Crosstown Rivals
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Crosstown Rivals

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"Crosstown Rivals"

When the Crosstown Rivals opened for Novillero a few weeks ago, they had a great group dynamic and all the energy you could hope for from an opening act. The vocals echo NYC band The Strokes in their tone and dog-straining-on-a-leash intensity. Take a few years of smoking off The Strokes’ sound and you’ll see what I mean, especially on the first track, “Bright Idea,” which opens with a very Strokes-esque guitar lick. On the album, as in their live show, you can’t help wanting to sing along, especially on track four, “Chests and Hands and Friends.” The strong guitar riffs seem to always trade places with the vocals at the forefront of the sound, making a solid, danceable track the whole way through. It’s hard to keep up with the lyrics, but their jumpy sounds makes that OK.
—Andrew McMonagle, 4.5/5 - The Uniter - Issue 9, October 23rd 2008.


"Crosstown Rivals EP"

With both the NFL and college football seasons in full swing, it seems talking about Crosstown Rivals is fairly topical, especially when you think about how the excitement and anticipation of the "big game" are matched by the sound the quartet delivers. On first listen, you'd assume Crosstown Rivals dwell in Brooklyn or on the other side of the pond. Their big anthems filled shimmering guitarwork echo life in grandiose cities, rich in heritage, history, and celebrity.

Instead, the band calls Winnipeg home and I have to say there aren't too many small town bands that can play deliver like these guys do. Their songs are taut, driven forward by rapid fire drums, scintillating synths, crunching double guitars, sing/shout backing choruses and Cody Sellar's voice.and with the new addition of a new guitarist, a new sound, and a new EP they are primed to get some National attention.

On the scorching opener – A Bright Idea - Cody's gruff vocals and frantic drums should power indie kids out onto the dance floor (which, if you’ve seen indie kids dance, may not be a good thing). The second guitar adds a bit of darkness to the effort, and the four-piece fills the mix full of meandering notes, energy and distorted textures. Hold Tight surges until you think you might break, but it's the chorus and hand claps grab hold to your brain.

I'd hesitate to call their sound new – on the surface, the elements they use are the same as ones you've heard before from lots of bands – but there is something that makes the songs stand out. Maybe it's Cody assuredness; the quiet confidence he exudes without falling victim to the arrogance that plagues front man these days. Maybe it's that the band is becoming a melding of different styles (the second guitarist, Louis, also plays in two bands with completely contrasting styles [The Paperbacks and Boats]) and his guitar work helps the songs tremendously. Both of these play a role, but after a few listens to Waste of Time, it becomes obvious that that these four Peggers just understand how to write a good song. - Herohill, September 15th 2008.


"Crosstown Rivals"

Playing in a rock band isn’t easy. Good musicians are hard to find, the songwriting process is often arduous, and once you get out of the basement you are met with a whole new series of challenges and pitfalls: playing to empty clubs and indifferent crowds, the difficulties associated with recording, and the death knell for most bands, line-up changes. Winnipeg’s Crosstown Rivals can easily check all of the above off from the list of potential deal-breakers for bands today, and they can do it proudly.

After a brief break up, Crosstown Rivals have returned to Winnipeg’s burgeoning indie-rock scene with a new E.P. (recorded and produced by Ricardo Lopez of Old Folks Home) and a new guitarist, Louis Levesque-Cote, ex-member of The Paperbacks and current member of Boats! And the band is hungrier than ever – Crosstown Rivals have completely overhauled their sound and have honed their songwriting skills.

“There’s only 2 songs that we still play now that we played before we broke up. It’s all brand new. Essentially we just forgot them,” said vocalist and guitarist Cody Sellar.

The addition of a second guitarist has certainly expanded the band’s tightly wound, dark, and propulsive sound, pushing the band’s sound into more versatile and unique territories. Most noticeable is the presence of thick synths, incredibly dancey drum beats, and a greater attention to melody.

“Since we’ve had a second guitarist it’s gone from more bare-bones rock n’ roll to something more melodic – there’s definitely a lot more melody to it,” said Sellar.

Added Levesque-Cote, “I come from a bit of a different scene, [this band] is definitely different from what I was used to and I think maybe that’s where some of the melodic aspects come from.”

Aside from the release of their new E.P. this summer, Crosstown Rivals will embark on a two week tour of Eastern Canada, getting indie-rock kids out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

-Curran Ferris - The Uniter - Issue 27, June 26th 2008.


"No experience necessary"

Crosstown Rivals prove that you don't need 12 years of music lessons to form a killer rock band

Jen Zoratti

When vocalist/guitarist Cody Sellar, bassist Anthony Kowalczyk and drummer Jon Mutch teamed up to form the first incarnation of local indie rock outfit Crosstown Rivals in 2007, they were a bit green when it came to making music.

OK, make that very green.

"When we were around before, it was really shitty," Kowalczyk, 24, says, over coffee in Osborne Village.

"We were all pretty new to our respective instruments," Mutch, 24, adds. "I've only been playing drums for two years."

"I've been playing guitar for three years and synth for about eight months," Sellar, 21, chimes in.

In the months that followed, the band broke up, got back together and, with the addition of guitarist Louis Lévesque Côté (ex-Paperbacks, current member of Boats), quickly figured out how to turn its relative inexperience into a style all its own. The quartet's resulting debut self-titled EP is proof that technical proficiency is not necessarily required to make a solid record.

Released in the summer of 2008 and helmed by production whiz kid Ricardo Lopez (aka Oldfolks Home), Crosstown Rivals is a hiccupy, arty and delightfully sloppy collection of lo-fi indie rock gems. The tracks are simple, but they're also really good.

"I think that's what's cool about what we do," Kowalczyk says. "We don't make complicated music."

Others seem to like that about Crosstown Rivals, too. The EP has charted on several college stations across the country, even reaching No. 1 in Lethbridge, Alta., and St. Catharines, Ont. Here at home, the band receives regular airplay on 92.9 Kick FM and the disc has garnered positive press.

Nearly all of Crosstown Rivals' reviews make some reference to The Strokes - a defining influence the band wears on its proverbial sleeve. That said, the Rivals aren't an imitation act; they draw inspiration from a variety of sources.

"A lot of music that came out while we were apart inspired us," Kowalczyk says, pointing to dance-rock acts such as Cut Copy as examples. "But definitely The Strokes are still a major influence."

"The Strokes, still, are everything you'd want in a rock band," Mutch says.

Lately though, Crosstown Rivals have been consciously moving away from that Brooklyn-bred garage-rock noise and heading in a more synth-driven, electronic direction.

"We're still evolving," Kowalczyk says. "For our EP, we were just dabbling into synth a little bit. Songs like Bright Idea aren't what we're about anymore."

It'll be a while before fans get to hear what Crosstown Rivals are about these days. The band is heading out on the road in June, and wants to dedicate a serious chunk of time to writing before tackling a full-length record.

"We want to take the time to make an album, as opposed to 10 songs on a disc," Sellar says.

CROSSTOWN RIVALS
April 16, Pyramid Cabaret
w/ Bad Flirt - Uptown Magazine, April 16th 2009


"Crosstown Rivals EP"

A-

Crosstown Rivals is an arty four-piece that makes sloppy, synthy indie rock, packed with shout-along gang choruses and hiccupy vocals that vaguely sound like the perpetually hoarse, nicotine-stained pipes of Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas - basically, exactly the kind of music I'm a big sucker for. But while comparisons to a certain pack of hip, New York garage rockers are certainly warranted, the similarities start to disappear after the first track. With break-neck drums, crunchy guitars and herky-jerky keys, this is an impressive debut from an exciting band worth keeping an ear out for. Check out Chest and Hands and Friends and album opener Bright Idea.

— Jen Zoratti - Uptown Magazine, January 1st 2009.


"Quick Hitters: Crosstown Rivals"

Well the rain has been coming down in buckets here in Halifax today, so if there's ever a hump-day in need of a boost, it's this one. Luckily, Winnipeg's Crosstown Rivals has provided just such a boost. The four-man indie dance rock force has released a new single on the new digital label Better Swimmers. The digital single for Exits contains the original version, plus remixes from Vitaminsforyou, Get Famous! and DJ Co-op.

You might remember Crosstown Rivals from our Manitoba mixtape, where Hold Tight, from their last EP added some pep to the halfway point of the mix. Exits certainly remains in the same fuzzy, urgent vein, but perhaps with a bit more of an electronic bent provided by the modulated bassline that runs through the track. It's perfect to get the kids up and shaking - perhaps Bones should bring this one to Gus' this Friday night. The remixes certainly keep the spirit of the track intact, and while I enjoy the 80's goodness of the Vitaminsforyou remix, the stadium guitar lick & 808 combo of the Get Famous! remix is my preference.

Oh, and did I mention this is a free download? Well go get it, and call yourself Parker Lewis while you're at it, cause you can't lose. - Hero hill


Discography

Crosstown Rivals - Demo (2007)
Crosstown Rivals - EP (2008)

EP is available for listen on Myspace, and is also played nationally on college radio.

Photos

Bio

Crosstown Rivals' sound has been described as tightly wound, dark and propulsive - spanning musical genre's and era's. With the presence of thick synth, incredibly dancey drum beats, hooky bass and guitar riffs, Crosstown Rivals can get people of all scenes and musical tastes on to the dance floor.

Anthony Kowalczyk, Jon Mutch, Cody Sellar, and Louis Levesque Cote may have all grown up listening to different music, raised in different parts of Winnipeg and even different provinces, but the four of them have come into the band with one common goal: TO MAKE PEOPLE DANCE!

In the fall of 2005, original members Jon, Cody and Anthony began playing as a form of amusement that soon evolved into a serious passion. Crosstown Rivals played numerous shows around Winnipeg to much acclaim, and even recorded a three-song demo with Scott Stewart of Unison Studios.

In the summer of 2007 the three decided to take a break from the band to pursue new projects. After a brief hiatus they were back - with the notable addition of Louis. Abandoning all but two of the previous songs, the band worked from the ground up honing a new sound and style. They have since developed a unique and definitive form of indie pop, which has generated much hype around the Winnipeg music scene.

Crosstown Rivals are back with a vengeance! With the release of their debut E.P. in August (recorded and produced by Ricardo Lopez of Oldfolks Home) which came out to great reviews (herohill.com), the success of their eastern Canadian tour, and charting #31 nationally on college radio CTR are spreading their unique brand of music to people all over.