Volcanoless
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Volcanoless

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Ideally I wouldn't highlight the same band on my T.O.D. in less than a year's time span. If there's a band worth making an exception to that rule, it's Volcanoless in Canada.

I brought the Saskatoon band to your attention back in February with She Moves from their self-titled 2006 album. They've finally come out with a new one, called the way forward. It's an appropriate title for a band that has honed and tightened its sound the way V.I.C. has over three years.

As I'm really into a T.V. show called So You Think You Can Dance, as soon as I heard Mexican Circus I had a visual of two of the incredible dancers in the Top Ten bringing the Circus to visual life in a sexy hybrid of samba and hip hop. The tune's still got the signature Volcanoless triple-threat of acoustic guitars, but in this song it's the bass line that walks out the real melody. Sprinkle is some maracas for the Latin sexitude and it's a hit!

I'll be seeing the band again in Regina this coming weekend at the Regina Folk Festival. If you plan on making it out come say hi. I'll be the one looking complicated doing a samba-hip hop shuffle.
- CBC Radio 3 (CAN)


IN A NUTSHELL

If there's any justice in the world, The Way Forward will make Volcanoless in Canada one of the biggest bands in the country...and beyond.

THE STORY

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time has probably noticed, I've long been saying that Saskatchewan is the next great hotbed of talent, the city (well, province) that's suddenly going to have a "scene" that everyone tries to get a piece of. And, obviously, thus far that hasn't come to pass; as far as I know, there aren't really any places talking about the "SK Sound", or playing up a rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina.

Having said all that, and recognizing it as a cautionary tale against making predictions of this sort, I'm still going to say this: if any band is going to put Saskatchewan on the map, musically-speaking, it'll be Volcanoless in Canada. It's not that they're any better than any of those other bands (I'd probably put them behind, say, Rah Rah and Library Voices, but ahead of Polymaths and Ultimate Power Duo), but rather, they're by far the most accessible band I've ever heard out of the province.

For that matter, they're one of the catchiest, most accessible bands I've ever heard, period. I've been searching my brain to figure out who Volcanoless in Canada remind me of, and -- apart from brief moments where I thought the answer might be Fall Out Boy or Panic! At The Disco -- I really can't think of who it is. In large part, I guess, this is because the world isn't exactly overflowing with dancefloor-friendly rock bands whose primary instrument is acoustic guitar (three of them, in fact).

And part of it may just be that The Way Forward is filled with songs that are so instantly catchy that they just sound like you've heard them countless times before. I mean, take a song like "Mexican Circus (March To The Holly Dome)". It's got a pretty simple melody, but it's so irresistably fun that it's hard to not want to dance the moment it comes on. Further, the same could be said for any number of songs here, from "Make Up Your Mind (Rm. 5)" to "Forevermore (Wah! Oh!)" to "Invincible (Charmed)". This is just one of those albums from which any song could conceivably be dropped into the playlist of any music-playing outlet in North America, and it would not only sound like it fit in, it would also stand out.

Obviously, that's not something everything will enjoy. There are some people who just have an aversion to hooks (as is obvious to anyone who read the Metric comments in this year's Hottest Bands poll). But for everyone else...I have a feeling that this time, I'm going to be right when I say that Volcanoless in Canada are going to be huge, for the simple reason that The Way Forward is guaranteed to stick in your head forever.
- I(Heart)Music (CAN)


If @herohill wrote twitter reviews, instead of wordy, overlong summations of the Canadian music scene, reviewing the new Volcanoless in Canada record would be a lot easier. Something succinct like"Hot Damn! This is fantastic. #Acoustic_Summer_Dance_Party" would give most readers enough insight as to why The Way Forward is going to burn up the charts this summer/fall and help this SK band take get some much deserved shine.

But that’s not how we roll, and a few glossed over sentiments aren’t enough to describe what just might be my favorite record of the summer when push comes to shove. Even the setup of the band is perplexing. Three acoustic guitarists? At best, it seems like overkill right? At worst you might think this is some guitar noodling, masturbatory jam session. Wrong. The three acoustics fly around the intricate melodies, bobbing and weaving with a remarkable precision – almost like watching the Blue Angel fly wing to wing, you foolishly start to assume the beauty, control, and precision they display are something that comes effortlessly, without years of practice – but the band refuses to waste notes or let a song linger too long.

The melodies power forward with rapid strums and complex transitions, but the band never loses focus on making the crowd move. Throw in some heavy bass lines and huge drums and the Saskatoon 5-piece really starts to blend the lines between a punk rawk, mathy prog outfit (Mars Volta perhaps) and a band that could have stages at folk festival bouncing and dancing in one shape shifting cloud. Make Up Your Mind (Rm.5) start out like an acoustic, hard core song, but Mitch Lysak staccato delivery transforms the track into an infectious jam that has you reaching for the volume knob and nodding along instantly. When the group harmonies kick in with “make up your mind, MOTHER FUCKERS!” it’s over. If you don’t start loving this band you really are trying too hard.

But for me, the record really takes shape on Mexican Circus (March to the Holly Dome). The Spanish influence is paired with an urgency that showcases the creativity of the band. Even sitting in your chair, you start the urge to move and pump your fist. They keep the pace blistering and the intensity peaked on another intricate anthem (House of Souls (Artistry VS Fame)) and after the quick hitting three + minute jam, you are firmly entrenched in the record.

And I think the band knows it too.

The powerful start gives them the chance to change pace, offering up the crossover friendly London in Love (The Birds' Nest) and Forevermore (Wah? Oh!). Both expose a more tender side of the band, and honestly, if all things were fair ViC would replace the “acoustic sensitivity” outfits like Simple Plan and Hedley shit out for instant radio success. Since I'm more of a roots guy, I would think my reaction would include shuddering and hitting skip, but when it comes to ViC, I buy into the tracks and happily sing along (especially when the group vocals on the latter take over).

The rest of the album really continues to meet the high standards of the first five songs. Shedding Skin (Corner Gas)Drown With the Rest of Them (Pop) provides a nice change of pace for the band and refreshes you for the last three songs, all of which build the record to a frantic climax (they even introduce an electric guitar solo on A World Soaked in Gold (Siesta)).

I can honestly say I didn’t expect to like The Way Forward nearly as much as I did. When we featured the band on the SK mixtape, I dug their sound but couldn’t have predicted a full record would hit me so hard. I didn’t expect to sink into the hooks as easily, and certainly didn’t expect to buy into the more tender moments. The sound (mixed by Alex Newport - The Mars Volta, Death Cab for Cutie - and mastered by Troy Glessner -Underoath, Anberlin) helps each note sound crisp and clean. You can hear all three guitars darting around the space, each cymbal crashing down and every head nodding bass pluck. Bottom line, if you are looking for a soundtrack to your summer and a band you can love when they finally start getting radio/soundtrack/TV spots, look now farther than Volcanoless in Canada.
- Herohill.com


They call their music “sexy acoustic-indie-dance party” over at their Facebook profile page, but I don’t know if that genre plug-in does justice to Volcanoless in Canada’s frantic, frenetic sound. Hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this quintet make a pretty glorious racket that blends elements of pop, punk, ska (I hear it), rock and disco into a smoothie of sound that’s perfect for summer backyard BBQ parties. The fury of three five-string acoustic guitars drives the melody into your head while the beats and rhythm force your feet to foxtrot. How could you not love these guys?

The band’s new LP, The Way Forward, is a sleek and lean collection of songs designed to showcase their tight playing adept songwriting skills. Opener “Make Up Your Mind (Rm. 5)” jumps out of the speakers, getting the party started in fine fashion. “London In Love (The Bird’s Nest)” slows the tempo down long enough for you to catch your breath, only to lose it again as this plaintive ballad leaves you speechless: not only can these guys party, they can perform beautifully, too.

Why are these guys not on commercial radio? I have to agree with Bryan at Herohill.com: Volcanoless in Canada are far better than most of that mindless “insta-rock” that is currently gracing our nation’s music charts. These guys have more heart and personality that all of the Hedleys and Simple Plans put together.

- Quick Before it Melts (UK)


suspect Volcanoless In Canada will always be a band that I will listen to with something of a jaundiced ear.
As a journalist I've been covering this band for some time now since both Mitch Lysak and Joel Hryniuk are from Yorkton.
As an occasional music judge, I've also got to review these guys on stage a view years back. The band actually finished second in the competition to the Foam Lake-based Go. Had they had the material from this new disk that day it is likely the order of finish would have been different.
The Way Forward is a major step forward for Volcanoless musically, and that is saying something, since their debut album was excellent in its own right.
But, that initial disk came out quite some time ago, and in the ensuing years, Volcanoless has become more mature and worldly in their music. That I suppose is only natural considering the band has toured a ton since the first disk was struck, including several weeks in Britain, a tour which obviously influenced these guys as it pokes its head through in the music on the latest effort.
The disk starts off with Make Up Your Mind, a solid cut and from there Volcanoless stays high energy throughout.
And, therein lies the true secret to what makes Volcanoless as good as they are. This band is about energy. You can hear it in the guitar work of Levi Soulodre, Hryniuk and Lysak, and of course the base work of Enver Hampton, and more important in the lyrics of the band. This is of course guitar-powered rock, yet the band never lets the guitar work overshadow the vocals, and that is a major plus, because they can write songs.
The best songs here are pretty simple to select, pick any of the 11, and you are going to be right. That said, I particularly like House of Souls, Shedding Skin, Just Tell 'Em Ye Alrite, Mexican Circus and A World Soaked In Gold.
If there is any justice in the music world, this in the disk which should launch Volcanoless onto much larger stages. This CD is about as good as it gets in terms of content.
Just an excellent job. Buy this disk now.
Check it out at www.volcanolessincanada.com

-- CALVIN DANIELS
- The Desk of Calvin Daniels


Discography

Singles: She Moves, Mexican Circus, London in Love
Lp's:
(1) Self-titled (2006)
(2) The Way Forward (2009)
Streaming/Radio Airplay - the singles listed above on both major Canadian FM in Western Canada, Canadian college radio and a sample of Mexican Circus added to Los Angeles' KROQ
Streaming on XFM and CBC Radio- CBC Track of the Day in both February and October of 2009.

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Bio

Volcanoless in Canada’s sound strives to combine precise rhythms and intricate melodies with the appeal and high-paced energy of rock music. Their sonic principle lies in the coordinated triple-guitar-assault, where three acoustics play complementary and interweaving melody lines within the rhythmical domain set by drums and bass. This original concept allows Volcanoless’ music to flow across a vast musical spectrum, embracing elements of rock, pop, folk, country, punk and dance.

Bands that DIRECTLY influenced Volcanoless (we based the band off of): Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, Q and Not U, Arctic Monkeys Mainstream bands that I see ourselves associated with: Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferndinand, The Killers, All American Rejects, Sum41

Mitch started the band and has held and directed it's vision, (with help/influence from the others) for most of our entirety as a band. The first album was largely written by Mitch, experiementing with computers and recording software for the first time, making three different guitar lines for each song. He taught the lines, "the style" to Joel and Levi, who then collaborated their existing styles/talents with me. While he is not the most outspoken person of the band (Joel, Levi) and not nearly the most popular with our fanbase (Enver, Levi), he is usually the say behind our actions, where we are going, who we are speaking to, and what we are doing with ourselves, image/artistically, etc.

Our LARGEST strength is our stretch across multiple genres... we're a rock band, a folk band, a pop band, a punk band, a country band, a disco band... all whenever you want us to be. Our demographic is large, our music enjoyed by young kids, emotional teeagers, maturing hipsters/college kids, adults and seniors. We do just as well in the crowded noisey pubs and bars, as we do on college circuits, as we do on folk festival bills. There are no pretentions at a Volcanoless show. Our music is for everyone. Another strength is the POSITIVE energy and vibes our music puts forth to an audience, and how infectious that is to people in general. The audience can SEE that we are enjoying ourselves and loving playing music, so they enjoy themselves too. A final strength would be the down-to-earth nature that we hold as individuals. As you said before, you can tell that we are REAL people, showing real emotions and saying real things. I was told by a VERY important friend in the industry that you have to be REAL and HONEST to your fans and to your music, and good things will happen. I would say that is our BIGGEST musical philosophy as a band, and always has been.