Rural Alberta Advantage (Toronto)
“After a breakthrough 2009 that saw them earn comparisons to The Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel, capture SXSW buzz playing on a bill with Grizzly Bear, sell out a tour, sign to Saddle Creek, and score a “Breaking Out” featuring in SPIN Magazine, The Rural Alberta Advantage are poised to explode in 2011 with Departing.
With The Rural Alberta Advantage’s new album, the band further refines the exuberant guitar work; everything-on-the-table singing; songwriting full of conviction and detail; and majestic, keyboard-sprinkled arrangements that have won them so many fans. ‘Departing’ strings together themes of small towns, Canadian fall and winter, break ups, and redemption and serves as a companion piece to their beloved debut album Hometowns. Highlights include the affecting “North Star,” the stark regret of “Tornado,” and the storming, percussive surge of “Stamp,” all of which vividly set the scene.
Hometowns earned them acclaim from outlets as disparate as Stereogum (which named it one of the top 50 albums of 2009) and the Wall Street Journal (who said that the band is “starting to catch fire”).
Pitchfork Media gave it an 8.0, raving that “songs this good deserve to be heard by audiences as large as their sonic scope.”
Meanwhile, All Music Guide said, “If there was an award for ‘Most likeable album of 2009,’ RAA would win by a landslide… Can’t wait to hear the next one.” And Associated Press called them a “buzz band.”
The group consists of singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, also the chief writer in the group; Paul Banwatt, whose raucous percussion pushes the songs into overdrive; and multi-instrumental Amy Cole, who provides keys, percussion, and backing vocals. Borrowing a regional slogan, Edenloff grew up in rural Fort McMurray, Alberta, and draws on his experiences there in his songwriting.”
- Rural Alberta Advantage website
New Country Rehab (Toronto)
“They may feature some of Toronto, ON’s best, and most seasoned, musicians, but spirit trumps technique on this refreshingly exuberant debut album. New Country Rehab are led by singer/fiddle player John Showman, known for his virtuoso, award-winning work in bluegrass heroes the Foggy Hometown Boys and sonic adventurers Creaking Tree String Quartet. Showman shares songwriting duties with guitarist Champagne James Robertson (Run with the Kittens), while the rhythm section of Ben Whiteley and Roman Tome is rock solid. Springsteen’s “State Trooper” is given an adrenalized remake via the vigorous interplay between fiddle and guitar, while three Hank Williams covers pay homage to their key inspiration. Showman’s robust vocals are always convincing, never more so than on the haunting “Cameo.” Their sound may be rooted in tradition, but the band are unafraid to mix things up, as with the dub effects and Allman Brothers-style guitar spicing up “Ramblin’ Man.” The strength of original tunes “Angel of Death” and “Cameo” mark NCR as a band to watch closely. The album was recorded and mixed by Chris Stringer, who neatly captures the energy that’s made NCR a live favourite. This is bracing stuff.”
-By Kerry Doole of Exclaim Magazine
Cobra & Vulture (Montreal)
“Cobra & Vulture is a Montreal guitar-drums trio with a bizarre but lovely combination of folk-style guitar tapping, double-stop riffing and soulful harmonies.
Their songs feature arresting vocals and an intertwined dual guitar attack care of two frontwomen (best friends Amber Goodwyn and Erin Ross) that’s kept grounded by the inimitable drumming of Jeremy MacCuish (Cotton Mouth, Parlovr). Frequently writing songs in thematic cycles, the band’s somewhat introspective songwriting process is blown to bits by their live act: a take-no-prisoners rock show complete with hollering and tossed hair.
The band has self-released two EPs, Seer and Vocare, available for free download on their bandcamp page, in anticipation of a full-length release later in 2012.”
- Cobra & Vulture CBC Music profile page
“Every once in a while band will come out of nowhere and just flat out knocks you on your ass. Cellos are definitely one of those bands. Stewing in the same sludgey, riff infected cesspool as mid to late 90′s heavy hitters like Karp, Unwound, Godheadsilo and Unsane; this Windsor, Ontario three-piece write some of the most punishingly awesome tunes you’ll ever hear. This is harsh, destructive music where warm, fuzzy riffs are king and loud, noisy feedback is lauded as they melt, slice, and demolish each song into acute ear fucking precision. Nods to the Melvins and Black Sabbath are pretty much essential as foundational purveyors in the genre. And Cellos fit right in with the above mentioned artists as a band that’s pushing the boundaries of extremely heavy music, one crudely bashed low-end hit at a time.”
- from Dead Beat Records
Gypsy Chief Goliath (Windsor)
“Born from the ashes of their old bands, these musicians helped pave ways in the Canadian stoner rock scene. Now serious about making no bullshit music the members: AL the Yeti Bones (Georgian Skull, The Mighty Nimbus, Mister Bones), Sean Hamilton, Sean De Faria, Dave (Blood Runs Cold) and Saitti (Georgian Skull) have decided to form a pure rock and roll band that dances on the edge of their stoner rock roots as well. When Gypsy Chief Goliath officially became a band, the vibe was electric.
This band is going to kick your ass. Now loaded with a harmonica player full time in Brodie Stevenson, the band is hot and in the pocket. They are tight with 70′s laced grooves, integrated jazz rhythms, with blistering solos, and harmonies the likes which only Thin Lizzy could provide. After being a band officially for one year, the band has already performed with some of the biggest acts in their genre, ie…Cancer Bats, Blood Ceremony, Sons of Otis, Bison BC, Barnburner, Fiftywatthead, White Cowbell Oklahoma to name a few. GCG also has a debut album being released on Black Vulture Records later this summer (2011), alongside their long anticipated DVD documentary “Its A Walk in the Mist”, the band seems to be carrying themselves in the way that depicts them exactly the way they really are. RAW and the real deal.
This is a group that is made up of, perseverance, power, experience, most of all drive. This could seriously be your favorite band ever. Thin Lizzy meets Black Sabbath, with little elements of modern heavy metal here and there. We are a HEAVY BLUES Band, that wavers on the edge of metal, stoner, doom, and classic rock. All our influences combined make up this band of gypsies.”
- from Gypsy Chief Goliath’s Facebook Page
James O-L and the Villains (Windsor)
“James O-L and the Villains perform a unique blend of broken post-folk-rock with introspective lyrics concerning universal issues of love, death and other cliched paradoxes that we will all face in some form during our limited human existence.
Since the breakup of his former speed punk group, Lennigan, James has been quietly releasing albums in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario. Taking influences from a diverse range of genres, from folk to country to blues to punk rock, James O-L and the Villains have earned a reputation as a powerful live act and have gained a strong local following. Their style has been compared to the work of such artists as Neil Young, Elliott Smith, Pavement, Hayden and The Weakerthans.”
- from James O-L and the Villains’ CBC Music profile page
“Learning is the sonic congregation of Windsor based musicians Christofer Elkjar and Murad Erzinclioglu. Formed in the summer of 2011 the pair creates psychedelic electronic rock music that breaks itself of genre specification by drawing together a myriad of styles and influences. From 90s hip hop to drone, ambient to 70s rock, experimental to blues, the band actively pursues the development of their sound by keeping the music fluid and improvisational in nature.
Learning creates a connection between their music and the rich Canadian and World history featured in many of their audio samples. The name Learning works to share this idea with the audience, as every performance is further developed and refined than the last as well as opportunity to re-examine our past. Both Erzinclioglu and Elkjar are self trained musicians and actively study the application and integration of new techniques and technologies to the act.”
- from Learning’s CBC Music profile page
“VULTURES? is a 4-piece rock crew from Windsor, Ontario. Best of friends for many years, VULTURES? music captures their shared passion for songwriting and performing in a full-on, fist-pumping rock and roll show. With hundreds of shows performed, thousands of studio hours spent, and even more beer consumed combined, VULTURES? brings a refined presence to the stage, and leaves the audience wanting more.”
- from Vultures?’ Facebook profile
Club Thunderbolt (Windsor)
“Club Thunderbolt is a new band born out of a gritty history of musicians who have lived in vans and played in dingy night clubs and concert halls from Williamsburg to Austin and back to “south” Detroit with such acts as Full White Drag, Mezzanine C-14 (NYC), Godhead, The Western Movement and Spine.
All were raised on a steady diet of Windsor and Detroit’s DIY post-punk music scene. New worlds pulled them away but their love and belief in the spirit of their motor city roots brought them back to Windsor where these four friends came together for their own musical renaissance.
What developed is a sound rooted in their collective history but with a new hope and approach to songwriting that alludes to a city on the verge…”
- from Club Thunderbolt’s website
The Unquiet Dead (Windsor)
“I walked out of the venue with the same feeling of euphoria that I can only compare to the feeling I had while leaving the Broken Social Scene concert I attended a few years back.” Fred Sorrell, West & Crooked (Feb. 6, 2012)
“the unquiet dead are on a musical quest to attain pure enlightenment. This cast of 10 musicians incorporate many styles into blues-infused Americana teeming with elements of folk, world music, gospel and psychedelia bolstered by a communal soul-hippie spirit-brimming with celestial harmonies, down-home guitars, and percussion-driven grooves. Essentially rooted in minimalist bluesy psych-folk channeled through the musical alchemy of a collective, the unquiet dead both embrace a revelatory spirit and an aura of mystery, creating music that’s strikingly original alongside a newfound sense of the past.” Toronto music blogger Lonely Vagabond (Dec. 5, 2011)
“This is just PHENOMENAL. “Rescue Me” may be my favourite song of 2011.” Tom Lucier, Phog Lounge (CBC Radio 3 Searchlight Winner, Best Live Music Venue in Canada)
Indie folk/world/blues from Windsor, Ontario, featuring various past and present members of such esteemed Windsor acts as The Golden Hands Before God, Magic Hall of Mirrors, Two For The Cascade and Surdaster! Since the band’s debut in the fall of 2011, they’ve shared the stage with Elliott BROOD, Yukon Blonde, The Sunparlour Players, Great Bloomers, The Schomberg Fair and Black Hat Brigade, as well as being selected to perform at the 2012 Canadian Music Week, North By Northwest (NXNW) and SCENE Festival.
With special 90-minute opening set by JAM SPACE ACADEMY bands:
9 Volt, 24 Sussex, Arcadia, Jinx, Lawless, Lost Weekend, Tremors
Jam Space has been teaching “kids” between 12 and 18 years old how to “be in a band” for a couple of years now, and these kids have learned a LOT. The program is called Jam Academy. With guidance from local musicians (all of whom are playing in this year’s Phog Phest), they learn classic rock tunes, and then graduate to playing their own creations.
A handful of these kids will be opening the festival by playing in a series of bands during the first 90 minutes of the event. It’ll be amazing to see them mingling with locals and touring bands that write and perform their own music. We’re all looking very forward to this!