Leaving Sangster
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Leaving Sangster

Band Rock Acoustic


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"Leaving Sangster EP Review"

So Ronatron comes up to me in a bar and says…oh wait. This isn’t a joke. It’s an EP review. Get serious man! Okay, Ron comes up to me at work the other week and says “Hey do you want to review this band who’s offering to send their EP out from Ontario? They’re called Leaving Sangster and they’re from Hamilton.”

“Steeltown?!” I says to Ron “You bet your ass I’ll review a band from Steeltown!” And that goes for any of you aspiring rockers from Hamilton. I will review your band because I’m from Southern Ontario and there’s a special place in my heart for you crazy kids and your wacky dreams. So for this review I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to write it as I listen to it for the first time, headphones on head and fingers on keys. Ready? Let’s go!

Track One: Half of Me

Lead singer Justin Sawicki has a very decent voice and the guitar intro has great swing. Similar to the groove set up by fellow Canadian band soulDecision’s Faded without any of the latter’s boy-band goofiness. Jangly and fun, although considerably darker in tone. Leaving Sangster cite The Tragically Hip as one of their main influences, and I must say that this is a much more impressive debut than the Hip had, not to mention that whoever is singing back-up (Sawicki himself?) already has a better voice than Gord Sinclair after years of practice. The song features a nice bridge too. The songwriting is solid and there’s no filler despite this being a longer song at 4:36. An excellent intro to the EP, Half of Me will be a welcome addition to the songs that I’ll be playing in the car on the road trip that I’m taking this weekend.

Track Two: 20 Something

Righteous kick drum to lead this one off. The guitar work reminds me of early The Cure riffs. Again, Sawicki’s singing is powerful without being over the top. Similar to what the Gin Blossoms used to get up to back in the 90’s, this song would fit in perfectly on a show like The OC, although lyrics like “fuck or be fucked, pay me something for my time” would probably require a bit of editing. I really like the way the band works together. There are a lot of veteran groups whose full-length albums lack this level of sound quality. The mixing is excellent and you can tell that the band really put a tremendous amount of effort into this track. All parts compliment each other.

Track Three: Tidal Waves

Another solid track! After the first two I was kind of expecting a bit of a dud at this point, but I was totally wrong. This song is a little rockier than the last two. I also can’t help but notice that drummer Josh Harris is really very good. If there’s one thing you can’t fake in the studio (especially on your first EP) it’s drumming talent. No amount of post-production will cover it up if your drummer can’t keep time or frequently screws up. Harris is on the money and the track sounds great as a result. I usually like my music a little on the raw side, so the fact that you can hear the hum of the guitar strings vibrating is very cool.

Track Four: Impermanence

I really dig Andrew Barbisan’s ultra-clean guitar and the stop-start rhythm of Impermanence in general. Likewise, JP Shalala on bass really locks the rhythm section down. I should have mentioned something about these two earlier, considering their consistency throughout the EP, but that’s what you get in a live review I guess. Again, another example of how tight this band sounds in the studio. Like Ron mentioned in his last review, it’s uncommon for bands to sound this professional in their first studio outing. Leaving Sangster’s first EP is really quite an anomaly and I’m glad to add it to my record collection. - Ronatron.net


Leaving Sangster (Demo) 2006
E.P. 2008



Members first congregated five years ago in the echoing halls of a jazz college in Hamilton, Ontario. As time passed and friendship grew, they found themselves in various pairings and groupings in the city’s musical haunts. In the beginning, Josh Harris, and later Andrew Barbisan augmented Justin Sawicki’s solo work under “The Justin Sawicki Disaster” handle, but the Three soon surrendered to something a little more fated – Leaving Sangster.

That’s Sangster International Airport in Montego, where, upon leaving, “you’re never quite the same, and you instantly start thinking of ways to get back,” says Justin. The new band’s harder-edged sound left quite the same impression as it spread from Hamilton’s Underground, Casbah, and Club Absinthe down the shoreline to Toronto’s Reverb, Healey's, and beyond. Along the way, the boys have played alongside talents such as Turn off the Stars, Daylight for Deadeyes, and the Anti Q's.
Leaving Sangster is a rock band, foremost, influenced by jazz, country and every other soundscape where music is unnecessarily categorized. Members list The Tragically Hip Hawksley Workman, Wilco, Tool, Ryan Adams, Rheostatics, Pearl Jam and Radiohead among influences. Like those who came before, Leaving Sangster has recorded a self-titled demo (2006) and just released there first studio studio E.P. in March 2008. To fund this CD, the band will in the next few months play tributes to the music that inspired them.
Good intentions reap good music that lingers long after the instruments are unplugged. “I’m Leaving Sangster, higher than the plane that takes me home ...”