Thursday, October 28, 2010


  On a Saturday night, many young Ottawans can be found preening and polishing, preparing for a night out at the clubs. While mainstream dance clubs are the usual destination of choice- there are some alternatives in our capital city. If you are looking to escape the hordes of depthless dance floor devotees, Death Disco at Swizzles can act as your refuge from the counterfeit, crowd-pleasing masses. It is true that Death Disco is a pastiche of the goth, industrial, metal, electronica and punk scenes and it seems the darker the scene; the more accepting the individuals who make up that scene are. After all Death Disco's tag line is "sexy, freaky, fun."

Danny Gorny photo
  Death Disco is the brainchild of Ryan Clark, also known as DJ Dolston. Clark was first introduced to heavy music by Kevin Priest who fronts the Ottawa metal band The Haunting. Priest recommended Type O Negative's album October Rust and Clark credits that discovery as the catalyst for his foray into spooky music and subsequent projects. Clark was driven to create an alternative night for the city in 2007 when the annual industrial Ottawa Halloween party was abolished. Clark's dark ambitions fructified in December '07 when Re-Vamp was born; Death Disco followed in March '09.

  "We play heavy, guitar driven music. It's meant to be dark and it's supposed to be heavy," Clark said. "We've really touched a nerve with Death Disco. It is something very unique in North America."

Ryan Clark, aka DJ Dolston
  Death Disco fixture DJ Alice Keller says what the attendee will encounter at Swizzles on Saturday nights crosses all genres.

  "It's not just an industrial night, it's not just a metal night. We try to do everything. Each DJ brings their own flavour to the mix. We have our more metal DJs, like Ryan, and then the more industrial DJs, like Phil and Knived," Keller said. "I guess you could call it a goth scene. Goth is one of those terms that encompasses a lot of things yet also pigeon holes a lot of things too. Goth and industrial kind of go hand in hand."

Alice Keller, aka DJ Alice
  Independent minded music lovers and independent music also go hand in hand, however Death Disco has attracted some big names in the past and hopes to do so again in the future. Darkwave legends Attrition recently graced the Queen street stage and Clark says that their Death Disco performance was a highlight on his extensive list of concert going experiences.

  "We spent two years trying to make Attrition's show a reality and this past June we made it happen," Clark recounts. "I'm sitting there watching them, they are doing their encore and it's 'Mercy Machine' one of their big hits. TyLene [Paisley, Attrition's vocalist] comes over and puts her boot on my friend's back and says 'Everybody must kneel before the Mercy Machine' and the entire bar got on their knees.  Here we are with this massively influential British band doing their first ever Canadian show at Swizzles; what an event."

  It's big bookings like Attrition that prompt club-goers like Faith Graves to sing Clark's praises.
"Thanks to Ryan we have a better scene in Ottawa than those found in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal," Graves offered.

  As for future events, Clark has his sights set on turning Death Disco's Valentine's Day event, Everyday is Halloween, into a festival and will possibly be collaborating with event planners Harsh Reality for a Canada Day steam punk-themed event. Yet Clark's aphotic aspirations don't end there. He hopes to kick start a scene that will rival those of our larger neighbours- in the opinions of music lovers outside of Bytown's boarders.

  "Everybody sits around and talks about how Ottawa doesn't compare to Toronto or Montreal. I want everybody to know right now that the most interesting things happening in Canadian spooky music are happening right here," Clark explains. "If you're into indie live music, industrial, emo, goth or electronica we are the place to be. In ten years, I want people to look at Ottawa with the same reverence and respect that they look at New York and London's goth scenes with. That's where I want us to be. I say that unabashedly and I think we can do it. I had someone who asked if it's OK to tattoo the Death Disco logo on their arm for god's sake. We are doing what we set out to do. It's one of those ideas. Take over the world with goth industrial music? Why not? Live the dream."

  Death Disco dreamer Josh Mooney adds that however abrasive or sombre the scene may appear to be on the surface, the DD crowd are tolerant troopers.

  "Everyone is welcome here, regardless of if you are gay or straight. It doesn't matter what your background is, if you are a peaceful person you are always welcome. It's a place that accepts the differences in people and promotes positivity. We're not here to hate," Mooney said.

Death Disco
Saturday nights at Swizzles
246 Queen St.
Ottawa, ON
Join the Death Disco Facebook group

Type O Negative - Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover) from October Rust

TOKiMONSTA - Death By Disco from Midnight Menu

Friday, October 15, 2010


 The weather may be biting and turning bleak but the presses are burning and producing at a blistering pace; busy spitting out new releases for fall and the upcoming holiday season. In this post I'll look at the releases I'm most looking forward to and some that have recently dropped, including the delayed return of some prolific post-punk pioneers (Gang of Four), a devilish yet dainty DJ (TOKiMONSTA, album cover below), an offering from the UK's favorite pop outfit (Belle & Sebastian) and a box set from Mr. Electric Ladyland himself (Hendrix.)


Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man

It's been fifteen years since guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared- yet that unfortunate event didn't stall the Manics' creative output. Following up 2009's Journal For Plague Lovers, Postcards From A Young Man debuted at #3 on the UK charts and James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire have both said the album is "one last shot at mass communication."

Manic Street Preachers - (It's Not War) Just the End of Love

Watch the one-take, embedding disabled video here.

Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man

Check off album fifteen for this renowned Californian punk band. Bad Religion continue to tell tales of dystopian doom and challenge the establishment on their latest effort, fittingly released on Brett Gurewitz's Epitaph Records.

Bad Religion - Devil in Stitches (Live)

Corin Tucker Band - 1000 Years

Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker has teamed up with Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi and Unwound's Sara Lund for her first solo album. Tucker has called 1000 years "a middle-aged mom record," and if the first single (below) is any indication, she's a mom I'd love to bake cookies with.  

Corin Tucker Band - Doubt

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Lanky Kim Deal-lover Bradford Cox is back fronting Deerhunter with their fourth release. On Halcyon Digest the "ambient-punk" label is sometimes shrugged off and sometimes wrapped around their music like a warm, tattered yet comfortable overcoat.
"The album's title is a reference to a collection of fond memories and even invented ones, like my friendship with Ricky Wilson or the fact that I live in an abandoned Victorian auto harp factory," Cox said. "The way that we write and rewrite and edit our memories to be a digest version of what we want to remember, and how that's kind of sad."

Deerhunter - Helicopter

Neil Young - Le Noise

Canadian legend Neil Young has enlisted the producing prowess of Gatineau-born Daniel Lanois for Le Noise. Young's last album, Fork in the Road, left me a bit underwhelmed and I was hoping Le Noise would offer some reprieve; however recent reviews have been mixed. The album peaked at #2 in Canada and #14 on the US Billboard 200.

Neil Young - Angry World

Neil Young - Le Noise - The Film

KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit

Soulful Scottish siren KT Tunstall returns with her well-received third album, Tiger Suit. Recorded at the same German studio where Bowie laid down Heroes, Tiger Suit's blend of light rock and techno-pop may usher in Tunstall's breakthrough on this side of the pond.

KT Tunstall - (Still A) Weirdo

UNKLE - The Answer EP

British electronic outfit UNKLE have dabbled in everything from acid house to experimental rap. The Answer EP may just be remixed remnants salvaged from the scraps of Where Did The Night Fall, but still manages to be captivating and complete (for an EP.)

UNKLE featuring Big In Japan (Baltimore) - The Answer

TOKiMONSTA - Midnight Menu

Los Angeles audio architect Jennifer Lee amalgamates live instrumentation and percussion mixed up with material from vinyl and digital sources under the moniker TOKiMONSTA. Lee's past as "an unfocused pupil of classical piano" has equipped her with an ear for flowing electronica; making for a percolating primordial album.

TOKiMONSTA - Sweet Day

TOKiMONSTA - The World Is Ours

Detroit Grand Pubahs - Madd Circus

I had to include Detroit Grand Pubahs because that Sandwiches song was, and still is, stupefied/superb. Madd Circus follows 2008's Nuttin' Butt Funk and the single below is evidence the Pubahs are still capable of serving up some severely strange side dishes.

Detroit Grand Pubahs - Maybe I Do

Teengirl Fantasy - 7AM

Oberlin College cohorts Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss are riding the chill wave to club play success as Teengirl Fantasy. Heralding back to dreamy 80's electronica, 7AM is a an album of retro/disco tracks, double-stacked with R&B and delivered on a fluffy pink cloud.

Teengirl Fantasy - Cheaters


Belle & Sebastien - Write About Love

It's hard to believe that Bell and Sebastien have been dispatching their delectable ditties for close to fifteen years. With I Didn't See It Coming, which has Sarah Martin singing lead, they continue to deliver wistful pop washed over with modern influences. 

Belle & Sebastien - I Didn't See It Coming

Less Than Jake - TV EP

Florida ska veterans Less Than Jake have put together a punk pastiche of TV theme covers. Listen to the sixteen song EP, which runs under 13 minutes, here or a large portion below.

Less Than Jakes - TV EP

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Sufjan Stevens has straddled the line between electronic and folk beginning with 2000's A Sun Came. Since then Stevens has put out nine albums, including his latest, The Age of Adz (pronounced odds.) A follow up to the hour long All Delighted People EP, The Age of Adz appears to be Stevens' grandiose pop manifesto, which he describes as "pop songs [that are] kind of imposed over sequences of sound"

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon's debut EP fructified in 2003 when four Followills locked themselves in a basement with an ounce of weed. Now on their fifth disc, KoL attempt to build on the massive success of their Grammy winning album Only By the Night. Come Around Sundown will likely feature more sexually charged lyrics not unlike those heard on Sex on Fire, Charmer and Holy Roller Novocaine.
"We're all pretty charming. We're from the South, it's been bred into us," Nathan said in an interview with Xfm.
"I'm better at break up lines, like 'Are there people following you? Because I'm seeing people behind your back,'" Matthew added.

Kings of Leon - Radioactive

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. - Record Collection

Mark Ronson is not a household name in North America; most people could identify Samantha Ronson before Mark. However unlike Lindsay Lohan's DJ squeeze, Mark Ronson won the Producer of the Year Grammy in 2008 for his work with Amy Winehouse; he has also collaborated with Christina Aguilera, Adele and Kaiser Chiefs. Record Collection marks Ronson's third album with The Business Intl. and said in an interview with The Observer that the album sounds "as if a really talented band from 1972 had got a Daft Punk CD in the mail and had to work out how to play it."

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. featuring Q-Tip & MNDR - Bang Bang Bang

Mark Ronson & the Business Intl. featuring Simon Le Bon & Wiley - Record Collection

Mark Ronson album preview

Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner

Gold Panda's interest in mechanized music was sparked as a teen when his producer uncle gave him an old sampler. By his late 20's, Gold Panda, who claims his birth name to be Derwin Panda, was remixing and producing for British behemoths like Little Boots and Bloc Party. Last year he released limited edition pressings of the singles Before and You; Lucky Shiner is Gold Panda's first full length album.

Gold Panda - Same Dream China


Jamiroquai - Rock Dust Light Star

For me Jamiroquai is an occasional guilty pleasure; years have passed where I just wasn't feeling Jay Kay and company's groove. Yet every now and then an earful of one of Jamiroquai's acid jazz joints or neo-soul tracks can alleviate a down turned mood and bust the most funktronic of funks. In addition to playing to old strengths, Rock Dust Light Star will see Jay Kay getting softer on songs like Blue Skies.

Jamiroquai - White Knuckle Ride

Jimi Hendrix - West Coast Seattle Boy

A follow up to Valleys of Neptune, West Coast Seattle Boy is another posthumous Hendrix release overflowing with previously unreleased songs and live recordings. The box set is comprised of four CDs and a DVD of Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child, Bob Smeaton's biographical documentary detailing Hendrix's rise to fame and eventual death.

Jimi Hendrix - Castles Made of Sand (from Axis: Bold as Love - 1968)

Elvis Costello - National Ransom

Declan Patrick MacManus, or the other musical Elvis, has skipped and jumped genres over the course of his continuing career. From punk to new wave to country, Costello has set tuneful trends then turned around and deserted the movement he instigated. This gypsy-like approach to music has produced some interesting records and on National Ransom Costello has allied himself with Academy Award winning producer and songwriter T. Bone Burnett.

Elvis Costello - National Ransom trailer

N.E.R.D. - Nothing

From the trio that brought us that perennial stripper anthem Lapdance, comes Nothing. Judging by the first single (below) the album's contents won't fall into line with it's name. Which is fitting as the music buying masses have come to expect much more than "nothing" from Neptunes Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo and vocalist Shay. Nothing's release date was pushed back from a September release, most likely due to the hiring and prompt dismissal of singer Rhea.

N.E.R.D. featuring Nelly Furtado - Hot-n-Fun


Beastie Boys - The Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1 & Pt. 2
release date unknown

Originally slated  for release in late 2009, Beastie Boys' latest album has been on hold since MCA, or Adam Yauch, was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland. The Hot Sauce Committee is the follow up to their Grammy winning 2007 instrumental album, The Mix Up. Hot Sauce has been broken up into two parts as the boys created arrangements in excess during the writing process and decided to classify them accordingly.
"Pt. 1, had too many songs, so we recorded some more songs; which sounds bizarre but it actually worked out, because it made it clear to us which songs were going to be on Pt. 1. Then we had this whole other album of songs," Mike D told Drowned Sound in 2009.
As of October 2010, the band posted a message on their site saying that Pt.1 will be delayed indefinitely and curiously, Pt.2 will be released in the the spring of 2011 before Pt.1 hits shelves.

Beastie Boys - Lee Majors Come Again  (from The Hot Sauce Commitee Pt. 1)

Seaweed - Small Engine Repair
release date unknown

The collective indie crowd has been awaiting new material from Seaweed for quite some time- 12 years in fact- as 1998's Actions and Indications was their last album of new material. The release date for Small Engine Repair was announced in 2007, yet Seaweed remains out of stock on shelves across the continent. Enjoy this classic Seaweed track while you cower and cry in anticipation.

Seaweed - Start With (from Spanaway - 1995)

Gang of Four - Content
January 25 2011

Post punk rockers Gang of Four announced the release of a new album last spring, however Content has been delayed countless times and no single has been released as of October 2010. It appears financial troubles are to blame; the band has teamed up with in an attempt to raise funds to finish recording as well as contribute to charity. You can watch a comment from Andy Gill and listen to the track Do As I Say here.

Gang of Four - Natural's Not In It (from Entertainment! - 1979)