Saturday, December 6, 2014

Great New Canadian Bands?

This may be in the running for "most boring headline ever" right after number one, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative": "What are some great new bands in Canada?" What the heck, it's Saturday and what better do we have to do? Don't answer that! The first clip, by July Talk, they describe this way:
Their dynamic self-titled debut from late 2013 is a dramatic expression of he-she blues-wild and razor-edged alt-rock excitement. Think sweet-and-sour Metric-meets-Tom Waits, though I’m never quite sure which of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay is the sweet and which is the other. They both have star power, and the Toronto quintet’s inventive videos advertise a striking live presentation. No flavour of the month here – sky’s the limit.
Ok, sure it's a Canadian newspaper talking about a Canadian band, so of course it's a puff piece. You know you are just a tad backwoods when you are always supportive of local talent. But it's not bad, really. A thousand times more listenable (and watchable) than, say, Nicki Minaj. Mind you, I don't think I would describe a repeated eighth-note bass line as "razor-edged alt-rock excitement". It reminds me of someone, though I can't think who at the moment. But really, no trace of Tom Waits here, sorry. The next clip is by Steph Cameron. Here is what they say:
Here comes a B.C.-based songstress, finger picker and free spirit. From her debut album Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady, Cameron has been likened to Dylan and Mitchell, but if I was in the comparison business – and I suppose I am – I’d see her as a young and bluesy Maria Muldaur. There’s a breezy longing to her fluid, folky material, and even if her characters are rumblin’ and tumblin’, one can hear the swagger as a front. Then again, when a suicide ballad has a line like “Give me a kiss and a good shotgun shell,” anything is possible. Johnny Cash smiles in hell.
Well, ok, but when I see the phrase "B.C.-based songstress" it makes me think of the satirical Sarah Binks, Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan. A few too many resonances with Bob Dylan's "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" while not matching the quality. She's certainly cute enough and I'll bet she lives on Saltspring Island. Next up is Legato Vipers with "Gangly Dancer" and frankly, this one makes me long for Nicki Minaj:
I doubt these Ontario surf-rock boogie-meisters would know a surfboard from an ironing board. Hell, they probably wouldn’t even know an ironing board. Which means wrinkles, which is what Legato Vipers brings to the classic art of bad-ass beach music and careening psychedelic twang.  Their initial LV album glistens with stylish staccato and switchblade attitude – a soundtrack to a Tarantino lucid dream. Surf is so up.
Here's a hint, if you see the phrase "Ontario surf-rock boogie-meisters" just run! There is no surf in Ontario, just hoar-frost. Plus, instrumentals went out with the Ventures:

Regarding the video, if you are going to shake your ass, I think you have to at least do it better than Nicki Minaj. Now here is some razor-edged, alt-rock, songstress, surf-rock music that works:

At this point, I was starting to lose my will to live, so I didn't risk listening to the rest of the clips. There may be some great new bands in Canada (in fact, I'm sure there are), but the know-nothings in Toronto writing for the Globe and Mail probably don't have a clue who they are. Let's refresh the palate with some Bob Dylan, shall we?


Anonymous said...

Steph Cameron - Salt Spring Island - you're trying to be cute AND clever, failing on both counts

Bryan Townsend said...

Please tell me you are reserving your special venom for the horrible prose of the writers of the original article? I'm usually fairly successful in my drive-by critiques of pop music. Plus, I've dated a number of girls from Salt Spring Island.

Anonymous said...

Your choice of the word 'successful', instead of something like 'interesting' is interesting. You seem like a score card kind of guy.

Bryan Townsend said...

"Interesting" is such an uninteresting sort of word, don't you think? I don't actually think I have filled in a score card since the last time I went bowling, decades ago. What's your point?

Anonymous said...

Call me old fashioned, I still like 'interesting', although 'uninteresting' is easier to apply to stuff that doesn't grab your immediate attention, after all you not usually expected to properly explain what it is that's uninteresting about it. Throwing out glib terms like 'cute' and 'salt spring island' don't count for me.

I've listened to the work of the third person here, and have the impression of someone who builds from much more than an identification with a lifestyle from any particular province, or local within. As much as you might dissrespect the style or location of those promoting her, I just don't see anything about her work that asks for your off-hand drive-by treatment. No hard feelings, Merry Christmas.

Roman Shoehorn said...

Well the broader point made by Anonymous immediately above is certainly legitimate: Artists shouldn’t be tarnished by the hyperbole of others, even those seeking to promote them; and certainly one should try to refrain from hastily formed snap judgements based on that kind of information. I had a listen to a couple of her tracks readily in reach on YouTube: Ok, not quite music for the ages in my opinion, even if she has a nice enough voice and a certain charisma, - but then not everything has to be of course. Maybe hearing some more material would provide a more definite picture of her abilities.

I personally saw the reference to ‘Salt Spring Island’ it as more a reference pointing to the roots-orientated musical leanings, and the article’s pitching the artist towards a particular demographic, and not so much a slur, or blanket dismissal of the artist herself. I can see how it could be taken as a loaded turn of phrase, or somewhat dismissive by some people.

That said, I don’t think that justifies ‘Anonymous’s ’ thinly veiled invective and trollish references to scorecards and choice of adjectives: It comes across as thin-skinned and immature. Why not just disagree in a more polite way; and – more importantly – offer some useful perspective or thoughts on why the opinion expressed in the original post is either hasty or misguided?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't why the opinion expressed in the original post was misguided, I just felt it was. That said, I agree with your take on my comments. I should have done some deeper breathing first, maybe a trip to Salt Spring Island is in order.

Bryan Townsend said...

This is one of the best things about the Music Salon for me: sometimes a really interesting debate gets started. In this case, surprisingly, over Steph Cameron. Let me offer some clarification. First of all, what I am reacting to in the above post is very largely the hyperbole of the Globe and Mail article. Thanks Roman for bringing in that word. The way they were writing about all the artists was just grating. In the case of Steph Cameron, if you look back, I think you might see that I was, with the Salt Spring Island reference, pointing to the flavor of her music and not even in a negative way. I have performed myself on Salt Spring Island and it is a very charming place. I offered a mild criticism of the title of the song, which resonates a bit too much with the Dylan song. But really, this was more of a cooling off of the hyperbole than a real critique. I liked her song and presentation.

OK, now what did you think about what I said about the Legato Vipers?