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.