Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: The Reverb Syndicate vibrates with cinematic impressions

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

The Reverb Syndicate
Jeff Welch, Lauren Hart, Mike Bradford, Michael Sheridan, Katie Bonnar, James Rossiter. Photo by Lisa Marie Noseworthy

The Reverb Syndicate have cast a cinematic shadow on the Ottawa scene. Over three albums — including their newest release, Mondo Cacti — the band has crafted surf tunes that are all instrumental, but manage to say plenty.  The moods range from sinister-spy-movie to beach-blanket-bingo-boffo. Their songs are like soundtracks to non-existent movies; the fun is in making pictures in your head.

For the unimaginative, bass player Jeff Welch can fill in the details. He says the band’s new album is like Endless Summer meets Fistful of Dollars. (Hang ten, Stranger!) Their pop culture-referencing gives ‘em cred with music and cinema nerds.

“I’m not too embarrassed to tell you that a small portion of this album was inspired by The Three Amigos,” Welch laughs. (Steve Martin fans may refer to the track  A Plethora of Pinatas for confirmation).

There’s laughter a plenty, but a part of the album confuses. What’s with the choir boy moment at the end of the album? After track upon track of sweet guitar trickery and twang, suddenly the skies part in a grand gang vocal that serves as a kind of denouement — or maybe it’s a vocal high-five from a group of four (+ their trusty sidekicks, the go-go girls) that is chuffed at completing the bookend of their surf-rock trilogy.

But it’s not so complex. “That part of the last track was just screaming for a vocal,” Welch offers.

The vocal seems to imply more. Did the band not ride into the sunset? Travel around the world to follow the sun in search of the next great wave? Did they get the girl? (Inspired by the cinematic feel of the songs, one can’t accept such an easy answer).

To be continued … at the CD release show.
With The Pelts and the Hobo Outlaws. Saturday, Sept. 17. 10 p.m. $6. Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St. www.therainbow.ca

MORE TO SEE
Carleton Place troubadour Brock Zeman unleashes a few tales in his gruff, late-night tone Friday, Sept. 16, Irene’s Pub.

Rebekah Higgs recorded her new album at the Odd Fellows lodge in Riverport, N.S., which is where the album takes its name. Odd Fellowship shows the vocalist’s range, with Motown tinges, torchy songs, and confessional tones throughout the CD. Friday, Sept. 16. 8:30 p.m. $10. Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield.

Ben Wilson leads The Orienteers (the Ottawa band once known as That’s the Spirit). Wilson is a deft writer and composer of perfect pop tunes that resonate with warmth and insight. Indulge yourself at this weekend’s release show and pick up a CD; the packaging features photo works by Tom Thompson and gives you one vote in the apple pie contest organized by the band. Pie contest, huh? “Sounds strange, but it fits,” Wilson says. Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Zaphod’s.

Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, and The Cooper Brothers play at Rock for Public Service, an all-ages show for CUPE.  Ottawa Civic Centre, Saturday, Sept. 17. 8 p.m. Free (but bring some cash, as there will be fundraising events on site in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa).