The Canadian capital city that is Ottawa, where I live, often gets a bad rap from other Canadians. Being a government and tech town, the burg is the type of place that usually winds up at the top of Most Boring Places to Live polls. Well, Ottawa does have a rich and thriving underground arts scene – being in between Canada’s two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, a lot of cultural stuff doesn’t make it here, so I find that you have to make your own entertainment. Enter alterna-rock trio Emmas Ringer (note there’s no apostrophe in the name). They’re an Ottawa band, but “boring” is certainly not an adjective you can use to describe them. Their debut album, Generations, which follows an earlier EP and demos, is stylistically all over the map, which keeps things hoppin’. What makes this outfit so interesting is that they’ve basically been around since the early 2000s in various guises, and they’ve taken all of that time to be patient and wait before having an LP full of tunes that buries their distinctive influences.
So, yes, a song like “Hong Kong” might sound a little Soundgarden-ish. “Everything You Need” has a Kings of Leon vibe to it. However, this is not mere cloning or a band that’s trying to sound like more popular bands out there. Emmas Ringer has its own template of scuzzy and fuzzy guitar rock that ties you to the back of a pick-up truck and drags you down a muddy dirt road. And there’s an appeal in that. What’s more, the songs are in the top drawer of your bedroom dresser, and there are a few intriguing diversions, such as the reggae-ish “Have It Your Way” and the glorious mandolin-based acoustic ballad “Generations”. Sure, Generations may lack cohesion and the final two tracks, both of which exceed five minutes, are basically the weakest things to be found (“Million Dollar Solider” is a throwaway that tries to resurrect the spirit of T. Rex). Still, this is professionally recorded, immensely entertaining, and full of hooky songs. Emmas Ringer isn’t boring at all. They’re awesome sauce.