Taken By Canadians hit the "Side of the Road" (premiere)

Bubbling towards the forefront of Southern California's indie rock scene are Taken By Canadians. They embody a particular swagger that many claim to be missing from a chunk of rock in today's landscape. Along the way, the band injects vibrant electricity into their work that feels unmistakably San Diego. So, it doesn't come as a shock that their latest self-titled LP has garnered a nomination for Best Rock Album from the city's music awards, taking the band's Ben Ambrosini, Anna Zinova, Marco Savoia, and Tim Sams closer to the fast track of bringing their unbridled rock 'n' roll to the masses.

Taken By Canadians' new single, "Side of the Road", features droplets of psychedelia scattered across a realm of hefty, blues-laden hooks. Its crunchy, driving sound doesn't feel out of place alongside the likes of the Black Keys or decker., although they roll closer towards California shores than either of those contemporaries. As far as its accompanying music video goes, it features the kind of reckless, uninhibited abandon that the band naturally evokes through each progressive hook of the song itself. In between cool, color-filtered shots of Taken By Canadians performing the song, a businessman quite literally camps out on the "Side of the Road" to find himself—and a camel.

"Side of the Road" features on Taken By Canadians' self-titled LP, which is out now via Blind Owl.

Written by: Jonathan Frahm PopMatters

San Diego Music Award Nominees Announced


'S/T' nominated at San Diego Music Awards for Best Rock Album

For nearly three decades, the SDMAs have honored some of San Diego's hardest working musicians in more than 20 categories. While nominees are determined in advance by the San Diego Music Academy (which includes members of the music community, music media and talent buyers), the winners are chosen by the public (except for album categories, which are voted on solely by academy members). Speaking of which, voting opens Jan. 28 and closes Feb. 23 at www.sandiegomusicawards.com.

Best Rock Album
   Electric Mud - "Dangerous Promises"
   Mittens - "Endlessly"
   Superunloader - "Twice in Half"
+ Taken by Canadians - s/t
   The Paragraphs - "It's Always Never"
   Dirty Sweet - "Once More Unto the Breach"

Album Review

Taken By Canadians’ eponymous album has depth, it’s got breath, it walks with the sophistication of a street merchant cat. It remains sultry, illustrious, and dirty to the bitter end.

It is a swirling collection of songs that sensually unravels and reveals a world of debauchery, heartbreak, and the age-old existential crisis of “will I ever be worth a fuck” (via their song “Worth It”). This particular album sees the band maturing to a creative high-point, with well-crafted songwriting, and a sonic leap that demonstrates their increasingly expansive sound pushing beyond the world of their folk rock beginnings.

The exploration of this new sound commences right out the gate with “The River.” Like a travelogue, it dances with a rhythmical proverb harkening back to Lou Reed’s solo work. It trades out what would have been a predictably hooky chorus for some fiery telecaster riffs, and a bridge for a beautiful melodic keyboard passage at 2:20. The band subtly tightens its grip on the rhythm and pushes the dreamy passage into a crescendo freakout with Ben Ambrosini screaming into the void of oblivion. “The River,”a tinge of 70’s country rock whisked with some sweat less New York attitude and a bit of psychedelia, succeeds in crafting a distinct sonic palette that forms the basis for the rest of the album.

The next track, “Get Lost,” is a song for grim mornings where things are not quite going your way. It’s a sermon when you need a little spiritual uplifting. It’s playful, it puts a little swing in your step, and it lets you know everything is mighty fine in the kingdom of lost sheep. Here the “Canadians” demonstrate their uncanny ability to put the listener at ease. Their rhythm section of Marco Savoi and Tristan Faulk-Webster doesn’t force the band’s musical agenda. Marco grooves with a carefree intelligence of knowing, without hesitation, the song and how to lead a dance. Tristan chooses his fills carefully while never leaving the pocket, and does a terrific job of accentuating Marco’s grooves without crowding them.

Ben Ambrosini (vox/guitar) and Anna Zinova (vox/keys/violin) are also a match made in heaven. At 4:23 in “San Francisco” you can hear the care they’ve taken in structuring their instrumental passages. Anna’s piano begins by comping with chordal accents over Ben’s melodic soloing; slowly they trade arpeggiated phrases and then pivot into a rocking ending. It’s these types of passages and structures that expand the band’s sound, giving their music more depth while the lyrics and melodies continue to articulate the moods of the song. The music is compelling; it remains accessible without sacrificing any artistic merit, a truly difficult endeavor to accomplish. The “Canadians” have found a way on this record to perform a musical hypnosis by cleverly navigating compositions that are both pleasing to the ear while tactfully subverting expectations for the listeners who are willing to look  beyond the surface.

This is not to say they’ve forgotten how to play derelict rock and roll. “Side of the Road” sees the band in a smoke filled juke joint with sailors and virgins dancing, a game of roulette in their eyes. It’s a song to start a bender with, the song that plays in the back of your mind as you sit down for a hand of poker with the devil. Ambrosini issues a warning with a cool, howling vibrato, “going to leave my mind on the side of the road,” or in other words there ain’t no conscious man driving this car tonight. The band ravenously inspires participation in a world of sin and drums up nothing but trouble on this little ditty.

The crown jewel, the ruby, the diamond in the rough and magnum opus of the record is most certainly “The River, Part 2.”  It’s an exuberant ride down to a moonlit river where the revelation and beauty of life is unimaginable and unpredictable. “Who will save your soul” is a harrowing but honest question Ambrosini’s voice belts out into the darkness of the world. It sums up the record as a voyage to attain something beyond the reach of human turmoil. The ride taken on “The River’s” metaphor is a state of mind in which we accept the flow of its natural process because the current has no arrival, no end. Taken by Canadians has accepted the flow of the river and forges new sounds and lands beyond their previous incarnations. For now, the place they’ve left us in their voyage is quite astounding and one we will continue to discover, time and time again, as we wait for them to retrieve us, and take us to places we’ve never known and maybe just maybe even “save our souls.”

Review by: Rory Morison [www.listensd.com]

Video Premiere: "Worth It"

North County San Diego band Taken by Canadians’ new video is a little strange, a bit fun and a lot rock ‘n’ roll – which pretty much sums up the band.

“Worth It” is the second single to come from the blues-rock group’s forthcoming self-titled release. With a couple albums under their belt, the group, comprised of Ben Ambrosini, Anna Zinova, Marco Savoia and Tristan Faulk-Webster, is taking a bit of a different approach with this release.

They’re starting with doling out a couple of videos (including the premiere of “Worth It” here on TW) and pre-selling albums – with some interesting perks –  as they build excitement for a January release of the new album.

As for their newest video, the quirky concept goes along well with the simple, yet catchy tune. The band’s classic rock sound is punched up with organ elements that play well with Ambrosini’s forceful vocals. Warning: the video might  make you want a cigarette – or a pickle.

The band’s fun-loving demeanor also shines through on the video for the first single from the upcoming record. “Do You Believe Me?” is a party anthem in the making with visuals to match as the band recreates a classic kids-left-home-alone scenario complete with glue-sniffing and pizza devouring. The song’s playful piano careens behind Ambrosini’s gritty voice along with Zinova’s sweeter singing.

If you’re just getting familiar with Taken By Canadians, you should check out the smoking smooth track “Revolution Girl” from their last album, We Eat You Like a Person. This showcase of the band’s softer side is aptly categorized as “spooky blues” on SoundCloud. The song’s moaning guitars are an ideal match for Ambrosini’s mournful vocals.

As TBC prepares to release the new album on Blind Owl Records – recorded, engineered and mixed by Mike Butler at Lost Ark –  on Jan. 26, they are also in the planning stages for a proper release show; in the meantime they won’t be strangers in the San Diego scene.

They have another video release next month for “The River” and at least one killer show before year’s end.

TBC will play a show called “Rock & Roll Horror Picture Show II” on Oct. 21 with The Paragraphs and DJ Lexicon Devil at Thunderbird Analog Recording Studio in Oceanside. The show will be both recorded to tape and filmed plus there will be horror movies playing behind the bands.

Costumes are encouraged for this fun and festive night. Strange, fun and rock ‘n’ roll!

Review by: Jen Lothspeich [www.tourworthy.com]

Video Premiere: "Do You Believe Me?"

Psychedelic motorcycle rides, wild animals running amok, and pentagram pizzas: all prominent in Taken by Canadians’ new video.


Taken By Canadians new video, “Do You Believe Me?” is the classic tale of what happens when parents leave their derelict children at home. But unlike the common fable, this group is far worse off than the typical weed-smoking, keg-standing, mind-full-of-pornography teen movie gang. The unconventional, juvenile, drug hyenas prefer the sweet aroma of permanent markers and Elmer’s glue that oozes from the bottle with the screams of a thousand innocent animals, whose bones and hooves were crushed in the making of this elementary school intoxicant.

If that wasn’t enough to make you hide your children away, look no further than drinking cans of donkey piss and cartons of eggnog this rambunctious tribe takes in a trip in the pizza delivery van. And I mean “trip” – the kind where you wave a gun around in the air, threatening the internal monkey trying to hang you with a piñata rope while your friends laugh hysterically amid visions of bearded men soloing with flying V’s on top of Harley Davidsons. It’s all here, and miraculously “Do you Believe Me Momma” is a pun I’d like to extend for this unbelievable video.

Crew: Blake dean (filmed / directed /edited), Taken by Canadians (Ben Ambrosini, Anna Zinova, Marco Savoia, Tristan Faulk-webster)

Visuals: Ake Arndt (Operation Mindblown)

Cast: Ryan Schilawski (Mom), Tom Lord (Dad), Megan Ostergard, Alex Bassaj, Andrew Huse

Review by: Rory Morison [www.listensd.com]