Old School Mondays:: Simply Majestic!

July 4th, 2011 / No Comments » / by naedoo

As our fellow Canadians are aware, on Friday we celebrated the 144th birthday of our nation. Here at the hill we commemorated the occasion with the release of the Gordon Lightfoot Covers compilation that was in the works for many months (with the Ack doing the heavy lifting on the project, so he’s due many kudos for that), and the response to the comp has been amazing so far. So thanks to all who took part, and if you haven’t grabbed it yet, do so.

 

So it only seemed right to keep the Canadian vibes flowing with this week’s OSM, and so I went looking through the archives to see if we’d done a Canada Day OSM before. Turns out we did one in ’08, that featured the cover of Maestro’s unfortunately named “Dis Kid Can’t Be From Canada”, as well as my favorite jam from that album, “Certs Wid Out Da Retsyn”, as well as some other classic Canadian tracks. But I noticed at the end I mentioned a few other songs I still wanted to find: “I looked high and low for some other classic Canadian tracks, like HDV’s “Pimp Of The Microphone”, Devon’s “Mr. Metro” or that Simply Majestic song that featured B. Kool (“Dance To The Music” or something) but to no avail, so if you have any of these send them our way.”

 

Well I had already managed to post the HDV and Devon jams, but the Simply Majestic/B-Kool jams remained elusive….until now. As it turns out, I stumbled across the CBC’s T.O. hip hop history doc Love, Props and the T.Dot on TV last night (which is excellent FYI, I highly recommend watching it), and the dudes from from Ghetto Concept kind of dismissively mentioned Frank Morell and Brothers From The Ghetto (who were likely, not in fact, from the Ghetto at all - I was fairly sure of this back in the day, which must tell you something considering I wasn’t sure if Shock G and Humpty Hump were one guy or not). Although I knew Brothers From The Ghetto were on the Simply Majestic album, it turns out that Frank Morell was the missing piece, because Googling him turned out to be the jackpot. Well, it’s the jackpot if you were Canadian and into hip hop and Muchmusic in 1991, because they played the videos from this album, We United To Do Dis, a lot.

 

So then, some Simply Majestic for your Monday AM. There’s the aforementioned Frank Morell and The Brothers From The Ghetto (including popular T.O. DJ Starting From Scratch with the addictive “Play The Music DJ”, and then the awesomely 90′s dance jam “Dance To The Music”, which has B-Kool on the raps. I loved that one back in the day, but it hasn’t aged well. I’m also throwing up “Destiny”, which features some generic vocals from someone named “Porsha-Lee” and a verse from B-Kool, but Muchmusic played it a ton (as the X-tendamix logo at the start of the video proves - shouts to Master-T!). I know I’m waaaay more excited about this 1991, dance-rap/rap-house compilation than most of you will be, but hopefully these songs jog a memory and give you a smile. Enjoy!

 

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MP3:: Brothers From The Ghetto Featuring Frank Morell – Play The Music DJ

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MP3:: Simply Majestic Featuring B-Kool - Dance To The Music

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MP3:: Simply Majestic Featuring Porsha-Lee - Destiny

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Quick Hitters:: Southern Shores Atlantic

July 4th, 2011 / No Comments » / by ack

Summer finally hit Nova Scotia. Temperatures shot up and the smell of grilled meat filled the air as it wafted across rooftops. It’s obvious, but lazy afternoons and evenings spent on back decks need a soundtrack as tear in your beer confessions take their place alongside the bottles of red in the cellar. Enter Halifax’s Southern Shores.

 

The duo have just released Atlantic, an understated EP of washed out 90′s electronica fused with strong vocal samples that roll over each other like an endless wave of blissful tones. The programming and drum beats certainly keep the 23-minutes moving (especially the higher BPM used on the strong closer, “Meridian”), but something about the songs feels more human and alive than most inorganic compositions. Whether it’s a warm voice or steel drums, you can feel the soul of these songs, not just nod of the electric heartbeat.

 

More mushrooms on the beach than pills in a club, Atlantic is about the immediate release Ben and Jamie deliver. Oh, and the Cathy Dennis rework.

Southern Shores - 04 Night Is Young by CASCINE
WEB:: http://southernshoresmusic.wordpress.com

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herohill vs. Gordon Lightfoot: Turning Back The Pages Of My Sweet Shattered Dreams

July 1st, 2011 / 8 Comments » / by ack

So “hear” it is. The result of months of hard work from some of our favorite bands across this nation (and even a special cameo from one of our favorite American outfits). Basically, the idea was simple: Pay tribute to a Canadian legend on Canada Day. Oh, and get some free content for the blog of course. In all seriousness, Gordon Lightfoot has been making music for decades and his stories are passed from generation to generation. Unfortunately, when asked about the greatest Canadian songwriters, Gordon is often left off the list.

 

I’m not sure Gordon ever envisioned his songs spun into electro pop classics or played as dark, gospel hymns, but we certainly hope he likes the results. Turning Back the Pages of My Sweet Shattered Dreams’ is a contemporary take on his timeless material, and as sincere as anything we’ve ever done on herohill.

 

I hope you like this half as much as we do and more importantly, I hope you find some new favorite artists in this collection or maybe reconnect with an old friend. And really, we can’t say enough about the bands that stepped up for this. People recorded on their own dime and the results are fantastic. We certainly won’t have a better post all year, so if you like what you hear, share the link with as many people as you can.

Download Turning Back the Pages of My Sweet Shattered Dreams here. [210MB]

 

“I’m Not Saying” - Pete Bush & the Hoi Polloi
“Walls” - Adam & the Amethysts
“Rainy Day People” - Olenka Krakus
“Cotton Jenny” - The Sumner Brothers
“Summer Side of Life” - The Schomberg Fair
“Baby Step Back” - Kris Ellestad
“Let it Ride” - Cursed Arrows
“Alberta Bound” - Cam Penner
Featuring: Jon Wood

 

“Beautiful” - The Darling Demaes
“Song for a Winter’s Night” - Domestic Crisis Group
Featuring Vincent Leslie Jones (Pump organ, synthesizers, bass) and Michael Jerome (drums)

 

“The Circle is Small” - The Wheat Pool
“Carefree Highway” - Shotgun Jimmie
“Bitter Green” - The Warped 45s
“Go-Go Round” - Jerry Leger
“Canadian Railroad Trilogy” - Chris Velan
“Sundown” - Lorrie Matheson
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” - Woodland Telegraph
Guitar, banjo, vox - Matthew Lovegrove
Sax - Graham Ord
Bass - Eric Mosher
Mixed by - Mike Cashin

 

“Black Day in July” - Twilight Hotel
“Summer Side of Life” - The Golden Seals
“Stay Loose” - 100 Mile House
“Changes” - Digits
“Early Morning Rain” - A.A. Wallace
“Ribbon of Darkness” - 41st and Home
“Restless” - Mark Davis & Lorrie Matheson
“The Pony Man” - Megan Hamilton
For Ben

 

“Too Much Too Loose” - Shade
Mixed and mastered by Tim Vesely
Jane Gowan - vocals, acoustic guitar
Jon Wood - lap steel
Tim Vesely - electric guitar, bass

 

“Baby Step Back” - Nick Everett
“High and Dry” - Dog is Blue
“Ballad of Yarmouth Castle” - Quiet Parade
“Sit Down Young Stranger” - Clinton Charlton
“Rainy Day People” - The Natural Shocks
“Boss Man” - Wool on Wolves
“Steel Rail Blues” - Folly & The Hunter
“Baby Step Back” - Octoberman
“Summer Side of Life” - Andrew Sisk
“Early Morning Rain” - Slow Down, Molasses

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MP3:: Early Morning Rain - Slow Down, Molasses

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MP3:: Baby Step Back - Kris Ellestad

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MP3:: Restless - Mark Davis & Lorrie Matheson

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MP3:: Steel Rail Blues - Folly & The Hunter

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MP3:: Walls - Adam & The Amethysts

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HEROHILL vs. Gordon Lightfoot

June 30th, 2011 / No Comments » / by ack

Hey, folks. We are putting the final details on something special for Canada Day, but since the lovely and talented Lana Gay was kind enough to have us on CBC3 today to talk about the project, we thought it made sense to release a trailer of sorts.

 

Basically, we begged and pleaded with some of our favorite artists and cobbled together a massive tribute to the man, the icon, Gordon Lightfoot. Tomorrow we will put the whole kit and kaboodle online for any music lover to grab for free, but to whet your appetite here are four tracks from the compilation. It’s our way of saying thanks to Gordon for years of terrific music, and to you, for reading herohill.

 

Enjoy and please, spread the word. With over thirty bands involved, this is bigger than anything we’ve ever done. It features Polaris long-listers, long time hill favs and new acts that we will be posting on soon.

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MP3:: Shotgun Jimmie - Carefree Highway

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MP3:: The Warped 45s - Bitter Green

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MP3:: Domestic Crisis Group - Song For a Winter’s Night

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MP3:: Pete Bush - I’m Not Sayin’

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Reviews:: John Southworth SPIRITUAL WAR cassette tape

June 30th, 2011 / No Comments » / by ack

John Southworth moves freely in the unknown. Maybe he’s like a heated atom and under microscope there’s some sort of pattern, but to the naked eye — and the naked ear — every creative expression seems like the result of a random collision.

 

Southworth’s songs are fueled by unconventional inspiration. Whether it be an obsession with subatomic particle accelerators or conventional, lo-fi emotional release, John’s art exposes thoughts or techniques that (temporarily) consume him.

 

His latest endeavor, SPIRITUAL WAR, was born from a powerful connection with Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. The experience moved John and he spent the next few months writing about peasantry and morality. Intent on maintaining purity, he recorded everything directly onto a Sony tape recorder, not wanting any cleansing to spoil the process. Considering the last time anyone got excited about a Sony tape deck was when Nice & Smooth filmed that party video in the pool, any hint of conformity Southworth offered Human Cry can be forgotten.

 

Tape hiss and pauses. Barely audible instrumentation and warbled bass tones. Naked vocals. In most cases these imperfections would ruin the experience, but here, they humanize the entire process. Even with the sonic limitations, John does remarkably well. “Hunger March” sparkles with moments of clarity before slowly coming apart at the seams and leaving nothing more than a hiss filled conclusion. “All Aboard On The Sweet Jersey Shore” ventures into an almost Neil Diamond-like croon before slowly fading to black. The vocals on “Tramps Of St. Petersburg” fade in and out and noisy strums threaten to destroy the integrity of the melody, but as is the case throughout the entire cassette, Southworth’s charisma makes the song work.

 

SPIRITUAL WAR is obviously a very personal experience for Southworth, but it never alienates the listener. “This song is food for all” Southworth goal seem so simple; inspire those that take the time to listen. He doesn’t make it easy (reading a description off the project would raise even the most trusting of eyebrows), but he certainly makes it rewarding. Surprisingly engaging stories are offered and his vocal talents are undeniable, but it’s the copious empty space he offers that gives you room to wrestle your own thoughts, start your own journey or wage your own war.

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MP3:: John Southworth - Hunger March

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MP3:: John Southworth - One Winter Rose
WEB:: http://www.johnsouthworth.ca/

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Quick Hitters:: Three Sheet - Sheet Music

June 29th, 2011 / No Comments » / by naedoo

Three Sheet - Sheet MusicI know I must say this often, because I’m even getting tired of hearing/writing it but “live band hip hop” is a tricky thing to pull off. One of the main reasons for this is that I think some outfits have trouble capturing the sound & energy of their live shows in a recorded format. This was the daunting task facing much-loved Halifax group Three Sheet when making their latest album, Sheet Music.

 

So did they pull it off? For the most part, I’d say they did, but Three Sheet has a couple wrinkles to their sound that pose a couple challenges - they have no drums, percussion or DJ in their setup - all of that is provided by beatboxer EMC (who also contributes some verses too I believe), and they have dual vocalists: MC Expedyte and singer Vanessa Furlong. Add live guitar and bass, and there’s a lot going on. For the most part, I dig the combination, but there are times when things get a little crowded. This is more pronounced because there are so many thoughtful, pensive, songs, like Three Dollar Bills, where Expedyte’s lyrics could use some space and the beatbox/vocal scratch is a bit distracting for me.

 

That said, I cannot front on the creativity and passion the quintet display on Sheet Music, and they pull off most of the songs with aplomb. Songs like “You”, “Norm Now”, “Stand Still” and “For What It’s Worth” show what the group can do when they hit their stride, with the two guitarists laying down the backbone and the three vocalists weaving in and out and working off of each other with ease. If you’re a hip hop enthusiast, you have to feel good when you see a group like this take the medium in a new direction, but still keep it true to the essence. I’ll be interested to see what direction Three Sheet takes their sound next.

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MP3:: Three Sheet - Stamina
Web:: www.threesheet.com

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Reviews:: Masterchef Mae Mae

June 29th, 2011 / No Comments » / by ack

Mae MaeOver the last few weeks, I’ve been reading and dismissing the (as of yet) failed pop culture experiment that is Bill Simmons new web site, Grantland. The only apt comparison I’ve come up for the bland, boring content is to place the collection of authors alongside any of the many failed “supergroups.”

 

As with most talent consolidations, the initial excitement and promise quickly disappears when egos and unique ideas fail to mesh the way people expect and no one wants to step on toes or force focus. Sadly the end result is considerably less than the sum of the parts and parties agree to go their separate ways. Honestly, is anyone actually excited about SuperHeavy?

 

Admittedly, calling Masterchef a super group is hyperbole that would make even the freshest of fresh-faced bloggers blush (especially when you consider hypem shows one review for their last record), but considering Alex Hungtai and Adrian Teacher are the creative forces behind two of my favorite bands (Polaris Long Listed Dirty Beaches and Apollo Ghosts, respectively), a second LP from the duo sets the bar at a towering height.

 

Simply put, Mae Mae is another moody, atmospheric instrumental affair laced with dark emotions and noise filled tangents. The record succeeds because it’s a spontaneous meshing of ideas that capture a snapshot in time as opposed to a forced premise. “Canadian Palm” opens the brief EP, and somehow without changing gears over the four and a half minute, drone affair, you can feel the duo’s talons pierce your skin and each subsequent ideas holds up just as well. Once again the sonic collages seem like they were developed deep in Alex’s mind (the minimal structure of “The Isle Of Dead Men” could have been written years ago as Alex moved in and out of faceless crowds in remote locations), but you feel Adrian’s endless energy throughout the affair, especially when the pace is picked up (“Uncle Tony Drinks Coffee” and the explosive “Ken Lum”).

 

Saving the best for last, the duo’s understated, shadow walking gives way to the confident pomp of “Mounties and Indians, 1989″, a song that struts with the same swagger that Alex delivered so perfectly on Badlands. Classification be damned; Mae Mae is the result of two musicians willing to collaborate freely and test the limits of their already well documented creativity. Simmons and music lovers alike, should pay attention.

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MP3:: Masterchef - The Isle Of Dead Men

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MP3:: Masterchef - Mounties and Indians, 1989
WEB:: http://www.myspace.com/desertmasterchef

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Freeness:: Paper Bag Summer Sampler

June 28th, 2011 / No Comments » / by naedoo

Paper Bag Records Summer Sampler

You like free things. And we want you to have free things. Those two desires cross paths in the form of Paper Bag Records Summer Sampler, which is yours for the low, low cost of a “Like” on the ole Facebook, or your email address. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

 

We’re talking seven summery songs of the highest quality, including four Polaris Long Listers (Austra, PS I Love You, Rural Alberta Advantage & Young Galaxy), a couple perfect summer jams (Winter Gloves & Johan Agebjörn), and a new Elliot BROOD track. So if you aren’t already familiar with these songs, I’d go snatch it up on the double.

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MP3:: Winter Gloves - Dancing My Heart Out

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MP3:: Johan Agebjorn - Watch The World Go By
Web:: paperbagrecords.com

Video:: WINTER GLOVES - Dancing My Heart Out

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Contest:: Win tix to The Warped 45s Matador Sunset release tour

June 28th, 2011 / No Comments » / by ack

The grind of being a touring band is a son of a bitch. No matter what metaphor you try to spin or how you try to glorify the experience, being trapped in a van for six or seven hours a day watching the odometer turn and the gas tank empty isn’t really living the dream. The road, is however, a necessary evil. Melodies are tested and emotions are processed. Harmonies are tightened and filler is harshly graded by crowds night after night. The friendly confines of the jam space are sympathetic and forgiving and ultimately, too protective.

 

Matador Sunset is the result of kilometers in the van, and nights spent on stage. Without question The Warped 45s are polished and professional, but the moments that connect are those fueled by adrenaline. While completely enjoyable and remarkably strong for a debut LP, 10 Day Poem for Saskatchewan now sounds like a warm-up lap or relaxed jog in comparison. The spoken word style of “Grampa Carl” grabs the listener with a historical retelling of the life and times of a rum runner (oh, and it has a huge chorus), the metal-tinged “Live Bait” might be the best song ever written about a guy selling worms and the band’s take on swampy, gospel blues (“Grime Of Earthly Glory”) are brasher than they’ve ever sounded, but almost every song on the record moves at a quicker pace than previous efforts.

 

Shifting gears may not result in the same sway and swoons the band delivered on their debut, but it’s essential for growth. There’s no song as breathtaking as “Radio Sky” (although “Talk About Evil” comes close to transcendence and “Victoria Day” could be mistaken for a Gord Downie standard), but Matador Sunset is a more consistent, complete experience. It’s easy to toss around names like Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, The Band or any talented roots outfit that can charm an audience instead of trying to quantify the listen, but personally, I think Matador Sunset’s biggest success is the step it takes in helping the band stand on their own name.

 


The Warped 45s are playing at the Seahorse on August 6th (with Steve Gates) and we have two tickets to giveaway. To enter, just email us your contact info or leave the pertinents in the comments section below. Good luck.


 

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MP3:: The Warped 45s - Talk About Evil
WEB:: http://www.thewarped45s.com/

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