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!

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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

Facebook

Twitter

Supernova.com

General Review – The Sheepdogs


General Review – The Sheepdogs (who have three CD’s to date with latest CD Learn & Burn).

by Jade Sperry

Jadedphotography

Saskatchewan is a flat and sometimes barren land which is the mid-west province in Canada and is home to The Sheepdogs who live in Saskatoon.  This isn’t a new band and their latest CD came out in early 2010 but I wanted to get the band’s name out there. They are just coming off a successful tour and I’ve been hearing very good things about their live shows. Guess I missed the boat on their tour.

This quartet make guitars the primary focus on Learn And Burn and many great bands of the past come to mind while I was listening to the music. Whether you like your rock in the form of sinful southern rock, classic rock or bluesy rock, it’s all right here in the fifteen songs on the CD. At present, they are doing extremely well playing festivals down in the US and Canada. Their last two dates are on July 10 playing in Downsview Park and the Nakusp Festival here in BC on Sunday July 17. You can find this info here .

The band members are as follows: Ewan Currie (lead vocals/guitar), Leot Hansen (guitar/back vocals), Ryan Gullen (bass/back vocals) and Sam Corbett (drums/back vocals) and they play as one solid unit. This bands’ music is reminiscent of artists such as The Guess Who, CCR, Santana (especially on the song “Learn And Burn”), The Allman Brothers…the list goes on and you get the idea. The music has a real 60’s/70’s classic rock sound complete with Hammond organs. The track listing on the CD:

  1. The One You Belong To
  2. Please Don’t Lead Me On
  3. I Don’t Know
  4. I Don’t Get By
  5. Learn And Burn
  6. Right On
  7. You Discover
  8. Southern Dreaming
  9. Soldier Boy
  10. Catfish 2 Boogalo
  11. Rolio Tomasi
  12. Suddenly
  13. Baby, I Won’t Do You No Harm
  14. We’ll Get There
  15. I Should Know

Whimsical and quirky melodies infused with strong and solid harmonies, lyrical depth to the songs in general plus the quality of the band as one unit. That is a really good combination to have in your music and that’s what this band has. One thing of note – all of the songs speak of life, living life and what you struggle with. And anyone could relate to any of these songs.

Some of the standout songs you should check out are “I Don’t Know” which in this writer’s opinion is the best song. A really easy melody that drips with southern blues. The vocals are delivered well by Ewan as does Leot and the song is well written. “Learn And Burn” which has a Guess Who/Allman Brothers feel musically. But the guys take that sound and make it their own. This song has an easy melody, great harmonies, wonderful guitar playing, good time changes and that’s just one song folks! “Southern Dreaming” is a silly, whimsical and quirky song with a really catchy guitar hook. On the slower side you’ll want to listen to “Suddenly”. Mellow and languid this song just flows. Stunning harmonies accent this song as well as some of vocal effects. This song seamlessly flows right into the next song “Baby I Won’t Do You No Harm”. This song is intense musically, has really good time changes and guitars that are well played in harmony.

I highly recommend collecting this bands’ music if you like classic southern rock in the vein of CCR and the storytelling lyrics from Winnipeg band The Guess Who, then you need to check out the band.

You can download a copy for FREE here: Big Stand 2008

Official Video for “I Don’t Know”