Canada Calling! With Your Host, Bruce "e-Mole" Mowat
This Month's Topic: These Are a Few of My Favourite Things
By: Bruce Mowat
"Super power trios that mow down duff strummers": "Strummer" is a derogatory term used by hard-rock players to denote the dreaded singer-songwriter syndrome. You know, the oh-so-sensitive acoustic guitar-toting dude who's "about as exciting as watching paint dry". Thank you, Scotty Campbell, for that lucid epigram! The trio in question is Shallow North Dakota, which has just released its 3rd full-length release, its first in more than six years, on a double-vinyl album. VINYL! It's called The MobWheel, and it is the best hard rock release from these here parts in a dawg's age.
SND play hard n' heavy, heavier than most of the competition out there, but they don't adorn themselves with any sort of the usual sub-cultural accoutrements, i.e. pentagrams, grade 'Z' sci-fi illustrations, pointed references to Satan, etc etc zzzzz.. Well they do, but in a piss-take, tongue-in-cheek manner.
Now, this is a good thing, but it makes it tough for most youngsters -- and oldsters, for that matter - to get a handle on them. There's not enough wheedling for the techno-mersh metal-heads and those slow, crushing tectonic plate grooves effectively scares away the indenti-punk contingent, not to mention Little Stevie, who was seen high-tailing it out of their SXSW showcase back in the '90s. As a result, their previous two releases, 1995's Auto Body Crusher & 1997's This Apparatus Must be Earthed (still available through http://www.sonicunyon.com) fell through the cracks, in spite of my efforts to promote 'para-metal'. The playing is tightly-wound, precise, and accurate, with a ballast of such specific gravity, you'd swear it was made in Japan. Bassist Biff Young and guitarist Dan Dunham have been playing together so long, they can actually communicate via telepathy. It's also L-O-U-D, as you would expect a para-metal power trio to be. Drummer Tony Jacome's vocal work falls into the shredded yaargh category: anyone looking for catchy melodies can cruise right on back to the Pop tart section. There are no sociological quantifications or ramifications for these vocals: they're not angry, socio-pathic or frustrated (well, maybe a bit on the career end of things). It's Yaargh For Yaargh's sake. I don't have a lyric sheet in front of me, but after hearing Moustache Rock, I am proud to say I shaved today.
(Look at that - I'm quoting the liner notes I wrote for this. What a lazy bugger I am...)
The only act I -- or a scant few others - can compare them with is Die Kreuzen.
Earlier on in their career, they got the usual Kyuss, Tool, etc. comparisons, but I think they're waaaay past that now. Shallow North Dakota has its own voice now. Hear it roar at: (http://www.shallownd.com) The LP, which has bee-yoo-ti-full individually hand-screened covers, is ONLY available by mail order.
"Deep fried garage bands that blow up the speakers": Bring It On is the second full-length effort from The Chickens, and sure, you've probably heard it all before: the sneer n'yowl vocals, the bastardized blues-based guit-licks, the fuzz, the lights. You probably haven't heard it done right in a while, though, which leads me to one of my pet theories: It is patently NOT true that anyone can be in a "garage-rawk" band. Well, okay you can, but to be in a good garage band, you need a drummer that can make those three chords motor. And Chicken tubster Murray Heywood is just the person for the job, combining snap-snare work with a heavy kick undertow. Think of Charlie Watts AND Bonzo Bonham occupying the same cranial space. Or think of the Lyres: I do, and it's a comforting thought. For archeologists: 4/5's of the band used to be in the fondly remembered garage-rock outfit, UIC.
You also need good tunes like Overjoyed, the lead-off cut on this here disc. Go to Get Hip Records, they'll serve you up orders of Colonel Sanders first love--
"Solo side projects a Deadly Snake brings":
Hey, I never listen to Little Stevie, so I can't comment on the output of Toronto, Ontario's Deadly Snakes, but if this solo project by Snake-man Andre Ethier is any indication of the quality, I have truly been missing something in my life. Old people will surely wheeze "Dylan rip", but le Bobbo hasn't sounded this sprightly on disc in a Pig's age. (e-Mole's Fishing Editor insists Mr Z. can still cough up the live goods on occasion see: ). Someone told me that the rhythm section of Pickles & Price was well lubricated prior to recording this opus. Just for the record, I approve of the modus operandi employed: the results splash n' crash about in glorious fashion. I like the rollicking piano, and the lyrics are chock-a-block full of hangmen, lovers, and thieves, the kind of North American/Western European archetypes you subconsciously crave. There are at least half a dozen songs on this I can sing along with after x number of beers, and that's always a good sign. "Oh, woncha let me-- put my suitcase down...". See what I mean? Waah --fuggin' hey! Andre & Co--available on Sonic Unyon, distributed in the U.S by Nail.
"Those are a few of my favourite things--"
Friends, snowmen, country-men, send me your gear to: Creative Radio, #3, 431 Barton Street East, Hamilton, ON., L8P 1W2 Canada. You can hear a lot of the gunk I review by tuning into the e-Mole Radio Hour. And there's a fabulous new photo of moi on the web-site, suitable for framing (catch that, Chica?).
Other stuff I received in the mail: The Smugglers's Mutiny In Stereo (Mint). Grant Lawrence & company, a/k/a The Smugglers, probably think I have it in for the group and all their west coast pals, but that's simply not true. Every recording I get is treated on an individual basis, 'kay? And I -- and the Sheanderthals, I might add -- dug the dog poop out of the group's live show, when it played my home-town of Hamilton, Ontario a few years back. And some of these cats did veritable yeoman's pulls on The Evaporators latest piece of aluminum, duly thumbed-up in the last issue of IMWT.
This recording, though, is missing something, and it's called ballast. I mean, I really want to like songs about kids listening to pirate radio under the bed covers at night, right? There's something missing in the motor, though, and that's truly unfortunate, because The Smugglers anticipated a lot of what the recent wave of garage-rawkers (e.g. Hives, Vines, Strokes, White Stripes, etc.) has commercially reaped.
You might think differently, though, so tune in and hear The Smugglers on the From The Mailbox segment.