Review – Szabo – Get Wasted EP (2013)


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With influences ranging from Jazz fusion to 90’s alt rock, Szabo strives to create a musical landscape comprised of relate-able lyrics and infectious grooves. Szabo engages audiences with crowd pleasing tunes and a dynamic on stage presence.  Comprised of drummer Austin Perry, keyboardist Andy Vieluf, bassist Gary Coveney and lead singer/guitarist Elliot Szabo, the members of Szabo hail from a wide range of musical backgrounds and accomplishments.

In support of Elliot Szabo’s first solo project effort, Between Two Points on a Map, the group did short stints on the road as well as opening for national acts in their home city of Las Vegas. And now a year and a half later, the band Szabo is born, playing fan favorites from Between Two Points on a Map, along with new and innovative songs that fans will soon grow to love.  Szabo is now out of the studio finishing up their first EP together!

This four song EP is easy on the ears.  They have a laid back sound but also have powerful vocals from Elliot.  His vocals are pleading, the lyrics are brooding and full of life and the melodies are catchy.

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“Get Wasted” is a song about drug/alcohol addiction.  With lyrics like “Go get fucked up on your own time/Don’t you dare waste mine as well/Go get wasted in the corner/By yourself”.  That pretty much sums up the lyrical side of the song.  The melody is constructed well in this song – it flows from the verse to the chorus and back again.

“Pretty Good Kids” has a pleasant musical opening and is in the same vein musically as “Get Wasted”.  Laid back, catchy and melodic.  Lyrically, this song is about a longing to be anywhere but the place you grew up in.  I can relate to this as I moved from Ontario to British Columbia.  I had a yearning to be somewhere completely different.  I had never been to any of the Western Provinces so it seemed like a good idea.  And its worked out well for me.

“Where to Start” is a bit slower paced and opens with a piano.  This song is sparse on lyrics but the song stands well in the EP.  Lyrically, this is a song about wanting to do something you really want but you’ve no idea where to start.  In this case, I suspect it’s about writing a song as the fist line of the song is “It’s never easy looking down at blank paper”…..

“Minnesota” is a song about a long lost love.  It could be a woman, man or a place.  It’s also about feeling lonely and down at night and no one you know realizes you are lonely.  I can really relate well to this.  I don’t feel lonely every night but once in a while….  Musically there is a lightness to the song until it hits the end of the chorus where it goes off the charted melody into minor keys which give it a weird and uncomfortable feel.  It’s also full on with vocals that seem to slide down through the melody.  I like that effect as it works really well in this song.

This EP was recorded at Battleborn Studios in Las Vegas.  It was recorded and mixed by Rob Root and mastered by Mike Houge.  The album design is by keyboardist Andy Veiluf with the cover art by Daniella Toscano.  All photography by Lawton Howell and Ski Basham.

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Review – Rioting Reverb – High I’m Your Neighbour (4 song EP)


Rioting Reverb is a band from Mississauga ON that have a quirky, folksy and somewhat rock sound to their music.  They are a relatively new band on the scene.  I dig their music.  The band members are:  Mike Batruch – Guitar/Vocals/Harmonica; Devon Golding – Bass/Back up Vocals and Joseph Boyland – Drums/Percussion.

I asked Mike Batruch about the band and this is what he had to say:

“This current line of Rioting Reverb has been around for about 4-5 months now, with Devon joining in August 2013.  Our previous bass player was unable to continue with us. It started off as a singer songwriter project by myself (Mike) in November of 2009, and in January 2012, Joe joined me.  We went through several bass players before Devon joined. We independently released our Debut EP ‘High, I’m Your Neighbour’ in April 2013.  It was recorded and mixed by Devon at a friend’s basement.  We are currently playing shows and we’re working on a stop motion music video for our single ‘This Wasn’t It’.”

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I am currently streaming their 4 song EP from their SOUNDCLOUD and the songs are:

1.  This Wasn’t It

2.  Respirator

3.  Old Stories!

4.  Untitled Jam 1

“This Wasn’t It” is a dance-able folk song (think the pogo) with some light punk ethic for good measure (standard 3 bar beat).  Mike’s vocals sound inviting, warm and slightly out of tune which makes it a good live off the floor recording.  The melody is not too fast but laid back and is played well by all members.  I like the roughness of the song and its straight-forward message of if things don’t work out like you thought, find a way to do what you love and don’t let anything stop you.  Forge ahead because your time will come.

“Respirator” is a song that reminds me lyrically of playing hide and seek or spin the bottle.  Both go back to a time of innocence when your a child and a teenager.  This song also ranges in its’ emotional side of life “one day I’ll be smiling/the next day I’m sad”.  It also highlights the folksy, harder edged and well played guitars of Mike Batruch.  The bass is low and the drums pound away.  This is my favourite song.

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“Old Stories!” starts out with a harmonica opening by Mike (and is throughout the song) with the steady beat of the drums.  There’s also some time signature changes within the beginning of the song as well.  I particularly like the start and stop musical breaks within the song.  A song about stories told to us about morals, life and watching what you wish for.  A very good song.

“Untitled Jam 1” is a mish-mash of music that is funky, bluesy and kind of folksy.  The first part is really heavy reverb on the guitars; very 70’s influenced.  It’s a good song to rock out to on the dance floor.  The song itself has an uneven sound but that’s its’ charm.  The second part starts out with looping that sounds straight out of the ’60’s and is presented well.  It does have structure and towards the middle, the guitars replace the loop and sound terrific – dreamy guitars on their own standing strong.

These 4 songs are a good start to this band, and I think we might be hearing more from them in the future.  The band’s music can also be found on BANDCAMP where you can also stream the music and buy it straight from the band if you really like it.  They are also on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE for live video performances.

Rioting Reverb LIVE – Respirator

Review – The Rekkening – Broken Mind EP


Vancouver’s The Rekkening has just brought out their new 4-song EP called Broken Mind.  For those of you who don’t know or who’ve never heard of The Rekkening, here is the background – Tracey Lynn Satann (main vocals/guitar) joined forces with bassist extraordinaire Goredzilla to form what is the backbone of The Rekkening.  At that time, they recorded a demo called “Best Served Cold” which went over well.  They played some gigs with a rotating door of guitarists and drummers and wrote songs.  They found guitarist Travis T (Treacherous T) who plays guitars on the EP and drummer Jordan Meyer.  However, Jordan just didn’t work out the way they had hoped, and they’re recruiting a new drummer, Natalie Elliot who has yet to find her nickname in the band.

As we speak, Goredzilla is in LA right now at the Bassist Convention where he handed out the EP to bassists’ for Metallica, Megadeath, Billy Sheehan, etc.  He’s also done an interview with the co-host of City Talk TV LA Robin Takizawa.

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The EP was engineered by Esteban Cruz Z., Roger Lee and Jeevanath Sekaran.  And, it was mixed and mastered by Ken Burke.

The 4 songs are (in order):  In The End, Broken Mind, Cry, Is This Love (Whitesnake cover).

Starting with “In The End” the first words you hear are “Blinded by rage/At a young age…” and “I am who I am” should tell you right off the bat that this band follows their own muses and if you don’t like the music, then leave now.  Tracey has very powerful pipes and she can get in your face literally with a focus and concentration that probably scares most other people.  Her intensity with music is evident in the vocal work on all 4 songs.  The music is hypnotizing, the drums pound and the song explodes from the speakers.  Travis’ guitars are very good throughout the songs as well.  And the bass work is impeccable.

“Broken Mind” has a sinister quality about it musically right from the start due to the song being in a minor key.  Tracey picks up a megaphone to use it as an extension of her powerful vocals which only a few bands have ever used.  Asking questions “why…” make me wonder what is she looking for which is interesting in of itself.  It’s a dark song about why why why do certain things keep happening in life.  Many people wonder the same thing about their lives as well.

“Cry” starts out with an acoustic guitar and fills out as soon as the drums enter the song.  It’s a great ballad song and is radio friendly.  With lyrics “But now I only cry/When it’s late at night/And now I only cry/Instead of holding you” are some strong emotions in the words which you can hear in the vocals.  This song is mixed well.  The guitars are lovely, played with graceful hands by Travis.  And the bass work speaks for itself.

“Is This Love” is a Whitesnake cover which isn’t like the original.  The band took this song and put some speed into it and grind it out with powerful vocals, pounding drums, choppy but fluid guitars and the bass just goes with speed beat drums.  A great headbanging song!

The one thing I like about this fresh band is their passion, focus and concentration on the music.  Tracey and Goredzilla are working hard this time around to make a name for themselves in the competitive genre of hard rock/metal.  I asked Tracey what would be the ultimate thing to happen to which she replied “We’d love to play some festivals in Europe, Germany in particular.”  With the right karma, this just might happen.  This EP is solid, refreshing and hard hitting, and when more songs are written and recorded, who knows what can happen!

The band can be found at the following links:

Facebook

Twitter

Reverbnation

You can also find some older songs in their live videos such as “Angel” from 2009’s The Red Room’s performance and from 2010 with “Wake The Dead” from a show at The Bourbon.

EP Review – City of Glass – The Diving Bell plus video


EP review – City Of GlassThe Diving Bell EP

Released: 21 June 2011

by Jade Sperry

Jadedphotography

EP cover. Photo couretsy of the band.

Vancouver’s City of Glass are having a very good summer. In June, they released their newest EP The Diving Bell and they are on tour in Germany and in the UK beginning August 12. I’ve written two previous articles on City of Glass which you can read here and here.

First off, I’d like to state that the mixing and mastering of this EP is superb. Having said that the first song is “Sticks and Stones” which has an upbeat melody that has a slight sadness or melancholy feeling to it musically. Lyrically, this song speaks of someone who’s questioning their life on a deep and personal level. I like the way the synths and guitars compliment each other and the vocals Michael delivers are done well with feeling and emotion. “Tourist” is slower in its tempo musically as well as having a slight forlorn feeling of regret weaved within the melody (“I can’t feel it anymore”). The synths are kind of creepy sounding but fit in the song itself in a subtle way. I like the haunted feeling of the song as well. “Little Shadows” has an infectious groove that invites you to get your groove on. Lyrically it sounds a lot like paranoia or of being paranoid (“spies hiding from the corner/when you’re alone”) as well as someone reflecting on their life. “Control” begins with syths that are dreamy and makes the song sound surreal. Odd time signatures and minor keys make this song a standout as well as the vocals that Michael lays down. This song is mixed and mastered particularly well which gives the song a full sound.

This four song EP is recommended if you like indie dance pop music.

City of Glass have several videos on YouTube – this video is for the song “Sticks and Stones” live:

EP Review – Ghosthouse – Fashionably Late


EP Review – Ghosthouse – Fashionably Late

Released: March 1, 2011

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Jimmy Con and Chuck. Photo courtesy of the band.

Ghosthouse is a Chicago IL project headed by the infamous Jimmy Con and his tasty beats. Jimmy is a singer/songwriter who makes some mighty fine beats and has dance tracks that are infectious and classy. Original beats, sampled beats mixed with original beats and old school beats make for a fine four song EP. The track listing is as follows:

  1. Private Dancer
  2. Analog Man
  3. I’m Not Your (Stepping Stone)
  4. Comearound

Fashionably Late was produced by Jimmy Con with his musical partner in crime Chuck. They equally share production credits as well as writing the tracks except for a cover by The Monkees.

It was mixed and mastered by Graeme Williams at Dr.Caw Studio in Northbrook, IL. He is their most trusted engineer as nobody is more intuitive when it comes to working with the infamous Ghosthouse gang. Crystal Bishop and her company Ear Candy Chicago are an integral part of Ghosthoue’s success and future plans. Besides managing Ghosthouse, Crystal also manages a group, Pyrofighter, that you should check out as well. (Ghosthouse did a remix for them that went to #1 on Purevolume). And the good news – Ghosthouse is currently in production for the follow up to this EP.

Starting with “Private Dancer” which from the get go sounds like a classic 80’s dance track in the vein of Prince and Sheila E – but only in the beats and music. The lyrics are reminiscent of making public scenes of affection, taking it off and being a private dancer for someone for that one night. I like the way the song flows, the vocals really suit the song and the timing is bang on. A good lighthearted dance tune about a night of passion. “Analog Man” has an awesome funky groove that is on the skank and dirty side. So good. I really like how intuitive Jimmy and Chuck are when working on the beats and timing of the vocals in the layers of the song. Speaking of “the power of the toolbox” and being an analog man who has the power, the touch and the total package. Skank and dirty indeed! Swagger also goes a long way for the hipster in this song. Covering the 1960’s song from The Monkees, “I’m Not Your (Stepping Stone)” has a good opening that doesn’t really seem to sound like the song until it hits the chorus. Impressive. I like the original fresh beats in the verses of the song which only hint at the original melody of the song. Vocals are done well and come in at the right times. The final song “Comearound” is a ballad that is wrapped in deep beats and vocals. This song actually feels like velvet coming out of the speaker its that good. Good timing, vocal and harmonies, this song has a soft sweet melody under all those deep beats. I also like the real passion in the vocals in this song. Well done Ghosthouse!

The Stick – EP Review – Fight Mode


EP Review – The Stick – Fight Mode

Released – September 30, 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

EP cover. Photo courtesy of the band.

The Stick are an electronic/trance/rap project from Vancouver BC and the 4 song EP is produced rather well. The track listing is as follows:

  1. Fight Mode
  2. The Grand Kowloon
  3. Pseudo Breaker
  4. Let Us Eat

At just under 2 minutes, the title track “Fight Mode” begins with some cool keys and when the voice comes in under the keys, it totally sounds like its underwater. Great opening for an electronic song! And the vocals get more layered into the music as the song flows very well until the fade out. “The Grand Kowloon” has some interesting sounds within the music and the song itself has some good time changes. With lyrics like “police say please/keep the peace” indicating that they don’t want to do that for the neighborhood where the rapper lives. This is very reminiscent of our society in today’s world. “Pseudo Breaker” opens with some funky electronic sounds with very good rap vocal structure coming right out of the speakers at you in a soft kinda laid back way. Speaking of “getting the scene” and “playing it safe” can be taken in many ways. I like the “mystery” in the vocals and how they are delivered and performed, especially towards the buildup at the end. “Let Us Eat” has a really cool groove and gets more layered as other sounds come into the song for the first minute and a half. The vocals sound far away which gives the song a good overall effect. Lyrically, it has nothing to do with food.

You can download the EP free from the link above and it would be well worth your while to have this EP in your collection if you like rap, electronic music with a trace vibe to it.