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"qr5 - Revisited Gone"

qr5 ain't your average band. The Toronto based collective have taken the unusual step (in today’s retro-riff-heavy climate) of blending reggae with a savvy pop sensibility. While this might be some people's idea of torture, qr5 twist the genres so satisfyingly you hardly notice the laidback grooves (mon). A lot of credit must go to Matthew Maaskant's singing, which is as pure as it is soothing. Behind him, the band churns a delicate magic that never intrudes on the singers' utterances merely bolsters the songs easygoing charms. Whether it will send single people the world over down the garden path remains to be seen, but it should signal that qr5's time has well and truly arrived.

http://mp3hugger.blogspot.com/2006/05/271-qr5-revisited-gone.html - mp3 Hugger


I'm inclined to think that acts like qr5 are why we need such vague umbrella categories as "indie" within which to lump bands. I have no idea how else I'd go about characterizing their sound in succinct terms. Think Wolf Parade meets Heypenny, with a bit of Kingston reggae. Maybe along the lines of the Police? I'd rather not leave the impression that they're a reggae band though, as they're not. Some songs feature prominent banjo or piano, while others include organ, strings, or horns. They describe themselves as a folk-funk-reggae act, and I suppose that fits appropriately. See for yourself.

http://cableandtweed.blogspot.com/ - Cable And Tweed

"qr5 Pharmakon"

The nature of qr5 is best described as "catch-all"---a random mixture of musical styles, instrumentation, and genres parading around in the clothes of pop music. This hodge-podge of musical wonderment succeeds in spite of itself, wrapping the quaint and unassuming vocals of lead singer Matthew Maaskant around the diverse sounds of folk and rock music, with just a touch of carribean rhythms.

The overall sound is latent, never in your face or aggressive, relying instead on stealth moves, creeping into the back corners of your brain while you listen. It doesn't hit you right away, but comes back in faded melodic memories, haunting and drifting in tune after beautiful tune.

http://mashmusic.tripod.com/may06.html - Mish Mash Indie Music Reviews


There’s a quaint peacefulness that runs throughout Pharmakon, the latest, folk-infused album by Toronto four-piece QR5. It’s the feeling conveyed by the tempered vocals of singer Matthew Maaskant as his words float over the band’s multilayered arrangements that, while finding their roots in a folk tradition, are enriched by myriad sonic sources and influences. There are touches of reggae bass and guitar exchanges on both the skankin’ “Revisited Gone” and on album opener “Living Large,” where the reggae vibe is awash in a combination of restrained horn stabs, mandolin plucking, faint accordion chords and, eventually, a wave of stings. QR5 fight the urge to rock out on hiccup-y “Storyteller,” maintaining their reserved composure through brief moments of heightened energy and guitar distortion over a beat that refuses to hold still. While the number of sound ideas poured into each track is commendable, the similarity between many of the cuts may be the album’s one true drawback, a fact even further exposed by the album’s relatively brief 40-minute runtime. That said, it’s a sound that doesn’t wear thin, keeping things fresh throughout.

By Kevin Jones
May 09, 2006
http://www.exclaim.ca - Exclaim!

"Two Songs from Pharmakon"

"Their music has a positive feel, very melodic with excellent arrangements"

http://bootlog.wordpress.com/2006/03/08/qr5-two-songs-from-pharmakon/ - B(oot)log

"QR5 is a Bizarre Band"

What would happen if say Modest Mouse lived in Jamaica? Canadian band QR5 are aiming to find out. Their third album Pharmakon sounds as if the Mouse went on vacation to the Caribbean and never came back. It's a bizarre mix of island sounds and indie folk.

It sure is a strange mixture but thanks to the well educated, highly professional members of QR5 they manage to make it work somehow. This is a bizarre record to get a handle on because there, quite frankly, is so much going on here it's hard to keep track of. Using a reggae beat as a back bone, QR5 manage to pile on all sorts of sounds from lilting guitars, to sweeping strings, and everything in between to come up with songs. They probably used like 180 tracks to record this album. Yet, despite the fact that it's a complex layered record it doesn't forget that having actual tunes is important.

Pharmakon despite its complexity is a fairly laid back affair. It is intimate while being expansive. It is still easy on the ears despite all that's going on. This is the perfect chill out album for the slacker set.

"Living Large," "Returning the Wheel," "Storyteller," and "Time is Coming," all show the strange mixture of influences that make up Pharmakon. While this might seem like a record destined to be bad or too jam bandish, it's actually not that bad. It's consistently entertaining because of how the record is put together and how the elements of the record come together to form a cohesive album.

Definitely one of the more unique records out there, Pharmakon, is an interesting listen for either reggae folk or those of you who have a hard time getting out of bed! - First Coast News


While the title suggestively invokes images of some pharmacist conference, "Pharmakon" is a funky reggae alternative pop-rock album. The music is layered with reggae beats and swinging upbeat guitars. The bass lines up a thick groove ladled with saturated tones and intriguing one-offs of soundscapes. Rhythmically it induces dancing even among those of us who have no business within a hundred miles of a disco floor. The vocals are quirky subtly making declarations about the world with R.E.M. worthy lyrics. Fun music from Ontario with a dash of worldbeat and jazzy reggae. - Smother

"QR5 Pharmakon"

As a band of three white guys , Toronto's qr5 are playing with fire; i.e., reggae. But the gentle snare-rim tap and sultry instrumentation (mandolin! Xylophones!) of pharmakon never succumb to patois pabulum, the rhythmic ticks serving as appropriate complements to singer Matthew Maaskant's nervous but heartfelt vocal mannerisms. While post-punk hipsters plunder the Talking Heads' more trendy Afro-funk phase, qr5 seek solace in the tropical pop of the Heads' mid-'80s output, making them the ideal house band for urbanites who dream of island getaways but don't want to put up with geriatric tourists sporting fannypacks. "Time Is Coming" could give David Byrne legitimate grounds for a lawsuit, but chances are he'd be so charmed by its breezy lilt and call-and-response chorus that he'd offer these maestros a Luaka Bop deal instead.

Sept 20, 2006
www.eyeweekly.com - EYE Weekly


So, here I come again, asking a band for my own forgiveness. qr5 - your album arrived, looked brilliant [the photography & design is clearly enticing, clearly] - yet it somehow got flushed into a sea of new / incoming music. The entire drive home consuming this vibrant album, I mentally kicked myself down the expressway. Pharmakon is glowing, it's "fresh" - as in something new; a band traveling one grooved direction while clearing a new path entirely. There are traces of dub / reggae on Pharmakon ["Living Large", "Revisited Gone"] - quite possibly the sole reason I passed you by in the initial reading of the accompanying press release[1]. Yet, like Paul Simon seeking a deeper understanding on Graceland [less "You Can Call Me Al"] - or the highly influential Talking Heads and their South African [to name but one - less the "punk" tag] meld in styles (think "(Nothing But) Flowers", Stop Making Sense ) - qr5 are clashing age-old musical rights and crafting exciting tunes as a result.

In the liners, qr5's lyrics read well enough - but when channeled through singer / multi-instrumentalist Matthew Maaskant and set in his very own unique delivery [not unlike David Byrne[2], at times] - you are introduced to a marvelous new outlook on the words. "I'm singing out from a form how would I etch water into stone / for you my vapor friends / I'm leaving out what you won't / how could I deny a body's own Unavoidable defense?". Sure it reads well, but the way this band transforms words into - for lack of a better way to put it - "fresh air", you really want to succumb and bask in their garden of mandolin, bass, banjo, percussion and pleasantly unique instrumentation[3]. Toronto / Ontario wins big - and this is positively the one band you have been told little about that matters the most. You qr5 fellas should be well proud of this album I am hearing - it's a stunner - and you know it. Music to be heard with ears beyond open, Pharmakon[4] arrived with little to no hype - yet has charmed this cynic-by-diagnosis into a new fan. I am not afraid to flood the praise when it is well deserved. Highly recommended, if nothing else for the fresh air alone.

http://sctas.com/2.0/qr5P.html - www.sctas.com

"Introspective dancing offered up by qr5"

Mixing funk, folk, reggae and hip hop, qr5 proudly plays "introspective music you can dance to." If this sounds like the perfect musical dish, head to the Alex P. Keaton tomorrow night at 9 p.m.

The Toronto-based band began as a recording and production partnership between Matthew Maaskant (lead vocals, guitar) and Ben Bootsma (guitar, vocals, and organ). The two soon began collaborating with longtime friends Keith Stirling (drums) and Jonathan Weverink (bass) to create a diverse and dynamic musical quartet.

In addition to playing his instrument of choice, each band member contributes his own personal flair to the band, be it through lyrics, web design, photography or sound engineering.

Today marks the release of qr5's new album, Pharmakon, which, by definition, is "a medicine, drug or poison." To preview sample songs from the disc (Revisited Gone, Dreams) before the show, visit www.qr5.com/music. As well, browse through the site to see a collection of Maaskant's photography,

If you're up for something a little bit different, qr5, a band "about music as something you experience," will surely deliver.

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/Today/ThursdayTicket/2006/03/02/1469181-sun.html" - The London Free Press


Pharmakon (2006) - Current release, available at www.qr5.com

There Is No Path Not Taken (2005) - 5 song demo of singer/songwriter material.

Resound (2004) - Soundtracks & instrumentals



After spending years perfecting an ambient electronic/indie pop sound, the band fused the style they had created with folk songwriting to create a truly exciting new voice in Canadian music. Heartfelt and pensive, sometimes even mysterious, but always energized with a life affirming force, this is striking, original, and emotionally evocative music.

With their intimate yet expansive delivery, the vocals portray a new, almost post-modern point of view on the well-worn themes of love and religion. With lyrics that artfully delve into every part of our emotional lives, the instrumentation bobs and weaves with the singing - creating a subtle exterior for music with a fervent conviction.

The band's 2006 release Pharmakon infuses their thoughtful pop sound with more rhythmic influences, creating a recording that is emotionally involving yet upbeat and danceable. The strong songwriting at the core of the group means the simple, central themes of the music and lyrics are never overwelmed by the ambitious production values or the band's iconic visual identity.

The group independently recorded full length record 'Pharmakon' on their own label, Draft Tattoo Productions, and released it at the Drake Hotel to a full house. It received rave reviews in magazines such as Exclaim, Eye Weekly, Scene Magazine (London), and beyond - as far away as First Coast News (Jacksonville FL).

The group continues to promote their music on college radio stations, getting played on CIUT (Toronto) and CJSF (Vancouver), and American station KDVS (Davis, California) and were delighted when the song "Dreams" made it to #5 on the CBC's (national Canadian) top 30 charts for the week ending in May 4, 2006. This also resulted in 2 nationally broadcast CBC interviews and features on their various podcasts. The album was distributed to record stores across Canada, selling out the first week in dowtown Toronto's Rotate This after being featured in their listening booth.

qr5 on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHg0sOCai84