CD Review – Shoot The Image – Cranes In The City


CD Review – Shoot The Image – Cranes In The City
Release Date: April 15, 2011

by Jade Sperry
JadedPhotography

In a previous January 2011 posting, I did a review of 2 songs that are on this CD as well as give background on the band and where they recorded the CD. Rather than recount that information again, I’d like to focus on the music that this band creates. Going out on a limb, I can see this band becoming as huge as Metric is right now.

CD cover for Cranes In The City. Photo courtesy of the band.

This CD is absolutely brilliant. Everything about it – from the performances by all band members, the quality of the production of every song and the mixing/mastering – is by far the best I’ve heard by any band in recent years. These songs are polished and shine like gems in the murky and vast world of Independent Music. One thing I really like about this band and the music is that they have presented music that is fully ready to go – on tour, on tv, videos, interviews – you name it. A complete package. This indicates foresight by the band during most of 2010 and it will pay off handsomely in 2011 and beyond.

Overall, the music is powerful, image-conscious, melodic, trippy and a has the tightest rhythm section that insistently invites you to get up and dance. All of the songs flow seamlessly into one another and tell a story as seen by two people who live together and watch their family, friends, and the world, go by.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Fortified
2. Loveless
3. Crane
4. Vagabond
5. Lithograph
6. Encore
7. Dior
8. Reykjavik
9. Foundations
10. Sightlines

Every song holds a story of some type – whether it’s literal or imagined – and the structure of each song is well crafted and executed which makes it sound that it easily comes together. “Reykjavik” speaks of life in a hard place and how one imagines to escape it. “Vagabond” sounds to me like a man wrestling with his preconceived notion that he “just can’t get it right”. “Loveless” seems to speak of a person wrestling internally with dark feelings that if acted upon could result in the death of one soul. “Crane” is the kind of emotional damage that one person’s secrets can affect another person that potentially could happen when the realization sets in. “Encore” evokes the mystical feeling about being a phoenix and rising from the ashes of your past. Make a clean break and move on. “Dior” is essentially about achieving your goals or dreams in an unconventional way that quite likely is against the norm. “Foundations” is could be loosely based on family/friends and their relations that don’t go so well in the past that make you come to the realization of it in the moment – and then remembering that at some future point in time. “Sightlines” sounds like a frozen picture painted on canvas which depicts someone wanting and succeeding in breaking free of whatever holds them down.

Press photo for the Toronto band Shoot The Image.

Overall, there is something here that anyone can relate in one or another. Universal translations of music can go a long way when its based on events that someone sees or experiences first hand, but also by word of mouth. Shoot The Image have a “vast” feeling about their music that is intense and I believe it’s because they have very solid and strong story-telling skills. I can’t wait for you to hear this band’s music!

This writer will be attending Shoot The Image’s CD release show in Toronto ON at Wrong Bar on April 15, 2011. Doors are at 9pm and the show starts at 10pm. I would highly recommend that you come to this show as the opening bands are The Fast Romantics and Secret Broadcast. This is going to be a fun night of awesome music and if you miss it, you’ll be the ones to say “I could’ve been there but…”.

The band have just launched their website and the link is up at the top of the article. I hope to see you at the show if you live in the Toronto area!

Video for “Lithograph”

Lithograph – Shoot The Image from Olaf Blomerus on Vimeo.

EP Review – Pyro Fighter (Self)


EP Review – Pyro Fighter (Self)

Released: May 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Pyro Fighter. Photo courtesy of the band.

Pyro Fighter’s bio states that they are “a renegade trio of tron-pop cut throats known for luring, capturing and permanently trancing their audience through a perfected formula of auditory and visual manipulation.” Although I have never seen them live, the music suggests that this statement is true.

Originally from Columbus OH, Dany Mellette (Commander), Billy Arnett (Enforcer #1) and Patrick Stockhausen (Enforcer #2) have very recently moved to Chicago IL and are being managed by Crystal Bishop at EarCandy Chicago. Pyro Fighter were on the club and party circuit in Columbus and caught the attention of Grammy Award winning Italian DJ Benny Benassi. With the aid of local rave lords DJ’s Carma and Attak and the influence of local photographers and bloggers, the hype led to an all out take-over of the city of Columbus.

In just under a year after Pyro Fighter came into being, the group caught the attention of MTV and had their song “LMFAO” selected to be featured on the Season 2 premier of the smash hit show “Jersey Shore”. Five million viewers turned that song into a YouTube sensation as well as on iTunes and SoundCloud.

The bands’ music is power dance pop, trance music and is futuristic in its sounds. Starting out with the song “Honey Shot” it has a good melody, trippy sounds and good layers in the song itself. Dany’s vocals fit the song perfectly in a monotone way which gives the song balance. “I’m The One” has a good beat, melody and is vocally performed well. I like the effects and layering and this is just a good dance track. It could lyrically be about “the” one or just the one for a good time? That would be up to the listener. “La Lemon Drop” is an interesting song as it has a rock vibe within the dance feel to it. The effects and layering are very effective in pulling that dance feel out of the song. The melody is well developed and the structure of the song is well built. Lyrically, this song has a dual meaning and it’s left up to the listener to interpret what that might be. The remix of “LMFAO” is choppy electronic beats and effects, stuttering, stopping and moving on a warped melody. It has a slow weird break in mid song which only adds to the slightly warped sound throughout the song. “Play Stop Rewind” is a straight forward dance track which is upbeat and in minor keys which gives the song a kind of futuristic feel. I like the robotic effects on the vocals, the trance like quality on the breaks and fast repeat vocals within the song. The layering is particularly effective in harnessing all those sounds and mixing them about in a pattern that has a good melody and structure to begin with. “So Good” has a softer beat which gives it a fuzzy kind of quality to the overall sound of the song. It’s not slow but has a different time signature which gives it that fuzzed out feel. The melody is catchy, the vocals sound sweet while singing about kissing and has a happy vibe. The final song “You’ll Never Know” has a really cool heavy beginning and then heads into a fast, headbanging dance track and all out assault, or so it feels like that. It has bits of marching sounds, a dreamy quality to the melody and kicks it with the faster dance beats. I really like how the band utilized the time changes within the song.

Even though this material is almost a year old, it sounds as fresh as the day it came out. If you like dance music and trance/electronica, this is one EP you want to get and comes highly recommend by this writer. You can find the music on the band’s website and the link is at the top of the review.

CD Review – Shortwave – The Skyline Versus


CD Review – Shortwave – The Skyline Verses

Released: 8 February 2011 (EMI Music)

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Anthems of heartbreak and triumph that tug at the heartstrings and speak to the masses. New-wave indie-rock that is smart and sexy. Pulsating dance-rock and contemplative ballads. Toronto’s own Shortwave have managed to capture it all on their debut full-length album The Skyline Verses, available February 8 via EMI Music / MB Distribution.

With seasoned producer Byron Kent Wong (The Crystal Method, Beck) at the helm, The Skyline Verses blends together vintage analogue warmth with a forward leaning attitude, creating an album that is as contemporary and immediate as it is reminiscent and familiar. It is also the long awaited follow up from a band that has recently shared the stage with an eclectic range of artists from Cracker to The Waking Eyes.

The five members of Shortwave have been together for over five years and are brothers Ry and Sager Johnson (guitar), who grew up in Toronto with Devin Jannetta (drums), forming various bands and sharing stages with the likes of Big Sugar, Junkhouse and Super Friendz. With the addition of long time friend, Cary Parker, the band’s unique family dynamic was rounded out creating an environment where ideas are explored and honed as they seamlessly shift tempos, layer harmonies and dive into the sonic vastness of keyboards and effects.

Shortwave released their debut EP Breaker/Breaker (2007) and shortly after that, they received a fan letter from Grammy winning producer Malcolm Burn (Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop). Shortwave found themselves in New York recording their self titled sophomore EP in rapid time – one week. Several tracks from Shortwave (2008) received airplay on 102.1 The Edge (Toronto) and CBC Radio (Canada). They were also featured on the first episode of AUX TV’s Master Tracks. Their self-produced video for the single “Stereo” received rotation on MuchMusic and was also a featured video on MySpace.

Shortwave with producer Byron Kent Wong. Photo courtesy of the band.

Track Listing:

  1. Esther
  2. The Sublime
  3. Horror Show
  4. Your Face Is A Mirror
  5. It’s Time
  6. Louis L’Amour
  7. Motown
  8. Maybe Science
  9. Sea Legs
  10. Stereo
  11. Little Men

With this new collection of songs, I can hear the progression this band has achieved in just over a 4 year period. And with this kind of hard work, it will pay off in the long run of Shortwave. “Esther” is the kind of song that has a great hook, good melodies and all members of the band are locked into each other from the get go. The chord structure is simple but has a good overall effect which the melody and hook call for in this song. Lyrically the song is speaking of wanting to be with a partner and exploring intimacy with one person. It sounds to me like someone in need of being saved by an angel. The chorus and bridges have effective time changes and the infectious overall sound makes for a great dance rock song. “The Sublime” is this writers’ favorite song. The hook and melody are really radio friendly, the vocals are perfectly matched to the music and the band are playing this song as one solid unit. Although the structure of the song itself and chord structure are simple they use it to their advantage. The chorus is dreamy and trippy and makes for a nice break in the song melody. “Louie L’Armour” has a gritty and dirty feel to it and is based somewhat in a blues chord structure. The bass line is sick and funky at the same time. Vocally well done especially in the harmonies. The drumming is shaman-like and the Hammond Organ gives the song a real classic 70’s feel. That is a lot going on in one song and gives you a good look into how good this band is overall. On the lyrical side, it speaks of some kind of apocalypse complete with black horses and their riders, burning cities to the ground and the kind of destruction we see from the recent events in Japan. “Stereo” starts out softly with a piano line followed by the drums. The vocals are soft but speak of being on the road and missing that special someone. A progressive modern ballad done well. The only thing is that again it’s built on a simple but effective chord structure but what gives the song its weight is the layering effect of keyboard and piano lines. The harmonies are beautifully sung and the emotion of the song gives you a forlorn but positive feeling.

Other solid mentions are the songs “Motown”, “Maybe Science” and “Horror Show”. This CD is mixed, mastered and performed well and is an overall good package of music. Fans of progressive alternative rock with blues, classic and psychedelia rock will appreciate the simplicity and passion of the music presented here.


Video – The Sublime

CD Review – Alert The Medic – We, the weapon


CD Review – Alert The Medic We, the weapon
Released: Fall 2010
by Jade Sperry
JadedPhotography

Halifax, Nova Scotia quartet Alert The Medic released their sophomore effort to rave reviews and were nominated in 2010 and to their delight, were awarded “Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year” award at the East Coast Music Awards. The band’s live show leaves the same sort of lasting impression. After playing last year’s Canadian Music Fest, ChartAttack reviewed, “…man, did they ever wake people up”. It isn’t hard to see why the east coast is raving about this exciting rising talent!

I must admit that until Audio Blood sent an email with this band’s press kit, I had never heard of them. But once I downloaded and began listening to the songs, I am now a fan of this bands’ music. Raw, powerful and emotional are all in the songs and a whole lot more.

Track listing:

  1. Aid The Getaway
  2. Atlas
  3. Let’s Hear It For The Symphony
  4. The Weatherman (pt, 2)
  5. Cause For Alarm
  6. Cardboard Cutout
  7. Hey Kid, To The Back Of The Line
  8. Stealing Scenery
  9. Cross Your Fingers
  10. The Wound That Won’t Heal

Alert The Medic are getting their bombs on. Photo courtesy of the band.

The first song “Aid The Getaway” is a song that just flows and hits you across the head screaming “HELLO!” from the first note. Good tempo changes, a really good hook and melody that blend well with all members playing as one unit which is what the song dictates. I really like bands who play what’s best for the song. Following this is the song “Atlas” which has a great dirty kind of groove reminiscent of many of today’s progressive alternative rock bands. Adding in an organ gives the song a real classic rock sound buried in layers which is what the song calls for. Subtle effect. The chorus is smooth, funky and flowing so easily that the listener would think it was effortless when in fact it’s not. Good old hard work. Lyrically this song is about collecting experience so that you’re up for anything, going off to see the world and, having those two things, you can take it to the next level in the game. “The Weatherman (pt. 2)” is a beautiful ballad written in the minor keys giving it a desolate sound and feel. I also like how this song builds slowly and crests just like a surfer’s perfect wave towards the end of the song. Lyrically it speaks of how one might fall down the corporate ladder while not realizing it as it is happening. Only after the fall do they realize it and are defeated in some way by that realization. “Stealing Scenery” is a song that has a good melody, time changes and is funky with the bass line. Although the chord structure is a bit simple it is effective for the time changes within the song. Playing what’s best for song. The guitars follow the bass and drums like fish to water and it just sounds so good. Lyrically about stealing cars, petty crime and feeling high from what would be called a rebel doing bad things in small crime.

Other standout songs are “Let’s Hear It For The Symphony”, “Cross Your Fingers”, “Hey Kid, To The Back Of The Line” and “The Wound That Won’t Heal”. A strong and solid CD, I would recommend this if you like progressive alternative radio-friendly rock that will get you up dancing in your living room in no time.

Video – The Weatherman (pt. 2)