Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Instrumental largesse, a little burlesque, and some pop and punk to keep your feet moving

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Local band Dave Norris & Local Ivan has a new album out: (left to right) Adam Di Penta, Dave Norris, Graham Boyle, Tim Watson, Luke Donovan. Photo by Jodie McNamara

Lyrically wry, but tender in its musical arrangement, Alma Mater offers some interesting dynamics. It’s the third disc from the Ottawa five-piece known as Dave Norris & Local Ivan. The band unleashes seriously swooshy instrumental largesse over eight tunes that cover off consumerism in the record industry (“Song for an Ad”), music as healer of mental ailing (“Woe Is Me”) and celeb obsession (“Courtney L.”).

“I’ve always had a fascination with popular culture,” Norris, an AV tech, says. “All of us have to create a filter on popular culture because we’re being bombarded with it all the time. We have to try to understand what celebrity means and how it relates to our lives.”

That effort — to square the interesting, appealing aspects of the culture, with its crassness — was a starting point for the album.

With one eyebrow arched toward the horizon, Norris offers some candid, but common future-fears. “No one cares anymore,” and “maybe that’s all there is” are sentiments amplified by reverb pedals for that otherworldly vibe. Norris has a nice lamenter’s timbre, saved from being overly maudlin by some great nah-nah top notes. It’s seriously affecting stuff — like Coldplay without the commercial sheen or shire-cultivated accents.

The songs are pure pop created by lively minds. You can enjoy them for their hooks, for their lyrical digs, or for the buoyant swirl of the two. Dave Norris & Local Ivan with opener Andre Bluteau, Saturday, Dec. 17, Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St., 9 p.m., $10.

T-dot art-pop maker John Southworth made a name for himself crafting compulsively complex songs in the leagues of Hawksley Workman or Spookey Reuben. His new album, Human Cry, displays fewer idiosyncrasies and veers into tunesmith territory, a few steps away from anything in his back catalogue. He plays the Elmdale Tavern  with his band The South Seas, Ottawa piano man Glenn Nuotio, and tripped-out folk band The Orienteers. Thursday, Dec. 15, Elmdale Tavern, 1084 Wellington St., W., 9 p.m., $10.


  • Teasin’ troupe Rockalily Burlesque hosts a holiday bash called It’s Nice to Be Naughty at Babylon (317 Bank St), Saturday, Dec. 17. 9 p.m. $10.
  • Manpower(metal/rock/punk-hilarity) celebrate the holidays with their annual Season’s Beatings Christmas Recital Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17 at Irene’s Pub (885 Bank  St.), 9 p.m. $10.
  • O-town’s Steve Adamyk Band plays punk rock that gives a nod to both pop and hardcore. The group’s second album is called Forever Won’t Wait and will be released with a bash Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Dominion Tavern (33 York St.), 9 p.m., $6.
  • The PepTides (pop indulgence) waver between the garish and the divine with their electronic party tunes and a live show that appeals to multiple senses with video displays, ear candy anthems, and eye candy costumes. The band is at the Mercury Lounge (56 ByWard) Thursday, Dec. 15. 9:30 p.m., $10.
  • Videotape re-spools! The Ottawa fuzz-rock trio formed from the demise of As the Poets Affirm. Ryan Patterson, Adam Saikaley, and Nathan Gara plan a recording on Patterson’s label Bird and Flag. The band reunites at Raw Sugar Café (692 Somerset St. W.), Monday, Dec. 19. 8 p.m., $5.