Rob Crooks is a man who is good with his hands. From his hand-cut construction paper posters for his Hearts EP release party, to his beats, Crooks does it digital-ly.
This is Crooks’ first solo release under his birth name. The disc, which is all sampled from vinyl and sequenced live (no laptops for Crooks), is different than his previous projects, and particularly unique to the music he writes for Magnum KI.
“Why now?” Crooks ponders. “I guess I just had these songs that were kind of different and kind of weird, and I just felt like, instead of letting them just go to waste, like I’ve done with so many songs in the past, I felt like I was really proud of these songs and I really wanted people to hear them.”
The MC doesn’t feel he can be pigeon-holed.
“I feel like I don’t need to be part of any genre, or I don’t necessarily fit into any one box. I can just make songs and they don’t have to fit any sort of mould.”
Crooks uses the term “post-rap” to describe the EP.
“I kind of hate that term, but at the same time, it might be used to describe what I’m doing. Despite the way it’s made, which is not so far from how traditional hip-hop is made, it’s got a really indie rock feel.”
The Hearts EP release party happens at Lo Pub Thursday, March 15. Doors at 9 pm. The night also features Nestor Wynrush and Two Rocks of Stone. Admission is $5 - $10 gets you in, plus a copy of the EP.
- Kaeleigh Ayre
No longer amused.
When two musicians left local ambient instrumental band Amuse in 2010, remaining members Zach Allard (guitar), Neil Exell (bass) and Joseph Hopfner (drums) recruited guitarist Shane Patience and began writing new material. They also added vocals (Allard and Hopfner both take turns at the mic) and changed their name to Viridians.
“We’re really trying to create something that’s totally new,” Allard says. “It’s a lot more challenging technically (than Amuse was). I guess (Viridians) draws from metal and from prog rock, but it’s not really aggressive in any way - it’s still very melody-based. Everybody can enjoy it - it doesn’t take a lot out of you to listen to.”
The band will release its first CD next month. They tracked the drums for the five-song, 35-minute disc at jazz guitarist Larry Roy’s studio, and then Allard and Hopfner recorded the rest of the instruments themselves in various basements and jam spaces.
The title of the CD, Again, Dangerous Visions, is a nod to Amuse.
“The album was originally supposed to be called just Visions, but Again, Dangerous Visions was kind of our flagship song (as Amuse) that a lot of people know. It was kind of our anthem, I guess you could say. So we thought it would be a nice tongue-in-cheek nod to what we were doing before.”
See Viridians live this Friday, March 16 at Frame Arts Warehouse (318 Ross Ave.) with Electro Quarterstaff and The Calculus Affair. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $7.
The band also plays Ozzy’s on Wednesday, March 28, and releases its album on Thursday, April 12 at the Lo Pub with Calabi-Yau and Mahogany Frog.
- Aaron Epp
It’s not quite rags to riches, but in Canada, it doesn’t get much better.
The members of Newfoundland trio The Once started out their artistic careers as actors at Trinity’s Rising Tide Theatre Company, and eventually morphed into the sparse bluegrass trio that has two albums and a 2012 Juno nomination.
“The chemistry was there from the start,” band member Andrew Dale told the Weekend Telegram. “If we had to make an effort to make music work between the three of us it probably wouldn’t have gone this far, but because there was chemistry right from the start and things just clicked, we got a charge and just wanted to keep going.”
Dale is joined in The Once by Phil Churchill and Geraldine Hollett, who in 2009 released their self-titled debut. It features new versions of old standards as well as fresh takes on a few recent pop classics penned by the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.
That disc garnered them several East Coast Music and Canadian Folk Music awards, and got them signed to Borealis Records.
Last fall, The Once quietly released Row Upon Row of the People They Know to an unassuming audience that would quickly eat it up. There’s sugary sweet sounds and one Queen cover that will surely make its way onto many a wedding’s dancefloor (You’re My Best Friend).
“We love A Night at the Opera,” Hollett said during a radio interview with The East Coast Kitchen Party. “We actually sang that song for a wedding, a couple of friends of ours got married, one of them engineered both of our albums. We gotta do something different - we can’t be Queen. We’re not Queen!”
Catch The Once at the Park Theatre on Tuesday, March 20. Visit www.theonce.ca.
- Nicholas Friesen
Published in Volume 66, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 14, 2012)