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 – 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.

CD Review – Hands and Teeth – Hunting Season


CD Review – Hands and Teeth – Hunting Season

Released: January 2012

by Jade Sperry

Hands & Teeth are  Kevin Black, Adam Kolubinski, Derek Monson, Natasha Pasternak and Jeff Pint and for the time being they live in Toronto.  Their release of Hunting Season is a good progression from Enjoy Your Lifestyle from 2010.    One thing this band does well is the harmonies.  Finding people to harmonize well with can be quite hard.

Here is the track listing:

  1. It’s Coming Back
  2. All That Was
  3. Le Petit Voleur
  4. Sound of Hamilton
  5. Missing
  6. Parallel States
  7. Hunting Season
  8. Song 8

The lead-off track  “It’s Coming Back” has a melodic sound which gives it a very whimsical feel.  It reminds me of someone who has come 360 degrees in their life and are looking back on the darker thoughts.  With lyrics like “We know what you are”,  “I hide in the dark” and “Scars are fading fast” sounds to me like someone has gone through something traumatic in their childhood. “All That Was” starts with a whimsical melody that builds into the bridge and chorus – and with lyrics “I can’t see out of this haze” leads one to believe they are in a state of confusion.  Lovely piano work at the beginning and end of this song.  “Sound of Hamilton” is a song close to my heart as it’s a song about my old hometown Hamilton ON.  And I have to say that lyrically and musically this song is spot on.  The melody and the total song itself sounds creepy – almost like you just went to Dundurn Castle and got spooked out and ran for your life in the downtown alleys with only the thought of “getting out” before it’s too late.  “Missing” is a fairly upbeat song but with a melancholy melody that is slightly off key and reminds me of the Detroit sound (The Ronnettes) in the first verses.  The lyrics speak of “you try to see the whole world and suddenly it’ll bring you down” because you may not be aware that our culture is now global in the 21st century.  I really like how this song flows – almost like water.  “Parallel States” has wonderful harmonies which weave through the song and make it sound alive.  There is really good depth from the middle of the song to the end.  “Hunting Season” is uptempo and has quirky lyrics that sound like they have a bite to it.   I really like the male/female tradeoff in the song as well as the guitars in the beginning of the song.  The melody is very warm, positive and inviting.  The bridge is slowed down to vocalize gently and then the song evens off.  This is song the one I like the best.  It’s the way that the song is structured by lyrics and melody.  And the last song “Song 8” starts out as s spooky melody however it ends up as a laid back song.   The lyrics are whimsical with just enough spook to it.  This band pulled off that song very well.

I’d rate this CD at 8 out of 10.  Song structure, melodies and harmonies are really well captured in this 8 song CD.  If you like good music that is frantic, lazy and down to earth, then this band is for you.  Any one can easily identify with subjects within the song.  If you like Hey Rosetta!, David Vertesi and Mother Mother then you’ll probably like this band as well.  I’m looking forward to more songs from this band.

A video for your enjoyment from Hands & Teeth –  “Hunting Season/Sounds of Hamilton” – an impromptu performance at Toronto’s Capital Expresso.  Video shot and edited by Mitch Fillion.

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.

Interview with … Vancouver band The Niche’s Gabriel Savage


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

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

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

The current lineup is as follows:

Gabriel Savage – Vox

Ryley Kirkpatrick – Guitars

Chris Seversen – Bass

Kaylar Chan – Keyboards/Sax

Mario Beer – Drums and percussion

The Niche

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Niche on tour – photo courtesy of the band

Who are the primary songwriters in the band?

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

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

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

How did you come up with the band name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find The Niche at the following locations:

The Niche website

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