Track Listing: A Canada Day Soundtrack

Tomorrow is July 1st, and July 1st is Canada Day.  To celebrate the country’s 148th birthday, let’s enjoy some choice Can-rock! (See what’s happening?)

City Walls – “Higher”

We’ll start with an offering from these Vancouver alt-rockers.  Hailing from Canada’s best rock city, City Walls are obviously good and “Higher” is no exception – featuring simple-but-awesome riffs and dominant drums with an all-around epic feel.

Ultimate Power Duo – “Alien Attack”

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan trio (false advertisers!!!) Ultimate Power Duo call themselves “demolition rock”, and that works.  There’s a certain frantic quality to this song, sung as if eyes are constantly darting around looking out for the…aliens, I suppose huh?  For a full blast of these guys, go read the review of the album this song is on.

Chastity – “Manning Hill”

From the Toronto suburb of Whitby, Ontario comes Chastity.  “Manning Hill” references their hometown, with a refrain of “there are houses/there are houses/there are houses and houses and houses”.  That’s very true, as Whitby is indeed totally suburban (and I can vouch as someone from the neighbouring city of Oshawa).  This is two minutes of noise that captures that good ol’ trapped feeling.

The Arkells – “Never Thought That This Would Happen”

Jumping to the other side of the Greater Toronto Area, a group at the forefront of the current Can-rock scene.  The Arkells’ third album High Noon came out last year, and features this song.  The Hamilton five-piece offer up a roughly five-minute ditty here that features beautiful keys and is inspired by a festival.

Counterparts – “Burn”

For their new album Tragedy Will Find Us (out July 24th), Counterparts signed to Pure Noise (US) and New Damage Records (Canada).  Just like The Arkells, this hardcore act is from Hamilton, Ontario and awesomely have the Twitter handle “Counterparts905”.  There’s screaming and tempo changes here man!

Jeez you know what?  We just did three “905” (area code, ‘duh!) acts in a row, so why not enjoy that region’s “Scene Specific” after this post.

Spells of Vertigo – “Baby Born (With No Brain)”

Aurora, Ontario three-piece Spells of Vertigo are releasing their debut EP Soaked on Thursday.  This song is very slow-burning and minimalist for a little over 2 1/2 minutes before kicking the tempo up a notch.  Keegan Powell’s vocals at first made me think of a Perry Farrell/Todd Kerns hybrid, but I think a better comparison might be Brian Aubert from Silversun Pickups.  Interesting track, at the very least.

The Matchup – “Welcome Tomorrow”

Alrighty, it’s Quebec time!  But, this duo sings in English – but, with definite French accents! – and are basically my heroes for playing acoustic punk.  I’ll tell you, I’ve always joked to myself that if I wrote music I would do exactly that, because who does?  Well, The Matchup.  They’re from the Montreal suburb of Sainte-Therese don’tcha know.  I’m glad they exist.

Alert The Medic – “Echo And Fade”

We’ll end on the East Coast with Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Alert The Medic.  Probably my favourite band in the city and likely the entire region, these guys run the gamut from punk-inspired blasts like “Echo And Fade” to stripped-down piano ballads like “The Weatherman (Pt. 2)”.  Since we’re, you know, featuring the former, let’s elaborate and say you may have caught it during last year’s NHL Awards.  It’s awesome, and the video starts with frontman Ryan MacDonald getting in your face about (paraphrasing) “puttin’ your fuckin’ seatbelts on, strappin’ shit in, gettin’ your Timbits (Canadian!) and coffee and settlin’ in for the day” because they’re gonna rawk.  Word. m/

There you go, some good Canadian rock music to celebrate (if you’re Canadian) or simply enjoy on Canada Day tomorrow.  Notice how we went geographically coast-to-coast with the order too?  Planned that like a boss, obviously!

Chris Carrabba: Emo’s Re-Inspired Poster Boy

Recently for Vice’s Noisey, Chris Carrabba reviewed some “emo revival” tracks that included offerings from Balance and Composure, Into It. Over It and The Hotelier.  He came away from it so inspired that he had to write, and it took him back to the early-2000s glory days of that scene’s prominence.  Those days, really, are largely thanks to him.

Dashboard Confessional was conceived while Carrabba was still fronting Further Seems Forever (the first time).  The name comes from the song “The Sharp Hint of New Tears” and the lyrics “on the way home/this car hears my confessions”.  The Swiss Army Romance was DC’s debut, released in 2000 and featuring the aforementioned song and the original, guitar-only version of “Screaming Infidelities”, which, when re-released on 2001’s The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most ended up winning a surprise MTV2 Award at 2002’s MTV VMAs.  The latter release featured a full backing band, and by 2003’s follow-up A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar Carrabba was joined permanently by John Lefler (guitar/keys) Scott Schoenbeck (bass) and Mike Marsh (drums).

Three albums later, it was hiatus time for the group in 2010.  In that time, Carrabba reunited with Further Seems Forever (who had a different vocalist on every album) and started a folk-based project called Twin Forks.  He’s still in both acts, but now it looks like we might finally get a new Dashboard album.

Although The Get Up Kids’ 1999 landmark Something To Write Home About really got the label going, it was the success of Dashboard Confessional (among others) that sent Vagrant Records to new heights.  The label was the spot for emo, indie rock and punk.  A long time ago I remember reading co-founder (and Carrabba’s manager) Rich Egan recalling seeing Carrabba perform early on as something like “he was sitting with an acoustic guitar at a hardcore show, and I thought that was the most punk thing ever”.  I wish I could find the quote, but yeah – it was a compliment anyway!

I’ve always liked Dashboard Confessional because they’re just good, but I also have some…affection?…for Chris Carrabba because several people think I look like him – I always joke that he’s my “twin brother from another mother”.  I don’t know, you be the judge – here’s me:

And see the display pic above again for Carrabba.  Overall, I can see it.  He does have way more hair than me because 1) I just got a haircut and 2) I’m thinning on top anyway (yay!) but in the face, I do get it.  We’re far from twinsies and Carrabba is way dreamier, though.  Just a couple of good ol’ Italian boys right!?

So…Chris Carrabba is re-inspired and new Dashboard Confessional music is coming.  It’ll be an anticipated return for a band that hasn’t put out anything new since the “emo revival” started, and it’s definitely something to look forward to.  Hey did you know Carrabba wrote latest American Idol winner Nick Fradiani’s song “Beautiful Life” by the way?  Oh American Idol…I haven’t really watched you since season five.

Same-Sex Marriage Legalized Across America: Rockers Who Could Benefit

The US Supreme Court made a landmark ruling today: gay marriage – or simply “marriage” now right? – is legal across the country.  There were only thirteen states (plus a contesting Alabama) that still banned it, but now it’s like “tough cookies dorks”.  And you know what?  Good.

There are many American musicians that we’ve learned are gay/lesbian/bisexual and some that might be surprises.  Obviously many already lived in a state where it was all good, but nonetheless let’s check out some artists that could now benefit no matter what from this ruling:

Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees)
Pansy Division (except Joel Reader)
Jess Bowen (The Summer Set)
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day, although he’s already married to Adrienne)
Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear)
Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend)
Martin Sorrondeguy (Limp Wrist)
Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!, who is transgender and presumably lesbian since she remained with wife Heather right after announcing her transition)

That’s just a sampling of artists we would cover on TPS, let alone possible pansexuals like AFI’s Davey Havok and others people wonder about.  I knew a few off the top of my head, but gotta give props to this Absolute Punk thread, this Backlot article and more too for the help.  Also, if we did miss any current marriages, apologies!

Today’s ruling is a great one for American musicians and anyone who’s gay.  People who are against it are entitled to their opinion, but I’d love to know what – aside from cherry picking excerpts from a thousands-of-years-old book – provides that reasoning.  Gay marriage doesn’t affect their life directly, nor hurt anyone.  Meh, whatever.  Simply put, as the hashtag goes: #LoveWins.  2015 FTW.

TPS Random Awards

So, everyone has their standout features right?  Why not recognize them?  We did an awards post last year for albums, so an out-of-the-blue version about totally random things is the next logical post…sure, yeah!  And the winners are…

 Most Prolific Tweeter: Hope Vista

I did recently tweet that she’d get this award if it ever happened, so we gotta do it.  This New Jersey gal tweets probably two dozen times a day about everything from her music to undying love of the Backstreet Boys.  You definitely can’t call her Twitter boring.  You do you girl.

Best Publicist At Keepin’ It Real: Sera Roadnight

Sera Roadnight is the woman behind Magic Tree Productions, or MT Press.  I knew her and I would get along as soon as I saw her tweet about how buying social media fans is dumb, and later nailing it again by admitting there’s life beyond those sites.  Beyond that, anytime we’ve exchanged e-mails she’s been a pleasure to deal with, so that’s pretty awesome too.

 Best Good Label That’s Had A Bad Year Publicity-Wise: Pure Noise Records
 Pure Noise is home to several great acts – The Story So Far, Four Year Strong, State Champs and Senses Fail among others – but good lord have they had a rough 2015.  It started with the sexual harassment situation with Front Porch Step, which isn’t their fault and was dealt with quickly.  A few months after though, they signed No Good News (who’ve apparently dropped off the face of the internet, and I can’t find a news story mentioning a breakup or anything UPDATE: turns out they disbanded), who feature drummer Harry Corrigan, who was accused of something similar.  Pure Noise took a lot of crap (from this blog too) for that happening right after the first scandal, including for how they handled the backlash at first.  To be fair, neither incident makes the people at Pure Noise or their roster bad: it’s just an unfortunate affiliation.  In the future though, hoo boy guys really do your homework on potential signees.  Seriously.

Best Twitter Bio: Propagandhi

“The North Korea of punk”…how great is that?  Makes sense for a politically-charged band like these Winnipeg, Manitoba stalwarts, but man if I could get away with TPS’ Twitter bio being “The North Korea of music blogs” I’d seriously consider it.  Of course, TPS isn’t as in-your-face or counterculturey* (*TM?) and it would obviously completely rip Propagandhi off, so that ain’t gonna happen.  Besides, “Alternative music blog covering what we want, the way we want” is still pretty awesomely kinda sassy right?  Mmmmm-hmmm! *snaps fingers*

Most Rock ‘N’ Roll Move Of The Year: David Achter de Molen, John Coffey

Big ups to Slate for, first of all that GIF, but secondly the story you can check out if you didn’t know about 2015’s most badass rock concert incident.  David Achter de Molen fronts Netherlands punk band John Coffey, and was crowd surfing when someone tossed a beer that he caught, drank and casually tossed.  Yes indeed: if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.

Each recipient of tonight’s Random Awards gets the satisfaction of knowing they got some props – and if they want I’ll totally personalize a trophy like this post’s display pic via GIMP.  Let’s all keep being beautiful and one day hand out some more awards, because why not.

Track Listing: Left-Of-Centre

There are many artists/songs I hear and think “totally a fit for TPS”, and others I think “nah they don’t fit”.  Sometimes, it’s not that easy: there are plenty that give pause and really take some analysis.  I’m not sure about you, but outside this universe I personally like several non-rock genres – hip-hop, pop, country, etc. – but rock is my passion, hence this blog.  Funnily enough, one reason it’s called The Perfect Scene is because that doesn’t pigeonhole.  If we ever start covering different genres, we can do it and not end up like Absolute Punk (founder Jason Tate has said he’d love to change the name, but it’s too established).  This edition of “Track Listing” is dedicated to artists who aren’t quite a fit for regular coverage, but are still worth a listen.  So, let’s run down – and surely unintentionally insult! – a few.

Anna Renee – “Lone Wolf”

Singer-songwriter Anna Renee is worldly: she’s based in Los Angeles and grew up in Singapore, Jakarta and Beijing.  This song has a brooding, dark tone – which is great in any genre – and Renee (last name Roberts) incorporates pop, soul and other genres into her sound, of which Fiona Apple is good comparison.

The Scenic Sound – “Standing Still”

The Scenic Sound is the Toronto-based project of Tim Stead.  It’s basically straight-up pop, and it’s really good.  Stead previously fronted power-pop group The Ocean Buried (from my hometown of Oshawa, Ontario!) and there are very subtle elements of that sound in TSS.  It’s really just nice, catchy listening.  This song is mid-tempo with steady drumming, and the video is a great showcase of Toronto as the featured couple – wait for it – stands still throughout each shot.

Liza Anne – “Take It Back”

This Nashville-based singer-songwriter put out the appropriately-named Two in May, following-up last year’s debut The Colder Months. “Take It Back” is a solid track, featuring a steady sound with minimal distortion and good riffing – it’s the most “typical TPS” tune featured in this post.  Anne (last name Odachowski) has a good dose of folk in her sound too.

Gunner & Smith – “Towns”

We actually briefly mentioned this Saskatoon, Saskatchewan six-piece in the recent review of The Classy Chassys’ EP Rebel Heart, as frontman Geoff Smith is touring with that band.  Gunner & Smith do alt-country, folk, Americana type stuff.  “Towns” is the type of song you sit and listen to while sipping on a scotch or something.  It’s relaxing…kinda sad, but relaxing sound-wise.

So…yeah.  I can’t see us doing a second “left-of-centre” post because THEN IT WOULDN’T BE LEFT-OF-CENTRE D’UH, but we can give a quick shout-out to some good artists that are juuuuuuust a bit outside* (*get well Bob Uecker!).  Go listen to them too if you’re down with music beyond our typical alt-rock/punk/indie/metal world.

Album Review: Autopilot – Desert Dreams

When you can simply read an album title and go “nice”, that’s a good start.  As someone who thinks there is no cooler landscape than a desert, I said just that when learning about the newest release from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan alt-rockers Autopilot, Desert Dreams.  Released in April, the EP is the band’s fourth release and follow-up to 2013’s Diamond Rough.  Like that album, it was produced by fellow Saskatonian S.J. Kardashian and sees Marlon Harder (vocals/guitar), Colton Fehr (bass) and Jose A. Fuenzalida (drums) continue dishing out their full-bodied, atmospheric sound.

Desert Dreams comes out of the gate strong with the title track, which might actually be my favourite song.  It’s uptempo and full of great guitar effects, with a solid ending that just lets the effect – chorus, I think? – fade out.  Next is “Oceanside”, which challenges “Desert Dreams” as my favourite track on the EP.  I think it’s the best effort vocally, with Harder showing great range.  “This City” reminds me of Matt Mays, and has a similar vibe to his “Cocaine Cowgirl”.  “Battles” comes after and starts with a nice little drum part before going into the deliberate, snare-heavy, indie-staple beat.  The chorus slows things down a bit, and that’s actually how the song ultimately ends – including the cool line “there’s an answer but we’re not listening”.  When the strumming on “Crossing Borderlines” began I thought “holy ‘She Talks To Angels’“.  It has a very similar pattern, but I don’t mean that in a “RIPOFF THIEVES ZOMG!!1!1” way: there’s kind of way too much music out there to not inadvertently sound like something.  “Tuesday Afternoon Processions” comes next, and features simple-but-badass drumming and riffing in a slow-burning 4:25.  “Desert Dreams Part II” ends the album, a less than two-minute instrumental that puts an atmospheric bow on things.

The seven songs on Desert Dreams fit the title nicely: it’s totally an album you could have on while cruising down a desolate, beautiful stretch of highway.  Speaking of that kind of thing (segue segue segue!), Autopilot just began their supporting American tour last week, playing tonight in Wichita, Kansas and spanning the Midwest/East Coast before wrapping up July 9th in Chicago.  Hopefully they don’t have any more van mishaps on the trek, but go see them if you can.  Although, the tour needs more desert!  I mean there’s some Texas in there, but…you get it right?  Just a thought, not trying to be prickly! (Cactus comedy!)

Autopilot online:


Liner Notes: Monday, June 15th

The Chicago Blackhawks could clinch their third Stanley Cup in six years tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning – although there was a tornado warning that just expired!  Riot Fest’s Twitter person is watching at Chicago’s Cobra Lounge, and will be giving tickets away to the festival!  Also, more announcements for all three dates are tomorrow!Foo Fighters had to cancel a couple of shows after Dave Grohl broke his leg.  He still finished that very set though, because Dave Grohl.

Chart Attack passes along the ten most currently used names on Bandcamp.  Atlas is number one, with 59 artists using it…which is perplexing because that’s a really bad name.  So…there’s that.

Sticking with Chart, they tell us NXNE is hosting a panel discussion called “A Soundtrack of Violence” this coming Sunday, the 21st.  That was the day Action Bronson was to play a public set at (super kickass) Yonge/Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.  There was a backlash to his perceived misogynistic lyrics, and he was pulled – although invited to play in a different venue at the festival.  The discussion is free to attend.

Dallas, Texas’ On Better Terms are releasing their debut self-titled EP July 25th, which’ll include “The Race”.  If you like post-hardcore, etc (and soccer) you’d dig these guys.

Massachusetts’ Take This To Heart Records has signed Salt Lake City, Utah indie rockers Nerve Clinic.  Their new album Fail Better is out July 17th, and you can check out the song “Slacktivism” via the link.

Speaking of Absolute Punk (because they’re streaming the aforementioned song, see!?) they tell us Against Me! will release 23 Live Sex Acts September 4th.  It’s their second album being fronted by Laura Jane Grace.

Bonnaroo was this weekend, and Alternative Press posted the full set from Twenty One Pilots.  They’re just exploding huh?  Interesting act for sure, nothing wrong with that.

Warped Tour starts Friday in Pomona, California and PropertyOfZack has a great roundup of everything you need to know about it – dates, who’s playing which dates and which stage they’re on.

Finally, Dying Scene passes along a five-minute drum chronology by drummer Kye Smith – this time doing Pennywise.  That’s almost as sweet as the name of Pennywise’s website – seriously, if you don’t already know it check the link.  “Wise” choice right!?

Falling Awake Acoustic Live Stream Thoughts

Arkansas pop-punk trio Falling Awake did a live stream acoustic session via Twitch tonight.  It was shorter than I thought it was gonna be, as – the duo as it turned out – of singer/guitarist Tyler Brown and drummer Bryan Dreier did just three songs off their debut full-length Constants & Variables.  They do have an electric session tomorrow night so maybe they’ll take it further, but yeah.  Wasn’t a bad watch though.

One thing I can say since learning about this band is that their mindset is solid.  They try very hard with social media and things like this, and there’s an element of strategy in all of it.  They also have some really unique merch, like guitar picks and mp3 players with their whole catalogue – I hope people buy the stuff, because it’s definitely creative and worthy.  Aside from having a good sound, Falling Awake is the type of band you want to see succeed based on effort.  Playing pop-punk in Arkansas (as they’ve told me) means they’re left-of-centre too, so the online component is huge for them for growing a fanbase.

As mentioned, Falling Awake have another live stream tomorrow night and it’ll be an electric set.  If you’re watching (it’ll be on their official website), you can also chat with them so that’s pretty cool.  You do you, Falling Awake – TPS is Team FA.

Names/Personas As Unique Selling Propositions, Featuring Bottlecock

So I get this e-mail that made me go “whaatttt”, and that’s because it was regarding a band called Bottlecock and their single “Girt By Dickheads”.  It’s from their debut album Record (see what they did?) and goes national in Australia on June 26th .  If the word “girt” made you go “huh?” like it did to me by the way, let Urban Dictionary tell you what’s up.  The Brisbane trio really take the “cock” and such theme full-out, even using the stage names Flynn Cock, Kerley Cock (ha) and Murphy Cock.  Sound-wise, they’re basically noise rock.  Really dirty – in sound and subject matter.

In this day and age, with so much music out there, it’s hard to stand out.  Obviously you have to first and foremost have talent, but beyond that a really interesting name or persona can do wonders.  You might write indie rock, but how many other artists sound like you?  Probably a lot, no offense.  You do need, as Toronto Blue Jays colour commentator Pat Tabler would say, schtrong hands “a little something extra”.

Now, doing something just to do it or for “shock value” isn’t a good thing.  If you’re picking a name or persona, pick something that’s just so unique and/or funny and/or startling that you just can’t not.  Also, don’t be like Whirr and go the asshole route.  You can be like The Donnas (who aren’t actually all named Donna, although they’ve dropped doing that anyway but…yeah) or Masked Intruder or Bottlecock, who are kinda-gross-but-not-gross-enough-to-not-be-entertaining.  To wit:

See, a bottlecock.  A cock in a bottle.  Their name is shot out of the cock like jizz.  That’s pretty funny.

Yeah, that’s it – every artist needs a unique selling proposition, and within reason you gotta find yours.  The e-mail I got regarding Bottlecock turned into a post, so I’d say they stood out for me.  Well done, Bottlecockers.

Album Review: The Classy Chassys – Rebel Heart

Some of the earliest, most successful musicians of the modern era – Elvis, Johnny Cash and others – are behind rockabilly.  It’s a twangy, raucous genre that I like to call “countrified punk” and it’s one done by Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s The Classy Chassys.  Matt Joyal (vocals/guitar), Dan Neumeier (upright bass/vocals), Luke Saretsky (drums/vocals) and Kenny Martelli (saxophone/vocals) released the Rebel Heart EP in February, and are currently touring Western Canada with Geoff Smith of alt-country act Gunner & Smith.  Produced by Default drummer Danny Craig, Rebel Heart is a three-song blast of – excuse how 1957 this sounds (although maybe that works here?) – good time rock ‘n’ roll.

Starting things off is a song that appeared on the band’s 2013 debut Ain’t No Thang, “With Class”.  It’s fast and features some great riffin’ on the low strings and a dueling guitar/sax solo.  Next is the title track, which is an ideal one for a singalong as it has simple enough strumming/chord progression and a tempo made for jamming.  Finally, “Ain’t No Thang” (which actually isn’t on the aforementioned album of the same name) closes the EP out, and it probably has the most distinctly blues tone on it.  It’s fast like “With Class”, and I really dig the bridge in-between the solos: it has a good drum roll and picking.  The song ends with some power chords, and boom – thus ends the album.

Rebel Heart is quick: three songs, 8 1/2 minutes total.  Couple that with the tempo, and a listen really flies by.  It’s a good one though, and one thing that totally stands out to me about this group is the vocals: Matt Joyal is almost a dead-ringer for Colin MacDonald of The Trews.  I mean that as a compliment, as MacDonald is an excellent vocalist and so is Joyal – it’s a style that manages to be raw and almost pretty at the same time.  The Classy Chassys are also working are their next full-length, and have Danny Craig producing again.  Much like ska, rockabilly’s a genre that’s almost hard not to enjoy: its whole package just can’t really bum you out, even if the subject matter is darker.  It cannot bum.

The Classy Chassys online: