songs from a room
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songs from a room

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Brayden Jones is somewhere between crossing the border to see sweaty garage bands in Detroit and discovering the Canadian indie-rock motherlode when, all of a sudden, things get patchy. Jones is midway through recounting his musical coming-of-age as a Windsor-bred kid who relocated to Toronto a few years back when the phone cuts out. Appropriately, the frontman of the now-T.O.-based rock squad Songs From a Room is going back to his roots while he revisits history: Jones and brother Dustin are in a car bound for their parents’ place, making an Easter pit stop before their band finishes up a Southern Ontario mini-tour.

“It’s great having a holiday,” he jokes, “except when your folks live in Windsor and you dread the drive and going back to that city.”

There are a few things Jones misses about his hometown — namely, the cost of living and the pizza. “It’s always a debate,” he sighs. “Most of the time [in Toronto] we’re like, ‘Do we even bother getting a slice?’ Because nothing compares to Windsor pizza, nothing.” The last time Songs From a Room played their old stomping ground, he notes, they delayed leaving for an extra half-hour, so they could order a pie to carry them over on the long drive back to their adopted home.

Aside from marinara alchemy, growing up in Windsor left an indelible imprint on both Jones brothers. The Leonard Cohen reference in the band’s name is misleading; says Brayden, “I don’t think we’d call ourselves Songs From a Room if we were actually trying to sound like Cohen.” Rather, they play visceral, straightforward rock music that reveals their history: a childhood spent devouring the surfeit of classic rock ’n’ roll played on Detroit radio stations and a heady period of playing in piss-and-vinegar punk outfits throughout adolescence.

“Early on,” Brayden begins matter-of-factly, “Windsor gave us a real jaded view of the Canadian music scene. We didn’t even have, like, a real college radio connection or anything, but we were so close to Detroit that we had American culture built into all of our music stylings. And we spent so much time playing in the states, but we had a much harder time even breaking into Toronto. It was impossible to get out there and get shows. It felt like people thought Windsor was just off the map.”

Still, they managed to coast through a handful of DIY tours and home-recording projects until about two years ago, after their home studio got looted and they finally got sick of butting up against what felt like an industry glass ceiling. They took off for Toronto, with the intent of “working on this project” in earnest. In between working manual labour jobs and trying to write songs together, the Jones brothers randomly ran into some guys they’d known back home.

They convinced their pals to dust off some old instruments, and the current incarnation of Songs From a Room — which features bassist Nicholas Bechard, guitarist Dave Stephan and multi-instrumentalist Craig Mailman alongside Dustin on drums and Brayden on vocals and guitar — was born.

The songs on their most recent EP, released digitally by Dine Alone Records, are a neat fusion of guttural, sweaty, blues-tinged riffs modelled on the muscular assault of acts like AC/DC and the Stones and the punchy keyboards and angular melodies of more contemporary alt-rock groups like Modest Mouse and early Constantines.

“As we went on, we decided we were too old for the punk-rock thing,” explains Brayden, who maintains that SFAR are united by a love of old gear and warm analog sounds. “We got back into our roots. We made a conscious effort to go back to the source rather than fiddle around with hybrid indie things, which gives us a chance to do a real heavy rock show.”

By all accounts, it’s Songs From a Room’s live show that’s experienced the biggest leap in the last little while. They’ve managed to harness the energy of old hardcore shows and channel it into a tight, vocal cord–shredding performance that makes the most of their formidable gear set-up. (Brayden, who notes that they record everything themselves, gets excited when he talks about the “Frankenstein” amps they’ve assembled out of old Fender and Marshall equipment; he plays an old SG and generates a tonne of fuzz with a slew of old pedals.)

It may sound cheesy, but there’s something truly endearing and striking about the purity of SFAR’s approach. Theirs is an almost archetypal story of moving to the big city to pursue a classic rock ’n’ roll dream. Brayden still seems excited about playing for “great crowds” in Sarnia, and though he’s grateful for their recent Dine Alone Digital deal (“As simple as it seems, even iTunes is a bitch to get things up on, as an independent band”), he fantasizes about being handed a chunk of cash to make a bigger-budget recording, possibly one using reel-to-reel equipment.

For now, though, they’re trying to inject more significance into their songs. In the past, he says, they wrote a lot of stream-o - Eye Weekly


Well spank my ass and call me "Charlie", it looks like we have two A's.
I fell instantly in love with this band. They came on hard and strong, like I would if I were a man. Not even half way through the first song they had already become my favourite band of the festival. Not even so far, but period. Sporting dual vocals between the guitarist and the drummer and with mass amounts of energy on limited stage space, they easily became "The Best Discovery of CMW 2010". Their myspace does NOTHING to justify the live performance either, I hope the short video I have does. The only bad thing I have to say about this band refers to the bassist and his armband tattoo… everything else about them was completely original despite the highly popular punk-infused rockNroll genre.
- Music She Blogged


Songs From a Room was the second band to take the stage (People in Grey went first, but I missed most of their set). Initially, I wasn’t going to include them in this review (or photograph them, even) but they are just too good to watch. If you want to experience some pure and sweaty rock ‘n’ roll, go to one of their shows.


They played a nine-song set, which was a mix of new tunes and old favorites, the latter including their last song “Revival,” which seemed to get the most cheers. The music was loud and crude, which for me, is the essence of what good rock ‘n’ roll should be. But apart from the solid music, they were entertaining to watch as well. Most notable, I would say, was the hair: hair in the face, hair flying around the face, and hair flips (the latter courtesy of bassist Nicholas Bechard). The only one missing in the hair action was lead vocalist and guitarist Brayden Jones, whose close-cropped haircut didn’t allow him to participate.
- http://thetakemedia.com


Got a message the other day from an avid kickballer, one time Los Angeles Dodger of Toronto and musician Nick Bechard about some fresh new songs that his band Song From A Room had ready. They’re a 5-piece, almost all Windsor ex-pats now living in Toronto who take their name from Leonard Cohen’s 2nd album. From their 4 song debut EP (to be released at their release party Monday, Aug. 27th at the Horseshoe), I can really sense intensity in their music. And I bet you’ll hear that in their live show.

Check out Believing. QOTSA fan’s will probably enjoy this one. For some reason, it makes me want to drink Jager…. could there be hidden messages in the music? - Chris Budd


Opening up were Songs From A Room and My Shaky Jane, two local outfits that hearkened to earlier times. The former, despite their Cohen-inspired name, were more a meeting of '70s proto-metal hard rock and '80s American post-punk/hardcore while the latter were more straight ahead, classic party rock with an animated live show and rather generic tunes made more for entertaining than inspiring. - Frank in Concert Reviews


Discography

self-titled EP - believing / left versus right / blind alley / a schooner is a sailboat
self titled EP #2 - revival / aches maybe angst / black that we clad / we are the ones / high road / to my surprise

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Bio

After years of pavement beating and D-I-Y tours of North America, Brayden and Dustin Jones fled hometown Windsor, Ontario. They headed for Toronto, ironically meeting one-time Windsor natives, David Stephan and Nicholas Bechard. After a couple of shows the band found their final piece to the puzzle, Craig Mailman, and the five developed a torrid love affair with playing live.
In 2007 the band hit the road covering Ontario and Quebec as much as the cities would allow. Their high energy show caught the attention of the right people and they soon found their hard work paying off. After their first 4 song E.P. the band had their single, ‘Believing’ on earshot’s top 10 in the cities they were playing throughout Ontario and Quebec. A spot on the Dine Alone showcase at NXNE, second stage at Virgin Festival 2008 and the recording of a new EP released by Dine Alone Records has given the guys a pretty successful year.

“Whether you hear 70’s rock, post punk, or just a great catchy tune, to the band, it’s always been about writing a solid rhythm and melody,” explained the Jones brothers. The effective sibling duo, not only collaborate in writing but on vocals, allowing Dustin’s harmonies to bring calm after Brayden’s storm. Clever bass lines married with explosive drums, dance in syncopation around raw guitar chords spit from old Fender amps. Bursts of energy from a screaming organ breathe a vintage tone to the mix giving you songs from a room.
Check out the bands new single, ‘the black that we clad’ on XM radio’s ‘the verge’.