Tag Archives: CD

Open Air – Extended Play

During the 1:06 instrumental introduction of Open Air’s newly released EP, I swear that I had a flashback to 1977. Suddenly I was 15 again, (long-hair, bad attitude and all), hanging at a friend’s house, doing bong hits and listening to tunes.

“Pulling from their musical influences, which include Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Jet and The Answer, Open Air brings back everything that was wonderful about 1970’s Brit Rock, but with an updated, modern taste.” So states the band’s website and clearly they have achieved their goal if my opening statement is anything to go by.

One of the interesting things about getting older is that one sees things go round and come back again, often repeating in cycles over a span of decades. Open Air is treading ground that has been trod before – in some cases with excellent results. When I first cranked Open Air through the Behringers the band that came to mind was Black Crowes, a band who had success in the early nineties – the singles from “Shake Your Money Maker” are staples on classic rock radio today.

Open Air’s newly released EP brings that same energy back with superb production that rocks hard with plenty of sparkle and enough bottom end to kick you squarely in your tender parts. After setting the tone with the introduction the band kicks it into gear with “Snake Charmer” the tune that brought to mind the Black Crowes reference. From this point it is clear that the riff is the thing which is hardly surprising considering the band’s list of influences.

The EPs next track, “New Design” rocks hard, bordering on metal, and is sure to get your head banging. The tune features some of the hottest wah-tinged lead work you’ll hear anywhere in any era. The frenetic pacing of this track really sets up a dramatic and effective mood swing as the EP moved to its next track, “Preacher Man”, a slower paced epic tribute to mid-70’s guitar greatness. The final track is the EPs lead single, “Golden Times”, a frolic in more hard-rocking, groove-riffing goodness.

If there is a seminary of 70’s hard rock then Open Air graduates with an M.Div. – they are masters of divination of all that made hard rock and the birth of metal in the 70’s great. Superb melody, songwriting, fretwork and production make this a release well worth your time and energy. 5/5.

Open Air - Extended Play

It is with great pleasure that Open Air and Indie403 present the official track listing for the Extended Play EP.

  1. Introduction
  2. Snake Charmer
  3. New Design
  4. Preacher Man
  5. Golden Times

Check out Open Air as Indie403‘s Artist Of The Month for April and for additional information on their CD Release Show.

The Electric Revival – “Presenting: The Electric Revival”

Some might say that growing old is a curse but when it comes to loving music getting older can also mean having the privilege of seeing a music genre birthed and then evolve. It also means that younger people and musicians who enjoy a particular genre of music, like metal, will likely delve into its past to discover not only the main influencers but also the innovators, the ground breakers. When that happens it’s almost expected that a group of young musicians will latch onto a sound that harkens from an earlier time, re-imagine it and release their own interpretation. A current example of this is Saskatoon’s Sheepdogs who have brought the world a new version of pre-plane crash-era Lynryd Skynryd.  I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of that band because I was actually partying on the planet the night that the plane went down and the news was broken on Toronto’s Q107. For my tastes a band that wants to get my attention doing a new version of an old thing has to do so in a way that is captivating — being derivative isn’t good enough.

Having said all that and with apologies for the long intro, I have to admit that I was tempted to place The Electric Revival’s Presenting: The Electric Revival in the category of cool-sounding albums that are good for a trip down memory lane but have little staying power in terms of crafting something memorable. As one might expect from the band’s moniker there is something here that is being revived – the question is, what?

The tone of the album is set during the opening track, “Rock n Roll Breakdown.” The tune is a furiously paced two-minute rocket ride that evokes the proto-punk attitude birthed by the legendary Iggy Pop in the Stooges seminal 1973 release “Raw Power.” That isn’t to say that the songs are sloppily played or poorly recorded – it’s really quite remarkable that the band’s performance and production manages to capture the retro vibe in a digital age where so many recordings sound sterile and flat.

The rest of the album shows great pacing with good balance between heavier/faster/louder songs in the vein of the opener and slower more moody pieces like the second track, “Black Widow.”  Three tracks on the “2nd side” of the album (see, I’m old) pay homage to the blues – an admirable aspiration in any R&R revival. “Outlaw Blues” is a hard and dirty blues rocker that serves as a reminder that metal was birthed from playing the blues too fast and too loud, a prescription that worked out well for Zeppelin and Sabbath back in the day.  On the subsequent track, “Goodbye 1979″ things stay bluesy but the vibe mellows considerably.

Overall Presenting: The Electric Revival scores a solid four out of five (4/5) with the only criticism being this:  pretty much all of the vocals are processed with what sounds like a combination of chorus and reverb and this is put to good use in creating that late 60’s, early 70’s retro vibe. However, I think that I would appreciate the album more if a couple of tracks out of the twelve featured a less processed approach on vocals, but that’s just me. Head over to iTunes right now and buy this excellent release.

The Electric Revival - Presenting: The Electric Revival

Kaptur – “Thousands”

There are few new artists who are capable of releasing a great first album. While many albums are good, they are usually missing the precision and smoothness that will typically come only after a few recording attempts and years of practice.

“Thousands”, the first studio release from new artist Kaptur, is an exception. The five-track EP is near perfection, an unexpected surprise that restores faith in new music and pure talent. Jumping onto the surprise ride is the additional fact that Kaptur is only one person: Riley Jensen shows incredible and enviable skill by singlehandedly performing each song, personally playing each instrument on the EP and showing off a phenomenal voice that is – somehow – both soothing and invigorating. Jensen’s talent defies all explanation, seeming incredibly sophisticated and flawless for a young man of only 22.

With the help of Toronto recording engineer Josh Korody, Kaptur has created a fantastic collection of songs that shows the influence of such acts as Radiohead, Matthew Good, and Death Cab for Cutie. These are songs that can be listened to again and again, liking more each time, and the medium-rock sound can find a place among many tastes. Jensen’s voice is just cool – there aren’t many singers like him out there, and that just adds to his appeal.

The only negative side of the EP is shockingly obvious: it is a tease! Yes, it’s just an EP, but it’s an EP so good that the small taste of Kaptur’s music is just plain mean. At only $4 (correct – $4) Kaptur’s album is a steal. “Thousands” can be streamed and purchased here, and check out Kaptur’s Facebook page for more details on live shows in the Niagara Region and future releases.

One listen and you’ll be hooked. Enjoy with a drink in hand, dreamy thoughts, and reluctant patience for Kaptur’s next release.

Kaptur - "Thousands"