The Music Box
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The Music Box

Band Alternative Folk


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"The Music Box"

"The Music Box is the sort of band every town needs: a band that they can believe in because they’re a band they understand. They’re a little ramshackle because they get a little carried away. They get carried away because they believe fully in the dense poetics they cram into their songs’ simple structures. They seem like guys you’d know. Maybe even guys you are. You believe in them because they make the kind of music that makes you want to make music. Tyler Stoddart sings like a disenchanted, distinctly Canadian Bob Dylan, (no doubt a debt owed to a love for Win Butler). His infallibly valid dissatisfaction with the persistence of time, suburban ennui, and insufferable boobs like Peter Popoff give his songs a weight easily lost by those who try to over intellectualize their source subjects and end up whiny children instead of observant critics. Stoddart is believable and comprehendible. His band are a flying burrito gang of reformed punks who’ve turned to acoustic guitars, b-benders, and Hammond organs to wrangle their still reckless rock n’ roll. Their first two EP’s give a clear impression of who this band is.

The Music Box EP

Their first EP is, ostensibly, their “country” album. It comes out swinging with “Vampire Blues”, a rollicking coulda-been-a-Cramps-song were if not for Stoddart’s classic slacker drawl, “I can change my ways…” Next up is “New Year’s Morning”, which perhaps better exemplifies the band’s strengths, particularly Steve Sloane whose crisp Stratocaster leads are pure Robbie Robertson. Bassist Dylan F. Bravener also shines here, digging the grooves deep with peppy, bouncing soul. Drummer Kyle Taylor, a dervish at the quietest of moments, manages to keep his boundless energy in check, allowing Bravener and Sloane to keep the song rolling.

“Peter Popoff, You Are The Anti-Christ” is not only the best title on the album, it’s also Stoddart’s lyrical peak, manically indicting a prick who exploits the very people he purports to be the saviour of.

“The thief stands high on a mountain of shit Built by the senile and all the nitwits You’re contemptible and empty to sell such a fraud If it’s riches you want go in business with God.”

But the best song on the album belongs to Steve Sloane whose “Lives & Blood” manages to be funny, sad, and beautiful. Like a long-lost Royal City b-side to pretty up the place before closing out the album. The anthemic “Song About A Painting” with its “Let it all shine!” call to arms is a perfect closer, before Stoddart officially ends the album with a shy and quiet “That was pretty good.”

The Dead Hands EP

The rock n’ roll album is an immediate contrast, (despite the presence of Elsa Jayne’s back-ups and the odd flourish of banjo). The acoustics have been cased, the distortion pedals stomped, and the keys are mixed way up. Gone are the simple song structures, replaced by swift tempo shifts and soaring gang-vocals. An affinity for Arcade Fire dramatics is evident, but not obvious. “Lie Across The Road Pt. II” is a bracing, battering-ram opener, fit for riots and dancing. Bravener is the star here, hollering back-up vocals and leading the charge with laser-gun synths. Next, they revisit “Song About A Painting”, further fleshing out its melody with Elsa Jayne’s sugar-sweet back-ups and the odd moan of lap-steel guitar.

The greatest triumph of the album is certainly closer, “The Bridge”, which manages to be a creepy, banjo-led psychological journey, (in the vein of Bone Machine-era Tom Waits), and a marching, pulsing rock n’ roll epic. Stoddart murmurs his dark nursery rhyme as the rest of the band slowly grows around him, eventually crashing into a massive climax. A fitting way to end any album.

So really the two sides of The Music Box aren’t so different. Both are passionate, poetic, and versatile. Both dig on the banjo. Perhaps most importantly, neither sound of a certain time or place. Stoddart and co. have written a pair of albums full of stories and sounds that will sound vital and believable for years to come. It’s music that’s genuine and pure and it sounds pretty fucking good to me." - Echo Weekly

"The Music Box Lives Up To Name"

One of the benefits of the wide-open age of digital music is that it's made young musicians completely unaware of genre barriers. That certainly seems to be the case with Waterloo quartet the Music Box, which lives up to its name with a sound that combines folk and punk, with dashes of new wave and other oddball sounds played on a variety of instruments.

That range of influences is put on full display with two EPs the band is releasing simultaneously, the rock-oriented The Dead Hands and the country flavoured Live at Trepid, the title of the latter being a reference to the Trepid House venue/label in Waterloo, which has become the Music Box's No. 1 supporter.

"Basically, we just ended up with a bunch of country-folkish type of songs and decided it would be good to record them at the Trepid House in a really raw and natural way," says drummer Kyle Taylor. He and guitarist Steve Sloane joined the band earlier this year, augmenting founding members Tyler Stoddart and Dylan Bravener who began working together as a duo.

Stoddart admits the band's distinctive approach hasn't allowed them to readily fit into the local scene, but he says that with the new releases they are hoping to establish themselves as a live act throughout southern Ontario. "We feel like we're the kind of band that can adapt to any situation. We can play completely acoustic shows, or full-on punk shows. We've got enough songs now that we can actually tailor our sets to match whatever band we're playing with or whatever the audience wants to hear."

Stoddart goes on to say that his musical interests have always been diverse, starting with a steady diet of Bob Dylan and punk during his formative years. "I've been into that since I was 12, probably like all of us were, and that led us into so many other things. But I think if you take any of our songs and strip them down, they're all pretty much folk songs. That's the common thread with everything we do."

Despite putting out two EPs at once, the band members don't hide their preference toward which one they would like to see sell more. "Hopefully The Dead Hands does better because we spent over $3,000 on it," Stoddart says. "We're definitely going to push that one more, not just because of the money, but because I think it's an overall better representation of what we are."

Taylor adds, "It took about seven or eight months to finish, which wasn't what we were expecting. It was hard because we all have jobs that don't pay very much, so we had to find time to work at it whenever we could afford to.

"Money is really our only obstacle right now. We're writing new songs constantly and could probably put out another record this year.''

Yet, Stoddart is realistic in saying that the Music Box's top priority is playing shows and turning on new ears.


- KW Record (Nightlife)

"Boxing With Music"

On first arriving in Waterloo it can seem just like any other city in Ontario. Medium sized, small downtowns, sleepy neighborhoods and a copious amount of bars. This surface impression, in fact, hides the great talent we have emanating from our little part of Canada. Recently a band’s name has been popping up again and again when one looks for good local tunes here – The Music Box.

Following the now well-travelled footsteps of local talent that have progressed to the national stage, this eclectic band has built up a following in Waterloo by playing as many shows as they can manage, opening for national acts and just generally throwing themselves out there. They play a distinct blend of punk and folk music, with a side of country that can only reaffirm your faith in young musicians. Here is a band that means it when they say, “all we want to do is support ourselves entirely with our music.”

Founding member Dylan Bravener has just two words about the prospect of attending one of this town’s well-known universities: “No chance.”

“I think I want to become a sailor,” he adds.

Tyler Stoddart, the second founder of The ‘Box, then chimes – “We will just play a whole bunch of shows on the boat then!”

The Music Box have that young, just-out-of-the-gate feel about them – confidence in what they are doing and willingness to take on what the voracious music industry has to throw at them. It’s this sentiment that finds its way on stage with an intensity that is often reserved for groups that have been around for more than a decade. Their August 13 show at the Grist Mill was energy-packed enough to recall the presence of seasoned performers Ian Curtis or Tom Waits.

The four members of The Music Box – Stoddart, Bravener, drummer Kyle Taylor (a Laurier math major) and guitarist Steve Sloane (A UW English major) – have been playing collectively for a little bit more than a year now, while the two founding members Stoddart and Bravener started jamming around two years ago.

“Me and Dylan used to listen to tons of music in the basement all the time,” explains Stoddart. When his previous band broke up, he still had some songs kicking around in his head, so he decided to record them with Bravener and begin a new project. Soon Taylor (Stoddart’s cousin) was begging to get into the band. Later on after seeing a show and finding himself impressed, Steve Sloane joined the band and the lineup was finalized.

Since then The Music Box have been making steady progress towards their goal; having played numerous shows in and around Waterloo, they have found themselves collaborating heavily with the owner of Trepid Records, Jeff Woods. “Jeff is our go-to guy. He really did do everything for us.”

If anybody would question this, the band quickly summarizes his aid: “He recorded us, mixed us, gave us rides, gave us shows, was our photographer and advertiser.” Oh and one more thing: “He gave us money to make our CDs.” Out of all this help, The Music Box recently had their CD release party with their brand new The Dead Hands EP on sale for the first time.

With three of the members shifting through playing various instruments in the lineup throughout the night, calling The Music Box multitalented wouldn’t be a stretch.

They’ve got an organ, a synth, and hell, even an accordion. Citing such influences as Bruce Springsteen, the eclectic Animal Collective and the introverted Bright Eyes, these guys create a versatile mix of punk, country and electronic. Yet the songs all begin the same way. “Thing is – all of our synthy punk songs can be broken down to a folk song on acoustic guitar. We just put layers onto them to make them bigger.”

On stage Stoddart, Taylor and Sloane switch instruments regularly between songs, and for anyone thinking that these are heavily trained musicians – you‘d be wrong. As Kyle explained it, “I don’t think any of us have ever taken formal lessons – except Steve (Sloane) – and those were just piano ones a long time ago.”

Stoddart sums it up pretty well: “Most of the time I don’t even know what key I’m singing in.”

The Music Box plan on being around for a while – and they will be hitting the stage this Wednesday (September 3) at Maxwell’s Music House just across the street from Laurier. The Dead Hands EP is out now, and can be found purchased at any of their shows. The Music Box continues to prove that great music is coming out of Waterloo – we have had success found in musicians like Shad, Will Currie & The Country French and now there is likely to be one more
- The Cord Weekly


The Music Box EP (2006)
The Dead Hands EP (2007/2008)
Live @ Trepid EP (2008)



What is now known as "The Music Box," began three years ago in a 6x8 room with a piano and an acoustic guitar. That idea (which now consists of four members) has travelled across two countries bringing an eccentric blend of pop, folk and punk rock to crowds of all sorts in over 150 shows.
To say there is a message would be bullshit. To over analyze is irrelevent. A good song is something that can stand naked and still walk along side a street of passing noise and machinery.
With that in mind and having recorded three EP's, the Music Box will be releasing their first full length record on Trepid Records.