The Balconies – Review – Fast Motions


balconies cdcover

Since the release of their Kill Count EP in 2011, and the success of its title track in 2012, The Balconies have been making waves internationally with their rigorous touring schedule and spirited live shows. Raging through North America and Europe for the better part of 2013 – including performances at Iceland Airwaves, Reeperbahn, NXNE, and CMJ, fans and critics alike have been falling for the band. The Balconies have been garnering accolades from NOW Magazine, Hit the Floor, and Exclaim! just to name a few. A testament to their energetic live show, Soundproof Magazine went so far as to say, “The Balconies are a beast on stage…….a dramatic understatement. Their music reached out and bitch slapped the Horseshoe (in Toronto ON Canada) across their drunk faces, demanding attention.”

The band is looking forward to expanding its horizons on the road as a four-piece with new drummer Steve Molella.  The Balconies aren’t satisfied standing still – they’re ready to do it bigger and better in support of their new CD Fast Motions.  Recorded by legendary producer Arnold Lanni (Finger Eleven, Simple Plan, Our Lady Peace), Fast Motions is evidence of why The Balconies are one of Canada’s best new rock and roll acts. With lead single “The Slo” released earlier this year and receiving heavy rotation across Canada and the UK (plus a featured performance by the band on CBC Television police drama ‘Cracked’), they have a lot to live up to. The band does not disappoint – their trademark brand of visceral rock courses through Fast Motions. Sweaty, grinding rhythms have never felt this good – Jacquie’s explosive vocals and furious fretwork, Liam’s cascading atmospheric waves, Stephen’s thick, driving bass lines, and Steve’s quaking rhythms are set to seek and destroy.

Upon listening to this CD for the first time, one thing is evident – this band has the potential to become a huge success.  Beloved in their grass roots of Ottawa and their adopted home of Toronto, they follow bands like Metric, Mother Mother and The Belle Game to name a few, into commercial success not only here in Canada but all over the world.

The track listing for the CD is as follows:

1.    Boys and Girls

2.    I Know You’re Right

3.    Good and Ugly

4.    Moving Parts

5.    The Slo

6.    Kill Count

7.    Beating Your Heart

8.    Fast Motions

9.    Do It In the Dark

10.   Let Me Go

Starting out with the high energy “Boys and Girls” this song is catchy, has a great hook and has a flowing melody through the entire life of the song at 3:39.  This song has great harmonies as well, and is so damn likeable that I’m dancing mentally with the band.  Musically, this song is a great opener.  It sets the pace for the rest of the songs.  Lyrically, I find that its a current description of people in general.  Boys and girls.  Get up and get into the song!  It’s almost like an anthem.

“I Know You’re Right” is another high energy song that speaks of life on the road as a touring band.  It has a soft melody at its core but the band builds up the music to a frantic pace and brings it back down again, crashing into a finale.  This song is as good as it gets for this reviewer.

Jumping ahead to the song that brought The Balconies into the forefront, “The Slo” is disjointed, crazy and out of tune in spots – a perfect frenzy if that’s possible within a song.  Jacquie’s vocals are piercing in a pleading kind of way, expressing emotions that belong behind closed doors, giving it some kind of mystique.  Heavy guitars in minor keys give the song a foreboding feeling.  It’s no wonder this song exploded and the band became known by this song.  Very well done!

The last song “Let Me Go” is a total departure from the rest of the songs on the CD.  It’s slow, seductive and haunting.  No pounding drums or guitars are evident on this song but there is great harmony with the keyboards and Jacquie’s emotionally strained vocals.  Mostly in minor keys the song slowly fades into nothing as the CD comes to an end.

I have to say that this is a body of work that hopefully will be short listed to win the Polaris Prize.  This CD is filled with frenzied emotion, heady music played extremely well and really good harmonies and melodies.  The CD is well crafted and recorded by Arnold Lanni who puts his mark on this promising band.

Currently the band is doing a mini tour which includes the following dates:

Feb. 13 @ Ebar, GUELPH, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 14 @ Moustache Club, OSHAWA, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 15 @ Two Doors Down, BRANTFORD, ON

Feb. 20 @ Casbah, HAMILTON, ON (w/ Say Yes) *tickets

Feb. 21 @ The Dominion House, WINDSOR, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Feb. 22 @ Sanctuary, RIDGEWAY, ON (w/ Say Yes)

Video – The Balconies – The Slo.

Advertisements

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.

———————————————————–

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!

CD Review – Hands and Teeth – Hunting Season


CD Review – Hands and Teeth – Hunting Season

Released: January 2012

by Jade Sperry

Hands & Teeth are  Kevin Black, Adam Kolubinski, Derek Monson, Natasha Pasternak and Jeff Pint and for the time being they live in Toronto.  Their release of Hunting Season is a good progression from Enjoy Your Lifestyle from 2010.    One thing this band does well is the harmonies.  Finding people to harmonize well with can be quite hard.

Here is the track listing:

  1. It’s Coming Back
  2. All That Was
  3. Le Petit Voleur
  4. Sound of Hamilton
  5. Missing
  6. Parallel States
  7. Hunting Season
  8. Song 8

The lead-off track  “It’s Coming Back” has a melodic sound which gives it a very whimsical feel.  It reminds me of someone who has come 360 degrees in their life and are looking back on the darker thoughts.  With lyrics like “We know what you are”,  “I hide in the dark” and “Scars are fading fast” sounds to me like someone has gone through something traumatic in their childhood. “All That Was” starts with a whimsical melody that builds into the bridge and chorus – and with lyrics “I can’t see out of this haze” leads one to believe they are in a state of confusion.  Lovely piano work at the beginning and end of this song.  “Sound of Hamilton” is a song close to my heart as it’s a song about my old hometown Hamilton ON.  And I have to say that lyrically and musically this song is spot on.  The melody and the total song itself sounds creepy – almost like you just went to Dundurn Castle and got spooked out and ran for your life in the downtown alleys with only the thought of “getting out” before it’s too late.  “Missing” is a fairly upbeat song but with a melancholy melody that is slightly off key and reminds me of the Detroit sound (The Ronnettes) in the first verses.  The lyrics speak of “you try to see the whole world and suddenly it’ll bring you down” because you may not be aware that our culture is now global in the 21st century.  I really like how this song flows – almost like water.  “Parallel States” has wonderful harmonies which weave through the song and make it sound alive.  There is really good depth from the middle of the song to the end.  “Hunting Season” is uptempo and has quirky lyrics that sound like they have a bite to it.   I really like the male/female tradeoff in the song as well as the guitars in the beginning of the song.  The melody is very warm, positive and inviting.  The bridge is slowed down to vocalize gently and then the song evens off.  This is song the one I like the best.  It’s the way that the song is structured by lyrics and melody.  And the last song “Song 8” starts out as s spooky melody however it ends up as a laid back song.   The lyrics are whimsical with just enough spook to it.  This band pulled off that song very well.

I’d rate this CD at 8 out of 10.  Song structure, melodies and harmonies are really well captured in this 8 song CD.  If you like good music that is frantic, lazy and down to earth, then this band is for you.  Any one can easily identify with subjects within the song.  If you like Hey Rosetta!, David Vertesi and Mother Mother then you’ll probably like this band as well.  I’m looking forward to more songs from this band.

A video for your enjoyment from Hands & Teeth –  “Hunting Season/Sounds of Hamilton” – an impromptu performance at Toronto’s Capital Expresso.  Video shot and edited by Mitch Fillion.