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.

Advertisements

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.

The Mip Power Trio on tour in BC


The Mip Power Trio on tour in British Columbia

The Mip Power Trio to Headline Smithers Midsummer Festival

and at various BC Locations

Toronto ON – June 25, 2011

Independent rock band The Mip Power Trio has been described by BC Musician Magazine as “a high-energy 3-piece band that mostly rocks with a quirky edge”. Smithers BC born Mip is excited about “getting her feet dirty” dancing and revisiting her festival roots with her two Toronto band-mates Jaash Singh and Greg Kowalczyk.

The Mip Power Trio will be a headlining act at the Smithers Midsummer Festival this year along with such luminaries as Watershed, Aurora Jane and Mip’s childhood hero Rick Scott.

The tour dates are as follows:

July 2, 2011 – Smithers 28th Annual Midsummer Festival, Smithers BC

July 3, 2011 – Smithers 28th Annual Midsummer Festival, Smithers BC

July 8, 2011 – Falconetti’s Eastside Bar and Grill, Vancouver BC, Opening for Joseph Blood

July 10, 2011 – Cafe Deux Soliels, Vancouver BC, Featuring Erica Mah

July 12, 2011 – Fort Street Cafe, Victoria BC, Guest to be announced

If you would like more information on The Mip Power Trio or if you would like to arrange an interview with Mip, please contact Marie Perry (647-678-3367) or email her at:

mipsmusic@gmail.com

The Mip Power Trio links:

Website

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

MySpace

EP Review – Philoceraptor – Philsoraptor


EP Review – Philoceraptor – Philosoraptor

Released: November 2010

by Jade Sperry

Jadedphotography

Philoceraptor are a Vancouver trio who make some of the most interesting music in local bands here in the Lower Mainland. The band members are: Justin Penney (guitar and vocals), Phil Jette (drums) and Steve Mann (guitar and vocals). This is the band’s second EP release and it’s a stellar EP that has five songs that were produced, mixed and recorded by Matt Gauthier (who has recently relocated to Southern Ontario). The EP was recorded at two studios in the Lower Mainland – The Track Factory and Ocean Studios. Harris Newman of Grey Market Mastering in Montreal Quebec mastered the EP.

philoThe opening song “Races” has a garage/punk sound with a surfer rock feel to it. It has a good beat and the melody flows really well throughout the entire song. For this writer, this song speaks of becoming “black and blue” which could mean physical bruising from just running and going full tilt, burning out essentially. “Clever Girl” has a fast melody, good time changes and is lyrically about a girl that has captured the attention of one (or more) of the band members (you know that I’ll be seeing you/you’re twice as hot through jealous eyes.). “Gay Boy” is a cheeky song that has some humor in the lyrics. The melody is soft but this song is played hard through the bridge and chorus. Good drumming, vocal work and harmonies. Finding yourself in a gay bar when you aren’t gay and looking for company can be embarrassing. “Menthol Sweet” has a melody that is more radio-friendly than the other songs. Raw and desperate vocals mixed with the drums is always good thing. This song also has a surfer rock feel that is kind of happy (guitar work) and speaks of “never having the time for someone else” because that person has a full life. The final song, “Surfer”, is a song that just makes me want to get up and punk out by dancing in my living room. Lyrically, it speaks of making excuses to be with another person in an intimate encounter that could be a mistake of sorts. The music is choppy, fast and has some good time breaks and changes in the chorus.

All in all, this is another strong showing of Philoceraptor and what they do best – rock out and have fun doing it. You can download the first and second EP’s at the band’s Bandcamp page. They are both a free download but if you can afford to pay a small amount of money, the band would really appreciate it. And you can also find them on their MySpace page for all info and upcoming shows that the band is playing.