Review – City of Glass – The Modern Age (2013)


David Phu and Michael Champion.

City of Glass, a Canadian duo comprised of Micheal Champion and David Phu, two long-time friends and opposite personalities, COG was born in Vancouver and cut its teeth in Berlin and across Germany.  Drawing from older dark pop favourites (The Cure and New Order) modern inspirations (Foals, The Whitest Boy Alive) and a love of electronic music, COG have crafted a unique and memorable sound on their debut LP The Modern Age.

In the last years, COG performed for enthusiastic audiences in the UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, and across Canada. The band was honored to perform at landmark venues in London, Berlin, and Paris, and at festivals in Prague, Luxembourg, Toronto, Victoria, and Vancouver. Their recent visit to Prague included a five song showcase live on Czech national television.  City of Glass, a Canadian duo comprised of Micheal Champion and David Phu, two long-time friends and opposite personalities, COG was born in Vancouver and cut its teeth in Berlin and across Germany.  Drawing from older dark pop favourites (The Cure and New Order) modern inspirations (Foals, The Whitest Boy Alive) and a love of electronic music, COG have crafted a unique and memorable sound on their debut LP The Modern Age.

Songs from their brand new debut LP, “The Modern Age,” have already received much praise from major publications in Canada and the Czech Republic and from both Germany and the UK’s finest indie rock blogs. BKS Crew’s (The Union: The Business Behind Getting High) music video for their single “Tourist,” was featured on Canada’s MuchMusic television station and on Coldplay.com. Their most recent video for “The Modern Age” was created by up and coming videographer Jem Garrard (Linkin Park, Ringo Starr, Young Galaxy) who is working with City of Glass on some very exciting upcoming projects.

I’ve been a fan of City of Glass since 2009/2010.  I really love the music because it’s well constructed and although it’s reminiscent of some of my favorite bands from the 1980’s like The Cure and New Order but they also are unique and have modernized their original sound.  I’ve never seen the band live but I hope to change that if they play a show in 2014.

City of Glass with “The Modern Age” LP cover.

The track listing is as follows:

1.   The Forest

2.   Blinding

3.   Tourist

4.   I’m Not Here

5.   Wait For Me

6.   Sticks and Stones

7.  An Island

8.   The Modern Age

9.   Youth

10.  The End

“The Forest” has an ethereal quality to it.  On the slower side, it starts with bright high guitars and leads into Michael’s otherworldly vocals.   “Waiting till you think you know” and “Change what you feel is wrong” speaks to me of how we are killing our planet in many different ways and each of us has own way of doing what we do for the planet and reducing our carbon footprints.

“Blinding” starts out with sounds from a keyboard and guitars and in that begins the melody of the song and the beat follows.  I really like how this song starts out.  “Rats in a cage, travel together, breeding alone, which vein is better?”  are great lyrics which I think compares humans to rats.  Or so it seems to me.   I also like how the song unfolds throughout its life.  It’s a really well constructed song.

“Tourist” is a song that was on The Diving Bell EP, which is one of my favourite songs that City of Glass have done.  It’s a song that sounds good musically and lyrically. Speaking of broken promises/words and broken dreams it may speak of meeting someone whom you like or admire and having a falling out due to the fact that they don’t live in the same area geographically, which can be heard on any relationship.

“Sticks and Stones” is another favourite of mine and is a feisty fast paced song with guitars and keys that weave a great melody.  Again, this song is really well constructed from beginning to end.  Michael’s vocals punctuate with the chorus which gives a start stop feel to it.  “Sticks and stones, far from home, trail of bread crumbs” makes one wonder where are you/we going here?  But that’s not the point, the point is where do you want to go?  And when you go, leave some doors open just in case you fail.

And the title track for the album “The Modern Age” is a sombre song which begins with haunting guitars and a high hat.  In minor keys it gives a slightly foreboding of things to come.  “Hours and hours alone, kings upon the thrones” and “…blood spits out like water…” and also “…the illusion of control…”  are remarkable and one wonders what this song is about.  I feel that there are many things in our “modern” world that aren’t modern at all and have been re-discovered over time.  The passage of time and our bater system of money for consumer goods gives us a disadvantage because the illusion of control is that we are controlled but in a subtle way by our governments, police and judicial systems.  Is it for our own good to be monitored on CCTV constantly by big brother?  And why is technology being used against us in this “modern” age?  This is what this one song brings to the forefront for me.

Michael Champion and David Phu are City of Glass.

 

All in all, this is a really well done body of music by Michael and David.  The LP was produced by COG and Winston, mixed by Shawn Cole and Mark Angly at Fader Mountain Studio and engineered by Paul Boechler, Tom Prilesky and Winston.   Recording was also done at Spirit Vegetable and The Bunker and was mastered by Brock McFarlane at CPS Mastering.  Artwork by Michael Champion and Christoph Prevost Photography.  The LP was written and performed by Michael Champion and David Phu with Alexander Cumming on drums.  Additional vocals by Aude GL (An Island) and additional drums by Cole Godfrey (The Modern Age).

Watch some of the videos to the songs from this LP here:

City of Glass – The Modern Age

City of Glass – Sticks and Stones

City of Glass – Tourist

 

 

 

 

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Review – Sex With Strangers – You Know Something We Don’t? (2014)


Sex With Strangers (SWS) are from the shadows of rain-covered Vancouver.  They draw from a wide source of influences from new wave and post-punk to ’60’s inspired ballads. Although the band revels in the exploration of a wide variety of genres, SWS has managed to create their own unique sound that is highlighted by robust bass grooves and the vocal interplay between lead singers Hatch Benedict (lead vox/keyboards) and Alexis Young (lead vox/keyboards).  It seems to me that Hatch has met his female musical counterpart in Alexis and vice-versa.  They play well off each other as far as studio music is concerned.  Rounding out the band is Mike Gentile (bass), Cory Price (guitars) and Dan Walker (drums).  I’ve been a big fan of this band since 2009’s The Tokyo Steel LP.  Spin Magazine once named SWS as one of “7 Undiscovered Bands Worth a Listen”, and they are best known for their feverish and interactive live performances.  The band has been showcased at a number of North American Festivals since their inception – which includes performances at SXSW, CMJ, NXNE, Halifax Pop Explosion, Riffilandia, Sled Island, Junofest and Shambhala.

Hatch Benedict.  Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

Hatch Benedict. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

The band are set to release their 6th Studio LP this May 27.  This LP extends the sonic margins of the band’s previous efforts, moving the guitars out front and furthering the unique vocal interplay of Hatch and Alexis.  The vision for this new album is clearly evident when comparing the album’s first single “Slaves to the Night” (a dark unrelenting bass driven track) to Alexis Young’s dreamy synth crackling entry ballad “Burned”.

The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Paul Boechler (along with the band Sex With Strangers) at Garth Richardson’s Fader Mountain Studios in Vancouver. It was mastered by Brock McFarlane (at CPS Mastering Vancouver BC).  The cd was designed and photographed by Alexis Young with photo styling by Lindsay Elliott. Also in the cd, there is a thank you to the students at the Nimbus School of Recording Arts in Vancouver BC.

Mike Gentile (bass) on the left and Cory Price (guitar) on the right. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

Mike Gentile (bass) on the left and Cory Price (guitar) on the right. Photo by Jade Sperry 2010.

The track listing is as follows:

1.   Hostages

2.   22

3.   Pink Sock

4.   Slaves to the Night

5.   Falling Over

6.   Burned

7.  Wasted Glory

8.   Space Wolf

9.   Temporary Love Confession’

10.  Wandering Eyes

“Hostages” begins with high chords on the guitar and has some good bass grooves that come in and out of the song which gives it a choppy feel.  “Don’t you hate it when the panic never arrives?” and “Don’t you hate it when the truth sounds better than lies?” are great lyrics in my books because in a lot of ways, these are true statements. What you expect to happen doesn’t.  “Whatever happened to our senses?” gives one a thought of your senses may be misleading you because you want something to happen that never does.  “You don’t want to be hostages in the night” which can elude to some primal act or emotion or both.  Great song!  This song also reminds me of another great Vancouver band whose CD I’m also reviewing right now.

“22” is a good song with a good hook and melody.  Reminding me of a band in Ontario whose music I really like, this song is taken over by Alexis who sings the lead vocals.  The music is fast, danceable and has a feeling of being crazy. This song also sounds very punk in the music because of the guitar work by Cory Price.  Alexis’ vocals are really good and make a dramatic part from Hatchs’ vocals.  “Let’s go out and tell everyone we know” and “Cause you won’t stop and I won’t tell you no” gives you the impression that there is something that one cannot say no to.  What that is only the band knows.

“Pink Sock” is an interesting title for a song that is written in minor keys (as much of the album is) which gives it a slightly darker feel to it.  “I only want to watch you carry on with your convection” which gives me the impression someone is watching you for what reason(s)?  For their own amusement?  Or for some darker purpose you aren’t aware of?  The guitars are very much in your face but so is the keyboards, so you have a duel off between them. Which is wild and crazy as the melody of the song is really not like that.  But SWS has a way of making notes of music do that.  Bend it baby!

By far the best song on the CD is “Slaves to the Night”.  Wow.  The bass work by Mike is so deep down which makes the song and gives it a great backbone to work off of. Dirty heavy guitars are laced throughout the song as an evil coiled snake moving its way through the songs sinewy body.  Hatch and Alexis’ vocals trade off each other and also compliment each other which gives the song an even more darker edge.  The melody itself is rather edgy in its own way and kind of has a life of its own.  “….I warned you lovers/you can’t take back what’s under the covers” is a great lyric for this song and gives me an indication as to what the song is about.  Fantastic job on guitars Cory!

“Burned” is a dark ballad sung very well by Alexis.  The melody has a very dark edge to it and is all keyboards with some drums, other percussion instruments and guitars with a little bass.  The song reminds me a very well cooked meal in its design.  The melody flows really well in the background giving it a full lush sound. With lyrics like “Oh the way you tricked me and how you lied” and “Oh and how it feels to be so alive” give an indication of a romance gone bad in visceral way but somehow managing to surviving the fallout.

“Space Wolf” is a great title for any song but this song reminds me of a running wolf.  Always going going going without taking time to look around and enjoy life around him/her.  Once again, Hatch and Alexis trade off vocals with Hatch being the aggressive singer and Alexis being softer more gentle with the lyrics.  The music is fast paced, moving on its own as if it too is alive.  “Let me hear you lie” reminds me of lying and maybe getting away with it.  But in the animal world its all about energy that you give off so in a way I would imagine it would be harder to lie to another animal.  That’s how I see the song – very animal like and of the energetic world as opposed to our shallow world of make believe and distractions.

All in all this is an evolutionary turn for SWS as this is a real departure from the last five albums.  Their fourth album, Behaviours, indicates a direction but this album is that direction burning down the highway in the fast lane.  I look forward to hearing more from SWS in the future and also look forward to hearing more evolution from these great people.

The band doesn’t have a video off the new album yet, but from 2011, Sex With Strangers show their fun side from The Peak Performance Project with 102.7 The Peak (Vancouver Radio Station).  Enjoy!

SWS are also playing a FREE CD release show in the Vancouver area on Thursday May 29 with some of their friends Actors, War Baby and Combine the Victorious and DJ Trevor Risk (Ice Cream Social) at The Fox Cabaret.  Come on down and have some fun and some drinks!  You might even end up meeting the band who wander freely with drinks in hand through the club stalking nothing and no one in particular.

SWS_FoxShow_May29_forweb

Review – Szabo – Get Wasted EP (2013)


szabo_cover

With influences ranging from Jazz fusion to 90’s alt rock, Szabo strives to create a musical landscape comprised of relate-able lyrics and infectious grooves. Szabo engages audiences with crowd pleasing tunes and a dynamic on stage presence.  Comprised of drummer Austin Perry, keyboardist Andy Vieluf, bassist Gary Coveney and lead singer/guitarist Elliot Szabo, the members of Szabo hail from a wide range of musical backgrounds and accomplishments.

In support of Elliot Szabo’s first solo project effort, Between Two Points on a Map, the group did short stints on the road as well as opening for national acts in their home city of Las Vegas. And now a year and a half later, the band Szabo is born, playing fan favorites from Between Two Points on a Map, along with new and innovative songs that fans will soon grow to love.  Szabo is now out of the studio finishing up their first EP together!

This four song EP is easy on the ears.  They have a laid back sound but also have powerful vocals from Elliot.  His vocals are pleading, the lyrics are brooding and full of life and the melodies are catchy.

szabo-get-wasted-back-cover-357x321

“Get Wasted” is a song about drug/alcohol addiction.  With lyrics like “Go get fucked up on your own time/Don’t you dare waste mine as well/Go get wasted in the corner/By yourself”.  That pretty much sums up the lyrical side of the song.  The melody is constructed well in this song – it flows from the verse to the chorus and back again.

“Pretty Good Kids” has a pleasant musical opening and is in the same vein musically as “Get Wasted”.  Laid back, catchy and melodic.  Lyrically, this song is about a longing to be anywhere but the place you grew up in.  I can relate to this as I moved from Ontario to British Columbia.  I had a yearning to be somewhere completely different.  I had never been to any of the Western Provinces so it seemed like a good idea.  And its worked out well for me.

“Where to Start” is a bit slower paced and opens with a piano.  This song is sparse on lyrics but the song stands well in the EP.  Lyrically, this is a song about wanting to do something you really want but you’ve no idea where to start.  In this case, I suspect it’s about writing a song as the fist line of the song is “It’s never easy looking down at blank paper”…..

“Minnesota” is a song about a long lost love.  It could be a woman, man or a place.  It’s also about feeling lonely and down at night and no one you know realizes you are lonely.  I can really relate well to this.  I don’t feel lonely every night but once in a while….  Musically there is a lightness to the song until it hits the end of the chorus where it goes off the charted melody into minor keys which give it a weird and uncomfortable feel.  It’s also full on with vocals that seem to slide down through the melody.  I like that effect as it works really well in this song.

This EP was recorded at Battleborn Studios in Las Vegas.  It was recorded and mixed by Rob Root and mastered by Mike Houge.  The album design is by keyboardist Andy Veiluf with the cover art by Daniella Toscano.  All photography by Lawton Howell and Ski Basham.

Review – The Rekkening – Broken Mind EP


Vancouver’s The Rekkening has just brought out their new 4-song EP called Broken Mind.  For those of you who don’t know or who’ve never heard of The Rekkening, here is the background – Tracey Lynn Satann (main vocals/guitar) joined forces with bassist extraordinaire Goredzilla to form what is the backbone of The Rekkening.  At that time, they recorded a demo called “Best Served Cold” which went over well.  They played some gigs with a rotating door of guitarists and drummers and wrote songs.  They found guitarist Travis T (Treacherous T) who plays guitars on the EP and drummer Jordan Meyer.  However, Jordan just didn’t work out the way they had hoped, and they’re recruiting a new drummer, Natalie Elliot who has yet to find her nickname in the band.

As we speak, Goredzilla is in LA right now at the Bassist Convention where he handed out the EP to bassists’ for Metallica, Megadeath, Billy Sheehan, etc.  He’s also done an interview with the co-host of City Talk TV LA Robin Takizawa.

therekkening_brokenmindep_front

The EP was engineered by Esteban Cruz Z., Roger Lee and Jeevanath Sekaran.  And, it was mixed and mastered by Ken Burke.

The 4 songs are (in order):  In The End, Broken Mind, Cry, Is This Love (Whitesnake cover).

Starting with “In The End” the first words you hear are “Blinded by rage/At a young age…” and “I am who I am” should tell you right off the bat that this band follows their own muses and if you don’t like the music, then leave now.  Tracey has very powerful pipes and she can get in your face literally with a focus and concentration that probably scares most other people.  Her intensity with music is evident in the vocal work on all 4 songs.  The music is hypnotizing, the drums pound and the song explodes from the speakers.  Travis’ guitars are very good throughout the songs as well.  And the bass work is impeccable.

“Broken Mind” has a sinister quality about it musically right from the start due to the song being in a minor key.  Tracey picks up a megaphone to use it as an extension of her powerful vocals which only a few bands have ever used.  Asking questions “why…” make me wonder what is she looking for which is interesting in of itself.  It’s a dark song about why why why do certain things keep happening in life.  Many people wonder the same thing about their lives as well.

“Cry” starts out with an acoustic guitar and fills out as soon as the drums enter the song.  It’s a great ballad song and is radio friendly.  With lyrics “But now I only cry/When it’s late at night/And now I only cry/Instead of holding you” are some strong emotions in the words which you can hear in the vocals.  This song is mixed well.  The guitars are lovely, played with graceful hands by Travis.  And the bass work speaks for itself.

“Is This Love” is a Whitesnake cover which isn’t like the original.  The band took this song and put some speed into it and grind it out with powerful vocals, pounding drums, choppy but fluid guitars and the bass just goes with speed beat drums.  A great headbanging song!

The one thing I like about this fresh band is their passion, focus and concentration on the music.  Tracey and Goredzilla are working hard this time around to make a name for themselves in the competitive genre of hard rock/metal.  I asked Tracey what would be the ultimate thing to happen to which she replied “We’d love to play some festivals in Europe, Germany in particular.”  With the right karma, this just might happen.  This EP is solid, refreshing and hard hitting, and when more songs are written and recorded, who knows what can happen!

The band can be found at the following links:

Facebook

Twitter

Reverbnation

You can also find some older songs in their live videos such as “Angel” from 2009’s The Red Room’s performance and from 2010 with “Wake The Dead” from a show at The Bourbon.

Review – Quick Wicked (self)


Quick Wicked are a band from Brantford ON that have high energy, focus and concentration.  It’s truly independent music at its finest.  Categorically this band is on its own in the stadium.  If you need a slot, they are progressive/hard rock/indie-rock band that have some of the best music I’ve heard this year.  Produced by Quick Wicked and Hamilton’s Matt Gauthier (who also engineered, mixed and mastered the album).  Part of the album was even recorded at the Gauthier house, as well as at B Town Sound in Burlington and at The Eggplant Collective in Toronto.

quickwickedfront

The band members are Jeff Love (vocals/guitars), Kyle Love (drums), Rob Eddy (guitars/bass) and Kevin French (bass/synths).  They have total “original music that doesn’t have any preconceived notions” and they “have a passion for making original music”.  They effectively use sharp musicianship, a collective creativity and a heavy use of effects.  They make each part work and you just know that so much is put behind the song emotionally.  I had the opportunity to email a few questions to Rob Eddy, who had this to say about the questions asked:

1.  Who writes the music/lyrics for the songs on the CD??  Do you all write together or separately and work it out in the rehearsal space?  What’s the process?

Well, Jeff writes all his own lyrics, and for the most part, everyone in the band is responsible for writing their own parts to the songs with only a few exceptions.  Our writing process begins with one member already having 2 or 3 different ideas worked out beforehand.  Then, at practice it get’s dissected and we usually know very quickly if it`s something that will work for a Quick Wicked song or not.  The structuring of the song and getting to the end result can sometimes take months.  We always try to treat each instrument (including vocals) equally, and feel that that is an important part of what gives Quick Wicked a different sound than many other rock acts.

The only exception to this is that on the album called “Night Chaser” which is a song that I wrote and recorded everything myself.  I re-recorded it with Matt to use on the album as an interlude.  I couldn’t be happier with the end result!  I’m also pleased with how the songs “Monolith”, “Night Chaser” and “King” flow into each other seamlessly.  I feel that it’s just one really long song.  That was not planned out; we just stumbled across that when we were putting the track listing together.  It ended up being one of my favourite things about the album!

2.  How did the band come together as a whole as it is now?

The story of the band is as follows:  Jeff and I (Rob) met each other in public school and have been friends since grade 7.  We’ve been playing music together since we were 14 and were in many different bands in our teens.  Kyle (Jeff’s younger brother) was too young at first but by the time Kyle was 16 he was better than any other drummer we knew and eventually he came into the band.  We were sneaking him into the bars at that point because he was the only drummer we wanted to play with.

I then took some some time off from playing in a band for about two and a half years when Jeff approached me about a new project he had in mind.  He said that he had found a bass player (Kevin) who was Kyle’s friend before becoming our friend, and he wanted me to hear some demos for a couple of songs that he had already done.  Shortly after that we all met for the first time together at a rehearsal space in Hamilton and started jamming the songs.  That was the birth of Quick Wicked.  Two years later after spending a considerable amount of time getting comfortable as a band, writing songs, playing live, finding Matt, recording a demo with Matt, writing more songs and finally recording the full album with Matt again, we have our first album and a finished product that we are proud of.

3.  What is the mindset of the band when it comes to social networking?  How has the Music Industry changed the rules of bringing a new band on a roster or signing to a major label?

Currently, we are using social networking for almost all of our content and promotions.  We feel it’s a huge part of getting your music heard.  In our early days, we desperately wanted to sign with a major label and have them take care of everything for us so we could just focus on the music.  I think that was the story that was being told to us.  After seeing what has been going on over the last 10-15 years we have re-aligned our goals and no longer have that mentality.  Our main goal with this project is to give people a taste of something different when there is so much of the same happening right now in rock genre.  Many bands seem to follow a “cookie cutter” approach to their songs that they end up becoming a parody of each other.

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The track listing is as follows:

1.   Dingo

2.   Blix

3.   The Bodyline

4.   Rhum Rocket

5.   Monolith

6.   Night Chaser

7.   King

8.   Re-awake

9.   Beetleweed

10. The Docks

The CD begins with “Dingo” which is a song that has a killer melody and is played with an amazing attention to every single detail by all four members.  With time signature changes that would confuse the best of musicians, and root chords in the bass work, they make it seem so easy and seamless in this one song.  Vicious guitars, pounding drums and awesome vocals are just the beginning of this very impressive collection of songs.  This song speaks of control and being original.

“Monolith” is the longest song at just over 6 minutes.  It has a pretty guitar opening, followed by drums and bass.  The melody flows easily through the song and the vocals are pained – tearing at your heartstrings with emotion.  Lyrically, “I pick you over me/I’ve done it before/I miss you/Don’t walk away” can all be attributed by choosing another over yourself which can lead to confusion, tension and loss.

“Night Chaser” is an instrumental song, played well and is easy on the ears.  Similar to “Monolith”, it makes a statement of quality music for the listener.  The completion to this is the song “King” which gives you a trilogy of sorts.  All three songs have well constructed melodies that flow into one other.  The music is subtle and also tense, but “King” takes it over the goal line.  “Which side of the billions do you follow?” is an interesting question to ask in a song lyric.  As a listener it makes you think about what the band is asking you.

“Re-awake” is a short song (2:40) that is by far my favourite song.  Time changes, choppy drums and good vocals, this song makes me want to start headbanging and pretending that I’m at a Quick Wicked concert.  With my pretension to punk music, this song combines that punk spirit with hard rock and is played with intensity that equals no other band out there on the indie circuit at present.  Lyrically, I hear it as a rebirth of sorts in some way, which reminds me of a snake shedding its skin and becoming new again in its own protection for survival.

Every song on this CD is solid, likeable and really can’t be slotted into one category.  There are many influences this band takes from other bands and make it their own by playing to their own drummers, so to speak.  The recording, mixing and mastering are impeccable and speak to me of a band who found the perfect match in Matt Gauthier’s ability to nail the bands’ authentic sound in this 10 song CD.

You can find the band on Facebook (facebook.com/quickwicked), on Bandcamp where you can hear the CD in its entire format and buy it from there, and on the bands’ website.

The band has an upcoming show at The Volume Lounge in Oshawa ON on Saturday November 16.  Contact the venue for ticket prices and door times.

Quick Wicked – Video – Dingo (as recorded in studio) followed by “King”

Review – Rec Centre – Times A Billion


Rec Centre is a Vancouver experimental musician Alex Hudson whose collaboration with bassist Jay Arner has resulted into a full blown partnership and a new collection of pop/indie pop/power rock pop songs with a little shoegaze in there just for good measures.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Rec Centre’s Long Weekend EP on January 2, 2011 and you can find the article here.  This collection of music was recorded at The Hive and Tonehenge in Vancouver by Alex Hudson and Jay Arner.  They also called upon Robbie Nall (bass) and Rose Melberg (backing vocals).  The songs were mixed by Jay Arner and mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk.

reccentre1The track listing is as follows:

1.   Missin’ Out

2.   Look Alive

3.   Wait A Second

4.   It Won’t Mean Anything

5.   Cold Call

6.  Let’s Get Divorced!

7.   Spray Tan

8.  Rafters

9.   Indisposed

10.  Times A Billion

Starting out with the song “Missin’ Out” is an upbeat happy song musically that has some good vocal work by Alex.  A busy lifestyle is understood by all in this day and age.  A couple experience one or the other missing out on certain events in each others’ lives which can cause friction and fights.  A likeable song with a good melody!

“It Won’t Mean Anything” is an 80’s inspired song musically.  Synths and low guitars with vocals and a slow kick drum.  Perfect!  Lyrically, this could be about anything that you obsess over and then the next day, it really didn’t mean anything and it’s gone.  One night stands, a perfect show, meeting a certain person; all these could be what the lyrics mean in some sense.  I also sense a bit of reggae in the music.  This is a good song to listen to and to chill out to.

“Let’s Get Divorced!” is a song that reminds me of surf music but at a slower pace.  I like the sound, it makes me want to get up and do some dancing.  The chorus is slightly out of key to the rest of the song but it works well within the structure of the entire song.

“Spray Tan” is a 1:43 song that is an instrumental that reminds me of Duran Duran back in the day.  Having just seen a recent video of a 1985 concert it’s apparent that the 80’s sound is still kicking around in some songs.  Love it!

All of the songs on this full CD are good, solid and likeable.  A few are dance-able, some are happy and some are sad.  A good collection of songs for fans of 80’s new wave bands and dance pop music.

You can find the band on their BANDCAMP site for all your musical browsing.

EP review and Interview – The Nursery – Carnival Nature


An indie band in Toronto called “The Nursery” has completed their new 6-song EP called Carnival Nature.  Alex Pulec is the main driving force behind this band (and he is formerly of the band The Ruby Spirit where he was asked to leave).  He’s a very talented individual whose skills are all over the internet.  If you google his name, watch what comes up.  Amazing.  I hope to meet him personally in the future.

The EP was produced by Tony Malone, and when I heard this EP I knew that it had been mastered by Joao Carvalho (David Vertesi, Shad and By Divine Right) whose mastering skills are just amazing. The EP was released on 29 June 2013, and the links for Tmblr and Bandcamp are listed at the end of the review, as well as a video.  Another ally in the project is Nathan C. LaLonde (photography), whose personal site is worth a serious look.  He is definitely someone who I’d like to meet in the future.  I love his work!

Photograph taken by Nathan C. LaLonde

Photograph taken by Nathan C. LaLonde

I had a chance to ask Alex Pulec and Victor Ess some questions and their responses are as follows:

How did you form your current band “The Nursery”?

Alex: The band developed between a collaborative relationship between Victor and I. We had gotten into this habit of spending evenings ditching parties and events early to go work on songs. Eventually we realized a whole set of music had been written and we started getting excited. After having the songs ready we needed to find musicians to bring them to life and perform so Victor brought Nate in and I brought in Jared.

Where did the band name come from?

Alex: To me a Nursery of any kind represents life as much as it represents death. I love the play between light and darkness. The pleasant and the macabre. Those dualities always find their way into our music. It seemed appropriate.

What drove you to leave your last band “The Ruby Spirit”?

Alex: I never left. I was asked to leave. Too many cooks in the kitchen to make a loaf of bread.

Most artists have a “process” for writing songs. How do you write your songs? Do you concentrate on the melodies, or the lyrics, or the entire structure of the song?

Alex: For me it usually starts with an impression of an idea or a hazy image. Sometimes it’s a melody with words or sometimes it’s just a sound. I like to allow the idea to lead me further and further into what it’s supposed to be. It gets shaped in the process of trying to discover why this bit of music is having such an effect on me. Eventually the pieces start falling into place as you get closer. It always gets shaped even more with the band before it can be called finished.

Victor: I’ll often have a basic skeleton or structure in mind, or perhaps a particular melody or vibe that I want to emphasize. If I don’t have a completed idea, Alex and I will usually take an evening to work on it together and help it take shape.

As an Indie band in the land of social media, how do you find gigs to play?

 Alex: I have used social media to connect with bands that are based out of our town to swap gigs with. I see Twitter as some sort of ice breaker platform to get in touch with bands, promoters or venues that may seem out of reach otherwise. It’s great to use if you are booking all your own gigs and don’t have someone handling that yet. I also really like putting on shows with friends and other bands I love from in and out of town. It’s fun to put on shows with your friends. I feel it resonates with an audience on a level that feels honest and genuine. Pulling together with people for something feels good. Trying feels good.

What’s your take on supporting yourself in an Indie band in the age of social media and networking? Do you find it works to your advantage or disadvantage?

Victor: Social media done right can actually be really effective. I find a lot of people trying to promote themselves, bands or otherwise, put in the bare minimum with social media/networking and it comes off as disingenuous, like they’re just going through the motions cause everyone else does it. Nobody wants that. I think social media is great because it really gives you a chance to share your journey and tell your story to people.

 Alex: It’s discerning between ASKING for things or GIVING to people. Focus on giving not asking. Social Media is free. Give it away.

What have you “personally” learned and sacrificed by being a creative artist through your life so far? And how did you incorporate that lesson or emotion into a creative expression?

Victor: I’ve turned down some great job opportunities because they might have cut into my ability to make music. Same thing with relationships. I’m doing this because I love it, plain and simple.

 Alex: You have to genuinely love your art or else you’ll start to resent it when obstacles come in your way. And they will always come, because it’s not easy. There is no set path to follow. You need to cut your own. It’s always easier to travel in the dark with something you love.

Because of the over-saturation of DIY bands in the Toronto area, how will your band stand out above the other bands?

 Alex: I don’t believe it’s over saturated. Just under exposed.

On the EP, Carnival Nature, you name many other musicians who play and arrange – who are the other permanent members of The Nursery, and what instruments do they play?

 Alex: I never made a record that had so many people on it. It was like a making a film with big cast of characters. Tony Malone who produced it served as the director and helped organize everyone’s contributions. He also did the horn arrangements. I asked Athena Babayan to sing harmony on This Wild Heart to get a ghostly female voice on it. Her parts are some my favourite bits on the record.

Victor: From the beginning I have been a permanent member of The Nursery but ended up taking over the synthesizers instead of bass on ‘Carnival Nature’.

 Alex: He was kind of our Brian Eno to Roxy Music on this record programming most of the odd sounds and atmospheres that swirl around the songs.

 Victor: Sam Morton, a great bass player and friend of ours handled bass while I did all synth work. Now I play Bass, synths, sing harmony and any other effects or sounds that I can get my hands on.

Alex: Now The Nursery consists of Nate Finucci on drums and Jared Roth taking over keyboards as well as myself and Victor. They both bring such a different and fresh energy to the whole thing. We have started to work on an LP together.

What bands/artists/performers have inspired you musically and creatively over the years?

Alex: There are too many to list and even talk about. But I often take a lot of my inspiration from films, poetry and spontaneous discoveries in my everyday life. Sometimes a child yelling a strange sentence on the street may inspire an idea or lyric.

What was the inspiration for the song “This Wild Heart”? I find this song very interesting musically as well as lyrically….

 Alex: It was a combination of old western songs and the work of David Lynch initially. Lynch is a master of creating a surreal world that consumes you and that you can get lost in. So I tried taking this approach to a seemingly familiar song format by putting it in a whole new context. Victor and Tony’s textures are really what creates it’s juxtaposed and hypnotic environment. Lyrically it’s about coming to the realization that you are completely bound to someone regardless of the journey you’ve had with them and weather you like it or not.

You yourself play many instruments including the Mellotron on this EP. Which instruments are your favourites to play onstage and off-stage?

 Alex: Onstage I play guitar when I sing. It’s most fun and comfortable for me. I sometimes play Theremin onstage with my guitar when I can. That’s the best. You need a large stage to even use it properly, so it doesn’t always happen.

The members of this band are:

Alex Pulec – Vox and guitar

Victor Ess – Bass

Jared Roth – Keys and Synths

Nate Finucci – Drums

The song listing for the EP is as follows:

1.  Lysergically Yours

2.  It’s A Sin

3.  Lucy

4.  Domino

5.  This Wild Heart

6.  I Was I Was Someone Else

“Lysergically Yours” is pure kitschy and chaotic.  Progressive, edgy and with a touch of fun mixed with madness and fears, it’s a song about overpowering someone who is perhaps more passive.  There is symbolic duality in the melody of this song which gives it a fun but mad feel.

‘It’s A Sin” is a bold and brash song which is pure progressive psychedelia pop.  The melody is strong and makes a bold statement as the vocals wrap around the words beautifully.  Again, there is duality in this song which I think of as good versus evil but it’s more lyrically than musically.  Musically the song is upbeat and on the bright side.  Perhaps that’s another duality of the song itself.

“Lucy” has a good beat, is upbeat and chaotic in spots but these unusual spots hit a nerve when you realize that this is about life versus death (suicide).  The music belies that fact which is a brilliant disguise in song structure!

“Domino” sounds like a death dream that one lives in a song, if that’s possible.  Duality in life and death, whispers, Munster-like music which symbolizes being hypnotized while dying as the eyes close on life.  One of my favorites on this EP!

“This Wild Heart” is another favorite.  Sounding like southern psychedelia pop with vocal work by Alex this song reminds me of cowboys who have had a hard life and can’t be tamed in anyway, but instead, find a kindred spirit in the melody of songs.  I really like the big sound to it as well as the feel of the music.

“I Was I Was Someone Else” is a ballad like song but instead of being a traditional ballad its again a duality of being ignorant of one’s feelings about another person.  We all grow and become older and may change our lives, but, internally, we don’t change  our personalities.  This is one of those songs that makes you think about how you’ve treated past lovers and yourself.

The EP is everywhere, but the Bandcamp link is provided so that you can buy the EP right from the band without a middleman.  You can also visit the blog on Tmblr for info on the band and follow them there.  There is also a link to see video on YouTube below (produced by Nathan C. LaLonde).  I invite you to have a visit to Nathan’s site Eccentric Exhibits.  It’s a very interesting site of artwork, photographs and video works.  Other artwork on the CD comes from photographer Genevieve Blais (who has a website you should visit) and Amy Janine Wong sketched out the poster which is awesome.