Stake out or take out?
Canadian Music Week 2015: Cadillac Lounge – May 7th

Having changed the month in which Canadian Music Week was being held in 2014, from March to May, they changed gear in 2015 with extended dates across Toronto, which begs the question, exactly how much talent is there in Canada? The answer, plenty. Our first night out was to the Cadillac Lounge to see the RHC Showcase, a deal that also included a six track sampler album and an undercover operation by the Toronto Police, which was the least subtle intrusion into our and many other punters, evening.


Art and Woodhouse: Based in Toronto, the band consist of Andy Delisi (Guitar/Lead Vox), Dan Sadler (Lead Guitar), Dave Haskett (Bass), Micah Dubinsky (Piano/Keys) and Pat Daniher (Drums). Describing their sound as ‘Acoustic Rock’, they opened up with a really catchy new song ‘Undecided Man’, which provided a great opening, featuring as it did, some good lead and keys solos. The prominent keys recurred during ‘Driving my Mantra’ and was followed by a track, ‘Mrs Stevens’, from their forthcoming EP. The set continued to build with the next tune ‘Take Me’, which opened with a nice drum based theme before opening up with some great all round harmony vocals and a mid-song clap-a-long beat, which bodes well for the future. A change in pace saw the rockier ‘Trouble You Are’ provide some understated background lead guitar which was sweet, before a full on lead guitar battle, with the band having been joined on stage by the evening’s organiser Ross Hayes Citrullo. That just left ‘Sudi’ and the infectious ‘Mama Say’ that swept from an onstage jam into a full blown storm in a matter of seconds. Overall we really enjoyed Art and Woodhouse and you won’t go wrong by seeing them when you can.

Syn Brit Rating: 3/5

More?


Website:
Art and Woodhouse
Twitter: @ArtandWoodhouse
You Tube:
Shepherd of your Kin



The Cardinal Dream: Drawing a decent sized crowd, despite still being early in the evening, another Toronto based band ‘The Cardinal Dream’ are Dan Falconi, Michael Volpe, Rob Taylor, Chris Capobianco and Mitch Conrad. Drawing from their album ‘Quiet Wars’, the opener ‘Intro’ provided slow brooding reverb vocals and great guitar, that reminded me of Ultravox in many ways. The power didn’t falter during ‘Summit’ with tremendous lead vocals and matching guitar at the fore. Mid song changes of pace during the next song ‘The Dawn’ couldn’t disguise a thumping heavier bass line throughout. In contrast, a quiet intro to ‘Awake’ until the line ’wait for me….’ which then morphed into another big bass line and a progressive build into a very powerful and well-paced song. Joined by Ross Hayes Citrullo for ‘Infinity’ the lead guitar jam provided a slower blues feel, which just showed the scope of the band’s talent. An instrumental break followed, highlighting another beautiful slow build over a keyboard base that was as refreshing as it was unusual, before the band closed with the title track from the new album ‘Quiet Wars’, with a nicely paced lead guitar intro providing the theme for a well delivered song, which encapsulated a fine performance from a very good band.

Syn Brit Rating: 3/5

More?

Website:
The Cardinal Dream
Twitter: @cardinaldream
You Tube: Live at The Horsehoe




The Commoners: By now the RBC Showcase had become the gift that keeps on giving, as Ross Hayes Citrullo’s own band, who are; Chris Medhurst (Guitar/Lead Vox), Ross Hayes Citrullo (Lead Guitars), Ben Spiller (Bass/Keys) and Geoff Bruce (Drums), took the stage.
Opening with a full on rock song ‘Walking South’, the scene was set for a very positive performance. A John Mayer cover ‘Good Love Is On The Way’ followed before a slower song from their new EP, ‘Streetlights’ was performed featuring some really good harmony vocals, reminiscent of Cuff The Duke, another favourite at DCC Towers. A poppier tune, ‘The Other Way’ was next, by now featuring Medhurst’s crystal clear vocal delivery at its core, which was evident through the whole set. The very danceable country song ‘Alright Now’ (No. not that one) turned the Cadillac into a foot-stomping mess with clapping breaking out at one point! ‘Wasted’ returned us to a more pop based tune with its chopped chords and understated lead riff providing the base for a very good song, before playing the band’s first song, the power rock ballad ‘Out Tonight’. The excellent vocals and lead breaks were in full effect during ‘Dizzy’, which also featured a stunning full on drum solo, which was much appreciated by the busy audience. The tremendous riffs continued during ‘Shakin At The Knees’, a very good song delivered by a very good band, which only left the last song, a cover of Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’, for which the band were joined by JJ Thompson and Donny Richard from JJ and The Pillars, who were up next, but had a lot of fun closing out The Commoners set. Next time they are playing, go and see The Commoners, you won’t be disappointed.

Syn Brit Rating: 4/5

More?

Website: The Commoners
Twitter: @TheCommonersTO
You Tube:
Alright Now



JJ Thompson: Next up were JJ Thompson and Donny Richard, one half of Peterborough group JJ and the Pillars, who having warmed up during the last song of the previous set, stormed into theirs with ‘The Pit’, which set the tone for the rest of the set featuring some tremendous vocals from a very charismatic lead singer. Great harmony vocals were present throughout ‘The Bench’ with the pace picking up toward the end of the song, which was followed by a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, that then morphed and extended into ‘Red Heart’ by Hey Rosetta, which was really neat. Both passion and power were delivered in full amounts with ‘Slip Away’, challenging the idea that these are two guys with acoustic guitars. Next up was another cover, this time Disclosure’s ‘Latch’, probably better known for the Sam Smith version, but delivered here with a directness, honesty and emotion that blew us away, seriously. The time had come to return the favour and The Commoners joined JJ and Donny for a rousing punk-style rendition of ‘Come With Me’, before a great tribute to Monster Truck, ‘Seven Seas Blues’ who were playing The Horseshoe Tavern the same night. That left an all-out version of ‘Wolves’ as the closer of a very good set. See these guys either stripped down as they were tonight or fully loaded as a band as soon as you can, they are worth every penny.

SynBrit Rating 4/5


More?

Website:
JJ Thompson
Twitter @jjandthepillars
You Tube:
Latch



Old James: With bands, sometimes you see it coming and other times it’s like being hit in the face with a brick. The sheer power and energy exuded by Toronto’s Brian Stephenson (Lead Vox/Guitar) Andy Thompson (Lead Guitar) Chris Stephenson (Drums) and Ben Johnston (Bass Guitar) was enormous. From the openers ‘Spade’ and ‘Just Be’ it was clear that here was a band who’d come to rock hard all night. So it was a pleasant surprise when the next tune ‘Mystery’ was a slightly slower jam featuring Ross Hayes Citrullo on guitar once more, but energy was stunningly restored with ‘The Wave’, which encapsulated the awesome power onstage, flowing out into the audience. A seriously brilliant cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ was next, which was really appreciated by the DCC team on site. For us however, the best was saved for last with two massive tunes ‘Kill off the Rose’ and ‘Don't Put It On Me’ (see video link below) showing that simply tagging this band as ‘Heavy Metal’ or ‘Rock N Roll’ isn’t enough. The combination of great stage craft, top musicianship and a band who are able to translate their influences into their own unique style, without sounding like a tribute band are limited in this day and age. Old James were excellent and we need to see them again, so do you.

SynBrit Rating 4/5

More?

Website: Old James Band
Twitter: @OldJamesBand
You Tube:
Don't Put It On Me




Tear Away Tusa: By now it was getting late so it was a relief to hear Erin Tusa, Shane Rodak, Sam Schwartzbein, Adam Kurgatnikov, Ely Weisbrot and Danny Berezowski from Guelph deliver their indie/soul set, which opened with ‘We Fall’ and ‘Body Sound’ that smacked of a deep understanding of a soulful jazz background. It would be easy to pass Tear Away Tusa as being led by a great singer and a fill-in band, but that isn’t true as an increasingly complex ‘Around’ reminded me a little of Spyro Gyra and the lead riff was superb. ‘Something’s Bubbling’ and ‘Untitled’ followed, with the latter featuring a tremendous saxophone break with all of the instruments supporting the vocal line, delivering power and focus throughout. Next up were ‘T-Shirt’ and the excellent ‘Music In The Digital Age’, again highlighted by another sax break. The tempo increased for ‘Go and Take’, a more pop related song, that contained some spoken word. To finish, ‘River’, which ran straight in from the previous song and neatly closed out a very fine set. A great end to a very fine night.

SynBrit Rating 3/5

More?

Website:
Tear Away Tusa
Twitter: @tearawaytusa
You Tube:
Come a Little Closer

Until next time......The Moose 

Canadian Music Week 2015 - Art and Woodhouse

Art and Woodhouse

Canadian Music Week 2015 - The Cardinal Dream

The Cardinal Dream

Canadian Music Week 2015 - The Commoners

The Commoners

Canadian Music Week - JJ Thompson

JJ Thompson

Canadian Music Week 2015 - Old James

Old James

Canadian Music Week 2015 - Tear Away Tusa

Tear Away Tusa


All photos reproduced by kind permission of Back2basicsphotography.com