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.

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Video Review – The Nursery – Lysergically Yours


Toronto band The Nursery released a new video from their EP Carnival Nature called “Lysergically Yours” which hit their YOUTUBE channel on July 9, 2014.  They’ve been touring and doing shows from Toronto to Buffalo and back again.  They just met a new band member, Jocelyn, who is their new drummer, and life couldn’t be better than it is with lead singer and guitarist Alex Pulec right now.  They are recording new music, planning new tours and maybe a surprise or two along the way.  I had the pleasure of contacting Alex and doing a fast Q&A with him just a few days ago, and here’s what the interview went down as by email:

The Nursery, July 2014.  Photo by by Geneveive Blais (copyright).

The Nursery, July 2014. Photo by by Geneveive Blais (copyright).

Jade:  You’ve been doing quite a few shows in Toronto and Buffalo recently.  Which gig has been the most fun for you and why?

Alex:  You can see Toronto across the water in some parts of Buffalo. It’s not often you get to peer at your home from that far away while bring in another country. We’ve met some of the most amazing people there, for example we’ve met producers, engineers, show promoters and artists alike. We’re really excited about our next Toronto show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on August 15 as well as a show on August 8 at The Hub in Oshawa.

Jade:  You mentioned that there is a new band member.  How did that come about and what are the details on the new band member?

Alex:  We were in between starting production for the video Lysergically Yours and the moment it was finished, we started working with our new drummer, Jocelyn. That’s why you can’t see her in the video.  The change was very amicable and we’re looking forward to adding Jocelyn’s new energy into our songs.

Jade:  Are there any new plans on new music coming out soon?  And if not, when do you think that might happen?

Alex:  We’re recording an exciting batch of new songs right now that we’re planning to release in the fall of 2014. We’ve been mostly working out of GCR Audio in Buffalo. That city has an energy that no urban town or cabin in the woods could ever come close to.

Jade:  How did the video of “Lysergically Yours” come about?  Whose idea was it and how did it all come together?

Alex:  I had the visual ideas and sketches for a face to be covered in coloured “Jimmies” around for an independent photography project I was planning on doing a year ago. “Jimmies” are the actual name of those tiny multi-coloured sugar shapes, typically rods and balls.  When it came up that we were going to do a video for this song, I felt those ideas fit much better with the colours and mood of the music.  We collaborated with Toronto photographers Devon Stewart and Genevieve Blais to help crystallize and capture the vision.

Jade:  What’s coming up in the future of The Nursery?

Alex:  More new music, more touring and a maybe an 8-bit style video game with Famicom versions of our music for the soundtrack.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sounds awesome and a game plan of some sort.  Whatever the final outcome, I’m sure we’ll all enjoy what The Nursery come up and out with.  Great musicians and great visual ideas in general for the two videos by this band so far.  I personally can’t wait to hear some new tunes in the fall from this band!  And to see more artistically creative videos.

The video is really well done.  The funny thing that stands out in this video are the coloured candy bits on those sugary doughnuts, the “Jimmies” which I never knew the name of and I will remember that.  I have to say that when I first saw this video, I was laughing because I found what they were doing was funny, but in a good way. Anyway…..the band is in a room that is covered in aluminium foil (much like Andy Warhol’s The Factory was like from 1965-1969) which I thought was a good move as Warhol was a visionary artist much like Alex in some ways.  The band performs the song and in some parts it’s kitschy and fun.  You can tell all members of the band are having fun.  This video is kind of like Warhol’s Factory in the sense that adding simple props to make it seem timeless in some ways works well. Devon Stewart and Genevieve Blais have given the video artistic life in a sense, as well as the original idea by Alex. Photographers are some of the most artistic people I’ve ever met and can be an added value to any video setting.   I especially like the goggles worn by Jared Roth on keys – gives it a good feel with the silver background.  And Victor Ess’s haircut is a big plus as it just looks good on him playing bass.   And then there’s those candy sprinkles (Jimmies) around the mouths of Alex and the mystery lady…..have they been eating the same doughnuts?  And, are they Lysergically each other’s mate?  I could guess but I’d rather revel in the mystery.

Isn’t it funny how sugar, music and candy sprinkles, or “Jimmies”, look good in a silver room with a rocking good song?

The video is right here – let the band and myself know your thoughts on it by sending some comments!

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 – Acres of Lions – Home(s)


Acres of Lions is a pop/rock/punk/alternative band based in Victoria, BC in Canada and features ex-touring members of the seminal American punk band Against Me! and also from Moneyshot and Theset. Their music is lyrically-driven rock, influenced by bands such as The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, The Weakerthans, Alkaline Trio, and Saves The Day. The band members are Jeff Kalenikoff, Tyson Yerex, Dan Ball and Shane Deyotte.

This band has been active since 2006 but in 2008, Acres of Lions signed a recording and development contract with Cordova Bay Records and received critical acclaim for their 2009 debut full-length album, Working.  Exclaim! Magazine reported “This is definitely a band to keep on the radar”. They then followed up that up with their sophomore album, Collections, also released on Cordova Bay Records in 2011.  This album took the band’s sound in a more pop-influenced direction, and was met with more commercial success. The first single, “Reaction”, was mixed by legendary engineer Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Mother Mother, Franz Ferdinand) and charted at #19 on the Canadian alternative rock charts.

acre of lions 1

2011 was also a big year for Acres Of Lions, as they were selected by Music BC as one of the ‘Top 20 Bands in BC’ for the Peak Performance Project. Other highlights included music placements on television programs Degrassi and Majority Rules, and a cross-Canada tour supporting JUNO nominated indie-rockers Ten Second Epic.

In 2012, the band attracted international attention, placing third in the pop category of the International Songwriting Competition and releasing their albums though Bullion Records in Japan, and Fierce Panda Records in Europe. They also took on an impressive 250 date touring schedule, including: two cross Canada tours, two tours to the UK, performances at Canadian Music Week and Edgefest, opening slots for Hedley, and more than 6 months on the road with a provincial government career building initiative performing for youth around British Columbia.

Acres Of Lions released their third album, Home(s), on Cordova Bay Records in 2013. The first single, “Bright Lights”, was met with continued commercial success, breaking into the Top 40 Canadian alternative rock charts, and licensing a music placement in CBC’s television program Arctic Air. The band continued touring extensively throughout 2013, including performances at Warped Tour, Victoria’s Canada Day Celebration Festival (50,000+ attendance), and opening for the band City and Colour.

As of 2014, the band is currently in the studio writing new material for what will become their fourth full-length album.

I’m a big fan of Against Me! and when I heard that Acres of Lions were forming in Victoria BC in 2009, I began to following them because of their association with Against Me!.  But, over the last 5 years, they have proved to me and their fans that they are a band to be heard and have commercial success to prove it.

acresoflions cd front homes

The track listing for the CD is as follows:

1.   Bright Lights

2.   Old Town

3.   Prairie Fire

4.   Great Escape

5.   Never Let Me Go

6.   Better Luck Next Year

7.   Miserable Together

8.   Writing from the Heart

9.   Home(s)

10.  Signs and Wonders

The song “Bright Lights” is a fast, up-tempo song with a good melody and played well by all members.  “You used to have solutions/And did I make your list just to never follow through/On any of them but you” gives me the impression that the song is about someone who likes another person who makes lists of certain things about people in some ways.  Also, the song is about past memories of cool kids and celebration drumming circles probably on the beach somewhere with a big bonfire going.  And love at first sight.  In some parts of the life, being cool and doing what’s cool at the time is what this song reminds me of.  It’s a good party song and a good dance tune.

“Prairie Fire” is a hip tune that sings about UFO’s, summer ghosts, fires, night time; all emulated in this song.  I really like the melody of the song as it’s catchy and has a good hook.  This song speaks of not having any where to go and searching for something that may or may not be tangible.  This song is well played by all members of the band.  The melody is upbeat and makes you feel good.

“Never Let Me Go” begins life full on and goes down to bare bones with the vocals.  “Say you won’t forget me/Say you’ll never let me go” could be about a touring band saying goodbye to loved ones for an extended period of time.  I like the stop/starts, the guitars and the vocals.  It’s a good song and well constructed.

“Signs and Wonders” is the last song on the album.  I like the lyrics of this song and the melody is choppy and chaotic but well streamlined.  “At the end of your life” is a great first line to open a song.  Sounds like someone is watching life go by in a detached kind of way.  I like the vision that brings to the song.

I wanted people to know about this band because they aren’t self absorbed and play for the love of music and feeding off the energy of crowds at shows.  Their passion for music is evident in their lyrics and in their live shows. There are many videos on their YouTube channel but I like this acoustic performance on The Peak radio show. Watch, listen and enjoy.

 

Review – CD and show review – City Walls – Engines


This past Friday night (April 11), I had the pleasure of being invited to a show at a new venue in down-town Vancouver.  On Main Street just past the infamous intersection of Main and Hastings, I parked my car in front of the Vancouver Police Department as I figured it was super safe there (and it was).  Everything about this show was new – a new venue called Imperial, which has great acoustics and is generous in its size and layout; an older band with a new name (Louder Than Love changed its name to City Walls); a new drummer and bassist, and fresh new songs.  The stage was set for a great night.  You could feel the electricity in the air.

There were three outstanding bands that opened for City Walls – Dear Adeline, Real Mad Decent and Six to Midnight.  I had no idea what to expect since I had not heard of any of these bands as I’ve not been well medically for the last couple of years, but I’m on the rebound now.  We walked into the venue as the first band, Dear Adeline, were just about wrapping up their set, so I don’t know what to say except the last 2 songs sounded pretty darn good.  Real Mad Decent (2013 CFOX Seeds Top 20 finalists) were up next and they were not too bad. They did remind me a lot of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (their last song’s music sounded a lot like “Blood Sugar Sex Magic”), but, they were entertaining nonetheless.  Six to Midnight were also a tight band musically, and the lead singer sounded like Scott Anderson from the Canadian band Finger Eleven, but again, they put on a great show.  All three opening bands had fun on-stage and were full of passion and joy just for the pleasure of playing to a live audience – there was a lot of energy flying back and forth between all four bands and the crowd.

Real Mad Decent. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Real Mad Decent. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Six to Midnight.  Photo by Jade Sperry.

Six to Midnight. Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls took to the stage at 11:30 pm due to some technical difficulties that were eventually solved.  My friend Denis and I were excited to see the new line-up of the band since their Louder Than Love days.  Louder Than Love won the CFOX Seeds competition in 2011 and were signed to Cordova Bay Entertainment as a direct result of the win.  They took some time to get things in order, added 2 new band members and lost 3 former members.  They also spent time writing new songs, jamming them out in rehearsals, working out the instrumentations and the final result is a stellar CD called Engines.  I have to say that I’ve rarely heard such phenomenal instrumentation that was consistent through the entire live set with virtually no mistakes made.  Wow.  Denis even met some of the parents of some of the band members (I think it was Nate’s Mom!).  I was too immersed in taking photos and listening carefully to the music.  City Walls did a really good cover of Bryan Adams’ song “Run To You” and played the title track from their Louder Than Love CD Dark Days which ironically is one of my all time favourite songs.

City Walls.  Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls. Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls Paul Lambert and Brian Welsch.  Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls Paul Lambert and Brian Welsch. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Engines was produced with Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven) and Howard Redekopp (Mother Mother, The New Pornographers) as well as by Paul Lambert and Adam Greenholtz.  Arnold and Howard helped to develop a heightened lyrical depth and add a more robust and impactful sound to the CD.  Paul Lambert (guitars/lead vocals) is the principal songwriter supported by Nate Parsons (guitars/supporting vocals) on several of the songs on the CD. Tony Lambert (bassist and Paul’s brother) and Brian Welsch (drummer) helped in developing the bands’ live sound.

album-cover city walls

Moving on to the CD review, here are the track listings:

1.   Trapped

2.   What I’m Looking For

3.   Higher

4.   Before We Go

5.   Nine Years

6.   How It Feels

7.   The Sign

8.   These 4 Walls

9.   Never Enough

10.  Engines

11.  Long Road

Before I say too much about the CD, I want to just take a moment to thank Paul Lambert for extending an invitation to Denis and I.  It was great seeing you all again and I hope to see you all when you return from your tour.  At the bottom of the article I’ll list the tour dates.  You seriously need to check out this band and their music.

The CD opens with the song “Trapped” which is the first single released from the CD.  Rocking out with an upbeat song, a good hook and a good melody is always a good thing.  With lyrics like “I think I found a way out of here” makes one wonder if the song is about both people feeling this way or just one.  But one thing is for sure – they are both in it up to the nth degree.  Running from the cops, on the run and sweating it out from the heat of the nights can be one way to look at this song.  But ultimately it’s up to the individual to figure it out for themselves.

“What I’m Looking For” begins with a forlorn melody and is a really good song in a ballad tradition.   It picks up with full instruments playing but there is some serious soul searching going on in this song with lyrics like “Letting go of the lies that filled my head” and “You always brought me back in the nick of time” seem to indicate sadness in a profound way, and having someone pull him/her back to reality.  The vocal range of Paul’s voice is done really well in conjunction to the music and melody.

“Higher” is a song that is played very well by all members of the band.  It’s a good rock song with the opening lyric stating “I remember when we set the world on fire” should tell you something about what the song is about. Getting higher can mean different things to individuals and I like this song based on the generalness of the song to make it relate-able to a vast range of people.  The melody is really good, the vocals are done well and really good bass work with root chords.  A very upbeat and positive song that makes you feel good.  I could see this song being used an anthem of some kind.

“Before We Go” is a song about love and is kind of folk-rock that builds as the song continues.  Love is a strong emotion, and Paul dedicated this song to someone special at the show.  I really like this song as it’s the bond of love between two people.  This song was played very well live and reflects well on the CD and vice-versa.  The melody is simple but the lyrics compliment the melody.

“Nine Years” was a song that caught my interest immediately when it was played live.  I like the melody, the instrumentation of this song is phenomenal especially with Nate playing the mandolin, and was played exactly as the song is on the CD.  Good start/stop breaks and very well played.  This is my favourite song on the CD.  It has a folksy kind of feel to it as well.

“How It Feels” has a sweet pleasing melody that reminds me of a lazy summer day musically.  With lyrics like “Gravity is a killer, its trying to hold me down for good” and “You know how it feels don’t ya?” is a song that has multiple meanings which again is general in it’s true meaning that has potential to reach many people.  I like how the song is played and the vocals are again well done.  It has a bluesy/folk/rock feel to it as well.

“The Sign” has a melody that is in minor keys and has a darkness to it musically.  “The signs are here, it’s time to leave it all behind” and “Open up your mind and leave it all behind” could be interpreted in many ways.  Personally, I perceive it to be about leaving a place permanently or indefinitely.  The slide blues guitar solo that Paul plays towards the end of the song is awesome.  I can relate to the lyrics in this song because I came from a city that I really didn’t like and still don’t like.  The mandolin Nate plays in this song gives the song a more rustic feel to it in a country rock way.

“These 4 Walls” definitely has a country flavour to the music.  A good melody which is played very well with good vocals, and is a clapping kind of song.  Lydia Hol joined the band on-stage for this song and it was received very well.  Again Nate played the the mandolin and Paul played acoustic guitar.  No bass or full drums.  It’s a well constructed song musically that flows really well.  Lydia and Paul’s vocals blend well together live and on the CD.

“Never Enough” is a good rock song played well musically.  Lyrically, it seems to be about a struggle with someone, something or an addiction.  The vocals are really well done, the depth of the music and lyrics is evident all over the songs but is particularly done well in this one song.  “You wanna move on but you can’t let it go” is one lyric that stands out for me in this song – it again gives you a general meaning about what that could be.  Again, a vast population can relate to this song.

The CD title track “Engines” has a great feel to it.  Starting slow, filling out the song, going bare bones, it’s all here in this song.  It reminds me of how the band works; the engine of the band is all four members.  Lyrically “We’re waiting on the engines of the past/….and now its time to turn me on at last” makes me think that the past was great and a lot was learned but now new opportunities are on the horizon.  Great work by all members!

The final song “Long Road” is another favourite of mine on this CD.  An acoustic guitar with Paul’s vocals bring the melody of the song out immediately.  Speaking of lost souls, a long road and cloudy days disappearing reminds me that lyrically it can give hope to anyone who listens to this song.  It’s a pleasant song that leaves the listener with a good impression of a band that has developed over the last three years.

Tony Lambert.  Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls Tony Lambert. Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls Nate Parsons.  Photo by Jade Sperry.

City Walls Nate Parsons. Photo by Jade Sperry.

I truly believe in this band and the musical ability of the four men in it.  They have a good support structure around them.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they hit the big time in the next few years if they continue on the path they are on right now.  The music and lyrics make a band but the people in the band are what make the music and lyrics possible.  Paul and Nate are such great people and Tony and Brian seem really in tune with the bands’ live development that will continue to evolve and change. Paul and Tony being brothers helps out immensely because they “know” each other.  I look forward to hearing more music from this band and watching them progress through the next couple of years.  I highly recommend this CD if you like good solid music that is progressive and ever changing.  It would be an added bonus if you had this in your collection of music beside the greats like Pink Floyd (in a progressive band way), The Doobie Brothers (in its musical instrumentation) and Mother Mother (in lyrical depth and live show development).

I would like to let you know that you should go and see this band live.  They begin their National Tour on April 18 and wrap it up on May 17.  Below is a great photo with the show dates listed.  I’ve also included the band’s video for “Trapped” at the end.

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Review – Poor Young Things – The Head, The Heart, The End (2013)


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Just two years after collectively relocating from Thunder Bay (to Toronto), the pop-rock quintet has issued a massive, sweat-soaked, insanely confident debut, The Heart. The Head. The End. Not only that, they’ve picked up a record deal, marquee management, a Sirius XM Emerging Artist of the Year award and a swelling fan base. Few can make something as tough as pursuing a dream look so dang easy.

“Oh man, we are so lucky,” confirms singer/guitarist Matt Fratpietro on behalf of his cohorts. “Touring across Canada is so hard. And there are lots of bands that do that for years and years and don’t get the breaks we’ve had.

“We came here and were signed within a year to a small, very supportive label, Bumstead Productions. I mean, obviously we sold our souls to the devil,” Fratpietro howls. “But still. What a deal we got!”
Kidding aside, The Heart. The Head. The End. could not have emerged if Poor Young Things – high school pals Fratpietro, guitarists Michael Kondakow and Dave Grant, bassist Scott Burke and drummer Konrad Commisso – had elected to play it safe.

“It’s scary to leave your hometown,” Fratpietro admits of the big move south in November 2010. “We had been playing together for about three years at that point in some incarnation or another. The five of us all agreed to move together, which made it a bit easier though we are all living in the same house now which is… cozy. I mean, we see each other every day.”

With that said, what a debut they made back in May 2013!  I have such respect for a band that moves its home base to a completely different and much more aggressive city.  This collection of songs are about the best thing I heard last year as far as new bands go.  Since I write at my own pace without being paid on most reviews, I get to review what I want.   One day I might get paid for all reviews which would be nice.  I also know that many people come here to read about bands that are not known in countries outside of Canada and the US.  So, it’s nice to know that there are some real music fans out there who actively pursue new music and new bands from other countries.

The track listing for the album are:

1.   Dress It Up

2.   Sign of the Times

3.   Transformer

4.   Warpaint

5.   Strength in Numbers

6.   Revolver

7.   Running

8.   Black Lightening

9.   The State

10.  Given the Situation

11.  Ghost Notes

The music on the album is upbeat, collectively played very well and fun in general.  This is a very good collection of songs to begin a musical career on.

“Dress It Up” roars off the computer screen in a huge way.  Speaking of hispters, peace and love, things are different for the person looking from the outside in.  That’s what this song speaks of to me.  The person you’re looking at or hanging out with sees things in a “rose coloured glasses” kind of way while you see things for what they are – stark, broken and sick.  Everyone sees things differently and some people remember events “dressed up” as the memory isn’t foolproof.  Musically its an uptempo song with a great beat and a good hook.

“Sign of the Times” is about the current state of the financial crisis all over the globe.  Insecurity and high unemployment and how that makes one feel.  Musically it has hope in the chorus to verse although it does have a certain gloom to it lyrically.

“Warpaint” is a good song that has a steady beat and good lyrics.  “Wash away your war paint” gives you a clue as to what the song is about lyrically.  Ready for battle?  That’s what this speaks of in general terms.  The music is fast, strong and in your face with attitude.  Fighting is not so good in this day and age.  It just sucks your energy and brings you down to another person’s level.  And in the end, was it worth it?

“Black Lightening” is the best damn song on the album for me.  Based in minor keys this song stands out based on just that.  However, the lyrics are just so good.  Here’s what the band said about this song, as posted on their website:  “‘Black Lightning’ only took a couple of days.”  Not bad, short and sweet.

All of the songs on this album are better than average, meaning for a debut it’s about as good as it gets.  Relate-able songs, exceptional vocals and collectively played well, this album is a gem from 2013.  If you like independent bands without the big label hoopla, this is a band you’ll enjoy listening to and following.

You can find all things related to the band at their website.  And you can listen to the songs from the album there as well.  The band will be playing shows on:

April 25 2014 @ The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto ON

May 9 2014 @ Riverstone Event Centre in Welland ON

Enjoy!

Poor-Young-Things-Press-Photo-2013Video – Sign of the Times

Said the Whale – Review – Hawaii


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Vancouver band Said The Whale released their newest CD, HAWAII, in September 2013 on Hidden Pony Records.  They’ve definitely come a long way since their debut EP in 2007 called Taking Abalonia, which was re-released in 2008 with seven new songs and called HowSounds/Taking Abaonia.  Ben Worcester (guitars/vox) and Tyler Bancroft (guitars/vox) started the band back in 2006 with Laura Smith (on keyboards in 2007) and Jeff LaForge (on bass in 2007-2008).  Laura and Jeff were replaced by Colin Dodds on keyboards (2008) and Peter Carruthers on bass (2009-2011).  Colin was replaced by Jaycelyn Brown (keyboards) in 2008 and Nathan Shaw (bass) replaced Peter in 2011.  And all during the band replacements, they put out some quality work:  The Magician EP (2009) was released to build up momentum before they released a full CD, Islands Disappear (2009).  In 2011, they released the New Brighton EP followed by a full CD in 2012 entitled Little Mountain.

Some fun facts about the band:

In November of 2010, they placed 2nd for the Peak Performance Project (a radio station here in Vancouver; 102.7 The Peak) and won $75,000.00!

In the spring of 2011, they toured across the USA, taking a CBC film crew with them (CBC Canada filmed a documentary on the band called Winning America).  They also played SXSW in Austin TX which was a highlight of their tour.

Upon returning to Canada, they were nominated for a Juno Award:  New Group of the Year (for 2011) which they won in 2012!

(Personally I think the Juno Award win was funny because of the body of music they had released well before 2011.)

The track listing for Hawaii is as follows:

1.    More Than This

2.    Mother

3.    Narrows

4.    I Love You

5.    Safe To Say

6.    Resolutions

7.    Willow

8.    On The Ropes

9.    I Could Smoke

10.   Oh K, Okay

11.   Helpless Son

12.   The Weight of the Season

saidthewhale_2013

The CD opens with the song “More Than This” which is a slow piano based song at just 1:24.  I think this song sets the listener up for a musical adventure, or so it seems to me.  It’s got a “get ready for this” feeling.  Their harmonization is emphasized very clearly.

“Mother” is upbeat with a pleasant melody that flows well and is utilized by all members of the band.  The vocals are balanced, clear and slightly pensive.  Thinking about some personal habits that may be a bit shady, this song speaks of don’t tell a mother about some of the crazy things that her child does.  The song starts out bare bones but by the end of the song, everyone is on the same page and playing strongly.

“Narrows” is a song that is mostly in a minor key and speaks of fishing for ________.  The listener can fill in the blank because the song lyrics are written in a general term that anyone can understand and relate to.  That’s one of the main reasons I like this band – the way they write music.  It makes you think.  With lyrics like “And with all my heart left to faith/I cast my luck into the water and I pray/for all my scars and my intuition/To see me through this/I’ve never been fishing like this before”.

“I Love You” is a favourite here in Vancouver.  This song was on heavy rotation on the radio and rightly so.  It combines sane music until the song goes into the chorus which then becomes an insanely musical mash up.  I like the subtle time changes from the verse to chorus and vice-versa.  Lyrically, the word “love” is used in a more sibling/friendship kind of way in the verses:   “When I learned that I had a brother/I made up a dance for you/We’d be crime fighters together/and do things that brothers do” and “When I learned I had a sister/I pretended to hate her/I’d seen it on TV/I knew exactly what to do”.

“Willow” has an interesting time signature musically that I like the sound of.  The drums are prominent in the verses but they even out with the other members for the chorus.  Within this song are really two songs – the middle part of the song sounds completely different than the beginning and end.  Lyrically, the song speaks of starting and ending a relationship.  With lyrics like “You And I/We found each other at the strangest time/When all we wanted was a piece of light/And something real just to hold on tight/And now I’ll never let you go” and “I gave you all I had to give/And still I feel like its a risk/Telling ourselves that this will be forever/Willow won’t you give me your heart”, it’s clear that some things just don’t work out the way you might have envisioned them to.

“Oh K, Okay” is a song that I really like.  Musically it’s very bare bones but has a good melody which is consistent through the song.  Lyrically, it speaks of meeting someone and hitting it off immediately which leads to a relationship.  I like these verses the best:  “I’d never met a girl who thinks the way that I do/About the better things/Like the reflection of the moon/Or the mortality of fire/And the distance of a star and us/Oh K, oh K, oh K” and “I lay my thoughts upon you in the dark/I lay beside you and listen to your heart beat/Rippling the water on the lake and the stars/Night sky, bright sparks/Oh K, oh K, oh K”.  Sharing something with another person is an awesome experience be it in love, life or just because.

Some of the reasons why I like this band is because they write original songs, they have quirky music and a lot of fun – onstage and off.  They’re a high energy band who may look laid back but the wheels are always spinning and looking towards the future.

I highly recommend this CD to add to your collection.  It’ll fit nicely between The Zolas, Mother Mother and Hey Ocean!  You can listen to the music and check out the lyrics on their website that I’ve linked in the first sentence of this article.  You can check out the band in various locations through a Google search.  They’re on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Video – Said the Whale – I Love You (totally a funny video!)