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"THE PRP Reviews - Contrived - Dead Air Verbatim"

Contrived - Dead Air Verbatim

Recorded with members of Wintersleep in tow, it's no surprise that "Dead Air Verbatim" is an album that frequently challenges the sonic boundaries. An extremely moody dose of progressive indie rock, the effort is overflowing with discordant passion and disheveled instrumentation that fearlessly plods ahead.

The beauty of what Contrived are able to accomplish on this latest effort lies in their ability to be outrightly off-key and jarring, yet remain melodic and endearing. While there are outbursts of aggression and occasional screams, everything feels very spur of the moment. Surprisingly though, there is a unanimous flow in place that somehow ropes everything together.

Charmingly rich vocals walk a knifes edge of anger and melancholy as gritty, jagged guitar parts sweep in and out and fade into jangling drones. Warm heaving bass lines routinely smother and a fierce drumming performance effortlessly perforates any aural sludge the rest of the band put in its path. To be sure, this is freeform musicianship and there are no guidelines or rules followed when this band make music - except perhaps to write and play from the heart.

The songs are spirited, moving and unnervingly dense, and while they often do bear a sharp resemblance to the works of Wintersleep and Kary on multiple occasions, there is a darker more twisted nature afoot here. This, along with the bands enigmatic song-writing are the defining qualities that set them apart. Yes, some parts can become muddled and repetitive and there are moments that feel more like jam room heroics than artistic expression. But through it all "Dead Air Verbatim" still delivers a musical experience not often seen or heard and continues to see the band adding further irony to their chosen moniker.

(4 / 5)

wookubus - The PRP - wookubus

"Exclaim Magazine Review of Contrived-Pursuit of Plots"

Though Canada's East Coast has long been known for sugary, Beatles-influenced indie rock, it seems a new movement of cleverly aggressive hardcore bands is afoot. Like North of America and The Plan, Contrived opts
for time-signature trickery and sporadic yells as an alternative to their homeland's obsession. And it seems that the members aren't the only ones getting restless out east. The group has made huge strides in Halifax and surrounding areas. But it would be too
easy to chalk Contrived's success up to bored small-towners, but Pursuit of Plots proves that any acolades are well deserved. The rest of the country will catch on, because the East Coast won't be able to keep a secret this good. (Dependent, -
Neil Haverty - Exlaim Magazine

"ChartAttack Magazine Review of Contrived-Pursuit of Plots"

"It must be the weather (and the number of schools) that makes post-
punk so popular out east; it seems that everyone plays in a band out
there. It takes about five seconds of listening to this record to
note the band's influences. This quartet would do well to call
bands like Fugazi their colleagues and do their best over the eight
tracks on this record to prove that they belong being mentioned in
the same vein. Tight, aggressive instrumentation with a decent mix
of screaming and sung vocals makes this one of the more interesting
Canadian post-punk records in some time. Contact:" - ChartAttack Magazine

" Review of Contrived - Starshine EP"

As a prelude to their upcoming full-length album, Dead Air Verbatim, this four-song EP, is perhaps the perfect taste of what is to come with Contrived. With only four songs, Contrived manages to blow your head off, pick it up, hug it, and then kick the lifeless body to the floor. "This Is Why the Stars Shine" and "On Fire" are exactly what you would expect from Contrived. Two in-your-face tracks with the best combination of hard hitting drums (a la Loel Campbell), and intense unprecedented riffs that make you want to bob your head and shake your fists simultaneously (Mike Bigelow, Tim D'Eon, Mike MacNeil). "And It Moves Through Me" and "At This Speed" are slower tastes of melancholy that we don't normally see from Contrived, arguably making them the best songs on this EP. The production on this album is a step up from the lo-fi sound achieved on Contrived's debut disc, Pursuit of Plots, although it seems they still haven't been able to reach a drum sound that can really translate their live performances to disc. If you weren't at the CD release show on April 17 at the Seahorse in Halifax, chances are you won't get your hands on (an official) copy of this disc. They only pressed 100 and were sold out before the end of the night. Three songs off the EP, "This Is Why The Stars Shine," "At This Speed," and "On Fire", are slated to appear on Dead Air Verbatim. -

"Digital Noise Review of Starshine EP"

Our friends at Dependent have done it again. Eastern Canadian math-rock gods Contrived have given us something to chew on while we wait for the main course. This EP features three songs from their widely anticipated new release “Dead Air Verbatim”. For those of you unfamiliar with Contrived, you may notice on drums you have Loel Campbell (Wintersleep) and on guitar you have guitar guru Tim D’Eon of Wintersleep/Kary fame, Mike Bigelow on bass and former Trephines guitarist, Mike MacNeil on guitar and vocals. Anyone who’s heard 2002’s “Pursuit Of Plots” has surely been waiting patiently (or impatiently) for something new from the band. Although guitarist Tim D’Eon is no longer in the band (replaced by Jonathan Samuel), he still appears on this EP and will be featured on the bands upcoming full-length as well.

The first thing you’ll notice about this EP other than the intricate artwork is its lengthy title which also makes up the four song titles: This Is Why The Stars Shine. And It Moves Through Me. At This Speed. On Fire. Audiophiles out there may not be impressed with the sound quality on here, but what this disc lacks in sound, is made up for in song-writing. Besides the songs wouldn’t sound right with a fancy studio’s glossy finish. And even though there’s only a mere four songs, you’ll have a new favorite each time you listen. Contrived blends just the right amount of heavy and melody to make one hell of a recipe that will keep you coming back for more. Keep your eyes open for this years, “Dead Air Verbatim” it’s sure to be a treat. -

"Contrived is anything but"

The Moncton Times and Transcript
Opinion/Editorial, Wednesday, June 29, 2005, p. B6

Contrived is anything but

Eric Lewis rates his music reviews on a scale of one to five, with (*) equivalent to a poor rating, (**) fair, (***) good, (****) very good and (*****) excellent.

Dead Air Verbatim
Dependent Music

It's the most obvious remark to make, but it's almost unavoidable, so forgive me for my lack of creativity when I say this: Contrived is anything but. The Nova Scotia band's post-hardcore rock sound is a fresh reminder of what great creative rock sounds like, and is a welcome alternative to the same old, same old radio rock. Thundering drums, shimmering chords and thumping bass make the ground for Mike MacNeil's pleading vocals. Guitar interludes take you away into a bit of a trance and right when you've calmed, the band kicks it into high gear with shouty vocals and thrashing guitar riffs. In the urgent "South Dakota," the band and the screaming MacNeil build up so that by the end, you'll think your stereo is about to explode. There's not a bad moment here, but the highlights are lead track "Surrounded by Genius," "At This Speed" and the gloomy yet funny, reality-sets-in song "I Don't Ever Want To Get Married." If anything, I would say let the band keep the name, and let's convince Webster to change the meaning of the word. They're that good.
- Times and Transcript

"Contrived - Ready to Rock"

Ready to rock
Contrived release their newest album this week

It took two years, but Contrived are finally releasing their second full length album, Dead Air Verbatim. And the Nova Scotiabased band is coming our way this week in support of the long-awaited disc.

"They just got here today," singer / guitarist Michael MacNeil says of the CDs, on the phone from his home in Halifax a week before their Moncton date. "They were sent to our friend Jud Haynes' (graphic artist extraordinaire, Wintersleep guitarist) place. He's going to drop them off here later this afternoon." MacNeil says the band is glad the album is finally finished and nearly out (released on June 28) for folks to buy. Contrived has been playing tracks from the album in concert for quite a while, so their fans should already be familiar with some of the tunes.

The delay in the album can be chalked up to a few things, but the most notable reason is the sudden stop the band faced when guitarist Tim D'eon quit the band in late 2003. The fourpiece - D'eon, MacNeil, bassist Mike Bigelow and drummer Loel Campbell - was suddenly a three-piece "He left around Christmas, 2003," MacNeil explains. "It just kind of happened," not wanting to bring too much light to the situation.

"Band stuff, whatever." The band had begun recording for the album a few months earlier, in late-August. They were in the middle of a tour out to Ontario, and they stopped in London for about two days to record with Andy Magoffin. They knew of Magoffin through Brian Borcherdt, Contrived's Dependant Music label-mate. Magoffin had worked in the past with the Constantines and The Remains of Brian Borcherdt.

The initial tracks were recorded live off the floor, and the band mates were so happy with the way they turned out they took them back to Nova Scotia for overdubs.

James Shaw of Red Fish Audio in Lunenburg recorded vocal, percussion and guitar overdubs with the band. In the midst of this, D'eon and the band went their separate ways.

Contrived was at a standstill, and MacNeil wondered if that was it for the band. "There was definetly that concern; 'are we going to come out of this?' It took a while for us to get back into it." MacNeil, Bigelow and Campbell mulled over what to do next, ultimately deciding to keep Contrived around. The hunt was on for a new guitarist when Jon Samuel's name popped up.

"He was in a band called Slight Return when we first moved to Halifax (from Stellarton, N.S.

in 2001)," says MacNeil. "When we were talking about new guitarists, his name came up. We thought he had a really nice voice and he was a great guitar player. And right after that, Mike and I ran into him at a party." The two Mikes explained to Samuel what was happening, and Samuel agreed to join the band right off the bat. He learned their songs, and the revamped band started practicing. It took some work as Samuel's had a different style than D'eon had.

"He is less mechanical, a little more 'jazzy', if I can use that term," MacNeil says. "I think myself and Tim are pretty similar. We're very mechanical; we don't stray off our paths very much. Jon improvises a little more." Though the basic tracks for were already finished when he joined Contrived, Samuel was able to add some vocal harmonies and a bit of guitar while the group were doing overdubs, after resuming activity in early 2004.

Mixing was started by Laurence Currie and completed by J. LaPointe. Now, nearly two years after it was started, Dead Air Verbatim is ready to hit stores. It will be released on Dependent label, and distributed nationwide by Outside Music. But it will be available before then at their CD release shows.

The songs on Dead Air Verbatim aren't new anymore, but MacNeil isn't worried, saying the album "still stands up" and that, "if someone liked the first album, I think they'll like this one." The current tour will take the group out to Ontario, their third time touring that far. "We definitely feel more confident," he says about the tour. "We know the places and we know what bands we can play with, and there is hype for the new CD because it's been so long." While waiting for the album, the band kept writing. They have another 12 or so tracks ready for another album they will begin recording, once again, mid-tour.

"We actually have two days booked to record in Ontario in the middle of the tour," he says with a laugh, "so you can expect another album in 2007." The members of Contrived keep busy in other ways too with day jobs and playing in other bands. Both Campbell and Bigelow play with Wintersleep, and Campbell plays with Brian Borcherdt at times as well. MacNeil says the relationships between bands are amicable. On recent Wintersleep tours, Contrived has actually been the opener.

"It's hard to balance sometimes," he admits.

"Loel is actually away right now, playing with Brian Borcherdt. He'll get back and we'll practice the next day. We're cutting it pretty close, but it's - Here Magazine

"Decoy Review Dead Air Verbatim"

Canadian band extraordinaire Contrived's latest album, Dead Air Verbatim, is an album that will instantly draw you in. With its slight feedback transitioning to Shiner and Handsome inspired aggressive rock, opening track "Surrounded by Genius" is an absolutely superb start to an absolutely fantastic record.

While Dead Air Verbatim is obviously nothing more than a great aggressive rock record, there are so many times it could easily bust out to full-on metal that it is infinitely more interesting than most hard rock offerings. Distorted vocals, grinding riffs, pounding drums, and buzzing bass are not in short supply on this record. Gang vocals even make more than a few appearances. Then again, the band also dabbles in light effects-soaked pluckings and smoother vocal lines. This allows the sound to even further define itself and keep listeners on their toes.

Of course, the band never really traverses away from the rock genre, so the disc can't truly be called a varied record. But it's their uncanny ability to mix all of the elements of rock that make them a still-interesting listen.

"South Dakota" may best sum up Dead Air Verbatim, with its catchy rock beats, short life span, bellowed and moaned vocals, and powerfully distorted guitar crunch. Contrived's urgency to get their message out is more apparent here than on other tracks, even though the whole album seems to have a lingering feeling that everything must be done in the quickest way possible. Sometimes, it takes two minutes, others, seven. But never once does the energy of the band let up.

The weirdest part of all of this is that I never expected Contrived to create an album that sounded like this at all. There are still parts that are very Contrived-sounding, but they've grown as musicians and songwriters tenfold since their last release. This is truly a stunning rock-metal album.

--Ben Rice
- Decoy Music

"IAYM review Dead Air Verbatim"

As Dependent Music continues to strengthen its already impressive string of releases, Contrived follows in the tradition of great Canadian independent music with their second album, �Dead Air Verbatim�. Contrived taps into the same hard rock vein as the now defunct Kary, sometimes even veering off into jam band territory and embracing the spontaneous side of their art. Though �Dead Air Verbatim� is much more Hi-Fi than their debut effort, �In Pursuit of Plots�, it still maintains a very independent feel to it. Those familiar with the stellar �Starshine EP� will be happy to note that the band has used it as the foundation for the new album as opposed to going back to the more grungy and gritty rendering of the band circa their debut effort.

Contrived provides an interesting selection of tracks for the new album. Songs are pretty evenly scattered between the two and a half and seven and a half minute mark, providing a large depth to the album. This shows a band mature enough in their evolution that they can compose a variety of different types of songs, as opposed to those who simply pick one over the other. For what it�s worth, there�s merit in choosing either format as a means to an end, and as long as structures are coherent and complex enough to be mentally stimulating the listener should be content with the product. Contrived certainly does a marvelous job executing individual songs on the album, but due to this scattered approach to song writing, it�s easy to get lost in the rough transitions in the sonic structures.

While songs like �Under the Radar� and �Set Adrift� function impeccably in their element, juxtapositions between the epic �Hostage� and the fast-paced �On Fire� become increasingly jarring after initial listens. Additionally, �Starshine� and �At this Speed� seem disjoint from the rest of the tracks, and their presence on the album is questionable. Despite a few setbacks here and there, the album is overwhelming aggressive and completely creative from beginning to ending. With a skillful presence, Contrived explodes through the album with a nonstop determination rarely seen by bands of their caliber; occasionally, they find themselves adventuring down ill-fated paths.

The music industry could use more acts like Contrived. There aren�t enough hard rock bands out there willing to take as many risks as this Halifax quartet. Instead of searching for a mainstream appeal, Contrived plays with a balls out intensity that can only be found north of the border. Amazingly enough, moments of the album have a Quicksand feel to it, not necessarily in sound, but rather in vision and inspiration. Additionally, there are layers of early Helmet involved in the linearly ferocious equation as well. Probably destined to remain a secret south of the Great Lakes, �Dead Air Verbatim� is undoubtedly a shining moment for the hard rock genre in 2005.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 microphones
- I ate your microphone


Contrived - Dead Air Verbatim 2005 dp25
Contrived - The Starshine EP 2004 dp16
Contrived - Pursuit of Plots 2001 dp12

Released through Dependent Music. Distributed nationally by Outside Music. Sold Online at


Feeling a bit camera shy


Contrived make music because they want to. Categorizing it is up to you. They like making something that is engaging and continuously evolving. A live setting is usually the best place to hear it.