with producer Mark Howard, who’s produced Pop before. This production quality permeates the album, on a record where sound takes the centre stage.

Mobious Crashed” opens the album on a dark surf-rock note, with reverb and distortion-laden guitars providing a moody background for the vocals. The song mixes parts “Secret Agent Man” and bands Cold Beat and Veronica Falls to create a mysterious feeling, emphasized with overdriven echoed vocals that close the album out. There’s an instant Iggy PopNightclubbing” feel to the drums that open “Pretty Liar,” but the song moves past that to a bass-chugging punk-blues track that pushes its attitude with distorted harmonies and heavy guitars. The song’s outro of “Fake” chants perfectly close with brutal anger.

The drums at the start of “Slaves Of Time” are sublime, and set the mood for the tracks cloudy mix of riffs and heavy bass. Vocal lines ring off catchy at every section of the song, and the band’s effortless ability to set the mood is at its strongest here. The song slowly evolves, adding choruses to empty riff sections and slowly cranking the suffocating bass up until it permeates every section of the track. “Past Tense” keeps the surprises coming, opening on an ear-catching drum and bass intro that finds the rhythm section stepping their game up, and a synth that suddenly appears but feels perfectly at home. The track mixes a dash of Misfits into the band’s sound matching their tone perfectly and their cover art even more, but the track never feels too derivative but more inspired and fun than anything else. One point however is the vocals of this track seem a lot less powerful after the punk-distorted vocals found earlier on the album, the vocals don’t sound bad by any stretch but after the tone set by the first half of the album, it feels out of place to suddenly remove the effect.

The distortion maxes out on “Baroque” that pushes this intense feeling even more with almost tympani sounding drums. The chants of “Get out of my way” are the catchiest of the album and beg for crowd chants live. The song’s classic punk rock feeling is completed with its similarly catchy chorus of belted lines, and stray guitar notes. The album closes with a slight EDM touch on “Ode To Gorey” which keeps its dark moody sound with its grimy guitars and heavy organs. The lyrics of the song pay homage to the titular Edward Gorey, with the deluge of alphabetically dying children referencing his “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” book. The track closes the album perfectly with the penetratingly dark effects creeping up through the song until it’s all you can hear.

Pretty Liar is a focused outing for The Starved, establishing their shadowy sound very clearly and having fun with the punk-rock that drives their attitude. While the inconsistently recorded nature of the vocals may be a bit disorienting the instrumentation is always top notch and listeners will be hard pressed to be bothered for long.


Lee Harvey Osmond Canadian Tour, New Video

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Polaris Prize listed Lee Harvey Osmond, will be performing in Toronto, at Harbourfront Centre Theatre, October 1 with Terra Lightfoot, in part of his fall Canadian tour.

Osmond will be promoting his critically acclaimed latest release, Beautiful Scars, across the country. All three of his albums (A Quiet EvilThe Folk SinnerBeautiful Scars) have been listed for the Polaris Music Prize.

Produced by Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) in the intimacy of his Toronto Roncesvalle studio, the humanity of Beautiful Scars is like the warmth of blood that rushes to the cut: a sudden alive jolt in the middle of peril and uncertainty; a suspension of possibility that anything can happen next. See the full list of tour dates below:

TOUR DATES:

Sep 18 – Ottawa, ON – City Folk
Sep 19 – Temagami, ON – Temagami Welcome Centre, Bunny Miller Theatre
Sep 20 – Orillia, ON – Orillia Opera House

Sep 25 – Brantford, ON – Brantford Art Block
Oct 1 – Toronto, ON – Harbourfront Theatre w/ Terra Lightfoot

Oct 3 – Sarnia, ON – Paddy Flaherty’s Restaurant & Pub
Oct 9 – White Rock, BC – Blue Frog Studio Theatre
Oct 10 – Vancouver, BC – The Commodore Ballroom w/ 54-40
Oct 16 – Peterborough, ON – The Venue
Oct 17 – London, ON – Aeolian Hall
Oct 24 – Whitby, ON – Live Act Theatre
Nov 5 – Sherwood Park, AB – Festival Place
Nov 6 – Saskatoon, SK – The Basement
Nov 7 – Regina, SK – The Exchange
Nov 8 – Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre

Nov 10 – Lethbridge, AB, Geomatic Attic
Nov 12 – Lloydminster, AB – Vic Juba Theatre
Nov 13 – Calgary, AB – Festival Hall
Nov 14  Canmore, AB, Communitea Cafe
Nov 19 – Penticton, BC, Dream Cafe
Nov 21 – Vancouver, BC, Rio Theatre

THE SCENE


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