The Golden Dogs "Everything In 3 Parts" Review

Capturing buzz amongst the ever evolving Toronto rock scene has become seemingly effortless in recent time, akin to the early 90's and Seattle based groups. However, in both situations, the value wasn't behind capturing notice, it was maintaining the value behind the acclaim. After being casually clumped in with other Canadian bands of the time, ranging from Sloan to Broken Social Scene, The Golden Dogs have maintained their end of the deal; supporting the band's buzz with intelligent lyrics and its catching, offbeat music. Everything in 3 Parts is an animated journey through depression, paranoia and learning to confront life's difficulties; ultimately coming out confused, but ahead of the curve. With its fluttering guitar introduction, "Birdsong" flows a theme of self realization into the following track, "Faster." Coming to terms with yourself, and understanding that no one will never see you for who are is hard to put in such an innocent context, but done so beautifully; "Let it go, let it go. They're not gonna stop 'til they make sure you see it their way." The confusion finds continuation, of a different sort in the infectious, recoiling love song, "Can’t Get Your Face Out Of My Head." The mocking paranoia of "Don't Make A Sound" and emotional bottoming out of "I Don't Sleep" follow the album further into a punch-drunk state; only to be resurrected by the cabana-rock "Elevator Man." Finding oneself in a dead end, go no-where, situation in life (the elevator man) doesn't have to be all that bad...because after all, there's beyond your job, right? "Yeah!" introduced me to the Dogs, but it's the song’s lyrics that truly inspire. Giving everything you have to your music, your poetry, your paintings, whatever your outlet may be, and using it as your one voice to try and distinguish you from the mob is an empowering, though often disheartening thing. "Throwing my whole life on tape, with everything I want to say, listen up, my epitaph is screaming out, Yeah!" Hopefully the band has achieved such a level of recognition showing feedback enough to empower the song’s question. "Big Boy's" apocalyptic countdown to "the greatest show on earth" leaves me wondering what might happen when the big boy does comes down to hit us up with some knowledge. Success is a rare thing, but when The Golden Dogs were given the opportunity with Everything In 3 Parts, the band proved that they were not only worthy of the acclaim, but deserving of more.

God's Temple of Family Deliverance

Recently signing with NotCommon Records, God's Temple of Family Deliverance deliver a doom-flavored stoner rock along the lines of a pissed off Kyuss. From the Houston based Menace of a Heartless Monster, original members Eric Faucette and Chris Ryan teamed with guitarist, Joey Pro, and bassist, Ted Conway, forming their new band, God's Temple. With two successful nationwide tours, and with the recent success of onetime gig-mates, The Sword, God's Temple look to land further exposure by playing this year's South By Southwest festival in Austin. With their deep, brooding sound and lurid, blaring vocals, the band will definitely leave their impression.

The Leather Uppers

With a fan base that includes Andrew W.K. and fellow Canadians Nardwuar and Danko Jones, The Leather Uppers have achieved notoriety for both their stage show and their gritty, garage-revivalist sound. Forming in Toronto in 1991, "Classy" Craig Daniels and "Groovy" Greg Tymoshenko formed the duo as a reaction to the stagnant Toronto scene. With often matching stage attire, the band's explosive style found acclaim before ultimately disbanding to pursue other bands in 1994. In the same year of the break-up, the band became the first Canadian group to release on the now infamous Sympathy For The Record Industry label with their Cut Off Vest7". In a 2004 Interview with the Montreal Mirror "Groovy" Greg disseminates between the band and the scene around the time the pair started playing together; "Two people did not constitute a band, a piece of music 53 seconds in length was not a song and wearing matching outfits was lame. Some people did like our band, which was encouraging, but in a weird way those who didn't like us encouraged us even more." Returning to grace after a 2002 re-issue of their 1994 release "OK, Don't Say Hi," the band rocked a few reunion shows and have since revisited the studio to record a new album. Expect the forthcoming release, "Bright Lights," to harvest in another musical awakening; more the likes of an inspired Tricky Woo than anything garage-darlings The Strokes have offered in recent memory.

Rock Kills Kid "Are You Nervous? Review

When thinking about bands I consider synth-rock, I can think of nothing but a sheik, slick looking group whose only concern in the world is figuring out which dealer to call. Rock Kills Kid fall far from this generalization however; with a history which includes personal isolation, homelessness and a line up which for years held a revolving door policy. With that, the band looks to blossom in a musical landscape which finds itself in much the same situation as the band once did; broken.

Are You Nervous? doesn’t necessarily ask if rock and roll needs any further addition to the surplus of neo-post punk groups, but rather shows how compiling influences, both classic and modern, can result in an excellent addition to rock. While it is easy to listen to "I Need You" and hear Franz Ferdinand, it's also easy to listen to a track such as "Midnight" and recall what was fun and entertaining about 80's rock. Multiple listens to the album offer further challenge to thoughts that Rock Kills Kid might simply be servants to a musical trend, as they captivate by lending a voice of triumph over the deeply emotional struggles many deal with on a daily basis.

"Back to Life" journeys through depression, following a remarkable transformation by RKK’s lead singer, Jeff Tucker. Through a personal decision to neglect his suicidal thoughts, Tucker transforms the song's morbid motif into a motivational narrative. Accompanying the song is "Life's a Bitch" which playfully reflects on darker times, "Life's a bitch, but we keep moving on." Though "Paralyzed" initiates the seed of heartache, the album's finale "Raise Your Hands" ultimately signals an uplifting end to the tale. At less than forty minutes, the songs don’t hinder the message; which, while hinting on cliché, offer an addictive tribute to an inspiring story of what ultimately didn't kill kid.

My Way My Love Interview

With the surge of bands that drop anchor in Austin, Texas each year for the South By Southwest music festival comes an equal flood of skepticism. The platform can be the literal breaking point for those performing (past performers: Norah Jones, The Donnas, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rufus Wainwright, and so forth), and has been spectacle to a myriad of celebrity keynote speakers (Robert Plant last year, Neil Young this year) throughout its nineteen year history. One of the bands I would like to (humbly) suggest is Tokyo’s My Way My Love. In order to better understand the half noise-rock, half neo-grunge sludge rock trio I was able to take the time last week and interview the band’s lead singer, guitarist and electronic “device” aficionado Yukio Murata.

What is the significance behind the band's name: My Way My Love.

Yukio: No meaning, we felt it sounded good. Also, I’m thinking of it like this: “way” is “vision of originality,” and “love is “heart strings.”

What has inspired your band to branch out into the European and American markets?

Yukio: When I was young I loved listening to US and European rock bands. For example, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Who and so on. These were the genuine rock countries for me. I simply want to play (and release) in the US and Europe and Canada and Australia and around the world, just like my rock idols.

I grew up in Canada and consider some Canadian bands to be my favorites to this day. Who were your favorite Japanese bands growing up and how much influence have they had on you?

Yukio: Sorry, but I didn't listen to Japanese rock bands when I was young…and now, the only one I listen to is My Way My Love. The most influential Japanese band for me is my mom and dad with their “sleeping song.”

You'll be playing the South By Southwest Festival with a number of bands from around the world. If you were going to tour with just one of the bands playing the festival, which band would you choose.

Yukio: The Flaming Lips! I love them, please ask them for me.

Finally, this is a completely irrelevant question, but are you following the Olympics, and if so, what's your favorite featured sport?

Yukio: Figure skating.

(Some liberties have been taken to compensate for the translation issues. Please don’t get me wrong though, Yukio’s English is far superior to my Japanese)

Oxford Collapse

The post punk indie that seems to have been pushed to the back of the line by the cool kids finds itself fighting back in form of the Oxford Collapse. The melodic, bass driven lines, shattered by spurts of shrieking guitar are reminiscent of a time when it was first becoming cool to stop the circle pit and relax, stop the shoving and dance at your own pace. Intensified by the often sweetly-sour vocals, tracks like "Last American Virgin" leave a thick, guitar driven resonance aching in the back of your head. "If It Dies In Peoria...", offers a variation to the sound; reminiscent of a slightly more mature indie-punk. The abrasiveness detours into the suburban, afternoon listening session sound which is characteristic of the band. Without sacrificing their position in modern rock, the Oxford Collapse have fundamentally come off sounding as though they belong not in the SXSW music festival, but opening for The Minutemen.

"Run The Road Volume 2" Review

Run the Road 2's release came as both a surprise and a gift to me. It was mere weeks ago that my fascination peaked in Lady Sovereign and I've been happily reacquainting myself with The Streets. Though RTR2 is solid and continues to inspire me to look for new grime, it doesn't quite compare to the original. Kano's "Get Set" is by far the best possible selection for the opening track; not only for it's compelling beat, but for its inclusion of a number of perfectly chosen guest appearances. Low Deep flows perfectly with the track, and the other four MCs fit perfectly. It's understandable, however, that when attempting to examine an entire scene, there will be tremendous inconsistencies. Doctor's track "Gotta Man" stands as an inconsistency to me. Sounding like a strange grime-dancehall fusion, that track bulges with the addition of female MC Davinche's distinctly blunt vocals. JME follows with another glimmer of hope into the scene, offering not simply a solid beat (remix), but another example of how smooth and polished grime can be.

The forgettable addition of Big Seac is followed by the crunkish "Up Your Speed." Ghetto and Katie Pearl offer an addition of "Run the Road," a casual grime flow with spurts of R&B.; I'm not sure that I completely feel that this is a mixture that is either necessary or capable. I am in no way comparing this to a duet with Beyonce and Jay-Z, but for ease, allow me to contrast. the latter have a lyrical flow that compliments the smoother sounding songs they are associated with. Grime, to me, is an alternative to what has (in many cases) become a joke in terms of hip hop. I have a hard time equating this with what I feel to be it's opposite; the creamy, soothing vocal addition.

"Sick 2 Def" comes off at times as a brilliant commentary, and at times like it's missed its own message. "I talk morbid, just to make you feel awkward;" a statement that is quite appropriate in defining the track itself. As the stories unfold through this rap, my thoughts veer towards this "awkward morbidity." As Plan B begins to focus on the examination of how prime time television exhibits the same characteristics as a vulgar rhyme, I think he loses sight that by doing so in such a manner he's proliferating the thought that the television is by far the lesser of two evils. None the less, the song proves interesting in how it plays out with its entirely acoustic guitar backing track.

The set is rounded out by (among others) a Joe Buddha collaboration with the Barrington Levy-ish Klashnekoff and a track by the Dynasty Crew, ushering in what just might be the next wave of grime. While there are some definite high points, the overall impression isn't as powerful as the initial Run the Road release. Chuck D. once said that we are only exposed to roughly 15% of the rap that's out there. Extrapolating those figures to include grime leaves me to believe that these releases only hint at what is out there and that we have just begun to understand what's available. It's because of this that the future of grime is golden.

The Golden Dogs

Canada's Chart Attack has called them the best live act in the country. From what I hear though, Toronto's The Golden Dogs have a little buzz going on with their music too. Last year the band was pegged as the next big thing, with many likening them to the Arcade Fire. I don't know that I completely agree with that comparison though. One: unlike the AF (and bands like Wolf Parade), The Golden Dogs are not from Montreal. Two (and more importantly): unlike many bands in fashion (having a bloated, dull, typical indie-yuppie sound), the band seems to be catering to a variety of tastes. I can hear the parallel to the Arcade Fire, but I can also hear similarities to Sloan's often-lively pop-rock sound. The Golden Dogs might just be what indie rock needs right now.

Stephen Yerkey "Metaneonatureboy" Review

There are two things that jump into my mind when listening to Stephen Yerkey's Metaneonatureboy: the first being what I feel the music to be, and what I think Yerkey feels the music to be. Growing up, I really got off on using the word "bastardization" in terms of alternative music. I remember calling people out when they would claim their favorite music to be alternative. “It’s an alternative to what?!” I often responded, following with a statement along the lines of, “That’s merely a bastardization of the term, man.” On an opposite yet similar note, through print and video artists often refer to their projects as something that they wanted to hear, make, watch, etc. “I just wanted to make the kind of music that I wanted to hear at the time.” Unfortunately, as experience has shown me, this statement repeatedly reflects something along the lines of “I just wanted to make music that I was hearing elsewhere, and thought to myself, I could probably come up with something pretty close to that.”

Metaneonatureboy would be an album that I would call alternative, and after simply one song in, it’s easy to understand that Yerkey is truthfully “making the kind of music that he wanted to hear at the time.” Starting with a two song bluesy set, including the dark, despondent Delta track, “Dark and Bloody Ground.” “Fall Out of Love” inspires what would become an ongoing theme of deeply rooted instrumental versatility, with its inclusion of piano, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, a little guitar, a little bass, and backing vocals by Colleen Browne. “Alice MacAllister” offers my favorite “love as an intoxicant” lyric as of late, “I’m drunk at breakfast, I’m drunk at dinner, I’m drunk at… Alice MacAllister.” Not to be out done however by anecdotal “Cadillacs of That Color,” “‘Reverend Ike, how can you help people riding in a car that looks like a pickle?’ And he fixed me with an intense stare and said, ‘Little boy, how can I help people riding on a bicycle?’” “My Baby Love the Western Violence” offers a slick, hip politically incorrect love psalm. Taking a trip through what can only be affectionately called lounge-core, and “Link Wray’s Girlfriend,” the album ends with the ten minute “Stinson Beach Road,” a song deeply entranced in instrumental ossification. What's that, you say? Your favorite music is alternative…? Take a listen to Metaneonatureboy and please reconsider the lingo.

The Plastic Constellations

Minneapolis' The Plastic Constellations have received immense critical acclaim in recent years, including a recent mention on SPIN Online's Band of the Day. Without knowing better, the band's bio and interviews would leave you with a sinking feeling that this group of twenty somethings are nothing more than an American Sum 41 with tunes laced with tongue-in-cheek innuendo. Oh how wrong you'd be. While the birth of TPC came in 1995 as a way for some 14 year olds to come together and have fun making music, the group has blossomed into a solid musical assembly. Now seasoned, the band's sound finds itself privileged by experience without the burden of sounding like an outdated version of its former self.

The Minni-Thins

Recipients of the 2005 Cincinnati Music Award for Best Indie/Alternative Band, The Minni-Thins are essentially revivalists; in terms of what I always thought "alternative" meant. In modern indie music it's brave of a band to step outside of the boundaries set up by modern trends. To do so and find acceptance and acclaim outside of the given parameters is particularly commendable when you measure their (not so) cock rock against Sufjan, Oberst and a vast majority of the somber superstars currently in fashion. Stickin' it out with a sound reminiscent of mix between The Jesus Lizard and The Flaming Lips (early 90's) is respectable in and of itself. Doing so while mixing in the occasional trumpet, keyboard and cowbell makes for a seriously alternative experience.

The Morning After Girls "The Morning After Girls" Review

Generally, I accept the notion that the first wave of psychedelia far exceeds anything that has been released after 1969. I honestly feel ashamed making the comparison to a gang of neo-garage rockers (who also began in Melbourne), but to give a brief explanation of The Morning After Girls' sound, I feel it necessary. The Girls sound like Jet. They sound like Jet, if Jet were "elegantly wasted psychedelic pop fuzzy rock." Mere semantics however, as simply stated, they destroy my theory, showing that psychedelia does still exist. This eponymous release is a collective of the band's first two EPs, which amazes given its splendid flow. The eerie introduction pleasantly gives the listener due time to relax before the rocking begins; and for the next 40 minutes, the only thing that goes down is straight up, psychedelic garage rock. "Run For Your Lives" offers a sound reminiscent to that which could appear on a supplemental soundtrack to last year's DiG! "Hidden Spaces" varies the pace, slipping into a tie-dyed dream. "Fireworks" and "Straight Thru You" are some of the most effective illustrations of modern garage that I've ever heard. Closing the album with the hazy "Chasing Us Under" promotes a deeper, layered, picturesque throw back to something that rock has frivolously left behind. It was once said that "The '60s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great." After hearing this album, your stance might just change.

Kaki King

Female acoustic guitar (can I call her this?) virtuoso Kaki King has developed a style of acoustic guitar unto itself. Citing an early intrigue in her drum set, she commands as much reverence in both the sound and style as in her delivery. Her history in busking allowed her to demonstrate this new sound, as much part percussion as it is guitar. A string of due opportunity opened the way for King to perform on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Late Show with David Letterman. While working on a new album King remains relentless in her touring schedule, which I suggest you check out on MySpace.

The Fanatics

Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, The Fanatics challenge one think what could have been if Orgy hadn't put such emphasis on their image (and power chords). Bearing only a guitar and drum (& bass) machine, the duo's sound emanates as something similar to a less electronic-heavy Skinny Puppy (ie: post mid-90s). Receiving both critical acclaim and radio success, the group look to further their sound and crack the States with an appearance at SXSW in March and an upcoming release expected for August.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's "The Dust of Retreat" Review

For being together slightly over a year, Margo & The Nuclear So & So’s have a chemistry suggestive of a road weary collective. The Dust of Retreat provides an outlet for this eight piece collective, examining not only harmony and progression, but the constraints of love in the process. Drifting away from the snow ridden months of the Midwest comes an album complete with cello, keys, bass, guitar, trumpet and delusional love. Finding a common musical theme in The Dust… is difficult as it touches on a variety of sounds including the exhausted “marching band” drum sound. “A Sea Chanty of Sorts” finds itself reviving the sound however, exhibiting a gentler side to that which has seemingly become ubiquitous in pop music. This blends seamlessly into “On a Freezing Chicago Street,” my favorite on the album, which sets thematic precedent for the remainder of the twelve tracks on the album; that of troubled love. It is this feeling of constantly wanting more while every inch of you cries for a romantic discontinuation, that I believe resonates closely with the listener. At times, becoming too ambiguous for my personal understanding (which I believe reflects me personally more than it does the song) tracks such as “Skeleton Key” leave me with the strange feeling that nothing is going to get better in this affair.While drifting through an acoustic paragon, addiction is introduced to the already corrupt love, fueling further dissent and loneliness. A quiet incorporation of each piece’s gentle simplicity into the ensemble reveals an album that tests the boundaries of what one is willing to pursue when finding yourself indirectly interloping your own livelihood.