Dreams of Summer: Coronado’s new EP, Give Up Nothing Vol. 1, reviewed.

24 Jul
Coronado: The Green Period. From L-R: Lisa Lorenz, Amy Morris, Kevin Lee Correia, Carlos Cornado, Luke Boehler.  Photo Credit: MikeBinelli

Coronado’s Green Period. From L-R: Lisa Lorenz, Amy Morris, Kevin Lee Correia, Carlos Cornado, Luke Boehler. Photo Credit: Mike Binelli

Summer is hitting its height, but it may be too early yet to declare 2014′s definitive summer song. Sure, turn on the radio and you can listen to the variety of contenders on autoplay. They may be the good (Chromeo, for one, are enjoying some well-deserved success with “Jealous”), the bad (listen to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” one more time, I dare you), and the just plain left-field (who would have thought Weird Al would be a no.1 guy in 2014?).

But the song of the summer may also be a product of an unheralded indie pop outfit, one that should be getting its due on the radio waves. That track is “A Line We Never Drew”, the first single off of Coronado’s latest EP, Give Up Nothing Vol 1.

Coronado - Give Up Nothing Vol.1 (2014)

Coronado – Give Up Nothing Vol.1 (2014)

There’s nothing you / can say to me / inside your mind / or in a dream, oh.” With wistful lyrics, a dance-rock rhythm, and fizzled neon guitar in support, “A Line We Never Drew” is the perfect summer song to soundtrack those sunny day drives and fresh restless nights. Vocals from Lisa Lorenz blend the feelings of midyear just right, from the joy of discovering something new, to the wonder if there couldn’t be something more.

The last time we featured Coronado here on our pages, the Toronto quintet were busy performing live and building off their last EP, Remain Calm, which was only released earlier this year (check out our review of that EP as well as our take on their live set at the Piston in April). At the time, our reviewer Jason Scharff stated “If the current formula for Coronado happens to be making a good record and then improving upon it with the followup, I’m more than excited for the next one.

While up to now Coronado has seemingly been the personal project of frontman and guitarist Carlos Coronado (as to be assumed when the band sports your name), Give Up Nothing Vol.1 marks a promising development in the band by pushing the other members to the fore. Lisa gets to “A Line We Never Drew” as her own, while Carlos completes the EP with three strong entries of his own. As heard in their live sets, Coronado’s best asset is their versatility: with Lorenz, Coronado and Amy Morris all able to contribute with their own voices, the result is a dynamic set-piece and their most complete-sounding effort yet.

 

Take the second track, “Burning Bright” (heard above in Coronado’s EP release party video), and you have your indication of Coronado’s desire and ability to get better and better. The song starts out in a manner that one may expect upon watching reruns of Miami Vice on VHS, but grows organically to be more than what could simply be ’80s pastiche. Layered vocals sing: “Don’t crush the fantasy / let’s just make believe it’s just a dream.” An arresting finale rests on a sweeping synth hook complete the track into something that could only be made in 2014. Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories may have brought Chic-style dance rock back to, uh, chic, last year, but the swiggity guitar style is served just as well here and in the exhilarating solo of “Clear To Me”.

EP closer “Congratulations”, which has also been used appropriately as a set ender for Coronado’s live shows, gets the very important task of convincing the listener to hit repeat once it is all over. The track does its job, and beautifully so: all the elements of music that Coronado can do well…well, they go perfectly. A steady, subtle crescendo does the job in bringing the listener over, and it almost seems cruel to end the song (and the EP) on a sudden cut.

Yet it should be so, in want for the next release. Given Coronado’s prolific nature, though, Vol. 2 is probably already in production. Don’t expect to have to wait for long!

You can listen to all four of the tracks off Give Up Nothing Vol.1 on the album’s Bandcamp. Also, don’t forget to check out the new video for “A Line We Never Drew”! Suitably, it takes the watcher for a little night walk all around the Toronto downtown core. Shiny!


Check out Coronado!

SoundCloud.

Bandcamp.

Youtube.

Facebook.

Twitter.


Author: Nathan Christie

The Shanks: Minimalist Musicians, Maximum Rockers

16 Jul
The Shanks. Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

The Shanks. Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

The Shanks are a Toronto rock band hellbent on reviving the glory  of ’70s arena rock. This bold duo consists of Ian Donald Starkey and John David Brumell (stage names Pistolwhip von Shankenstein and Colonel Crankshaft, respectively), and they only need a bass guitar, drums and Ian’s filthy vocals to bring back the rock ‘n’ roll fever of past decades.

This may come as an unlikely eventuality, considering the heaps of unsuccessful classic rock revival bands. My go-to opinion in such cases is, “If you are playing vanilla rock ‘n’ roll, without interesting time signature changes, progression or a blues/jazz augmentation , nobody cares.” Music evolved for a reason, so unless you are a Queens of The Stone Age, or more recently In The Whale, don’t bother.

What I find interesting about The Shanks is their acknowledgement of rock’s stagnancy since the band’s inception. From the beginning, The Shanks have made their way by cutting half of the usual instruments out of the lineup, thereby letting would-be virtuoso try-hards have their own, separate manhood-measuring competitions. Really, the only thing that The Shanks need to carve their own path to (rock) stardom is the sheer size of their balls.

I came to this conclusion after watching their recently released (and curiously titled) “German Heavy Metal Girl” music video, as seen here:

 

It’s extremely well produced, full of subliminal synchronizations between the song lyrics and the actions on screen. There even is an implicit plot for the viewers to unravel, as the song was based off of a short story. I actually am of the opinion that the director, Scott Montgomery, should officially join the band. Scott has worked on all five of The Shanks’ music videos, and had a huge hand in creating their conceptual identity while turning the music video into something major record label-worthy.

For a band that was formed on a farm in Mono, Ontario, my first question was, “Where are they getting the money for a production of this level?” Then I opened The Shanks’ Bandcamp and it became abundantly clear where they were cutting costs: none of their albums sounded properly mastered.

It is here where I realized that The Shanks are multi-media entertainers, more specifically, not strictly musicians.

Colonel Crankshaft of The Shanks. Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

John David Brumell a.k.a. Colonel Crankshaft of The Shanks. Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

When I was a kid, one of my favourite TV programs was MuchMusic’s Video on Trial.

It was the only thing I watched on MuchMusic, because I held a deep disdain for 97% of what was passed off as music. For those unaware, the premise of the show was that five random comedians, musicians, and entertainment insiders were forced to watch five random music videos and provide their personal (dis)approval in the form of sardonic commentary.

This was a vicarious experience for the viewer, with a touch of comedic bias and flair. Regardless of whether the  song was bad or the artist was controversial, if the music video was entertaining, it would get unanimously positive feedback.

This is where I feel The Shanks make their strongest claim to stardom,  as seen in “German Heavy Metal Girl”. They are building rockstar class status as entertainers, as seen by their photos of success in Europe.

Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

Ian Donald Starkey a.k.a. Pistolwhip von Shankenstein. Photo Credit: Delikt Shots.

Sure you can argue that American culture is held on a pedestal in Europe, but the photo above is proof that: 1) The Shanks are true old school rockers, and 2) They clearly play killer, over-the-top theatrical shows.

It’s easy for one to play armchair Nostradamus in regards to the success of others. The true way one can objectively measure success is seeing whether you met the your goals when the project was started. Have The Shanks managed to resurrect interest for party-era rock & roll, with only a bass guitar and a drumset? The proof is in the photo above.

If you are interested in listening to more of The Shanks, don’t forget to check out their latest album, Surfing The Lexicon, released last year.


Check out The Shanks!

Official website.

Bandcamp.

Myspace.

Youtube.

Facebook.


Author: Alex Slakva

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