am not a riff guy. I've never understood it. I'm aware of what heavy
guitar riffs can do to people, though. They make some people bang
their heads violently and get positively rowdy: all good things. But
to me, riffs always felt repetitive, similar, and kind of boring.
new debut record - which takes equal cues from the likes of both
Black Sabbath and Big Star - I finally
get it. Let me explain this change of heart.
Aaron, Adam and Pete are four gentleman from Hamilton who are serious
music-makers. Each one has an extensive and impressive musical
resume, and their individual history is important in understanding
why their debut album feels so fresh:
is the most prolific songwriter I know. Sometimes prolific is used to
describe quantity and not necessarily quality, but this is not the
case with Cam's songs; each
top notch. He embodies the youthful spirit of Joel Plaskett and the
musicality of Neil Young.
or the Good Reverend Overdrive as he is often affectionately called,
loves guitars. While he plays a prized vintage Gibson SG in Huron,
his day job is behind the pedal steel guitar, and has quickly become
the most sought after young studio musician in Canada. He has
appeared on a pile of excellent albums, from rockn'stoner Ian Blurton
to electro-duo the Junior Boys and has performed live with everyone
from roots-rock heroes the Cowboy Junkies to the Arkells (when we're
fronted critically acclaimed, ethereal and introspective indie
rockers A Northern Chorus. He has played side man to - among others -
The Great Lake Swimmers and Julie Fader, and his workman-like
attitude and has seen him on the road since he was 18.
is a musician's musician. The kind of player that can compliment any
guitar-strumming songwriter, and has the type of musical skill that
is the source of envy to everyone around. On a personal note, he will
at the nearest piano and
play "Martha My Dear" on command, and this makes me very
I heard that these four were getting together to start a band, I was
immediately excited about the possibilities. All of them can play a
slew of instruments (and very well), all of them can write, and all
of them can grow beards (though Cam's is questionable). Seeing them
tear the roof off a dive bar in Ottawa was the most inspirational
musical memory of the summer of 2009 for me, and I couldn't wait to
hear their songs through a pair of headphones.
went to visit them when they were recording in east Hamilton, Ontario
with producer and Toronto legend Ian Blurton, and it was there that I
could feel their inspiring live show connecting immediately in the
studio. In the spirit of rock'nroll, they recorded live off the
floor: Pete (drums) and Adam (bass) hold down the rhythm section,
while Cam (guitar), and Aaron (guitar, through as many big amps as
possible) co-front the unit. Cam's "King and Country"
reminds me of heavier, more badass version of the Beatles' "Two
of Us". Aaron's "Chicken Wing" is Cold Roses-era Ryan
Adams. "The War Between" could stand up to any 90's
this collection of songs could win over any Sabbath fan (I think),
they deeply connect with me: a lover of soul, folk, country, and pop.
Their songs aren't just riffs, they are accompanied by lyrics that
are meaningful, verses I can groove to, and choruses I can sing a
long with. With that said, when the heavy riff finally hits in the
"Big Dig" at 3:25, it all comes
together: only a pounding riff can provide that brand of physical
Thank you, Huron: you've
riff-rock make sense.