Tag Archives: By Divine Right

By Divine Right Just Can’t Get Enough Depeche Mode

By Divine Right

By Divine Right

Aces hippie dippie indie rockers By Divine Right have just reimagined Depeche Mode’s first album Speak & Spell as a bouncy garage rock record.

I spoke to band leader José Contreras about his relationship to Depeche Mode in a feature story for AUX TV.

To read it go here.

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Meligrove Band, ‘Bones Of Things’: Not Like Sloan

Meligrove Band

Meligrove Band

It’s time to separate the “Sloan” from The Meligrove Band.

Meligrove Band bassist Mike Small says comparisons between the two veteran Can-indie bands are no longer relevant.

“I don’t think we really sound much like them,” Small explains during an interview about the Meligroves’ fifth and newest album, Bones Of Things. “There was a point where we kinda did [sound alike] because we were copying the same ’60s bands that they had previously copied, but, like, when it comes up I want to say, ‘Which Sloan album?'”

Brian O’Reilly, the Meligrove Band guitarist who replaced the band’s former guitarist Andrew Scott in 2009 — an Andrew Scott who’s different from the Andrew Scott in Sloan — attempts to answer Small’s rhetorical question.

“The Sloan album that sounds like KISS or the Sloan album that sounds like The Beatles?” says O’Reilly. “Grunge Sloan?”

“The hardcore seven-inch Sloan?” Small continues. “As a lifelong Sloan fan I can say that Sloan changed so much.”

“Sloan don’t even sound like Sloan anymore,” O’Reilly adds. “And I don’t know if you’ve sounded like Sloan since, like, 2001.”

There certainly are similarities between The Meligrove Band and Sloan. Both are four-pieces and both have multiple songwriters. Both have mastered the art of high-spirited jangle rock and both are survivors (17 and 23 years, respectively) of a Canadian music scene that’s ruthlessly unforgiving to those whose names aren’t The Tragically Hip, Nickelback or Blue Rodeo.

That said, Small has a point.

The Meligrove Band aren’t like Sloan. They’re their own band. And Bones Of Things ably continues the distinct sonic path Small, O’Reilly as well as band members Jason Nunes and Darcy Rego have created for themselves over the years.

The 10 songs on Bones Of Things sound far more like logical progressions — lineal descendants — of a sound and vibe established with the band’s now-classic 2006 adventure-rock album, Planets Conspire.

A large part of that probably has something to do with having By Divine Right’s Jose Contreras involved in the mixing, recording and production of Bones Of Things, Planets Conspire and 2010’s Shimmering Lights album.

Indeed, buzzy new song “Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye” could easily be the flipside to By Divine Right’s “The Slap.”

“It’s possible,” concedes Small. “We’ve worked with him [Jose] so much and we started working with him because he was a big influence on us.

“It’s super-comfortable him and us having worked together for awhile now,” O’Reilly adds.

A big part of Bones Of Things sound can be attributed to an instrument neither Sloan or By Divine Right have really ever utilized — the mandolin. The small member of the lute family features prominently on multiple Bones Of Things songs. The genesis of the mandolin rock was simple, says O’Reilly.

“Darcy got a mandolin,” he says. “Darcy’s full of songs…”

“He was saying, ‘I did the demos on the mandolin, but obviously when we do this I’ll do them on guitar,'” says Small. “And we were all like, ‘No way man, these sound cool.'”

If anything, it’s given an Out Of Time-era R.E.M. feel to the new Meligrove record.

“‘Disappointed Mothers’ sounds a lot like ‘Losing My Religion,'” says Small. “I hadn’t thought of this before. It sounds like a guitar player picking up a mandolin and singing.”

Another song, “Woof,” is a peculiar bit of fiction-become-reality inspired by the band’s “Really Want It” music video from 2011.

“We made this music video with a lot of fake merch and there was this guy doing an unboxing video,” starts Small. “It was this stalker-y ultra-fan who had all of our merch. And the guys who made the video made all this fake stuff, too.

“Shampoo… all of these fake products … all-surface cleaner, all the weirdest merch you could think of. Anyway, there was one point where he’s like, ‘I have their entire discography’ and it showed all our real albums, but then the pile of CDs kept going with all these things, one of them was Spritz Something with a hand holding spray paint. One of them was called Woof, the word ‘woof’ in dripping bloody letters and a German shepherd’s mouth wide open. And I think Jay got this idea, ‘What if we write a song called “Woof”?’ If a seven-inch ended up happening we could do this thing where fiction becomes truth.”

So they made the song… a uniquely Meligrove Band song. Because they’re their own band.

The Meligrove Band will perform as part of the What’s In The Box? holiday concert series on Saturday, Dec. 27 at the The Drake Hotel. Also on the bill are Lay These Knight, Seas and International Zombies of Love.

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NXNE 2013 Reviews And Photos

Mickey Avalon

Mickey Avalon

The 2013 edition of NXNE has finally ended and I can say with a certain sense of shock that I didn’t end up developing my annual case of paralyzing bad back from it (though I do appear to have a cold).

Over the course of NXNE I ended up seeing the following acts: Brendan Croskerry, Calexico, Santiago x The Natural, Sunfields, Brendan Canning, Wordburglar, D-Sisive, Elaquent, Sunclef + Peroff, By Divine Right, Hayden, The National, Blowfly, Brave Little Toaster, CTZNSHP, Weaves, The Lytics, Catl, White Lung and Mickey Avalon.

Some of whom I wrote up about in the NXNE wrap story for Huffington Post Music Canada. You can read that by clicking here.

I also took some photos of varying quality. Check those out below.

 

 

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Aaron’s Top Albums Of 2004

Morrissey

Morrissey

This is my official Top 10 album list for 2004:

1. Morrissey You Are The Quarry
2. The Veils The Runaway Found
3. The Organ Grab That Gun
4. Arcade Fire Funeral
5. Feist Let It Die
6. Apostle Of Hustle Folkloric Feel
7. Jens Lekman When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog
8. By Divine Right Sweet Confusion
9. The Golden Dogs Everything In 3 Parts
10. The Dears Thank You Good Night Sold Out

There are a number of naggingly unsatisfying inclusions on this year’s list.

I don’t particularly go back to Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry much these days, but at the time it ranked as an amazing comeback record after a couple crappers from the Moz. So that would have been more than enough for a Smiths/Morrissey fan like myself to push it to top spot.

Morrissey “First Of The Gang To Die.” This might be the Moz at his storytelling best:

Coming in second this year was The Veils’ The Runaway Found. This is a great band who’ve been criminally slept on over the years. With them and Moz, Jens, The Dears and The Organ all on my list there was clearly a vibe I was feeling in ’04. I’m not sure what that might be, maybe morbid melodrama?

The Veils “Lavinia”:

Putting The Organ’s Grab That Gun at #3 feels like a bit of a cheat considering I put their Sinking Hearts EP on my Top 10 the year before. I’m going to chalk putting this one so high up to me projecting — hoping that The Organ would be to the world what I thought Moz and The Veils were as well.

The Organ “Memorize The City”:

That Arcade Fire Funeral record was like a bolt of lightning, wasn’t it? I mean, seriously, who knew those guys were going to hit the grand slam and turn every indie band for the next five years into gang-singing, handclapping 13-member art collectives? Nowadays, knowing more about their prep school backgrounds and natural entitlements, there’s a certain realization that I don’t really identify with the Arcade Fire at all, but I still have to admit they can create some compelling music.

Arcade Fire “Wake Up”

Putting Feist’s Let It Die at #5 was probably an error on my part brought on by the fact that my friend and co-worker Chris Burland had put out her previous album Monarch on his label and I would’ve felt a vague desire to be supportive. I like two songs on this album — “Mushaboom” and the Bee Gees cover “Inside And Out.” That shouldn’t have been enough for this album to place where it did.

Feist “Inside And Out”:

I never listen to Apostle Of Hustle Folkloric Feel any more. I haven’t even ripped it into iTunes so I’m going to guess I was getting a little swept up in the rise of Broken Social Scene at the time and it was clouding my perspective.

At #7 was Jens Lekman’s When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog. I’m not really sure why I put this on my list. I don’t really like this album all that much and it’s actually Lekman’s next album Night Falls Over Kortedala that I was really into.

I’ve steadfastly maintained that By Divine Right remain one of the most important Canadian bands of the last 20 years and putting their album Sweet Confusion at #8 was a small gesture in support of that notion. Against the rest of their catalog this is one of their lesser albums — still good — but in hindsight Sweet Confusion’s inclusion on my list feels too political now.

By Divine Right “Soft Machine”

The Golden Dogs’ Everything In 3 Parts was a very exciting record for our household when it came out. They were a great band live, they were fun people to be around, and the album was solid, too. I’m still not entirely sure why they never got bigger than they did, but this was still a great ride to be on at the time.

The Golden Dogs “Yeah”:

The #10 pick The Dears’ Thank You Good Night Sold Out is kind of embarrassing to me. The Dears were probably my favourite Canadian band right around then (and might still be now), but this is a live record. I don’t really listen to it any more, and didn’t really listen to it that much when it came out. Nowadays I’m far more ruthlessly clinical about my Top 10 lists and putting this on the 2004 list has a certain cute “Aw shucks” loyalty that I don’t know if I’ve “lost,” but I don’t quite let rule me in the same way any more.

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

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Aaron’s Top Albums Of 2001

Gord Downie's Coke Machine Glow

Gord Downie's Coke Machine Glow

This is my official Top 10 album list for 2001:

1. Gord Downie Coke Machine Glow
2. The Strokes Is This It
3. By Divine Right Good Morning Beautiful
4. The Avalanches Since I Left You
5. Ours Distorted Lullabies
6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club BRMC
7. The Dears Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique
8. Spiritualized Let It Come Down
9. Ashley Park The American Scene
10. The Constantines The Constantines

Since I started unearthing these Top 10 lists a week or so ago this is probably the first I’ve felt close to entirely comfortable with.

My #1 album in 2001 was Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow and I continue to maintain it’s a brilliant Cancon canon album. I think I might have even given it a 5 out of 5 rating at the time, which is something I’ve done max 10 times in my years of music writing. What’s so special about Coke Machine Glow is it’s so guilelessly “art.” The fact that it was a solo album by the lead singer of a beer-rock arena-level band was secondary. Here, Downie dove deeply into his poetic narratives and then surrounded those stories with alternately beautiful/weird/exciting complimentary music courtesy of The Diner Is Ruined and a cast of related Can-indie veterans. This is the album that proved that Downie was definitively on the side of good.

Gord Downie “Chancellor”:

Everybody had Strokes fever back in 2001 and it was totally deserved. Is This Is? was a super-relentless dance party. It was bold and free and it’s still a great listen today, which is more than I can say for every other Strokes record. It’s funny, I got this record, Spiritualized’s Let It Come Down and Mercury Rev’s All Is Dream on the same day and I remember the V2 Records rep at the time being mad that nobody cared about All Is Dream, but why would they? There were two other nuclear bomb statement albums on everyone’s desks.

“Last Nite,” if you’ve never wildly danced to this song at a club you’ve been at the wrong clubs:

I love By Divine Right and consider them one of the under-appreciated pillars of Canadian indie rock, so I was pretty excited when Good Morning Beautiful came out. In hindsight is more “good” than “great” an album — still Top 10, but probably lower. I would’ve ranked it this high at the time because of the epic hippie jam “Hugger Of Trees.” It’s a song that can cut through all my layers of Grinch.

By Divine Right “Hugger Of Trees”:

Man, The Avalanches’ Since I Left You. Four billion samples, legal bullshit, mystery… none of which matters because if you know this album at all and I say the words “Radio,” “Flight Tonight” or “Frontier Psychiatrist” you should be experiencing an immediate Pavlovian reaction.

The Avalanches “Since I Left You”:

The voice of Jimmy Gnecco from Ours remains one of the most powerful, most chilling things I’ve ever heard. When Ours’ Distorted Lullabies came I out I was convinced they were going to become the biggest band in the world. I’m not sure why they didn’t. I suspect drugs, record company bullshit, band troubles, etc., etc. — the usual stuff — all had a hand in it. Mostly though, I’ve come to learn over the years that most people don’t actually like intense music. They can’t handle the emotional gravity of it all and just want something to hum along to. In the grand scheme that’s probably why Ours never hit it. It’s the world’s loss.

Ours “Meet Me In The Tower”:

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are the perfect rock band. They’ve got black leather jackets, their music’s kinda noisy and dangerous, and the band members themselves are often difficult mumblers. Which all makes them hella cool.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Spread Your Love.” I was at this “video shoot,” which wasn’t really a video shoot so much as a proper concert with pro cameras capturing everything:

This would be the second year in a row I had The Dears in the #7 spot, this time for Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique. The best thing about this EP is it gave the band an identity. Something that was theirs alone — which is extremely underrated a commodity in the music universe. This was the dangle that made people want to know more.

The Dears “Autotomy”:

At #8 was the aforementioned Spiritualized record Let It Come Down. This was supposed to be super-huge and it was. Something like 115 people worked on this record and it shows.

Spiritualized “Out Of Sight.” Fuck, this song’s big:

And in every Top 10 list there must be something you no longer care about. For this one it would be Ashley Park’s The American Scene. I remember really digging on this album when it came out, but I’ve never been back to it. And in the sign of true listener death for me — I haven’t bothered to rip the album into iTunes.

I haven’t ripped #10 into iTunes either. That would be The Constantines debut album. I feel no need or desire to revisit this record. I rode that hype train at the time, and enjoyed parts of that journey, and that’s enough.

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

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