City and the Sea
Venture is available from:
15 July 2014
City and The Sea
RECORDED AND MIXED AT:
Westmoreland Studio, Hamilton
Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering
Red Coast Records
Inspired by the likes of Jimmy Eat World and Foo Fighters; City and the Sea are one of Canada’s most intriguing acts. Having been recording for a number of years, they present one of their most impressive and emphatic songs: Venture is a fresh and fists-in-the-air swagger- determined to rouse frenzy and impassioned support
AS I subjected my blog to a bit of a revamp and overhaul…
it got my thinking about a number of different things. The first consideration- that bubbled about my brain- was musical reinvention and discovery. When you look out at the new musicians muscling forth, there is a lot of ambition coming out: acts are determined to inject life and renewal into various genres of music. Electro.-Pop acts are revitalising and redefining rather staid and placid sounds; Grunge artists are infusing their music with something compelling, complex and cross-pollinated; Soul stars are stirring in bits of Blues and Jazz-Rock- it seems that the new generation are determined to make their mark. It is impressive that this is being done: so many musicians come across as unadventurous and boring; it is nice to hear artists that take the trouble to do something unique and unexpected. Genres such as Pop and Soul are- in my view at least- a little easier to transform and diversify: the likes of Rock, Alternative and Indie are much harder (to do anything with). Over the last week- and the week coming- my attentions are going to be focused upon Indie and Hard-Rock avenues: assessing bands that prefer their output to err towards the heavier side of things- fitting into a marketplace that is crowded and competitive. A lot of music-lovers and commentators are keen to overstate the situation of current music: a great deal are claiming that innovation and ambition is seeping out by the month; the new crop coming through are not putting their heart, brain and soul into music- some acts definitely are culpable of this. What I find is that the sense of wonder and experimentation is high and fervent- the sapling artists are as original and unique as anything I have heard. Of course, you do get a lot of samey and stolid acts; for the most part, new musicians are taking the time to do things right- provide the listener with an experience that is compelling, colourful and distinct. My featured act is an Alternative/Hard-Rock act; yet dare to be that much more bold and different: if you have any predetermined- and prerequisite- thoughts, then feel free to abandon them- the guys are not your workaday and average band. Possessed of a cool, quirky and unique personality; the group provide melody and nuance; peace and light- among a tantalising whirlpool of sonic innovation and force. One of my biggest gripes- when it comes to music in general- is the homogenisation of sounds: so few mainstream acts really resonate and stick in the imagination. I am not sure whether it is because of the mass numbers; the sheer pressure that is put (onto musicians)- or something else- but some form of revolution needs to be undertaken- the hungry clan of unsigned and new acts are waiting to pounce and spring. I would expect to see something happen into 2015: the best and most stirring newbies are likely to gain some form of foothold; start to make their way into critical minds- begin the shift into the mainstream. Before I continue on this point- and raise another one- I shall introduce my featured act:
Nick Cino– Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jon Daly– Lead Guitar
Dave Marini– Bass
Joe Piccolo– Drums
“City and The Sea are well aware that their name spells out the acronym CATS, and they’re cool with that. Cats are nimble and instinctive creatures who are ready to pounce on their next prey. City and The Sea is a melodic rock band from Hamilton, Ontario. None of them currently own any cats. Some say the band was abducted by aliens many years ago, shown the ways of interstellar space travel and given the gift of great songwriting. Others say they unearthed an ancient tomb where they discovered the magic of rock ‘n’ roll. The more believable story is that the members of the band have spent countless hours writing great melodies mixed with hard rock guitars and have played show after show singing them to audiences. Their sound has been compared to the Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, and Smashing Pumpkins. Hell bent on bringing real rock ‘n’ roll back from the brink, City and The Sea is a force of nature. Lead singer Nick Cino is equal parts Dave Grohl and Chris Robinson, projecting a melodic and strong vocal style usually hidden behind a mane of hair. Jon Daly is the boy wonder on lead guitar – honoring the indie styling of St. Vincent mixed with the riffs of Led Zeppelin, never going on stage without a pair of Chuck Taylors on. Dave Marini is the magic man on bass, born a Leo, and founder of the International Bass Academy of Awesomeness. And behind the skins is the man with the mohawk, Joe Piccolo, the hardest hitting drummer in the Hammer, channeling the ability and dynamics of John Bonham. “Venture/Trouble” – the new double A-Side from City and The Sea is more of a mission statement than a pair of songs. “Venture” is the stadium-ready rocker, kicking off with a distorted riff before breaking into a chorus even Noel Gallagher wished he’d written. “Trouble” is the pop song, the ass-shaker, already becoming a live favourite. Both songs showcase the band’s ability to write incredibly catchy tunes with heart and a quick punch to the gut. The guitars are loud but the harmonies are sweet. The new single comes off the success of the ACTION FIGURES EP, released in 2013. The EP spawned two singles “Strange Feeling” and “Living It Up”. City and The Sea hit the scene in 2010 with “Leave A Light On”. That EP’s first single “Fool’s Union” received airplay on MuchMusic and MuchLoud. The last few years have been a whirlwind of activity: tours of Europe and Canada, showcases in New York City, opening slots for Wide Mouth Mason, Die Mannequin, The Reason and Rusty; a featured slot at Supercrawl 2013, sharing the bill with the likes of Passion Pit, Joel Plaskett Emergency and Fucked Up. Airplay on college and commercial FM stations across Canada (Rock 95 – Barrie/Y108 – Hamilton/FM96 – London/K-Rock – Kingston/The Wolf – Regina/The Bridge – Nelson/Mountain FM – Whistler). Kids are catching on to their fun and high energy stage show, these guys don’t fool around in the rock ‘n’ roll department. CITY AND THE SEA are ready to believe you!”
Aside from a lack of mobility, one thing that annoys me about music- sounding like an old man here!- is the cessation and dissipation of personality and identity. So many artists- predominantly in the mainstream- do not come across as personable or inspirational. Contented to stick their heads down and do the bare-minimum, the masses are determined to avoid the lure of capturing hearts- preferring their music to do all of the talking. I understand music is not a beauty pageant; yet connecting with a musician on a personal plain is as important as connecting with their music- the artists that understand this are proving to be most popular. My favourite new musicians are those that have big hearts and keen smiles: they take the trouble to chat with you and open up; reveal a little something about what makes them tick- illuminate their inner-most thoughts and secrets. Without giving too much away, you can gain a lot to fans- provide something deep and desired; you do not need to strip yourself naked and pour blood everywhere. A lot of mainstream acts are plastic and faceless: committed to secrecy and scant revelation, they are one-dimensional and flat- struggling to truly inspire wannabe musicians and fans. City and the Sea are one of Canada’s most charming and interesting new acts- defined by their fun and alive stage shows, their music is a comparable feast of festival, scintillation and effusiveness. Not content to sit on the sidelines, the band embrace the listener- bring them into the music and try to get them fully on board. Not compromising their ideals and direction, the clan is equally eye-catching and unexpected- they are an act that we need to see more of. I wonder how they will fare into the next year: whether the Canadians can transverse the oceans and find their way to the U.K.- they have toured Europe before and built up a solid reputation. City and the Sea’s music differs greatly from what we have- over in Britain- and is sure to resonate and fascinate fans here- let’s hope social media and music websites understand this; proffer the band’s multicoloured and gleaming luster. Having had a busy and adventurous career, the quartet are making their new moves- Venture is a fresh and stunning cut that could well make its way onto a future E.P. (or album). I have not questioned the band- with regards to future releases- but it seems that we’ll be seeing something sooner rather than later- a fresh chapter from a vibrant and ubiquitous band. My attentions and heart are going to be residing in Canada for the next week- it seems I am quite popular here- and assessing various acts across the nation. For now, Steeltown’s brave and bold four-piece are putting Hamilton- and Canada- on the map; inspiring minds and offering ubiquitous and universal sounds- music that cannot fail to seduce the most cynical of listeners.
Looking at Venture, you can see a clear development from the band. The group’s first E.P. arrived in 2008. Entitled Long Time Comin’ the record was a stunning and memorable debut. A Little Bit of Soul has organs and Soul-inspired dance- it implores you to move your feet and jam along. Questioning whether he is right or wrong, our frontman is questioning himself- it mixes deep and introspective themes with full and lush music. Some Revolution has parts of Dylan’s 1965 output: joining Highway 61 Revisited and its electronic swirls, it is a Blues-Rock riot. Blonde on Blonde’s gorgeous and deep compositional elements come into play. The track boasts gorgeous and romantic vocals; against a track that sees revolution coming, our man is down in New Orleans- the song is deep with stunning imagery and exciting story. I Tried So Hard has gentle and romantic sides; our hero does not want to be separated from his love- sweeping and grand emotions seep through. The band’s embryonic cut is a packed and multifarious collection: covering so much ground, it also cements a unique and individual sound- one that differs from the regurgitated and obvious sounds of the mainstream. Two years later, the band unveiled Leave A Light On– another E.P. that contained more than its fair share of gems. Fool’s Union begins with a fade-in: Country-esque tones mutate into crunching and harder riffs- chanting and bolstered vocals give the song an instant rush. Buzzing and chainsaw guitars are foot-stomping and anthemic. Our hero is feeling like a fool; being taken advantage of- there is an angry and determined drive in the vocal. The title track is spacey and trippy- in the opening few seconds- before enclosing itself. Introverted and calmed, subjects look at loneliness and detachment. Some people- according to the hero- are half-alive; some not so- the images and avenues are vivid and scenic. Gimme Back My Soul sees City and the Sea usher up a sing-along and rousing coda: a song destined for open highways and sun-touched cities. Embers of the like of Black Crowes and Foo Fighters mix to inspire one of the band’s most direct and uplifting songs. The two years saw the band develop and expand their sound. They retain their softer and more melodic centre; expanding it, harder and more vibrant jams are unfurled- they develop their Hard-Rock side and seem more fully-rounded and complete. Sounding tighter, more confident and urgent, the band stepped up a gear; instilled more lust and passion into their music- drawing in new fans and listeners. Strange Feeling was their 2012 single- it later appeared on their Action Figures E.P. The song builds and teases before unveiling a raptured and Indie-esque sound. Parts of Oasis’ 1994/5 period comes to light; that stature, determination and anthemic pride is showcased- it moves your feet and inspires you to pump your fists. Looking at bloody scenes and the issues of being controlled, there is paranoia and nervy utterances- one of the band’s most invigorating and complete songs, it is a startling cut. The aforementioned E.P. arrived a year later. Footprints is teasing and contorting- a hard and determined beast. Living It Up has Foo Fighter moments- their softer side- that draws in the band’s early work. Our hero’s eyes are faded; not belonging and feeling alone, he is rallying against the world. Showing sensitivity and recrimination, the song is a rousing and emotional number- one that perfectly marries soft and tender with bolstered and inflamed. How Do You Do? sees Radiohead-esque guitar strings introduce some stillness and ethereal longing. Demonstrating their affection for Black Crowes, a deep and resonant song is unfolded. Looking back at relationships and love; the hardness and proclivity of a bond- our hero is in full voice. The composition stutters and is juggernaut; sweet vocal harmonies add some beauty and touching heart. One of the most diverse and full songs, the band once more layer their ambitions and focus. Having stepped on from their 2008 output, City and the Sea showcase renewed inspiration- solidifying that perfect blend of quiet and loud dynamics. The E.P. brought in new supporters; built the band’s reputation for surprising and invigorating musicianship and mood- their lyrics are more varied and tight. The performances are equally tight and in-tune: the band solidify and galvanise their majesty; everything became more astonishing and fresh. Venture builds once more: showing the flair and energy of Strange Feeling and How Do You Do? the track is the heaviest and more primal band offering- softer and elliptical stages are in the mix too. The strength and passion shown- in Venture– could parlay into a fully-fledged album or E.P.- such is the momentum and quality of the song, it is sure to snowball. Having been recording for over six years, City and the Sea have improved and strengthened their sound- each new release shows something new and unexpected. It will be fascinating to see where they go from here: whether they retain this core sound or go in another direction. Such is the mobility and sense of adventure, the band are restless and unstoppable- they have plenty in their arsenal to achieve great results. In all of their work comes a mixture of U.S. Driving-Rock, Alternative maturity and youthful Hard-Rock and Indie- few acts offer this myriad of different contours and blends.
If you are looking around for other acts- that could have inspired City and the Sea, then I can offer a few names. One of the most distinct bands- I can compare with our quartet- is Jimmy Eat World. The legendary Arizona band have been impressing critics since their debut (the 1994 self-titled cut). If I were to draw parallels to one particular album, it would be Bleed American. Perhaps their peak achievement; it sees driving guitar work and catchy melodies seduce the senses. The L.P. saw spacey Emo work alongside straight-to-the-point Punk and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Able to seamlessly and naturally blend- such disparate genres- the resultant album is a stunning work of fluidity and precision. Showing a love of impassioned and gorgeous backing vocals; it is tied with urgent and vintage guitar sounds. Toying and playing with lyrical themes- borrowing from other songs into the process- the U.S. monsters created a work that inspired a legion of new rockers. City and the Sea mix understated and majestic beauty with primal and gravelled swagger- you could see Venture easily nestling near the top of Bleed American. Jimmy Eat World showed new colours during Futures– the follow-up to Bleed American. On this album, the diamond-like and layered guitars were buttressed with sweet vocal harmonies and pummeling drums. The album infused atmospheric and symphonic mixtures with intense and heart-warming vocals. Jim Adkins’ unique and emotive performances made the album such a stand-out work- Nick Cino has a comparatively deep and compelling set of pipes. Jimmy Eat World’s most recent offerings see a lyrical and mature approach: they present gut-punch break-up songs around lush and full-bodied compositions- the band hark to their pasts and pull some treasure out of the trove. City and the Sea instill that inimitable fusion of maturity reflection and youthful rambunctiousness- the tantalising rushes and sensitive diary entries work wonderfully together. So few modern bands are influenced by Jimmy Eat World: they remain one of the most underrated and inspiring bands working today. Another name I can give you is Foo Fighters. I mentioned this act- when reviewing Monkey Punch Radio (a U.K.-based Indie band) and stated how they managed to evolve Grohl’s stomping stadium rockers- into their own stunning songs. City and the Sea have a shared love of the U.S. warriors. In addition to being able to pen some nuanced and addictive swaggers, they go deeper down- able to offer the listener so much more. If I were to compare the band’s past work- and Venture– with a Foo Fighters album; it would probably be There is Nothing Left To Lose. This album marked a departure for the band- on a side note: the legends also formed in 1994- who before had favoured pace and energy over melody. Grohl’s voice is more developed and professional- he comes across as a bona fide singer rather than a screaming Grunge persuader. The sense of unity, focus and togetherness defined the album- Foo Fighters turned out their most complete and hard-rocking disc to date. The sense of fun mandates a lot of numbers; the band sound like they are having fun at every moment- there is no sense of fatigue or disinterest. Songs like Breakout parabond melody and epic definitions- it is a song that sticks in your head forever. Modern-day Foo’ (or 2011 anyway) sees positively-charged and back-to-basics tracks getting the messages across- that vitality and urgency is hard to shake off. Redefining their gift for soaring choruses, Foo Fighters made sure each song- on Wasting Light– hits the listener- you repeat songs over and over. City and the Sea include plenty of winning (and vote-seeking) chorus work: their ability to rouse the soul surely finds some D.N.A. in Foo Fighters’ impressive body of work. The songs on Wasting Light are written to give each band member breathing room- they are not a showcase for Grohl’s wracked vocal. City and the Sea have a similarly considerate and thoughtful creative process: their music allows the band to flourish as a unit- rather than revolve around vocal and guitars. If you are looking for British influence, then you can hear embers of Oasis– certainly in City and the Sea’s most up-to-date output. The father figures of many current Indie bands, I was impressed to see some of the Mancunian legends make their way to Canada. Understandably a huge and influential band, I did not foresee shades of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? find its way into the quartet’s work. That album –(What’s)’– was released in 1995- City and the Sea have a fond affection for mid-’90s music; the finest period in music history. There are no laddish histrionics within City and Sea’s ranks; they have plenty of tension and fight- it is witnessed in the pages of their music, rather than the seedy underbelly of the tabloid press. Oasis’ early-career masterpiece have populist and universal appeal- the simplicity of tracks like Roll with It and Some Might Say are designed to be chanted by eager festival crowds. When Noel Gallagher put his heart on his sleeve- Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger– he managed to rustle up a riot of passion and emotion; keep the riffs and compositions huge and delirious- ensure that the listener sang along rather than wept into their coffees. Liam Gallagher’s textured and developed vocals made the songs come to life; Noel Gallagher’s borderline-plagiaristic riffs created familiarity- the ensuing seduction overwhelmed critics. City and the Sea possess far more originality- in addition to a huge vocal clout- ensuring their work is very much their own. The final influential source I will mention is The Black Crowes. Two relevant albums- from The Black Crowes- I can draw to City and the Sea is By Your Side and Amorica. The latter is their 1994 high-point- that year keeps coming home to roost- and was critically-lauded. The Black Crowes offered their most impressive set of songs- to this point- seeing Blues-Rock jams sprawl and captivate; investigating the glory days of Rock they transform bygone masters around their own ideals- keeping the songs original and fresh. Able to join the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones- around offbeat and multicultural beats- The Black Crowes unleashed an album of startling ambition. By Your Side– released in 1999- witnessed the band having good dirty fun: they draw in all of their influences and ensure that the L.P. is stuffed full of focused and nuanced nuggets. The basic and uncluttered songs have concision and precision- you can tell that the band rehearsed the songs a lot to make sure they sounded authoritative and genuine. The plaintive and emotive vocals lift the songs to new heights: the entire band are as in tune and compelling as their early days. City and the Sea draw a line through these two albums- adding their own personality into proceedings. Able to elicit the same sort of straightforward and uncomplicated rockers on By Your Side; they also have a knack for making sure the vocal performances are direct and captivating- at one moment aching and tender; the next emotive and emphatic. City and the Sea have moments of experimentation and freewheelin’ ambition- some of their songs take in Blues-Rock sprawls and Progressive-Rock parables. Actually, before I go, I will mention one more band: Radiohead. When the quartet offer some soft and spectral guitar strings, I was put in mind of The Bends-era Radiohead. Again- having been formed in the mid-’90s- the seminal album clearly affected the Canadians- some of their early work has a very Bends-esque quality to them. When Cino’s voice soars to falsetto delicacy, I detect signs of Thom Yorke: that same choir-like innocence is beautiful to behold. When The Bends rocked-out- the title track, My Iron Lung and Just are the best examples- you can see some influence within City and the Sea’s work. Capable of summoning up an inimitable distillation of chest-beating lad culture with angst-ridden desperation, the Canadians neatly parlay it into their work. Although City and the Sea are hugely influenced by ’90s bands- the 1994/5 period seems particularly relevant- they have a lot of modern-day urgency and extrapolations. Use my comparisons as a starting-point: what you get from the Hamilton band is something distinct and special. If you have an affection for ‘Britpop’-era legends; ’90s U.S. Rock stalwarts (and of-the-moment Hard-Rock brilliance), City and the Sea are a great band to behold- they expertly mingle these variable elements around a striking and incomparable freshness and uniqueness.
Venture wastes no time in making its presence felt. A swirling and determined riff gives the track an instant kick. Mixing the likes of Foo Fighters, Muse and Queens of the Stone Age- into a boiling pot of electric intrigue- you are hooked. Swinging, swaggering and shouting, the intro. sets a very vivid scene. Before long; percussion joins in the fight: pattering and pulverizing, it builds the tension and sense of atmosphere- leading to a mazy and tripping coda. With guitar snaking and yelping, the percussion becomes bolder and fuller- the loucheness and unbridled dance gives the initial seconds a dizzying charm. The band lay in as much sonic curiosity as they can- in these moments- ensuring that they crank the volume all the way up- you wonder just what can follow the delirious and intolerant sapling salvo. Our hero steps to the mic. with fervent intent- he is hitting the highway and determined to get away. Pounding down a lonely road, you are gripped by some initial offerings. Speaking to an unnamed figure, our frontman claims that he does not need “your forgiveness.” Whether a relationship has broken down- and one of the parties has caused the cessation; or an argument has broken out between friends- I am not so sure. The determination and urgency in the voice enforces the words and ramified them. Our man claims that he- and his subject- are growing old. Having been burnt by the lies- that have been told- my interest and curiosity augmented- speculating whether he was running from his sweetheart; scenes and images began to circulate my mind like a centrifuge. Soon, it is said, they will find out what they “are living for“- an ultimatum and judgement day is upon them. The composition remains taut and muscular in the initial phase- it has plenty of oomph, yet never overpowers and recklessly wanders. The bass propels the momentum forwards; keeps the strands together and ensures discipline and force. With a catchy and insatiably passionate riff, the electrification of the song promulgates the lyrics- delivered with conviction and sheer direction. Backed by rushing and bolstering waves of percussion, the band are tight and completely in step- unleashing a venomous and lustful performance. As the chorus approaches, our hero states that the “sun keeps rising all over town“: his voice employs a measure of desperation and anxiety; that wracked delivery leads me to believe that he is pining for something- a hole is evident in his life. As the song progresses, the infectiousness and indelibility begins to grow. Living life and carrying on, things are just not the same- as the words are delivered, cooing and atmospheric backing vocals are tempted in. Uniting elements of Foo Fighters’ incredible passion (and fists-in-the-air chorus); Black Crowes’ ability for memorability and lyrical fascination, the story progresses- more and more I am sure that a relationship has ceased existence. Perhaps blame can not be readily ascribed; the circumstances behind the fracture is unknown- whatever has happened, our hero is feeling the emptiness and burden of loneliness. Life and scenes are not as they should be; a gaping valley has been left in his heart- you feel as though all purpose and relevance has been sucked out (of his life). When testifying (as to his) situation; our frontman highlights the futility of his situation- everything he is living for has gone. With that sense of purposefulness now eradicated, the band step up to the mark- the ensuing compositional mandate is rife with tension, passion and renewed urgency. The guitars weave and dizzily trip; frantically portrayed, the listener has their brain whipped into a frenzied mush- supported by an ample percussion clatter and authoritative bass; it is a verse break designed to keep fascination high. Hooked by our hero’s plight, he finds himself travelling down “a lonely road.” In spite of the fact he is riding solo- and probably been in this situation a few times previously- there seems to be an air of resilience and stoutness. Not needing- or willing to wait for- forgiveness; our hero is going to go his own way. Because of the sheer energy and impassioned drive of the vocal, you feel as though our frontman is not too heartbroken- there is pain for sure; the abiding sensation is one of determination and moving on. The song’s title could signal a new adventure: something that needs to be obtained and realised. After the subsidence of relations, you would expect some wallowing and woe-is-me outpouring- Venture seems to promote against-the-odds bravery and rebirth. With every sunrise, we are told what we’re living for; the meaning and true purpose behind each day- dispensation is provided and guidance offered. Throughout the track there are mixed emotions and sentiments- an underlying ambiguity and obliqueness that keeps the song fresh and tantalising. Not giving too much information away, the listener is left to speculate the back-story- what has happened and started the course of events. My interpretation still revolves around a huge argument: lovers split by an eventful fall-out; both going different directions. Our hero is re-appropriating his life; balancing things up and trying to find the meaning behind it all. The mixture of angst-laden and overwrought pain blends with strengthened and natural focus. Having surveyed the scenes and assessed the situation, our man is “home alone“- trying to make sense of what has happened and how life has evolved. Supported by his band members, a whirlpool of hypnotising sonics are elicited- towards the final stages, the fury and determination grows ever more. With the guitar particularly prevalent, a spiraling and frantic outro. takes form- it has all the clout and conviction of the hardest-hitting songs. With thoughts still conspiring; a lingering curiosity failing to relent, the song comes to its end- Venture has concluded its insatiable attack.
Before I focus upon the band members- and pass out praise- it is worth giving impressions about Venture. Everything feels tight, controlled and focused throughout. Clocking it at just over three-and-a-half minutes, it never outstays its welcome or is needlessly bloated- everything is said and wrapped-up perfectly. The themes of loss, dislocation and uncertainty are not new subjects- the band are never going to break new lyrical ground. The way their version of events is presented gives Venture a sense of originality and distinction. Words mix byzantine and oblique; direct and to-the-point; simple and effective- the story moves forward and you are caught up in the drama and speculation (that is provided). Showing a sense of uniqueness and personality, the song does not come off as copycat or overly-predictable. In spite of the striking flair of the track, the band manage to incorporate small elements of other bands. I can hear some of Foo Fighters’ anthemic and stadium-sized fist-pumps (within Venture). The way the U.S. giants are able to get fans bouncing and chanting can be detected here- you would imagine Grohl using Venture as one of Foo Fighters’ opening tracks (on a new album). That is not to say the song is a too close for comfort- far from it in fact! The opaqueness of the sounds puts it directly in City and the Sea’s camp- the band skillfully incorporate embers of other acts; wrapping it around their assured and unique voice. Drawing in the mesmeric moments of Muse, Jimmy Eat World and Oasis; the band has managed to create a layered and fascinating number. It seems designed for the festival scenes and summertime parties: hugely powerful and urgent, it is the sort of song that is meant to get the feet moving- voice fully-charged in unison. City and the Sea will be unveiling another song soon- Venture forms one half of a double A-side. I will be interested to see what they partner their latest cut with- just what direction they will go. Their past work has shown how mobile and diverse they are: capable of taking their music in all kinds of unexpected places, ears will be primed and curious. Their last full-bodied work was released last year; I suspect that the band are going to be eager to put another E.P. out- the conviction and sense of ambition here (will surely compel the boys to put down some more tracks). Venture has hallmarks of their early work- the rush and grit of their hardest numbers- but introduces new themes and avenues; the sense of confident and conviction is at its peak- the overall performance is tighter and stronger than I have ever heard. Having picked apart all of their previous tracks, there is development and progress here- the Canadian quartet sound more determined and purposeful than at any point of their career. There are a lot of Hard-Rock and Indie bands presenting the same sort of themes; drawing in similar influences and idols- projecting songs that tread the same ground. It is inevitable that Venture will have siblings and classmates- the way the band go about their business differentiate themselves from the majority of their peers and contemporaries. Nick Cino has a voice that spares no prisoners: when at its most insistent, it is a potent and powerful thing indeed- full of body and passion, it makes sure that his words are not ignored. Possessing a great and full emotional range, he is capable of mixing tenderness and stillness with full-bodied assault; seamlessly switching mid-verse- in order to keep the songs fresh and unexpected. Most singers mumble and over-project their words; leave the listener a little dazed and overpowered- on Venture, he takes the time to make sure everything is clear and easily understood. Displaying an innate and passionate performance, you are hooked in (due to the power of that voice)- its ability to enforce every word (and make the listener root for him). The track contains its share of ambiguity and openness- the mixture of emotions and feelings give the track intelligence and simplicity. Blending his guitar perfectly into the mix, Cino showcases his flair and passion for the instrument- his contributions inject plenty of magic. Jon Daly mesmerises and intrigues with his guitar work: able to transform it from a recoiling viper into an insatiable hunter, it is an impressive performance. Focus and fluidity come out- Daly never allows his guitar to wander off or aimlessly implore. Summoning up plenty of power and movement, it drives the song forward; throws colour and passion into the track- without needing to wail and scream like a stroppy teenager. Dave Marini is the fatherly figure that keeps Venture taut and lean. His bass has plenty of melody, lyricism and mobility to it- the most impressive thing about it is its range. Changing from snaking and slithering, to forceful and pressing; Marini keeps things fresh and unpredictable. Joe Piccolo’s percussion strength gives Venture a huge amount of potency and swagger. When the lyrics are inflamed and urgent, Piccolo meets the challenge at hand- presenting plenty of support and rampancy. Clattering the one moment; calmed and levelled the next, the drum work is uniformly impressive and assured.
I said in the intro; Canada is going to be with me for a week or so more- the country is turning out stunning acts at an unparalleled rate. Not only is it giving reviewers (like me) the opportunity to be itinerant and inspired; Canada’s mass outpouring is influencing musicians in the U.K.- I have heard of artists here that are taking note of what is happening over there. One of the problems we face here- with regards to new music- is that it is relegated to the pages of social media and music blogs- the mainstream media has limited time and space available. Given the soaring and unregulated rise of new musicians, a lot of great talent are having to fight hard- work tirelessly for years to get the meekest and most meagre forms of appreciation. In lieu of any short-term fix, the most important thing we can do- the listening public- is to expand our minds; proffer the most worthy and distinct musicians; keep them at the peak of our mind- whilst allowing our eyes and ears to wander around the globe. It sounds like a daunting task, yet is brings huge rewards and pleasures- I wonder what I would have missed out on, were it not because of my journalistic contacts. The acts that are deserving of the greatest market share are those that touch the listener in a number of different ways- not just content to put music out and say nothing more. City and the Sea have a clear and defined personality; they are an act that want to embrace and befriend their fans- in addition to mesmerising with their fun and colourful stage shows. It is no surprise they have seduced and enthralled their native country; I just hope that they bring some of their magic across the ocean to us here- I can foresee no outcome where the residences of London are not completely spellbound and hooked-in. Venture is a step away from some of their earlier work; a brave and evolutionary step- that shows just how far the band have come. Retaining their unique and distinct sound, the quartet have augmented and solidified their incredible talents. This bodes well for the future: a forthcoming release is sure to provide similarly confounding gems of sound- keep your peepers trained to the shores of Hamilton. Before I depart, I want to wrap up one final point: reinvention. What I have found- when redesigning my blog and pages- is that you have so much more scope and potential: just the slightest of tweaks can lead to fresh and prosperous avenues; expansion and unmitigated joy- it all begins with that desire and goal. So many musicians display a timidity and cloying lack of testicular fortitude; that part of the brain that wants to be distinct- it is always pleasing when acts come through who rebel against the maelstrom of the mainstream. Sure to see their stock rise and burgeon, the Canadian Hard-Rock/Alternative band are a new name to my thoughts- an act that I will be following closely in the future. Having sought out and listened to their body- of past work- I can see just how diverse and exciting they are- able to develop and mutate their sound without losing their distinct personality. New music will thrive- if bands like City and Sea keep making cosmopolitan waves- and grow; inspire new legions coming through- ensure that you seek out the stunning quartet. There is not a lot more for me to say- you’ll be relieved to know- apart from one thing. Having investigated Venture, it strikes me with its mixture of beauty and epic-ness; the range of sounds and harder moments- that urgency and alertness. If it were a movie, it would be Casablanca: it has that strange and wonderful mingling of layers, nuances and standout moments- a sweeping piece that packs a serious punch. Allowing myself to drift into third-person narrative; quote a famous line- that was never uttered in Casablanca itself- and speak investigate a familiar Venture; I am saying only one thing:
PLAY it again, Sam.
About the Author:
Follow City and the Sea:
City and the Sea’s gig dates available via:
City and the Sea music can be heard here:
City and the Sea’s videos are accessible at: