The summer music round up

The members of Not Animals: Little did their grandmothers know the afghans they so lovingly weaved would some day be used in promotional photos for a rock band.
Curran Faris - known for his work in the local bands Husk and Hide Your Daughters - conceived Greenhouse, his solo ambient-drone project, after being inspired by the likes of Oren Ambarchi and Expo ‘70.
Ultra Mega’s first EP consisted entirely of Wu-Tang Clan covers. Their new EP, a collection of original material, was recorded in Toronto with Luke Doucet.

Not Animals

Not Animals’ performance at last month’s NXNE music festival in Toronto went well, except that their drummer, Nick Luchak, missed the gig.

Luckak had a show earlier that day in Mississauga, Ont. with his other project, the Ukrainian punk band Zrada. He missed the ride to Toronto that was supposed to get him to the Not Animals gig on time.

The rest of the band – singer-bassist Christopher Samms, guitarist Jordan Crosthwaite and keyboard player Stephen Winnemuller – played the show with a drum machine.

“I thought (Luchak) was going to show up a few times in the middle of the set, Hollywood style – just burst through the door and get on the drums,” says Samms, 25. “But he showed up a couple minutes after the set ended. Then we all had a shot and gave him a big hug and said it was going to be OK.”

Samms started the art-pop band in high school as a one-man recording project. He shifted his efforts back to Not Animals when his last band, Tigerrr Beat, broke up in 2008.

“Not Animals is sort of the poppy parts from Tigerrr Beat,” Samms says. “It’s more concentrated pop.”

The band is currently working on Mind Maps, its first full-length album, which will come out on vinyl, cassette and CD by the fall.
Not Animals will play songs from the recording on Sunday, July 4 when they perform at the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre with Braids, Gobble Gobble and Cannon Bros.



People who know local guitarist Curran Faris from aggressive sludge rock four-piece Hide Your Daughters, or from his defunct Isis-like metal band Husk, might be surprised to find out he likes experimental, ambient drone music.

Those are the types of songs he creates with his guitar, effects pedals and amp under the name Greenhouse, a project heavily influenced by the likes of Oren Ambarchi and Expo ’70.

Faris has released three Greenhouse recordings since April 2009. Learning Curve and Harmony Goldmine are CD-Rs he recorded at home, and Golden City is a limited edition cassette consisting of one 20-minute track recorded live and spread over two sides of a cassette.

“The appeal for listening to other (ambient/drone) artists and for doing Greenhouse is kind of the same – I like listening to it just because it’s sort of different from the majority of music that is out there, or that makes up the majority of my record collection,” the 26-year-old says. “It doesn’t have standard musical structure, like choruses or verses, or the same sonic palette you’d find in pop or rock or metal or whatever.”

“It’s a way (for me) to approach the guitar in a different way,” he adds. “Instead of thinking about musical theory or riffs and chords, I can just focus on sound.”

Greenhouse will perform at Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner on Friday, July 23.


Ultra Mega

Ultra - extreme. Mega - million.

Ultra Mega - probably the biggest score in the heavily-mined great-band-name market in recent history.

Borrowing from the ‘90s slack and desert twang, this indie-pop quartet enjoyed heavy rotation last winter with their first EP, Black Wu Jackets. Their latest, The Dart EP, takes a different turn, focusing on principal songwriter JD Ormond’s introspective and delicate lyrical storytelling.

It was recorded in Toronto with Ormond’s brother, Six Shooter recording artist Luke Doucet (formerly of Veal). Doucet even played the drums on the EP.

“I had school and couldn’t make it,” Ultra Mega drummer Ben Jones explains. “And truthfully, I wish I was there. As a drummer, I wanted to put my own fills in there. … Luke keeps great time, but he doesn’t have the power-fills in there.”

Jones adds that this EP was supposed to be a full-length, but half the tracks were shelved, perhaps for later. The quartet, which is rounded out by Conrad Petkau (bass) and newcomer Josey Krahn (guitar), is excited to hit the road and tour this release and get back to finally record an LP.

“We gotta do it this time. We have so many songs and we really want to record as a full band.”

Will they record in Toronto again?

“No!” Jones responds quickly. “We have so many friends here to draw on to help with recording, we want to do this here in Winnipeg.”

See Ultra Mega live Friday, Aug. 20 at the Rainbow Trout Music Festival.


Published in Volume 64, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 30, 2010)

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