Tag Archives: Release

Blades of Steel to release “Frontal Full Nelson & the Boxcar Bolsheviks” EP

When Johnathan Stoddart moved to Calgary in 1999, the hip-hop scene was virtually non-existent in the city. In the fifteen years since he first set foot in the city, the scene has grown, and he has been front and centre for the ride. Stoddart made a name for himself as Ricca Razor Sharp, building a reputation as one of Calgary’s “go to” MC’s.

After building a solo career, Ricca has put his concentration solely on a collaboration between friends he has met along the way. Ricca is now part of a five piece crew, Blades of Steel, that continues to make their marks in a scene they helped cultivate.

Flanked by bassist Pastrami, Ricca Razor Sharp sits inside a bar in McKenzie Towne, crediting his band mates with his individual growth as an artist, and the production of a record every single individual in the band is happy with. With the help of the second MC Soleo, Shoez at drums, Roop at keyboards, guitarist Ru, and bassist Pastrami, Blades of Steel have created a 5-track EP that shows a progression of sound, without a regression in a music that has earned them a loyal following of folks who hit the clubs to have the time of their lives.

Their first EP released last year Like A Calf in a Tube Sock, was according to their new bassist, “a little more rock,” while their new release Frontal Full Nelson and the Boxcar Bolsheviks is defined by Pastrami as ,”a big shift towards the funk.” The minor change in genre is not something Blades of Steel fear, what matters is not the maintenance of a signature sound, it is what the songs do for their loyal fans.

“The energy within the band is why we have our fans; I don’t think our fans are here because we maintain a sound,” claimed Pastrami, whose MC agreed with the sentiment by adding, “I don’t think we are sitting down writing some style we don’t want to play just in order to fit in some niche.”

The stage is a different world; you come to this place of tranquility… as soon as you stare in the crowd, nothing else matters.

What carries the strictest of importance within the group is the fun they have on stage. No matter what personal problems they have in their private lives, or how much they drank the night before, once they hit the stage they express love and an energy that seeps into the soul of the crowd. In return, the audience leaves the show knowing they experienced a performance they will never forget. They went to a show and had the type of fun they often take for granted.

“The stage is a different world; you come to this place of tranquility… as soon as you stare in the crowd, nothing else matters,” said a reflective Pastrami a former fan who has had a front row seat in both worlds. He knows what Blades of Steel creates, and how they create it.

The group has created a diverse collection of songs that draws different personalities and tastes into their group. Blades of Steel favourites like H.E.M.P, and Do You In the 80s have become staples of their shows, but with the release of Frontal Full Nelson, fans will be drawn to new tracks that sound like music created by the love child of George Clinton, and Grandmaster Flash. Tracks like the opener So Fast, and the party track The Mexico Song will soon act as signature Blades of Steel tracks.

On May 31st, fans of Blades of Steel will know what to expect, and those expectations will be matched with a bone shaking energy that has created, and maintain a legend within the local hip-hop scene.

Blades of Steel “Frontal Full Nelson & the Boxcar Bolsheviks” EP Release
May 31 @ Local 522 – Show Details

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 Bends – “Through Looking-Glass Houses”

There are a lot of great albums out there, and the Canadian music scene is a big pond full of fish. With so much competition, how do independent bands stand out? It takes a ton of talent, lots of energy, and a devoted army of fans to push them up above the rest. Lucky enough to have all three (and then some!) are The Bends, an enormously popular and brilliantly talented band out of St. Catharines, Ontario. They’re well-known in these parts, and with a new album coming out August 25 and a whole lot of time left to do even more, these fish will be hard to catch.

The Bends are a nifty young group with surprising talent and really cool style. While still fresh and fun, their professionalism and seemingly effortless sound show a lot of maturity and suggest they’ve been around a while. In some ways they have: the band formed almost four years ago and have been developing their sound ever since. Would it shock you to learn they’ve only JUST graduated high school? This is almost upsetting! The amount of talent these guys have is almost unnatural, and in their new album, Through Looking-Glass Houses, they show what they’re made of and what they have to offer.

Overall the album is fantastic. The 11 tracks fly by with different beats and moods, crossing genres and showing some good diversity. There are hints of Weezer, The Killers, The Strokes, and The Beatles peppered throughout the album, and with strong technical skills, great songwriting, and really catchy beats and riffs, the album has a lot to love.

Showing off a slightly heavier and trippy side of The Bends’ sound, the instrumental introduction gives an interesting taste of what’s to come. There is an immediate shift in mood as the album transitions into the second track, “Spit Curl”, one of the more bouncy and fast-paced songs on the album. The energy doesn’t stop here, though; the remaining tracks are equally fun and dancey, and the nonstop spirit is totally refreshing. “Something About You” provides something dancers can go nuts to, as does the funk-infused “Chicken n Rice”. It’s also nice to see some more variety in the somewhat psychedelic “That We’re Not” and less poppy “Isn’t It Strange”, showing the band’s ability to diversify and create different sounds.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s best about The Bends: the vocals are fantastic, the guitars, bass, and percussion are all strong and smooth, and the incorporation of other instruments (horns, cello, ukulele?) all add to the band’s great sound. Through Looking-Glass Houses is an album that will really get you moving and by showing off all their finer qualities, The Bends have created something really cool. They’ve worked hard on this album, and you can tell.

This isn’t their first album and it will hopefully not be their last: the band’s now on hiatus as the members all head off to university, but maybe with some luck and convincing they won’t be gone for long. The album is being officially released at The Mansion House in St. Catharines on August 25, and fans of the band will definitely want to see them before they leave for school. Check out the band’s website for more info and news, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned for their return!

The Bends - "Through Looking-Glass Houses"

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"