CD Review – Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien


Everyone who ever liked or heard My Chemical Romance knows who Gerard Way is.  I was never a big MCR fan, but I have to admit, The Killjoys struck a chord deep in the depths of my being.  Aliens, apocalypses and giant animal heads are great but a “hesitant” alien is intriguing – and a good title to a début CD as a solo artist.

Gerard has accomplished many things in his short time on this planet – he’s fronted the highly successful band mentioned above, has 2 comic book series under his belt, is a good songwriter and has a family.  He is married to Lyn Z, has a daughter (Bandit who’s 6) and from where I stand, he is enjoying what he’s doing as it’s on his own terms now.  You still have to be part of the “machine” but it’s better to be in a good position from within the “machine”. Being a solo artist is hard when you’ve had the security of a well oiled band behind you.  But, Gerard is doing it his way and it seems to be paying off.

When I received the package with some nice things inside, it was the CD that stood out in it’s simplicity.  The photography is well done, showing a “hesitation” photo of Gerard on the front.  I’ve really enjoyed the videos, the tour and other things I’ve seen on Facebook and YouTube.  I caught a full show on YT from the UK Redding show and also some really well done interviews.  Facebook took me to many articles and interviews from Gerard and I have to say, I like this guy.

The CD was produced by Doug McKean.  It was engineered by Doug McKean and Tom Rasulo.  Recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tomillo TX and at Lightning Sound Studio in Hidden Hills CA.  Assistant Engineers are Gerardo “Jerry” Ordonez, Zach Mauldin, Lance Sumner and Andrew Law.  Mixed by Tchad Blake at Full Mongrel, Wales UK.  And the CD was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, ME.  The band members besides Gerard are Ian Fowles (guitars), Matt Gormey (bass) and Jarrod Alexander (drums).

gway hesalien2

Having said the above, let’s move onto the CD itself.  The tracks are in this order:

  1. The Bureau
  2. Action Cat
  3. No Shows
  4. Brother
  5. Millions
  6. Zero Zero
  7. Juarez
  8. Drugstore Perfume
  9. Get the Gang Together
  10. How It’s Going To Be
  11. Maya The Psychic

There are many discussions from fans on many threads about the fact that they don’t like the new bands that the other band members have formed.  And many don’t like the new solo direction that Gerard is taking.  Life changes and things move forward.  As you age, you’ll understand that.  You have to grow and change – experience different things and situations with other people. Otherwise, the repetition is a death chant to some of us who are creative.

Taking the CD at face value for the music, I found the music to be pretty much what Gerard is saying in his interviews. He’s exploring totally different sounds (a departure from the MCR sound) from the Britpop phase in the 90’s to glam rock from the early 70’s.  And he has a really definitive way he wants it to be heard.  If you read the fine print on this CD, Gerard plays bass, guitars, percussion, piano and keyboards.  And Gerard’s brother, Mikey, even does some vocal work on the song “Millions”.  All lyrics were written by Gerard with various other people under Sub Atomic Tourist Music and others affiliated with the other person writing with Gerard.  And if anyone wants to know why sometimes you see Blonde hair on Gerard, you have to bleach your hair blonde and then dye it again.  It’s a process.

The first song “The Bureau” has got some crazy sounds going on – heavy fuzzed out guitars in a simple 2/3 chord structure – which sounds like someone is on caffeine and maybe a bit on the paranoid side.  Interesting that there is a British phone ringing at the end.   Lyrically it speaks of “get in/get out” and “everybody keep it calm tonight”.  The impression I see is that Gerard is making it clear that something different is coming up.  It’s not like MCR music, and it’s a good statement.

With “Action Cat” it’s like after the paranoia, let’s have fun and enjoy a pop song.  Pure and simple.  I’ve been listening to this song for a while and I like the part that goes “we can make it up again”.  Everyday is like being a new version of the last version.  Actions and decisions are all part of the process.  I have a deep impression that this song has something to do with his daughter Bandit and how he sees the purity of childhood imagination and how to be inspired by that.  I like the chorus, it speaks of “we can make it up again” plus “and we don’t care we just pretend”.  It also is saying to the innocent “Do you miss me/cuz I miss you”.  The music in the bridge is pretty cool with the guitars and is simple but effective.

“No Shows” reminds me immediately of not touring and missing and questioning the self.  It could be family life and strong bonds between two partners.  It could also mean questioning the whole “lifestyle” of your professions.  I like how the lyrics leave you guessing and is in the third person meaning this song can be about anyone who works a job and has a family.  Well structured, a little lazy in it’s feeling and a very solid melody, this is a good pop song.

Moving on to the song “Brother” it sounds melancholy with a sweet and perhaps down feeling melody.  With lyrics like  “can’t sleep tonight”,  “cuz now we don’t sing so loud” and “remember when you and I would make things up” is some a song of fond memories recent and past.  And it could mean more people than just a brother – wife, child, mother, father, etc.  It’s a well structured song that speaks from personal experience.

“Millions” has a slight off tune sound but works well within the structure of the song itself.  The music sounds very much like the Manchester sound from the early to late 90’s like Blur and Pulp.  It’s a good pop song in the fashion of an era that defined music from this area of the globe.

Another song to hit up is “Maya The Psychic”.  The music is fast, upbeat and almost reminds me of a tamer version of what Gerard used to be in MCR.  One lyric that stands out to me in this song “but when you read my future/are we running home or running free today?” which totally strikes a very deep chord in me.  I must admit when I’ve had a bad thought of someone else in front of me it usually happens.  Or having dreams come true.  “Use weapons of clairvoyance” directed to “teenage believers” is consistent with blocking radio waves from all sorts of metallic devices. There have been studies on this.

All in all, this is a good effort at a solo career and direction to take to expand your knowledge and musical tastes to an individual.  I’m interested in what direction this will go.  I hope that sometime in the future Gerard puts out more music of his own for sharing.  Other songs on the CD to check out are “Zero Zero” and “Drugstore Perfume”.

Enjoy the videos and the interviews posted for this album.

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.

———————————————————–

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!

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

CD (EP) Review – The Ruby Spirit – Born Under A Veil


CD (EP) Review – The Ruby Spirit – Born Under A Veil

Released: September 5, 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

The Ruby Spirit. Photo courtesy of the band

In the fall of 2010, The Ruby Spirit released their debut record Born Under a Veil to a crowd of 500 eager fans at The Great Hall in Toronto. Since then the band has garnered a flurry of glowing reviews from independent blogs and printed newspapers for their ambitious and breakthrough brand of alternative pop. There are no signs of looking back.

This stellar EP was produced and mixed by Tony Malone and mastered by Joao Carvalho in various studios in Toronto ON. My first impressions of this EP: a lot of focused energy, dramatic music and fanciful lyrics in all 6 songs that are interesting and well written. The members of the band are:  Paige Boy (vocals), Alex Pulec (guitar and vocals), Mickey Donnell (bass), Jay Cipparrone (drums and percussion) and Juliana Eye (piano, organs, synth and vocals). This is a band that has a dramatic flair in their costumes and actions onstage which gives the music a “theatrical” feel to it (think “Cabaret”).

“Tin Can Bees” is the opening song which has an odd time signature and count but it works well with the melody and lyrical arrangement. Fuzzed out guitars, operatic vocals and samba drums are the backbone to this song. This song is based in emotions that speak of “we hate where we live but love the view”.

“Sound of the Bell” has a bit of an evil feel to it but at the same time, it has a fun feel to it, musically speaking. Lyrically, it speaks of being free, having the touch, and about having nothing to fear. It does have an uneven time signature but it works with the melody. The vocals are done very well by blending in with the music and setting the pace of the song in general.

“Ruby Dog” is for this writer the standout song on the EP. The piano and synths have an “Eddie Munster” campy kind of feel to it. The bass line and drums work well in the song giving it a great backbone to work off. Lyrically it’s about a dog that is lost and found again by his/her owner after spending a few days roaming the streets.

“From You It’s True” has a classic rock feel to it. This song has a slower time signature, a whimsical melody and great vocals. The lyrics are about not asking questions because you won’t get an answer anytime soon, if ever.

“Fix and Repair” is a stream-of-consciousness type of song. It’s fast paced with a slow break in the middle. In some parts of this song, there is a Spanish feel to the lyrics which flavors the music in a good way.

The final song “Caligari” has a jazzy time signature to it but also has a rock feel to it as well. The vocals are delivered in a very good way with emotion and feeling. Lyrically, this could be about anyone pondering the meaning of fame, money, evil intentions and the like.

Overall, this is a very good debut EP that has well crafted songs, interesting music and has a classic rock/theatrical vibe to it. The Ruby Spirit are starting life in a good place. The band is playing a show this evening Saturday June 25 at the famed El Mocambo with special guest Jumpie. You should check out the band as I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Video – Tin Can Bees by The Ruby Spirit – Wood and Wires Sessions

Shoot The Image – Emerging new Toronto band with killer music…


Shoot The Image – Cranes In the City – The Singles

Release Date – April 2011

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Shoot The Image are a brand spanking new band out of Toronto, ON. Their two song preview for the CD Cranes In The City shows a ton of promise. And their background is just as promising as well as intriguing. The band has 2 lead singers/keyboardists/guitar players. As to the identity of the band members, no one knows…yet.

Their story begins on MySpace where they met Boz Boorer (British guitarist and producer who founded The Polecats and is a co-writer, guitarist and musical director with Morrissey). After sending him various recommendations for bands and films, they ended up talking back and forth for a year. The band booked a show at the 12 Bar Club in London, UK, and invited him come. To the band’s surprise, he showed up. After a few pints they hit it off and he invited them to record in his studio in Portugal (Serra Vista Studio). Boorer has worked with the likes of Adam Ant, Jools Holland and Shillelagh Sisters. He recorded the Portugal garage/blues/rock band The Murdering Tripping Blues in this studio over the summer in 2010.

svs 1

Details of the name of the female singer (or any band member) is scarce.  All I know is that she is an Urban Planner by day. She has never played in any band to date. After a drunken night out in 2009, she spontaneously broke out into Nina Simone’s song “My Baby Just Cares For Me” at an afterparty which is what started Shoot The Image. They immediately bought an Mbox, learned how to use Pro-Tools and began to record for six months – ten hours a day, 5 days a week – in preparation for Serra Vista Studios.

All members in Shoot The Image agree that Serra Vista Studios is by far the most amazing studio experience they have ever had together or individually. It’s more of a villa and recording complex deep in the mountains of Portugal. Boz’s wife, Lyn, also helps to run the studio. There is no cell phone or internet service and they recorded basically fifteen hours a day for three weeks. Boz totally understood how to get the best out of them and the band says “it was amazing to work with a producer of his caliber”.

As their bio states:

The days were long but laid back and fun. We laughed….a lot, ate amazing food, drank an enormous amount of wine and beer, and only had the TV on once to watch “Flight of the Concords” on DVD on our last night there.” Sounds more like bliss to this writer.

Boz and Lyn have created the studio as a vacation spot (and its literally a paradise) and as a space for Independent or new artists/bands to record at. And the best thing is that they don’t have to do any of this! Their mutual love of music and excitement for new songs lead them to do this. They give new and emerging musicians an opportunity that otherwise would be totally impossible.

In the video department of this band, they have a working production house with all the gear and have confirmed several directors to record a video for every song on Cranes In The City. One of those directors is from Vancouver – Olaf Blomerus, who will be shooting the video to the song “Lithograph”. Olaf has worked with Crimes of Paris who are also a Toronto based band. This is a big undertaking but is unique in its vision. I am intrigued to see how the music is interpreted to a visual form.

Getting onto the music side of things, the two tracks are very upbeat, funky and are overall brilliant songs. They are original through and through. “Fortified” has a steady funky beat with the rhythm section. The guitars come into the bridge and chorus and leave the rhythm section to deal with the versus. The melody is seamless and flows very well under all the layers of the others. And the keys are used subtly in the middle layers of the song. The bands’ 2 singers take on the song and the rhetoric is between the thoughts of a woman who is perhaps unhappy in a current relationship and muses about having affairs with other men, the male singer, who sings “i’m just what you’re needing/ I am the wicked son of an honest man”. That’s powerful imagery which comes to mind in just two lines of the full song! Emotions are not easy to get across to a listener. The second song “Lithograph” has a very catchy beginning with the keyboards which mixes rather well with the rhythmic beating of the drum, the smooth but funky bass line and the vocals. All these sounds weave almost a magical quality to this song that makes you want to get up and dance. Although slightly forlorn in the way the vocals sing, it has a line that says “don’t shoot me/don’t shoot me/don’t shoot me/down”, which can be taken in many ways, emotionally or otherwise. When this CD is in the hands of this writer, it will be the second top priority (after working my day job) to listen to the music and ponder its meaning to the listener.

You can find the band at the following links:

Twitter

Facebook

Website