RPM Highlights 2015: 5 A Friday, All Month Long

Every Friday this month we’ll feature 5 Editor’s Picks from this year’s lot of RPM albums.


Cabillac – $trictly 4 My $kippers

Nick Ryan’s fabulous 2014 folk album, Prose & Cons, was a finalist for our Borealis Music Prize in 2014. But for the 2015 RPM Challenge, he put his hat on backwards and busted out something both fun and impressive: Written as a Jiffy Cab Driver (and featuring the dispatch guy in each song), he re-wrote the lyrics to 10 old school hip hop songs. It’s a joke album sure, but it’s kinda legit, totally witty, and like everyone who does a gag hip hop RPM album, he clearly had a blast. This project is applaudable for the consistently solid lyrical re-writes, which was no easy feat. Fun fact: the re-write of “Ghetto Superstar” as “Taxi Superstar” features MCP … which is Colleen Power, who also did a hip hop RPM, and they did cameos on each other’s albums. The b’ys at Jiffy Cab are all over this. They’ve called him. They’ve taken pictures of Nick/Cabillac decked out in Jiffy wares. Don’t be surprised if your next Jiffy cabbie is playing this album, and representing their new hip hop homeboy, straight outta Rabbittown. City Wide don’t know shit.

Stream or download the album on Bandcamp.

Sample Song, “Still C.A.B.”

Matthew J. Thomson & Danielle R Hamel – Land of Lakes

A prolific and talented couple of songwriters who put an original twist on a familiar genre, the way, say, Quasi (another couple) do. Matthew’s talents in production help these songs shine, as does Danielle’s arrestingly original voice. The meticulous polish put on the recordings can’t be undersung. There are so many tracks per song, that are so well built, mixed, and subtly stacked, that the album is proof a song could always be a little better; there’s always a small hole in the background of a chorus that could use a shaker or a guitar fill, or a back-up vocal, or maybe the pre-verse needs a little fuzz, or the verse needs a quick pause in the middle to keep the listener attentive. Something. A song always needs something more. But because these two clearly know and embrace this songwriting and recording philosophy, and took the time to properly build and record these songs, stand outs like “I Need a Break,” “On These Days,” and “Lying on the Floor” are solid, satisfying, immediately likeable songs. This one will go down as a local album of the year.

Stream or download the album on Bandcamp.

Here’s one of Matthew’s songs, “I Need a Break”

and one of Danielle’s, “On These Days”

Palisades – ii

Like their last RPM album, and in fact even morseso, ii is a thing of quiet beauty. Some songs take their time to the point no one’s even singing until the song’s half over. This is an aching, quiet, true folk album that’s more about mood than message or catchiness, making it the perfect soundtrack for lazy Sunday sleep-in, curled into a sunspot, reflecting on … everything and everyone.

Stream or download the album on Bandcamp.

Sample Song, “When All the Debts are Due” 

Sad Tax – Rabbit Parallel Miracles

Patrick Canning has released an RPM album every year since Elling Lien, via The Scope, brought the challenge to our province’s attention. He is, as a few non-performing local acts are, RPM-famous. Plenty of people look forward to his RPMs for one simple reason: Sad Tax albums stand-out like a tall tree in a field of grass for their outright originality, for their impressive diversity from track to track, and for their strikingly mad brilliance. How he conceives, channels, and executes these sounds and songs is extremely impressive and marks him as one of St. John’s top 3 original songwriters. He’s also one of the city’s best illustrators, and no stranger to cover art for other bands in town. Naturally, he did his own cover art on this album, but you can see more of his stuff this month on the walls of The Sprout.

Stream or download the album on Bandcamp.

Sample Song … even though you need to listen to the whole album to appreciate the comments above,
“A Frightened Rabbit Let Loose in a Church”

This is Terrible – Used to Moose

These not-so-serious RPM veterans are back with another batch of ridiculous, hilarious explorations of many genres. They embody the spirit of the RPM Challenge. Just fucking do it, and have a blast, and have an album at the end of the month. Half the songs are weird stories, the other half are so silly they’re good. The song below is a great mockery of those over-enunciating radio-rock bands like Nickelback or Creed.

Stream or download the album on Bandcamp.

Sample Song, “The First Degree”

Think there’s an album The Overcast should know about? shoot us an email at submissions@theovercast.ca … if it’s not on Bandcamp, it’s hard to know it exists. Also, there will certainly be more than 20 great RPMs this year, so, naturally, this weekly Friday Feature won’t be able to cover them all.

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  • I can see what each of you are saying, both are valid points to what am “rpm” should be. But it’s really just encouraging people to put out music, ultimately, and hopefully give them the confidence to pursue it. I don’t really know Nick, but I know some of his friends. I believe the boy has put out an original album the past two years straight, also I read that his house burnt down. I can’t speak for him, and I don’t mean it to sound like a harsh joke, but perhaps he never actually had an instrument to record on. All in all, great rpms regardless of what they were.

  • Ditto Chad – was a little aggressive out of the gate myself, apologies.
    And for the record, I fully enjoyed the release we’re discussing. Funny stuff – quite good work.
    I’m not sure what “original” music means to you, but when I see a statement like this:

    “This project is applaudable for the consistently solid lyrical re-writes, which was no easy feat.”

    I’m really left thinking this:

    No easy feat, but not quite as hard as making an entire album of your own words AND music in a month though.
    Which is what all other contributors did – because that’s what the RPM Challenge asks of it’s participants – or at least we understood it to, up to now.

    Thanks for your time Chad.

    • Agreed, Rick. I’ve done the challenge a few times myself, no easy feat, and I’m never happy with the rushed output. Cheers.

  • I certainly wasn’t trying to start a pissing contest regarding any work I’ve submitted – nor do I seek accolade in your publication. That’s why forwarding a link to my work was/is irrelevant. I was simply reminding you that the mandate of ORIGINAL music is clearly defied by using canned tracks with rewritten lyrics. IMO – not a valid RPM submission.
    You mentioned that 132 albums were made in St. John’s in 2015. How many of them were made using other peoples’ published music from start to finish?

    I’m guessing none, though clearly it matters not sir.

    • Yeah, these posts aren’t meant to be competitive, just, a way to get some discussion going on the new batch of RPMs. And your opinion, by the way, is 100% valid: it’s not technically original music. Until things got out of hand there, I was simply interested in hearing yours, out of curiosity, not to compare, contrast, critique, just, out of excitement to hear what everyone produced. Sorry if I got a little snippy there. I shouldn’t be commenting. But when you spend as much time as I do overworked and underpaid to produce a paper like this, you take things to heart and get more defensive than one should. Apologies.

  • “We’re sure your RPM is good too. Have a link?”

    And you’re the only A&E publication in our town?

    Imagine that.

    • I can’t address you with the same tone you’re addressing me? Doesn’t seem fair. And I wasn’t really trying to be offensive. Unlike the “blowme” email address you left. Be decent, man, if you want a conversation. Otherwise we’ll just write each other off. I thought you had a semi-fair point, if you re-read the comment.

  • Oi.. Calm down RPM police. Parody is fine, especially if it’s clever and well executed. Writing an entire albums worth of actually funny Jiffy Cab themed parodies of popular rap songs is achievement enough to celebrate. Organizing and recording multiple guest singers and recording and nailing down a good rap performance is effort enough to not get all uppity about “prime press” coverage.

  • “It’s free, it’s fun, but it’s not always easy. The RPM Challenge invites anyone to record an album in 28 days, just because you can. That’s 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material, written and recorded during the month of February. Participants can either create music in isolation if that’s their preference, or join the online conversation to blog, add photos, participate in discussion groups, trade ideas, and send messages to fellow RPMers during the challenge.”

  • Remarkable that my previous comment was denied through your moderation Overcast.
    Though I was right – and an album of existing music recorded ages ago by someone other than the contributor with rewritten lyrics atop hardly qualifies as ORIGINAL music.

    In fact, when you go directly to the RPM Challenge homepage, the mandate is pretty clear right at the top of the page. 35 minutes of original music – they even describe it as a “simple” concept. I wonder why our local chapter has such difficulty with the idea as it’s intended. For those that adhere to the rules – it’s a bit insulting to see the first thing mentioned in your publication is an album that’s nothing but other peoples music. Anyone can use karaoke style tracks of existing songs and write words over it – but like I said previously – that IS NOT RPM. You really shouldn’t call it RPM submission because it goes against the whole idea.

    Unlikely you’ll print this one either – but we’ll make sure it doesn’t go under the radar completely… thanks for your time.

    • Settle down, Rick 😉 All comments need to be approved, to make sure we don’t publish spam or a derogatory comment. It’s the weekend, so we were a little slow to approve your comment. And while Nick re-wrote all the lyrics in a local context, in a genre known for using samples, your opinion is somewhat valid, and so, a welcome part of the RPM conversation. Sorry it took a few hours to approve the comment. We’re not making a definitive guide to the 2015 RPM here, 132 albums are too many to get through in a week. We’re sure your RPM is good too. Have a link?

  • I thought the mandate of RPM was 35 minutes of ORIGINAL music? The cab boy record might be funny, but it does not qualify as a legit entry based on the name of the game. Excellent work giving prime press to those who make up their own game… but that isn’t RPM.

  • Omg these are are all great! I wish mine didn’t suck :p CABILLAC FUCKING COME OUT TO THE DUKE @ 11!! The rest of the Highlights also welcome! You don’t need to BUY a dance sure 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • cabylac my boiiiiiiiiii fuck dat come out to sirens after danite ill buy yer first dance get her to dance to yer beats some fuckkked maybe rap a bit for the bachelorrrrrrr

  • Friday lunch rush should be stressful but not with Cabillac killing the mad beats in the kitchen! Dare I say better than Gazeebo Unit? I wonder how many calls jiffy gonna start getting requesting cabillac to pick them up ha keep it up! made our day.
    from your biggest fans, anonymous kitchen staff
    ps we will be in touch with a free meal if you trade us some free style

  • nephew showed me this last night amost pissed mysef laughing at the cab raps funnier than any of the shit on cbc ill tell ya give him a show. that says alot cause i drive for bugdens lol

  • I heard Cabillac’s album @ a party the weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was hilariou$$$$$$! Made the night! Does he do stand up?????? And will there be a show? CABILLAC BABY I’M YOURSSSS!!! You can have me any time you want! I’ll be there in a Jiffy! Now back to work.

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