The Balconies – Review – Fast Motions


balconies cdcover

Since the release of their Kill Count EP in 2011, and the success of its title track in 2012, The Balconies have been making waves internationally with their rigorous touring schedule and spirited live shows. Raging through North America and Europe for the better part of 2013 – including performances at Iceland Airwaves, Reeperbahn, NXNE, and CMJ, fans and critics alike have been falling for the band. The Balconies have been garnering accolades from NOW Magazine, Hit the Floor, and Exclaim! just to name a few. A testament to their energetic live show, Soundproof Magazine went so far as to say, “The Balconies are a beast on stage…….a dramatic understatement. Their music reached out and bitch slapped the Horseshoe (in Toronto ON Canada) across their drunk faces, demanding attention.”

The band is looking forward to expanding its horizons on the road as a four-piece with new drummer Steve Molella.  The Balconies aren’t satisfied standing still – they’re ready to do it bigger and better in support of their new CD Fast Motions.  Recorded by legendary producer Arnold Lanni (Finger Eleven, Simple Plan, Our Lady Peace), Fast Motions is evidence of why The Balconies are one of Canada’s best new rock and roll acts. With lead single “The Slo” released earlier this year and receiving heavy rotation across Canada and the UK (plus a featured performance by the band on CBC Television police drama ‘Cracked’), they have a lot to live up to. The band does not disappoint – their trademark brand of visceral rock courses through Fast Motions. Sweaty, grinding rhythms have never felt this good – Jacquie’s explosive vocals and furious fretwork, Liam’s cascading atmospheric waves, Stephen’s thick, driving bass lines, and Steve’s quaking rhythms are set to seek and destroy.

Upon listening to this CD for the first time, one thing is evident – this band has the potential to become a huge success.  Beloved in their grass roots of Ottawa and their adopted home of Toronto, they follow bands like Metric, Mother Mother and The Belle Game to name a few, into commercial success not only here in Canada but all over the world.

The track listing for the CD is as follows:

1.    Boys and Girls

2.    I Know You’re Right

3.    Good and Ugly

4.    Moving Parts

5.    The Slo

6.    Kill Count

7.    Beating Your Heart

8.    Fast Motions

9.    Do It In the Dark

10.   Let Me Go

Starting out with the high energy “Boys and Girls” this song is catchy, has a great hook and has a flowing melody through the entire life of the song at 3:39.  This song has great harmonies as well, and is so damn likeable that I’m dancing mentally with the band.  Musically, this song is a great opener.  It sets the pace for the rest of the songs.  Lyrically, I find that its a current description of people in general.  Boys and girls.  Get up and get into the song!  It’s almost like an anthem.

“I Know You’re Right” is another high energy song that speaks of life on the road as a touring band.  It has a soft melody at its core but the band builds up the music to a frantic pace and brings it back down again, crashing into a finale.  This song is as good as it gets for this reviewer.

Jumping ahead to the song that brought The Balconies into the forefront, “The Slo” is disjointed, crazy and out of tune in spots – a perfect frenzy if that’s possible within a song.  Jacquie’s vocals are piercing in a pleading kind of way, expressing emotions that belong behind closed doors, giving it some kind of mystique.  Heavy guitars in minor keys give the song a foreboding feeling.  It’s no wonder this song exploded and the band became known by this song.  Very well done!

The last song “Let Me Go” is a total departure from the rest of the songs on the CD.  It’s slow, seductive and haunting.  No pounding drums or guitars are evident on this song but there is great harmony with the keyboards and Jacquie’s emotionally strained vocals.  Mostly in minor keys the song slowly fades into nothing as the CD comes to an end.

I have to say that this is a body of work that hopefully will be short listed to win the Polaris Prize.  This CD is filled with frenzied emotion, heady music played extremely well and really good harmonies and melodies.  The CD is well crafted and recorded by Arnold Lanni who puts his mark on this promising band.

Currently the band is doing a mini tour which includes the following dates:

Feb. 13 @ Ebar, GUELPH, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 14 @ Moustache Club, OSHAWA, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 15 @ Two Doors Down, BRANTFORD, ON

Feb. 20 @ Casbah, HAMILTON, ON (w/ Say Yes) *tickets

Feb. 21 @ The Dominion House, WINDSOR, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 22 @ Sanctuary, RIDGEWAY, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Video – The Balconies – The Slo.

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Review – Paper Lions – My Friends


My Friends, the new album from Charlottetown indie-rockers Paper Lions, was released on August 20, 2013 via the band’s own label imprint, Fountain Pop Records. The 10-song collection, recorded with acclaimed Canadian indie-rock producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers, Mother Mother) captures a Polaroid of Prince Edward Island twenty-some years ago. Stories of love and pain, childish fights, best friends, beaches and forts; they evoke the melancholia of youth, remembered by someone not very far from it.

As most people know, Paper Lions was formed in 2004 in Belfast PEI as the Chucky Danger Band by singer guitarist John MacPhee and brother Rob MacPhee (bass), guitarist Colin Buchanan (next door neighbour to the MacPhee brothers) and drummer David Cyrus MacDonald (who met the other 3 boys in high school).  They have released 6 LP/EP’s in the past decade and now have their 7th LP, My Friends, under the belt.

Paper-Lions

In doing some background research, there were 2 things that I never knew about this band – In 2010, the band were finalists for the John Lennon Songwriting Competition with a song from the LP Trophies called “Stay Here For Awhile” and in September of 2010 they were signed to a label for the Trophies LP but had received no proceeds from record sales.  They’ve never said who the label was but due to some confusion on the label end, the office staff had changed and they closed their Canadian offices shortly after staff changeovers.  In this case, The Muse Box stepped in and helped them out.

In the last 3 years alone, they have brought out 3 LP’s, toured with bands such as Cake, Hot Hot Heat, Collective Soul, Pennywise, Loverboy and The Rheostatics.  Their radio interest in Canada and the US has helped give exposure to this talented band from MTV to the World Expo in China, to the Olympics in 2012 from Vancouver BC Canada to the Paralympics in Whistler BC Canada.  In 2013, they won an Independent Music Award for At Long Creek for Best Pop EP.

The track listings are:

1.   Bodies In The Winter

2.   Pull Me In

3.   Sandcastles

4.   My Friend

5.   Little Liar

6.   Ghostwriters

7.   So Lonely

8.   San Simeon

9.   Philadelphia

10.  My Friends Are Leaving

paperlions myfriends

Starting with the lead song “Bodies In The Winter” it has a very catchy guitar hook as well as a flowing melody throughout the song.  Lyrically, running away from anything is not the answer.  But, if you do run, sooner or later, things or people will catch up with you.  You can never escape the truth of your past, your present, people you’ve known, etc.  I like songs with some morals in it.

“Pull Me In” has a familiar melody, but in bypassing that, this is a solid song musically.  Played well and very free-flowing, I like how the song literally pulls you in.  Lyrically, throwing away your genesis (or beginning) might have repercussions later in life when you turn a bend in the road of life.

“My Friend” is a happy little tune about friendship; about growing up, living life and maybe growing apart but the friendship is still there despite differences.  Musically, it does remind me of another song, but only in the beginning.

“Little Liar” is a song that warns “leave the beehive alone” kind of message about lying.  Lying will only get you into trouble because of many varied reasons, but in the end, it does catch up to you.  And when you get caught, there are always consequences to your actions.  Another good moral song!

“Ghostwriters” is more like a ballad than anything else.  The harmonies between the members sounds really good and rise above the music well.  Not too much nor too little.

“Philadelphia” on my mind…..I really like that first line.  It just sounds so natural.  Another ballad type song but as the song picks up steam, the music goes up and down in a pleasant way to the ears.  Lyrically, it sounds like a song of sticking together through thick and thin times with the people that you’re closest to.

With no song longer than 4:19, this is a solid LP.  I’m hesitant in slotting this band into a category of any kind, it’s a collection of truly independent Canadian songs, which is what Canadian bands do well.  You can stream the LP in its entire format form from the bands’ website via Soundcloud.  And if you like it, buy it on iTunes Canada and support this talented Canadian band.

What follows here is the music video from the bands’ YouTube channel called “My Friend”, the lyric video:

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 – 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.

Toronto’s The Bloody Five CD review


CD Release:  The Bloody Five

Released:  Summer of 2012

by Jade Sperry

The Bloody Five are a rock band out of Toronto ON who are moving up the in the local club circuit.  They’ve got an EP that was released in June 2010 (Bedroom Music – a FREE download) that I reviewed – that EP totally rocked!!  And in 2012 they’ve done 2 things which is heading in the right direction – they’ve done a cover version of the classic song by The Demics called “(I Wanna Go To) New York City” this past February.  And in the summer of 2012, they’ll release their debut CD which is definitely a progression of their musical skills.

The track listing is as follows:

1.    Release

2.    Tethered

3.    Just Joking

4.    After You

5.    Under This Mountain

6.    Exit Sign

7.    (I Wanna Go To) New York City

8.    And For Me The Forest

9.    Bedroom Music

10.   Never Again

11.   Je M’excuse

The Bloody Five are Tomi Fear (guitars), KD has got the pipes, Jay Appleby (Bass) and Raw Beats Sedan (Drums).  The mastering of the CD is the work of one talented guy from Toronto – Producer Joao Carvalho who reminds me of Rick Rubin.  Vancouver artist David Vertesi worked with Joao on his solo CD Cardiograpphy.  The other songs on this CD were recording and mixing the CD was done by Derek Hoffman (in the band Brighter Brightest)  The cover song was mixed by Brian Moncarz.  And the band traveled to New York in the summer of 2011 to shoot the video for the song and had help via Kevin McLaughlin (owner of Autoshare), Chris Nelson and videographer Martin Wojtunik.  And CBGB’S and The Ramones somehow.

“Release” is the first song.  Slighty off key, it has a creepy or unsure sound to it.  It’s slow sombre music that suddenly drives you straight into to the drums pounding, bass raging, guitars off in a clean buzz with vocals sounding strained, sad and pleading.   Just for a second I got the shiver that this song makes you physically feel.  Good choice for the leadoff song!   “Tethered” has a blues feel in the beginning with slow harmonicas.  But then the voltage of the song rises instantly out of nowhere.  Because it slams into your face so fast that the song takes right off into the horizon.  It’s a well written song that this band can pull it off.  “Just Joking” and “After You” are solid ballad songs with hurt and raw emotion which generates the emotion of the song across to the listener.  I felt as though the four band members were playing it just for me.  In my living room.  With a cold beer.  Good work!  Hands down my favorite song on the CD is  “Under The Mountain”.  Wonderful melodies with what sounds like a mandolin that truly makes the emotion in this song.  The vocals are particularly good in this song as well.  In 3/4 time,  “Exit Sign” is another song that really smacks you in the face and screams “HELLO?” Pieces of this song are reminiscent of The Beatles, The Ramones and Green Day to name a few.  One thing I really like about this band is the age dimension.  It’s quite evident that the band have a vast knowledge of music to work with and its evident in this one song.  The Cover song of  (I Wanna Go To)  New York City is very well done.  Upbeat tempo which Green Day do so brilliantly in 3/3 (tempo).  The last four songs are on the Bedroom Music EP which you can download for free by clicking the link at the beginning of this article.

This CD rates a 9 out of 10.  I like the vocal sounds with the music and the music is very well written and performed by all four members.  I would suggest this CD to anyone who likes good music of any kind.  So and get your hands on this CD!

Watch the video by The Bloody Five

Disclaimer – article was released with errors and not to my knowledge.  I have fixed the errors and will post accordingly to various sites.

CD Review – Se7en Sided “Life On Hold”


CD Review – Se7en Sided – Life On Hold

Released – September 20, 2011

by Jade Sperry

Se7en Sided are a stellar band from Edmonton AB.  Their CD Life On Hold was released on September 20, 2011.  At that time I was hospitalized and couldn’t even listen the CD until I was released in early October.  The 12 song CD is a good progression from their first CD “The Silver Lining.  The band had Randor Lin produce and engineer the CD and it was mastered by Charles Carvalho at Joao Carvalho Mastering.   I really enjoy this bands’ music as it speaks the truth about how lives are lived – it’s honest music.  Not a lot of bands do that – tell it like it is.  Straight up music.

The track listing is as follows:

1.    All I Got

2.     Restart

3.    Letter

4.    Wild One

5.    Do You Miss Me?

6.    Who We Are

7.    You and the Rain

8.    Thank You

9.    Carry On

10.   I Wouldn’t Trade

Edmonton’s Se7en Sided

All of the songs on this CD are very well written musically.  Lyrically, I find this band has honest music and I think that has carried over to this new CD from the 2010’s The Silver Lining.  I hear more maturity with the songs lyrically which is good because time marches on.  Darren Rogers fronts the band and has superb vocals with a good range.  Dan Sittler is shredding with lead guitars, Marcus Engel on bass and Aaron Hanley on drums.  This band is musically tight and you can hear how well they perform as one unit in studio and onstage.  They’ve played with bands like Econoline Crush, Defualt, Armchair Cynics, The Artist Life and Social Code.

Starting out the CD is “All I Got” which starts with a female voice letting you know what’s coming up with a 30 second spot of guitar work and then full on into a fast tempo, slightly punked out guitars and then its off in another direction musically – more rock and a ballad like melody in the middle eights.  Basically it’s a song about true feelings of devotion.  Following the person who means the most to you.  This is a really well written song both lyrically and musically.  “Restart” starts out fairly slow and questions a relationship that maybe hasn’t fully ended and how to face that emotion in each other.  The bass and drums work well together as does the guitars.  Awesome song!  This writer’s favorite song is “Letter” that is pure kick ass music.  The guitars just shred so good and the melody flows out of the instruments like a waterfall.  I really dig the melody of this song in general and I honestly can say that this music is Se7en Sided and original.  “Who We Were” starts out like a ballad with slow lead in music that gets a bit more defined by about the 1 minute 50 second mark.  Going separate ways is hard to deal with at any point in time but as days goes by you realize that you’ve grown in an opposite way to your partner’s life.

Other songs that are a highlight – “Carry On” and “I Wouldn’t Trade”.  Overall this CD has songs and lyrics for anyone to listen and relate to.  Honest music through and through.

You can find the band at the following sites:  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  MySpace

Live Acoustic Session (from October 23, 2011) which is from the band’s YouTube channel.

Jesse and the Dandelions – CD review of “The Lions Tooth”


Jesse and the Dandelions – The Lions Tooth

Download the album here for FREE:  Download THE LIONS TOOTH

Released:  February 15, 2011

by Jade Sperry

Congratulations to Jesse and the Dandelions for being the 100th post here on WP blog!!  Thanks guys for this milestone that I share with you!!

Jessie and the Dandielions

This trio of musicians come from Lethbridge AB and they are Jesse Northey, Nick Vedres and Tyler Stewart.  There is an interesting story of Jesse when he was younger – he was a figure skater who was the best and the only boy who did such a thing and was known in Fernie BC for figure skating.  But, when Jesse was in grade 7, kids starting beating him up because of his passion for skating.  So he got his parents to get him an electric guitar which was a bright blue strat knockoff – a “Yamaha Pacifica”.

This band is inspired (and have toured with) Hey Ocean!, Attack In Black and We Are The City.  They have some exposure from their debut on CBC Radio 3, Canadian community radio stations as well as Alberta’s CKUA.  And they bring in the banjo and harmonica along with electric guitars.

The CD is on Esper Records, which is an indie label from Lethbridge AB.

They have their first album of 9 songs and the list is as follows:

1.  Advice

2.  Bible and a Gun

3.  Cait from L.A.

4.  Every Move a Picture

5.  In Limbo

6.  Lion and a Bird

7.  When You Die You Get A Planet

8.  Where The Wild Things Are

9.  Van

This is a really good tight musically driven band.  The music reminds me of Bob Dylan meeting Jet (from Australia).  “Advice” has a good melody and is stripped down instrument wise.  And they have musical breaks that are in time and on time.  I can hear a Nirvana influence in the guitars and it sounds really awesome in this song in particular.  Fast paced and funky with a dash of Nirvana.  “In Limbo” has a Spanish flavor in the melody.  The song is mostly in minor notes which give it a darker side but in a subtle way.  (“Torn between the yes and the no”) is a good way to describe most people in this day and age.  And it  just sounds so damn cool as do the guitars in the middle.

All in all, I really dig the music in general.  The only downside for this writer is the song “When You Die You Get A Planet” which has a melody and opening that is very much like the band Jet with their song “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”.  Other than that, I think this band could go places as long as they are dedicated to the music.  Another song that is very good is “Van” which is live off the floor.  Great sound!

I’m looking forward to seeing them tomorrow night in Vancouver at the Whiskey Dix.  They are also playing in Victoria tonight (February 24) so if you need a place to go tonight for a fun atmosphere, check out Logan’s Pub.  Band is on first so get there early!

They are playing a show tonight n Vancouver at  Whiskey Dix w/ Community Trees and My Dearest Friends

A live video of Jesse and the Dandielions with a song called ONLY A ROCKET CAN SAVE US on Vimeo.