Rah Rah

Rah Rah

Autumn 2012* sees the release of The Poet's Dead, the third and most accomplished album to date by Regina, SK sextet Rah Rah. Building on the strong foundation of their last release, the critically acclaimed and iTunes Canada championed Breaking Hearts, this new ten song effort effectively captures a band at the peak of their abilities doing what they do best.

The Poet's Dead, recorded in late 2011 under the production guidance of indie-rock recording geniuses Gus Van Go and Werner F (The Stills, Hollerado, Priestess), clearly displays that Rah Rah has truly fine-tuned the essence of the band and refined the maturity of their sound.

"Recording with Gus and Werner was one of the most rewarding challenges I've ever been a part of," says band member Erin Passmore. "They understood how and when exactly to push us and I'm so proud of what we've been able to create with their help and guidance."

Lyrically, The Poet's Dead showcases some of their finest, most direct songwriting yet and is their strongest collective step forward. From the self-reflections of "20s", "Prairie Girl" and the album's title track to the wistful hope of "First Kiss" and the twisted anything-for-love paean "I'm A Killer", the songs discuss maturity, growing up and life in a rock and roll band from a group that have spent much of the past few years doing exactly that. These are songs handcrafted to make you think, to create dreams and to break your heart.

Rah Rah formed as a trio in 2007, originally created by Erin Passmore (vocals, drums, keys, guitar) and Marshall Burns (vocals, guitar). By 2008 they had been joined by Kristina Hedlund (violin, keys, accordion, vocals) and Erin's brother Joel Passmore (formerly of Despistado and Sylvie) on bass. Later that year another former Despistado member Leif Thorseth (guitar) also joined the band. The band is rounded out by its newest member, Jeff Romanyk (drums, keys, guitar).

The members of Rah Rah share a collective mentality, taking turns taking the lead, both in songwriting and while on stage. The melodic male/female vocals and shared instrumentation traded off seamlessly (Erin Passmore and Jeff Romanyk both play drums, keyboards and guitar, while Kristina Hedlund plays violin, keyboards and accordion), plus a true level of fun throughout ensures that a Rah Rah show will not disappoint.

"The members did a lot of instrument switching and almost everyone in the band sang lead on at least one song," writes Andrew Sacher of Brooklyn Vegan in a recent live review. "And just in case their catchy songs weren't enough, their stage antics are sure to be remembered, which included throwing "R" "A" & "H" balloon letters into the audience, shooting out confetti, and breaking open a piñata at the end of their last song."

Rah Rah was crowned "Best New Canadian Band" and "Best New Alternative Band" by iTunes Canada in 2009. The band's songs have also been featured as iTunes Single of the Week and Starbucks Pick of the Week in Canada. The band has toured incessantly behind their previous two albums, sharing tours with the likes of Minus The Bear in Canada and USA, Wintersleep in Europe and Canada, and label-mates Said The Whale. Expect the band to continue touring heavily in support of The Poet's Dead.

*The Poet's Dead will be released digitally on October 2nd and physically on October 22nd through Hidden Pony Records

Poor Young Things

Poor Young Things need no sympathy. The rock 'n' roll band, made up of five resourceful focused musicians, gave up a contented life in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and headed for Toronto without knowing a soul. Within a year, the band had recorded with their dream producer Jon Drew (Arkells) and signed a deal with Bumstead Records. Poor them, indeed.

Their debut EP, Let It Sleep, a precursor to a full-length album to be released later in 2012, is an emotive working-class rock release with songs primarily about the culture shock of a big city and surviving there.

"Blame It On The Good Times" was written about Toronto's Dakota Tavern hideaway, hanging out until last call, soaking up the inspired music. "We can stay here with the rounders and listen to the Lo-Fi," lead singer-guitarist Matt Fratpietro sings. "It's about going out on the town and having fun and getting swept away in all the downtown ruckus," he explains.

"Let It Sleep" is about the things you have to do to subsist in a big city when you're trying not to get spat out. "We're one step ahead of dying/ We fight the war on the weekend," is one of the lyrics. "…maybe one day you get where you want to be." "None of us have jobs. You have to scrape by as much as you can. You have to eat noodles only," Matt laughs. "But it's good; it shapes your personality."

It also shapes the music Poor Young Things create, a kind of raw mix of Tom Petty meets Powderfinger.

"This music has totally been affected by Toronto and a lot of the indie bands down here," says Matt. "You can go to the Dakota and check out a deadly roots band and then go to the Horseshoe and check out an awesome rock 'n' roll band."

When Matt, guitarists Michael Kondakow and Dave Grant, bassist Scottt Burke and drummer Konrad Commisso first formed a band after high school, the early incarnation had strains of roots and country. They adopted a rawer, rougher, rock 'n' roll sound once they relocated to the rawer rougher Toronto, at the behest of The Trews keyboardist Jeff Heisholt (also of Thunder Bay).

"We were going to move to Vancouver, but Jeff said, 'Move here. It's the epicenter of the whole music industry. I'll help you get a demo together,'" says Matt. "We found a place and packed up and we all live together in a big house in North York."

In May of 2011, the five cut a demo in Hamilton, ON, which got the attention of The Trews management and label. They began working together on a handshake when a fortuitous encounter led Poor Young Things to their fave producer.

"We had a chance meeting with his business partner," Matt recounts. "He said, 'I have a studio behind the Horseshoe, why don't you come and check it out.' And brought us there and Jon Drew was sitting in the room. We were like, 'Holy shit.'"

Poor Young Things will continue to work on their debut album, while playing live and happily living on noodles.

"Our goal is to be able to make a living doing this — doing music, touring, seeing the country and seeing other countries," says Matt. "We don't want to make millions of dollars. It would be nice, but it would also be nice to do what you're passionate about for a living and be comfortable doing that."

The Lucky Strikes

In the pantheon of Chicago rockabilly notables, Al Simon has blazed a trail and left a legacy matched by few. Beginning with the seminal roots rock outfit, The Rebel Rousers, followed by the art-rockabilly of The Git Gone Boys, Devil Dogs and continuing today with the iconoclastic The Lucky Strikes, Al continues to thrill patrons of dive bars across the Midwest.

Al Simon, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. Son of local T.V. legend, "Smilin" Sam Simon, who hosted the popular local dance show, "Cotton Pickin' Hootenanny", Al had the opportunity to meet many of the famous rockers of the mid-fifties. Recalling those years back, Al says "those guys were real nice and always eager to show me a lick or two....except for Gene Vincent. he was kinda creepy and was always hittin' on my ma"!

Paul DiMatteo, lead guitarist and founding member of the Rebel Rousers, is truly a Chicago icon. Born of the mean streets of Northwest Chicago, his teenage years were spent as an apprentice musical assistant to the seminal 50's-60's Chicago greasa rock band, the Gargoyles. Paul's parents, concerned about his health and safety, sent him to live with his aunt in Memphis. It was there under the tutelage of several aged and retired former Sun Studio session guitarists that he honed his legendary rockin' style.

Wayne Harrison, aka "Clubfoot" Alfie, having been left on a door stoop as an infant and taken in by the most notorious Teddy Boy in East London, soon grew to be one of the most feared, pompadoured gangsters afoot. It was while recovering from a series of razor wounds collected at his latest rumble, that he discovered the healing elixir of rockabilly music. After wearing out his dad's Johnny Cash vinyl, he soon nicked his neighbor's tea chest and broom handle, strung it up and hasn't stopped slappin' since. A mad dash across the pond left him drying off in Chicago and in search of adventure in Yankeedom. After running into Al and Paul, they were finally able to discover ,through his booze riddled accent ,that he expressed a desire to play rockabilly. His wish was granted.

"Jumpin" Jeff McDermott, drums and backup vocals is the second half of the Rebel Rousers rhythm section. A classically trained percussionist with the Peoria symphony, Jeff came to rockabilly in an unusual manner. It was after a night of bad liquor and a woman of questionable repute, he wandered into the Death Delay Club, in the red light district of Peoria. There, he witnessed Danny Devil and the Delinquents, the primal rockabilly act of Southern Illinois. The spirit came within and he was never quite the same. Soon after, he hooked up as drummer for Hi Fi and the Roadburners, then ultimately with the Rebel Rousers. God bless his soul!



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