One Hundred Dollars Review – John Caffery

Track Title: Hell’s A Place

[audio:http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/02-Hells-A-Place.mp3]

$100 is a country band from Toronto whose sound gets back to the raw and real origins of the country music genre. I went to see these guys perform live more than any other artist this year and was never disappointed. The pairing of Ian Russell and Simone Fornow as a duo, or with their full band, is captivating. The genre of country music has not seen such a pairing since Johnny Cash and June Carter.

While Simone is a powerful front-woman who has written thought-provoking lyrics and delivers them with an intensity that is unapologetic, Ian Russell is the lead guitarist and singer. Their telling of hard times is enough to stop you in your tracks. During one of the shows Ian looked like he was hooked up to a medical drip. Although it was staged, the humor and honesty about life and death, and the struggles people endure, are right at the heart of this project.

Their song “Hell’s a Place” is the story of two lesbians running for their lives in British Columbia. $100 uses their music to create awareness of the troubles that are often neglected.

It don’t matter if our love is true
Them bigots have it out for girls like me and you
Their morals rain from that G-d up above
And according to him Hell’s the place for our love
Thumbs out of Quesnel through Veder Crossing
Memories harden like the earth beneath this stranger’s tires
They spare us guns of war, then beat us in our homes
Convinced our interlocked legs are fuel for fire.

The tune “Careless Love” deals in a frank and tender way with the common occurrence of being in bed with someone who doesn’t really care. This song is fragile, and strong, and catchy enough to sing along with.

$100 songs manage a quality that is both timeless and yet completely relevant for today. The songs seem older, because the band embraces the roots of country sound and yet lyrically they address current social issues. In fact, the arrangements are so strong that the songs from Forest of Tears will endure for many, many, years.

The album was released by Blue Fog records, a small Toronto label that is the project of Rick White (Eric’s Trip, Elevator) and Brian Taylor (Rotate This-Record Store). Rick White also recorded the album with $100 over the course of thirteen hours. While some bands take fourteen years to put out crap (think the “Chinese Democracy” of “Guns N Roses”), a band like $100 show it is possible to spend a day recording and produce a brilliant album.

John Caffery is a founding member of KIDS ON TV, which was formed in the spring of 2003 in Toronto, Canada. Their music explores the worlds of punk, no-rave, electro, booty house, acid, soul, and experimental rock. Their work references many elements of queer history and the artists who inspire them. KIDS ON TV transform environments with projections of their film and video work. In 2007, they released their debut album “Mixing Business With Pleasure” on Chicks on Speed Records and Blocks Recording Club. They recently collaborated with Yo Majesty and have worked with Boy George and Man Parrish. They toured Europe in ’06 & ’07. KOTV have played with Gang of Four, Crystal Castles, and Ladytron. Kids on TV organize events in Toronto in bath houses, ware houses, and school houses, the group recently performed with an orchestra of children who had learned a KOTV song in school.