Latest EP by The Manvils – Black Tornado


The Manvils had quite a year in 2011. They moved from Vancouver to Toronto and celebrated the new release of their EP Black Tornado. They hooked up with producer Sho Murray who recorded their debut CD Buried Love. The concept that they acquired is to record songs in each of their favorite cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Chicago. The band in general are progressing as songwriters and performers as this first EP release clearly shows the creative side of the band in general. They’ve also shared the stage with larger bands including Metric, Stereophonics, Bif Naked, Sonic Youth and Ben Harper just to name a few.

The tracks on this EP Vol. 1 are:

  1. Lions of a Lost Tongue
  2. Black Tornado
  3. Alone With You
  4. Castaway
  5. Hot Volcano

Starting with the song “Lions of a Lost Tongue” has a good melody but is a bit erratic in the beginning which works well with the Eddie Van Halen guitars. I particularly like the vocal work by Mikey Manville (singer/songwriter/guitars) and as always Greg Buhr (bass) lays down some root chords and is the backbone that is persistent in this song. Jay Koenderman (drums) keeps the beat like melted iron. The EP title song “Black Tornado” has a shifty kind of beat with straight on rock and roll but has confidence woven into the song like a heartbeat. Choppy and fuzzed out  guitars are layered in the song which makes the melody sound like it’s on the dangerous side. ”Alone with You” has a moody and dark melody with guitars that remind me of a murder and mayhem. With lyrics that say “I won’t leave myself alone with you” and “blood on my hands” confirms the feeling. “Castaway” has a definite haunting sound with a moody and dark melody which reminds me of being lost or having lost someone or something. Tense vocals throughout the song pick up the desperation that climaxes with an abrupt end to the song. Wow! “Hot Volcano” is an off-tempo, stop/stutter and frantic melody that works really well with Mikeys’ vocals. Choppy guitars end the song with a little bit of honey that makes the final notes all that much sweeter. Emotions are hard to get across to the listener through a song but Mikey manages to do this well. And his skills as a songwriter show up and are on the same page as the rest of the band. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on an international stage in the near future.

For all things Manville their website has a lot of information including CD’s, past media articles and a tour sections to see where the band will be touring in 2012. The bands website is here.

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New Bands Alert – Short reviews of new bands


Hello to everyone on this fine Saturday!  Happy long weekend.  Whoo!  I’m starting a new series (sort of) of letting people know of new bands that stand out and above the murkiness of finding good music in the abyss.  Today I’m focusing on 2 bands – Teenage X (Toronto ON Canada) and Emily’s Army (Oakland CA USA).

Teenage X – Drink Dance Destroy

Released: June 4, 2011

CD cover.

I awoke one day to find an email in our collective NXEW mailbox from Teenage X.  Since the name intrigued me, I checked out their sites and streamed the music from their MYSPACE page and then downloaded the songs that the band had sent a link to.  WOW.  You need to seriously check this music out.

From the band’s bio: “Teenage X are the band that you blare at an excessive volume from your car stereo with the windows rolled down.” That pretty much says it right there. And this nine song CD is a really good mix of James Dean cool with punk attitude hitting you in the face. Solid melodies, good time changes, biting and aggressive lyrics and the music just invites you to get up and move. Track listing is as follows:

  1. The Signal
  2. Fast Machine
  3. Boom
  4. Drink Dance Destroy
  5. Losin’ It
  6. Say What You Want
  7. On The Outside
  8. Chelsea Horror Hotel
  9. Wasted

The best thing about this bands’ music is that the melodies are in contrast to the lyrics and it’s done well.  The highlight songs on this CD are: The Signal (has the best lyrics and best “I want revenge” song), Fast Machine (has good time changes), Drink Dance Destroy (hard and heavy and in your face), Say What You Want (headbanging song with a steady beat), Chelsea Horror Hotel (kind of lyrically funny with music that is a bit on the light side and is effective) and Wasted (party song/drinking all night and the state that that person is in).

There’s something here that anyone can relate to in everyday life. Solid songs performed with energy and intensity that smacks you in the face at times. Good times!

You can stream the entire album at this link: http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/Teenage-X

The second band, Emily’s Army, I found out about by a friend of mine who lives in the Bay area.  She tipped me off about a new teenage punk band that would rock my socks.  And I can’t refuse an invitation like that.  Checking out the band on their MYSPACE page, I started streaming the music and I liked it so much that I went on iTunes and bought it.   Having no idea who the band members were, I found that this CD was co-produced by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and that his 16 year old son Joey was the drummer of this band.  And honestly, this band has a lot of talent already and they’re still in high school.  Mind-blowing.

Emily’s Army – Don’t Be A Dick

Released: June 24, 2011

Emily's Army.

A quartet of teenage punksters from Oakland CA have music that is progressive power punk. Classic rock, punk, garage, surf and ska all mix well together and highlights the songs on this stellar debut CD.  Track listing is as follows:

  1. Broadcast This
  2. Strictly For The Birds
  3. Asslete
  4. Rom Drom
  5. Little Face
  6. Ho-Lloween
  7. West Coast
  8. Statutory Rape
  9. Burn Apollo
  10. The Gutter
  11. Regan MacNeil
  12. I Wanna Be Remembered
  13. Bad Cop
  14. Loch Lomond

Highlight songs:  Broadcast This (this song speaks of boring music stations and is a catchy song musically and lyrically),  Little Face (3 chord song done well with lyrics that speak of being independent and not following the crowd), West Coast (musically it’s a really good blend of surf/ska/punk feel and speaks of the east coast vs the west coast), Statutory Rape (about the video gaming industry and they speak of how violent it is) and Loch Lomond (a classic and played extremely well).  If you like punk music and want a fresh approach then you need to check out Emily’s Army.  Slick punks and sick songs.

Shoot The Image Show Review – April 20 2011 The Painted Lady Toronto ON


Shoot The Image – Benefit Show for Jason Woods

Show Date:  April 20, 2011

Posted on:  May 24, 2011

Toronto ON @ The Painted Lady

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Jason Wood's Benefit show. Photo by Jade Sperry.

First off, I want to tell you that I would have written this review sooner had it not been for my health issues that relate to the job I am currently working.

Secondly, this was an acoustic show by three bands, two of which I caught on camera – The Fast Romantics and Shoot The Image. The first band was Hayley Gene (of the band Tuzo and which I only caught the last 15 or 20 minutes of their set which was good nonetheless).

This was a benefit show with a “pay what you can at the door” for Jason Woods. Jason was sidelined with a bad foot injury which prevented him from working and supporting his young family. The band members of Shoot The Image put together this benefit show for him.

The Fast Romantics. Photo by Jade Sperry.

This show was brilliant. The Fast Romantics were up second and did a casual acoustic set. After some minor sound issues were resolved they played a seven song set which included “Cool Kids”, “Union Park” and “Last Night” which were played with a hint of mellowness and a lot of energy. There was a lot of love in the room for Jason.

Shoot The Image took the stage next and although three band members could not be there to play due to conflicting schedules, it was the main duo who brought it home for Jason. Starting with acoustic versions of “Fortified” and “Lithograph” they sang a few covers and finished with a rousing group of friends onstage singing “Stand By Me” which fit the theme of the evening perfectly! And the best part of this night was —- raising $2200.00 for this event and a big thank you to all who attended and donated. It goes to very good people.

Shoot The Image's main dynamic duo. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Shoot The Image are playing a benefit show (Pop With Brains) at The Rivoli this Friday May 27. If you visit the bands’ website you can find out where they are playing shows as well as listening to their music.

Thanks so much to EVERYONE in the Shoot The Image realm – you all made me feel very welcome. It’s a rare thing when you go somewhere far away and meet total strangers who become friends. Bonzai to you all and thank you again!

Jason Woods in the green jacket. Dude you rock! Photo by Jade Sperry.

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)