Say Psych: Album Review, TBWNIAS Live 2010 Dominion Tavern

If you are reading this chances are that you love genuinely independent music (not the sort that is passed off as independent by big corporations), and support bands, labels and others who love to promote music for music’s sake and not to feed a business machine. Part of this eco-system are countless numbers of radio stations and shows which are available locally and globally, via internet streams, which support and promote bands who would otherwise get lost in the ether.


The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol (TBWNIAS)  is one such band. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada TBWNIAS have been slowing building up a following amongst right-thinking people since its inception in 2008. Originally a four-piece the band has grown in numbers as well as stature and is currently a six-piece, with two releases last year ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘Masters of the Molehill’; the latter of which made our 2015 ‘Essential’ list. On this release, by Brighton-based independent label Drone Rock Records, TBWNIAS are inflated even more to a nine-piece in a recording of a one-off gig held in 2010 at the Dominion Tavern in Ottawa held in aid of the city’s three community radio stations.

As you would expect from such a gig, and such a band, what you are getting here are not the sort of faithful renditions of album tracks but loose improvisations and jams that encapsulate the independent scene…nothing is ever the same twice, more skilled artisanship than manufactured process. What you do get here is a real feel for how special the gig was: a band playing what sounds like a small packed venue, on a stage so small that some of the members are playing in the audience, and a nice dirty recording that captures the gig faithfully.

What I really like about this recording is that you get a real sense of the gig progressing as you get deep into the set. For me this is something rare with live recordings which, by their very nature, you listen to away from the setting in which they were recorded. Here I could really imagine being there, and am very pleased that this performance was captured and released.

As for the music itself, it shows of the different influences of the band with strong elements of krautrock, psychedelia, jazz, eastern drones (especially on ‘Raga Quotation’), punk and garage (‘NST’)…and really too many to even begin to discern here. Safe to say that this is one heady heavy trip from start to finish that showcases the band’s sound really well.

This album comes out at a time when small internet radio stations seem to be under threat because of potential changes to royalty rates that will have a marked effect on what they have to pay, while it seems that larger commercial stations will not have to pay more. It is a reminder of why we like to go to small gigs, buy from small labels, listen to radio shows run by enthusiasts like us, and support bands for whom the music is the first priority…because this album encapsulates all that…and that is reason enough to get it.

However, its also bloody good so its a no brainer!


‘Live 2010 Dominion Tavern’ is available for pre-order from Drone Rock Records now, with an anticipated delivery after Easter, on Grey vinyl (100 copies)  or Purple/ Green/ Orange on Grey Spatter vinyl (150 copies) here.

The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol on this night were John Westhaver, Mark McIntyre, Bill Guerrero, Jason Vaughan, Nathaniel Hurlow, Dave Reford, Jan Lis, Eric Larock and Will Desjardins. Sound recording by the late Mark Valcour.

You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.

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