Music Review: Groupoem – “Dirt Church”

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In recent years, it hasn’t been uncommon to hear of long disbanded bands regrouping to create new music together. Although in many instances the most successful comeback stories belong to well known bands such as Guns N’ Roses, or even Spice Girls, Groupoem has made an exception for themselves through an interesting story full of coincidences and inspiration.

Through a number of coincidences, the formerly disbanded Groupoem found all of their native Toronto members in Vancouver, BC. Being drawn by each other’s fondness and admiration for Terry Robinson’s music, the band decided to regroup. Having first starting to record as far back as 1983, the band has recently released their brand new album DIRT CHURCH, a 19-song album that include never released songs recorded in 1987. Having gone through a 25-year hiatus, one would expect to be able to hear a significant difference in style and character, however the 19 songs meld with one another well enough for the differences to be nearly negligible. Having completed their album, Groupoem has begun preparing for their live tour.

The band Groupoem, first known as Mr. Science in 1983, include band members Terry Robinson as the songwriter, guitarist, and lyricist; Marph (aka Mr. Science) as the lyricist and vocalist; Christopher “Flea” Lee as the drummer; and Darren Katamay as the bass guitarist. The band is known for their punk/progressive rock music, and has performed with a variety of other Canadian bands like No Means No, SNFU, and Psychich TV.

When first listening to the album, you are struck by the upbeat rhythm and melody of the electric guitar. The contrast between the instrumental introduction and the introduction of Marph’s vocals creates a very unique atmosphere that grows on the listener. On one hand, the atmosphere resembles that of an opening gig of a punk rock concert. While on the other hand, Marph’s belting of the lyrics resembles atmosphere you would potential find during a punk rock poetry slam performance.

The band’s album, which was recorded at Farm Studios and Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver, was recorded and mixed by Tim Crich and mastered by Craig Waddell. Having worked with artists such as David Bowie, Gene Simmons, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, and many other rock musicians, Tim Crich as well as Craig Waddell’s expertise has excelled in pushing Groupoem’s music to even greater heights. The different elements of the album’s songs are balanced delicately so that each part works in harmony. While Marph’s vocals are on the forefront, the electric guitar, which is arguably just as important as the vocals, is never hindered.

Although Groupoem’s style and music is unique and often interests the listener, there are times when the distinctiveness works against them. Marph’s style of delivery is sometimes unconvincing. There are sections where he attempts to add vocal harmonies to his delivery, however it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song. An example of this can be heard in the song “Flat Earth,” where I personally found it off putting. Disregarding this fact however, Groupoem has successfully created a great album.

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Music Review – Adam Winn “Burnout”

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Adam Winn’s new EP features a melancholic and relatable story of the emotional struggles in a failing relationship. Adam Winn is a singer-songwriter who focuses on creating compelling stories that are told through his music. Winn’s musical aesthetic touches on. He is backed by musician Dave Tolley on the drums.

A hometown hero in Fort St. John, BC, Adam Winn has worked as a firefighter for the past nine years. Having been trained in bass guitar and classical voice, Adam Winn never gave up on his love of music and turned to storytelling through grassroots music. Adam Winn’s new EP was successfully crowd funded, and he is set to embark on his first tour around Western Canada late July.

For first time listeners, the most striking aspect of Adam Winn’s work is the beautiful, clean guitar work and deep bass of his voice. Interestingly, Adam Winn’s vocal technique and enunciation sounds slightly more country than most folk singers, and this brings a unique quality to his songs. From the thickness of his voice, you can tell that Adam has had years of experience singing and is comfortable with a wide vocal range, being able to sing both mellow vocal lines and louder technical lines with ease. The guitar sounds very clean and crisp, which is an important aspect of folk music.

Adam Winn elected to keep his work clean with little effects on the sound. The vocals are kept center and forward to allow the listener to know where their attention should be focused. This by no means takes away from the instrumental accompaniment however as the sounds are balanced carefully to allow harmony between each part. Almost all parts of the mix are kept quite dry with little to no reverb. This fosters a more intimate listening experience.

In his song Burnout, Winn added a harmonica to the song to make the song more enticing. However, personally I thought the harmonica was a little bit distracting due to the stark difference in sound between the guitar and overall mood of the song. Initially I also thought the melody of the harmonica was quite strange or that perhaps there had been some wrong notes played, but after a few listens I realized the harmony was correct and that perhaps it was just my dislike for the sound of the harmonica.

The music video of Winn’s song Burnout was filmed by Jess Greene. The video shows a comfortable studio in which the musicians play. This studio matches Winn’s campfire folk music aesthetic. Much like Winn’s music, the video was kept simple and clear with much of the focus being on Winn as he sings. The mood of the video helped enhance the melancholic vibe of the song and makes the listener feel more relaxed. It was a little awkward however watching Winn for most of video as it felt as though he was purposely trying to avoid looking at the camera and didn’t quite know where to look.

Listen to Adam Winn’s song Burnout here:

Further Listening: Ray Lamontange, Glen Hansard, Bright Eyes

Websites:
https://adamwinn.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/adamwinnmusic/