A couple months ago I posted a track by Gearbox, one of my favourite bands from back in the hey-day of the St. John’s music scene. In that post I mentioned that the last time I saw the band live they played a handful of new songs that never made it to the record, since they broke up shortly after.
A few days later I got an e-mail from guitarist Scott Hammond with six unreleased Gearbox songs attached. Of course I couldn’t keep this to myself, so after talking to Scott the lads agreed to let me release their lost album right here on The Scope’s Track of the Day. I’ll be releasing a track a day (between Lou Reed covers) for fans to listen to and download along with interviews with the band about their past, present and future. Accompanying today’s first unreleased track “I Am Rust” are some insights from Kalem Mahoney (vocals) and Scott Hammond (guitar) on the group’s origin.
So you guys formed Gearbox back in high school?
Kalem: We actually started school together at St. Bon’s, so it’s been a relationship that started much earlier than high school. We did, literally, grow up together.
Scott: We have been friends since kindergarten.
Kalem: Gearbox got it’s start officially in 1995.
Scott: We were all in grade 11 at Brother Rice High School. We formed for a school celebration themed “Hippie Day”.
Kalem: We actually used to jam together years before that in Mr. and Mrs. Tizzard’s basement. Same five guys.
Scott: But that fizzled out for a couple of years. “Hippie Day” was the catalyst that brought us back together and this time it stuck.
Kalem: I guess some of our friends asked us to learn some songs and perform. We started recording and performing regularly from then on.
Track six of our Lou Reed tribute comes to us from Tyler MacDonald, who had a brief stint on rhythm guitar and back up vocals for local rock band The Rising Design before diving into country music on his own. Tyler put his own flavour to The Velvet Underground’s classic “Sweet Jane” from Loaded (1970), and seasoned it with a dash of Dylan for good measure. Here’s what he had to say about it.
I was eleven years old and my mother brought me home a low-end, Washburn guitar in hopes it would channel some of my unbridled energy into something a little more constructive. Knowing nothing about guitar, all she received in return were many frustrated evenings cooking supper while I mashed the strings in the next room. A few weeks later she broke down and paid for me to have a guitar lesson with a family friend. The first three chords I learned… and I’m sure many others can relate to this… were D G and A. Pretty soon I started to learn the many songs one could play with just that small repertoire. My teacher, Clint, said, “Yeah, there’s so many songs you can play with those three chords.” I was learning The Beatles hit song “Twist and Shout” and somewhere in the maze of songs I remember hearing Clint strum and sing the lines “Sweet Jane, oh sweet, sweet Jane”. So I can proudly say that arguably Lou’s most well known song was the second song I learned how to play… sort of.
Sackville, NB’s Lucas Hicks will be in St. John’s this weekend for a couple of shows downtown. Lucas has been busy of late, playing Pop Montreal, touring the maritime provinces and recording a new two track EP where today’s track “Bad News” comes from. The new material was recorded at Construction & Destruction’s studio in Port Greville, NS and features the band themselves along with hometown boy Scott Royle on bass and farfisa.
You can catch Lucas live tonight (Friday, Nov 8th) at The Levee with Make Mean Everything and Little Things. Lucas will also be playing tomorrow (Saturday, Nov 9th) at The Ship with Knoah Knoah and George Nervous Four. Also check our Lucas’ new EP and stellar 2012 record Slower for yourself.
The fifth song offered up for our tribute to Lou Reed comes to us from Jordan Young (Mopey Mumble Mouse/The Cartridge Family/Elimination Dance), who just got home from being on tour with Adam Baxter.
Jordan cooked up this lovely uke version of “After Hours” from The Velvet Underground’s self-titled 1969 album. He also had a few words in memory of Lou.
I’d spent most of high school and university avoiding The Velvet Underground because of the way the other artsy kids revered it. It made it seem lame, like required course reading. Just like everyone reading Bukowski or watching Lynch’s Eraserhead and making a big deal about how it blew their minds, y’know? I’ve always been turned off by that in the moment when everyone else is gushing about something, but I do usually sneak back a few years after the hype and give things a chance. It wasn’t until moving into my first apartment after university, that my friend Noelle loaned me the VU box set. I listened to it a bunch of times while painting the apartment through.
I’d always read about how Lou Read trolled the industry with his Metal Machine Music feedback album, but I think After Hours is even more badass. It really caught my ears because it has this classic turn of the century vaudeville chord progression, and a deceptive cheeriness to it, but if you listen to the lyrics, they’re depressive and nihilistic. Moe Tucker’s sing-song delivery of the isolated, angsty poetry really cracks me up. Lou was a joker, man.
The fourth song submitted for Track of the Day’s Lou Reed Tribute comes from local garage rock outfit and RPM favourites Casual Male. They lads decided to do Lou’s heart-breaker “The Kids” from Berlin (1973). Here’s what Casual Male front-man Vic Lewis had to say about the loss of Lou Reed.
Lou’s passing really caught me off guard. I was under the impression he was on the mend. I don’t think there would be anything cool to listen to if the Velvets hadn’t happened. Lou managed to keep the danger and honesty in rock ‘n roll until punk began to happen, at least.
The third installment of Track of The Day’s tribute to Lou Reed is the People On Pause version of “Chelsea Girls”, the Lou penned title track from Nico’s 1967 debut album. Currently based out of Montreal, People on Pause consists of some of Newfoundland’s finest exports, including Alex Bridger (AE Bridger), who had this to say about his reaction to Lou’s passing.
I was partying pretty intensely the Friday and Saturday before Lou Reed died. I woke up at 3pm on that Sunday. My first hung-over reaction to the news was “thank god he can’t do another record with Metallica,” but as it set in that the lead singer of the one band who most directly influenced my own songwriting had actually left the world, I just listened to every song and thought about everything and felt like I was in high school, hearing it all for the first time. This is a Nico tune written by Lou, done more in the style of her other solo records with John Cale. It felt the most like a eulogy to me that day.
The second submitted as part of Track of The Day’s tribute to Lou Reed comes to us from Aaron Powell. Aaron is a singer-songwriter from Glovertown currently living in St. John’s. He dazzled local music fans like myself this past February with his incredible RPM Challenge album, FL. Aaron covered Lou’s “Sad Song” from his 1973 rock opera Berlin. Here’s what Aaron had to say about it.
I put together this cover of “Sad Song” off of Berlin because it’s definitely my favourite solo record of his and it might be my favourite concept record of all time. It’s up there with Dark Side of the Moon for me. I used my roommate’s mandolin and my guitars to give it a “folkier” spin I guess. I debated “The Black Angel’s Death Song” or even “Sister Ray” but I had to do a Berlin cut because that album just slays me and means a lot to me. I first heard The Velvet Underground in high school and they completely destroyed the way I look at music, in the best way possible. I am very thankful that Lou reed didn’t die of a drug overdose in the 60s and got to live out a long prolific rock n’ roll career… I hope I did the guy a little bit of justice. (There’s a tribute to ‘metal machine music’ at the end.)
This past Sunday (Oct 27th), we lost the legendary Lou Reed. On Monday I put out a call to Newfoundland musicians and bands to submit their cover of a favourite Lou Reed or Velvet Underground song to be posted in tribute to Lou as Track of the Day. As of yesterday, 15 local artists had signed up, the first of which to be submitted is Andrew Robinson’s (Kick Gut, Good Kids Pretend They’re Bad) cover of “I Heard Her Call My Name” from The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat (1968).
Here’s what Andrew had to say about the song and what Lou’s music meant to him.
At a time in my teens when the noisy sounds of Sonic Youth were my tunes of choice, Lou Reed’s more chaotic side was the most alluring one. I can remember hearing The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” playing from my music teacher dad’s stereo as myself and a friend were heading downstairs. I thought it sounded pretty bizarre, but intriguing.
While my favourite Velvet Underground album is the band’s most quiet one, 1969’s self-titled effort, the spazzed-out pleasures of “I Heard Her Call My Name” had the most lasting effect on me. Lou Reed is a great songwriter, but I think a lot of people overlook what a unique guitar player he was, particularly compared to what other people were doing in the late 1960’s. I’ve read a quote where he called his soloing on this number an attempt to capture the feel of a free jazz saxophonist. He nailed it! This song really resonates with me. The world was lucky to have Lou Reed grace it with his presence.
If you would like to submit a cover of a Lou Reed or Velvet Underground song in memory of Lou, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a few words about what the man, band or music meant to you.
A couple days ago Green & Gold front-man Len O’Neill tipped me off that him and the gang were cooking up a special treat for today’s track. So here it is, the premiere of Green & Gold’s creepy-cool, brand new song “Black Dot”, with a few words from Len about the track.
I was working on something new last week. It was darker and heavier than most things I’d done before, but I liked it enough to know that it was an idea that I wanted to finish. I initially used samples of hand drums because the electronic kit I had queued up sounded super cheesy and fell flat next to the noisy industrial guitars that were all over the demo. Because of the hand drums, I think, the track ended up taking on this haunting Voodoo ritual feel, and Joanna suggested we approach it as a Halloween song. Steve Doyle and I crammed all of our gear into his car Monday night and drove to a cabin in Ocean Pond, spending the night and most of Tuesday afternoon tracking and mixing the song. It was a loud night.
Also congratulations to Green & Gold on winning bronze in the category of “Best New Band” in The Scope’s Best of Music Reader Survey. In other big news, the band will also be opening for Hey Rosetta! and Zeus on Dec 20th at Mile One Stadium.
This past Sunday (Oct 27th) rock icon, and Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed passed away at the age of 71 as a result of complications associated with a liver transplant.
Immediately upon hearing the news I put on my headphones and listened to my favourite of Lou’s solo albums Transformer (1972). As Lou repeated the line “You’re going to reap just what you sow” at the end of “Perfect Day” it struck me that I would not be alone in wanting to somehow pay tribute to this incredible singer-songwriter. So I put out a call to my musician friends to submit their cover versions of songs by Lou or The Velvet Underground. Before long the replies started to roll in from some of St.John’s finest like Cara Lee Coleman, Jordan Young, Sonny Tripp, Other People, Pilot to Bombardier and others. I’ll be posting these on Track of the Day in tribute to Lou as they are submitted.
So far “After Hours”, “Sweet Jane”, “Venus In Furs”, “Who Loves The Sun”, “What Goes On”, “Candy Says”, “I Heard Her Call My Name”, “I Found A Reason”, “There She Goes Again”, “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and “Pale Blue Eyes” have all been spoken for, but if you or someone you know would like to be a part of this tribute to the music of Lou Reed feel free to record it and send it to me at email@example.com along with a few words about the song, the man, or how you were introduced to Lou’s music. Use your phone, 8-track, laptop or home studio to record the tune then e-mail it to me in as an mp3.
I also plan do a song as part of the project. The songs will be posted for free listening and downloading on The Scope’s website. This is purely a labour of love.
Thanks for the music, Lou.
Send your Lou Reed or Velvet Underground cover to firstname.lastname@example.org
This Friday (Oct 25th) St. John’s singer-songwriter Neil Conway will be releasing his brand new album at The Rocket Room. As we have come to expect from Neil, the cleverly titled Songs For Topical Use is packed with quirky, fringe-folk gems that touch on subject matter ranging from becoming a vegan to impress a lady (“Beautiful Vegan Girl”) to the compulsion to argue anonymously with others online (“Online Arguing”). That being said, the record is not all lighthearted satire as Conway lyrically channels some early Dylan against a “Ghost Riders In The Sky” flavored musical backdrop on “Wish That War Was Over”. Along the same lines today’s track “Kindergarten In Iraq” wraps a very real message in some jazz-inflected klezmer rock.
Neil was joined by an all-star cast of locals to record Songs For Topical Use including Pat Boyle (trumpet/lap steel), Dave Rowe (guitar), Andrew McCarthy (percussion) with background vocals, claps and stomps from Curtis Andrews, Colleen Power, Liz Solo and Steve Crewe. Several of these talented folks will be joining Neil on stage on Friday at The Rocket Room. Drop down to catch Neil perform the new material live with some old favourites. You can preview the album for yourself at the link below.
Remember the age of the single? You know, the 45 RPM vinyl record with the hit single as the A-Side and and that obscure B-Side track that never made the album? I have a box full of ’em, like The Rolling Stones “Mother’s Little Helper/Lady Jane” or John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” single backed by Yoko Ono’s ahead of its time “Who Has Seen The Wind?” Well it seems that the single is making a comeback. Bands like TV On The Radio and Pixies are shrugging off making another full length and allowing themselves to get creative in the context of a couple digitally released tracks. Forget unifying themes or elaborate concepts, just write a couple songs and get them out there.
That’s also the philosophy of local singer-songwriter Jeremy Rice (The Thymes/The Sellouts). This past April he released both the larger than life “OWN” and the Petty/Beatle-esque “Good Old Days” via his Bandcamp page. Just a couple weeks ago Jeremy released another single in the same vein as “Good Old Days” which is today’s track. It’s backed by the lounge-prog of “Barbados”, in keeping with the obscure B-side tradition.
Enjoy, and check out the B-side at the link below.
Halifax’s SoHo Ghetto will be opening for Repartee’s long awaited homecoming show tonight (Oct 18th) at The Rockhouse. SoHo Getto is a seven-piece orchestral pop outfit with a knack for huge, lush melodies and energy charged live shows. Now I know what you’re thinking… ‘Seven members? …String section?’ but before you dismiss them as an Arcade Fire knockoff, have a listen to today’s track. SoHo Ghetto clearly have more in common with country-folk and trad groups like The Pogues, Great Lake Swimmers and Ryan Adams than anyone else.
To date SoHo Ghetto have released one EP entitled Humble Beginnings Make For Good Night Life and a handful of single tracks via the internet. They are currently in the process of recording a new album with award-winning producer Daniel Ledwell who has recently done records for Jenn Grant (The Beautiful Wild), Heather Green (Your Last War) and Gabrielle Papillion (Little Bug).
Urbana, Illinois native Morgan Orion will be in St. John’s this week. Raised on a healthy diet of old-school blues, soul and jazz records, Morgan left school at age 16 and devoted himself to the craft of writing music and lyrics. Two years later he was touring the U.S., then the U.K and then on to Europe. In 2008, Morgan and some friends released Morgan Orion and The Constellations, a collection of 12 cleverly crafted and simply executed, acoustic songs in the introverted, bedroom recording vein of Daniel Johnston and Jeffery Lewis. In 2011 he followed up with Lovesick, a fuller, more band-oriented album featuring drums, bass and group vocals. Morgan has also released several singles and EP’s in the spaces between records, the most recent of which is today’s “Fire In Blood” released this past February.
Be sure to catch Morgan Orion live here in town during his visit, dates and venues are listed below. You can also listen to and download his music on Bandcamp.
Friday, Oct 18th @ Nautical Nellies w/ KnoahKnoah and Sludge Bucket Jones
Tuesday, Oct 22nd @ Fixed w/ uHu (Scrambled Meggz & Alison Corbett) who will be releasing a demo that night!
One of my favourite singer-songwriters, Pat LePoidevin, will be in Newfoundland this week for a series of shows in support of his brand new album American Fiction. Although he was raised in small town Canada, Pat has had dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship since birth, and this new album finds him exploring what his life might have been like had he grown up on the other side of the border in small town America. The songs are drawn from a collaborative writing project between Pat and his childhood friend Lewis Smith. Each track is a slice of life from ten different rural American towns, not too dissimilar from the Canadian parallels in which Patrick was raised. The album is accompanied by a book of short stories written by Smith.
American Fiction also marks a stylistic change of pace for Patrick, trading in his characteristic looped baritone ukulele and vocals for full band, guitar based arrangements. Today’s track, the video for “Centralia, PA” is a nice summary of how Pat treads new ground while retaining the irresistible, emotive elements of his writing.
You can catch Pat LePoidevin live and pick up a copy of American Fiction at the dates, towns and venues below. Don’t miss this opportunity to see one of Canada’s (and America’s) finest singer-songwriters in action.
Thursday, Oct. 17 – Lewisporte, NL – The Citadel House
Friday, Oct. 18 – St John’s, NL – The Levee
Saturday, Oct. 19 – Cornerbrook, NL – The Back Lot