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.

CW-EnginesTour-768x1024

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CD review – Young Rival – Stay Young


CD Review – Young Rival – Stay Young (Sonic Unyon Records)

Released:  October 23, 2012

by Jade Sperry

young rival hamilton on group1

Hailing from my old hometown of Hamilton ON, Young Rival are a hardworking band who are currently on tour in Quebec, and play a show in Hamilton on December 26 at The Casbah.  If I were going home for Christmas this year, I would have definitely checked out this band.   In the USA, there is a movement of like minded bands as Young Rival – Beach Fossils, Wavves, and  Cults just to name a few.

There are a lot of things that I like about this band – their reverence for popular-music history which makes it an indie rock trio capable of winning over audiences that might ordinarily turn a deaf ear to any indie-rock band.  The band members are guitarist and frontman Aron D’Alesio, bassist John Smith and drummer Noah Fralick.

Aron says that “my dad got me into the Yardbirds, Beatles, Kinks – all that stuff.  I didn’t even know who Kurt Cobain was until the guy died.”  I find that one statement refreshing because this band is not modeled on any grunge music whatsoever.  Aron also says “whenever I listen to contemporary music, I enjoy it, but personally I’ve never been too much into what’s going on around me.  I like to dig at stuff that’s not happening.  Those are the things that are interesting to me”.  Wow!  You know in a lot of ways I can relate to what Aron says about music.  I seek out bands much like carving out some media exposure for young bands that normally would never have any such exposure.

They aren’t fashionable, a blog-do-it-yourself-band, trendy or anything of our social trending cyber-world.  Noah sums it well in saying “you get to this point as you play long enough or grow up where you don’t really give a shit.  If you are a “blog band” that helps but its not the only way to do it.”  This is my kind of band!

The only real guideline the band set for itself going into recording, Aron says, was to make “a collection of the best songs we’d ever done together.  We wanted to be able to look back at them and be proud of them….so for me at least this was just trying to do something that we could really stand behind and be really proud of”.

Being in this band means they go and play.  The standard work ethic from a very working-class upbringing in Hamilton.  I know this from the way I was raised in the same area.  So, onto the music – the track listing is as follows:

1.  Black Popcorn

2.  Nothing You Know Well

3.  Let It Go

4.  I Don’t Care

5.  Black is Good

6.  Two Reasons

7.  Better Things to Do

8.  Lost

9.  Valerie

10. Night Song

First off, all the songs are really well written, played, mixed and mastered.  Jon Drew (Fucked Up, Arkells, Tokyo Police Club) is at the helm of this stellar collection of songs.  Beginning with “Black Popcorn” it’s a very upbeat song with a melody that floats through the song.  With lyrics “tell me no lies/tell me no lies/this is your life/” that pretty much sums up most couples who hook up.  Most of us want honest relationships but there are people out there who can mess you up bad.  I relate to this because this happened to me.  Messed up bad by a guy who to this day I still think of.  But I regress.  “Nothing You Know Well” is a stop stutter beat in 2/3 time which flows well by all three members.  Good chord progression and changes.  The lyrical meaning for this listener is that the singer has moved on and grown and the person in front of him has not changed one iota.  That’s pretty accurate for most people.  Some never change at all.  “Let It Go” has a bass line that is eerily similar to Nirvana’s “Breed” but only in it’s beginning bass line which is slowed down and not let loose as Nirvana did.  I like this song – it sums up most things in life – let it go – especially if you have no control over “it”.  “I Don’t Care” clearly reminds me of the Pixies in the progression of the song as a whole.  It’s fast, radio-friendly pop melodies that sound good.  The other stand out songs on this stellar CD are “Better Things To Do” which has a surf-country feel (if that’s possible) which speaks of woman in jail and having much better things to do; “Lost” which is sombre like a Lenard Cohen poem and speaks of traveling and asking for directions and help; and “Night Song” because it’s a fun song musically.  Dancing in my living room to this song is fun and well, you should try this as well when you buy the CD.

All in all, I really like this band, not because they’re Hamiltonians, but because they are just a really good band that plays great music.  I like the influences that I hear in the music and the lyrics I can relate to in many ways.

Enjoy the music video for “Two Reasons”:

CD Review – Se7en Sided “Life On Hold”


CD Review – Se7en Sided – Life On Hold

Released – September 20, 2011

by Jade Sperry

Se7en Sided are a stellar band from Edmonton AB.  Their CD Life On Hold was released on September 20, 2011.  At that time I was hospitalized and couldn’t even listen the CD until I was released in early October.  The 12 song CD is a good progression from their first CD “The Silver Lining.  The band had Randor Lin produce and engineer the CD and it was mastered by Charles Carvalho at Joao Carvalho Mastering.   I really enjoy this bands’ music as it speaks the truth about how lives are lived – it’s honest music.  Not a lot of bands do that – tell it like it is.  Straight up music.

The track listing is as follows:

1.    All I Got

2.     Restart

3.    Letter

4.    Wild One

5.    Do You Miss Me?

6.    Who We Are

7.    You and the Rain

8.    Thank You

9.    Carry On

10.   I Wouldn’t Trade

Edmonton’s Se7en Sided

All of the songs on this CD are very well written musically.  Lyrically, I find this band has honest music and I think that has carried over to this new CD from the 2010’s The Silver Lining.  I hear more maturity with the songs lyrically which is good because time marches on.  Darren Rogers fronts the band and has superb vocals with a good range.  Dan Sittler is shredding with lead guitars, Marcus Engel on bass and Aaron Hanley on drums.  This band is musically tight and you can hear how well they perform as one unit in studio and onstage.  They’ve played with bands like Econoline Crush, Defualt, Armchair Cynics, The Artist Life and Social Code.

Starting out the CD is “All I Got” which starts with a female voice letting you know what’s coming up with a 30 second spot of guitar work and then full on into a fast tempo, slightly punked out guitars and then its off in another direction musically – more rock and a ballad like melody in the middle eights.  Basically it’s a song about true feelings of devotion.  Following the person who means the most to you.  This is a really well written song both lyrically and musically.  “Restart” starts out fairly slow and questions a relationship that maybe hasn’t fully ended and how to face that emotion in each other.  The bass and drums work well together as does the guitars.  Awesome song!  This writer’s favorite song is “Letter” that is pure kick ass music.  The guitars just shred so good and the melody flows out of the instruments like a waterfall.  I really dig the melody of this song in general and I honestly can say that this music is Se7en Sided and original.  “Who We Were” starts out like a ballad with slow lead in music that gets a bit more defined by about the 1 minute 50 second mark.  Going separate ways is hard to deal with at any point in time but as days goes by you realize that you’ve grown in an opposite way to your partner’s life.

Other songs that are a highlight – “Carry On” and “I Wouldn’t Trade”.  Overall this CD has songs and lyrics for anyone to listen and relate to.  Honest music through and through.

You can find the band at the following sites:  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  MySpace

Live Acoustic Session (from October 23, 2011) which is from the band’s YouTube channel.

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.

The Mip Power Trio on tour in BC


The Mip Power Trio on tour in British Columbia

The Mip Power Trio to Headline Smithers Midsummer Festival

and at various BC Locations

Toronto ON – June 25, 2011

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

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

The tour dates are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

mipsmusic@gmail.com

The Mip Power Trio links:

Website

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

MySpace

CD Review – Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding


CD Review – Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding

Released UK: 28 February 2011

Released NA: 1 March 2011

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Beady Eye is a phoenix that has risen from the ashes of Oasis. This 13 song CD is by far the best work vocally that Liam Gallagher has done in 10 years. He sounds better than ever fronting this band which includes the members Andy Bell, Gem Archer and drummer Chris Sharrock. They are joined on tour only with live musicians Jeff Wootton (bass) and Matt Jones (keyboards). Recorded at RAK Studios with Steve Lillywhite (Peter Gabriel, The Psychedelic Furs and U2) producing the disc.

First off, I find the music on this CD is unique in it’s laid back but aggressive sound that is reminiscent of the British sound from the 1960’s as well as the 1990’s. The first song “Four Letter Word” simply states that “nothing lasts forever”. The music is choppy, fluid and forceful with good time changes and lyrics which give an impression of sending a message out in the universe that Beady Eye is here to stay. “Millionaire” is the second tune which is completely different than the first song. It has some stellar blues guitar work as well as having rock elements in the rhythm of the song. A very interesting and likeable song. “The Roller” is built on a good melody which is expanded by the first bridge of the song. I like this song because it’s stripped down musically and is speaking of “getting on with it”. The feel of the next song musically is definitely more 60’s inspired but “Beatles and Stones” also has modern chord structures which again makes for an interesting song. The melody is choppy but suits the chord structure and the final product sounds amazing. This is a rock and roll song. All of the songs on this CD are well written, produced and mixed as a total package. The music is fluid but choppy and trippy at times, is laid back but aggressive and gives me the impression that this music is more suited to Liam’s personal taste than Oasis ever had for him. That’s no slam against anyone – it’s just an observation about the music and how it’s being performed here on this CD.

Track listing:

  1. Four Letter Word
  2. Millionaire
  3. The Roller
  4. Beatles and Stones
  5. Wind Up Dream
  6. Bring The Light
  7. For Anyone
  8. Kill For A Dream
  9. Standing On The Edge of Noise
  10. Wigwam
  11. Three Ring Circus
  12. The Beat Goes On
  13. The Morning Sun

Other standouts on the CD are “Bring The Light”, “For Anyone”, “Standing On The Edge of Noise” and “The Morning Sun”, which is probably the best acoustically trippy song I’ve heard in 5 years. I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who likes blues, rock and roll and having some good times.