Old World Vulture
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Old World Vulture

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"NXNE 2010 LIVE REVIEW"

Old World Vulture at Rancho Relaxo

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I grew very tired of the post rock explosion pretty quickly. Everywhere I looked there was another band playing moody-yet-dreary instrumental rock that sounded exactly like the genres heavy-hitters (Do Make Say Think, Godspeed, Explosions in the Sky, etc). As much as I like those bands, I just got burnt out on the style. That said, Old World Vulture are making post-rock exciting again. Their music melds so many different styles together, and it all fits so well it’s almost criminal. They’ll jump from delay-drenched guitar lines and electronic beats washed in floaty synth lines to a blast of drums and guitar crunch that wouldn’t be completely out of place in the 90's indie rock scene. These guys have a lot of influences tossed into their bag of tricks, and that’s exactly why they make this kind of music fresh and exciting again. - Twowaymonologues.com


"EP REVIEW"

Score: 6.5/10

Back in the days when vinyl was king, albums were pretty much sacrosanct and singles were kept to one side. An artist would fill up two (maybe four) sides with music and the fans would sit down and listen to it, start to finish. This was not always easy, as in the late 1960s, there was - presumably - some rule that instructed even the great bands to slip one stinker into the running order (cough, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"). The advent of the compact disc suddenly saw artists - or more likely the record companies - run amok with these previously insular works, throwing in extended versions or bonus tracks hither and thither. No matter that an album had a finely crafted arc and closed on a thoughtful, moving piece of music; if the company willed it, ten seconds later there would be the almost ubiquitous bonus track (or worse, the extended remix of the lead single) which would send listeners running for the stop button.

Nowadays, of course, the notion of album as a complete work not to be touched has been pretty much eroded away entirely, what with free downloads, 'luxury editions', and only a handful of artists prepared to demand for their albums to be sold as albums, not as a collection of tracks. In the midst of all this are Old World Vulture who, having given away three songs as download singles, toddled off to record a couple more for its debut EP. Existing fans will already have half of this release gratis and are now being encouraged to splash out for just three new tracks, one of which is the droney two-minute opener. It underlines the difficulty of balancing the books for a band nowadays - having gobbled up the free stuff, will fans want to splash out on the full release or just make do with what they have instead of supporting the artist financially? On the evidence here, rather than making do with half an EP for free, reaching for the wallet for the whole thing makes artistic sense for the listeners and will help the band make more records, which has got to be a good thing.

OWV is a Canadian quartet that got together to rework tracks by its members' old bands (there are a few) but decided instead to direct efforts toward creating new material - and the results are particularly pleasing. There is an unforced, relaxed feel to the tracks therein which results from years of playing in bands and being at ease with the whole experience. Perhaps, like Battles, it is because the members of Old World Vulture have a few years on the clock between them that they are able to work so well together. The music they ply is keyboard-led post-rock with Devin Hughes' synths taking the role of lead instrument on most tracks, playing lines that would be more familiar (and therefore duller) if heard on a guitar. It is Hughes' contribution that makes OWV stand out from its peers, as he is able to provide the drone for the opening track and a Rhodes-style backing on "How The West Was Lost," taking a back seat to Mike Costanzo's guitar, which is a versatility many post-rock bands lack - or avoid, depending on their maturity or musical chops.

This is not the moment to proclaim Old World Vulture as a major new group in the post-rock scene, but it demonstrates a willingness to move away from the quiet-loud dynamic and has the skills to dip a toe into math-rock waters on occasion. There is still a tendency to fall back onto the old post-rock cliches, such as the clip of Robert Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita on the opening "Destroyer," however, so the band is not yet the finished article. The potential is obvious though - there seems to be a willingness to experiment (a drummer not afraid of a drum machine is always a positive sign), plus the band has a way with soaring melody lines that will stand it in good stead when soundtrack producers come calling. The next stage in times past would have been a full album proper, but nowadays all bets are off - if Old World Vulture find it works best over a shorter format, it should stick to that. Right now, anything is possible.

-Jeremy Bye - The Silent Ballet


"EP REVIEW"

Its namesake is fitting, because when it comes to instrumental post-rock, we’re over it – mostly. We get it – it’s traditional rock instrumentation with non-traditional song structures. Mogwai. Sigur Ros. Explosions in the Sky. Still, when it works, it works, and Toronto’s Old World Vulture are on to something. Brevity – at least in post-rock terms – is its modus operandi; with most songs clocking in under five minutes, their songwriting is refreshingly free of superfluous dramatic tension and clunky soft-loud dynamics. There’s no carbo-loading here. Instead, these noisemakers blend prominent, dream-like synth – perhaps their calling card – with droning guitars, thunder-crashing cymbals and a dash of electronic glitchery for good measure. It doesn’t have the sonic heft of metal-leaning acts such as Pelican or Isis, but true to its moniker, the foursome’s finest moments are their grungiest, scrappiest and loudest – best exemplified on tracks such as “Changing Thoughts” and “Bastard Engine.” And that’s saying nothing of “How the West Was Lost,” a screamer of a cut boasting a guitar tone so filthy it makes you want to exfoliate. The downside? At six tracks, there’s barely time to construct a cohesive sound. But as a debut EP, there’s plenty of promise here.

- Sharpformen.com


"EP REVIEW"

I fear that I'm going to end up damning Old World Vulture's self-titled debut with faint praise. After all, they're instrumental post-rock and...well, that's always been a genre I've had trouble figuring out. It's not that I can't enjoy anything that falls under that genre's rubric, mind you; there are certainly a couple of post-rock bands that I like. It's just that I have tremendous problems actually saying why I like what I like.

That is a problem with Old World Vulture, obviously, because I do really like their debut EP. Of course, if I had to venture a guess as to why I enjoyed songs like "Bastard Engine" or "Benny" so much, I'd be stuck. I could talk about their time signatures or their song structures or their instrumentation, but the truth is, I just think the songs are put together really well, and they're about as catchy and as engaging as post-rock can be (though I must admit, the synth adds a little something that seems to be missing in most music of the genre). All I can say is download the songs and check out Old World Vulture's album; you'll be very glad you did. - i(heart)music


"EP REVIEW"

We all make mistakes. Sometimes a sampler from a promising new band falls into our lap, and sometimes we mistake it for an official release and review it for a prominent Toronto weekly.

Sometimes, however, we get a second chance. Toronto’s Old World Vulture has just released its full self-titled debut EP, adding three more songs to the previously circulated (but never officially released) three song sampler, turning a tantalizing appetizer into a satisfying main course.

Without vocal hooks or traditional verse-chorus-verse structures, instrumental post-rock is a genre that relies on a good sense of dynamics, and it’s obvious the quartet has the quality in spades. From the ambient lead-in of “Destroyer” to the ethereal majesty of “Too Much Eye Makeup”, not a single note on the record sounds out of place.

There are many towering, cinematic moments on the album, but whether it’s a far-off J. Robert Oppenheimer vocal sample or a slight blast of noise, it’s often undercut with a current of impending doom. Occasionally, on tracks like “Bastard Engine”, the tension resolves itself in an all-alone distorted guitar riff, while elsewhere on “How the West Was Lost”, it instead leads into a relaxing slow-tempoed guitar-keyboard passage.

The band obviously knows how to manage expectations – although the record clocks in at a mere 24 minutes, it still feels like a grand epic.

Whether they can maintain the same meticulous tension live is another question entirely. You can find out at their record release show tomorrow (Saturday, May 15) at Rancho Relaxo with Bronx Cheerleader, Lordy Lordy, and Bulletproof Tiger. - Resonancity


"EP REVIEW"

Old World Vulture’s instrumental, post-rock sound have been surprising a lot of music reviewers lately who had previously written the genre off as staid and boring. OWV definitely brings something new to the mix: attitude. You get the sense that’s it’s not all about showing off chops, but rather it’s about a state of mind and a state of play. I’m not big on instrumental music as a rule, but there’s something about this band that keeps me listening long after other acts would have been turned off. I can just imagine what they’ll be like live.

If you’re looking for something to do in Toronto tomorrow night, head on down to Rancho Relaxo (300 College Street) to check out Old World Vulture as they celebrate the release of their self-titled, debut EP. Our boys in Bronx Cheerleader will be there, along with Windsor’s Bulletproof Tiger, and Lordy Lordy (A Black Hat Brigade side-project).

Festivities get under way at 9 pm, and $7 will get you in the door. Tell them I sent you. - Quick Before it Melts


"LIVE SHOW REVIEW"

There’s probably nothing better in this world than instrumental drone/post-rock par excellence. Underscored by the ebb-and-flow dynamic, Old World Vulture delivers a cascade of guitar overdrive, swirling keyboards, and hypnotic rhythmic patterns, building-upon blissed-out soundscapes erupting into a seismic noise-blasted epiphany that skirts the edges of shoegazing. A well-executed live performance by a band gushing with virtuosity and sonic potency. - Lonely Vagabond


"EP REVIEW"

I'd long ago written post-rock off as a tired, boring, stale, repetitive genre that lacked creativity. But Old World Vulture's self-titled release holds the kind of promise that's just unique enough to make me reconsider that.

Of course, comparisons to other post-rock groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai are inevitable. Let's just get them out of the way now.

Opener "Destroyer" is probably the most Godspeed-esque, since it starts with atom bomb architect J. Robert Oppenheimer's infamous Bhagavad Gita-quoting "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds" quote, which he said after the bomb's 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico. It's entirely obvious why that track will get Old World Vulture the most Godspeed comparisons — they seem to have a similar obsession to the apocalypse as the Montreal nontet.

Truthfully, though, Old World Vulture have more in common with Explosions In The Sky than any other band, though the keyboard on "'Changing Thoughts" makes them sound hilariously like Vangelis.

Old World Vulture is a mere 24 minutes in length, and while it's split into different tracks, the sequencing is excellent and no song seems out of place. - CHARTattack.com


"EP REVIEW"

This Toronto, ON instrumental four-piece take their cues from the likes of Mogwai and Holy Fuck on their debut EP, infusing contagious synth melodies with fuzzed-out guitars and frenetic rhythms, to near perfection. As opening track "Destroyer" transitions to "Bastard Engine," any notion that they're merely creating carbon copies of their influences is erased. Devin Hughes controls the end of "Bastard Engine," using a repeated synth line to wash an indelible euphoric feeling over the listener. It beautifully balances the power and aggression earlier in the track. Old World Vulture change moods with each song, but without fracturing the EP's feel. The pounding drums at the end of "How The West Was Lost" effortlessly flow into "Benny," which begins with a hypnotic melody to challenge the previous track's hard-hitting effort. "Too Much Eye Makeup" ends the 24-minute disc on its strongest note, combining quickening drum beats and tinkering guitar lines with fervour. Old World Vulture's debut is an immense success. (Independent) - Exclaim!


"CMW 2010 LIVE REVIEW"

Background/Composition:

Toronto and St. Catharines, Ont.'s Old World Vulture infuse heavy Mogwai influences into their instrumental soundtrack.

Grade: 81

Comment:
Old World Vulture had the tough assignment of playing a later timeslot (11 p.m.) while higher profile acts (The Acorn, Silver Starling, Dan Mangan) were setting up in other venues.

Unfortunately for them, a lot of people had left by the time they started, but the people who stayed were introduced to a band that will likely make a strong name for themselves across the city very soon.

Achievement of Rock 'n' Roll Expectations
80-100: Exceeds skill and knowledge expectations, i.e. rocked us so hard we peed our pants.
70-79: Achieves required skills and knowledge. Meets rock 'n' roll standard. 60-69: Demonstrates some skills. Approaches rock 'n' roll standard.
50-59: Demonstrates some required skills and knowledge in a limited way.
00-50: Has not demonstrated required skills or knowledge.

Learning Skills: E=Excellent, G=Good, S=Satisfactory, N=Sad Really

Oral And Visual Communication
Eye Contact: G
Pronunciation: G
Stage Presence: G
Stage Banter: S
Image: G?
Appearance: G
Use Of Stage: G

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Steps:
It's tough to mark an instrumental band for their communication. They don't sing, rarely need to speak to the audience and the intensity of the music often leaves them focusing on what they're playing, rather than who they're playing to. And that's fine, because when the music justifies that (i.e. When it's good — and they were) then that's the best way to enjoy it live.

When guitarist Mike Costanzo did speak, thanking those who stuck around, he confused the night for being Wednesday and then apologized, saying they've been playing a lot of shows lately. Good for the band, apparently bad for Costanzo's memory.

Musical Analysis
Level Of Participation: S
Problem Solving: G
Teamwork: G
Work Habits: G
Organization: E
Audience Participation: S
Sound: E
Composition: E
Songs: G

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Steps:
Dense drones, uplifting synth melodies, booming bass runs, overwhelming beats and contemplative guitar lines all mixed with increasing veracity as Old World Vulture's set progressed. They're able to take what bands such as Mogwai and Do Make Say Think do and add layers of their own creativity to it — and it translates powerfully live.

Other Skills And Areas Of Interest?
Charisma: S
Problem Solving: G
Teamwork: G
Sexiness: G
Haircut: G
Indie Rock Footwear: S
Nods To Disposible Fashion: S
Cool Equipment: G
Level Of Inebriation: G
Actual Ability: E

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Steps:
If the band members themselves weren't enough to captivate your attention, then they had a video playing behind them throughout their show that could provide added entertainment — or questions. I didn't take spend too much time looking at it, as I was too immersed in the music, but images of planes and pilots popped up the few times I focused on it.

The quality of Old World Vulture's music and solid live set gives them an opportunity to reinvigorate the Canadian music scene with their instrumental fervour, much like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. - CHARTattack.com


"EP REVIEW"

Disc Review

Old World Vulture
(independent)
By Richard Trapunski

To the uninitiated, instrumental post-rock can be a bit frustrating – all foreplay and no climax. On their debut EP, Toronto’s Old World Vulture give each of their intricate compositions a target. Instead of letting the tension go unfulfilled, the band uses soaring synths and driving electronic pulses to build toward heavy, distorted guitar riffs and percussive crescendos.

The payoffs are still few and far between, but it’s a testament to the band’s songwriting skills that the album never gets boring. Maybe that’s because, with only three songs, it never has time to. Still, it hits with an immediacy not often heard in the genre. If they can keep it up for longer than 15 minutes, Old World Vulture could be a band to reckon with.

Top track: How The West Was Lost

Old World Vulture play Rancho Relaxo Friday (February 12). - NOW


"NEWS/VIDEO FEATURE"

Did you know that an old world vulture is actually a type of bird? And I'd just thought it was a clever name. They're scavenging birds in the same family as buzzards and hawks. From Wikipedia:

"A particular characteristic of many vultures is a bald head, devoid of feathers. If vultures had head feathers, they would become spattered with blood and other fluids when the vultures ate flesh from carcasses, and thus would be difficult to keep clean."

Tough, huh?

Toronto's Old World Vulture is a band comprised of four nice guys who probably don't eat a lot of bloody flesh. What they do instead is making heavy-yet-melodic instrumental tunes that nicely straddle the line between catchy and hard-hitting.

We filmed the band for minilogues at the beginning of the month. The video gives you just a taste of their music and stage style; you can see more if you come to the Horseshoe Tavern on December 11, where they'll be playing with the Cheap Speakers, Belleville and Raised By Swans -- the last band is celebrating their Toronto CD release. Sounds like a good plan, huh? - North By East West


"NEWS/FEATURE"

Who: Old World Vulture
What: Quartet hailing from various points along the 401 offers a more extroverted take on instrumental post-rock and see no reason why sweeping cinematic soundscapes can’t live in harmony with squelching synths and heavy-ass guitar riffing. They’re giving away some tracks from their forthcoming debut EP on their website and are playing the Horseshoe this Friday night, December 11. - Chromewaves.net


"LIVE SHOW REVIEW"

Old World Vulture - Rancho Relaxo

Damning evidence that The Mothership has landed. Old World Vulture strikes a balance between prog, spacey post-rock, and heavy doses of guitar into a rhythmically intoxicating tour-de-force. A sonic landscape that hovers through a fusion of primordial noise and plaintive beauty, flowing into a swirl of electronics and bass throb that explores the outer limits of interstellar overdrive. Ready for liftoff. - Lonely Vagabond


Discography

LPs

Trophy Lovers [LP]; July 27, 2012

EPs

Old World Vulture [EP]; May 11, 2010

SINGLES

"J.R. Flood" [Digital Single]; March 15, 2012

"Trophy Lovers" [Digital Single]; November 3, 2011

"Bastard Engine" [Digital Single]; December 1, 2009

"How the West Was Lost" [Digital Single]; November 1, 2009

"Benny" [Digital Single]; October 1, 2009

Photos

Bio

How did Toronto’s Old World Vulture come to produce the hulking slabs of synth-heavy instrumental rock they’ve built their reputation on? Call it a happy accident.

Musically, their backgrounds are diverse: Mike Costanzo (guitar) and Anthony Perri (bass) played together in a band with a penchant for Guided By Voices-inspired rock, Devin Hughes (synthesizers) was a member of a pop-rock band, and Jamie Hunter (drums) was a singer-songwriter. When the band formed in 2008, the idea was to breathe new life into abandoned songs from previous projects. Instrumental music wasn’t the intention, but it quickly became apparent that doing away with lyrics was an avenue worth exploring. It was an opportunity to push melody without using a microphone, to experiment with dynamics and maybe cause a little tinnitus along the way.

Prefaced by a trio of digital singles, the band independently released their self-titled EP in 2010 and quickly set out to make a mark on Canada’s instrumental music scene. Recorded at Audiolab Recording Company in Toronto by Chris Hegge (Fucked Up, The Meligrove Band), the six songs debuted the electronic-versus-analogue nature of their sound; where curious rhythms and uplifting synth melodies float above a sinister and aggressive foundation. Perhaps best outlined by !earshot, the band can “make your skin crawl and make you take a deep cleansing breath all within the space of a single song.”

The release enjoyed a long run on Canadian campus radio and was well received by critics both at home and abroad. National monthly music publication Exclaim! heralded the EP as “an immense success,” while Toronto’s NOW magazine said that it “hits with an immediacy not often heard in the genre.”

There was definitely something unique about the brand of instrumental rock Old World Vulture was creating, and this helped to cement the band supporting roles for some of the genre’s heavyweights. While touring the EP they shared stages with Arms & Sleepers, Caspian and Grails and were selected to open for Mogwai on their 2011 Toronto tour stop.

In late 2010, the band returned to Audiolab to record their debut full-length, Trophy Lovers. Recorded and mixed by Hegge, and mastered by Harris Newman (Handsome Furs, The Besnard Lakes) at Grey Market Mastering in Montreal, the richly layered and sonically expansive nine-song LP boasts an eclectic collection of songs that propel the band into unexplored territory.

There’s a push-pull tension that’s threaded throughout the album; it’s as bleak as it is hopeful, as dissonant as it is melodic. The album opens with a distant pulsating synth that soon lends itself to one of the darkest songs the band has written to date; a guitar-heavy bruiser that delivers like a punch straight to the gut. Alternately, the title track dials back on the heaviness in favour of shimmering synths that dart and weave their way around a pulsating rhythm and subtle guitars. Flourishes of brass make their way onto a handful of songs courtesy of trumpeter, composer and arranger Ben Bowen (A Northern Chorus, Lily Frost). Trophy Lovers seamlessly carves a line between discordant aggression and a streamlined sound without ever losing its way.

A new plateau of composition has been reached. Trophy Lovers will be released July 27, 2012.