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”:

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.