JP Sadek / Upfront Magazine

Caitlin Crockard /

It seems as if a few Ottawa bands are fulfilling New Year's resolutions already, jump-starting 2007 with new records, new songs and a new resolve.

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Sylvie Hill / The Ottawa Xpress

If male rockers pushing 40 could get pregnant, I'd believe that Ottawa's The Setbacks were the product of a three-way shag in the back of a van between Tricky Woo, C'mon and Maximum RNR. Baptized with Labatt's 50 and weaned on MC5 and The Stooges, The Setbacks (Trevor Kealey, Steve Palmer, Chris Saracino and Paul Townsend) play fun and blistering-loud, balls-out raunch 'n' roll crowded with shouts and gang vocals, pounding drums, big bass lines and killer riffage that'll make yer skull cave in.

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Allan Wigney / The Ottawa Sun

Bless My Soul, it's great garage rock

The four members of local band The Setbacks are sipping pints and trading stories of impregnating guitar riffs, borrowed drumkits and a recent brush with selling-out, courtesy of a radio station-sponsored talent search.

They have congregated on this evening to discuss the blistering garage-rock splendour of Bless My Soul, the band's latest CD release. Not that the longtime friends need an excuse to meet.

"We've been together in some form or another for 10 years," bassist Paul Townsend reports. "And it really doesn't seem like it."


That might be due in part to the fact Townsend, guitarists Steve Palmer and Trevor Kealey, and drummer Chris Saracino, all agree that in many ways The Setbacks only really got started two years ago, with the release of a six-song EP that marked a clean stylistic break with the band's past.

"When we were playing together in first-year university as Slackjaw, we were covering East Coast bands like Sloan, and trying to write songs that fit in with that sound," Saracino relates. "Then we started getting into Tricky Woo and becoming progressively louder."

Somewhere along the line, however, Saracino was sidetracked by electronica -- even going so far as to start a record label with Rise Ashen, devoted to all things electronic. He returned to the dark side, Kealey says, because "playing electronic music gave him that rock 'n' roll bug again. Chris told us he'd be in the band as long as we sounded like Bionic."

A 2002 self-titled CD by The Setbacks caught the awkward transition to mighty rock from "shoegazer pop." By 2004's One Track Mind EP, the transformation to Bionic from Sloan -- or, rather, to The Setbacks from Slackjaw -- was complete.

The new full-length album, recorded with Ukrainia's Paul Granger's assistance, effectively ups The Setbacks' ante.

"The time is right," Kealey concludes to general agreement from his bandmates, "for a good rock 'n' roll revolution."

Sylvie Hill / The Ottawa Xpress

"One thing skateboarding has in common with rock 'n' roll-both achieved perfection in the 1970s."
~Steve Palmer, The Setbacks

What do you get when you pair up a 15-year-old music fan with his 16-year-old skater friend? You get Kevin Kockler and Craig Wheeler, two Kanata youths who have just started a business called Mi Skateboards, painting skateboards on the cheap with customized artwork of your choice. Check out

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Review - DOFA , High Strung and the Setbacks : Barrymore's, Ottawa, 24/7/2004

"...Openers the Setbacks were playing; for some reason my memory of them had been of a somewhat goofy pop band, and Iíd avoided previous shows. Thatís why my memory is off somewhere in the corner of my brain being severely pummeled by the part of my grey cells used for the appreciation of rockíníroll: Their tough sound was akin to Norwayís Gluecifer."

Andrew Carver / The Ottawa Sun

The Setbacks: One Track Mind

"There are a lot of good rock bands in Ottawa right now - Blackball, The Glads, Harshey, Million Dollar Marxists and The Fortunate Sons, to name but a few. You have to add The Setbacks to that list. Their new six-song EP isnít as explosive as their live show, but it is a fine effort in its own right and a great introduction to the band. The chunky rock sound and twin guitar attack of One Track Mind will suit the fancy of fans of groups like Le Nombre, the Gotohells, The Hellacopters and Gluecifer."

Fateema Sayani / Ottawa X-Press Editor-in-Chief

"Quite possibly my new favourite band. Jumping on the bandwagon of '60s-style garage rock, locals Trevor Kealey, Steve Palmer, Paul Townsend and Chris Saracino, pump out potent rock 'n' roll numbers just like the best of them. Let the buzz begin."

Wes Smiderle / The Ottawa Citizen

"The Ottawa band plays old fashioned, four-piece rock with punk-like ferocity and wry, mod wit. ... The Setbacks' strengths lie mainly in driving guitar and infectious rhythm."

Fateema Sayani / Ottawa X-Press Editor-in-Chief

"They're newish to the scene, but they've already attained some of the buzz - that critical, intangible, undefined "thing," the lifeline of the unsigned, and the necessary link between any rock 'n' roll rookie and a full nightclub."


High resolution press photo of the band