Review – Combine The Victorious – Autonomous


Combine The Victorious are an electronic, progressive pop band that has great melodies and equally great lyrics.  Buying the new album Autonomous on iTunes was a real gem in the cave of music that is iTunes.  The album was released on September 13, 2015 to the masses and the twelve songs are very good and was easy to listen to and dance around my apartment getting coffee and dinner together.

mark henning isabel dunlop 2015

Mark R. Henning and Isabelle Dunlop

Combine the Victorious formed in Vancouver in 2007, growing from a spirited collaboration between husband and wife: record producer/engineer Mark R. Henning, formerly of Pure and Blisterene, and fashion designer Isabelle Dunlop, formerly of Sex With Strangers.  Isabelle has her own Boutique located in Vancouver, B.C.

Details:  Isabel Dunlop, Clothing, Designer & Singer, 4158 Main St., Vancouver, Hours:  Wednesday – Sunday 12-6.

Already independently successful in their chosen fields, their instinct for collaboration was soon realized on their debut full-length album The World Over. The record received both critical and popular praise, including inclusion on compilations as far afield as Toronto and the Czech Republic! The lead single, “Blue Kitchen” went on to become the theme song for the television series “About A Girl”, and was one of eight songs licensed from the record.

Drawing upon this initial success, Combine the Victorious extended to found the wider Boutique Empire Collective, gathering bands Sex With Strangers, Gilles Zolty, Guilty About Girls and other artists connected with the Vancouver scene. Despite this wider commitment, Mark reunited with Jordy Birch to form Guilty About Girls with Isabelle singing with both Guilty About Girls and Sex With Strangers.  And all the while, Combine the Victorious continued to evolve.

Subsequent releases, Disagreements and Crumbling Hearts saw the band refining their musical identity, distilling to a powerful, evocative essence and perfectly captured on the standout track from Crumbling Hearts, the song “Glasgow”, where sumptuous guitars weave in and out of Mark’s wily groove, a perfect backdrop for Isabelle’s melancholy lyric and heart-breaking melody.

Following a European tour as a duo to support the release of Crumbling Hearts in which they did showcases in Stockholm and London, and continued to work for two years writing and recording material for their second full length album Autonomous. A longer process than before, this album is the result of collaborations with Don Harrison, Stefan Sigerson, Ingrid Schroeder, Leigh Grant and several other highly talented artists from the Vancouver music scene. Once again, Combine the Victorious fuse elements of electronica, rock, dance and pop into a unique and compelling soundscape.

ctv_autonomous_iTunes

With Autonomous, I can clearly hear and see the evolution and progression of a band with a lot of talent.  The track listing is as follows:

  1.   Hardly Spoken
  2.   Recharge
  3.   Stand In Front Of Tanks
  4.   Caught Up To You
  5.   California ’15
  6.   Smoke and Choke
  7.   Happy Girl
  8.   Best Tonight
  9.   Stop Givin’ Up On Love
  10.   Real Life Turns Me On
  11.   Encryption
  12.   It’s Still On
The first track “Hardly Spoken” is a smack in the face to wake you up to the fact that is band is to be reckoned with in a respectful way in regards to what the album has in store for you.  With choppy and chunky guitar tracks, this song speaks about destruction and devotion, giving up and the like, and they make it clear that it’s been too many times.  However, the chorus is the flip side of the song, and is about hope and not giving in to giving up.  The melody is sweet and matches Isabelle’s fuzzed out vocals that make a great statement in the structure of this song.

“Recharge” is making a fresh start after recharging the batteries.  A sharp guitar picks out the backbone of the song and is almost a bass line which is a perfect match to the melody, which comes in and out of the structure of the song itself.  The guitar work is very good and fits in the song seamlessly.  Awesome.

The third song “Stand In Front Of Tanks” reminds me of a picture of a loan man in Tiananmen Square from China. This song is fast and upbeat with a great electronic start to it, and the melody takes off into the clouds.  Standard drum tracks, which is a background vocal, made me laugh.  I don’t know why, I just found that amusing.  I like the build up of everything towards the end of the song, and handclaps always work in any song.

tiananmen

Tiananmen Square, China, June 5, 1989. Photo: Jeff Widener

“Caught Up To You” has a very catchy guitar groove.  The song explodes with “Woo!” in the background with the pounding melody sounds good.  It’s a great dance/raver song if that’s your scene.

“California ’15” is a slower, more bluesy song with jazz over-tunes throughout the song.  I really like the way it draws you in and washes over you in just over four minutes.  A very pleasant song to chill on.

In “Smoke and Choke”, you have a groovy electronic beat that carries the melody and the whole song.  I like the drum machine changes in this song.  Uniquely done.

“Happy Girl” is upbeat and has a playful feeling to it.  The electronica is the backbone of the song and fuzzed out guitars in places and this gives it a positive feeling in the melody.  This song reminds me of electronica for hippies everywhere, but the truth is that this song is for everyone.  A good dance song.

The song “Best Tonight” has a good combination of guitars and electronica.  Upbeat, positive and making it makes for a good song in the collection of the album.  The beat is solid, the electronica sounds melancholy for a second and it gels with the vocals.  The harmonies are particularly good in this song.

The last 4 songs are in the same vein as the rest of the album.  They are languid, fast, upbeat, melancholy and almost sweet with the song “Giving Up On Love”.  I highly recommend that if you like structured electronica with twists and turns and great dance tunes as well as chillin’ out then this record should be in your playlist.  “Real Life Turns Me On” totally reminds me of being in Germany in October and singing songs in German, drinking beer and having fun polka dancing.

You can hear the album on their website highlighted with the band name, follow them on the Twitter highlight, visit them on Soundcloud here, find them on Bandcamp where you can also buy the album here  and visit the boutique that is Isabelle Dunlop if you are in the Vancouver area.  You can also visit their YouTube  channel to see loads of videos.

 

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Review – Comasoft – Ropes on Fire


comasoft

Comasoft is a pop rock band from Chicago, IL that have some keyboards, guitars and a weakness for the 1980’s – mostly because fuzzy keyboards and Brian Adams riffs should never go out of style and we don’t want to live in a world where they are.  Comasoft is currently booking shows, playing everywhere their 20 year old van will take them and trying to rule the world.   So come and join us in bringing back rock-n-roll, general debauchery, and fun!   Comasoft sound like Kill Hannah, Placebo, New Order, Madina Lake, The Cure and AFI.  This EP was recorded and mixed by Chuck Mack (of Ghosthouse fame) at Ekectrowerks, and all photos courtesy of Kenra Sandsmark.

The members of the band are Jay (vocals), Crispy (bass and keyboards), Adam (guitars), Jimmy Con (beats and keyboards), Chris2 (drums) and finally Bilty who might drive the van a few times and does a lot of other things. Possible roadie?  No one seems to know.  He’s the mystery member of the band.  Comasoft’s music has been on the following TV programs:

Mtv – Ten on Top, and The Seven (Atombomb, Never the Same, and One to One)
HGTV – Design Star (10Volt)
Bravo’s upcoming show called “Fashion Hunter” (10Volt)
Canadian TV show – Degrassi (Put up a Fight)

Comasoft 1396571257_WhitePressShot_ROF

Comasoft have several EP’s and LP’s and do quite well for themselves in Chicago and would like to become a national (and eventually an international) name in their native US of A.  They’re a typical bunch of crazy dudes having fun and living life the best way they know how.  Their new EP is pretty stellar so let’s check it out.  The track listing is as follows:

1.   West Town (featuring Anthony Bagnara and Makeshift Prodigy)

2.   Waiting In Vain

3.   I Won’t Tell If You Don’t

4.   Bang

5.   All I Wanted (Acoustic)

6.   Lights Out (Acoustic)

7.   Waiting In Vain (Acoustic)

“West Town” has a really good melody, catchy hooks throughout the song (with guitars and keyboards) and is performed well by all members.  “Ropes on fire/I climb higher” gives  me a clue that when the heat is on, this band gets it on and goes the distance and beyond.  “All my friends try to tell me no/They see me break and they tell me so/And when I reach out to hold your…../All of my try to tell me no” can be seen many different ways by many different people.  Keeping the lyrics general is a good thing in this song as this could be seen by friends that you’re trying to help out by giving them advice which can lead to other things (mostly bad in this case) in the long run of any relationship.  You need to think for yourself.

“Waiting In Vain” starts out with a cool little guitar riff and explodes with the other instruments joining in.  “When you start to shake/When your hands grow cold/And your eyes stare off into space/I got you/ Why don’t you/Understand me when you’re falling/Well I’m still waiting/Waiting in vain” are some pretty great lyrics about how someone can feel about another person.  It could be early in a relationship where you are waiting for something to happen or looking for a sign.  Or a friendship that is changing into a relationship and you’re still not too sure about whether to take it to the next level.  The music is really well suited to the lyrics which makes in a stand out song on the EP.

“I Won’t Tell If You Don’t” is choppy song musically which features a good bass riff with starts and stops in all the right places.  “I won’t tell if you don’t/Just how far we could go” is a bit of a mystery and again is general in its meaning.  It could be many things which my gutter mind thinks of and I probably wouldn’t be far off the mark. It’s a well done song.

“Bang” is a really good song lyrically and musically.  “Your bullets/With my name on one” and “Bang/Now I’m dead on the floor/Bang/Now you got my attention/Shot through me” makes it really clear what’s going on in the song.  And the melody is a fast paced one with good backing vocals in all the right places.  Great song!

“All I Wanted” has some really good vocal work by Jay.  I really like his voice fronting the music.  The emotion coming out of him is evident in this song.  As it’s an acoustic version, you can really feel the words sung by Jay as the music is stripped down.  “All I wanted to say/I didn’t want it to end this way” pretty much sums up a lot of emotions in one song about a relationship that ended in failure, abruptly and possibly soaked in emotion.  Well done!

“Lights Out” seemed so familiar to me when I first heard this song.  Such bare bones with only an acoustic guitar and a few keys added in to make a point.  This song makes me think of close friends who have passed on in some tragic way that is shocking.  It’s a very well done song that is sad and plaintive in hearing Jay’s vocals.

“Waiting In Vain” the acoustic version is very well done.  Same lyrics but stripped down, it has a sad quality to it which comes across in the vocals by Jay.

All is all this is a stellar EP and just proves that this is a band that is working it’s way up in the Chicago scene and could quite possibly take on national recognition in the near future if they keep doing what they do best – making good music that people can relate to in whatever way possible and by being themselves.

The other music they have out on iTunes or from their website are:  Burn to Shine EP, The Beautiful Departure EP, Impulsive EP and Comasoft (self) LP.  You can find all this awesome music on iTunes US and Canada or you buy it on the bands’ website.

If you’re interested in booking the band for a show, you can contact them through their management team at:

Blue Amp Management, Francesca Campobasso by email:  francesca@blueampmusic.com (also, pleaes cc email to comasoftinfo@gmail.com).

Here is a video from their Burn to Shine EP called “10 Volt”:

Review – City of Glass – The Modern Age (2013)


David Phu and Michael Champion.

City of Glass, a Canadian duo comprised of Micheal Champion and David Phu, two long-time friends and opposite personalities, COG was born in Vancouver and cut its teeth in Berlin and across Germany.  Drawing from older dark pop favourites (The Cure and New Order) modern inspirations (Foals, The Whitest Boy Alive) and a love of electronic music, COG have crafted a unique and memorable sound on their debut LP The Modern Age.

In the last years, COG performed for enthusiastic audiences in the UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, and across Canada. The band was honored to perform at landmark venues in London, Berlin, and Paris, and at festivals in Prague, Luxembourg, Toronto, Victoria, and Vancouver. Their recent visit to Prague included a five song showcase live on Czech national television.  City of Glass, a Canadian duo comprised of Micheal Champion and David Phu, two long-time friends and opposite personalities, COG was born in Vancouver and cut its teeth in Berlin and across Germany.  Drawing from older dark pop favourites (The Cure and New Order) modern inspirations (Foals, The Whitest Boy Alive) and a love of electronic music, COG have crafted a unique and memorable sound on their debut LP The Modern Age.

Songs from their brand new debut LP, “The Modern Age,” have already received much praise from major publications in Canada and the Czech Republic and from both Germany and the UK’s finest indie rock blogs. BKS Crew’s (The Union: The Business Behind Getting High) music video for their single “Tourist,” was featured on Canada’s MuchMusic television station and on Coldplay.com. Their most recent video for “The Modern Age” was created by up and coming videographer Jem Garrard (Linkin Park, Ringo Starr, Young Galaxy) who is working with City of Glass on some very exciting upcoming projects.

I’ve been a fan of City of Glass since 2009/2010.  I really love the music because it’s well constructed and although it’s reminiscent of some of my favorite bands from the 1980’s like The Cure and New Order but they also are unique and have modernized their original sound.  I’ve never seen the band live but I hope to change that if they play a show in 2014.

City of Glass with “The Modern Age” LP cover.

The track listing is as follows:

1.   The Forest

2.   Blinding

3.   Tourist

4.   I’m Not Here

5.   Wait For Me

6.   Sticks and Stones

7.  An Island

8.   The Modern Age

9.   Youth

10.  The End

“The Forest” has an ethereal quality to it.  On the slower side, it starts with bright high guitars and leads into Michael’s otherworldly vocals.   “Waiting till you think you know” and “Change what you feel is wrong” speaks to me of how we are killing our planet in many different ways and each of us has own way of doing what we do for the planet and reducing our carbon footprints.

“Blinding” starts out with sounds from a keyboard and guitars and in that begins the melody of the song and the beat follows.  I really like how this song starts out.  “Rats in a cage, travel together, breeding alone, which vein is better?”  are great lyrics which I think compares humans to rats.  Or so it seems to me.   I also like how the song unfolds throughout its life.  It’s a really well constructed song.

“Tourist” is a song that was on The Diving Bell EP, which is one of my favourite songs that City of Glass have done.  It’s a song that sounds good musically and lyrically. Speaking of broken promises/words and broken dreams it may speak of meeting someone whom you like or admire and having a falling out due to the fact that they don’t live in the same area geographically, which can be heard on any relationship.

“Sticks and Stones” is another favourite of mine and is a feisty fast paced song with guitars and keys that weave a great melody.  Again, this song is really well constructed from beginning to end.  Michael’s vocals punctuate with the chorus which gives a start stop feel to it.  “Sticks and stones, far from home, trail of bread crumbs” makes one wonder where are you/we going here?  But that’s not the point, the point is where do you want to go?  And when you go, leave some doors open just in case you fail.

And the title track for the album “The Modern Age” is a sombre song which begins with haunting guitars and a high hat.  In minor keys it gives a slightly foreboding of things to come.  “Hours and hours alone, kings upon the thrones” and “…blood spits out like water…” and also “…the illusion of control…”  are remarkable and one wonders what this song is about.  I feel that there are many things in our “modern” world that aren’t modern at all and have been re-discovered over time.  The passage of time and our bater system of money for consumer goods gives us a disadvantage because the illusion of control is that we are controlled but in a subtle way by our governments, police and judicial systems.  Is it for our own good to be monitored on CCTV constantly by big brother?  And why is technology being used against us in this “modern” age?  This is what this one song brings to the forefront for me.

Michael Champion and David Phu are City of Glass.

 

All in all, this is a really well done body of music by Michael and David.  The LP was produced by COG and Winston, mixed by Shawn Cole and Mark Angly at Fader Mountain Studio and engineered by Paul Boechler, Tom Prilesky and Winston.   Recording was also done at Spirit Vegetable and The Bunker and was mastered by Brock McFarlane at CPS Mastering.  Artwork by Michael Champion and Christoph Prevost Photography.  The LP was written and performed by Michael Champion and David Phu with Alexander Cumming on drums.  Additional vocals by Aude GL (An Island) and additional drums by Cole Godfrey (The Modern Age).

Watch some of the videos to the songs from this LP here:

City of Glass – The Modern Age

City of Glass – Sticks and Stones

City of Glass – Tourist

 

 

 

 

Review – Sex With Strangers – You Know Something We Don’t? (2014)


Sex With Strangers (SWS) are from the shadows of rain-covered Vancouver.  They draw from a wide source of influences from new wave and post-punk to ’60’s inspired ballads. Although the band revels in the exploration of a wide variety of genres, SWS has managed to create their own unique sound that is highlighted by robust bass grooves and the vocal interplay between lead singers Hatch Benedict (lead vox/keyboards) and Alexis Young (lead vox/keyboards).  It seems to me that Hatch has met his female musical counterpart in Alexis and vice-versa.  They play well off each other as far as studio music is concerned.  Rounding out the band is Mike Gentile (bass), Cory Price (guitars) and Dan Walker (drums).  I’ve been a big fan of this band since 2009’s The Tokyo Steel LP.  Spin Magazine once named SWS as one of “7 Undiscovered Bands Worth a Listen”, and they are best known for their feverish and interactive live performances.  The band has been showcased at a number of North American Festivals since their inception – which includes performances at SXSW, CMJ, NXNE, Halifax Pop Explosion, Riffilandia, Sled Island, Junofest and Shambhala.

Hatch Benedict.  Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

Hatch Benedict. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

The band are set to release their 6th Studio LP this May 27.  This LP extends the sonic margins of the band’s previous efforts, moving the guitars out front and furthering the unique vocal interplay of Hatch and Alexis.  The vision for this new album is clearly evident when comparing the album’s first single “Slaves to the Night” (a dark unrelenting bass driven track) to Alexis Young’s dreamy synth crackling entry ballad “Burned”.

The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Paul Boechler (along with the band Sex With Strangers) at Garth Richardson’s Fader Mountain Studios in Vancouver. It was mastered by Brock McFarlane (at CPS Mastering Vancouver BC).  The cd was designed and photographed by Alexis Young with photo styling by Lindsay Elliott. Also in the cd, there is a thank you to the students at the Nimbus School of Recording Arts in Vancouver BC.

Mike Gentile (bass) on the left and Cory Price (guitar) on the right. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

Mike Gentile (bass) on the left and Cory Price (guitar) on the right. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

The track listing is as follows:

1.   Hostages

2.   22

3.   Pink Sock

4.   Slaves to the Night

5.   Falling Over

6.   Burned

7.  Wasted Glory

8.   Space Wolf

9.   Temporary Love Confession’

10.  Wandering Eyes

“Hostages” begins with high chords on the guitar and has some good bass grooves that come in and out of the song which gives it a choppy feel.  “Don’t you hate it when the panic never arrives?” and “Don’t you hate it when the truth sounds better than lies?” are great lyrics in my books because in a lot of ways, these are true statements. What you expect to happen doesn’t.  “Whatever happened to our senses?” gives one a thought of your senses may be misleading you because you want something to happen that never does.  “You don’t want to be hostages in the night” which can elude to some primal act or emotion or both.  Great song!  This song also reminds me of another great Vancouver band whose CD I’m also reviewing right now.

“22” is a good song with a good hook and melody.  Reminding me of a band in Ontario whose music I really like, this song is taken over by Alexis who sings the lead vocals.  The music is fast, danceable and has a feeling of being crazy. This song also sounds very punk in the music because of the guitar work by Cory Price.  Alexis’ vocals are really good and make a dramatic part from Hatchs’ vocals.  “Let’s go out and tell everyone we know” and “Cause you won’t stop and I won’t tell you no” gives you the impression that there is something that one cannot say no to.  What that is only the band knows.

“Pink Sock” is an interesting title for a song that is written in minor keys (as much of the album is) which gives it a slightly darker feel to it.  “I only want to watch you carry on with your convection” which gives me the impression someone is watching you for what reason(s)?  For their own amusement?  Or for some darker purpose you aren’t aware of?  The guitars are very much in your face but so is the keyboards, so you have a duel off between them. Which is wild and crazy as the melody of the song is really not like that.  But SWS has a way of making notes of music do that.  Bend it baby!

By far the best song on the CD is “Slaves to the Night”.  Wow.  The bass work by Mike is so deep down which makes the song and gives it a great backbone to work off of. Dirty heavy guitars are laced throughout the song as an evil coiled snake moving its way through the songs sinewy body.  Hatch and Alexis’ vocals trade off each other and also compliment each other which gives the song an even more darker edge.  The melody itself is rather edgy in its own way and kind of has a life of its own.  “….I warned you lovers/you can’t take back what’s under the covers” is a great lyric for this song and gives me an indication as to what the song is about.  Fantastic job on guitars Cory!

“Burned” is a dark ballad sung very well by Alexis.  The melody has a very dark edge to it and is all keyboards with some drums, other percussion instruments and guitars with a little bass.  The song reminds me a very well cooked meal in its design.  The melody flows really well in the background giving it a full lush sound. With lyrics like “Oh the way you tricked me and how you lied” and “Oh and how it feels to be so alive” give an indication of a romance gone bad in visceral way but somehow managing to surviving the fallout.

“Space Wolf” is a great title for any song but this song reminds me of a running wolf.  Always going going going without taking time to look around and enjoy life around him/her.  Once again, Hatch and Alexis trade off vocals with Hatch being the aggressive singer and Alexis being softer more gentle with the lyrics.  The music is fast paced, moving on its own as if it too is alive.  “Let me hear you lie” reminds me of lying and maybe getting away with it.  But in the animal world its all about energy that you give off so in a way I would imagine it would be harder to lie to another animal.  That’s how I see the song – very animal like and of the energetic world as opposed to our shallow world of make believe and distractions.

All in all this is an evolutionary turn for SWS as this is a real departure from the last five albums.  Their fourth album, Behaviours, indicates a direction but this album is that direction burning down the highway in the fast lane.  I look forward to hearing more from SWS in the future and also look forward to hearing more evolution from these great people.

The band doesn’t have a video off the new album yet, but from 2011, Sex With Strangers show their fun side from The Peak Performance Project with 102.7 The Peak (Vancouver Radio Station).  Enjoy!

SWS are also playing a FREE CD release show in the Vancouver area on Thursday May 29 with some of their friends Actors, War Baby and Combine the Victorious and DJ Trevor Risk (Ice Cream Social) at The Fox Cabaret.  Come on down and have some fun and some drinks!  You might even end up meeting the band who wander freely with drinks in hand through the club stalking nothing and no one in particular.

SWS_FoxShow_May29_forweb

Review – Combine The Victorious – EP Crumbling Hearts


Combine The Victorious

Combine The Victorious (L to R) Mark Henning, Isabelle Dunlop, Justin Kadis and Misty Reid.  Photo credit – Klee.

Vancouver’s Combine The Victorious most recent EP was released back in October 2012 which is entitled Crumbling Hearts.  Founded by husband and wife duo Mark R. Henning (record producer/engineer) and Isabelle Dunlop (a fashion designer) in 2007, both were independently successful in their chosen fields. Their instinct for collaboration was soon realized on their debut full-length album The World Over (2007) The record received both critical and popular praise and their individual tracks were being included on compilations as far as Toronto, and even reaching the Czech Republic. The lead single from The World Over, “Blue Kitchen”, went on to become the theme song for the television series “About A Girl”.

Drawing upon this initial success, Combine The Victorious  founded the wider Boutique Empire Collective Music Label and have artists such as Sex With Strangers, Gilles Zolty and Guilty About Girls as well as other artists connected with the Vancouver scene on the roster. Despite this wider commitment, Mark reunited with Jordy Birch to form Guilty About Girls, and Isabelle began singing with both Guilty About Girls and Sex With Strangers.  But behind all this, Combine The Victorious continued to evolve.

Following a successful European tour to support the release of Crumbling Hearts (which included showcases in Stockholm, Sweden and London UK), Mark and Isabelle  welcomed new members Justin “Juice” Kadis and Misty Reid (both formerly of The Yoko Casionos from Universal Music Canada) into the band. Now officially a four-piece band, they look forward to releasing a full-length album in late-2013 or early 2014. This new offering will fuse elements of electronica, rock, dance and pop into a unique and compelling sound-scape.

Crumbling Hearts EP cover.  Photo credit - Klee.

Crumbling Hearts EP cover. Photo credit – Klee.

This EP was produced by Stefan Sigerson and the band.  The track listing for Crumbling Hearts is as follows:

1.  Crumbling Hearts

2.  California State of Mind

3.  Glasglow

4.  Smoke & Choke

5.  Paros

*Their new song “Brotherhood” (Dec. 2013) is included in this review but is not on the Crumbling Hearts EP.  Other artists who worked on this EP include Ingrid Schroeder, Hugh Ellenwood, Matt Kennedy, Jim Berry, Marc Wild, Simon Hunt and Stefan Sigerson.

“Crumbling Hearts” is a song that Isabelle started writing just before she left the band Sex With Strangers in 2012.  Starting on the slow side, the melody carries the song into a steady 4 beat hit.  Trippey psychedelia keys play well with the guitars, bass and drums.  Lyrically, it’s about love in many forms which can be good or bad and expressing it like dancing, writing, painting and any other creative way of expression.

“California State Of Mind” is a laid back song just like the state itself.   A whimsical melody melds well with the lyrics which speak of going away and coming back as a completely new person in some or many ways.  I like this song because a state of mind can be achieved by anyone and it can be for the better.  It can also mean a step backwards or negative state of mind.  Either way it’s up to the listener to figure it out.

“Glasglow” starts life in Scotland in a busy airport.  It speaks of being disappointed in some way in life and going somewhere you’ve been many times but not for enjoyment.  It’s seems to be about being supported by people who are close to but you’ve not seen in some time.  The melody is choppy and ragged but is played well.  I like the time changes as they are out of time but effective in the overall sound of the song.

“Smoke & Choke” sounds very new wave and reminds me of the 80’s new wave movement in its melody.  Funky and danceable, it weaves from a minor key to major keys well and is very fluid in the way the song is built.  Lyrically, choking on the air reminds me of pollution or could be choking on the cigarette one smokes.  It also speaks of putting two heads together which could be an issue to do with smoking or pollution or both.  I dig the melody as it reminds me of childhood songs or carnival music for some reason.

“Paros” speaks of instant love/chemistry and anything to do with falling in love.  Being in love is a commitment and takes two to make it work especially over time.  The drumming is really well done as is the vocals and harmonies.  It has a bit of new wave and experimental keys which give it a climax of sorts in mid-song.  And as I stand up and get more coffee, I’m dancing to the kitchen and back.  Of all the songs, this is my favourite song.  Its very easy to relate to on many levels by anyone who listens to the song.

“Brotherhood” is a radio friendly song that is upbeat in tempo, has a fluid positive melody and good lyrics.  Speaking of taking on the world after meeting in high school, its about two people sticking together and making their own way through life and looking out for one another.  This is a very well put together song.  Lush sounding at times and then going to the bare bones of the song is a brilliant way to capture a positive feeling/thought/emotion.  Well done!

On their Soundcloud page, they have numerous songs all of which are pretty damn good.  They also have some very good videos done as well on their YOUTUBE page.  Check them out when you have time as you won’t be disappointed.

Combine The Victorious – Crumbling Hearts and interview with Isabelle and Mark.

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!

EP review and Interview – The Nursery – Carnival Nature


An indie band in Toronto called “The Nursery” has completed their new 6-song EP called Carnival Nature.  Alex Pulec is the main driving force behind this band (and he is formerly of the band The Ruby Spirit where he was asked to leave).  He’s a very talented individual whose skills are all over the internet.  If you google his name, watch what comes up.  Amazing.  I hope to meet him personally in the future.

The EP was produced by Tony Malone, and when I heard this EP I knew that it had been mastered by Joao Carvalho (David Vertesi, Shad and By Divine Right) whose mastering skills are just amazing. The EP was released on 29 June 2013, and the links for Tmblr and Bandcamp are listed at the end of the review, as well as a video.  Another ally in the project is Nathan C. LaLonde (photography), whose personal site is worth a serious look.  He is definitely someone who I’d like to meet in the future.  I love his work!

Photograph taken by Nathan C. LaLonde

Photograph taken by Nathan C. LaLonde

I had a chance to ask Alex Pulec and Victor Ess some questions and their responses are as follows:

How did you form your current band “The Nursery”?

Alex: The band developed between a collaborative relationship between Victor and I. We had gotten into this habit of spending evenings ditching parties and events early to go work on songs. Eventually we realized a whole set of music had been written and we started getting excited. After having the songs ready we needed to find musicians to bring them to life and perform so Victor brought Nate in and I brought in Jared.

Where did the band name come from?

Alex: To me a Nursery of any kind represents life as much as it represents death. I love the play between light and darkness. The pleasant and the macabre. Those dualities always find their way into our music. It seemed appropriate.

What drove you to leave your last band “The Ruby Spirit”?

Alex: I never left. I was asked to leave. Too many cooks in the kitchen to make a loaf of bread.

Most artists have a “process” for writing songs. How do you write your songs? Do you concentrate on the melodies, or the lyrics, or the entire structure of the song?

Alex: For me it usually starts with an impression of an idea or a hazy image. Sometimes it’s a melody with words or sometimes it’s just a sound. I like to allow the idea to lead me further and further into what it’s supposed to be. It gets shaped in the process of trying to discover why this bit of music is having such an effect on me. Eventually the pieces start falling into place as you get closer. It always gets shaped even more with the band before it can be called finished.

Victor: I’ll often have a basic skeleton or structure in mind, or perhaps a particular melody or vibe that I want to emphasize. If I don’t have a completed idea, Alex and I will usually take an evening to work on it together and help it take shape.

As an Indie band in the land of social media, how do you find gigs to play?

 Alex: I have used social media to connect with bands that are based out of our town to swap gigs with. I see Twitter as some sort of ice breaker platform to get in touch with bands, promoters or venues that may seem out of reach otherwise. It’s great to use if you are booking all your own gigs and don’t have someone handling that yet. I also really like putting on shows with friends and other bands I love from in and out of town. It’s fun to put on shows with your friends. I feel it resonates with an audience on a level that feels honest and genuine. Pulling together with people for something feels good. Trying feels good.

What’s your take on supporting yourself in an Indie band in the age of social media and networking? Do you find it works to your advantage or disadvantage?

Victor: Social media done right can actually be really effective. I find a lot of people trying to promote themselves, bands or otherwise, put in the bare minimum with social media/networking and it comes off as disingenuous, like they’re just going through the motions cause everyone else does it. Nobody wants that. I think social media is great because it really gives you a chance to share your journey and tell your story to people.

 Alex: It’s discerning between ASKING for things or GIVING to people. Focus on giving not asking. Social Media is free. Give it away.

What have you “personally” learned and sacrificed by being a creative artist through your life so far? And how did you incorporate that lesson or emotion into a creative expression?

Victor: I’ve turned down some great job opportunities because they might have cut into my ability to make music. Same thing with relationships. I’m doing this because I love it, plain and simple.

 Alex: You have to genuinely love your art or else you’ll start to resent it when obstacles come in your way. And they will always come, because it’s not easy. There is no set path to follow. You need to cut your own. It’s always easier to travel in the dark with something you love.

Because of the over-saturation of DIY bands in the Toronto area, how will your band stand out above the other bands?

 Alex: I don’t believe it’s over saturated. Just under exposed.

On the EP, Carnival Nature, you name many other musicians who play and arrange – who are the other permanent members of The Nursery, and what instruments do they play?

 Alex: I never made a record that had so many people on it. It was like a making a film with big cast of characters. Tony Malone who produced it served as the director and helped organize everyone’s contributions. He also did the horn arrangements. I asked Athena Babayan to sing harmony on This Wild Heart to get a ghostly female voice on it. Her parts are some my favourite bits on the record.

Victor: From the beginning I have been a permanent member of The Nursery but ended up taking over the synthesizers instead of bass on ‘Carnival Nature’.

 Alex: He was kind of our Brian Eno to Roxy Music on this record programming most of the odd sounds and atmospheres that swirl around the songs.

 Victor: Sam Morton, a great bass player and friend of ours handled bass while I did all synth work. Now I play Bass, synths, sing harmony and any other effects or sounds that I can get my hands on.

Alex: Now The Nursery consists of Nate Finucci on drums and Jared Roth taking over keyboards as well as myself and Victor. They both bring such a different and fresh energy to the whole thing. We have started to work on an LP together.

What bands/artists/performers have inspired you musically and creatively over the years?

Alex: There are too many to list and even talk about. But I often take a lot of my inspiration from films, poetry and spontaneous discoveries in my everyday life. Sometimes a child yelling a strange sentence on the street may inspire an idea or lyric.

What was the inspiration for the song “This Wild Heart”? I find this song very interesting musically as well as lyrically….

 Alex: It was a combination of old western songs and the work of David Lynch initially. Lynch is a master of creating a surreal world that consumes you and that you can get lost in. So I tried taking this approach to a seemingly familiar song format by putting it in a whole new context. Victor and Tony’s textures are really what creates it’s juxtaposed and hypnotic environment. Lyrically it’s about coming to the realization that you are completely bound to someone regardless of the journey you’ve had with them and weather you like it or not.

You yourself play many instruments including the Mellotron on this EP. Which instruments are your favourites to play onstage and off-stage?

 Alex: Onstage I play guitar when I sing. It’s most fun and comfortable for me. I sometimes play Theremin onstage with my guitar when I can. That’s the best. You need a large stage to even use it properly, so it doesn’t always happen.

The members of this band are:

Alex Pulec – Vox and guitar

Victor Ess – Bass

Jared Roth – Keys and Synths

Nate Finucci – Drums

The song listing for the EP is as follows:

1.  Lysergically Yours

2.  It’s A Sin

3.  Lucy

4.  Domino

5.  This Wild Heart

6.  I Was I Was Someone Else

“Lysergically Yours” is pure kitschy and chaotic.  Progressive, edgy and with a touch of fun mixed with madness and fears, it’s a song about overpowering someone who is perhaps more passive.  There is symbolic duality in the melody of this song which gives it a fun but mad feel.

‘It’s A Sin” is a bold and brash song which is pure progressive psychedelia pop.  The melody is strong and makes a bold statement as the vocals wrap around the words beautifully.  Again, there is duality in this song which I think of as good versus evil but it’s more lyrically than musically.  Musically the song is upbeat and on the bright side.  Perhaps that’s another duality of the song itself.

“Lucy” has a good beat, is upbeat and chaotic in spots but these unusual spots hit a nerve when you realize that this is about life versus death (suicide).  The music belies that fact which is a brilliant disguise in song structure!

“Domino” sounds like a death dream that one lives in a song, if that’s possible.  Duality in life and death, whispers, Munster-like music which symbolizes being hypnotized while dying as the eyes close on life.  One of my favorites on this EP!

“This Wild Heart” is another favorite.  Sounding like southern psychedelia pop with vocal work by Alex this song reminds me of cowboys who have had a hard life and can’t be tamed in anyway, but instead, find a kindred spirit in the melody of songs.  I really like the big sound to it as well as the feel of the music.

“I Was I Was Someone Else” is a ballad like song but instead of being a traditional ballad its again a duality of being ignorant of one’s feelings about another person.  We all grow and become older and may change our lives, but, internally, we don’t change  our personalities.  This is one of those songs that makes you think about how you’ve treated past lovers and yourself.

The EP is everywhere, but the Bandcamp link is provided so that you can buy the EP right from the band without a middleman.  You can also visit the blog on Tmblr for info on the band and follow them there.  There is also a link to see video on YouTube below (produced by Nathan C. LaLonde).  I invite you to have a visit to Nathan’s site Eccentric Exhibits.  It’s a very interesting site of artwork, photographs and video works.  Other artwork on the CD comes from photographer Genevieve Blais (who has a website you should visit) and Amy Janine Wong sketched out the poster which is awesome.