Renovated CJLO Studio The Oven to Reopen in April

Many aspiring musicians seek to record their music at an affordable price. Concordia students and local artists now have the chance to seize this opportunity with CJLO’s studio The Oven, located on Concordia’s campus. The studio has undergone renovations in acoustic treatment and gear upgrades for a scheduled reopening in early April.

Patrick McDowall, Production Manager and Sound Engineer at CJLO, has taken the initiative to put these plans into action, envisioning a brighter future for the music community at Concordia.

“[The Oven] was [initially] put together by meager means and gradually took form; it was all done DIY,” McDowall explained. “The reason I really put a foot forward and suggested the renovation was because I saw that the space could be so much more for the community and the university.

“The main goal of the space is to connect. It’s a big opportunity for students to get involved and record projects for a reasonable price, but also for the greater music community of Canada,” McDowall continued. “We look far and wide to have bands that tour through here to play [in the studio].”
Recent artists that performed in The Oven include rock band Operators, R&B artist L.A. Foster and Set and Setting on the metal end.

For those interested in technicalities, on top of the exhaustive list of equipment they already own, the studio has brought in the line-up, a new high-end pair of Oktava microphones, a sought-after UREI 1176 compressor as heard on records made by Daft Punk, a brand-new version of Avid Pro Tools and a new high-quality interface with better preamps, amongst other upgraded gear.

Concordia students can benefit from a half-price discount on the studio rental rate of $10 per hour. But The Oven is able to offer much more than regular recording because of its close relationship with the university’s radio station.

Operating within CJLO, The Oven benefits from its radio charts and live broadcasting sessions. With the impact community radio stations have on music trends, McDowall asserts that The Oven is a great place to start learning about the music industry.

“It benefits people whether they’re an artist or whether they’re an engineer seeking to learn something. If you’re an artist, it’s literally the most inexpensive place to record in the city with people that care about the project […] and you’re directly linked to the station,” McDowall said.

“Any artist who comes in here to record is appreciated and we try to promote the material through our charts and our live-on-air sessions. It’s basically instant promotion.”

In addition to promotion, The Oven helps volunteer sound engineers to build up learning experience for their future careers.

“I’m a graduate from the Concordia Electroacoustics program. Working at CJLO opened so many doors for me, meeting so many artists, being able to record so many people and be involved in the community [and] meet new musicians that I’ve played with,” McDowall said.

“I had to learn so many things so fast, troubleshoot a lot more than I had to before. I was recording in different environments before with more simple setups [that were] set up for me at the university. I had to set it up [myself] to make it function.”

The two main engineers at The Oven—McDowall and Assistant Music Director and Sound Engineer Marshall Vaillancourt—are constantly looking for new artists and engineers, and said they’re happy to help strengthen the studio production skills of volunteers.

“There [are] always opportunities to learn, especially sessions where live bands come through. I always try to give students or just anyone from the community the ability to work the sessions with me, understand drum miking and take that back to work with their bands,” said McDowall.

“For students there’s always a place you can come to learn, whether you want to do production for making a voice sound good for advertisement, for film, for promotion materials, even a YouTube channel. We’re into helping people out one-on-one.”

The Oven is set to reopen with a series of special events including a re-launch show at Le Cagibi with Saxsyndrum, Fleece and other guests. You will also be able to directly check out the studio with its open house at CJLO in April.

It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Wanna Rock N’ Roll, but AC/DC Decided to Rock Rather Than Bust After Six Years of Hiatus Since Their Last Release.

It’s not the first time that significant line-up changes have occurred in the band’s history, but that never stopped the biggest hard-rock band of all time from continuing to make platinum records. Right after the release of Highway To Hell in 1979, singer at that time Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. However replaced by Brian Johnson, current singer of AC/DC, they released Back In Black in 1980, a tribute to Scott that sold millions of copies worldwide, making it one of the most sold albums of all time.

We can already expect that Rock Or Bust will be a tribute to Malcolm Young, founding member and guitarist of the band who currently suffers from dementia, which forced him to leave his bandmates.

2014 has been a sad year for the music industry, with no platinum certification, but should we expect this album to revivify the sales of this dying field? Rest assured, we can rely on replacement rhythm guitarist Stevie Young, nephew of Angus and Malcolm, to keep the Young legacy steady as they go.

“Play Ball” clearly confirms that the band still has its chemistry. A rock single worthy of their name, driven by the fresher-than-ever vocals of Johnson, reminding us of their 80’s records, Angus Young’s characteristic fingerpicking playing and Rudd’s steady-as-a-rock drum beats.

Few would argue that AC/DC have put in very little effort to change their songwriting style. Nevertheless, one may consider this as one of their biggest strengths as many fans still admire their ability to sound the same since 1973, more than four decades after their formation. A characteristic sound that no other band has managed to come close to, even though the guitar riffs may be some of the simplest ever played in rock history. It is precisely this chemistry present in the Young fraternity that truly produces the sounds of stadium rock across the planet.

The sweaty arena’s screaming fans can be heard from miles away in “Miss Adventure” just as in “Thunderstruck” from The Razor’s Edge. “Rock The Blues Away” comprises of chords reminiscent to their Blow Up Your Video era of the late 80s.

It is fairly common to misbelieve that AC/DC members are Australian, due to their notoriety in Australia, but their music stems from Scottish roots, just as the Young brothers’ origins. In fact, their first ever single, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” prominently uses bagpipes played by Scott with a strong blues groove. It is sad to say that Rock Or Bust neither pays tribute to Scotland nor the blues.

It is the lack of originality in musical structures and songwriting topics in this latest release that blinds AC/DC’s 40 years of legacy, lowering them to their relatively recent Australian musical siblings, Airbourne. Unfortunately, Rock Or Bust seems to fall on the commercial side of modern rock music with a short 35-minute long album of radio-edited, loudly-mixed tracks.

The second single “Rock or Bust” that leaked on the web earlier than expected, opens the album with a modern mix, closer to the feel of Black Ice, their previous release from 2008. “Dogs of War” is just a “War Machine” twin in need of mixing effects to compete against its older Black Ice brother.

Incontestably, Angus Young still has the guitar chops for his burning solos, but this release invokes too much rock and not enough blues. The power riffs become overwhelming at last, while Angus merely doubles Stevie in useless layers. Lacking bluesy licks which add nuances and depth to the songs, it’s as if Angus had to fill the spot for both Malcolm and Stevie due to a lack of confidence in the latter fulfilling his duties.

Nonetheless, if Rock Or Bust ends up being their last effort, I salute them for their perseverance. For those about to rock, we salute you.

Fragmented Pink Floyd releases collection of instrumental tracks reminiscent of their past to conclude nearly 50 years of psychedelic rock supremacy.

Just as you wouldn’t dig out a corpse from its grave, few would dare to jam with the dead. Nevertheless, Pink Floyd’s remaining members, guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason decided to honor founding member and keyboardist Richard Wright, who passed away in 2008, in their latest release. The Endless River draws from extra material recorded by Wright during the 1993 sessions of their previous album The Division Bell.

If you admire Pink Floyd for their concept album masterpieces like The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall or their lengthy psychedelic gems such as “Echoes” and “Shine On Your Crazy Diamonds”, you’re in for a surprise. Don’t expect too much lyrical songwriting or storytelling but rather endless instrumental jams of ambient music led by the iconic guitar leads of Gilmour, the simple yet pulse-driven drum beats by Mason along with the magically hypnotic piano melodies and synth pads of Wright.

Even though, the sound of Pink Floyd is instantly recognizable, a core element is missing. Without Roger Waters, bassist of Pink Floyd since its beginnings in 1965 until 1985, the album tells a discordant story that might as well be used as a film score. The songwriting components, the vocal inputs and bass lines of Waters have been the helpless slivers that empowered a cohesive band as a whole, before this current Gilmour-led era.

It is unfortunate to discover that the best bits of The Endless River were used in the album previews shared on social medias prior to the album release, just as a bad trailer would reveal everything there is to see in a movie. At least they can be used as ringtones right away.

The album is divided into four movements, each of them strangely and awkwardly familiar to a previous Floyd release, which doesn’t help in procuring the awe that one might expect when discovering new content from a favorite artist. Or would fans rather have them never change musical directions in their careers?

The album opens on an atemporal track, naturally confessing its similitude to the beginning of “Shine On Your Crazy Diamonds”. Indeed, “It’s What We Do” suggests both the legacy and the band’s driving force as a mere monotonous activity lacking originality and passion.

The record then shifts into an interesting odd-time signature synth pattern, but the rest of the movement in “Skins” is full of nostalgia for A Saucerful Of Secrets, an earlier album with a psychedelic vibe influenced by Syd Barrett, one of the founding members and songwriter of Pink Floyd who left the band in 1968 due to mental illness. “Anisina” is simple yet truly beautiful if it hadn’t been for the same string patterns taken from “Comfortably Numb”.

The third side, or should I call it the Waters side, replicates two distinctive creative processes from The Wall. The splitting of “Allons-Y” into parts and its galloping pulse coincidently recalls “Another Brick In The Wall” along with the guitar riff that instantly evokes “Run Like Hell”, both of them written by Waters in his 1979 rock opera.

Fortunately, the last and best cut of the album “Louder Than Words”, the only non-instrumental track of the release, sets the bar higher thanks to the lyrics written by Gilmour’s wife and novelist, Polly Samson. Although, the song seems to be an extract from The Division Bell merged with the guitar solo from “Comfortably Numb”, one of Gilmour’s finest work often considered one of the best solos of all time, it delivers a clear message with conviction.

The Endless River succeeds in transporting the listener through some of Pink Floyd’s distinctive eras as a compilation of old songs or a reissue, but hardly as an album with brand new solid material. Currently in a vulnerable state of collapse, Pink Floyd failed to provide original compositions worthy of their name and missed the opportunity to praise Wright’s work.

Overall, the Wright soul is missing.

Canadian singer-songwriter Jon Davis launches his new music video “Better” from his second album Open Shore.

A classically trained singer from Montreal, Jon Davis decided to incorporate his traumatic past as a positive fuel to his new musical endeavours. Suffering from a brain injury in 2006, Davis recollects the challenges of his recovery in his debut album Golden Hue released in 2009.

“When I was recovering I wrote most of the songs of my first album. I was very depressed, anxious and scared that I wouldn’t fully recover. Prior to that I had a lead role in a professional musical theater production but I was forced to reconsider everything. I have that injury to thank in a way for making me a singer-songwriter and decide to go and write the album.” recalled Davis.

Although his first creation mainly focused on his personal adventures, he bounced back in 2013 with Open Shore, an altruistic album sharing his recovery as an advice to mental freedom; ultimately a remedy to get better and positively enjoy the open world.

“This album’s really been about overcoming obstacles, and making a decision to be happy. You are living in some sort of crazy sinking ship, but somehow you break free and you’re going towards this huge wide open shore of possibilities. It’s kind of an inspiration album trying to help people in some way, but also helping myself.” explained Davis.

The songwriter had always wanted to be a musician from his early ages. He draws his inspirations from multiple musical genres ranging from Classic Rock, Blues, Folk, Jazz to even Classical. Some of his most praised artists include legendary Rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, Folk singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and Pop giants the Beatles.

“I really got into blues and classic rock. My idol was Jimi Hendrix. I was also a really big fan of Led Zeppelin and covered their songs live. I used to do a lot of guitar solos, and wanted to be a guitarist not a singer. After my set, I was going up to my guitarist friends saying ‘What did you think of my guitar solo?’” admitted Davis.

Even though he used to dream of becoming a guitar hero in his teens, his peers would exclusively compliment his singing everytime. He eventually became self-aware of his singing talent and decided to take his chance in music as a singer for good.

“Every time I played live, people would always comment about my singing, and naturally people were pushing me towards that direction because I was better at that.” revealed Davis.

Indeed, his vocal talents have been doubtlessly showcased during his last performance at La Sala Rossa. The show underwent in an intimate yet cozy atmosphere with Davis backed up by his bandmates on guitar, bass and drums. His compositions meshed a good variety of moods and instrumentation along with occasional surprises in the course of the act.

On top of Davis switching effortlessly between piano, acoustic and electric guitars, he engaged the audience by inviting a dancer onto the stage to perform over an upbeat tune. The show followed by a duet with a cellist for one of his folk songs. He consequently embodied a multi-faceted character comparable to a Sir Elton John burst out singing on the piano just as an alternative rock band frontman rocking out.

Jon Davis’ new music video “Better” features the same female dancer as in the show, who serves as a metaphor for change. Additionally, an interesting gradation from black and white to color graphically depicts a better growing and evolving state of mind.

The difficulties of a musician trying to pierce its way through the crowd may be a common stereotype nowadays among the music industry. However, Jon Davis points out the importance of surrounding support and one’s love for music as a means of personal fulfillment.

“If I can say one thing, whatever you do, just go out there with guns blazing and kick ass as hard as you can in every way. We all know hundreds of unbelievable unknown artists, but they don’t have a team. Get a team. Otherwise, you end up being a beautiful flower way out in the forest that no one is ever going to see. No one goes out to that part of the forest. You need somebody saying ‘You gotta see this, over here, yeah, no, left, next to the tree there.’”

Vintage Trouble, the American blues rock band, stormed through Montreal last Friday at Café Campus.

You might have caught Vintage Trouble’s energetic performances during last summer’s Montreal Jazzfest or as a supporting act of Rock giants, The Who. Formed in Hollywood in 2010, the quartet from California screams the music of the 60s. You can think of them as James Brown meeting Chuck Berry. They mesh good ol’ rock n’ roll with some soul, blues and R&B roots, resulting in a surprisingly bombastic new musical genre.

Lead by singer Ty Taylor’s astonishing voice and Nalle Colt’s bluesy electric guitar riffs, the band takes you back to the 1960s resurrecting the music that made people twist.

From the very first opening song of the night, Vintage Trouble took control of the entire crowd and space at the Cafe Campus. Despite the usual age demographic associated with the venue, baby boomers invaded the bar and shamelessly rocked their socks off; unlike our generation who just bop heads or grind booties in clubs.

The highly charismatic singer showcased neither fear nor timidity on stage. He naturally bonded with the audience and used all possible means to make the show engaging and entertaining. Stepping in the crowd and singing from the balcony were some of the many tricks up his sleeve.

It is fairly obvious that the pace of the show was carefully thought out. Energetic songs were spaced out with acoustic sessions and the show’s mood swings were transitioned with unexpected surprises, such as additional performers invited onto the stage. Symbolising lust in the song “Jezzebella”, a local female burlesque dancer made a shocking appearance.

Fans — nicknamed the “Troublemakers” — and first-time attendees were also taken aback by the band’s vigorous performance of “Blues Hand Me Down” — a fast-paced song with lyrics retracing the roots of blues. Poignant emotions of stories that genuinely affect relationships between human beings are shared between performers and spectators in songs such as “Nobody Told Me” and “Total Strangers”.

It is somewhat reassuring that in a world dominated by EDM, we still find a few gems who have a strong desire to revive music created with real instruments. It is unfortunate that our generation doesn’t express further interest in the history and origins of popular music.

The Cali band kicked off their North-American Swing House Sessions tour with a setlist of new acoustic compositions found on the latest EP The Swing House Acoustic Sessions released this year, along with acoustic arrangements of previously recorded electric tunes from their debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions released in 2012.

If you haven’t already seen their performance on the “Late Show with David Letterman”, check it out, it surely is worth the procrastination.