JAIMIE VERNON: IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

Vernon_1997It’s been a really long year; one of my most productive years since about 2006 which will make it memorable in a good way rather than the last five years which I’d just as soon forget (and have taken to mentally block). My beautiful wife and I celebrated 16 years together. My son and daughter graduated middle school and high school respectively and have moved on to both high school and University in turn. I was given a great opportunity by a new Facebook friend, Todd Childerhose, to work a social media job at his company UpCountry.com – which I will forever be grateful for. I had one of my best friends in the world pay for my career retraining in the security industry.

SecurityLicenseI not only got my Ministry License to be Paul Blart, Mall Cop, but I’m certified in First Aid/CPR.  Another old friend taught me how to weld. These, of course, are my back-pocket Plan B’s should my current career path not pan out. In the summer of 2011 I decided to take a crack at writing – first through Cashbox Canada and then with Bob Segarini’s daily ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ blog (https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com).

SegariniBy my calculation, Bob and I have known each other since the fall of 1996 when he was part of a rag-tag bunch of musicians that jammed at Rhythm ‘n’ Cues in Oak Ridges, Ontario under the name Cats & Dogs (but were affectionately known in close circles as That Fucking Band That Never Got Paid Despite Having Gold Record Winning Rock Stars In It). When the bar closed and Bob gave up his palatial retreat on Lake Wilcox we lost touch. After signing Greg Godovitz’s band Goddo to my record label in 2000 Monsieur Segarini popped up as co-lead vocalist in GG’s side-project The Greg Godovitz Orchestra & Chorus –a three piece acoustic act that also featured keyboardist Ron Christian or Drew Winters or Brad Lovett depending on who was available or who could tolerate Godovitz & Segarini on any given Tuesday. As time went on, the Orchestra locked down a house gig at Peter & Diane Jermyn’s Blues On Belair Club in Yorkville. Mr. Lovett became a permanent, though Grumpy Cat-like, fixture in the band. His complaints about parking prices and the general state of deep fried Buffalo Wings was misconstrued as anger and thus the trio rebranded themselves The Anger Brothers.

Anger BrothersThe Angers soon found themselves with a morning show on MOJO Radio in Toronto. It was a near R-rated Smothers Brothers chucklefest where they would also, occasionally, play music. It was notable in that it also showcased the first regular appearance of Ubiquitous Man About Town, Max Brand, in a hilarious segment called “Yesterday’s Weather Today”. MOJO eventually changed hands after being lost to an Ultra-Super-Happy-Megalolithic Radio Conglomerate in a card game and the Angers were left busking for blow jobs (receiving, not giving…or so I’m told). The group was unstoppable however and after I signed them to Bullseye as well they would land a gig as musical morning sidekicks to Q107’s John Derringer. I felt bad for John as he had to not only juggle a live morning show broadcast from the Hard Rock Café in downtown Toronto but had to deal with the verbal abuse from the Three Stooges at 6AM. Alas, the team-up didn’t last forever and the Anger Brothers went on to short-lived greener pastures by releasing a self-titled album on my label – and subsequently self-destructing in a fiery blaze of acrimony the night of the CD release.

Cats_and_DogsBob wanted to have his own band anyway and decided to revive Cats & Dogs 2.0 which had a great run and an amazing CD on Bullseye in 2004.
He also ended up back on radio doing what he loved on shows broadcast through Q107 and Sirius XM. We remain friends to this day because we both share a lot of common ideas about the music industry and how no one – except us – has figured out how to monetize them.

18._The_House_on_2nd_Concession_Back

From the back deck of his former Antebellum Century Home in Uxbridge we’d gaze out at the swampy lagoon, drink mint juleps and crack our Antebellum_picnicsuspenders while discussing satellite radio, the MP3 revolution, the death of the major label cartels, YewToob, and other haughty topics that could have (and would have) saved the world and made us stupid rich – had we, you know, owned a pot to piss in. The spirit of those conversations  – and the passion from our love of music – is what drives these blogs. Bob’s assembled an expert team of similar minded writers to make this the best daily read you’ll ever get for free. The longevity, and popularity, of Don’t Believe A Word I Say is a clear indication that you, the reader, have a love for what we love as well.
So, here we are another year older and deeper in debt but I’ve still managed, somehow to wave the flag in the name of The Cause every week while sandwiched in between the never-ending chaos that life throws my way – including the time I dedicated to writing three books (!!!) this year. Oh, and listening to music. Lots of music. Here, without further doo doo, is the latest, greatest releases gracing my CD player (in my never humble opinion).

Gutmanis
ANNA GUTMANIS – “Glimmer In the Dark”
Social media has been a boon not only for me as a reviewer, but independent artists looking for exposure that is now denied to them through traditional media. Ironically, it was Facebook that brought me to the attention of Anna Gutmanis – an artist that lives about 12 minutes from my house. ‘Glimmer In the Dark’ is a life’s work for the singer-songwriter keyboardist who lets us in to hear intimate audio snapshots of her life growing up over the course of 30 years. The album plays out like a musical version of the British coming-of-age documentaries ‘7 Up’. We get to experience, with her, the awkwardness of teen angst and (non) acceptance on “Another Way Out” to confronting the pressures of adulthood,  parenthood, occupational burn-out, and other mid-life crises on “When I Get Out of Bed”, “Middle of The Line” and “The Rain” (the oldest composition on the disc). Gutmanis jockeys between musical styles as with her sultry mid-baritone and exceptional piano work. Songs like “Hello Again” and “First In Love” (featuring  second vocalist Karen Dinardo) exude a playful and poignant Leonard Cohen cabaret breeziness while “People (Got To Get It Together)” finds Gutmanis channeling her best Mavis Staples inspirational gospel voice.

“You Won’t Be Sorry” and “In the Sun” both recall the music of the tropics – reggae for the former and Jimmy Buffett yacht Rock for the latter. Gutmanis is comfortable wearing all these hats. The production by Karen Kane along with the exceptional backing musicians – specifically the tasty guitar work of Wayne DeAdder – elevate this release from independent vanity project to seriously professional. And any album that features a singing appearance by a cat (“The Voice of Bliss”) is all good in my book. http://www.annagutmanis.com

TrewsTHE TREWS – “…Thank You And I’m Sorry”
Not satisfied to sit on their hands and wait for the world to come to them, Canadian perennial rock act The  Trews have decided to let the poor performance of last year’s ‘Hope & Ruin’ roll of their backs and press on. As their global profile increases  – they feel at home with crowds in the US, the UK and Australia now – the band has decided to reduce the waiting time for new product (which is never a bad idea in this attention deficit musical world) and have fashioned a quickie 8 song EP. Interestingly, it might be their most focused and cohesive work in years. The band’s John-Angus MacDonald pilots the production with the band’s mentor, Gordie “Big Sugar” Johnson, to give us songs that have been kicking around as ideas or live-only tracks for a few years. Closet cleanings are usually inconsistent contract-breaking vanity projects. The Trews are smarter than that – and explains the brevity. Only the band’s best left-overs and outtakes have been presented here.  Off the top they give us a re-reading of their ‘Den of Thieves’ track “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me” – this time with their new Australian friend Shannon Noli and The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson. In fact, Robinson pops up as guitarist on “Lord, Keep Me In Mind”, “Not Yours To Love” and “Oblivion” (where the Trews channel their best Blues Traveler). A smart move, in branding terms, as the appearance of both special guests will help endear them to bigger audiences in the US and Australia. Mind you, the Trews have already targeted Australia with a cover version of Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls (aka The Messengers) Top100 hit “Leaps & Bounds” from 1987. What was once a post-synth pop track in the hands of Kelly has found new life as a Stonesian rocker that sticks like an earworm.


Also included are two Trews concert favourites that have finally been fleshed out in the studio – “The Power of Positive Drinking” (recently used in the promotion of whisky by the LCBO in Ontario) – and the hilarious “Herm-Aphrodite (She Was a Guy)” which finds singer Colin MacDonald recounting an awkward “Lola”-esque encounter.  http://www.thetrewsmusic.com

Inashton
INASHTON – “Everyone & You”
This CD fell on my desk by accident – it came to me via my pals at EOne. The album cover looked interesting as it reminded me of UK via LA pop act Orson who were a brief sensation in 2005. The contents, however, were nothing remotely the same. With the first song “It’s Ok…It’s Ok” I was struck by the sound of a youngish Marianne Faithful/Bonnie Tyler vocal. Wait, I thought. There’s no chick in this band! Double checking the credits I was surprised to learn that it’s a guy by the name of Morgan Clamp. I immediately had to adjust my perception. This time I listened closer and realized that what Clamp was actually doing was a mid-1980s impersonation of classic Deviated Septum Rockers like Sebastian Bach and Vince Neil. This was a clear case of adenoid overload. No mind, by the third track – an anthemic power ballad called “Forget Your Head” I was hooked by the hooks. (**NSFW**)

These kids are parts Enuff ‘Z’ Nuff and whatever the hell Hedley is trying to do these days…but without the pretense. I haven’t had time to fully absorb the record yet….but I’m liking it a lot. I recommend it only in that I think you’ll be as surprised as I was. Sometimes my first impressions are over-ruled by my gut instinct. Given half a chance I think folks might like this album. http://www.inashton.com

KLAATU – “Hope (35th Anniversary Remaster)”
Yeah, yeah. Rush got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally. But what Rush fans do not know is that before their breakthrough album ‘2112’, studio-mates Klaatu had built the sci-fi concept album to unparalleled perfection with 1977’s ‘Hope’.

The band that people believed was a reunited Beatles ignored the naysayers and critics, put their feet to the grindstone and worked tirelessly for nearly a year assembling two perfect sides of orchestral Prog Pop. The space-themed narrative detailed the story of a hubris-filled planet that destroyed itself and left a lone guardian of their legacy to tell the tale. The trio’s mastery of the songs, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the studio wizardry of Terry Brown (yes, Rush’s Terry Brown…but we’ll get to that in a minute) led to Gold Records around the world and a JUNO tm Award for Brown. Rush – who was recording down the hall at Sounds Interchange in Toronto – soon had Brown apply the same techniques and approach to their next release ‘2112’.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  So, here we are 35 years later and Klaatu has revisited ‘Hope’ by enlisting the help of Terry Brown once again to polish up the master tapes with restoration guru Peter E. Moore for a re-evaluation of the album that started it all. Fans who know the album will be pleased to hear the now vibrant subtleties of sounds previously buried on older re-issues. They will also love the added visual material courtesy of original album cover designer Ted Jones – including a full Tolkienian map of the fictitious world of Politzania. New listeners who dig ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and The Beatles’ more progressive works will be taken on a surprisingly fresh journey of the mind. Order it before Christmas and get it autographed by the band members. http://www.klaatutheband.com
GRACE NOTES
Got a sneak listen this week to a new 2013 archival project from The Kings (“Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide”).

It will be a live album of material the band was performing when they were a Prog act called Whistleking recorded around 1977/1978. Amongst cover tunes by Frampton, The Who, and Supertramp are some previously unreleased original songs. Coming soon to http://www.thekingsarehere.com

Harem ScaremDurham region superstars Harem Scarem announced this week that they’ll be reuniting in 2013 to re-record a 20th Anniversary special edition of their breakthrough album ‘Mood Swings’ from the ‘90s. It will include three bonus tracks. The release will coincide with live dates not the least of which includes a headlining gig at Firefest 2013.

http://www.haremscarem.net/

Jessica TylerCongrats to Ajax, Ontario native and ‘Degrassi: The Next Generaton’ TV star Jessica Tyler who has been chosen to open select shows in January for Nelly Furtado.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjkaArILvok

http://jessicatylermusic.blogspot.ca

Another new act out of Durham – The Joint – have a pretty rocking self-titled debut album…think swamp-boogie AC/DC with blistering guitars.

http://www.thejointband.com

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Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.
Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_Button“Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 34 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia (www.bullseyecanada.com) and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at www.amazon.com

4 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON: IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR”

  1. Thanks for mentikoning me Jaimie and congrats to Jessica Tyler who Imet two weeks ago at Grizzlys when they had the big brothers benefit.

  2. You know what they say, Skeezix. Those of us who cannot make do with doing end up writing. I wish I had the energy to write three books and get a job, but then I’d never have time to follow up your music suggestions. The Trews are trewly impressive, yes, and I can’t wait to dig in to the others. If they aren’t as good as you wrote, your lawyers will be hearing from mine.

  3. …and my wife says if you don’t like the Trews, you’ll be hearing from HER lawyers. 🙂

  4. Another awesome post! Thanks, Jaimie, for your inspiration. xo

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