And The Hits Just Keep On Comin': January 2009

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Friday, January 30, 2009

Album Review by guest writer Dave Ullrich 

Artist: Andrew Vincent
Album: Rotten Pear
Andrew Vincent - Rotten Pear
My high school experience was probably pretty normal. 
I wasn't the nerdiest kid in the whole school, but I was also 
definitely not the coolest. I ran with a quiet, law-abiding 
group of friends with a slightly intellectual outsider view 
of the world. Andrew Vincent seems like he could have 
been part of my crew.

Rotten Pear has plenty of quiet electric guitar numbers, 
Genesis-era keyboards and slightly intellectual outsider 
lyrics. I get the feeling that Andrew Vincent is a thoughtful 
guy that doesn't always get the good breaks. However, the 
quality of this album shows he really should get some this 
time around. This is my favourite new album of the year. 

My basic recommendation is that you first buy this album 
on Zunior, call up a few of your outsider friends, get 
pizza/beer and then give it a play. It goes well on 
rainy/snowy nights with people you really like. Listen to 
the lyrics and roll with the mood.

- Dave Ullrich

Dave is the drummer for The Inbreds, the main musical force
of Egger, commander in chief of (Canada's largest
independent music download platform) and the head honcho
of the indie zine

Monday, January 19, 2009

Interview With Dave Marsh
Published on on January 15, 2009
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Finding it difficult to co-ordinate our non-meshable
schedules, Dave gracefully accepted a phone call from
me at 9:30 pm Atlantic time on a Thursday night to
talk about music, life, drum-thunder and his newest
full-length solo album 'The True Love Rules'. Dave
let me know he was just playin' a little guitar as he
had just woken up not too long ago from a late night
packed show at the Sea Horse tavern the night before).

MM: First off, thanks for making time to do this
tonight, Dave.

DM: Oh, no worries. Actually, hang on a sec, Matt –
(background talking: 'Al – you okay, there? Come on
in, man). Sorry, Matt – I'm actually just playin a little
guitar tonight and having some pizza that is being hand
delivered to me by Mr. Al Tuck.

MM: Cool! Well, in an interview I did with Jay
Ferguson, he referred to Al as a hero of the Halifax
music scene.

DM: (yells to Al) Jay Ferguson says 'Al Tuck is a hero
of the Halifax music scene'. (mumbling)

MM: Alright. What was it that first set you off down
the road of music?

DM: What – you mean like some sort of traumatic
childhood experience? (chuckles) Let's see – what
was it? I guess it was a lot of listening to the radio
and hearing these crazy big band songs. Growing up,
my parents were always having dinner parties where
music was playing and I was always into hearing what
it was. The radio was always on in my house. And it
probably helped to have a brother who would bring
home 4 or 5 awesome classic albums at a time. Those
things are probably what drew me in.

MM: Right from the beginning of 'Backstreets Thread',
the listener is taken to a pretty vivid place. Are these
real people and real places all throughout this song
and this album?

DM: Yeah man, it's all full of real stories and real
characters. In fact, 'Backstreets Thread' is a straight-up
nostalgic story about workin at the arcade with
childhood friends. It's pretty cool that some of those
same friends were at the show we played at the Sea
Horse last night.

MM: I'm sure this is a question that many of your
drum-wizardry students want to know: How do you
get that gloriously thunderous snare sound in 'The Way
We Live Today' and in some of your other songs?

DM: When the snare works well, it's all about timing,
a little rimshot and the perfect blend of wood and
metal. The rimshot is what gives it that sort of
metallic sound. Joel gave me a 1963, 25 dollar Kent
snare drum that we affectionately call 'Bluey' and it
gives us a lot of that solid sound. The dryer stuff was
recorded with a bigger Ludwig snare that I have
(which we hooked a few mics up to and covered with
a dishtowel to dampen it).

MM: I really first heard about your upfront
musicality on the Super Friendz album 'Love Energy'
(especially on 'Good To Feel Like'). Had you written
and recorded your own original material before?

DM: Yeah, actually. Even before The Super Friendz,
I had my own band named 'No Damn Fears' which
was was 'my' band. I wrote the
songs. It was a pretty killer line-up too. We had
Sloan's Andrew Scott on drums, Matt Murphy on
guitar and Jennifer Pierce who went on to do stuff
with Jale and sign with Sub-Pop. Anyways, that band
featured mostly my songwriting but after that, I
kinda went full-time into exploding and rocking the
skins for The Friendz and Joel in '99.

MM: So is this going to be a common occurrence for
you to write and record your own stuff? And does
Joel 'boss man' Plaskett mind if you take time off?

DM: Ha ha, no – Joel actually encourages me to do
that stuff so he can take time to do his own solo stuff
as well. In fact, right now, he's working on sort of a
three-parter production with his dad. So no – there's
no tension there at all. We'll see how things go with
this album. I'm going to be coming to Toronto in
March to promote it and play some shows.

MM: Have you ever had a nickname in music and if
not, how do you like the sound of 'The Wizard of

DM: (laughs raspily) That's awesome, man! I dig it.
I used to think Sultan of Swat was cool but I'll gladly
take 'Wizard Of Whack'.

MM: On a personal note, with over 20 years
experience as a pro musician, how do you feel about
the modern pop-music marketplace as opposed to
the pop music of the 70's and 80's?

DM: Oh man. I don't know. I mean, my experience
with success kinda only runs from point A to point B.
How some of these bands get to where they are – I
have no fuckin' clue. I guess it's still kinda the same,
ya know? You go out, you see shows and as a musician,
you gotta play shows to get out there. As per
mainstream stuff, I really don't have much time for
the same old Bob Seger songs and the over-digitalized
bullshit of today. Here in Halifax, I mostly just listen
to Suicide FM – it's sorta this radical old-folks station
that plays tunes for Gramps like Bing Crosby and
Ella Fitzgerald but every song is a box of chocolates.

MM: And finally, how do you generally kick so much
drumming arse?

DM: (sighs) Oh, Matt – Why is the sky blue? If dogs
run free, why can't I? (laughs) All of it came pretty
naturally. I mean, I did (at one point in my life) have
to spend an entire summer inside working on the skins
to really get a feel for them. In fact, my brother made
me my first set of drumsticks and they were really thick
and heavy sticks, man. So I figured 'If I can play with
these, everything else will feel like feathers!' I've had
a lot of luck, though, and playing with amazing
musicians like Matt Murphy and Joel Plaskett has
definitely helped. Having good material to play is
always key.

Monday, January 12, 2009

(Just In Case You Missed It...)

Top 10 Albums of 2008

10. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
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They're Death Cab For Friggin' Cutie, okay? They had to
sneak in there. Honestly, I think I fell in love with the
bright, melodic riffs and hooks of this well-produced album
in the first few months after it was released. Since then,
though, I've found myself becoming more un-stunned by
its plain nature. If I wrote this list back in May, though,
this album would have made number one. There's something
that becomes a little 'ho-hum' about this work the more
it rotates in my stereo. But still - come on - they made
the cut. They're Death Cab For FREAKING Cutie.
Who releases an 8 minute song as their first single?
I'll tell you who - Death Cab For FU*KING CUTIE!

9. Mark Knopfler & Emmy Lou Harris - All The Roadrunning
I've had a bit of a 'thing' for Mark Knopfler for some time, now.
I have always had a deep respect for his style of guitar-ism
when he was with Dire Straits and although this was a choice
of my wife's when she was cruising through some new releases,
this album deserves a little street cred. Emmy Lou sings
her blessed little heart out and Mark rasps along beside
her and plucks away at his tempered, steely guitar sound.
This album is a little short on depth but long on listening
pleasure. It is served best on a highway (preferrably an
interstate) with long stretches of flat, prairie land.

8. Sigur Ros - Meo Suo I Eyrum Vio Spilum Endalaust
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Despite some hilarious personal references to album art
on the cover and the fact that this album came out in the
summer (ahem), Sigur Ros (though they intimidate the heck
out of me with their weird, non-existent Icelandic
dialogue) continues to do what they do best. They build
soundscapes and life theme-songs that are unparallel
with any other artist of today (save for maybe Radiohead).
My wife bought this album and although I have only
heard its full spool-through a few times, it is a conceptually
beautiful collection of music. I just wish I could understand
whatever it is that they're talking about...but maybe I
don't need to? Therein lies the beauty and the mystery of
Sigur Ros.

7. Stars - Sad Robots (EP)
This was a bit of a difficult album to put in my top 10,
seeing as:

a. It's not really an album - it's an EP

b. I don't even know if anybody heard about it
it was released super-silently.

Regardless, though, seeing Torq Cambell and Miss Millan
live a few months back at the Bronson Centre made my
decision as clear as day. I hadn't heard any songs on this
EP before seeing the show...and that's what made them
as bold and intense as they are. 'A Thread Cut With A
Carving Knife' is, in my opinion, on the best Stars' songs
of all time as it builds, changes and thrusts into an
oblivion of textured instrumentation and passionate
vocals about living for today. As soap-boxy as he can
be at times, Torq Campbell is a prime performer who wants
his listeners to notice their surroundings, as opposed to
the 'sad robots' whom we all know and come into contact
with from time to time.

6. Sloan - Parallel Play
The boys are back in town - or were back in town with the
release of this new Andrew-heavy disc. After interviewing
Jay Ferguson back in the spring about Sloan, where they've
come from and where they are going, I couldn't help but
appreciate this well layered work that basically sums up
the band's existence to date. Chris Murphy drives the
balls-out rock train, Andrew labours and crafts away
intensely at his weird yet wizardly songs, Patrick blasts
his arena-rock fuzz for all to love and wave their arms
to and Jay Ferguson carefully plucks flowers in the field
of his mind where he smokes out cinammon puffs from
the candy cigarettes that are his songs. All in all, for a band
I've admired for over a decade now, this is a 'piece de
resistance' from Sloan to date and it worth a
serious listen.

5. Weezer - The Red Album
True to their form, Weezer continues to be a curveball or
slider pitch of the music world. You just never know what
you'll get with these guys. Stepping back from being a
creative control freak, Cuomo actually let some of the
other bandmates write some songs of this album...and
they're actually decent! Honestly, though, the song that
sold me on this disc was 'Pork And Beans' as it pretty
much sums up Rivers Cuomo's entire philosophy about
the music industry:
'I'm gonna do the things that I want do/
I ain't got a thing to prove to you/...'
I just love how millions of music-snobs look at the way
these guys do their thing and say 'What the...?' and yet
they still remain successful. Go get 'em, Weez. Whenever
you finish your tour of primary colours for album names,
I'll still be listening.

4. Brendan Canning - Something For All Of Us
I know - Broken Social Scene brain-washed me and pays
me to write good reviews of their music. Ha ha. Funny.
The reality is that seldom few can create such an anamoly
of and array of sound like these folks can. Brendan
Canning, too, stepped up as more of a background bassist
and released a front-man batch of very well-crafted songs.
Sometimes, the feel of this album rests a little too heavy
on the shoulders of older Girls Against Boys tunes but
that's just fine with me. Most of the songs are driven
by terse, driving bass-lines (sometimes distorted,
sometimes not) but they all usually explode into some
epiphany of sound. Canning's disparate and patchy lyrics
are all about community as he truly doles out 'Something
For All Of Us'.

3. Coldplay - Viva La Vida/Prospekt's March
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Coldplay! I KNOW! I'm such a massive sell-out. It's disgusting.
Despite being pegged by Pitchfork as 'yet another band who
sold out to sound engineer Brian Eno to change their creative
direction', say what you will - but we all know that Coldplay
has it where it counts. I was expecting to be VERY
hum-drummed by this release but I've found that it gets
more play in my iPod than many other artists. The intricately
digitalized songs of this album have an unparallel sound that
I crave a lot of the time. Chris Martin and crew are incredibly
good at what they do and they have done very well to evade
any sort of traps of the music industry. Ask anyone who has
attended a recent liveshow and they'll all say the same thing -
'The quality of sound made it seem like a live playing of the
album except way louder and WAY better.' There may
not be much room for live improv...but to have millions of
people say the same thing about their live performances
is pretty friggin' incredible.

2. Silver Speakers - Streetlights And Stars

Conflict of interest? Reviewing an artist who is on my record
label? I don't give a DAMN. Yeah, that's right. Suck it.
Tyrone Warner is a great song-writer and deserves some
just desserts. In a tiny Toronto beer-garden-like pub, back
in September, I got the chance to hear the live cd release
of this album and it has vacuumed my sub-conscious ever
since. Each word drips with meaning and the songs are
rife with faith-searching 'meaning of life' type stuff. 'Are You
Only In My Head' is one of most hauntingly beautiful songs
I have ever heard as the guitars and keys cascade the listener
through a valley of sound and light. The only reasons why
I couldn't give SS the #1 nod are...well...obviously, he's a
friend of mine and that's a little bias...and because he was
forced (due to resource restraints) to use a drum machine
which draws away from the magnificence of the songs, at
times. Better luck next year, T-money.

1. Matt Mays & El Torpedo - Terminal Romance
I know what you're thinking and the answer is 'No! - I don't
only review East-Coast artists or musicians I've interviewed'
okay? Back off. There just really wasn't a massive number
of albums released this year...but THIS one by THIS dude
takes the cake of rock and eats it, wholesale - candles and
all. Pulling a reverse of what 'Narrow Stairs' did to me,
I didn't really care much for this album when I first heard
it. The fabric of Great Canadian ballad-rock, though, weaves
this album together into a finely tangled mesh of sweaty shirts
and plaid-jacket, pine-tree highway visions. Matt Mays
has shown, once again, that he is a superbly talented
songwriter and speaks of the traps that are romances
which have become disastrous diseases. What I love most
about this album and MM&ET, though, is that Matt is never
trying to be something he is not.
He is a rocker - through and through. In an interview I
conducted with him (that he later invited me to the show
afterwards), he said 'I just love guitar riffs, man. Is that
wrong?' This album blasts out of the gate with the throat-
ramming riff that brings 'Building A Boat' to life and
trucks full throttle right into the Springsteen-esque
ballad mid-point of 'Terminal Romance' and keeps a-rollin.
This album is not for the folky hyper-instrumentalized
Sufjan lovers or for the indie-whistling 'everyone-wants-
to-be-the-flaming-lips' listeners either. It is heavy like
lead - and it will change you.

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