2007 Local Disc Guide

Scope folks Geoff Younghusband, Rachel Jean Harding, Tom Power, Anshuman Iddamsetty, Andreae Prozesky, Emilie Bourque, Sarah Smellie, and Elling Lien pick some of their favourites from this year’s local offerings.

Illustration by Paul Tucker

Various Artists
Feast of Cohen Live

As the eighth Feast of Cohen season approaches, the Feast’s mastermind, Vicky Hynes, has put together a disc of choice tracks from the last two years. Younger voices – Jenny Gear, Blair Harvey, Hey Rosetta’s Tim Baker – join established musicians like Liz Solo, Sean Panting, and Hynes herself, as well as a handful of unlikely interpreters – Des Walsh, Bryan Hennessey, Joel Thomas Hynes – to rework classic and lesser-known Cohen tunes. Liz Solo performs “Who by Fire” as though it were written for her; Des Walsh takes “So Long, Marianne” and makes it sound as though it’s come straight out of Irish Newfoundland. Jill Porter rocks “First We Take Manhattan” right the hell out. The all-star band and back-up vocalists are fantastic. A hit. AP
(To be released December 20th)


Patrick Canning
The Pervert

Working at a call centre for 11 months may make you detest humanity, but it doesn’t mean you can’t turn that around and make a quirky, fascinating, at times even powerful album of 80 minutes long at the same time. He works with a broad palette of instruments and swoops easily from traditional-sounding tunes to high-experimentation. With The Pervert, Canning has poured himself into a clear glass—the outcome may not go down easy, but it definitely gives you a healthy serving of food for thought. EL

Coast Guard
Self-titled EP

A sweet slice of indie pop served up with rich dollops of guitar and sprinkled with colourful flecks of lo-fi keyboard. Coast Guard have been a long-watched band by local scenesters, from their start as the Co-Stars to a relocation to Toronto and a new rhythm section. This five-song EP leaves an excellent taste in your mouth, and the songs abound with hooks that sneak up on you rather than pummel the palate delivering dynamic flavourings throughout. “Clear the Air” gives a sugar hit from the first keyboard riff and builds flavour from there. “Summer/Birthday” is a wonderful changing-of-the-seasons, relationship pop-rocker that’ll have you dancing in the kitchen . It’s a cup of Superchunk mixed with a splash of the Meat Puppets over a serving of brit-pop crackle-snap. GY

Dank Eating
As You Sleep

Danny Keating is one of the most gifted and prolific songwriters St. John’s has ever housed. As You Sleep is his second of three releases (and counting) this year. It is a charmingly lo-fi and intimate offering of the well worded indie rock Danny is known for. The recording style is potentially a little rougher than the uninitiated listener might anticipate but that is part of the legacy of the “embrace the crust” recording ethic Danny honed in his days of 4 track demo making. For the familiar it is one of Keating’s most solid and focused releases to date (with a few reined-in experimental touches here and there) and definitely a must-have. It is in this writer’s humble opinion that the smartest thing any A&R person working out there could do for themselves is sign Dank up to do a polished job of his 12 best songs, which would guarantee to be one of the best rock records of all time. RJH


Errand Boy
s/t

Bryan Melanson’s IDM-tinged lap-pop debut is an ethereal record of shimmering drum lines and twinkling, nervous electronics that coalesce and refract against each other, creating immaculate shoegazer melodies with all the trappings of a sunset gone supernova. The album never bores either. Tracks like “Birch Mouth” or “Yes with an If” hum and glisten with the sheen of milk drop porcelain, whereas singles like “Grindcore She Wrote” are calculated Battles-era math rock jams that descend into skittery gigahertz hell, constantly, and beautifully, dividing by zero. Fuck Broken Social Scene and get on the Errand Boy, stat. I can’t recommend this album enough. AI


Funky Dory
Fists of Funk

Funky Dory, for years, has been a fun band to groove to downtown, and they’ve now enabled us to enjoy their music without staying up past our bedtimes, via their first recorded album. Fists of Funk has quite a lot of variety packed in one CD. It’s one of the only albums (in my collection at least) that seems to pull off a good balance between tracks with and without vocals. It also balances music to relax to with music to dance to. It’s got a little something for everyone on it. There are lots of energetic instrumentals to rock out to, like “Manic.” Ther are thought-provoking lyrics rapped in “Making the Means,” all mixed up with guest vocalist Janet Cull’s smooth voice (Cull is also featured on my favourite track, “Beckoning”). And the drums and horns in “Fast One” will make you want to jump around in your bedroom in anticipation of their next live show. Plus, if music in general just really isn’t your thing, it also comes with an awesome comic book by Paul Tucker, featuring FD members as superheros. EB

Geinus
Live at Distortion

If Black Sabbath had ADHD and jammed with Jesus Lizard at Math Camp then Geinus might be the bastard offspring born to the groupies at that show. This live CD is a mind bender, the words aren’t going to get in the way – there are hardly any lyrics, but you won’t notice for the sheer number of noisy riffs blasting at you. Geinus’ rhythmically diverse and wacked out time signatures leave plenty of space for Steve Abbott’s dischordant guitar freak outs and demented yowls. It’s like a metal punk horror movie soundtrack. Perhaps it’s not for everyone, and some more lyrical direction to add clout to the music might be interesting, but if you just want a taste of some of the heaviest riffs around, this is where you’ll find them. GY


Hey Rosetta!
Plan Your Escape (re-release)

This is a remixed, remastered, repackaged and trimmed-down seven-song version of the original independently released 13 track CD of the same name. And a fine job they have done. This version has the dynamics and liveliness that was missing from the somewhat methodical sounding original and the shorter track list keeps it exciting as it sticks to the hits. Hey Rosetta! are possibly the first family of Newfoundland Chamber Pop, all full of piano, strings and horns, with a pulsing indie rock band at the core. Lead Hey-maker Tim Baker has a good sense of melody and some nice turns of phrase in his repetoire. His songs are full of characters searching for a voice, searching to be heard and understood, searching for their place, their life. It’s an exciting, catchy journey that will not disappoint with it’s Pixies-esque dynamics, Spoon-styled rhythms, and swelling emotions of strings and piano. GY


Idlers
Corner

This 10-piece roots-reggae-funk-rocksteady-bigband-punk-folk-polit-ska all-star dance band has somehow managed to distill the energy of their live shows into a replayable package. Tight enough to bear careful listens, but loose enough to be funky, Corner sounds like an album hard-earned. The band—made up of transplanted elements from town, the bay, southern Ontario, and the far reaches of the galaxy—have got an album on their hands that is true to the spirit of the band, will ring true with the dedicated fan base here in town, and will be bringing them recognition elsewhere very soon. Watch out. EL
(Release show December 14th)


Judge Dread
Death Rattle 7”

Putting out a 7” record is punk enough as it is, but these five young guys—did I hear the drummer was twelve fourteen years old when he first joined the band?—might as well have burned this 6-song collection onto a USB key and sold it for $500 at Wal-Mart. Your ears will still bleed and you will still want to smash the state beyond repair. EL


King Nancy
This Is Not a High-Five

Cripes, where do I begin with King Nancy? This is a rad indie rock send-up, the kind you would never expect to hear from merry ol’ Newfoundland. And it isn’t enough to simply compare the band with the likes of Phoenix or the Kings of Leon or even Jimmy Eat World – the Nancy Boys deserve better, and it shows in this gorgeous, textured rock record that trades clichéd colour-by-number anthems for sprawling, sub-orbital licks into the sun. Lead singer Jerry Stamp gives ’er, matching the band’s tight performance with a plaintive voice that intensifies with every world-weary down-stroke. Tracks like “Fight Stop” and the killer “Watch Waves” seals This Is Not a High-Five as one of the best albums of the year. AI


Maggie Meyer
Self-titled EP

St. John’s “it girl” Maggie Meyer has managed a one-woman takeover of the music scene, playing alongside folksters, and hipsters with equal ease. This time last year she was opening for Sarah Slean at Holy Heart auditorium. This time next year, who knows? The EP is a sweet little seven-song, mostly-acoustic sampler with some nice vocal moments that showcase Meyer’s potential; as her songwriting matures, we’ll have a real dynamo on our hands. The lovely “I Would Not Leave” is the strongest track on the album, and is bound to become required listening for dreamy teen girls everywhere. Buy the EP now and in five years you can say “I knew her when…” AP



Chris Picco
Ferris Wheel

If the sheer toe-tapping-ness isn’t enough for you, perhaps Newfoundland legend Ron Hynes’s endorsement will convince you: “I consider Chris Picco to be at the vanguard of the young, new, adventurous Newfoundland songwriting community.” Now that’s something. With Chris Picco’s infectiously sing-alongable choruses, Mark Neary’s deft hand in the album’s meticulous production, and an all-star personnel list including Neary, Elliot Dicks, Mick Davis (all of Novaks fame), Jimmy Rose, and Mark Bragg, Ferris Wheel is bound to be one of the most-talked about releases of the coming year. Fans of folk-pop and alt-country, as well as Wednesday-night Fat-Cat-goers will be pleased with this album. AP


Sherry Ryan
Wonderful Cures

Sherry Ryan’s sophomore album, to be released next week, is a great accomplishment. The songwriting is solid, the tracks are varied, the instrumentation is dead-on, and Ryan’s beautiful vocal performance seems effortless. The uplifting “Leave the Light On” has all the makings of a radio hit, but in a good way: it’ll be the sort of radio hit that you actually want to get stuck in your head. “By My Side (Doggie Song)” is simple, bittersweet, and lovely. Swirling organ, weeping country guitar, and the occasional blast of horns help make Wonderful Cures into something truly special. Equally suitable for downtown hipsters and for the country-listening moms who love them. AP
(Release show December 11th)


(Monument of) Swords
Oceans 12”

I’m no metal fan, but I’ve been impressed by Swords for a while now. Oceans fully solidified my respect and admiration. It features a single, 20-minute-long song. And you won’t even notice its length – it’s absolutely relentless in its might. The music is intense and murky, yet clean and precise, with the main guitars carving perfectly curved paths through a dark, rich and sometimes grainy foundation. The 18 minute mark is especially good, but no part of the song is remotely sub-par, which considering its epic length is pretty impressive. As a particularly astute friend put it: “Listening to Swords is like being disintegrated.” SS


Art Stoyles
The World Accordion To Art

Let’s face it. Between Rawlins Cross, Pamela Morgan and Kelly Russell, the past members of Figgy Duff have given us some memorable music. However, Art Stoyles, who played accordion in ‘The Duff’ for a number of years has done what so many were waiting for him to do, release an album with his own band. On this record, Art is joined by back-up accordionist (!) Bob Rutherford and a number of other local hot-shots on a number of Art’s original compositions, tunes he learned from the Portuguese sailors, as well as traditional tunes of the British Isles. This record is a perfect fit for those looking for folk music that’s a little skewed. TP


Trailer Camp
The Radical

The band claim a conceptual walk down Water St. by a character known as The Radical is buried in here. Although Water St. does get its mention in the restrained rock of “Thrills Not Conversation,” I don’t know that I can follow the route. But that’s not to say this album won’t take you on a sonic journey. Bookended by the ballads “Guards” and “The Bats in the Trees” it starts and ends with quiet beauty, but in between it veers from power pop to art rock to jagged post punk. Driven by a great rhythm section and some searing guitar interplay, it will have you singing along (“…at the Sun”, “Me and the Radical”), banging your head (“In the Presence of Young Men”), searching for the guitar tabs (the opening riff of “Hard to be True”) and shaking your art punk ass (“Jackhammers”, “Conflict the Creator”). The Radical trumps all of TC’s previous CDs aces over deuces (thank producer Jody Richardson and a new line-up for the huge melodic jump they’ve made). Make no doubt about it though, this is an ALBUM (of the year – for my local vote), not a package of songs – radical in this itunes age. GY


Michael Winter
The Big Why (Read by Robert Joy)

So, you know Michael Winter’s Gabriel English character from The Architects Are Here, right? And you know how, in Winter’s earlier novel, This All Happened, Gabriel goes off to Heart’s Desire to write a novel about American artist Rockwell Kent? The Big Why is that novel. In Rattling Books’ unabridged audiobook version, the accomplished Robert Joy (most recently of CSI: NY fame) brings Winter’s Kent – lusty, inquiring, ambitious, misunderstood – to life. Joy navigates Winter’s at-times difficult prose style – his quotation-mark-free dialogues – with grace, moving fluidly from voice to voice. The Big Why is some of Michael Winter’s best writing and one of Rattling Books’ most beautiful releases. AP


Wonderful Grand Band
Living in a Fog (re-release)

Deep in the heart of just about every baby-boomer basement in the capital city, you’ll find at least two records: Dick Nolan’s ‘Fisherman’s Boy’ and the Wonderful Grand Band’s “Living in a Fog”. While I can’t comment on the former, the latter has (finally) been digitized so that those of us who never had to ‘wind up the Victrola’ can finally enjoy a classic of Newfoundland music. Plus, it’s great to hear some of the greats like Ron Hynes, Glenn Simmons (The Fables) and Sandy Morris (RASA), as well as Greg Malone and the late, great Tommy Sexton, arguably in their prime. The album is a must for anyone even slightly interested in the city’s musical past. Let’s hope next Christmas brings the old TV shows on DVD. TP

6 comments

Ensuring the future of food

An amazing-to-look-at video made by the Japanese government on food security. Seems to have a lot in common with the situation here, I’d say… [youtube:http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=ok3ykR2GHCc 280 235]

15 December 2008

  1. Kevin Kelly · December 15, 2008

    Great list of local releases for the most part, and a beautiful cover by Paul. However, I was a little disappointed that you didn’t include the latest albums by Shanneyganock (Fling Out The Flag) and The Fables (Kings and Little Ones).

    The Shanneyganock album is easily one of their best yet, from the patriotic title track to the Chris Andrews/Alan Doyle composition Roving Newfoundlander. Shanneyganock also have the real ability to find a song and make it their own, and there’s lots of examples on this album.

    As for The Fables, I sense a real maturity to this new album, Kings and Little Ones. Many of the songs are Glenn Simmons originals, and most are spot on, from the “hit” Not Forgotten, the catchy Watchin’ It Roll, and Fisher, which doesn’t mind making some social commentary. Add the “God guard thee” patriotism of This Is My Home and it’s a real winner all around.

    I would also recommend Saturday Night Jamboree for its historical significance to Newfoundland musical history. That CD, recorded from two CBC shows of the Jamboree in 1963, features legends John White and Wilf Doyle in their prime, and is a real historical musical treasure.

    BTW, Fisherman’s Boy may not be available on CD, but The Best of Dick Nolan sure is. Well worth finding.

  2. collective family · December 15, 2008

    Hell yes! Go Errand Boy!

    His stuff is indeed amazing, I must say. If anyone would like, you can download and enjoy his album at the collective; he’s part of the family!

  3. PC · December 15, 2008

    You could probably buy most of these through http://www.freds.nf.ca (hint, hint, hint!)
    Good X-mas fare.
    Thanks for the mention by the way.

  4. Errand Boy · December 15, 2008

    The Errand Boy CD is totally free!

    Download it at 001collective.com

    You know… if you feel like it…

  5. PC · December 15, 2008

    oh sure. one up us now by’! sheesh…

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