Dirty Penny
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Dirty Penny

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock




"Top Album of the Year"

The gauntlet having been thrown down, here's a list of ten of my favorite releases of 2008. Annotations and appropriate links to come, and I will likely opt to play my Price Is Right card in order to switch a couple of these with other titles before spinning the big wheel. So in no particular order...

Hilotrons - Happymatic (Kelp)

Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Sub Pop)

Telepathic Butterflies - Breakfast In Suburbia (Rainbow Quartz)

Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows (Six Shooter)

The Olympic Symphonium - More In Sorrow Than In Anger (Forward Music Group)

Dirty Penny - Sage Against the Machine (Candy Mountain)

The Wet Secrets - Rock Fantasy (Rodeo Peanut)

The Violet Archers - Sunshine At Night (Zunior)

Ladyhawk - Shots (Jagjaguwar)

Fembots - Calling Out (Weewerk)

Hospital Bombers - Footnotes (Saved By Radio)

Okay, so that's eleven - sue me. Better yet, let me know if any of these titles are likely to make your year-end list.

-Chuck Molgat - ThickSpecs.com

"Top Album of the Year"

The gauntlet having been thrown down, here's a list of ten of my favorite releases of 2008. Annotations and appropriate links to come, and I will likely opt to play my Price Is Right card in order to switch a couple of these with other titles before spinning the big wheel. So in no particular order...

Hilotrons - Happymatic (Kelp)

Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Sub Pop)

Telepathic Butterflies - Breakfast In Suburbia (Rainbow Quartz)

Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows (Six Shooter)

The Olympic Symphonium - More In Sorrow Than In Anger (Forward Music Group)

Dirty Penny - Sage Against the Machine (Candy Mountain)

The Wet Secrets - Rock Fantasy (Rodeo Peanut)

The Violet Archers - Sunshine At Night (Zunior)

Ladyhawk - Shots (Jagjaguwar)

Fembots - Calling Out (Weewerk)

Hospital Bombers - Footnotes (Saved By Radio)

Okay, so that's eleven - sue me. Better yet, let me know if any of these titles are likely to make your year-end list.

-Chuck Molgat - ThickSpecs.com

"10 Tunes that May or May Not Change Your Life"

10 tunes from AUX TV that may or may not change your life
By Mel Dark

There comes a time when your ipod gets a little tired. Even when you shuffle. You could spend hours browsing lastfm or the iTunes store, but you could also turn on AUX Video Flow (channel 107) for ninety minutes and go about your work/ironing/art project while being blown away by great bands you may not have realized even existed. It’s like a continuous, musical lucky dip. Thanks to AUX, here are the amazing new tunes living together harmoniously inside my ipod.


Dirty Penny: ‘Magic tricks’
Toronto’s indie rock weirdos, Dirty Penny is brilliantly unpredictable. This tune’s taken from their album Sage against the Machine – it’s amazing, if you can get past frontman Jason "JC Penny" Cavener’s horrifying teeth in the video. They’ve been likened to The Velvet Underground. - Rogers Music Spotlight

"PeteNema.com Review"

Ta Da! is a strange little album that sticks out with with it's
humour and fun style. The lyrics are spoken melodically in a way that
will remind many of Lou Reed. The album opens with a track called
Bubblejuice that could easily be about drunken teenage afternoon sex,
but it's hard to tell for sure. The track Bomb Ardier is an odd story
about a lynch mob in Quebec that is told over a funky rock backdrop.
There's another story called Hip Operation that sounds like it might
go somewhere, but in fact is just a premise for a silly sequence of
words. The last credited song is a 6 minute odyssey about a French-
Canadian greasy treat called La Poutine (french fries with cheese and
gravy). Mmmm... your album is making me hungry! dirty penny's CD
release party was on May 15th, so they're likely to be playing around
Toronto more regularly now. I'll probably get out to see them
sometime - I'm not expecting overly complex rock compositions, but I
am expecting fun. - Pete Nema Indie Music Reviews


MARCH 15 - 21, 2007 NNN
If Cake ever teamed up with Ween, Toronto's Dirty Penny would need to search for a new sound. The band combines Cake's rock raps with Ween's eccentric lyrics, creating a curious record that's completely obnoxious but fascinating at the same time. Noah, the second track of their new disc, sees vocalist Jason Cavener rattling off animal names and singing about building an ark, while Big Rock Candy Mountain is a ridiculous number about, well, living on Big Rock Candy Mountain. What sort of life span this wacky record will have is anyone's guess. It's clever, but not enough to take on Ween-like proportions, and the music needs some work. Still, if you're looking for something from Toronto that's not serious indie rock, TaDa's a good place to start. Dirty Penny play Clinton's on Friday (March 16). - NOW MAGAZINE

"Spill Magazine Review"

Dirty Penny

A Coin Worth Hanging On To

Dirty Penny has been a refreshing option in Toronto’s rock scene for seven years now. I had the privilege of attending the bands’ recent comeback show at Clinton’s, their first show in almost a year. The crowd welcomed back their local favourites enthusiastically, throwing inside jokes and requests at the stage with regularity. On this evening the group is celebrating the release of their new album, Tada! While they have released two EPs, this is their first full length, and it covers genres from Goth to disco. The show is a highly energetic affair, with the group sounding tight and comfortable on stage as they perform the new batch of songs.

One week after the show I spoke with vocalist Jason Cavener, guitarist Raja Khanna and guitarist/keyboardist Rich Lachman. We met in Raja’s basement studio where I was pleasantly greeted with a homemade latte. Addressing the issue of their name follows brief conversation on American remakes of Kurosawa films. According to certain urban dictionaries Dirty Penny refers to what a certain part of the body tastes like. The group insists that they had no idea their name made any reference to analingus, but has had the name since 2000 and haven’t considered changing it. Jason explains, “I like the name because everybody’s always got a dirty penny.” Indeed. He also informs me that the band must contest not only with the connotations of their name but also with other groups blatantly stealing the name from them. “Some Motley Crue cover group in Texas, I think. They didn’t even ask us! They just took it! I’m taking care of that though.”

“We are trying to achieve a middle ground between Ween, Bauhaus and Abba”

Tada! was recorded at Psychedome Studios over 3 ½ days. Raja notes that their producer refused almost every attempt to add special effects, and the studio wasn’t equipped with any of the synthesizers they were used to practicing with. “Being surrounded by strictly pure sounding instruments, and working with these old Hammond organs really forced us to come up with new arrangements for all the songs, and the album certainly benefited.” Over the album’s 34 minutes the group plays a set that is at times ultra poppy, and at others dark and menacing. The poster on a Winnebago outside the studio provided the band with an early option for a cover and title. Raja shows me a picture of a cute little dog and along the side it reads “A Touch of Class.” Several members thought that crossing out some letters and calling the album “A touch of Ass” would be an amusing reference to the connotations of their name. In the end though they settled on Tada!, which doesn’t have connotations of ass or class. Since naming the album the word ‘Tada’ has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The band takes full credit for bringing this phrase to the mainstream.

Despite splitting heirs on the name of the album, the group comes together over their love of different music. While each member has one artist and genre they praise above all else, they all have a similarly wide range of tastes. It is this eclectic sound that comes out on the album. Jason brings the humour into the band with his offbeat lyrics, and sites Ween as one of his influences. It’s been suggested that the group has a very Velvet Underground sound, but Jason claims his vocal similarities to Lou Reed are the basis for this and insists that Reed is not his father. Main composer Raja sites Bauhaus as his musical god, and the gothic new wave sound can be found on covers, “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “Cigarettes and Whisky.” While “Big Rock” always seemed like a cute little tune, Rich points out that by adding darker tones they are exposing the true spirit of the hedonist anthem. Rich tends to bring more of a funk and disco style of play to the band. “I hate disco but it’s just so fun to play.” His funky keyboards and drummer Sarah Quinn’s percussion abound on “HLC,” which is a song that would not sound out of place on a Primus album. “I think what we are trying to do is achieve a happy middle ground between Ween, Bauhaus and Abba.” When asked if they make a conscious effort to give each song a different sound Rich says that ‘the music must excite them in order to make the album cut.’ Raja states that, “It is important that the music we play doesn’t sound derivative of anything else available. The whole point is that only fresh and interesting music has ended up on the album. Whenever we sound like somebody else Jay (Larson, bassist) is sure to speak up, and then we scrap that song. He’s our quality control.”

“Our song La Poutine is just obnoxious enough to get us the audience we need”

While Dirty Penny’s music is at times quite heavy and ominous, the lyrics coupled with Jason’s unique vocals sound peculiar. Some song concepts include Noah collecting animals for his arc, bathing infants, and needing a hip operation. The video for “Bomb A - SpillMagazine.com

"Dirty Joke - TORO Magazine"

Sex and rock music go together like ham and cheese. You can have one without the other, but why? Why have to chose between fucking and dancing? That having been said, not all sex is jittery and convulsive, and contrary to what Aerosmith and their lineage would tell you, doesn’t always bring to mind a caffeinated strut down the hallway. The comfortable groove of Dirty Penny’s “Lady Nurse Nun” is a better example of the kind of sexuality most people experience. It’s satisfying and just a little bit goofy, completely un-scuzzy, and damn fun.
Click here to find out more!

All those descriptors could fit the majority of the band’s newest album Sage Against the Machine, even if it is totally all over the map. Like a sober Ween, the band hops from one genre to the next, testing out slow indie-rock (“Magic Tricks”), post-punk (“If I Wuz a Cat”) and disco (“Dick Opportunity”). And those are the first three songs, in order. As the band acknowledges in their press material, this versatility will be the most beloved and hated thing about them. It strips them of a fanatic identity, but keeps their albums from running out of steam.

Their main subjects, for some reason, seem to be trying to get off, and searching for cosmic resolution. I can see in those topics a unified yearning, whatever that means. The narrator of “If I Wuz a Cat” is a drunken father lamenting his judgement, and frontman Jason Cavener gives a full-on, slurred performance. His occupation of different tones for different stories is hilarious and appropriate, a bit of stand-up comedy with groovy bass lines. Kids these days don’t want their rock stars to crack jokes, do they? They leave that to the rappers, but Dirty Penny’s warped sense of humour serves them well in the sea of indie-music brooding.

I had the band initially pegged as a political-punk group, with the album’s two-toned image of Gandhi sprayed with gig-poster text. But as this genre is one of the few they don’t really try out, it could be, upon examination, just another joke aimed at the idea of convention. With a refreshing, shameless appropriation of humour and hooks, Sage Against the Machine is one of the musical surprises of 2008.

Artist: Dirty Penny
Album: Sage Against the Machine

Jessie Skinner has had his work published in TORO, MONDO, and other magazines that use capital letters excessively.
- TORO Magazine

"EarShot Review"

Dirty Penny

Sometimes it's nice just to let an album entertain you. Too often we listen to music as an exegetical practice trying to find some 'deeper meaning' hiding beneath the surface of the music. While of course it's important to listen to music with a critical mindset, sometimes it's okay to just let an album be entertaining. In such a moment Dirty Penny's debut album Tada! is a satisfying listen, as the album consist of nine pop songs that seek out for one purpose only; to entertain you.

One of the main reasons why Tada! is an enjoyable listen, is because Dirty Penny is not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. This album hints at everything from Loaded-era Velvet Underground to the Modern lovers or even early B52's. In fact the albums most inspired moments are those most directly connected to their influences. It's almost as if the band is inviting you to join with them in discovering how exactly their favorite artists shape what kind of band they will become.

Another agreeable aspect of Tada! consists of its charming references to childhood. Whether it's the ode to the glory that is poutine ("La Poutine"), recalling the story of Noah's ark ("Noah") or singing about juice ("Bubblejuice"), the album comes across as a call to start acting as a child again.

While this album would not be considered a masterpiece, there is definitely something promising here. Listening to the album you get the sense that this is a band that has yet to hit their stride. Tada! ultimately comes across as unfinished business. Through their references to their influences or their embrace of their own child-like fantasies, it's clear Dirty Penny are a band that knows how to entertain. Tada! is only the first glimpse into this.

By Jeff Friesen
May 5, 2007 - earshot-online.com

"Dirty Penny for your Thoughts"

Dirty Penny for your thoughts

Toronto rockers playing by their own rules

December 04, 2008
Jason Schneider
for Nightlife

Ask most musicians the standard rock journalist questions and you can expect equally clichéd answers in return without much dispute. Not so with Dirty Penny singer/lyricist Jason Cavener, who is adamant in having his band accomplish the impossible in this day and age: originality.

Kitchener Waterloo CambridgeGuelph Music Artists Profiles 3

The Toronto quintet released its second full-length album this past summer entitled Sage Against The Machine, which immediately started drawing comparisons to popular rock eccentrics like Ween and Cake.

However, Cavener, an experienced multidisciplinary artist, is well aware of the media's need to categorize everything it observes, and answers the question as to the nature of the band's sound only with great reluctance, breaking it down into three essential components in the process.

"We love the rock that came before us and it's our turn to do it and make it our own," Cavener says. "We also hate the rock that came before us and that's also why we're here. The second thing is that we are authentic indie. We never have the 'we can't do that because people will think it's weird and won't buy our record' conversation.

"The last thing is humour. Comedy is a part of our sound and we know that it makes it trickier if you want to be taken seriously in music, but see number two for how we feel about that."

Some Toronto critics are still having trouble dealing with the comedic aspect of Dirty Penny, as evidenced by one Now Magazine writer describing a recent performance as, "a Quebecois Hugh Laurie doing a bad Don Knotts impression backed by a Lebanese wedding band that learned to play alt-rock by watching Watchmen videos." However, there's no denying that much of Sage Against The Machine is a well-crafted echo of the work of many pioneering alt-rockers such as The Pixies and The Velvet Underground.

"Like a million other bands, we were once just a few friends around a table at a party that decided on a whim to form a band," Cavener says.

"(Debut album) Tada was the laying down of a bunch of songs by a new band seeing if they could be a band. It received critical acclaim, which startled and inflated our rock egos pleasantly. This album was us going into the studio again already knowing that we're good, so we actually planned concept and art before production. The mission statement was 'songs of failure in sex and war,' and we wrote half the songs on the studio floor. That's how cocky we are now."

Of course, when it comes to the size of one's ego, it's always hard to gauge how seriously the person in question is describing it.

But with an established career as a visual artist to his credit as well, Cavener has spent a large portion of his life searching for newer and better ways of expressing himself. And with Dirty Penny he seems to have found one that is uniquely satisfying.

"I have a personal policy for every show as frontman: I will do something you've never seen before -- 'an original act for mankind' as I call it. It's typically something theatrical designed to provide the people that took the time to come and see us a story to tell the next day in the coffee line. The band's job is to rock the place. We meet somewhere in the middle and that's a Dirty Penny show."

Live Dirty Penny (opening for Run With The Kittens) Thursday, Dec. 4 Starlight Club, Waterloo Tickets $7 (all ages) Doors at 9 p.m. on the web at www.thatsmydirtypenny.com - K-W Record - therecord.com


LP "Sorry Mom" release 2013 Featuring "Andrew's Mom"

LP "Sage Against the Machine" released 2009
Featuring "Magic Tricks", "Declined", and "Maximum Sherpa"

LP "Tada!" released January 2007
Featuring "Bubble Juice", "La Poutine", "Bomb Ardier" and "Happy Birthday Genghis".



Dirty Penny is an indie rock band with a twist. Their sound has solid roots in the guitar heavy side of the 80s (Love and Rockets, U2, The Clash, Pixies) but they are lead by an unpredictable front man/storyteller armed with a bag different voices, some light and absurd, others dark and shocking. Throw in some fancy keyboards and Dirty Penny is anything but boring and is not for the casual seeker of a rock experience.

Their debut full-length release TaDa! (2007) received critical acclaim by NOW Magazine, Pete Nema, and Earshot. Their 2009 release “Sage Against the Machine” did the same with reviews that were either raving with praise or raving mad (but reviews nonetheless) across Canada. You could put this last record next to The Fall or The Talking Heads and not even blink, but with songs like “Maximum Sherpa” and “Lady Nurse None” you will blink. Spookey Ruben directed videos for Sage (check out dirtypenny.com) were talked about around at least 32 water coolers and caused at least one Rogers Media reporter to claim that they will change your life.

Dirty Penny has been working on their 3rd album which will be ready for release in spring 2012 (hopefully at Canadian Music Fest). While recording the band has found time to play CMJ (New York), NXNE and Canadian Music Fest as well as sporadic gigs around Toronto (Elmo, Horseshoe, Clintons, Reverb).

Also in 2011 we managed to finally buy the domain dirtypenny.com from the porn guys who ran it before. Now it only contains musical porn. No I have no idea what that means, never mind.

A personal message from the the band:

"Watch a video or 2 on our myspace and you will understand why reviewers either vomit on our CD or think we are the best thing since sliced bread (NOW, KW Record, TORO, and more).



Thinkspecs.com called our last album one of the top 10 albums of the year, Rogers music said our video for Magic Tricks might change your life:


We are entertainers first, our shows are fun. At our last gig we played with inflatable vacuum cleaner space suits on.

We are musicians, tied for first also. We love surprising with mixing styles from ska to funk to goth, but always with some e-bow and, ideally, children's toys.

If you hate us we love you, if you love us we love you, if you are not moved either way we hate you and we have failed, but really we love you anyway, but slightly less than the others.


Band Members