Volume 95, Issue 51

Friday, November 30, 2001
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Bullfrog hops back into London swamp

Porn o' Plenty

Monopoly masters lunch game

Band doesn't mind the provincial gap

Heavy metal that's... poetic?

Band doesn't mind the provincial gap

By Robert Wong
Gazette Staff

The band Parkside Jones gleams like a rare jewel in the corporate morass of mainstream music. Refusing to conform to predefined musical modes or genres, PJ embodies a unique and eclectic style all their own.

Spawned from the flare and diversity of Montreal, PJ is centrally composed of Ryhna Thompson and Matthew Lederman, with accompaniment from Peter X and Stefan Schneider rounding out the quartet.

"We don't want to be pinned down to just doing one thing. Otherwise, the life of the project is going to be very short. [Instead], we allow ourselves to break beyond whatever formula we discover," Thompson explains.

"Unlike some other records one might hear, it's hard to define what kind of music we make, but that's part of our joy in it," she says.

Instead of drawing inspiration from songs that have garnered them past success, PJ is under constant renovation to satisfy their own desires.

"It's to keep [the band] growing with this project and to keep finding new and exciting things to try," Thompson explains.

Though lacking a firm classification of their music – they have been called everything from alterna-pop to jazz rock – there is a common theme to all of their songs: hope.

"Matt and I have noticed we both draw upon personal experience and [the] common theme of fighting through something, but always finding hope in it. That would sort of be the common thing in our words," Thompson describes.

This type of forward-thinking music is apparent on their debut record, Mind the Gap, which is filled with optimistic tracks.

"I think whatever stories we're telling, in the end, there's always hope. That's sort of the point – that there is something good out of everything that happens," she stresses.

The musical journey PJ takes listeners on is conveyed through layers of harmonies, synthesizers, bass, drums and trumpets. However, these instruments shouldn't be used as a definitive measure of PJ's sound, as experimentation is a vital part of their song-writing process.

"In Montreal, there's a lot of acceptance and appreciation for something a little left of centre, so I think it's a place where you can be a little experimental and find an audience, which is encouraging," she says.

Unfortunately, the distinct Montreal-sound they exude is not always accepted in other parts of the country. "Sometimes it's a little harder to get people moving, but that's OK because people appreciate music differently," Thompson explains.

Even with the immense pressures to conform to the clique of similar-sounding bands which are flourishing commercially, PJ are holding their own.

"I find that you can join them or sort of set up your own niche. So far, we've been doing the latter," she says.

That, in itself, is a greater triumph than any other for Parkside Jones.

Gazette File Photo
Parkside Jones open for Bullfrog at Call the Office tomorrow night. Tickets are $12 in advance and doors open at 9 p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 2001