Category Archives: But Wait, There’s More!

A collection of Jess’s uncontainable extraneous thoughts, misadventures with musicians, and insights into what’s shakin’ on the local music front.

YanisIn Divine ProvidencePhill Hood!Big Otter Creek-1

AFL Anniversary Spotlight: Phill Hood!

I know what you’re thinking. Jesse, isn’t this showcase for killer bands you’ve highlighted on the show? I have scoured every Feedback Loop episode and could recite them front and back in my sleep, but I’ve NEVER heard a review of Phill Hood and the Exclamation! You wily liar!

And you’re right. But you HAVE heard releases from every other band member in another form. PH&E!’s stellar bass player John William-Blakeley guest hosted our chat on two of his other projects and what it’s like to moonlight in real estate. Fiddler Jarred Albright is one half of the folk-romatics Rye & Fairytales. Drummer Charlie McKittrick’s (sadly defunct) TimeGiant was featured here. And doing double duty on June 30th is Jake Saenz also of Big Otter Creek. Phew!

So to gear up for this AFL all-star set, I got the scoop from the man himself on his upcoming record, working with his best friends, and what it’s like to produce your own album from the ground up.

Since putting the band together last year, they have been in and out of recording at Phill’s home studio, and working out the tracks at shows around Toronto. Their sound has been compared to other great Canadian Celtic-tinged rock acts, but with a bend towards late 90’s alternative. The debut album, Travel, focuses on Phill’s geographical changes as much as his personal ones. Born and raised in Newfoundland, moving to Toronto for university, traversing the U.S. as part of the Tartan Terrors (with Jake, too. Does that guy ever sleep?), it’s all in the mix. Think Spirit of the West featuring the Barenaked Ladies, getting a hit on Big Shiny Tunes 9.

Their second single, Nelly, was met with a huge response at a show in the spring. The clear influence of Jimmy Eat World and some high-octane emotional lyrics made for a powerful track. The band’s stage presence is also a shining example of what working with your friends can bring to a performance.

“It’s just fun. I look back and see JW and Charlie getting a groove together, and then Jake is right there with some crazy new guitar tone. He’s a gear head like me, so we really get some great stuff. And when it’s done, we stick around to check out the next band. Something people overlook, just stay and support each other if you can. “

On recording in his home studio, which has changed 3 times since the album began, Phill also had this to say:

“It’s freeing to have complete control. I can come home after a great set and ride that high, have the mics set up so I can lay down something whenever I want to. But it’s my first crack at producing such a large-scale record, [He produced a 4-track hip-hop EP last spring and the award-winning score for a children’s web series ] so there’s always new tricks to learn. YouTube tutorials really are a goldmine. That, and, just working at it until it has the feel you want.” 

So when can we expect the record release? Phill, a savvy businessman but always an artist first, has decided the album wouldn’t be complete without a final track composed just weeks ago and inspired by a getaway to Northern Ontario. While it may delay the release of Travel, and his band mates have certainly teased him about getting it out there already, it’s certainly a fitting addition to a body of work already brimming with songs that capture what it means to explore and discover. Not just the scenery, but the self.

In the meantime, check out their first single, Obvious and don’t forget to swing by The Hideout June 30th to hear all their tunes live!

YanisIn Divine ProvidencePhill Hood!Big Otter Creek-1

AFL Showcase Spotlight: In Divine Providence

Our second artist celebrating with us for the AFL Anniversary Showcase is a good friend and incredibly talented rapper, In Divine Providence.  Like every great hip hop act, he also goes by Walt D. His record Darkside/Lightside was a force to be reckoned with and took us two episodes to explore.

I had the pleasure of joining him in the studio for a few sessions, and thought it prudent to use my fly-on-the-wall status to get some dirt on exactly what goes into the branding and marketing of a new artist in the hip hop community, one which has seen tough times in Toronto. Pay-to-play and the constant stream of unsolicited mixtapes being handed out without context have plagued the industry, and many live music venues simply fill more seats when their house band is playing mostly covers their audience can sing along to. Walt has high hopes for what rap can do to affect change, be it on a social, political or personal level:

“I wanna contribute to hip hop and I want to be part of a group that throws shows up that help build that scene. We need to come together as a group, not brag about our ability to make money and rap about what we are. I want to be part of what that change is.”

When it comes to marketing, the bravado of a secondary persona is key in bridging the gap. IDP is the embodiment of the animal inside, brazenly spouting explicit and often disturbing truths, while Walt D is his more subdued, pragmatic and positive beacon of hope. The label rep was quick to endorse this duality, and offered some words of wisdom on how and when to utilize both:

“If you can’t do your hook and then go like this <holds a mic out to an imaginary crowd> so they know it, then you can’t give them anything else new until you get there. Then you can say hey, guys do you mind if I try a few new ones for you? And they will love it.”

So now we have our homework: Darkside/Lightside. I’d star with this. Learn the hooks, and sing along with us June 30th!

YanisIn Divine ProvidencePhill Hood!Big Otter Creek-1

AFL Showcase Spotlight: Yanis

As most of you lovely Loopers know already, we are gearing up for the first annual AFL Anniversary showcase night June 30th at the Hideout in Toronto. Our first performer, and a favourite among our fans, is folk singer/songwriter Yanis.

In true folk legend form, our first exchange with Yanis was a personal thank you for the purchase of his record, and every exchange since has been littered with insightful, generous and impossibly sincere compliments and musings. He is also a fan of the show, giving real feedback on his experience with it, which is the sort of thing every creator needs to hear on occasion to remember their purpose. As a host of this show, I define myself more secondarily as a musician. Yanis was quick to nudge me on when he might hear my own music, and while that’s not what I’m here to promote, it reminded me that he was on our team. It all comes down to the Woodstock mentality, at least from my perspective. Wanting to share the spotlight, to talk to each other through music, to offer words of encouragement. Much like love, I think making music and consuming it are always guaranteed to give you more back that you put out. His record, Queen Kari, is such a perfectly sweet and sour take on so many themes of love and youth that I continue to listen long after the episode has aired. In response to our curiosity over the father-figure-as-villain tracks, Yanis had this to say:

“In case there was any concern, The last two songs are not autobiographical. In fact I’ve invited my parents and sister to the AFL show.”

Great songwriting is often about telling a story that isn’t your own, and giving a voice to those impossible to articulate sensations. I have a feeling that to hear him up close and personal will be even better, so add June 30th the your calendar and come check Yanis out!

Listen to Yanis’ episode HERE 🙂

Hollerado’s Behemoth 111 Songs is Not Just For Fans.

When a popular Canadian rock band offers personally written songs for fans that pre-order their next album, what happens when they have more fans than they thought? Hollerado’s 111 Songs was the topic du jour for last week’s episode, and since I was tragically technologically ousted from participating, I’m sharing my thoughts here. So the big question on everyone’s mind is: Who is this for if you aren’t one of the names in brackets?

If you step cautiously closer to this project as not a fan, or yourself an artist, this serves two crowds: people who bought a song and people who go to participatory art installations and bid on owning that solitary Wu-Tang record. Having been built narrowly initially for the 100+ fans who pre-ordered, it was after the conception that the band decided to release it publically as well, a move I think is not only justified, but important to how music is made and shared today.

I am going to assert that if you are a casual music fan, this will not likely be for you. But if you are a creator, a fan of ideas, or enjoy the dissection of innovative process, buy this right now because there is a lot to learn from it.

These are well-executed parodies/homages to some fantastic musical ideas and styles that otherwise wouldn’t render a cohesive full album in the traditional sense. Sometimes its bonkers, sometimes it’s clear and unique, sometimes it’s basic and lovely and expected in the right ways. Running the gamut of gritty, dark, goofy, revelatory, silly, boppy, repetitive, mundane, throwaway, too long, underdeveloped but necessarily so, the list goes on.

A solid half of these are genius (Dylan C-M would assert that maybe 20% could be tailored into two great albums) and half are maybe a product of fatigue and possible exhaustion, or maybe I’m obsessed with what this two year process of writing was like. I suspect many of these gems came from that place where you allow yourself time and space to actively not write, or push yourself to. This is much harder than it sounds, especially if your output and touring schedule is full and you are a band that has built and keeps momentum, it can be hard to leave space where the world can colour what you’re making while you ignore it. It feels antithetical but the creative process is so mystified, and this is a great album for a painter or writer or photographer or model to hear, you’ll hear how the differences and similarities appear and how they take bigger risks because the whole is solid. Trusting in your instinct here gave us some wilder weirder gems while still managing to be clearly Hollerado.

Or perhaps it’s more about building something to the specs of the fan, regardless of how it should be heard. Maybe we aren’t even meant to have heard this record, since a fundamental crux of enjoying music is allowing yourself not to believe who or what a piece is about, that it’s designed to be digestible and enjoyable by a wide range. How does that alter the experience of writing for someone? Did anyone really dislike their own track? Could a critic claim that this album is the equivalent of crowd sourcing your new material? You build for your fans to ingratiate them and then you can use the tunes that stuck with you and let them evolve into more. It’s a process worth exploring probably for any band, or single artist, but its also an insanely ambitious project. I imagine the band at the final mixdown walking back in like Jeremy Renner at the end of The Hurt Locker. It’s a dangerous compulsion.

Because this record was so massive and doesn’t totally make sense to attempt to quantify, here are some thoughts and noteable tunes in no particular order, some of which overlap with what the boys spoke to. Listen to a few of them here.

LA Prison is what we will play our kids as an example of rock from the Adolescence of the Aughts (dibs band name).

One of many radio-serial homages, some slap-dash but fun like Aliens and UFO’s (Lori Douglas Erica Ian)

Sorry You’re Alright (Evan From Grimsby) was as good as that title. If you smirked, you dug it.

Yummy Posion (Alan Poane) is the dopamine drug trip, one of the many Beatles acid phase moments, I imagine this being the time of night when the band is all laying on the floor with classroom instruments thinking they have it in them to write one more and prescribing themselves another shot of whatever’s on hand.

Shawarmas and I Eat Nachos, like many goofy food and drink related tunes, or those simple yet effective ‘this is the one fact we know about you’ tracks that are indulgently silly.

Coffee Shop (Tom Hildebrant) was a little lazy, if not still applicable attack on the hipster jackasses, but then again I’m typing this on a mac in a loft apartment with remaindered furniture and I host this music podcast. The use of instrumentation here at least elevates the lyrical obviousness, which is often the saving grace of this album. When you put a bunch of great musicians to work on something this big, you’re going to get tunes that are half-perfect.

Join Our Cult or Else (Ron Burgundy) kept coming up on random for me, perhaps they harnessed the power of irony in that track and it compelled me to listen…

Hallelujah, What’s it To Ya (Joe Taylor) is one of a few great manic Christmas tracks, as all great rock and metal bands seem to have today. It’s sister song, I’m Beginning to Drink A Lot Like Christmas, is a fun almost Weezer-parody and slouchy fun.

German Bees (Pete Nema) one of the more genre bending, with hip hop and slick as shit lyricism, coupled with a bizarre trancey German verse. Might be too much going on in one track but the combination played like a family guy joke for me, great, lost me a little, then brought me back around. Childish Gambino for sure, Dylan C-M.

What’s Everybody Running For Part 1 (Gabi) is the requisite surf rock inclusion, done just correctly but with not much new to say, which I suppose here is the point. There is no part 2, after all.

Going Extinct (Luke Chabanole) is another one where the Bob Dylan lackadaisicaly punk rock vocals are intensely unapologetic , which is often an issue for me, but this was the one track that I felt it was completely at home. Could have done without them on some of the sweeter ballads and softer jazzy swishy tunes, it seemed like they could have used a few guest vocalists to round out the sounds in those cases.

Taming the Unicorn (Dylan) was intriguing to me, a Cake meets LCD Soundsystem, talk-sing style which always sounds like apathy in that classic sense of allowing your real feelings to come out under the guise that you aren’t vulnerable or concerned with validation.

Cool Letters (Sarah Mennard) was my favourite, and one of the more definitive of the sense of humour the band has with this album. A fun attack on the formation of the alphabet system and how English works, also an at metaphor for this album’s project in that the concept of distilling the entire language to the most used and most needed letters is like making a record with 10 songs when you wrote 26, the inverse at work here when they have maybe 20 or 30 fleshed-out tracks to compile into something that really slays, but they had to toss in the X Y and Z filler.

While Dylan Clark-Moore made a point that it may not be a viable product as targeting the general music listener, to not make it available for purchase could imply that they felt it only made sense for the core fans and inspireds-by even though I guarantee at some point in those two years they realized there could be more here, almost like a deleted scenes and DVD extras. The chore factor is really exclusive to us with our time limit and need to diligently note take, but then again Siskel and Ebert couldn’t always watch a flick for leisure despite being so in love with the medium. I made an effort to listen like I would a small album, in pieces, and re-listened to what struck me, but also to what I felt was telling of their journey in this undertaking. One could argue that this is a tool for musicians or an exercise in patience but it’s also just a fun idea for background tunes at a party where few people know each other, since every third track is a conversation piece.

Not being a previous fan of Hollerado, it still hit me hard that this record needs to be heard, and not just respected for its innovation in interacting with and rewarding fans for their support. As songwriters this is both an excuse to employ those sounds that wouldn’t be canon with your work but also serves as that classic exercise in creation: restriction harvests creativity. And by supporting this kind of insane undertaking as a consumer of music and a fan, you’re proving that it hasn’t all been done yet, you’re fighting the embitterment of a generation. Go you!

Thanks once again to Dylan Clark-Moore, of The Netflakes Podcast, who was a fantastically articulate and insightful guest host, possibly taking the coveted Feedback Loop Snark Award from it’s previous champion, Dylan Z.

Coming up next week is Blimp Rock’s Sophomore Slump (which it is anything but, to steal that line from every other person who’d heard it). Get in the loop!