Mark Haines & Tom Leighton
Mark Haines is best known for his work with his band "The Zippers" a fine group out of Toronto who've been attracting crowds to local venues for the last two decades from the legendary Fryfogles to the current Rockwater Brewing Co. (in The Galleria London across from Dr. Disc).
The group released three albums on Holger Peterson's Stoney Plain label which received critical acclaim for their great eclecticism but failed to have great commercial success. Their last three releases have been on their own independent label. The 1992 live album was recorded at Jake's boathouse in Brampton (rumoured to be the inspiration for Rockwater and featured cover tunes mixed with originals from his vast repertoire. That was followed by a cassette-only release, Repeat the Beat, featuring Tom & Mark on accordion and fiddle playing from the repertoire they've been playing at Folk Festivals across the country.
The latest release "Optimist's Jig" continues in their great eclectic tradition, mixing fiddle tunes (traditional & original), original tunes (the vibrant "A Lot Like Me" to the melancholy of "I'm On My Way") and great covers ranging from Doug McArthur's "Boots and Saddles" to "Ring of Fire," the Johnny Cash classic featuring vocals by Georgette Fry. All in all, it's a great taste of two great performers.
In an interview several years ago, Junkhouse frontman Tom Wilson said the band had to create an art scene in Hamilton because there wasn't a musical pocket from which they could evolve. With the release of its third studio album Fuzz, this musical evolution is continuing in the right direction.
While this album probably won't get the radio play it deserves, it is another well-crafted recording by these hardworking steel-town boys. Junkhouse released its debut, Strays, in 1993 and since, have been working to establish a following. Strays boasted a Memphis blues-rock feel. Following the mediocre Birthday Boy (1995), Fuzz launches the band in a new direction.
Gone is Wilson's brother on bass. Joining the band is ex-Crash Vegas member Colin Cripps. Cripps plays guitar and keyboard on Fuzz. He also co-wrote most of the songs with Wilson. His contributions are evident as the songs boast a fuller, more in-your-face pop-rock sound.
As always, the strength of a Junkhouse album is Wilson's lyrical poetry and this new offering is no exception. He speaks of his steeletown roots on "Jet Trash." On the title track, Wilson's trademark growl comes to the forefront when he speaks of his despair, "Fuzz is bringing me down/Fuzz is in my eyes/Fuzz is eating my day/Fuzz that won't go away."
Wilson's confusion permeates the entire album. It seems Junkhouse, like Wilson, are at a crossroads. Fuzz could be the album that continues to expand its place on the musical map or it could leave it with empty pockets.
Calling All Stations
It is almost absolutely unfathomable why Genesis' Calling All Stations was even made. It is the worst type of calculated, synthesized big-drum glop, while it is technically pristine yet utterly old-fashioned. Commercially it's a dubious venture this is the first Genesis album without Phil Collins since bell-bottoms went out of style. The new guy tries so hard to not sound like Phil Collins that it's distracting. Despite his threadbare attempts to disguise this fact, he resembles him in everything except name.
This is pro-forma 'rock' music made for people who haven't bought a new album since the last Genesis opus. This is for people who think everything after Styx was crap. This album is for people who think Michael Jackson is still hip. Alright, so that's a tad harsh. Fine, let's rephrase that this album is for people who haven't taken a chance since they bought that Seal album back in '94. Next to the revamped Genesis, the Spice Girls are important artists.
The most reprehensible thing about Calling All Stations is how condescending it is. It is a pathetic attempt to put out an album designed to appeal to the demographic, catch-all noted above. In essence, it is one of the more cynical albums to be heard this year. Nick Cave, wake up and call your agent.