Break out your old guitar, scratch some lyrics on a napkin, and press record on whatever sound capturing device you have handy because it’s RPM Challenge time. Eight years have passed since Elling Lien (formerly of The Scope) introduced us to this awesome event.
In honour of all the fun it’s been and continues to be – to record an album in 28 days for the sake of it – I thought I’d give a short overview of my favourite album from each of the last seven years.
Welcome to the Good Life by The Domestics (2008)
Ian Cornelissen and Sandy May recorded this lo-fi collection of country twang and sweet folk harmonies on their laptop as one of the original 22 local albums submitted in 2008. Recalling hints of Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies, and Townes Van Zandt, The Domestics have since gone on to be an actual gigging band on the local scene.
I’ll Never Tell by Other People (2009)
I remember hearing “Maybe Roam” for the first time and being blown away by these incredible falsetto vocal harmonies between Grant King and Amy Joy. Fusing impeccable musicianship, quirky arrangements and heartfelt sincerity, the band also went on to play shows and released two more RPM albums Shady People (2010) and Secret Joggers (2011).
Doin’ The Robot by NicolasTrnka (2010)
Only 10 years old at the time, Nicolas Trnka recorded this fun filled excursion into a world where fantasy meets the mundane. Simple keyboard and vocal ditties juxtapose aliens, tigers, and superheroes against the everyday hum-drum of brushing your teeth, bouncing on a trampoline and going to the comic store. Nick followed up in 2011 with his more complex but equally as enjoyable Waffle Chocolate Mayo and then vanished leaving his untapped fan base wanting more. Every now and then I still have someone ask if I can get them a copy of his RPM albums.
Love Yawns by Sleepymouth (2011)
So many incredible RPMs were released in 2011, many of which were precursors to some pretty serious music careers around town (East of Empire, Steve Maloney). One of the understated gems of that year was this little emotive, dream-pop beauty by Dave Greene. Atmospheric and heart-wrenching, Love Yawns stood in the shadow of giants but was too compelling to be overlooked.
It Still Wonders Me by Victor Lewis (2012)
Victor Lewis was one of the original 22 RPMers from 2008 and has gone on to release an album just about every year since. Vic is a musical chameleon with his fingers into everything from 60’s garage rock and 70’s glam to 80’s synth-pop. I always look forward to seeing what he will cook up next.
Songs From The Underside by This Is Terrible (2013)
This is Terrible are RPM veterans and I love their albums for several reasons. First of all they are hilarious, if you don’t believe me listen to “The Plight of Lawrencetontown” from this record. Second of all, they prove that you don’t have to be great singers, songwriters, or musicians to make an album that people are going to love. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for 2015.
Too Short, Too Long by Family Video (2014)
Packed full of shimmering new-wave guitar, dry beats, and chunky bass, Family Video sound like the lovechild of Eric’s Trip and Martha & The Muffins. This lo-fi masterpiece was one of my favorites from last year and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Family Video have been lighting up the live scene ever since with the occasional show.
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