JAIMIE VERNON – ADVENTURES IN NEW MUSIC

Merch table_Hamilton_Dave Rave_2002 I spent a bit of of time in downtown Toronto this week having avoided going anywhere near it since 2012 because, well, CONSTRUCTION. The annual FanExpo extravaganza began Thursday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and I took my son down on transit – not to see the actors and actresses hawking their photos and autographs (which we have enjoyed in years past), but to check out the new offerings in the video gaming world.

 

Riley and the Batmobile

He got his fix, posed in front of the newest Batmobile and I had an awesome pulled pork sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes. The crowds started getting heavy after that and following a beleaguered attempt at tracking down any variation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s Groot action figure (apologies to my wife for failing the mission) we headed home.

Groot and Rocket Action FiguresThursday was also Bob Segarini’s 69th birthday bash as well. My plan was to take the kid home, grab my car and head straight back downtown for the par-tay. Fat chance. Aside from the grueling two hour transit ride home (we didn’t have to pay to get on the subway at the St. Andrew stop thankfully!!), my feet were done. The MTCC is an unforgiving concrete bunker. Even with carpets, standing in line for upwards of an hour so my kid could get an 8 minute fix of the new HALO Master Chief sci-fi shoot ‘em up, my flat feet were destroyed – swollen and in pain. I was home at 10PM…and could barely walk. Having spent the last two years in safety construction boots with exceptional comfort and support, it appears my loafers have failed me. And for that I apologize to Bob. It was not to be. Happy birthday, Bob.

ShoeFriday my feet weren’t much better but I had a car to get me out to the airport to drop my wife off for some work related things and then downtown again to visit BMV Books on Bloor Street right next to Ye Olde Brunswick House a former Blues institution beyond peer. I dropped off a copy of my Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia for possible distribution then took a look around. The store is old school used books – three floors and several stores wide. In a time when the World’s Biggest Book Store has gone under this was a site for sore eyes. They have three locations – including one directly next to the former WBBS on Edward Street. http://www.bmvbooks.com/

Metal On Ice

I’d never been there before and headed to the basement to check out their arts & entertainment books. The selection was impressive as it had new books there too including guitarist Sean Kelly’s homegrown biography of growing up in Canada listening to heavy metal entitled “Metal On Ice”. It’s also a CD and he’s been out touring it as a live show with some of the artists mentioned in the book (Lee Aaron, Carl Dixon, Brian Vollmer, Darby Mills, Nick Walsh).

I wasn’t planning on buying anything but Ace Frehley‘s bio was $6.99 and I was in the mood for something garishly ridiculous and stupid cheap. They also had used vinyl and used CDs. In the vinyl bins were three albums I needed for my overwrought Canadiana collection with releases by Morse Code Transmission, Rob McConnell’s Canadian Brass (in Paris, no less!), and The Dublin Corporation.

WingspanI decided to grab some past and present tunes from the CD racks. First was Paul McCartney‘s ‘Wingspan’ from 2000  – a double disc hodge podge of greatest hits and stellar almost-rans. Strangely featuring solo numbers but completely ignoring the ‘Back To The Egg’ Wings album and its two charting singles: “Getting Closer” and “Arrow Through Me”. Macca also stuck “C Moon” on the ‘Hit’ disc. Smoke another one, Sir Paul. ‘C Moon’ was a cultish B-side to “Hi Hi Hi”. Oh, I get it. Fitting.

The other CD was the new KONGOSLunatic’ album. Kongos are four brothers from South Africa who decided to pursue their music careers in Texas. It’s some wacked out shit that Kongosinvolves Adam Ant-like drum circling, accordions and big ass anthemic choruses with monster production. Imagine ZZ Top doing Arcade Fire. The band’s been posting their songs on YouTube since 2010. All of their indie tracks were finally compiled into an album this year through Sony Entertainment. KONGOS must be bored of promoting this new material already. The first two singles are nearly 3 years old. I’m digging these tracks.

It’s been a long time since I’ve deliberately sought out something new to listen to. Most music is sent to me for free. It’s a perk of having been in the music business for so long. People want my opinion on what they’re doing.  I’m quick to point out that no one needs validity from a critic. No matter what I say you will continue doing what you are doing – for the better, I should hope. However, artists have come to trust I’ll be fair and balanced (unlike FOX News). I’m also good for a quote or two and I’m happy to oblige. If my name has any pull I would hope it pulls a few more ears to the artist’s material and give them a larger sounding board from which to grow.

emilia
One such artist is Emilia. She flew across my radar last year with the EP ‘Flying Colours’. It was quaint, it was safe but contained some tell-tale signs of something bigger on the horizon.  Instinctually you can tell when there’s that ‘thing’. That intangible. You can’t place it. You can’t quantify it. You just get the gut reaction. It’s a sixth sense. Something the most successful A & R men have learned to trust about themselves and their ears. Clive Davis (Arista) has it. Frank Davies (Daffodil) has it. Gerry Young has it.

M + M Gerry was the man that launched the careers of both Martha & The Muffins and The Parachute Club. He knows a few things about female fronted acts it would appear. In the 1980s those acts were the magnet for social justice and social change. Canada’s a little bit more liberal minded coming off the work that all of them did inside and outside the music biz.

Gerry discovered Emilia and believes in her talent like I do. Even more so in fact. He re-launched his long-dormant Current Records label just to put out her full length, self-titled debut. Emilia is a force unto herself. 100% singer-songwriter and a voice perfectly at home with pop, dance pop and adult jazz. And she lays it all out in ten very concise songs produced by Joel Lightman – only two tracks breach the 3:30 mark.

The pop tracks are insanely hooky – I found myself humming along to the breezy Rom-Com soundtrack of “Young And In Love” while “Turn Up” works its magic dynamically showing Emilia’s vocal chops and overall range.

Meanwhile, the first single from the album is “The City Misses You” – a New Jazz styled number with muted trumpet and is as smooth and smoldering as premium vodka. “Dizzy” is a sister track but leans toward balladry as does the album’s closing track – the fitting “You Make Me Happy” – which leaves the listener wanting to go back and revisit the album. And you do. Because the album’s barely over 30 minutes in length. Very clever. We’re hooked.

Editor’s Note: I completely agree with you, Jaimie. Gerry, you have a HUGE winner here.

So back to the top where we’re going dancing with the hip swaying incentive of “Bombshell”. This isn’t drum & bass. It ain’t disco. It’s a 90 beats per minute sultry bump and grind. And you’ll want to keep dancing as Emilia moves the focus from the hips to the heart in the stand out album track – and best follow-up to the vacancy left over the last two years by Adele – “Poison Arrow”. This is the track that could launch Emilia stateside and chartbound.

The entire album is flawless (and I rarely say that about ANY release). It’s particularly an astounding feat  for a debut. And Emilia’s still got a lot of runway left to explore before she fully takes flight. I recommend catching her on the ground…NOW. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be hard to keep up with in the future. http://www.emilia-music.ca

QUICK NOTES:
If you’re looking for something to distract your teenage daughters from One Direction (hell, even your teenage sons – who am I to judge?)  I’ve been told that Tristan Thompson (the singer, not the NBA basketball player) is the next teen star. His new track “Tidal Wave” from the album ‘Here For You’ has gone viral. Don’t be L – 7 Moms & Dads. Get hip with the newest sensation now so you have something to talk about with your kicks between Instagram photo sessions. https://www.facebook.com/TristanThompsonMusic

And if you’re looking for something from a co-ed duo other than the moribund Civil Wars I highly recommend the new Chris & Gileah self-titled album. They’ve turned the hipster thing inside out and offered up a sincere set of love songs as a long-form love letter to each other in 10 chapters. What could have been a treacle and sap non-ironic parody of the romance novel comes this generation’s Bogart & Bacall or Tracy & Hepburn in musical form. I also give them extra points for the fantastic Gatsby-era costumes and motifs.

THIS WEEK’S VIRAL FIND:

THIS WEEK’S VIRAL OLDIE:

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

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 orhttp://www.bullseyecanada.com

One Response to “JAIMIE VERNON – ADVENTURES IN NEW MUSIC”

  1. Much respect and thanks Jaimie.

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