Normally it takes a band some time to develop from the rehearsal space to an effective unit on the live stage and then even longer to develop a reputation as a standout act to see perform but for Magic Shadows things seemed to move a little more quickly. From their first few performances, Magic Shadows were commanding attention and developing a buzz that few other bands ever achieve.
Rich Oddie has been making music in Hamilton for a couple of decades – most notably with Christine Sealey as Orphx – but his roots also include a lifelong exploration of shoegaze music (that culminated in Your Waking Dream with Sealey and John Merrall way back in 1991 to 1993). Magic Shadows offer Oddie a full on rock–oriented–collaboration with three strong foils that may mark a stylistic veering from the specific worlds of electronic music and noise but not necessarily from the experimental.
“I’ve been a fan of blues and rock for many years, and especially more psychedelic forms of rock like shoegaze, ‘60s psych, krautrock, etc,” explains Oddie.
“I wanted to try writing songs in that vein [of Your Waking Dream] again and get back to singing and playing guitar live.
“Magic Shadows started in July 2010, not long after I first met [guitarist] Mike Long and we found that we were both fans of ‘60s garage rock and ‘70s punk,” adds Oddie. “That same month, I met [bassist] Tyler [Cooke] at a house party and we started talking about the same bands right away. He joined the next week and we soon invited another friend, Greg Voisin, to play drums.”
Cooke also plays in garage rock upstarts Mystics and Mike Long has long had a presence locally with a variety of video and written works but it was Oddie’s youth that inspired the band name.
“The TV Ontario show with host Elwy Yost made a big impression on me
as a kid, especially the opening sequence that is very psychedelic,” smiles Oddie. “I found it really disturbing and it seemed like a good name for a psych band.”
A shared love of ‘50s and ‘60s garage rock, ‘70s punk, more psychedelic music and especially shoegaze like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and more precipitate these Magic Shadows. Within a month of their formation, Magic Shadows took to the stage and not long afterward were releasing their music on the novel cassette format.
Releasing Merry Nihilismus in December 2010, Mirrormind in June 2011 and most recently /// in December 2011, rabid fans were happy to snap up the unique momentos that captured the
irreverent and quirky nature of the band – even if perhaps they themselves didn’t have a cassette player. Now with plans for a full length official release tentatively for later this year, the Shadows are working on their debut 7” vinyl outing and are going to take time away from the stage to focus on recording.
This week, Magic Shadows take on the James street North’s monthly Art Crawl, enlisting guest drummer Dave Foster (Huren) for one of their last local performances for a while. With their musical juxtapositions and a more experimental side of the band’s music coming to the fore more frequently, you may not
necessarily be able to predict exactly what may happen with these Magic Shadows on the stage but you know it’s
going to be worth witnessing.
“Cassettes have a certain nostalgic appeal and they are a bit more interesting than a CD at this point,” opines Oddie on the analogue versus digital retro format choice.
“So far, the songs have revolved around addiction, love, demons, ghosts, and the end of the world,” he adds on the band’s lyrical fodder. “The themes of the songs and our sound are fairly dark but there’s always an element of humour and fun and we like the idea of having those contrasts.
“The Art Crawl nights always draw a large and diverse group of people downtown,” notes Oddie on the possible
newer audience for the band this weekend. “The band’s developed a reputation for the live show. We started playing a month after we formed the band and we’ve been playing around Hamilton and Toronto pretty regularly since then. There’s a mix of structure and chaos, songs and improvisation. I’d like to develop the improvisational side of things more. We’ve brought in some electronic elements and I’d like to push that further, too. The shows are usually a mix of structured songs and more free–form jams and we try to make each show different. Things usually get pretty chaotic and I think audiences always enjoy that energy. You never know exactly what is going to happen and neither do we.”
Magic Shadows play this Friday January 13 at This Ain’t Hollywood with Rituals and Crop Failure.
Click on magicshadows.bandcamp.com
Greg Preston and the Great Machine
When you see GPATGM in the clubs – you’re seeing a well oiled machine. I’ve witnessed it and for such a young bunch of guys, they come off as old souls without a loss of any youthful energy. The core of Preston and drummer Johnny Szymanski have been working together for a few years now in their previous outfit, the Gladly Fools but when the pair were enlisted to play the CD release party for their friends in the Caretakers a couple of years ago, they found the bassist that would complete a powerhouse trio.
Playing for the last 18 months as a trio with bassist Jon Daly, the Great Machine has been tearing up local stages with an amazing energy and power and with the release of their newest collection of songs, Hate to Love the City, are getting some local and international attention.
The energy of the band is what they wanted to captured on their recordings – this is loud rock and roll with an emphasis on the feeling. With influences running deep – referencing the Big Bopper in “Leave the Light On” and the Who with “Zoot Suit” – it’s unusual to find a relatively younger bunch of musicians that take influence, the reverb drenched guitar and vocals and the frenetic energy from rock and roll’s earlier origins.
You could make comparisons to the Cramps or perhaps the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but they call it disenfranchised rhythm and noise.
“We are a fairly young band, 22– to 23–year–olds with a true love for all the
great early rock and roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s,” offers Preston. “The music back then was honest and soulful. You know there were no false pretenses with those
guys, they were going out there and really giving out a piece of themselves.
“When we decided to record Hate to Love the City, we had a collection of songs we had been playing live,” adds Preston. “Realizing that the excitement of these tracks came from the energy we brought when playing together, there really seemed like no other alternative than to record them live off the floor. “Michael Keire’s Threshold Studio is a great space that complimented our live approach really, really well. Mike got some great sounds going and we just banged them out in a couple takes, and mixed them over a weekend. I think this is a really honest debut recording for us setting a proper foundation for us to
Hate To Love The City is a four song rock and roll juggernaut that offers a quick and hefty punch. The online release of these songs has attracted attention from blogs around the world, developing the Great Machine’s name in Spain, Germany and a variety of sources within the U.S. but it’s the live show where this unit particularly shines and their putting their hearts on to Hamilton stages as much as they can.
“It’s taking some time to get an audience, but I think people are starting to notice,” offers Preston. “We just keep playing whatever shows we can get our hands on, and hope the hard work pays off. As for this show we got asked to play by Milk Run, I think we will have a pretty good draw, I really wouldn’t want to have to follow us though, audience may be worn out from all the noise.
“We have a different energy than other bands,” he adds. “Without sounding to much like I’m in love with us I can honestly say we kill the bands we open for, always. That’s what the Great Machine is all about. We really only have one speed, one setting and that is full tilt. We love playing music and giving it all we got, we want the audience to get up and dance and tap into all that energy we are throwing at them. I think it definitely fills the room with some good vibes, above all that’s what we love to do, that’s how we play, that’s how we get our rocks off. So come get off with us, it’s always a blast.”
Greg Preston and the Great Machine play this Friday January 13 at the Casbah Lounge with Milk Run and Lucas Stagg Band. Doors open at 10pm and $5 gets you in.
Click on gregprestonandthegreatmachine.bandcamp.com
Lifestory: Monologue at the new Club Absinthe
With the news finally becoming official in December, Club Absinthe decided to close its King Street doors after nearly a decade of operation. But the good news for a throng of dedicated Absinthe regulars was the essence of the club simply relocated to King William Street (formerly known as the Pepper Jack Cafe). With the inaugural relocated Wednesday Motown night a sell out success, the club is already in full swing and offers a special event this weekend. 'My Friends Over You’ – a weekly party that runs at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto, will be featured at Absinthe for a monthly Saturday feature with guest DJs spinning music from the likes of Taking Back Sunday, Lagwagon, Rise Against and Grade, and concerts with likeminded bands.
Lifestory: Monologue has been making their own brand of adrenaline fueled alt/art/post/rock since they formed in Guelph eight years ago, maturing as a band and refining their sound into their latest epic release, Drag Your White Fur – Make It Grey.
Over the last four years Richard Nuttall (vocals), Jay Reid (bass, vocals), Zac Tenwesteneind (keyboards, vocals), Brett Banks (drums, vocals), Jason Gormley (guitar), and Mike Short (guitar), have taken their special personal chemistry and fashioned a disc that truly represents a real collective life long journey in music.
“Jason and Richard have known each other since grade school, Zac and I were in grade six together,” recalls Reid. “Above all else, our relationships with each other started with a foundation of friendship and love. Music happened second. Maybe it was just a good excuse for us to hangout more. The goals of the band have matured in sync with our lives maturing. That is a natural thing when you change from your high school self to your early 20s self. Ultimately, I think all of us are very aware, comfortable and happy with what we have accomplished together and most importantly enjoy the moment, the work and the fun that surrounds it all.
“Writing DYWF–MIG does go back around four years,” adds Reid on the Kenny Bridges (of Moneen) produced disc. “We really took our time and made it priority to never cut any corners. DYWF–MIG’s release marks the point in which the band finally and collectively feels confident.”
Years of performing have helped Lifestory: Monologue to record what
they believe is their greatest collection of songs and now they’re currently on tour spreading the word in some of the places that helped them grow as musicians. Lifestory: Monologue has slowly developed as part of a greater southern Ontario scene, alongside The Reason, Silverstein, Life In Sound, Dead and Divine and a host of other Hamilton/Burlington bands to develop a strong following in the Hamilton area. With a new disc in hand and with a popular Toronto event invading town, Lifestory: Monologue hopes to welcome many more friends to the fold.
“We’ve been lucky to play alongside some of Hamilton’s best,” says Reid. “The bands you’ve mentioned, as well as others from the 905 scene definitely helped us get our start in the city, and have gone on to become good friends of ours. Thanks to them, Hamilton is now and has for several years been one of our favourite cities to play in. [But] we’ve actually never played at the Absinthe – old or new – so we’re excited to be a part of the opening month. As for MFOY, it is a pop–punk themed dance night a few friends of ours have been running out of Toronto for a while. They have just recently started having featured events in other cities as well, and I believe this is their second time bringing it to Hamilton. It’s a little surreal how packed their Toronto events get. They are definitely dishing out what people are hungry for. Hamilton will probably be the same.
“The biggest thing we try to put into and take from every show we play is the relationships we make,” adds Reid. “We love meeting new people, as well as getting to see old friends again who we don’t see too often due to the distance between cities. I think this translates over to our live performance in the sense that we try to bring everyone in the crowd into the performance with us. We want everyone to feel welcomed and that’s not only for the 45 minutes we are playing.” V
Lifestory: Monologue plays this Saturday January 14 at Club Absinthe (now at 38 King William St.) with Matt Tobin of Dead and Divine and Lambs Become Lions. Show starts at 9pm and $5 gets you in.
Click on lifestorymonologue.bandcamp.com