P.E.I. bands show they have plenty to offer
During last year’s East Coast Music Awards in Moncton, I was making my way through the Hotel Beausejour, en route to what I hoped would be some food and some much-needed downtime, when I came upon a crowd of people crammed into a relatively small space.
That usually means stop what you’re doing, something’s happening here that you need to check out.
The focus of everybody’s attention that April afternoon was an acoustic set by The Meds.
I’d never heard them do an acoustic set before.
I was impressed, as were many others crowded into that small area.
I continue to be encouraged by what this four-piece Charlottetown band puts out there, in particular, the six-song EP they released late last year.
The self-titled EP, which came to fruition under the watchful eye of friend, mentor and producer Matt Mays, with whom they also toured the country, is a really solid piece of work.
The songs chosen for this set are well thought-out, well-crafted, well-produced and handily delivered by a band that’s come a long way since guitarist/lead vocalist Kyle Drake and drummer Danny Miles first put their heads together in 2006.
Drake, Miles and bandmates Pat MacDonald (lead guitar) and Iain McCarvill (bass) have diverse musical influences, and that diversity is evident in the mix of things that found their way to this EP.
It’s fresh, its original, it’s lyrically and musically interesting and in some instances downright addictive. I played Run for Your Life over and over when I first got this set because I liked what they were doing vocally so much. It was the same thing with Fall.
I got hooked on Master Planet because it had that jangly guitar sound I so liked the early Byrds for and the harmonics of Prefab Sprout.
Renegades has some real grit to it and some very nice guitar work from MacDonald.
There’s much to like on this set, much to make you wonder what they might have to offer next time out.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Sometimes the title of the record says it all.
Such is the case for Good Thing, the debut album for Bad Habits, one of the truly bright lights on P.E.I.’s small but robust blues scene.
Recorded and mixed by Jon Matthews during the spring and summer of last year, this set does a good job of packaging the gutsy, upside-the-head feel of one of the band’s live shows.
Good Thing also does a good job of showcasing the depth of the talent within this band, from the power and range of lead vocalist Amanda Jackson and the strength of its rhythm section in drummer Liam Kearney and bass player Matt Wilson to the versatility of guitar players Dale McKie and Jason Condon.
Bad Habits took what I consider to be a bold step for a young blues band in making this record. They opted to come out of the gate with a full album of original material instead of sandwiching a few well-chosen originals in between covers of time-tested standards from the blues canon.
But if you’ve got enough good, solid original blues material to fill a record — and they do — why wouldn’t you put it all out there.
I like the mix of things here, which ranges from gospel-influenced, acoustic country blues and what we’ve come to regard as more mainstream electric blues to flat-out barn burners.
It’s a pretty good representation of what you get at one of their live shows.
There’s some great guitar work here, and Jackson is the real deal, a cross between Marcia Ball and Cold Blood’s Lydia Pense.
Choice offerings include Measure My Love, Frost On My Fences, Six Good Reasons, Sacrifice and Wait.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-6000, ext. 6057.