A spirited release

Roche Uhntraal prepares to smash his piggy bank.

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In the five months since The Grass graced a Halifax stage, the Dartmouth-born sextet relocated to Ottawa, embarked on a string of successful Ontario shows and had a main stage billing at the Ottawa Bluesfest. The band also recorded its third album, Calling All Ghosts.

"Fans should expect our best album yet," says drummer/vocalist Dylan Ryan. "We had a lot more fun recording this album, and it shows."

Living together in a south end bungalow/home studio allowed the band to experiment with their sound: a melting pot of classic "60s twang. Previews of the album, available at: thegrass.ca, hint at higher production values and edgier songwriting.

"This album is definitely further out than anything else we've done," says Ryan. "We took our time with the recording and didn't set foot into a studio with it. Doing it ourselves really let us get the sound we wanted."

The Grass will spend the next two months on the road, but don't be surprised if another album comes down the wire in the near future. With three releases in the last two years, the band isn't one to waste much time between songwriting sessions.

"Every album so far ended with new tracks being written for another album," says Ryan. "This album was narrowed down to 13 tracks from 16 or 17, and most were basically ready by the time we released Oranges. We still have tracks from our first album that we talk about using."

Calling All Ghosts debuts at Gus' Pub on August 10 and 11.

Free at last

On the other end of the spectrum, Air Traffic Control spent over two years promoting its self-titled debut album before releasing its latest effort To Be Free. Drummer Jordi Comstock explains.

"We actually had most of the material written and recorded almost a year ago, but we had just gotten funding to make the video "At Any Cost' from the first record so we had to wait for it to be released and then tour on it," he says. "That set things back a bit."

The new album, recorded at frontman Kirk Comstock's Electroland studio and co-produced by longtime friend Laurence Currie, continues a tradition of writing catchy, radio-friendly hooks that dates back to the band's early days as Madhat. Jordi feels that this album could be the one that pushes the band over the top.

"We really feel that this record is going to prove that important music can be made in small towns like Lunenburg and that this record is going to take us to a whole new level and really open a lot of doors," he says. "We've cultivated a special musical connection and that we have something unique to offer."

Air Traffic Control releases To Be Free on August 15 at Tribeca.

Peep these shows

You Say Party! We Say Die! hits the Attic on September 29, while Matthew Good performs an acoustic show October 11 at the Marquee. St. Matt's hosts Final Fantasy on November 16 and 17 and Elliott Brood hits the Grawood on November 21. The Halifax Pop Explosion, October 16 to 21, just announced its first pocket of bands. Added to Tegan and Sara/Northern State shows are AIDS Wolf, Miracle Fortress, Mother Mother, Eric's Trip, Young Galaxy and Apostle of Hustle. Start saving those pennies now, students.

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