CD Review – Jack White – Blunderbuss on VEVO/YOUTUBE tonight!


Jack White – Blunderbuss

Released: 24 April 2012

by Jade Sperry

Jack White is an amazing artist.  From his humble roots growing up in suburban Detroit to forming some of the best bands in the 21st century including The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.  He’s a father, 2x ex-husband, singer/songwriter, producer, a player of many instruments, and an occasional actor (in 2003;  Mutant Swinger From Mars and in Cold Mountain).  He’s always declined to speak about his private life saying that “If you asked Michelangelo what kind of shoes do you wear, it’s not relevant to his art and thus is irrelevant”.  Jack feels that same way.  Married in 2005 and divorced in 2011 (to Karen Elson) he’s now debuting a secular and introspect to his musical taste.

Jack White performing in Nashville 2012. Photo by Jo McCaughey.

The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather are some of the bands he’s put together in the 21st century,  but there are bands that have not been famous and in fact they pre-date The White Stripes.  Those bands are The Upholsters, Two Star Tabernacle, Goober and the Peas and The Hentchmen.

The track listing for the Blunderbuss CD are:

1.   Missing Pieces

2.   Sixteen Saltines

3.   Freedom at 21

4.   Love Interruption

5.   Blunderbuss

6.   Hypocritical Kiss

7.   Weep Themselves To Sleep

8.   I’m Shakin’

9.   Trash Tongue Talker

10.  Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy

11.  I Guess I Should Go To Sleep

12.  On and On and On

13.  Take Me With You When You Go

All of the songs on this debut CD are alive and crackling with high energy.  The first song, “Missing Pieces”, is a really well done piece of blues.  The Rhodes piano makes the song feel more like classic rock and it works the hard sound of the  guitars.  The whole song flows like sweet wine on a hot summer day.  “Sixteen Saltines” has a hard guitar line that is very catchy.  Energetic, good melodies and acerbic lyrics that sounds like a personal song in some ways.  When you have a  line that states “Who’s jealous of who?” you know its about something or someone.  “Freedom at 21” has jazzy drums with two guitar lines – one on the hard lower fret notes and the other with spaced out high fret notes.  The vocals are strained with a held back anger in the lyrics speaking , “And she don’t care what kind of wounds she’s inflicting on me”.  Yikes!  “Love Interruption” is a stripped down song with backing vocals by Ruby Amanfu – which is a dynamite call.  Both singers sing of love, corruption and changing friends to enemies.  The acoustic guitar work is done well in this song.  “Bunderbuss” is Jacks’ take on grass roots blues music.  Simple melodies sound beautiful with the standup bass (by Bryn Davies) and the Pedal Steel (by Fats Kaplin), soft vocals and acoustic guitars give the song a dreamy feel good feeling.  “Hypocritical Kiss” is a song that is about hurt, betrayal and lies.  Lying to impress people is just not a good idea – it can lead you so far but eventually you’ll be caught in a web of lies and no one is impressed by that.  Well played by all the musicians and good mixing makes me like this song a lot.  I can definitely  relate well to the lyrics in this song.

“Weep Themselves To Sleep” has a good musical opening which reminds me of saloons of the 1800’s.  It’s a choppy song musically especially during the bridges.  Some parts of the music is just a bit off key but it goes down well with lyrics.  My favorite lyric in this 12 song brilliant CD is “that the villain will play the victim/the tame can’t shake the reins of demonizing brains that mean to kill them”.  “I’m Shakin'” sounds like The Cramps songs used to in the 80’s.  It’s about love, being nervous, jumping, sweating  …. you know.  Karen Elson also does some backing vocals for this song.  “Trash Tongue Talker” has a neat opening with drums and piano.  In 4/4 time slow this song picks up speed for a superb ending and a good ol’ jamming.  Jack is on piano in this song and I can hear the fun flowing out his fingers hitting keys.  Again this song has fluidity that keeps you moving in some ways, whether you’re clapping or jiving its a song that is up at the top in this collection.  “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” sounds like honky-tonk with piano tunes of old.  I like how Jack sings from a lower note and brings it up a notch towards a higher note at the end of verses.  The bridge of the song is upbeat and has a feel good song.  “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” is short, sweet and has a bluegrass feel to it.  The melody is in fact rather complicated in its simplicity.  You could in fact sing this for kids to go to sleep.  “On and On and On” begins with the upright bass whose notes are more in the off key to give it a foreboding and personal feel.   I particularly like this song and how the piano is fed through a Leslie speaker, because it gives the song a whimsical feel and look back perhaps into Jacks’  life and how it has changed him over the last decade.  And the last song “Take Me With You When You Go” is definitely the best song for me on the CD because it’s actually 2 songs bridged together or if not, its brilliant because the song starts slow and then suddenly it’s kicked into high gear and then just ends.

I don’t give out high marks in giving a review but this is a solid body of work that stands up and exceeds the bands that Jack has involved himself in.  On a scale of ten this record is 11.  Superb songwriting skills and the knowledge to paint a story in your head for a brief moment in time.  And if you like the music Jack creates with other people you’ll be blown away by this gem of work.

Jack White Unstaged (directed by Actor Gary Oldman) is on Jacks’ YouTube/Vevo channels which are being  broadcast at 9pm EST/6 pm PST.  You can then hear Jack perform his new work by clicking on the link above.  I will be watching this broadcast and hopefully you will too.

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Interview with … Vancouver band The Niche’s Gabriel Savage


In early September, I had just sent out interview questions to a few people when I had to stop all work and ended up in the hospital due to a major drug reaction that took me down literally.  I’m at home and recovering now, but, I’m kind of in a weakened state due to the burns on my legs and feet.

I have just received these back from Gabriel Savage of the Vancouver band THE NICHE who were the Band of the Month with CFOX this past October 2011.  There is a lot of buzz about this band because they are a performance based band with terrific music.  They don’t have a lot of music online yet, but that’s only a matter of time before that happens.

I’m reviewing a song that was sent to me called “A LA RUE” which sounds like a carnival trip on the psychedelic side of life.  I’m reminded of 1960’s band The Doors, but, Gabriel takes the song and makes it his own vocally.  I’ve seen this band in action onstage and they are dynamite! Kaylar definitely rounds out the band with her odd sounds from the keys or her sax, Ryley does a great rhythm and lead guitar in this song, new member Chris is funked out with his root bass chords through the song and Mario’s drums carry the song on into infinity.  I really dig this band and its not hard to figure out why.

The current lineup is as follows:

Gabriel Savage – Vox

Ryley Kirkpatrick – Guitars

Chris Seversen – Bass

Kaylar Chan – Keyboards/Sax

Mario Beer – Drums and percussion

The Niche

The Niche live @ the Railway Club, Vancouver BC – photo courtesy of the band

What goals in relation to the band are you setting now to work towards over the next year?

We’re working towards releasing our EP within the next six months. We’ve just trained a new bass player so we had to take a break from recording for a while. We’re hoping to be able to get everything done by Spring. The songs are all there and ready, now it’s just about having the funds and resources to back us in the process.

What personal goals has the band as a whole achieved in the last year?

For the most part, we’re happy with where we’re at. Everyone’s enjoying the stages as they come and are looking forward to the next steps. Being Fox’s Band of the Month for October had its benefits, and so does playing shows regularly. We’re always happy to hear the good things people have to say after we play for them, so that’s always a bonus. As far as goals though, we’re just happy to have come this far in only a year, and are looking forward to the next stages of our career together.

As a band, what has been the best thing that has happened, and the worst thing?

The best thing is that we’re all still playing with each other and are enjoying our time together. Like I said, it’s always great to hear such positive feedback; it keeps us enjoying what we do knowing that others are enjoying it also. I can’t think of the “worst thing” yet. I think everything has happened in good time and for a good reason.
At first it was a bit of a drag losing Cory and having to go about finding a suitable replacement –which always takes a long time— but now that we’ve got Chris on the team it’s been really great. He’s been a great addition for the band and we all really enjoy working with him.

How do you see the current state of the Corporate Music Industry? Do you think it has changed since the “old” days before the internet? And, how do you feel about the DIY bands that are becoming mainstream? (arcade fire for example)

There’s no doubt that it’s changed, but that’s the way things have to happen. We have to evolve with the world around us. That goes for all aspects of the media. These days, if you want something, you’ve just got to work all that much harder for it, which makes it all the more worth it when it finally happens.
Arcade Fire are doing really well for themselves and that’s great to see.

Do you feel that the band has control over how your music reaches the fans? And if yes why do you feel this way and what factors into that?

Yes, being Indie has its benefits. There isn’t a lot of censorship, and we can pretty much say, do, write, and perform anything we want without any legal binds. There’s no doubt that it would be easier to reach people if we had all of our ducks in order (a finished album/EP/quality videos, etc) but right now, we’re doing everything on a real tight Indie budget so it does make it hard to do the right things all at once.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard your music before?

The mood I get from it is a sense of being aware but not quite at home with your surroundings. Kind of like a sailor who goes out to sea, prepared for the storm, but not necessarily ready for it to happen, you know what I mean? It’s got sort of a heavy, dark, gloomy feeling, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a sense of depth that people probably won’t hear if they’re just dancing or drinking at the bar, but that’s not to say they won’t enjoy it. They just wont walk away as satisfied as the people who were paying attention. I’d really like to try something a little different than what we’ve been doing. Maybe a couple hip-hop tunes, or something considered more “Pop”, just to give it a try and show people that we’re not stuck sounding the way we do, we just choose this sound over others because we feel it gets our message across in a way that isn’t really being done these days.

The Niche on tour – photo courtesy of the band

Who are the primary songwriters in the band?

So far I’ve written all the lyrics, but as a band we all of an equal say in the songwriting process. Sometimes I’ll come up with most of the idea on a guitar or bass, but after the initial blossom I usually pass the idea on to Ryley or Chris to give it some extra flare. I use instruments as more of a songwriting tool. That’s why you’ll only ever see me with a microphone and maybe a maraca on stage. (laughs). Although I do have a harmonica mic, but I just use it to achieve a sort of Tom Waits vocal effect, kind of like a megaphone.

Collectively, how does the songwriting process within the band go? Do you jam it out in rehearsal space?

We all work together to write the songs. Most of the time it starts with lyrics and a melody, but there are a handful of songs that have emerged from just a guitar or bass lick, or some sort of sound from the keyboards. Usually I’ll come into a session with an idea, and then the band will work some sort of arrangement around my lyrics. It all comes together pretty naturally though, it’s really quite a special process to be able to be involved in.

How did you come up with the band name?

I got the idea from “The Birth of Tragedy” where Nietzsche talks about the artistic elements of the ancient Greeks. ‘The Niche’ is meant to refer to the joining of the two different opposing art forms, that of Apollo, god of structure and stability, and that of the more dreamlike & ecstatic creations of Dionysus.
We’ve got an interesting balance of artists in the band, we’re all very different from each other, yet are perfectly suited for each other creatively. I think the name just really sums us up to a point that no other name would be able to achieve. Anyone who reads the Birth of Tragedy will probably get a pretty good idea as to what it is I’m trying to do.

What is your opinion on the music scene in Vancouver? Do you feel that there are enough venues for bands to book shows? And is there a lot of competition as well?

There are lots of venues and lots of bands to play them. There are a handful of swell promotion companies out there, however not many of them have touched us because we’re considered “too different” from most of the other bands in the circuit. I don’t blame them though, we haven’t got enough quality tunes online to really give the promoters an idea of what we’re about. So it’s been a struggle, we’ve had to book a lot of our own shows or team up with bands that we’ve become friends with. But its been fun, I’ve got no hard feelings, I’m pretty patient and forgiving! (laughs)

What bands/singers/songwriters did you all listen to growing up? And why are/were they important to you now that you’re in a band?

We each come from different musical and artistic backgrounds which, when blended together, sound like something that isn’t quite jazz, isn’t quite funk, and doesn’t fall under the typical blues structure, so we’ve been calling it ‘Sonic Rock’. Just sounds, man. A lot of the music is written to be a sort of soundtrack to the lyrics and images we try to convey with the songs.
I can’t really speak for everyone else, but my biggest musical influences were Elvis, Sinatra, and Johnny Cash. One was a performer, the other could croon, and man, could Cash tell a great story.

Before this band you had another band – what happened to Kick The Ashes?

Yeah, I joined Kick the Ashes as their songwriter. It wasn’t really my project, I was just another member. We were together for just under a year until we decided it was time to kick the bucket on Kick the Ashes.

How did you meet all the band members in The Niche? Are there members from Kick The Ashes?

I met Ryley and Mario through Kick the Ashes. We started playing with each other again in 2010 and decided to form another band. From there we had auditions for a bass player, and then Ryley’s girlfriend, Kaylar, came into the picture as the keyboardist & saxophone player.

What’s the best part about being in The Niche?

I just love that my words are being put to use, It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to present your artistic creations in such a personal and engaging manor. It’s really quite special. Plus, it’s awesome having the opportunity to work some of my closest friends on such a regular basis. I don’t think I could ask for anything more, except for maybe a good record contract, that would sure help us out financially! (laughs)

You can find The Niche at the following locations:

The Niche website

Facebook

Twitter

Supernova.com

Cupla song review – New debut CD out November 26 with “Letters Home”


Song Preview for new Cupla Single

Release Date for Single: November 1, 2011

Release Date for CD Letters Home: November 26, 2011

by Jade Sperry, Jadedphotography

 

Cupla

Vancouver’s Cupla (on Supernova.com) are making waves among the indie scene in the downtown core. They’ve just finished recording for their new CD (entitled Letters Home) and they’ve sent me a preview song to review called “I’m Going”. The song is 3:15 and is very well mixed. The drumming Bill lays down is hard and consistent through the song and the guitars (by Ken and Bobby) sound well blended and well paced (in the bridge the guitars go off in two distinct directions and then come back together and lock in to each other). Tricia has great vocals that are monochromatic which works well with the melody, and I have a feeling that more is yet to come from this talented vocalist. The only downside is that I really couldn’t hear the bass that Travis grooves on very well on this mix as it is buried by the layers of the song. However, I would rate this a 4 out of 5 stars because of the steady flow of the song, the melody and how well the vocals match the melody. And, I’m looking forward to hearing new songs by this undiscovered and talented band.  The lyrics for the song speak of a bad relationship and needing to break free of that and make a new start.

Cupla will be hosting a CD release party on Saturday November 26, 2011 at The Troubadour in Langley BC. Letters Home was recorded at Greenhouse Studios with Chris “Hollywood” Holmes producing.

CD Review – Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding


CD Review – Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding

Released UK: 28 February 2011

Released NA: 1 March 2011

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Beady Eye is a phoenix that has risen from the ashes of Oasis. This 13 song CD is by far the best work vocally that Liam Gallagher has done in 10 years. He sounds better than ever fronting this band which includes the members Andy Bell, Gem Archer and drummer Chris Sharrock. They are joined on tour only with live musicians Jeff Wootton (bass) and Matt Jones (keyboards). Recorded at RAK Studios with Steve Lillywhite (Peter Gabriel, The Psychedelic Furs and U2) producing the disc.

First off, I find the music on this CD is unique in it’s laid back but aggressive sound that is reminiscent of the British sound from the 1960’s as well as the 1990’s. The first song “Four Letter Word” simply states that “nothing lasts forever”. The music is choppy, fluid and forceful with good time changes and lyrics which give an impression of sending a message out in the universe that Beady Eye is here to stay. “Millionaire” is the second tune which is completely different than the first song. It has some stellar blues guitar work as well as having rock elements in the rhythm of the song. A very interesting and likeable song. “The Roller” is built on a good melody which is expanded by the first bridge of the song. I like this song because it’s stripped down musically and is speaking of “getting on with it”. The feel of the next song musically is definitely more 60’s inspired but “Beatles and Stones” also has modern chord structures which again makes for an interesting song. The melody is choppy but suits the chord structure and the final product sounds amazing. This is a rock and roll song. All of the songs on this CD are well written, produced and mixed as a total package. The music is fluid but choppy and trippy at times, is laid back but aggressive and gives me the impression that this music is more suited to Liam’s personal taste than Oasis ever had for him. That’s no slam against anyone – it’s just an observation about the music and how it’s being performed here on this CD.

Track listing:

  1. Four Letter Word
  2. Millionaire
  3. The Roller
  4. Beatles and Stones
  5. Wind Up Dream
  6. Bring The Light
  7. For Anyone
  8. Kill For A Dream
  9. Standing On The Edge of Noise
  10. Wigwam
  11. Three Ring Circus
  12. The Beat Goes On
  13. The Morning Sun

Other standouts on the CD are “Bring The Light”, “For Anyone”, “Standing On The Edge of Noise” and “The Morning Sun”, which is probably the best acoustically trippy song I’ve heard in 5 years. I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who likes blues, rock and roll and having some good times.

CD Review – Louder Than Love – Dark Days


CD Review – Louder Than Love – Dark Days

Released in November 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

CD Cover for Dark Days.

Louder Than Love are a Vancouver based band that likes rocking out in a big way. Melodic with good time changes and strong songwriting skills, this band is going places. The members of the band are Paul Lambert (lead vocals and guitar), Tony Lambert (bass), Dan Okano (keys), Nate Parsons (rhythm guitar) and Tyler Thompson (drums). Their newest CD, Dark Days, is definitely a progression of their music and songwriting as well as playing together as one solid unit.

The song that stood out for this writer on the first listen was the third song “Bringing You In”. What I really like about this song is that it has a real Soundgarden feel musically to it but the band takes that sound and makes it their own. That is progression. Musically the song just flows from the first note to the last note. Lyrically it speaks of a woman permeating the essence of a man. Great song! Another song that stood out was “Michelle”. I really like the groove of this song. It kind of bites you but not in a bad way. I like that there are many musical influences in this song – Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden – which the band takes and they make it their own unique sound. The bass and drums are locked into each other which moves the song along. Lyrically it sounds like it speaks of not letting the world bring you down in any way.

Nate Parsons and Paul Lambert playing @ The Station, Seattle. Photo by Jade Sperry.

This CD has some really melodic, trippy songs but also has a blues/rock feel to it in many ways such as the songs “Just Like You”, “That Ghost”, “Never Going Back” and “Searchlight Soul”. One other mention – the song “Chemical Love” is a standout too.

The band are playing a show on Saturday March 12 @ The Shark Club with guests The Chase and Nightbus. Tix are $10 in ADVANCE and $13 @ the door. Doors at 8pm.