vernon_19972It appears that Spring not only means a flood of rain and other iffy weather, but a watershed of new music too – including VINYL!!!

There has been much said in recent months about the resurgence of vinyl – specifically the album length 12” variety. There has been less ballyhoo about the black (and in one case, mustard yellow) 7” Bullseyekind. This month I received not one, but two artists with fresh 7” PVC wax. There was also the usual plethora of CDs (which labels still insist has no discernible audience) and even one USB offering. Let’s dig in:

WAKER GLASS – “Neighbourhood Party” b/w “Widow’s WalkWaker Glass(7” vinyl)
Waker Glass – Jake Dimmick (bass), Robert Earl Stewart (vocalist/guitarist), Terry Lusk (drums), and John Pilat (guitar) – began life in a Walkerville, Ontario basement in the summer and fall of 2010, playing out sporadically around Windsor and Detroit, before putting the band on hiatus in early 2012. The hiatus lasted through to the winter months of 2013 when the four members reconvened in a room on the shores of Lake Erie in southeastern Essex County and began recording.

The aforementioned mustard yellow vinyl features “Neighbourhood Party” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AkAtPLyGlA# which plays like Leonard Cohen trapped in a cascading Beatles loop of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. And to be clear – that’s a good thing!  “Widow’s Walk” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eB52Mm0JLE, meanwhile, treads on 1980s post-punk slash and dirge guitar drone territory. It’s very organic, earnest and hypnotic making it perfect for CBC Radio 3 or a College radio station near you (hint: request it!)

THE JAMES CLARK INSTITUTE – “Company Hearse” b/w “I Don’t Leave the Radio On Anymore” (7″ vinyl)
JamesClarkeI’ve known James Clark since the late 1990s during his stint as drummer for Alex Radeff’s band Donkey. He has marched to his own idiosyncratic destiny as a solo artist both under his own name and with his band The James Clark Institute releasing albums such as “The Land Before Tim” and “Home Is Where The Heart Attack Is”. Over time he moved away from obtuse dark humour, confronted the ghosts of his past, and now spins his personal demons into witty, well-crafted power pop.

In the summer of 2012, iconic Canadian singer, songwriter, producer Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness) produced and played on two new songs – “Company Hearse” and “I Don’t Leave the Radio On Anymore”

“Company Hearse” deals with the feeling that life may be passing one by and that getting stuck driving the family’s company car for a funeral home might not be the best use of one’s yet-to-be-fulfilled future. The song could easily be a lament by Nick Lowe or Hamilton’s Dave Rave; “I Don’t Leave The Radio On Anymore” refers to the passing of Clark’s 17-year companion and treasured pet cat. We can relate to leaving the radio on for little mittens each time we’d have to leave them alone in the house for awhile. Add to that Clark’s John Lennon balladry approach (circa ‘Imagine’/’Mind Games’) and you’ve got a heart-breaking ode to tabbies everywhere. http://www.clarkinstitute.com

LAURIE BIAGINI – ‘Sanctuary of Sound’ (CD)
LaurieBHow do I love thee, Laurie Biagini? Let me count the ways. One through fourteen ways! After falling hard for her ‘A Go Go Girl In a Modern World’ CD in 2011, Biagini had released album number after working diligently for 18 months in her home studio crafting more songs about the summer, the sun, the sand and any activity you might enjoy in the company of each. It might sound a lot like ‘Pet Sounds’ era Beach Boys at first blush, but Ms. B. doesn’t hesitate to shuffle the lyrical deck with tunes like “Monkey Business” www.youtube.com/watch?v=3USj2YADxaU and the eat-the-rich commentary of “Gold Plated Girl” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT5u1pAOOko.

She also incorporates plenty of psych-era Sunshine Pop with the title track, “Beautiful World” and “Castle of Sand” among others. Where this album differs from her previous efforts is in the improved production and especially her singing (though this listener would love to hear less Phil Spector reverb and more breathy Biagini up close in the mix). She also takes some progressive risks on tunes like “Springtime of My Mind”, “Autumn Years” and the Vinnie Zummo hauntingly beautiful co-write “Sunset”.

This is a hell of a production which pits Biagini against herself as writer, producer, engineer and star performer – she plays every instrument except some additional guitar added – in virtual time – by New York’s Zummo and Roma, Italy’s Fabrizio Serrecchia.

EMILIA – ‘Flying Colors’ (CD EP)
EmiliaWatch out, radio. Emilia Sadowski is set to take the airwaves with parts tween pop Selena Gomez/Demi Lovato and sultry Nelly Furtado A/C groove. Written by Emilia and arranged by Joel Lightman, this George Rondina production sounds like a million bucks with Emilia’s voice sitting perfectly in the mix – a major complaint I’ve had for years about contemporary artists who play second fiddle to samples and auto-tune. Emilia delivers the radio friendlu “Closer All the Time” and “I Am Free” with confidence. She also digs deep, emotionally, with the social commentary on “Homeless & Hungry”. Looking forward to a full-length from this rising young artist.

Aplin_Hunt_HumeWhat if I told you that your favourite Canadian hard rock acts from the 1970s could still make music as good as they did then? Guitarist David Aplin (Hanover, Wrabit), drummer Kim Hunt (Zon, Moxy, Urgent) and bassist Colin Hume bring back the force of those classic CanCon rock acts and then some with a 13-song firestorm of sizzling production, well written melodic rockers and enough musical artistry to make listeners yearn for the Rock of Yore. Though most of the tracks are in the heavy vein (“Man’s Ruin”, ““Cup of Sorrow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuA8lsUTnMA, “Spit”, “All the Answers I Need”), the interludes and dynamic twists in songs like “Loveable Alien”, “Rain Keeps Falling Down”, “Anything” and “Waiting For the Light” keep it fresh and unpredictable.
Go to Facebook and then buy this material. You’ll get your rocks off.

ANDY GRIFFITHS – ‘Mind On Other Things’ (CD)
AndyGriffithsOnly got this disc this week and it’s already spinning on repeat here at Vermin Central. A progressive leap, musically and stylistically from last year’s ’Looking At a Life’ CD has Griffiths growing exponentially from his folk/acoustic live persona to fully realize band productions. Songs like “We Sing For Your Love”, “Gone Forever” and the title track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KkjNpSTs3Q feature whispy remnants of his former singer-songwriter ‘feel’ but come alive with the assistance of Tomi Swick, Russ Boswell, Ray Farrugia and a cast of thousands as backing band and accompanists. The more interesting tracks are those that float outside of Griffiths’ comfort zone with “Lost My Groove” (featuring keyboardist Lawrie Ingles), the eco-friendly but outer-wordly “Garbage Into Space” and the tall-tale story balladry of “The Fog Has Lifted” which finds Griffiths falling in love with every encounter he has in Halifax – and couldn’t care less that his luggage has been lost at the aer-o-port.

The disc also boasts two demo tunes “(Don’t Let It) Bring You Down” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHQJxXwWfxU and the original, acoustic-based version of the album’s “Gone Forever”. Kudos to Andy for allowing the audience to hear his works as they progress.

BraincellGraveyardI met Braincell Graveyard when they opened for my reformed punk band, Swindled, at the Devil’s Cellar in Toronto in 2011. I’ve been a fan ever since. Now the group has ironed out its musical direction and gotten its collective shit together.

‘The F*cking EP’ is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s not suitable for work or for anyone easily offended by songs about blowjobs, orgasms, penis’s (penisii?), tits, and lady bits – . What Black Flag did for party punk, Braincell Graveyard does for porn punk. Hell, the promo package came complete with a hand-drawn ‘hidden’ whale penis in the accompanying physical disc’s artwork. Subject matter aside this disc is filled with blisteringly produced, in-yer-face hardcore with tinges of metal. What sets it apart from every other act in the last 30 years since hardcore was spawned, is that these guys have incorporated melody, complex arrangements (complete with time signature changes, interludes, female co-singers, and some of the cleverest and funny lyrics this side of misogyny.)

Highlights include “Jamaican Death Metal”, and the triple assault of “Braincell Anthem”, “Beer & Braincells” (a vocal session outtake that goes completely off the rails) and the teachable ‘fuck you’ lessons found in “Story Time”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyyPFwNvQC8

Oh, and bonus points for releasing the music and EPK as a USB stick.

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 ButtonJaimie “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 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

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