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New Music Fridays: Edgar Breau

If you’re a fan of Canada’s Simply Saucer, you’re going to be a very happy camper with today’s New Music Fridays post.

Now, if you’re asking yourself, “Simply Saucer? Huh?” I won’t go into all the nitty gritty details of this fascinating tale of a band that has influenced so many music-types around the globe yet still remains largely unknown to the general public. I suggest you head over and check out this great article at Perfect Sound Forever that does a far better job than I ever could explaining the history and significance of Simply Saucer.

For now, though, feast your ears on the newest offering from Saucer frontman Edgar Breau, Patches of Blue. This brand new collection of songs is a bit of a departure from the Simply Saucer sound, with a heavy emphasis on tunes built from the acoustic guitar on up. Truth be known, I’ve had the title track from Patches of Blue on a loop in my house all day today, and I still can’t get enough of it. You can stream the album at Breau’s website, although I suggest you just cut to the chase and buy it on iTunes.

Here’s the video for the title track, Patches of Blue.

New Music Fridays: The Rest

Seesaw, the soon to be released third album from The Rest (after Atlantis, Oh Our Saviour and Everyone All at Once), is a fitting title for a collection of songs that has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the process of its creation.

First, tragedy struck when The Rest’s longtime musical mentor, producer, friend (and former Junkhouse guitarist) Dan Achen suddenly died in March 2010 from a suspected heart attack while playing hockey (read more about this sad tale here). Then, after coming within grasp of the finish line of what would eventually become Seesaw, The Rest found themselves the victims of a major technical malfunction that saw months of work wiped clean off of the hard drive it had been recorded onto.

Throughout all of this, the seven piece from Hamilton, Ontario (yes, another Hamilton band…c’mon, Toronto. You’re getting your ass kicked here!) kept plugging ahead, and although a little behind schedule Seesaw is now slated for an early 2012 release. Even though Achen passed away before the start of production on Seesaw, his years of collaborating with The Rest still influenced the making of the album, and the band considers Dan still very much part of the songs featured on it.

And speaking of songs, The Rest are making a couple of tracks from Seesaw available for download for free right now, but act fast-they’re coming down at the end of this month. If you’ve always wanted the perfect amalgamation of Jesus and Mary Chain crossed with Broken Social Scene, then Always On My Mind and  The Last Day are going to help fill that void, at least until The Rest drop Seesaw next year.

If you’re in Toronto tonight, you can see The Rest at Wrongbar with We are Augustines. See details of the show here. After that, The Rest will be doing shows with Memoryhouse throughout October in Quebec and Ontario.

Finally, here’s the video for The Lady Vanishes, off of Everyone All At Once.

Visit The Rest’s website here.
Buy music from The Rest here.
Download free tracks from The Rest here.
Follow The Rest on Twitter @therestband.
Like The Rest on Facebook.
-Jay Moon

New Music Fridays: Greg Preston & The Great Machine

Every once and awhile, rather than have to hunt around looking for something new and exciting to feature on That’s Funky Awesome that ‘something’ just happens to fall into my lap. Such was the case with today’s featured band, Hamilton, Ontario’s Greg Preston & The Great Machine. My first impression was, “Interesting name, but what’s so great about it?” The second thing that caught my attention occurred as I scrolled through the Great Machine’s Twitter feed, and discovered mention of the band promising to play The Who’s Substitute at an upcoming gig. Now, I loves me my Who, so just the fact that we shared a respect for that band had me feeling good about what The Machine would have to offer. After further study, I suspect that Greg Preston & The Great Machine may have a bit of a Who crush going on, as they even feature a track entitled Zoot Suit on their four song debut EP, Hate To Love The City. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the band does share the raw edge that made early Who tracks so great. The recording was more about the emotion and spirit of the song rather than note for note perfection, and I can safely say that seems to be The Great Machine’s philosophy, too. The Great Machine may lean a little more heavily towards the punk spectrum (other sites have brought up The Stooges when describing them which I would agree with, and maybe even add in a little early day Stranglers), but the end result is the same: rock and roll, plain and simple. Delivered by a classic three piece, bass-guitar-drums lineup with an affinity for Converse sneakers. Now excuse me-I have to go get another mirror added onto my Vespa.

Here’s Greg Preston & The Great Machine and the video for Leave The Light On.

-Jay Moon

Bill Paul’s First Tuesday of Every Month: Teenage Head

“The Band That Mattered Most (To Me)”

By Bill Paul

Teenage head3a I wish I could tell you I saw it all unfold and that I was involved in trashing the cop car…but I can’t.

I was however, on the inside and from where I stood, it was simply a full on, balls out, packed Ontario Place Forum concert.  June 1980 and I was at my third Teenage Head concert celebrating my 16th birthday with Mich, Murph and some other friends.  We were about half way up the seats at the old Forum, soaked from booze and sweat, crushed by the clearly over-limit crowd and having the time of our life listening to the band from the Hammer, the band who knew how to deliver.  Honestly, we had no idea of the riot which took place outside the gates – generated by fans that were pissed (and pissed) because they had been denied entry due to capacity issues.  Sure, it did get a little sideways near the end of the show and during the encore – the boys actually exited the stage mid-song to avoid an over-enthusiastic stage rush – but isn’t that really in keeping with a band who has the ability to whip their crowds into a musical frenzy?

I had just watched my new favourite band.  How could this little stripped down four piecer become my favourite?  Most importantly I suspect because I was searching for something different.  Most of my friends were listening to Boston, Zeppelin and the new(er) kids on the block, AC/DC.  While that was fine, I wanted something thrashier…something that helped me feel out of control – something that freed me from the shackles of high school pressures and conformities.  That’s not only how it was that Teenage Head became my favourite band but how it couldn’t have been anyone else.

By the time of the Forum show, they had released two albums, the self-titled “Teenage Head” and the newly minted “Frantic City”.  The first, the release of 9 two-and-a-half minute sonic onslaughts (not including Kissin’ the Carpet weighing in at a larger than life 4:47) of combined creative forces, a few years of straight up hard work and real shitty production values.  As Frankie later said in an interview, “Are we pleased with the album?…You’d have to be deaf to be pleased with the album.”  The second, a slicker, tighter sound that managed not to forsake the band’s identity which also gave them their first two hits:  “Let’s Shake” and “Somethin’ On My Mind”.  By 1982, they had released their third studio album “Some Kinda Fun” which exposed more of their not-so-punk roots and tended favourably towards rockabilly.

For those first two decades, they went on to live the life of legend…breakups, American record deals, reformations, new members, near-fatal car crashes, sex, drugs and the lot.  Their ‘mid’ period included the release of “Tornado” (at the direction of their American distribution channels, calling themselves Teenage Heads to avoid causing a furor) and “Head Disorder” (in 1996 featuring Mark Lockerbie on drums).

Teenage Head member’s several paths all reconnected and, with Jack Pedler joining the band on drums, the early 2000’s were kind to the band with them playing small to mid-sized venues jammed packed with their adoring and loyal fans.  Often referred to as the Canadian Ramones, Gordie took this parallel to heart and, in 2003, convinced Marky Ramone to record some songs with the band.  The result was the 2008 release of “Teenage Head with Marky Ramone”.

 While this whole clip is worth watching, feel free to skip ahead to the 4:00 mark…

My last memory of the band was from August 2008.  They were playing a bar in Burlington and I took my wife, kids and their partners and Murph was again there too.  Frank still spit lyrics with a vengeance, Gord still made one guitar sound like three, Steve’s cool provided a great tension to the band’s high energy and Jack reminded us all that it was all for fun.  After the show, I took my 13 year old son, a budding musician up to Frank and introduced them to one another.  Frank gave him a big friendly hand shake, pulled him in real close, and with a glint in his eye asked, ‘how you doin’ tonight you fuckin’punk?’  I laughed and stepped away and watched the two of them talk music for a few minutes.   Frank’s energy was no less than it was almost thirty years earlier and he was able to impress the joy of a career in music upon my son.

Two months later, Frank was dead of throat cancer.

Teenage Head’s surviving members played just this last Saturday at a terrific local bar in Hamilton, This Ain’t Hollywood, with a special guest vocalist.  I was at the bar the night before and shared my mixed emotions about attending the show with the bar’s owner, Lou Molinaro.  Lou smiled, clearly understanding my dilemma, and nodded to the big framed picture of a very young Frankie on the wall.

Saturday night I stayed in and listened to music.