The Sound Foundation
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The Sound Foundation

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"2008, here are 10 local reasons why"

December 31, 2008
Colin Hunter
NightLife staff

(Dec 31, 2008)

Here's my take on the year 2008: it rocked. It rocked for me because it was the year I started writing this column, Within Earshot, where I get to review a new local music release every week.

Through this column, I've discovered -- and, I hope, helped other people discover -- heaps and scads of great music being recorded right under our noses.

Granted, a few of the albums have been underwhelming, but the majority have showcased an impressive array of talent in the local scene.

And, of course, I had some favourites, which leads me to this:

My Top-10 Local Albums of 2008

10. The Tyler Schwende Band, Beautiful Catastrophe. A richly textured and slickly produced pop-rock record that belies the word "catastrophe" in its title. Though the songs are built on simple pop foundations, Schwende's musical chops shine through when he builds multi-layered instrumentals atop those foundations.

9. Full Length Mirror, Fabulous Fables and Other Stories To Tell. A surreal, otherworldly album that hearkens to the days of tie-dye and the chemical recommendations of Timothy Leary. Bandmates Cory Williams and Wayne Bond concoct psychedelic head-trips that pay homage to late-'60s garage rock while also sounding thoroughly now. What a trip.

8. Self-titled EP by THE SOUND FOUNDATION. A galloping ska-pop adventure that almost, but not quite, captures the raw energy of the band's live shows. These funky youngsters combine elements of rock, funk and ska to create a sexy (and sax-y) hybrid designed to make people party. It's a tantalizing tease of the full-length album now in the works.

7. Daddy Long Legs, King for a Day. The young vanguard of Kitchener's strong blues scene, the boys of Daddy Long Legs deliver the album their fans have been waiting for -- a 12-track steamroller of electric boogie-blues. With guitars set to stun and harmonica player Junior Malleck breathing fire, King for a Day proves these guys to be blues royalty indeed.

6. Arrows, Knives are Falling From the Sky. This album was recorded in a remote cabin in a wooded area of northern Ontario, and strangely it shows. There's an earthiness to the post-punk music created by Ryan and Jackie Stanley, a married couple from Guelph (who have since changed their band name to Cursed Arrows). This isn't happy Kumbaya music for the tree-hugging crowd, mind you; it's often dark and haunting, like a night at a secluded cabin in the woods.

5. Ace Kinkaid, self-titled. This hot-off-the-presses album found its way into my CD player a few days ago and has been spinning in there ever since. This is a strange, complex and challenging album that jumps genres with ease. There's nary a word sung on the disc, nor is there a need -- the instrumentals spin amazing yarns. Fans of Battles and Mr. Bungle will love this.

4. Moglee, Recess. An aptly named album given that the music is as fun and carefree as a 15-minute playtime in the schoolyard. Case in point, the chorus of The Penny Song goes like this: "La la la! "La la-la la-la!" It's sunny, infectious pop that takes cues from Jamaican reggae, Japanese cuddle-core and New York indie-rock.

3. Saigon Hookers, Stray Dogs. Loud, dirty, raunchy . . . and catchy as all get out. K-W's indefatigable princes of punk opted to go high-tech this time around, releasing Stray Dogs as a download-only album. Chances are a bunch of computer speakers have since been blown out by their high-octane assault. Oh, and in case you didn't notice, Saigon Hookers is the best name for a band ever.

2. What's He Building in There?, self-titled. Whether you think this album is a masterpiece of a mass-of-crap will depend on your tolerance for hyperkinetic, schizophrenic bursts of insanity. I happen to think it's a twisted masterpiece, but I concede I might just be weird. Imagine passing out on a rollercoaster and having a nightmare while unconscious; this album is that nightmare.

1. West Memphis Suicide, Songo Hollow. My pick for best local album of the year is a 10-tonne slab of southern-fried rock 'n' roll so thick and heavy it melted my car speakers. If Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath got into a boozy bar brawl, this would be the soundtrack. Front man Chris Raposo is one of the best guitar shredders in the country, a skill he shows off in abundance on Songo Hollow. Two big devil-horns up.

Of course, my tastes probably vary from yours, so feel free to drop me a line and tell me your best picks of 2008.

Other highlights of Waterloo Region's music scene in 2008: Mel Brown Sunday matinees at the Boathouse, the opening of Maxwell's Music House in Waterloo, the incredible lineup at the Guelph Jazz Festival, the continuing coolness of the Open Ears Festival, Hillside Festival adds an indoor show, the Lancaster House keeps Dixieland alive on Saturday afternoons, the Carl Festival and other house shows at 130 King in Waterloo, Encore Records and Orange Monkey, genre-mashing Intersections concerts by the symphony, chainsaw mayhem with White Cowbell Oklahoma at the Starlight.

Are you in a local band with a new CD release? To have it considered for a review, please drop it off at The Record's reception to the attention of Colin Hunter, or mail it to his attention c/o The Record, 160 King St. E., Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 4E5.
- Guelph Mercury and KW record

"The Droops and The Sound Foundation @ The Starlight in Waterloo July 19 07"

This was a rocking night with a full house packed with dancing funksters.
The Sound Foundation held their own with lots of warm up funk and bodily activity - good choice for the warm up act.
(Both bands had hometown advantage.) - Wenda Atkin/Canada Jams

"Rockin' to the Foundation"

November 06, 2008
Colin Hunter

One frigid night last winter, a mostly unknown band stepped onstage at The Boathouse in Victoria Park.

The band had only formed a few months earlier and had yet to establish much of a presence on the Kitchener music scene.

They were the opening band of the night -- an unenviable position, considering the audience was still trickling into the small club when they took the stage.

Then the band blew everyone away.

The band was The Sound Foundation, a five-piece funk-ska outfit that, by the end of their half-hour set, had most of the crowd dancing -- and had the other bands on the bill wondering how to follow such a performance.

Now, almost a year later, The Sound Foundation has another gig booked at The Boathouse -- this time headlining their own CD release party on Nov. 15.

The self-titled EP almost (but not quite) captures the energy and vibrancy of their live show.

It's still one of the strongest local releases of the year, featuring five tracks that showcase the band's unique, infectious style.

The first track, a ska love song called Bless The Day, encapsulates all the elements that set The Sound Foundation above their peers: the nimble-fingered saxophone playing of Nate Payne, the razor sharp guitar work of Matt Kittell and the energetic vocals of Adrian Schmidt.

They are backed up by the razor-sharp rhythm section of drummer German Ocampo and bassist Devin Crossman, creating a groove reminiscent of bands like The Slackers and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The only downside to the album is that it's far too short. By the time the final (and best) track comes to a close, a mere 15 minutes have elapsed, leaving you hoping for more.

The EP is a tantalizing tease and hopefully the first of many recordings to come.

You can buy the album on Nov. 15 at the Boathouse for $10, which also covers admission to the show. That is some serious bang for your buck.

- The Record

"TIMA Awards review"

The Sound Foundation. WTF?? No, really. W. T. F. I heard one of the band members tell someone while setting up, “We’re SKA. We’re reggae”. To me, it seemed like Alexisonfire meets Bob Marley meets a rag tag bunch of wild guys who crashed a button-down “Meet the Parents Night”, demure “wine and cheese” soiree. Completely out of control. And I loved it! Just like the lead singer of Fancy Girls Market skateboarding off the stage right into the audience (!!) in the middle of a song at the TIMA Awards show back in 2008. The band – Adrian Schmidt, Matt Kittell, Devin Crossman, German Ocampo, and Nate Payne – routinely play at The Boathouse in Kitchener. Just recently they’ve been landing gigs in Toronto. Their most recent claim to fame is a 1st place win at Wilfred Laurier’s “Last Band Standing” competition. I could not find rhyme nor reason in their performance. The lead singer left the stage to go kiss a girl two tables over. Back on stage, he crouched down and started screaming his lyrics. Followed by a Q&A with the sax player – all during the same song! Maybe I’m having an acid flashback?? No mistaking, though, each band member’s musicianship. No mistaking how fantastic they sound all meshed together. Uniquely strange and strangely unique. A big thumbs up from me! You can find them at: and or on America’s Most Wanted….. - BD Maria Hughes

"The Wild Ones Win Battle"

The Wild Ones Win Battle
The Sound Foundation, the wild card band, pulled off a win last Thursday night at Wilf's in the final round of Last Band Standing
By: Shannon Busta Original Article

Yet another round of the infamous Last Band Standing came to a close at Wilf’s last Thursday. Clearly, LBS has turned into a big deal for our student population, given that the pub was absolutely packed before anyone ever stepped up onstage.

Three of the competing bands were previous victors – Second Floor Escape, Andy’s Ego and Music Box – while one wild-card group played for redemption: The Sound Foundation. With a grand prize of $1,000 and a chance to compete at the national level, these bands all came ready to put on a serious show. The energy only increased with each band’s performance, and, not surprisingly, the later it got, the more dangerous the dance floor became.

The screaming boys from Second Floor Escape started the night off. Lucky enough to begin their set with a packed dance floor, the boys offered an especially high-energy (though less-than-unique) set of emo-inspired rock. Their tunes might put you in mind of The Used (minus the lyrical and instrumental compatibility), making for a relatively repetitive set.

Nevertheless, they tossed out an awful lot of energy and good cheer, despite having to play their set lacking some important equipment. In the face of having a floor packed with people ready to dance, Second Floor Escape decided to switch things up at the end of their set, busting out an acoustic guitar and offering up a brand new tune. It was clear that the audience appreciated the variety and the boys ended their set to some serious applause.

The five guys and one lady from Andy’s Ego were up next and evidently came equipped with their own personal fan club. This group must have expected to take home the win, given that the entire bar moved up to within four feet of the stage for their performance. The end of every song was met by an uproar of applause and a rhythmic “Ego, Ego” chant.

Offering up a ridiculous amount of talent for an LBS competitor, Andy’s Ego were expected by many to take home the grand prize.

But the folksy rock band didn’t just have the talent and the popular vote on their side. The socially conscious group came in the hope of raising both awareness and a cool $1,000 for their friend’s charity Eat to Feed Liberians. Nevertheless, it seems generosity, talent and popularity just aren’t always enough to guarantee victory these days.

It turned out that the prize was to go to the third performance of the night, a band that also happened to be the wildcard. Losing at a previous show by a single point, The Sound Foundation was given a chance for redemption and clearly these guys took their second opportunity very seriously. On any other night at Wilf’s, the saxophone-equipped, funky, ska-rock band would have been declared the highest-energy performer of the night. Last Thursday, however, their rip-roaring energy matched that of the other competitors.

Opening up with a decisively Sublime-inspired tune, the sunglasses-wearing five were soon performing for a moshing, skanking crowd. Their big personality and big sound packed the dance floor once again, despite the mass exodus that occurred after the departure of the Andy’s Ego fan club.

When asked how he felt about taking home first prize, the Sound Foundation’s saxophone player, Nate Payne, expressed nothing less than sheer excitement and genuine gratitude: “I just can’t believe the talent we saw tonight; all the bands were really awesome.” According to Payne, the entire cash prize will be put back into the band, helping pay for things like promotions and perhaps a CD.

By the end of The Sound Foundation’s set, the alcohol had set in and people started heading off to bed. This didn’t bother the last performers, though. Despite putting on a great show, The Sound Foundation didn’t demonstrate quite as much passion for music as the fourth and final band to take the stage.

Not exactly strangers to performing at Wilf’s, the gents from The Music Box clearly came out to have a good time. Starting off their set with a team “quack, quack, quack, quack” chant, they gave the distinct impression that they were there to play music and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

It was pretty clear that The Music Box would have been up on that stage regardless of there being a cash prize. Unfortunately, though, in the world of Last Band Standing, passion just isn’t enough. The band’s hybrid sound (something along the lines of electric folk with rock and country thrown into the mix) might have been in need of some refining.

That being said, the audience wouldn’t have been surprised to see them win first prize. Regardless of who did take home the title of Last Band Standing, the audience could plainly tell that Waterloo is producing interesting and genuinely good new music.

The Sound Foundation’s next gig is at The Starlight this Thursday night with supporting acts Sweetfire and Mike York.
- The Cord weekly


EP The Sound Foundation Self-titled
Streaming tracks may be found at



The Sound Foundation is a five-piece band from Kitchener, Ontario. Front man / founder Adrian Schmidt and co-founder Matt Kittell started the band in April 2007. They had been playing shows in Kitchener as a two-piece acoustic act since 2005 when they decided to electrify and expand their sound. Devin Crossman was the first member to make the cut. Devin was playing as a bassist-for-hire with some local blues and jazz groups when he was asked to become a full-time member of a new band. After a long search, German Ocampo, was brought in to try out on drums. He made the cut with a unanimous decision by the band. The newest addition to the band is Nathan Payne on tenor saxophone

The five-piece band began playing venues immediately, as Adrian and Matt had already written a large repertoire of original songs. With a unique and fresh style, The Sound Foundation attracts fans of many ages and musical preferences. The band takes influence from such styles as funk, blues, ska, soul, folk and classic/psychedelic rock.

Since April 2007, The Sound Foundation has been building a reputation among local venues and establishing a devoted fan base. They have appeared live on Conestoga College Radio and was highlighted by the City of Kitchener representing the “Indie music scene” in the tourism promotional DVD “Our Town”. They can be seen regularly at The Boathouse in Victoria Park, the Starlight lounge, Maxwell Music House and The Wax, as well as numerous other venues across Kitchener/Waterloo. The Sound Foundation has recently started playing Toronto clubs such as the Horseshoe Tavern and The Hideout with busloads of their local fans joining them. Reaction from the owners is always the same, “you can play here any time”.