Dave Rave is a Canadian musical institution. There at the beginning of the country’s own punk awakening in the late 1970s, leading man in Hamilton’s new wave Shakers, and key to the second round of success for Teenage Head in the mid-1980s. But unlike many other CanCon veterans of that era, he’s refuses to rest on his laurels just churning out nostalgia. Indeed, the past seven years have seen the release of five solid poprock albums and an EP, as well as other more jazzy and/or folkie single and albums.
All the essential elements are in evidence on the remarkable, chock full of should-be hits, 2011 release Live With What You Know. It’s got the tempo changes of a great McCartney album, switching from the melodic rocking of “Anne-Marie” and “Rain Song” to the more mellow acoustic-inflected “You’re Going to London” and “Rows and Rows.” Great songs are in abundance here but I have to single out exquisite low key hooks embedded in “One of Kind” and “All of the Love You Can Handle.”
From there it’s a poprock odyssey over the next few albums, as Rave continues demonstrate his impressive songwriting chops with some killer bands. 2014’s Ashtray Makeup takes the formula in a more straight-up rocking direction but still leaning strong on melody, as is clear from opening track “St Paul” and the Lou Reed-ish “Here She Comes.” 2015’s Sweet American Music is another winner, particularly the melodically discordant “Pullman, Washington” and the Nick Lowe-ish “You Take What’s Yours.” 2016’s Radio Rave channels a very Canadian Merseybeat vibe on the wonderful “Love” or mid-1960s Americana of “Slow.” I love shimmering guitar lines on “Satellite Treason” and the little bit country, little bit rock and roll sound of “Not Right Now” from the 2017 EP Indicator. Not letting up, Rave returned just months ago with All Night Raves. Here I would single out the jangly “Don’t Be Scared” and the early Joe Jackson sound of “Life of a Superstar.”
What impresses me about Dave Rave is his ability keep producing dynamic new records full of hooky original material. Clearly, he’s not done creatively. He’s got more to give. Let’s make that giving mutual with a trip to Dave’s bandcamp page. And get your wallet out.