Archive for June, 2008

Dr. Dog: FATE (Album Review)

June 28th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dr. Dog
(Park The Van Records; 2008)

When I first checked out Dr. Dog, I was impressed with their exquisite pop sensibilities but less so by how they used them. Like Sloan and Locksley, their power pop often veered a little too much towards the “pop” and not enough towards the “power“, and after a couple songs it all just gets boring. On their new album, FATE, they take Wilco’s Being There as a folk-rock-power-pop template and inject everything with pop-hook-boosting-steroids, ending up with a gorgeous sounding album that’s amazingly melodic and expertly constructed.
The album begins with “The Breeze”, which starts off with Tweedy-esque vocals followed by Abbey Road-style harmonies. The song builds up as it progresses, ending with a beautiful woodwinds section a la “Strawberry Fields”. “Hang On” harkens to the alt-country-soul of Sky Blue Sky with more Beatles harmonies. The piano-based “The Old Days” changes things up a bit, as do the dark funky “The Ark” and psych-gospel tinged “The Beach”, but other than that it’s the same beautiful formula all the way through.
The lyrics on the album show Dr. Dog stretching themselves and attempting to make some grand statements about life and living. The ambition pays off and gives the album an epic scope and cohesion. Were Dr. Dog trying to write a really catchy Steinbeck novel? I wouldn’t be surprised if such were the case. There’s definitely evidence of some kind of hard earned wisdom in the beautifully melancholy contained in tracks like “Hang On”, “Army of Ancients”, “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer” and closer “My Friends”.
The title FATE may carry connotations a little too strong for an album as insanely catchy as this one, but like Pet Sounds (referenced by the train sounds at the end of this album), FATE manages to put everything in perspective and recognize that the pain is just one part of a big beautiful picture. Dr. Dog have met their fate head on and produced an incredible album.

Spiral Beach

June 18th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is very special. They’re a band that’ve been with me through the good times, the bad times and the inbetween times. They’re a band that I respect, admire and enjoy. They’re a band I see just about everywhere I go…because we live in the same city and like to par-tey. They’re a band called…


Now, Spiral Beach is awesome on a consistent basis, so why did I pick this week to write a BotW about them? Because on friday they’re going to “fuck shit up” (quote: Jamez Burling on what awesome bands do) at the Whippersnapper Gallery in order to raise money to pay off a totally bogus $1500 fine they’ve been slapped with because they put up 8 hand drawn poster advertisements for a show of theirs on some company’s property. If I put up 8 hand drawn posters around the city and some company didn’t like it and charged me $50 because of it, I’d say “oh well, tough shit, here’s $50, now fuck off” but $1500 would warrant a response more along the lines of “oh well, tough shit, I’ll just kill myself” because THAT’S ALOT OF FUCKING MONEY!!!

Now, it’s one thing if a bad band encounters some bad luck, but Spiral Beach are a kick ass band and those are a rare breed these days. They’re a “quintessential indie band” just as I described Dog Day last week, but they’re sound is a little too idiosyncratic to fit so snuggly in that description. They’re not idiosyncratic like Boxes and Bags (for those who don’t know them, replace BaB with Half Japanese and if you don’t know Half Japanese, you’ve got some research to do), more like The B-52s; quirky, yet accesible. Their sound is very colourful, filled with hooks and more fun than a bag of firecrackers.

As I mentioned before, they’re playing the Whippersnapper Gallery (587A College St.) on friday and you’s a DAMN fool if you don’t come and support them. The show is pay-what-you-can, if you can believe that. These guys are being hit with a $1500 fine and they still don’t want to overcharge you! If you don’t come and do your part to help a young indie band stay afloat you might just be a heartless individual. Who knows, you might have a kick-ass time even as you do a mitzvah. Could you honestly ask for more?
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Dog Day

June 15th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So in case any of you don’t know, I’m moving to Halifax in about two or so months. That’s right, sir grubbington the third is going to Kings university. Of course, regardless of where I go, there will be music, and I want know about it. I did a little looking into Halifax’s music scene and found out about a great band that released a great little album last year. That band is this week’s Band of the Week:


Dog Day is the quintessential indie pop band. Playful synths? Check. Female Vocals? Check-la-la. Quircky male lead vocals a la Tokyo Police Club or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Most Serene Republic or etc.? Checkasaurus. The requisite guitar and drum sounds + pop hooks? Checkalicious. So why listen to them? Cuz they fucking rock, that’s why! You might be like “Ah, I’ve heard it all before” but comon, it’s like the Beatles in the 60s, you heard the beatles and were like “sweet!” and then there was the zombies and you were like “okay, same shtick but still fucking sweet” and then Pink Floyd released Piper at the Gates of Dawn which was alot of the same shtick except by someone kinda insane and you were like “umm, yeah, fucking awesome”. Well it’s like that.

So on their album Night Group they basically write a bunch of snappy pop tunes featuring all the aforementioned ingredients. Unlike Tokyo Police Club though, the tunes DONT all the sound the same…as great as the sound may be. That being said, it’s not an incredibly eclectic album either, but it doesn’t need to be, especially at this stage in the game. They came out with an album that introduces their cool sound and it’s tight and consistent. So check it out. It’s catchy!

Katie Stelmanis

June 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band/artist of the week took me by surprise. I had heard of her but I didn’t really know how. Her name was just floating around. I got hold of the album out of curiosity and when I started listening to it, I was very surprised and very impressed. This weeks artist of the week is…


Katie Stelmanis is a Toronto artist who is signed to/part of the Blocks Recording Club, a group/record label for experimental artists in Toronto. It was once home to Final Fantasy before he moved on to larger success. Listening to Stelmanis’ album “Join Us”, it’s unsurprising that she once shared a label with him. They have that sort of classically influenced, experimental, almost operatic or theatrical mentality. Most impressive is that I really can’t think of any artists who quite sound anything like her. Maybe an Evanescence if they didn’t suck balls.

Her album, “Join Us” is an album crafted mainly with electronics which are used to form a sound far more organic than one would expect. There’s a bit of piano and drums (which may be drum machines actually) but mainly it’s cheap electronics that are used very efficiently. She doesn’t sound overtly electronic is what I’m trying to say. Her singing is remiscent of Amber Webber (of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) with it’s quavering eeriness that they both learned from Grace Slick. The music itself is very dark and strangely constructed like some kind of bizzare iron machine. At times it can be quit affecting and almost downright scary.

While I doubt Stelmanis’ efforts will be climbing the charts too soon, she could very easily become the next Laurie Anderson and if so, marrying the next Lou Reed might not be such a bad future.

If you’d like to hear “Join Us”, unfortunately it’s not too easy to find. Try the “Toronto Independent” section at Soundscapes. Otherwise, I’m not really sure where you’d find it without buy it off her myspace.

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