Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dustin Ritter Band – Dead Airwaves

The Dustin Ritter Band or the DRB as most fans have shortened are a three piece rock band based out of Regina. DRB was formed in 2009 by frontman guitarist/songwriter Dustin Ritter, bassist Chicken Fingers Travis Reshaur and Judd Stachoski.

The band put out a three song demo featuring songs “Broke Feet”, “LTD” and “Swing for the Fence” in 2009. It was apparent that this was a band to take notice of. Their versatility as a band lends them to play with anyone and anywhere in the province. They come by it honestly with the three members all being Saskatchewan boys and supporting our eclectic live music community.

Just recently the band put out their debut release. I was excited for this as I enjoy the band very much live and thought their ep/demo had great songs that could make a great record. I wondered if those songs would make the cut on the new record. They did. They sound bigger, better and fuller on the finished product, Dead Airwaves. They are accompanied by ten other equally great songs. The band is hard to describe. They take from all sorts of influences. This is apparent in their record, but if I had to describe DRB I would say they are a Headstones kind band with more folk, more pop and more funk sounds.

The record is great for all ages. It really has something for everyone. While it is probably best described as folk-rock record, some songs rock harder than others. Songs such as ‘Do This Thing’ which is reminiscent of 90’s grunge with killer backing vocals that make it my favourite “rock” song on the record and ‘The Most Annoying Thing’ which really picks up at the end making surprisingly better than it already is. Others walk the fine line of almost being country such as ‘Stuck in the Psych Ward’. The song never quite falls there, rather the song just takes guitar elements of the country genre all while Dustin’s vocals keeps it the steady at the folk-rock wheel.

‘No Avoiding This’ is an anthemetic sing-a-long that Travis shines on seamlessly. ‘Broke Feet’ and ‘Echo When I’m Gone’ are campfire-esque songs that make my shoulders sway while listening to them. I can picture the smiles and good time fun that the DRB bring to every show in these two. ‘Let’s Pretend’ is a relaxed reflective piece about life that Judd’s larger than life sound is apparent on.

‘Into Steam’ almost has a Goo Goo Dolls like feel to it. That being said Dustin is sure to make it his own with distinct vocals. Dustin chooses some unique vocal phrasing on my favourite track on the record ‘Swing for the Fence’, however it also makes the song. It’s still is a dancey sing-a-long that I have had on repeat for entire afternoons.

I can’t help hear an almost Sesame St melody in ‘Backup Plan’. I know it was completely unintentional but it makes me smile. The record ends with the title track that I could lay on the couch and listen to for hours. It’s a relaxing therapeutic song to me that is complimented with the nice addition of Donnie Johnson’s violin.

There are no blistering solos on the record. No songs about strip clubs or heroin. It’s just a great folk-rock record in which all the songs meld together nicely.

But don’t take my world for it… buy the record.

Cheers Rockers.

Album Artwork by: Evgenia Mikhaylova
Evgenia Mikhaylova: Dustin Ritter Band New Album Coming Soon!!!!!!!!!guess....with my cover!!!!!

Band photo courtesy of Kim Jay photography

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's Ok To Like Biters!!

Lately I find the only way to find great music in today’s saturated culture is browsing my facebook news feeds to see the bands friends are posting. Luckily I have few with good taste in major centres. So I was browsing the feed the other day and came across a post with text that read “I love good time rock’n’roll. This Biters band is winning me over.” I naturally clicked the link and was more than pleasantly surprised.

Singer/Guitar player Tuk is from a couple bands that you probably have never heard (the Heart Attacks as well as the Poison Arrows). He hopes to make a go with this bubble-glam-punk quartet the Biters.

The Biters first two releases have both been stunning 5 song ep’s. The end of March the band released the first self titled ep and followed it up with another called “It’s Ok to Like Biters”.

Sometimes doing the revival of a genre thing sinks fast, but from the few bands I have heard doing this type of music the Biters may just do it the best. I may even like them better than the Pink Spiders. Its close I am not sure yet, but I will get back to you on that.

Highlights off the first ep are songs like “Hang Around” which bangs it out with lots tambourine, hooks and fun guitar licks. It’s an Exploding Hearts type song that has you singing along before you hardly know the words. Another one from the first ep that I really liked was a song called “So Cheap So Deadly”. This song sounds like it’s the grandchild of Bowie in the early 70’s.

On the second ep “It’s Ok to Like Biters” is from start to finish is catchy, fun and confident. The standout track on this record called “Melody For Lovers”. Come on who doesn't like hand claps and fun strut pop. “How could I know that lovin’ you was suicide? That’s how it goes when you’re standing on the landmine. Oh baby you move over but so do I. We’ll keep on walking till we make to the other side. Take me to the other side” Tuk sings. Watch the video below and try not to have smile on your face… I dare you.

All of the songs on both ep’s really strive to be hits. That being said I don’t know why any of them couldn’t. The Biters are four young men in skinny jeans, leather jackets and the raddest mullets you have ever seen. All they while they are slinging freewheeling, energetic good-time rock’n’roll songs at you.

If you like anything from Cheap Trick and the Only Ones to the Pink Spiders and the Stokes then this band is for you. If not I have to wonder, were you allowed to have fun as a kid... or now for that. The Biters won't save rock'n'roll but maybe they aren't trying to save it. By the looks of things they just like a good time like you and I and I am more than glad that it's apparent in their music.

Cheers Rockers!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pete Yorn - Pete Yorn

Almost ten years ago Pete Yorn stormed out of the gates with his brilliant debut album Music For The Morning After, which is still one of my favorite albums of the last decade. That album had hints of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska with its melancholic tone and spare song structures. However, his output since then has been a little spotty, culminating in last year's collaboration with Scarlett Johansson. But hey, I'll forgive him since he recorded an album with Scarlett freakin' Johansson.

Well, now Yorn is back with his self-titled fifth album. And he's back in a big way. This time Yorn has brought in Frank Black (aka Black Francis) from the legendary Pixies to produce. This collaboration has definitely jolted some new life into Yorn. The end result is a great batch of tunes with more of a raw edge compared to Yorn's earlier work. Yorn hasn't sounded this loose and lively since his cover of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" a few years ago.

The album opens with the garage rocker "Precious Stone," which begins with some haunting background vocals vaguely reminiscent of "Where Is My Mind." With Black on hand behind the booth, there are definitely more than a few nods to the Pixies. For instance, Yorn attempts a few Frank Black yelps on occasion and alternates between spoken word verses and quasi-screaming choruses on the furious "Badman." Black's production has the feel of a band playing live off the floor.

While Black's influence is evident (and more than welcome), this is still definitely a Pete Yorn album. Lyrically, he doesn't sing about slicing up eyeballs or monkeys going to heaven. Instead, with his everyman voice, Yorn focuses on love, lust and... um... velcro shoes. I think it's safe to say that Yorn is the first artist in history to record a song called "Velcro Shoes."

The standout track of the album is "The Chase," which features the lines "I can see you anytime/ That's why I don't care/ I want what isn't there." It's a little harsh but I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this sentiment. Another highlight is "Rock Crowd," which is essentially an ode to his fans, dealing with the "shared experience" of a performer and audience at a show. A song like this has the potential of verging on Nickelback territory. However, this sounds like it could've been a lost Springsteen track.

This album is being hailed as Yorn's "return to form" album and rightfully so. It's definitely worth checking out. You can check out his performance of "Velcro Shoes" on Jimmy Fallon below...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grinderman - Grinderman 2

Very few people in the world of rock 'n' roll get cooler with age. Nick Cave, along with the likes of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen, is definitely one of these rare people. Over the course of thirty plus years (through his work with The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds, and now Grinderman), Cave has defied the odds and has arguably become as relevant as ever with his recent string of releases.

Grinderman is basically The Bad Seeds pared down to a core of four members. The end result is a a raw, stripped down band that specialize in a "seedy" and explosive brand of blues-based rock. Grinderman 2, the band's unoriginally titled second album, is a natural progression from their debut. The guitars screech and rip, the bass and drums shake the earth's foundation, while Cave howls and hollers at times like a man possessed.

Some albums come straight from the heart. Well, this is not one of those albums. This one comes straight from the crotch. Case in point: "Well my baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster/ Two great big humps and then I'm gone." It's safe to say that Cave isn't as concerned with subtlety here as he has been with The Bad Seeds. Grinderman provide an outlet for Cave and his cohorts to get their ya-ya's out and have some good old fashioned fun. Well... that is if your idea of fun includes stories of heathen children, the Big Bad Wolf and children who cry like demons.

Standout songs include "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man," "Heathen Child," and "Worm Tamer." However, the album's highlight is the one song that strays from the central feel of the album. The gospel tinged "Palaces of Montezuma" sounds like The Bad Seeds covering a U2 outtake from The Joshua Tree. On paper it doesn't sound like it should work. However, Cave and company have instead given the album a semblance of heart... instead of just a hard on.

You can check out the band's NSFW video for "Heathen Child" below. I can't lie, it's pretty bizarre but really entertaining.