Frank Gutch Jr: O Canada! (You’re Music to My Ears)
Repeat after me. “There just isn’t any good music out there these days.” Repeat it again. And again. And again. Repeat it a thousand times and it will be no truer than it was the first time. There is more good music out there than there has ever been. Truth is, we have forgotten how to listen. We went through a golden age of radio and had our music handed to us by a system controlled by people who supposedly knew what they were doing and we’ve gotten lazy. We are the fattened calves, awaiting sustenance from the gods. We are pools of fat melted on the car seat. And seriously, dude, there just isn’t any good music out there any more.
Don’t try to deny it. The vast majority of us have no clue when it comes to music and we don’t care. We accept what is easiest to accept and look no further because, truth be told, there just isn’t any good music out there any more.
The music industry isn’t killing itself. You are killing it. You’re killing it by accepting the gospel according to the major labels. You’re killing it by sharing rather than buying. You’re killing it by supporting the acts established in your youth in place of supporting the new and exciting acts who are out there today, struggling to make a living. If your idea of a great night of music is sitting in a stadium listening to retreads of old songs you’ve heard thousands of times before by artists who can no longer perform them up to specification, stick a fork in yourself. You’re done. Don’t worry. Someone will make sure that Stairway to Heaven or Free Bird or Hey Jude is played at your funeral. It will be a fitting end.
There are those of us, though, who haven’t given up. There are those of us who wade through CDs and digital files every day in search of the next outstanding album or song which makes the heart beat a little faster or squeezes the blood right out of it.
What? You’re not done? Okay, here’s a test. I will give you names of a handful of Canadian musicians who are far beneath the radar along with links to their music. Follow the links and listen. If you find something you like, log it. Buy it. If you don’t, no harm done. The thing is, you have to listen to avoid the fork. You used to know how. I know you did.
And just so you know, I’m not giving you just any musicians here. I’m giving you the best I have found over the past few years— musicians who have put their hearts and souls into their work and who have created music worth hearing and worth buying and who, more than anything, have earned the right to be heard.
You pass this test, I take back every nasty word I said about you. Ready? Begin…..
The Dementians are not really The Dementians at all but are the musical rantings of one David Jacques who fights crime by day and records music at night. I stumbled upon him some time ago, captivated by a tune I found on the Net. Middle Class Revolution is an oddity in the world— my world, anyway. A combination of crunch, trip-hop and sugar-sweet pop, it is a couch potatoes’ version of road rage. The song was written, tongue-in-cheek, about a driver who, after being allowed into a long of cars, “didn’t even give me the wave”. I chuckle every time I hear it but it is more than humorous, it is good music. Jacques has plenty more where that comes from, some of the songs downright laughable and others sweet, sweet pop. This guy deserves a lot more than a cursory listen. This guy is good.
Laurie Biagini is one of Vancouver B.C.’s best kept secrets but won’t be for much longer. She writes in the surf/beach/girl-group style and sounds like a lower-voiced Annette Funicello. She has released two damn fine albums on her own, performed at various places around the world and has a saved slot at International Pop Overthrow concerts. Fifties and sixties Pop runs through her veins and I’m not talking soda pop. You want a hint? Her first two albums are titled Ridin’ the Wave and A Far-Out Place and if that isn’t enough of a hint, let me just say that her music is groovy. Derivative? Definitely. But she does it with her own twists and turns and it’s a hoot. She writes solid songs and captures the era perfectly. If I want to be transported back to that period of sun and fun on the California sand, this is the music I choose. She is currently working on her next album, tentatively titled A Go-Go Girl In a Modern World.
Listen here: http://www.reverbnation.com/lauriebiagini
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sxH7G2EuRA
I know. There is more than one Lisa O’Neill out there. At one point, a year or so ago, she was considering changing her name, but I argued against it and am thinking others may have too because she didn’t. She is the wisp of a girl and writes and sings songs I am afraid of listening to too hard for fear of them crumbling to dust. I was completely swept away by a song off of her Partner album, Trouble, one of those intense but sweet songs of angst. For those in the know, an added bonus is the playing and production of Jesse Waldman, who captured the emotions of the moments, if you will. The man has a touch. I have been awaiting something new and Lisa has occasionally mentioned writing new tunes, but nothing has surfaced yet. I’ll be waiting when it does.
Listen here: http://www.reverbnation.com/lisaoneill
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOVOOIfk-Ic
Okay, Eric Corne isn’t living in Canada at the moment, but he’s from Winnipeg and lived in Toronto and only recently moved to the States. He is a whiz in the studio and a damn fine musician besides. He released an outstanding album back in 2008, Kid Dynamite & The Common Man, but failed to really promote it to his satisfaction, something which he regrets, I hope. He pulled in a lot of favors from a lot of musicians and they really produced. He has just recently decided to give the album another shot, something that fans and friends I’m sure have been pushing. Everyone in this column is above the norm, but this guy has the possibility to break wide open. The album is commercial and tight as hell. And he’s a great guy. What more can I say?
Listen here: http://ericcorne.bandcamp.com/
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-odkc3UolJY
Shade is a Toronto band by way of Vancouver. That is, Jane Gowan moved to Toronto and took the band with her. She had done a certain amount of music work in B.C., the most notable in my mind being with The Beige, a vastly under-rated band, and was ready to break out. The move allowed that to happen. Their one album made its way to my house via my glowing review of The Beige‘s excellent album, El Angel Exterminador, an incredibly creative and well-recorded project. Gowan had played on it, had read the review and asked if I’d listen to her new Shade album, Highway. I have to admit to not being that impressed when I first heard it, but it didn’t take long before I was playing it in heavy rotation. It is a gem. There is something very refreshing and unpretentious about the album and Gowan’s songwriting, as simple as it is, is outstanding in that simplicity. I know I’ve listened to the album a minimum of a couple of hundred times and maybe lots more. All I know is that when I need a palate cleanser, of sorts, this is the one I go for.
Listen here: https://www.facebook.com/thebandshade?v=info&sk=info
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhoqnBueNHI
THE WHITE LIGHT MACHINE..
…is Fuller Vengeance, though I know that is not his real name. He came my way by way of Uncle Sinner, with whom he plays the occasional show. Uncle Sinner is a guy (who shall remain nameless because all you need to know is Uncle Sinner) who delves into o-o-o-ld music and mixes it with swamp gas and kerosene before presenting it to the public. Great stuff. Original stuff. Just short of hillbilly insanity stuff. The White Light Machine writes and performs music of a different sort. His is intense, sometimes electronic, always dancing with static electricity. Hey, both of these guys live on the edge. Describing their music is akin to capturing fog in your hands. Not for the squeamish but an adventure, for sure.
Listen here: http://www.myspace.com/thewhitelightmachine
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsmT1pcEMDs
Welcome back to the seventies, folks. Lester Quitzau plays like he belongs there. He is of the Eric Clapton style, the laid back, easy rock and blues, and he can play like you can’t believe. Tasty guitar licks mixed with solid rhythms and occasionally even steel drums. He has a sense of melody that at times is uncanny for this guy, who got out of the army in 1971 and found music an obsession. He lives somewhere on the skirts of B.C. and if I had to guess, I’d guess he was a vegetarian. He just looks like one. That’s not a bad thing, especially when he plays music as good as he does. His The Same Light album is a stone killer, thanks to his way with the guitar. I would bet that when he plays, half of the audience are musicians. That says a lot.
Listen here: http://www.lesterq.com/
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6RUWqQpRfk
I’d not heard of Redgy Blackout until a couple of weeks ago and I have to say that I’m impressed. I picked up the album at the behest of Dave Pyles at the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange, for whom I spin tales occasionally, and I am glad I listened to him. They are a little bit pop and a little bit rock and sound commercial and alt at the same time. Great vocals and well-written tunes always make a difference and these guys do those with ease. They are another of the Vancouver bands I have run across (Vancouver has way more than its share). The self-titled album (or mini-LP) has six sings listed but seven songs total. I expect great things out of these guys. They are not fringe.
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vOK-iKsZDQ
Links to a Research Turtles article which will tell you more than you ever thought you would know about the Boys from Lake Charles….. A rundown of the lies the music industry is telling and has told you and why they deserve little, if any, respect….. Links to in-depth history pieces on Steve Young and Wayne Berry, both who were tossed aside by the powers that be to make their ways on their own….. A list of not just free downloads, but free downloads that are really worth downloading…..
Should you have anything to say about today’s columns, positive or negative, please feel free. Sometimes I think I’m in this world alone.
Segarini says I have to write my own byline, so here it is. “Frank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”