Tag Archives: Niagara

Xprime – “Here We Are”

One of the great things about Canada is our diversity. We’re all different, and every area of Canada is a cornucopia of backgrounds, language and opinions, appreciating and acknowledging all types of people and tastes. An excellent example of this diversity is Here We Are, the new EP from Niagara-based band Xprime. With a mix of pop, rock, funk and country, no song sounds alike and the band represents all areas of our diverse musical landscape. And yes, they even speak some French.

Xprime has come a long way in only a short amount of time. Formed in 2009, the four-piece has won over fans across Southern Ontario with both their live show and their EP, finding success among reviewers and radio stations alike. Listen to the album and you’ll see where this success comes from: their musical fusion creates catchy, radio-friendly songs that will appeal to everyone while also finding a home in specific genres.

Each of the album’s five tracks is different. Kicking off the album is the upbeat “Tell Me Why”, a poppy rock track that sounds somewhat like a quasi-French version of The Arkells. This is the album’s first bilingual surprise, splicing together French and English lyrics to create an interesting mix of language. Those of us with limited French vocabulary may be able to pick out a few words, and this is actually a bit exciting. The band is careful about their use of language, embracing their Francophone roots while appealing to both French- and English-speaking fans. They’re a lot like Arcade Fire in how they do this, but with a slightly more rocky and distorted sound.

Moving through the album we hear more diversity, with bits of Weezer (“Please Come Home”), funky ’70s groove (“Foxy Lady”), and finally a combo of Cake and The Killers in the album-closing “Jane’s Modern Waltz”. These songs are all different and unique, making the album impossible to describe but easy to love.

The band itself shows a lot of talent and some super high chemistry. Unlike other bands, Xprime shares vocals between all members and harmonizes exceptionally well as they do so. Their chemistry shines throughout the tracks and it’s clear they have a tight-knit group with some solid individual skills. It’s also clear they’d be a wicked band to hear live, with songs that would sound great on a stage and in front of a huge crowd.

You can hear and buy the album (only $5!) online, on iTunes or in person at one of their weekly shows. It’s definitely worth checking out, and as they work on their next album and release more tracks, like Xprime on Facebook to get the full scoop. Here they are, and they’re here to stay.

Xprime - "Here We Are"

Elk – “Daydreams”

Indie music has taken a turn toward retro pop in recent years. We hear a lot of beats and grooves reminiscent of the 50s or 60s, and this really comes as no surprise: music and art are cyclical and we love to revisit old favourites. Bringing back some great 60s surfer rock and semi-psychedelic groove is Elk, a fantastic four-piece from Toronto and Niagara. A modern version of The Kinks, The Beach Boys, and The Wonders (the fictional band from That Thing You Do!), Elk is new but familiar, and their new album Daydreams has quickly become a lasting favourite.

The title of Daydreams is a perfect reflection of the band’s sound. Dreamlike and distant, it feels almost ethereal and otherworldly; vocals seem to take an echoey, reverb-filled backseat to the instrumental pieces, and this creates an eerie undertone to the otherwise upbeat album. Elk uses a variety of instruments and tempos on the album to add more creativity and range to the tracks, and in doing so they separate themselves from other less unique acts. They throw in super fun tambourine, piano (“Come Home”), and hand claps (“Every Girl That I Meet”) at appropriate parts throughout the album, and with plenty of toe-tapping beats and zippy hip-twisting the album creates a mixture of songs that both you and your mom can dance to.

The tracks themselves aren’t super complex or complicated, but this just adds to their charm. The easy, breezy flow of the album creates something that can be listened to repeatedly without even thinking about it. It doesn’t have that muddled jumble of noise that occasionally comes with garage-type bands, and the simple beats and riffs are what make the album flow so smoothly. The album-opening “Before The Sun” is a great example of why simple is better. You become part of the music, drumming along and humming the melody almost immediately, and when an album gets in your head the first time you hear it, you know you’ve found something good.

Listening to this album will make you want to see the band play live, and lucky fans in Southern Ontario will get a ton of chances to do so. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for their most up-to-date news, and take a peek at their label, IndoorShoes. Daydreams is available on iTunes and for a preview of Elk’s great sound, check out the video for “Before The Sun”. This is a band you need to hear, and a retro sound you need to revisit.

Elk - "Daydreams"

Crash The Occasion – “Crash The Occasion”

Outside of romance novels, love at first sight is rare. Love usually takes time, patience and effort to really develop, and even then it doesn’t always last. The same is true of music: most bands need to work for your love, slowly making their way onto your music playlist until you love every beat and can sing every word. For true music fans and believers in love, however, we have Crash The Occasion.

Based in Niagara, CTO is everything a good band should be: hugely talented, passionate, and in it for the love of music. This is a collective of well-trained and naturally gifted musicians, shown in the creativity, technical perfection and surprising literacy of their debut EP, “Crash The Occasion“.

Released in January 2012, the self-titled album is the first step in a music career that’s bound to go far. Showing the influence of Arcade Fire, Muse, MGMT and Ben Folds, Crash The Occasion fits in the “Indie” niche with definite elements of classical music and the popular but elusive “nerd rock” genre. Part of this unique label is the band’s unusual composition: avoiding the 4-piece cliché, CTO shows off an ambitious endeavour by incorporating piano, violin, bass and drums, no guitar to be heard or seen. This is an impressive and incredibly admirable attempt at creating something wholly special and different, truly unlike most of what’s already out there.

This uniqueness is what makes us fall in love. The band experiments with both instrumental and vocal harmonies throughout the album, playing with balance and call-and-answer structures and mixing together perfectly balanced bass, drums, and truly extraordinary vocals. The sound of the violin and piano together are beautiful, adding something really special to songs like “Glass Empire”, “Second Hand Goods”, and the album-closing “Passion”. This final track is what shows off the band’s real song-writing talent and chemistry, a powerful blend of each member’s strengths and abilities. To sample “Passion”, visit the band’s website and enjoy the streaming track. (Better yet, go buy the album.)

Love isn’t meant to remain clandestine, so shout it from the rooftops, tell your friends, and lucky Ontario folks, get yourself out to the Crash The Occasion CD Release Show, Saturday, January 28 at The Mansion House in St. Catharines. Presented by the ever-popular IndoorShoes, the show is only $10 at the door or $8 in advance, a small price to pay for true love.

Check out the band’s website and Facebook for updates or to buy an album, and then pay attention. This is a band that’s going to go far, and you don’t want them to go without you.

Crash The Occasion - "Crash The Occasion"

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"