Summer is here at last. Okay, so it’s technically still spring but I’m of University age and for many of my college-based friends, summer begins May 1st. It feels so nice to be at a good, old-fashioned rock show. I walked into the Commodore and just knew it was going to be a good night. The vibe was relaxed and the audience was very chill. Granted, the first band – Watasun – had just finished playing, but everyone was in the mood to get groovy. The alcohol was flowing, feet were tapping, hips were swaying, and liberal amounts of the green stuff were being passed around. Summer is truly here! The star of the show? Vancouver’s own Daniel Wesley.
His latest effort is the album ‘Ocean Wide”, and while some may call it a departure from Wesley’s reggae-influenced music, Daniel considers it a return to his harder, more edgier roots. His first band as a teen, The Dropouts, along with three subsequent bands in his late teens/early twenties were all punk-based and Wesley feels that his Reggae records were a true departure. “Ocean Wide” is a return to the music of his childhood and formative years. One should not be surprised by his rock side; Wesley has a half-sleeve tattoo on one arm and carries himself a bit like a surfer dude.
His new single off of “Ocean Wide” is ‘Fuel to Fire”, and would not sound out of place if we were living in 1956. It has that early rock-and-roll feel with a dash of roots and a smidgen of punk for good measured. Definitely makes you want to get up and groove on the dance floor (and many did). I was slightly appalled and amused by some of the comments I read on youtube regarding this song. Many posters accused Wesley of ripping off Sam Roberts and creating his own track. I find this argument without merit for two reasons. 1) Wesley is by no means the first artist to be accused of “ripping off” or “stealing” another person’s song. Remember Green Day vs. Oasis? 2.) According to copyright law, an artist can sample up to 20 seconds of another musician’s work without getting in trouble. It happens in hip-hop regularly. Kanye West did it. MC Hammer did it. Weird Al‘s parodies simply consist of the original artist’s music with new lyrics. Nobody got mad at Weird Al. Vanilla Ice only got sued because he stole the whole song.
The second thing that bugged me came from a commenter who said that Wesley “fired both original bandmates and gone on to create rubbish with rental bandmates.” Not only is this an uneducated argument, but it is insulting to touring and studio musicians everywhere. Countless bands have changed members over the years, and many solo acts have different backing musicians depending on who is available. It also depends on the type of music they are trying to create. As for Wesley’s mates being “rentals”, that is also wrong. Bass player Darren Parris pulled double duty as his other band “Bella Mondo” opened for Wesley. Drummer Tim Proznick has toured with Hey Ocean, Hannah Georgas, Mostly Marley, Shad K, Jessica Beach, and Kyprios and just signed an endorsement deal. Sounds like he is doing alright for himself.
The album is different from Wesley’s previous outputs and some hardcore reggae fans might be slightly disappointed. It is a classic alt-rock record with a west-coast, surfer-esque twist. Records like these are sorely missed and are becoming more under appreciated as indie and electronica move into the modern mainstream. But, as is always the case ROCK NEVER DIES.
Ocean Wide was released April 9, 2013.
RIYL: Sam Roberts, Bedouin Soundclash, Hey Ocean