Part 1: Mission Statement, Introduction, and first terribly nostalgic musing
A number of years ago, a few friends of mine, myself, and people who would quickly become my friends used to take over our college's radio station every Wednesday night for what we deemed "Punk Rock" night. It was the one thing that helped me personally get over that mid week slump. It was usually a giant party. I remember having more than 20 people in the studio one night in a room that was smaller than my dorm room. I looked forward to this party aspect (the lemon tossing incident will always have a warm spot in my heart) and the many life altering (quite literally as I met life long friends, met my wife, started a short lived record label, and many other great things) experiences that seemed to happen on a weekly basis, but I also looked forward to all of the great music that I heard and was introduced to as a result.
The night would start off with a more mainstream punk show that would play some of the more popular "punk" acts. The kids who did this were good guys and were great talkers. Then, my show, Be Afraid would take the air. I (and a cadre of fools that included at one time or another Dented chest Chuck, my brother, my future wife, Punk C, Ryan, and a couple of other kids) used to spin a lot of NY hardcore a la Madball, H20 (pre Faster Than The World), Agnostic Front and, of course, Sick of It All as well as more metal influenced hardcore (metalcore was not a term to describe a genre then) like Coalesce, Converge, Deadguy, etc. After my show, Robbie and Bill's show, Youth Enrage, would follow; they spun a large batch of DC hardcore as well as records by Born Against and Life's Blood. Then Josh and Denis' show would close the night out at like 2AM. Their show's name escapes me right now, but they played everything ranging from Assuck to Catharsis to His Hero Is Gone.
Like I said, I heard a bunch of great music during these shows (finding new music was still challenging then), some of which I cherish and listen to still. The point of this blog, for the next few entries anyway, will be to highlight some of these bands (sometimes obscure, sometimes that are now well known) and hopefully inject some people with some of the same excitement and great feeling that I had back then. If all goes well, once a week a new Be Afraid (so named after my now several years deceased radio show) blog will appear with this same mission in mind. This first installment will feature the criminally unheard and short lived band, Ottawa.
I first heard Ottawa's name when Josh (who helped to helm the late show) happily proclaimed that he bought the Jihad & Ottawa split 12" record from someone. I remember the first show that he had once he received the record. The Ottawa side was played in its entirety, twice. Did I mention that we did almost anything that we wanted to do during these shows? Well, we did; and although Ottawa's side of the split was right around 15 minutes, that is still a large chunk of a 3 hour radio show. It did not matter; we were listening to Ottawa. Hearing this record for the first time reminded me that for all the political posturing and the meat head violence that could be associated with it at times, punk rock could be fun and have a sense of humor (and I am not referring to idiotic and or sophomoric humor); it was a breath of fresh air when I needed it the most. It was not until several years later when I had the opportunity to procure a copy of this record for myself; when I finally received the record in the mail, I listened to it 6 or 7 times in a row (I still have yet to play the Jihad side which I probably should even though I do not think I have ever heard their side) while pouring over the lyric sheet and marveling at all of the Lord of the Rings references. Thanks to the hard work of my brother (thanks again, you still have terrible taste in music), I recently found MP3's of this record which reignited my fascination with Ottawa, caused me to share the MP3's with Michael (the head honcho here at Scene Point Blank), and demanded me to write this long winded dissertation.
With a sound falling somewhere around the territory that His Hero Is Gone traversed with a bit of Left for Dead sound quality and aesthetic, Ottawa drills through their 13 songs, plus a lifted track from one of the old Rankin/Bass Lord of the Rings cartoons for ambience, in what amounts to a quick coffee break at work. They make use of several vocalists that make for good variation and break the whirlwind of guitars and rough blast beats up a bit. There are a bunch of samples added for good measure that set up a couple of songs (like using a speech from Saruman to his Uruk-hai hoards from the aforementioned Rankin/Bass cartoons before "The Onslaught of the Uruk-hai"). It is incredibly difficult to nail down exactly what makes me enjoy this record so much, but rest assured I find it just as enjoyable as I do the Left for Dead records (and that is saying something coming from me).
This split 12" is all that really ever was released by the band; although, rumors and whispers suggest that their half of the record was remixed with the intent to release as a "discography", but I doubt that will even see the light of day. The band is a part of a small niche group of bands of which even they are a relatively obscure part; too few people know about the hidden gem that is Ottawa (but those of us who do enjoy them a great deal) for a super small label like Council (who put the split out originally) to press a bunch of records that probably just will not move. Perhaps if more people knew of the band and showed an interest, we will see that repress in some not too distant future; the record deserves it.
For those interested, you can check out some of their music at a fan run page:
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