Review – Quick Wicked (self)


Quick Wicked are a band from Brantford ON that have high energy, focus and concentration.  It’s truly independent music at its finest.  Categorically this band is on its own in the stadium.  If you need a slot, they are progressive/hard rock/indie-rock band that have some of the best music I’ve heard this year.  Produced by Quick Wicked and Hamilton’s Matt Gauthier (who also engineered, mixed and mastered the album).  Part of the album was even recorded at the Gauthier house, as well as at B Town Sound in Burlington and at The Eggplant Collective in Toronto.

quickwickedfront

The band members are Jeff Love (vocals/guitars), Kyle Love (drums), Rob Eddy (guitars/bass) and Kevin French (bass/synths).  They have total “original music that doesn’t have any preconceived notions” and they “have a passion for making original music”.  They effectively use sharp musicianship, a collective creativity and a heavy use of effects.  They make each part work and you just know that so much is put behind the song emotionally.  I had the opportunity to email a few questions to Rob Eddy, who had this to say about the questions asked:

1.  Who writes the music/lyrics for the songs on the CD??  Do you all write together or separately and work it out in the rehearsal space?  What’s the process?

Well, Jeff writes all his own lyrics, and for the most part, everyone in the band is responsible for writing their own parts to the songs with only a few exceptions.  Our writing process begins with one member already having 2 or 3 different ideas worked out beforehand.  Then, at practice it get’s dissected and we usually know very quickly if it`s something that will work for a Quick Wicked song or not.  The structuring of the song and getting to the end result can sometimes take months.  We always try to treat each instrument (including vocals) equally, and feel that that is an important part of what gives Quick Wicked a different sound than many other rock acts.

The only exception to this is that on the album called “Night Chaser” which is a song that I wrote and recorded everything myself.  I re-recorded it with Matt to use on the album as an interlude.  I couldn’t be happier with the end result!  I’m also pleased with how the songs “Monolith”, “Night Chaser” and “King” flow into each other seamlessly.  I feel that it’s just one really long song.  That was not planned out; we just stumbled across that when we were putting the track listing together.  It ended up being one of my favourite things about the album!

2.  How did the band come together as a whole as it is now?

The story of the band is as follows:  Jeff and I (Rob) met each other in public school and have been friends since grade 7.  We’ve been playing music together since we were 14 and were in many different bands in our teens.  Kyle (Jeff’s younger brother) was too young at first but by the time Kyle was 16 he was better than any other drummer we knew and eventually he came into the band.  We were sneaking him into the bars at that point because he was the only drummer we wanted to play with.

I then took some some time off from playing in a band for about two and a half years when Jeff approached me about a new project he had in mind.  He said that he had found a bass player (Kevin) who was Kyle’s friend before becoming our friend, and he wanted me to hear some demos for a couple of songs that he had already done.  Shortly after that we all met for the first time together at a rehearsal space in Hamilton and started jamming the songs.  That was the birth of Quick Wicked.  Two years later after spending a considerable amount of time getting comfortable as a band, writing songs, playing live, finding Matt, recording a demo with Matt, writing more songs and finally recording the full album with Matt again, we have our first album and a finished product that we are proud of.

3.  What is the mindset of the band when it comes to social networking?  How has the Music Industry changed the rules of bringing a new band on a roster or signing to a major label?

Currently, we are using social networking for almost all of our content and promotions.  We feel it’s a huge part of getting your music heard.  In our early days, we desperately wanted to sign with a major label and have them take care of everything for us so we could just focus on the music.  I think that was the story that was being told to us.  After seeing what has been going on over the last 10-15 years we have re-aligned our goals and no longer have that mentality.  Our main goal with this project is to give people a taste of something different when there is so much of the same happening right now in rock genre.  Many bands seem to follow a “cookie cutter” approach to their songs that they end up becoming a parody of each other.

qw3

The track listing is as follows:

1.   Dingo

2.   Blix

3.   The Bodyline

4.   Rhum Rocket

5.   Monolith

6.   Night Chaser

7.   King

8.   Re-awake

9.   Beetleweed

10. The Docks

The CD begins with “Dingo” which is a song that has a killer melody and is played with an amazing attention to every single detail by all four members.  With time signature changes that would confuse the best of musicians, and root chords in the bass work, they make it seem so easy and seamless in this one song.  Vicious guitars, pounding drums and awesome vocals are just the beginning of this very impressive collection of songs.  This song speaks of control and being original.

“Monolith” is the longest song at just over 6 minutes.  It has a pretty guitar opening, followed by drums and bass.  The melody flows easily through the song and the vocals are pained – tearing at your heartstrings with emotion.  Lyrically, “I pick you over me/I’ve done it before/I miss you/Don’t walk away” can all be attributed by choosing another over yourself which can lead to confusion, tension and loss.

“Night Chaser” is an instrumental song, played well and is easy on the ears.  Similar to “Monolith”, it makes a statement of quality music for the listener.  The completion to this is the song “King” which gives you a trilogy of sorts.  All three songs have well constructed melodies that flow into one other.  The music is subtle and also tense, but “King” takes it over the goal line.  “Which side of the billions do you follow?” is an interesting question to ask in a song lyric.  As a listener it makes you think about what the band is asking you.

“Re-awake” is a short song (2:40) that is by far my favourite song.  Time changes, choppy drums and good vocals, this song makes me want to start headbanging and pretending that I’m at a Quick Wicked concert.  With my pretension to punk music, this song combines that punk spirit with hard rock and is played with intensity that equals no other band out there on the indie circuit at present.  Lyrically, I hear it as a rebirth of sorts in some way, which reminds me of a snake shedding its skin and becoming new again in its own protection for survival.

Every song on this CD is solid, likeable and really can’t be slotted into one category.  There are many influences this band takes from other bands and make it their own by playing to their own drummers, so to speak.  The recording, mixing and mastering are impeccable and speak to me of a band who found the perfect match in Matt Gauthier’s ability to nail the bands’ authentic sound in this 10 song CD.

You can find the band on Facebook (facebook.com/quickwicked), on Bandcamp where you can hear the CD in its entire format and buy it from there, and on the bands’ website.

The band has an upcoming show at The Volume Lounge in Oshawa ON on Saturday November 16.  Contact the venue for ticket prices and door times.

Quick Wicked – Video – Dingo (as recorded in studio) followed by “King”

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Review – Rec Centre – Times A Billion


Rec Centre is a Vancouver experimental musician Alex Hudson whose collaboration with bassist Jay Arner has resulted into a full blown partnership and a new collection of pop/indie pop/power rock pop songs with a little shoegaze in there just for good measures.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Rec Centre’s Long Weekend EP on January 2, 2011 and you can find the article here.  This collection of music was recorded at The Hive and Tonehenge in Vancouver by Alex Hudson and Jay Arner.  They also called upon Robbie Nall (bass) and Rose Melberg (backing vocals).  The songs were mixed by Jay Arner and mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk.

reccentre1The track listing is as follows:

1.   Missin’ Out

2.   Look Alive

3.   Wait A Second

4.   It Won’t Mean Anything

5.   Cold Call

6.  Let’s Get Divorced!

7.   Spray Tan

8.  Rafters

9.   Indisposed

10.  Times A Billion

Starting out with the song “Missin’ Out” is an upbeat happy song musically that has some good vocal work by Alex.  A busy lifestyle is understood by all in this day and age.  A couple experience one or the other missing out on certain events in each others’ lives which can cause friction and fights.  A likeable song with a good melody!

“It Won’t Mean Anything” is an 80’s inspired song musically.  Synths and low guitars with vocals and a slow kick drum.  Perfect!  Lyrically, this could be about anything that you obsess over and then the next day, it really didn’t mean anything and it’s gone.  One night stands, a perfect show, meeting a certain person; all these could be what the lyrics mean in some sense.  I also sense a bit of reggae in the music.  This is a good song to listen to and to chill out to.

“Let’s Get Divorced!” is a song that reminds me of surf music but at a slower pace.  I like the sound, it makes me want to get up and do some dancing.  The chorus is slightly out of key to the rest of the song but it works well within the structure of the entire song.

“Spray Tan” is a 1:43 song that is an instrumental that reminds me of Duran Duran back in the day.  Having just seen a recent video of a 1985 concert it’s apparent that the 80’s sound is still kicking around in some songs.  Love it!

All of the songs on this full CD are good, solid and likeable.  A few are dance-able, some are happy and some are sad.  A good collection of songs for fans of 80’s new wave bands and dance pop music.

You can find the band on their BANDCAMP site for all your musical browsing.

CD Review – Sex With Strangers – Behaviours


SWS 1Photo credit to Lindsay Elliott.

Vancouver’s Sex With Strangers released their 4th independent album late last year called Behaviours.  Unique to this album is the addition of keyboard/vocalist Alexis Young who totally changes the dynamic of the band in the creative process of songwriting.  With a trilogy of concept albums behind them, SWS are writing songs about “dystopian themes – but this time we focused on matters of a human nature – namely tension and relationships” says frontman Hatch Benedict.  He continues by saying “our hope is that people will question whether they’re actually listening to the same band from song to song while still enjoying the album as a whole”.

The track listing is as follows:

1.  Behaviours

2.  I See The Gun (And You’re The Bad Guy)

3.  Times Electric

4.  Conspirators

5.  The Brave One

6.  Machineland

7.  Blindness

8.  Terrible Things

9.  Pentagram Blues

10.  Waving My Heart

11.  Call In The Night

BehaveSWS

Let me just start out by saying that this is a CD that I’ve been listening to for 6 months.  Due to a vacation that involved numerous health issues that seem to be subsiding just now, I was inspired by this particular CD while ill due to the fact that this is a progressive, funky, crazy band which isn’t all that much different than my own personality.  That and the fact that I really like this bands’ music and their live shows are a highlight of any club gigs I go to – and they are just so damn COOL.

“Behaviours” is a song that has minor tones of music which gives it a sombre and dystopian feel.  Lyrically, this is a song about being afraid of how someone makes you feel internally and how they make you want to change – your life, your job, your feelings about life…..finding your way alone is hard but choosing to find your way with someone else is mind-blowing to an individual who never saw it that way ever.

“I See The Gun…” is a funky and fun song musically but in some ways totally opposite lyrically.  The beginning of the song reminds me of a TV theme show song but it quickly turns into something like someone you’ve known well may want to cause you harm emotionally.  Lyrics like “I don’t see the sun honey/I don’t see you smiling through the window/I just see the gun and you’re the bad guy” and “I see you slithering on the ground” gives me a good impression of what that person is really like.  It could also hint at someone playing games with you that you go along with for a while until you want serious time with that person who may not be able to give that to you.

“The Brave One” is a song that I can really relate to because in my past there was a person who wanted my “hard reaction” but being young and stupid (and possibly drunk) and having many other personal issues that could have affected the other person, I never showed any reaction.  Musically, however, Rob Zombie couldn’t do it better.  This is my favourite song on the album.

“Pentagram Blues” is musically a harder edged song that I’ve ever heard from SWS.  “Ain’t that the truth” is well said in this song lyric.  Chaos is also felt in this song as well as negative feelings like sadness and jealousy.

All in all, I really like this album as it’s a 50% departure of theme or concept albums and enters the realm of human nature and emotions involving reason, fear, torment, sex and love (lyrically).  Musically, some things have changed but in a good way as this is a band that is always moving forward – they don’t get stuck in a rut or move backwards – and that’s a good thing.

You can download the song “Behaviours” for free on the bands’ Bandcamp site where you can buy the album directly from that site as well as from iTunes Canada.  Photos of the band are courtesy of Lindsay Elliott.

The band can be found at the following links:

The official band website

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube

Video for BEHAVIOURS and other videos by the band:

General Overview of Older Reviews


Since the beginning of this year, I’ve had an overloaded plate and at some point due to many issues, I just couldn’t keep up.

But slow change is happening, and since the reviews I had been working on are 6 months or older now, I’m just going to give out the artists’ name/band name with a link to read about the music and that kind of thing.  I’ll just make a comment about the music, but it’ll be more or less “general”.  I want to leave it to fate and what consumers want (that means you!).  Whether it’s a name of a person/band that sucks you in or just being curious as to what kind of person/band with that name has what kind of music?  Either way, it’s your free will to choose what you do.

One final note:  I do have 2 new reviews that will be posted separately over this long holiday weekend – both are Vancouver BC based artists Sex With Strangers and Rec Centre.

Mother Mother

Hill and the Sky Heroes** (see below for contest)

Jesse Sparks

The Gromble

The Red Button

Seth Swirsky

Taz Taylor Band

Cubic Feet

Infared Sunday

**Hill and the Sky Heroes are on Audio Blood Media, and thanks to the AB Team, I just happen to have 2 extra copies of the CD and if you’d like one sent to you, just answer me this:  1)  who is the force behind this CD and 2) name 3 other artists who this force has worked with and on what kind of project (music, film, art, etc.)

Send an email with your answers to:

jadedphotograhy@me.com

Deadline is September 20th, 2013.  The first correct entries win the CD.  Please remember to include an address to send the CD to in your email.

Mother Mother “The Sticks” is my favorite CD this year hands down.  I love the progressive nature of this band so much it hurts.  The lyrics are always stark and stripped down but remain mysterious to individual listeners.  The opening track OMENS is downright ominous and creepy , but there is a lingering question mark at the end of that song that leads directly into the title track THE STICKS.  I can’t explain how a song can make you think of a question mark.  It just is.  I’ll be playing those 2 songs at the infamous Halloween party this year out in Surrey!  The music does lighten up and take on more happy but melancholy tones  (musically) but lyrically it could go either way.  I would describe the vibe/undercurrent of this CD in 3 words:  On the edge.

Hill and the Sky Heroes is another example of a progressive artist and band member with other impressive credentials to the name Hill.  I had never heard of this band but the talent that is bursting out of this CD is like a water deluge of biblical proportions.  It’s overwhelming at first.  If you like whimsical, edgy and a life being lived fully kind of music, this is a must have for your Indie music collection.

Jessie Sparks is originally from Melbourne Australia where she is based out of today.  She did live in her early teenage years in Illinois, Iowa and New York State in the US where early on she had a huge talent for singing and pianos.  This 5 song EP is worth a listen and download from iTunes.  Great blues vocals reminiscent of Janis Joplin, Odetta and Billie Holiday.  Good timing, upbeat melodies for the most part and a fantastic voice highlight this Blues artist – and if you like Blues, you’ll want to add this to your collection.

The Gromble have that throwback music from the 1990’s.  Not a bad sound if you’re in a longing for the 1990’s.

The Red Button is a Seth Swirsky collaboration.

Taz Taylor Band is pretty much good rocking music.  Check out the link above to find out more.

Cubic Feet and Infared Sunday have good solid music you should check out by following the links above.

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I want to thank Audio Blood Media and Luck Media for their patience while I’ve been AWOL with medical issues.  You guys rock!  And its good to be back!

CD review – Young Rival – Stay Young


CD Review – Young Rival – Stay Young (Sonic Unyon Records)

Released:  October 23, 2012

by Jade Sperry

young rival hamilton on group1

Hailing from my old hometown of Hamilton ON, Young Rival are a hardworking band who are currently on tour in Quebec, and play a show in Hamilton on December 26 at The Casbah.  If I were going home for Christmas this year, I would have definitely checked out this band.   In the USA, there is a movement of like minded bands as Young Rival – Beach Fossils, Wavves, and  Cults just to name a few.

There are a lot of things that I like about this band – their reverence for popular-music history which makes it an indie rock trio capable of winning over audiences that might ordinarily turn a deaf ear to any indie-rock band.  The band members are guitarist and frontman Aron D’Alesio, bassist John Smith and drummer Noah Fralick.

Aron says that “my dad got me into the Yardbirds, Beatles, Kinks – all that stuff.  I didn’t even know who Kurt Cobain was until the guy died.”  I find that one statement refreshing because this band is not modeled on any grunge music whatsoever.  Aron also says “whenever I listen to contemporary music, I enjoy it, but personally I’ve never been too much into what’s going on around me.  I like to dig at stuff that’s not happening.  Those are the things that are interesting to me”.  Wow!  You know in a lot of ways I can relate to what Aron says about music.  I seek out bands much like carving out some media exposure for young bands that normally would never have any such exposure.

They aren’t fashionable, a blog-do-it-yourself-band, trendy or anything of our social trending cyber-world.  Noah sums it well in saying “you get to this point as you play long enough or grow up where you don’t really give a shit.  If you are a “blog band” that helps but its not the only way to do it.”  This is my kind of band!

The only real guideline the band set for itself going into recording, Aron says, was to make “a collection of the best songs we’d ever done together.  We wanted to be able to look back at them and be proud of them….so for me at least this was just trying to do something that we could really stand behind and be really proud of”.

Being in this band means they go and play.  The standard work ethic from a very working-class upbringing in Hamilton.  I know this from the way I was raised in the same area.  So, onto the music – the track listing is as follows:

1.  Black Popcorn

2.  Nothing You Know Well

3.  Let It Go

4.  I Don’t Care

5.  Black is Good

6.  Two Reasons

7.  Better Things to Do

8.  Lost

9.  Valerie

10. Night Song

First off, all the songs are really well written, played, mixed and mastered.  Jon Drew (Fucked Up, Arkells, Tokyo Police Club) is at the helm of this stellar collection of songs.  Beginning with “Black Popcorn” it’s a very upbeat song with a melody that floats through the song.  With lyrics “tell me no lies/tell me no lies/this is your life/” that pretty much sums up most couples who hook up.  Most of us want honest relationships but there are people out there who can mess you up bad.  I relate to this because this happened to me.  Messed up bad by a guy who to this day I still think of.  But I regress.  “Nothing You Know Well” is a stop stutter beat in 2/3 time which flows well by all three members.  Good chord progression and changes.  The lyrical meaning for this listener is that the singer has moved on and grown and the person in front of him has not changed one iota.  That’s pretty accurate for most people.  Some never change at all.  “Let It Go” has a bass line that is eerily similar to Nirvana’s “Breed” but only in it’s beginning bass line which is slowed down and not let loose as Nirvana did.  I like this song – it sums up most things in life – let it go – especially if you have no control over “it”.  “I Don’t Care” clearly reminds me of the Pixies in the progression of the song as a whole.  It’s fast, radio-friendly pop melodies that sound good.  The other stand out songs on this stellar CD are “Better Things To Do” which has a surf-country feel (if that’s possible) which speaks of woman in jail and having much better things to do; “Lost” which is sombre like a Lenard Cohen poem and speaks of traveling and asking for directions and help; and “Night Song” because it’s a fun song musically.  Dancing in my living room to this song is fun and well, you should try this as well when you buy the CD.

All in all, I really like this band, not because they’re Hamiltonians, but because they are just a really good band that plays great music.  I like the influences that I hear in the music and the lyrics I can relate to in many ways.

Enjoy the music video for “Two Reasons”:

CD Review – Mystery Machine – Western Magnetics


Mystery Machine – Western Magnetics (Sonic Unyon Records)

Released: 11 September 2012

By Jade Sperry

Formed in Chilliwack BC back in 1990, Mystery Machine are still kicking out their jams. With their new CD Western Magnetics released a few months back, they did a short tour to follow up their CD and celebrated their CD release show at the Astoria in Vancouver back on October 13.

The band have released 3 prior albums called Glazed (1992), Ten Speed (1995) and Headfirst Into Everything (1998). They’ve been on a hiatus of informal means and have recently signed on with Sonic Unyon Records (in my hometown of Hamilton ON). This new beginning has also given birth to a new album.

The current members are: Shane Ward, “Bean” Chris Switzer, Luke Rgalsky and Mario Nieva. Original band member Jordan Pratt appears on 5 of the 10 tracks. This was recorded between 1999-2011 at 3 studios in Vancouver: Mushroom, Slack and Big Midet with Vince Jones, Blair Calibaba and Tim Oberthier handling all production duties, and Noah Mintz mastered it at the Lacquer Channel.

CD Cover art

Track listings are as follows:

  1. Pronto
  2. Japanese-Dads
  3. Runaways
  4. Octagon Skylight
  5. Floatist
  6. We Won’t Return
  7. House On Fire
  8. Snow
  9. Bullshit Patrol
  10. Northern Analog

The first track “Pronto” is a fast edgy song that has a lot of fuzzed out guitars and a wall of music – much like the early 1990’s movement in bands like Sonic Youth, Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine to name a few.  Speaking of “Have you seen the world?” is the question through the song that a listener has the chance to answer for themselves.  “Japanese-Dads” is a similar song in musical style but there are no lyrics – just a good song with a happy uptempo and decent melody. “Octagon Skylight” is a ballad type song that proclaims “you’re alright/i’m your maker/you can’t deny/things are changing now”.  I like the melody of this song as it’s very smooth and re-assuring in a calm way.  This song is mixed well.  For the most part, this CD takes you back to the 1990’s in a friendly way.  The other standout songs are “Snow” and “Bullshit Patrol”.

All in all a good CD and a welcome return by Mystery Machine.  If you’re into the ’90’s alt music, this would be a CD you’d like.

Cd Review – The Zolas – Ancient Mars


The Zolas – Ancient Mars

Released:  October 2, 2012

by Jade Sperry

After debuting with Tic Toc Tic in 2009, The Zolas climbed the precipice of cult status across Canada, thanks to a very loyal fan-base carried over from Zach Gray (vocals, guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski’s (piano) earlier years as Lotus Child.  With Ancient Mars, The Zolas are set to continue their legacy of postmodern pop. Armed with poetic lyrics, Ancient Mars trades in the cabaret glitz of Tic Toc Tic for reverbed pianos and hard, minimalist beats.  In each song, Zack Gray builds a skeleton of a setting for a song – from outer space to a college library to a Victorian jail cell – and tells stories fleshed out with the listener’s own history.

If John Lennon and Kanye West met later tonight at a hotel bar, “Escape Artist” is the song they would write. It’s these kinds of pairings that Ancient Mars is full of:  The Zolas write classic pop songs and then fuck them up until the hooks have to fight to get out.  In October, The Zolas teamed up with Winnipeg’s The Liptonians to release a 7” split single “Cultured Man”, a quixotic snack in between the two full-length albums.

Tom Dobrzanski is the band’s on-board producer, having worked with names in indie-rock royalty like Said the Whale and We Are The City.  But for Ancient Mars, the production duties were handed over to Chuck Brody (Tegan and Sara, Ra Ra Riot, Yoko Ono, Phantogram, Wu-Tang).

The track listing for the CD is as follows:

1.    In Heaven

2.    Knot In My Heart

3.    Ancient Mars

4.    Strange Girl

5.    Escape Artist

6.    Observatory

7.    Local Swan

8.    Euphrates and Tigris

9.    Cold Moon

10.   Cultured Man (Bonus Track features The Liptonians)

The Zolas at Squamish Live Festival - picture courtesy of Yolande Cole and the Georgia Straight.

I’ve been a fan of The Zolas since their debut in 2009.  In the past years, Zack has played in a number of other bands in the Vancouver area (Henry and the Nightcrawlers) and has done solo sets opening for his friends’ shows (David Vertesi of Hey Ocean!).  Tom Dobrzanski is a brilliant artist in his own right – from producing to recording to piano man – he gets the job done.  Tom also has his own studio called VERTICAL STUDIOS here in the Vancouver area and does well for himself.  These are 2 artists that have a lifetime of talent between them; and possibly more.

This is a solid 10 song CD.  “In Heaven” is an odd but interesting song.  The music is slightly out of key and is in the minors but it has an excellent melody which gives it a moody feel.  The guitars, pianos and drums all blend together quite well, and the song itself gives off a life of its own.  It’s a well written song that has character.  “Knot In My Heart” has a really cool melody and groove.  This song changes from mid-tempo to uptempo in the bridges and the chorus.  It’s a well written song that’s mixed well.  “Ancient Mars” has a mellow vibe and is in 3/4 time.  I particularly like this song as it’s got a personality in the melody.   “Escape Artist” has a nice flow throughout its 2:42 of life.  The song starts with pianos and then it begins to build with the other instruments in a short period time.  Awesome!  The other standout songs are “Local Swan” (Montreal setting with a girl who may or may not remember a meeting), and “Cold Moon” (a ballad type song that flows well stripped down).

Photo of The Zolas at Sqaumish Festival – courtesy of Yolande Cole and the Georgia Straight.