Fresh off their win at Slumland Theater’s battle of the bands, Ponoka’s Bandolier has their sights set on another great milestone of cutting their first studio album.
From the battle they were able to produce a live album of the show.
The entire album is a fresh nod to classic rock enhanced with electrifying guitar riffs and a larger focus on drums, played by 16-year-old Johnny Handsome (Ian Ferguson).
The Slumland album also serves as the vehicle to formally introduce the charismatic stage presence of front man Mark Ferguson. Unlike many younger acts who seems to engage with the audience because the think they should or it eases them into a performance Ferguson took it upon himself because there was a natural happiness that drew the audience out.
Bandolier exhibits writing capabilities of seasoned artists with a versatile tracklist and interpersonal perception on the world around them.
However, while their style is seasoned, their songs fresh, having grown up and reacting to the social reality of a educated yet ignorantly fast-paced and fad obsessed world.
While the mantra of rock music has always been sex, drugs and rock and roll, a phrase made popular in the 60s and 70s, the boys of Bandolier are instead taking a newer route and creating music from more grounded, small town experiences; a theme especially prevalent in The Dog’s Fighter, Leviathan and Hype.
In each of the three songs, easily the best on the album, the vocals and instruments mix together and match the mood of the song without being too cute.
The boys of Bandolier are sponges able to observe what they see and hear and understand well enough to turn what they’ve learned into a contextual rock song without boring anybody to death.
Ferguson was able to take a social studies lesson about Thomas Hobbes who argued governments should wield the power as an absolute sovereign in the Civil War-era book Leviathan and re-construct the theory into lyrics.
The song is as heavy and powerful as those consummated in the book through a hard-hitting drumming solo angry guitar and bass accompaniment.
Hype is a raw, pleading statement of three young artists searching for a chance and recognition in a flooded market of creativity where the Internet can make a person as fast as they can break them.
Although the song may speak of earnest confusion, Ferguson’s strong vocals never waver in their conviction that Bandolier is a band to watch.
The Dog’s Fighter was inspired by Ponoka’s history and a part 21-year-old Sgt. Gordon Charles Waldern had to play during the Second World War.
An emotional and mentally candlelit yet hollow-voiced and haunting verse finishes off the song mirroring the valour of heroes long lost.
Drums are used expertly to puncture the songs as ammunition would have punctured the air during the war, painting the same angry picture Sgt. Waldern would have seen.
The entire album is absolutely engaging and you’ll find yourself rocking along to the beat without even realizing. After my first listen through of the live album I was catapulted into Fandolier territory and already waiting for the bands studio album, which starts production June 3.