the candidates

REVIEW: The Candidates – Who’s Your Daddy Now? (1998 EP)

THE CANDIDATES – Who’s Your Daddy Now?  (1998 EP)

When the Candidates burst onto the local rock scene in the late 90s, I was on board from the get-go.  The Candidates were one of the “Record Store Bands” I wrote about in Record Store Tales Part 40.  They were the product of a former band, The Mighty Fisherman, who put out an actual CD album.  Members of that band formed the Candidates – great guys who made great music.  I don’t use the word “great” lightly.  All four songs on their debut EP (never released to the public) are as good as anything on a major label at the time.  When the guys recorded this EP, they loaned it out to various friends, and so I made my own copy.  (My own liner notes, too!)

I always felt the Candidates had a sound not unlike Sloan, The Who, and the Jam rolled into one.  (Maybe even a hint of Kiss; check out the slow-down ending to “Cash Money”.) The point is: they rocked.  It was rock and roll, nothing but.  No ballads, no fluff, no solos.  Great lyrics, solid riffs and rolling bass lines out the wazoo.  The whole thing is over n’ out in under 12 minutes.

First up, “You’re All Heart”, the song with the most pop in its melody, and a little twang in the six-strings.  The handclaps are a nice touch, as are the rolling thunder drum fills.  Tambourine is thrown in for good measure on “Good to Go”, a song defined by its catchy bassline.  I always liked the line, “There’s nothin’ on the walls, and woo!  There’s nothing on…”  The beat just kills.  “So leave your boyfriend at home, and come hit the town with me.”  It’s the kind of tune that, in our early 20s, was a bit of an anthem.  More handclaps!

Things start to slam heavier on “Cash Money”; a banger of a riff.  “Got my good-to-go boots and I’m gone.”  They don’t come any more rock and roll than “Cash Money”.  Although, as a younger man, I identified most with “Barely Bruised”.  It seems I was constantly having bad luck with the ladies.  I really liked the lines, “I’ve been beaten but I’m barely bruised, I’m lost but I cannot lose.”  I liked the idea of being knocked down and getting back up for more, never giving up.  The band dedicated this one to me in concert one time, and I’ll tell ya, it made my night.  The song itself is a battery of broadsides, so put your dukes up.

Since this EP was never sold, and you’ll never hear it, reviewing it is rather strange and maybe pointless. Eventually, somebody somewhere will google this band, and smile when they read these words.  I just had to tell you about these guys.

5/5 stars

Have a look at my humorous liner notes.  I also stole a setlist from an unknown gig!

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Part 40: Record Store Bands

All record stores have their fare share of record store bands.  The names are fading into obscurity, but there are two that I still remember because I still listen to the CD’s more than a decade later.

It doesn’t matter if a band ever makes it big, or if you’re the only fan.  If the music moves you enough to still listen to it over a decade later, then that is all that matters.  Two bands that I still listen to over a decade later are Here Comes Jim and The Candidates.

Both Here Comes Jim and The Candidares were bands fromCambridge, Ontario Canada.  They were “our” bands – made up of record store guys, our friends, and talented ones at that.  They didn’t sound anything alike, but in my opinion, both had the potential to get signed.

THE CANDIDATES

This four-piece was a rock band influenced by The Who, The Jam, and the mod scene in general.  They started out with all four members wearing suits and ties on stage but this later evolved into a looser image.  Their stage presence was such that they could have played a hockey barn, as they acted as if there was a thousand people in the audience even if there were only a handful.  Their tunes were solid, well composed, and well played.  They boasted three lead vocalists, including this guy Neil M, who came all the way from Scotland to rock the tri-cities.

Their tunes were full of attitude.  For example, “Who’s Your Daddy Now” was a song written for Trevor, about this girl that ended up using him for a ride to her home town (Ottawa) and then breaking it off.  She was obsessed with pictures of herself:

Sold your soul for a photograph,

I tore it up and had the last laugh,

Who’s your daddy now?

He ain’t got nothin’ on me!

The Candidates eventually split and morphed into other bands.  For me personally, nothing was better than the original four-piece, the band that I went to see as often as possible.  They hit me right in the nuts and I think their debut album had all the right moves in all the right places.  They made an equally good second album, but it’s the debut that was special to me personally.

HERE COMES JIM

Another four-piece, this was a more experimental band.  The lead singer was this extremely talented guy named Matty G.  I believe that he was actually a trained singer, which would help explain why he was able to sing so many different styles (often within one song).  I used to compare him to a Mike Patton, a comparison that he was flattered by.  Yet I think the comparison was accurate.  The difference is that Matt used to sing and play lead guitar too.

They had quite a few good tunes.  My favourites were “She Is”, a melodic winner with a chorus that kills, and “Negator”.  “Negator” was just a pissed-off, scream-loaded, headache inducing pile of distorted guitars and vocals.  I would compare it to Faith No More tunes such as “Surprise! You’re Dead!” for sheer power and aggression.  Either song could have been a hit, in a just world.

Neil, Matt, and the rest of the gang that I’ve lost touch with are still some of the most talented musicians that the tri-cities have produced.  I’m glad I saw these bands back in the day, bands that are now forgotten in the dusts of time.  However, if you’re ever in the area, wandering through the pawn shops and music stores, and you run into a copy of either album, pick it up.  It’ll be a better listen than whatever Nickelcrap that MTV is pushing these days.

r-l: Me, Tom, Meat