Bass Lions
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Bass Lions

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"Top Ten - New Canadian Bands"

In spirit of Canadian Music Week I have decided to comprise a top ten list of great Canadian bands for you foreign listeners to get to know a bit more about our country from overseas.

Now assuming you know about the greats (Broken Social Scene, the New Pornographers), I picked some smaller emerging bands that you’ll wish you heard a lot sooner! This was no easy task as each city is overflowing with bands worthy of attention but this is what I got for ya!

10.) The Tom Fun Orchestra – myspace.com/tomfunorchestra

Who? A ten piece Celtic folk country rock explosion with throaty Tom Waits-esque vocals courtesy of enigmatic front man, Johnny Turbo.
What? Their phenomenal debut, You Will Land With a Thud and their stuffy sweaty live performances have got critics talking country-wide.
From? Out east, Nova Scotia.

9.) Bass Lions – myspace.com/basslions

Who? The remains of a band called Riley formed to create succulent hand-clap heavy rock. Topped off with infectious hooks and choruses, their sound is accessible yet extremely unique.
What? Their debut EP, More Than Island, is beautiful from start to finish.
From? The smokiest city in Ontario; Hamilton.

8.) Jason Collett – myspace.com/jasoncollettofficial

Who? Part of the Arts & Crafts family, Jason Collett plays acoustic folksy rock with an incredible knack for writing timeless lyrics and choruses.
What? His second LP, Here’s to Being Here, is in stores now, but it’s his debut album Idols in Exile that really shows his true singer/songwriter colours.
From? The busy streets of Toronto!

7.) Tallships

Who? Vocal-less piano driven post-rock with a heart the size of Canada. These Do Make Say Think openers know a thing or two about writing epic movements.
What? Their self-released eponymous EP has been stirring up quite the buzz. It was voted 2nd best Avant Garde album of the Year in Exclaim!’s reader’s poll!
From? The humble city that is Ottawa, Ontario.

6.) Plants and Animals

Who? Three regular dudes who create huge classic rock with flourishing piano parts, strings, and monster group sing-a-longs. Their live sets are a display of unadulterated honesty and great music.
What? Their first full length, Parc Avenue, which is already a contender for album of the year, hit stores just last month and is timeless the instant it hits your ears.
From? Montreal; although they don’t sound like any of their neighbours.

5.) The Darcys – myspace.com/itsthedarcys

Who? Indie pop melody masters with a penchant for throwing in some post-rock ambiance and horns. Comparisons to Radiohead can be comfortably made yet it’s still clear their classy songs and face melting live performances are entirely their own.
What? Their debut album, Endless Water, which was recorded in a Children’s Museum and is packed with all the juicy hooks and harmonies took keep it glued in your CD player for months.
From? Half dwell in Toronto, the other half are finishing off university in Halifax.

4.) Fox Jaws – myspace.com/foxjaws

Who? Small town indie rockers who leave critiques tripping over their lips when trying to describe their sound. It’s beautiful, noisy, and undeniably catchy and heart warming rock with some folkish mannerisms sprinkled on top. The vocal combination between Carleigh Aikins and Daniel Allen is eye water inducing at its height. Carleigh has one of the most distinctive voices Ontario has to offer.
What? Goodbye Doris, their debut album, which sat at the top of my ‘albums of 2007’ list. Every song is incredible.
From? A small city North of Toronto with a dying music scene; Barrie, Ontario.

3.) Holy Fuck – myspace.com/holyfuck

Who? Four guys messing around with electronics and instruments, stumbling upon multi-layered post-rock soundscapes, so lush and delicate you’ll forget every thing that could possibly be wrong with your life. They’ve already been around the world and making quite the ruckus, so hopefully this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of them!
What? Their latest offering, LP, stunned the faces off Canada last year.
From? Toronto, Ontario

2.) The Most Serene Republic – myspace.com/themostserenerepublic

Who? The Most Serene Republic are a band of many hats. Their jazz influenced off-beat indie rock is possibly the weirdest Arts & Crafts will sign. Messy hand-claps, nice happy vocals, angry horns, smashing pots and pans, yelling group chants; they create music with virtually no limits. Starting from the ground up and reinventing the wheel has never sounded so organic and gorgeous.
What? Their moody, agitated, yet content, 2nd full length, Population is available in stores but it’s their crazy live sets where their songs come to life.
From? The extremely small secluded city/village that is Milton, Ontario.

1.) The Meligrove Band – myspace.com/meligroveband
Who? Incredible classic rock inspired melody vivacious indie rock. Complete with giant horn and string sections and bouncing keys. The Meligrove Band have a way at decomposing every fake, hipster trend about liking indie rock music and going straight for everyone’s heart. Their, sometimes painfully, honest songs demand attention.
What? Their third full length, Planets Conspire, is what put them on the map. Currently fans are patiently waiting for their much overdue fourth LP, while they play the odd sold out show.
From? None other than Toronto

There you have it! Load up your Ipod’s folks!

[See the article in its on-line context]:
http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/top-ten-new-canadian-acts - CLASH Music Magazine


"Bass Lions 'More Than Islands', by: Travis Richey"

It’s a feat, dusting off your paws and getting on with it again, knowing that it doesn’t have to end. So it’s been for Hamilton, ON’s Bass Lions. Fresh off of tour, Reily let their death rattle roar and disbanded. However, the Bass Lions reclaim the stage with More Than Islands, the first EP for a band surely “more than the sum of their parts.” The flavours of Anthony James, Nathan Stretch and Lisa Horvath, leftovers from the sumptuous meal that was Reily, sound better together, having mingled for a while. Short but delectable, the new band don’t eulogise their former incarnation but fill out their sound with a six-track set, hopefully melancholic, bold and beautiful. The Bass Lions, kings of the Steeltown jungle, are on the prowl, but you can catch them live. (Nevado)

http://www.exclaim.ca/musicreviews/generalreview.aspx?csid1=118&csid2=850&fid1=29564
- Exclaim!


"Bass Lions 'More Than Islands', by: Sari Delmore"

From the ashes of indie sweethearts Riley comes the bombastic, poppy rock of Bass Lions, spiralling out of Hamilton, ON. Front-man Nathan Stretch’s rough around the edges, yet warm and smooth on the inside, vocals remind of a young Max Bemis, although instead of acoustic romps akin to Say Anything, Bass Lions find a home in dance-y indie rock, but with a sweet tooth for acoustic indulgence. This double drummer unit know what they’re capable of bringing to the table, and the raw production captures that. “Ransom the Sunset” is a handclapping affair, with a rich, beautiful vocal melody. On the delicate “Good God Jesus” and title track, the band take on rough group chants as if they were the second coming of the Microphones. The fifth track, and perhaps the most memorable, “Like Ashes in My Mouth” is dusted in folksy warmth, and the Radiohead influence on “Funeral Shed” is refreshing and well done, but before you know it the album is over and you wish you had more material from such a promising up and coming band. (Nevado)

http://www.exclaim.ca/musicreviews/generalreview.aspx?csid1=118&csid2=850&fid1=29610
- Exclaim!


"Bass Lions: 'Anyone Can Be Homeless'"

Living in most major city it is impossible not to see lots of homeless people cluttering the downtown streets. We walk by them almost numb to their existence. I merely mutter a `sorry` when I’m walking along with my headphones snugly placed when I see one reaching out with a Timmys cup in my direction. We all walk by selfishly making assumptions about their situation as if we have some sort of right to.
Truth.Explosion.Magazine: So you’re at work?
Nathan Stretch: Yep. Helpin' the homeless. I got up at 6am
TEM: Wow! That's pretty damn early...
NS: Haha oh yes. It's a sad sight, let me tell you.
TEM: So how long have you been working at the shelter?
NS: Two and a half years. I started in Toronto at a place called The Gateways on Jarvis. By the way my Boss - the BIG boss - the boss of the cosmos…just popped in to the office.
TEM: Ahh! If you have to duck out - I understand...
NS: I don't know him very well, but he now knows me as the guy who 'chats' while on the job and listens to music on the company computer!
TEM: Haha be careful! So working with homeless people for that long you probably have a pretty good understanding about the whole psychology of their situation…I would trust your opinion on their situation more so than a random person who makes a comment on it – which everyone seems to love to do.
NS: Well, it's complicated. The homeless population is varied. So there is no single solution to the 'homeless situation'.
TEM: Yea I know what you mean.
NS: I've learned a very few absolutes while working with the guys - I'll lay some wisdom on you…
TEM: Please do!
NS: Anyone can become homeless. I've met guys who have, as far as I can tell, just been dealt a nasty hand. These are guys who lost their job on the same day their wife served them divorce papers and on the SAME DAY they were incapacitated by some illness or injury.
TEM: What a shit storm.
NS: These guys are mortified to be in the system. They generally just put their heads down and work their asses off to try and get out. We rarely see those guys ever again. I think when I started in the business, I thought - like lots of people - that most homeless people were victims of their own bad choices. It's not always the case.
TEM: Yea lots of people seem to have that idea.
NS: It's true in some cases, but not all. Heck, if I didn't have a support system [ie. parents, friends, family] I'd be one bad pay cheque from the shelter.
TEM: Yea I hear yea! So where does this leave you? What kinds of lessons have you learned from working with homeless people. Has there been one specific moment that opened your eyes?
NS: I wish I had a more rosy story to tell you than this, but I wasn't really floored until someone I knew, a perpetual client at the shelter - died of a drug overdose.
TEM: Wow! I can see that messing with you a bit...
NS: I knew that the work I was doing was purposeful, but I hadn't really grasped the urgency of it. The weird thing was, this guy was a young and very functional drug addict.
TEM: How old was he?
NS: I can't divulge the specifics as I still work at this shelter and in this community...
TEM: Ahh right! I understand.
NS: Anyways, he had me convinced that he would just keep doing drugs and living on the streets until we finally got through to him and he entered a kind of rehab. He wasn't opposed to the idea; he just kept putting it off cause he was young...
TEM: That is terrible. I am sorry you had to deal with that. Does stuff that drastic happen often?
NS: Sometimes they die. And they aren't just homeless people anymore; they are people you've invested in, people you like, people you don't like, people with stories, but they aren't people you are ambivalent about anymore. It comes and goes in peaks and valleys.
TEM: What do you mean?
NS: Sometimes you will be working the most boring night shift of your life when, 'kapow', somebody smashes your windows with his tool belt. Haha!
TEM: Haha a tool belt! Crazy!
NS: Plus, sometimes the guys tell the funniest stories and you just fall off your chair laughing!
TEM: Haha. So do you have to kind of disconnect yourself from your job when really drastic and sad stuff happens? Well that stuff affects you of course but do you ever have to disconnect your emotions from your job like someone working at a hospital maybe would?
NS: Sure. You've got to leave your job at your job to a certain extent. You debrief with your co-workers, and take mental health days, still, the burn-out rate for shelter workers is really high. My friend was asking me the other day when I was going to burn out. Not 'if' but 'when'.
TEM: Yea? What did you say?
NS: I figure I could go another 3 years in this position, maybe more if I move around in the organization a bit. I don't work quite full-time on purpose to try and avoid crashing.
TEM: Of course! So what is the “truth” about Nathan Stretch?
NS: I love making music with Bass Lions. We try and have as few guidelines as possible. - Truth Explosion


Discography

"More Than Islands" EP--Release date: December 2007

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Bio

Bass Lions ain’t yella; we ain’t never scared. Bass Lions ain’t scared to make big beats and acoustic guitars into bed-fellows. Bass Lions ain’t scared of chiming guitars, mope-y bass lines, found-sounds-from-all-around, and warm synthesizers. Bass Lions ain’t scared to sing! sing! sing! in harmony, in brassy choirs, or all alone in indie-rock-baritone and cracked falsetto. Bass Lions ain’t yella: Bass Lions are gold!

Bass Lions have nestled into the cities of southern Ontario, Canada—Guelph, Hamilton, Brampton, and Toronto. They are a family quartet—three cousins and one ‘brutha’—who are making music for the first time as Lions, though this is hardly the first time they’ve made music together. Bass Lions are veterans of the blossoming independent music and art scenes currently flourishing in The Greater Toronto Area, even as they are the good sons of the rural communities crouching just outside.
Bass Lions make the music their fathers never made in the cities they never made it to.

And with the release of their inaugural EP ‘More Than Islands’, Bass Lions have made the scene! Their clanging, chorusing, brisk and soulful debut was produced, recorded, and mixed with their friends and former band-mates Nick Bernal and Lisa Horvath [Reily] at Last Ounce in Brampton; it was mastered by a gracious and enthused Joao Carvalho at Joao Carvalho Mastering in Toronto, and released by indie up-and-comers Nevado Records.

The EP, coupled with an imaginative and honest live show, has ushered the young band into hip joints—Tiger Bar [Toronto], eBar [Guelph], Casbah [Hamilton]—and legendary venues including Toronto’s El Mocambo. Bass Lions have kept time with local-darlings Oh No Forest Fires [Most Serene Republic, Five Blank Pages], and Fox Jaws; they’ve hung their hats with national acts Ladyhawk, and Immaculate Machine.

But Bass Lions, Bass Lions, Bass Lions, Bass Lions—we can only tell you so much. Listen to the music: Bass Lions can speak for themselves.