Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
The key to a good rap-rock collaboration is in avoiding the gutters of either genre. Sway too far to the clichéd extremes of either style and you end up with a wince-worthy effort à la Limp Bizkit. Find the nuances of hip-hop and indie rock and marry them well and you end up with a brain-piquing tune mash à la Zoo Legacy.
ZL is an Ottawa trio of rocker-siblings Dominic and Sam Goss and their rhyming pal Nick Pouponneau. The Gosses were raised in Johannesburg and hung out in a nearby park called Zoo Lake, listening to early ‘00s British pop. Pouponneau was raised in Ottawa and started rapping as a teenager under the name Young Legacy. Mutual admiration led to the collaboration last summer. Friendship made the tunes solid, Dominic Goss, 26, an accountant, says.
“When you’re friends first, you come from the same place, and you can jump right into the music.”
In other words, rap-rock needs rapport to work. It happens on the band’s debut EP, which was recorded in a Centretown basement earlier this year.
Pouponneau’s rhymes are crisp and slick, the accompanying music is late-night and cinematic created with a laptop, drum machine, bass and guitar. The band opens their show and sets the tone with this little stanza:
Welcome to the monologue that lives inside my head/ That runs rampant while I lay awake in bed/ Eyes wide shut, mind wide open/ And then I watch it all fall down
This, along with all his verses, comes from a genuine place, Pouponneau, 24, a QA agent with a bank, says. “I’m making music about my reality and trying to challenge myself to come up with new concepts,” he says.
They’re also trying to move away from the musical melancholy — though I’d argue that the push-pull of a thumping delivery and sad guitar songs is what makes Zoo Legacy so appealing. It’s a mix that’s worked well for O-town bands such as StrayOtic and Crush Buildings, the latter of whom have been artfully pushing to the edges of both hip-hop and indie rock for a decade.
With Capital City Slice and AK-47s. Thursday, Nov. 17. 8 p.m. $5. Café Dekcuf, 221 Rideau St.
TUNES FROM THE HEART
John Allaire bookends his new album with tunes called Obituaries and Open Letter to My Heart. Hmm. Maudlin, much? Not really. The roots-rocker’s new album has a lotta pick-up, despite its pre-occupation with near death.
Allaire pulls from real-life events on his fifth solo album, called Heart of Steel. Last October, Allaire, then 45, played a game of rec hockey and had a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital where he received emergency surgery. Thanked in the liner notes of the new album are both the Heart Institute and the Ottawa Hospital for “keeping me alive when I dropped dead.”
Allaire keeps roots music alive with the new album that saw him tour the US this summer opening for Alejandro Escovedo and BoDeans.
John Allaire & the Campistas, Brandon Agnew & the Pocket 4s, Saturday, Nov. 19. 9 p.m. $10. Irene’s Pub, 885 Bank St.
TIMEKODE CELEBRATE SIX YEARS
Tune-pickers Zattar and DJ Eric Roberts have an ear for the pent-up beats and sweet soul tunes that keep club kids moving.
They’re celebrating six years of throwing the house-party-style jams known as TimeKode at the usual TK spot.
TimeKode, Friday, Nov. 18, Eri Café, 953 Somerset St., W., 11 p.m. $5. www.timekode.com
I’m rooting for The Love Machine to win the Big Money Shot finals. The annual 88.5 FM contest promises big loot to the winning indie band to use in the production or promotion of their work. Past acts have had varying successes in achieving modest stardom.
The Love Machine is already at that level thanks to the super catchy gang harmonies and tales of awakening lust. Be sure to catch their full show sometime — it’s a guaranteed good time (their Money Shot set is only 20 minutes long). The contest schedule is as follows:
9 p.m.: Silvergun and Spleen
11 p.m.: Down in Ashes
11:40 p.m.: Liam Lloyd
12:20 a.m.: Fire and Neon
1 a.m.: The winner is announced.
The Love Machine (and other Big Money Shot competitors). Friday, Nov. 18. 9 p.m., $10. St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 302 St. Patrick St.
Her songs have been played on Grey’s Anatomy, but don’t hold it against her. Jenn Grant is supremely talented, even if her tunes seem suited to run-of-the-mill melodramas. I find her distinctive Atlantic-Canadian pathos and vocal gymnastics much more suited to real-life complications than to tales of young doctors in love.
She unfolds her tales at two shows this weekend.
With Erin Costelo. Friday, Nov. 18, 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 19, 4 p.m. Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield. $20.