Said the Whale – Review – Hawaii


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Vancouver band Said The Whale released their newest CD, HAWAII, in September 2013 on Hidden Pony Records.  They’ve definitely come a long way since their debut EP in 2007 called Taking Abalonia, which was re-released in 2008 with seven new songs and called HowSounds/Taking Abaonia.  Ben Worcester (guitars/vox) and Tyler Bancroft (guitars/vox) started the band back in 2006 with Laura Smith (on keyboards in 2007) and Jeff LaForge (on bass in 2007-2008).  Laura and Jeff were replaced by Colin Dodds on keyboards (2008) and Peter Carruthers on bass (2009-2011).  Colin was replaced by Jaycelyn Brown (keyboards) in 2008 and Nathan Shaw (bass) replaced Peter in 2011.  And all during the band replacements, they put out some quality work:  The Magician EP (2009) was released to build up momentum before they released a full CD, Islands Disappear (2009).  In 2011, they released the New Brighton EP followed by a full CD in 2012 entitled Little Mountain.

Some fun facts about the band:

In November of 2010, they placed 2nd for the Peak Performance Project (a radio station here in Vancouver; 102.7 The Peak) and won $75,000.00!

In the spring of 2011, they toured across the USA, taking a CBC film crew with them (CBC Canada filmed a documentary on the band called Winning America).  They also played SXSW in Austin TX which was a highlight of their tour.

Upon returning to Canada, they were nominated for a Juno Award:  New Group of the Year (for 2011) which they won in 2012!

(Personally I think the Juno Award win was funny because of the body of music they had released well before 2011.)

The track listing for Hawaii is as follows:

1.    More Than This

2.    Mother

3.    Narrows

4.    I Love You

5.    Safe To Say

6.    Resolutions

7.    Willow

8.    On The Ropes

9.    I Could Smoke

10.   Oh K, Okay

11.   Helpless Son

12.   The Weight of the Season

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The CD opens with the song “More Than This” which is a slow piano based song at just 1:24.  I think this song sets the listener up for a musical adventure, or so it seems to me.  It’s got a “get ready for this” feeling.  Their harmonization is emphasized very clearly.

“Mother” is upbeat with a pleasant melody that flows well and is utilized by all members of the band.  The vocals are balanced, clear and slightly pensive.  Thinking about some personal habits that may be a bit shady, this song speaks of don’t tell a mother about some of the crazy things that her child does.  The song starts out bare bones but by the end of the song, everyone is on the same page and playing strongly.

“Narrows” is a song that is mostly in a minor key and speaks of fishing for ________.  The listener can fill in the blank because the song lyrics are written in a general term that anyone can understand and relate to.  That’s one of the main reasons I like this band – the way they write music.  It makes you think.  With lyrics like “And with all my heart left to faith/I cast my luck into the water and I pray/for all my scars and my intuition/To see me through this/I’ve never been fishing like this before”.

“I Love You” is a favourite here in Vancouver.  This song was on heavy rotation on the radio and rightly so.  It combines sane music until the song goes into the chorus which then becomes an insanely musical mash up.  I like the subtle time changes from the verse to chorus and vice-versa.  Lyrically, the word “love” is used in a more sibling/friendship kind of way in the verses:   “When I learned that I had a brother/I made up a dance for you/We’d be crime fighters together/and do things that brothers do” and “When I learned I had a sister/I pretended to hate her/I’d seen it on TV/I knew exactly what to do”.

“Willow” has an interesting time signature musically that I like the sound of.  The drums are prominent in the verses but they even out with the other members for the chorus.  Within this song are really two songs – the middle part of the song sounds completely different than the beginning and end.  Lyrically, the song speaks of starting and ending a relationship.  With lyrics like “You And I/We found each other at the strangest time/When all we wanted was a piece of light/And something real just to hold on tight/And now I’ll never let you go” and “I gave you all I had to give/And still I feel like its a risk/Telling ourselves that this will be forever/Willow won’t you give me your heart”, it’s clear that some things just don’t work out the way you might have envisioned them to.

“Oh K, Okay” is a song that I really like.  Musically it’s very bare bones but has a good melody which is consistent through the song.  Lyrically, it speaks of meeting someone and hitting it off immediately which leads to a relationship.  I like these verses the best:  “I’d never met a girl who thinks the way that I do/About the better things/Like the reflection of the moon/Or the mortality of fire/And the distance of a star and us/Oh K, oh K, oh K” and “I lay my thoughts upon you in the dark/I lay beside you and listen to your heart beat/Rippling the water on the lake and the stars/Night sky, bright sparks/Oh K, oh K, oh K”.  Sharing something with another person is an awesome experience be it in love, life or just because.

Some of the reasons why I like this band is because they write original songs, they have quirky music and a lot of fun – onstage and off.  They’re a high energy band who may look laid back but the wheels are always spinning and looking towards the future.

I highly recommend this CD to add to your collection.  It’ll fit nicely between The Zolas, Mother Mother and Hey Ocean!  You can listen to the music and check out the lyrics on their website that I’ve linked in the first sentence of this article.  You can check out the band in various locations through a Google search.  They’re on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Video – Said the Whale – I Love You (totally a funny video!)

The Balconies – Review – Fast Motions


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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.

Review – Combine The Victorious – EP Crumbling Hearts


Combine The Victorious

Combine The Victorious (L to R) Mark Henning, Isabelle Dunlop, Justin Kadis and Misty Reid.  Photo credit – Klee.

Vancouver’s Combine The Victorious most recent EP was released back in October 2012 which is entitled Crumbling Hearts.  Founded by husband and wife duo Mark R. Henning (record producer/engineer) and Isabelle Dunlop (a fashion designer) in 2007, both were independently successful in their chosen fields. Their instinct for collaboration was soon realized on their debut full-length album The World Over (2007) The record received both critical and popular praise and their individual tracks were being included on compilations as far as Toronto, and even reaching the Czech Republic. The lead single from The World Over, “Blue Kitchen”, went on to become the theme song for the television series “About A Girl”.

Drawing upon this initial success, Combine The Victorious  founded the wider Boutique Empire Collective Music Label and have artists such as Sex With Strangers, Gilles Zolty and Guilty About Girls as well as other artists connected with the Vancouver scene on the roster. Despite this wider commitment, Mark reunited with Jordy Birch to form Guilty About Girls, and Isabelle began singing with both Guilty About Girls and Sex With Strangers.  But behind all this, Combine The Victorious continued to evolve.

Following a successful European tour to support the release of Crumbling Hearts (which included showcases in Stockholm, Sweden and London UK), Mark and Isabelle  welcomed new members Justin “Juice” Kadis and Misty Reid (both formerly of The Yoko Casionos from Universal Music Canada) into the band. Now officially a four-piece band, they look forward to releasing a full-length album in late-2013 or early 2014. This new offering will fuse elements of electronica, rock, dance and pop into a unique and compelling sound-scape.

Crumbling Hearts EP cover.  Photo credit - Klee.

Crumbling Hearts EP cover. Photo credit – Klee.

This EP was produced by Stefan Sigerson and the band.  The track listing for Crumbling Hearts is as follows:

1.  Crumbling Hearts

2.  California State of Mind

3.  Glasglow

4.  Smoke & Choke

5.  Paros

*Their new song “Brotherhood” (Dec. 2013) is included in this review but is not on the Crumbling Hearts EP.  Other artists who worked on this EP include Ingrid Schroeder, Hugh Ellenwood, Matt Kennedy, Jim Berry, Marc Wild, Simon Hunt and Stefan Sigerson.

“Crumbling Hearts” is a song that Isabelle started writing just before she left the band Sex With Strangers in 2012.  Starting on the slow side, the melody carries the song into a steady 4 beat hit.  Trippey psychedelia keys play well with the guitars, bass and drums.  Lyrically, it’s about love in many forms which can be good or bad and expressing it like dancing, writing, painting and any other creative way of expression.

“California State Of Mind” is a laid back song just like the state itself.   A whimsical melody melds well with the lyrics which speak of going away and coming back as a completely new person in some or many ways.  I like this song because a state of mind can be achieved by anyone and it can be for the better.  It can also mean a step backwards or negative state of mind.  Either way it’s up to the listener to figure it out.

“Glasglow” starts life in Scotland in a busy airport.  It speaks of being disappointed in some way in life and going somewhere you’ve been many times but not for enjoyment.  It’s seems to be about being supported by people who are close to but you’ve not seen in some time.  The melody is choppy and ragged but is played well.  I like the time changes as they are out of time but effective in the overall sound of the song.

“Smoke & Choke” sounds very new wave and reminds me of the 80’s new wave movement in its melody.  Funky and danceable, it weaves from a minor key to major keys well and is very fluid in the way the song is built.  Lyrically, choking on the air reminds me of pollution or could be choking on the cigarette one smokes.  It also speaks of putting two heads together which could be an issue to do with smoking or pollution or both.  I dig the melody as it reminds me of childhood songs or carnival music for some reason.

“Paros” speaks of instant love/chemistry and anything to do with falling in love.  Being in love is a commitment and takes two to make it work especially over time.  The drumming is really well done as is the vocals and harmonies.  It has a bit of new wave and experimental keys which give it a climax of sorts in mid-song.  And as I stand up and get more coffee, I’m dancing to the kitchen and back.  Of all the songs, this is my favourite song.  Its very easy to relate to on many levels by anyone who listens to the song.

“Brotherhood” is a radio friendly song that is upbeat in tempo, has a fluid positive melody and good lyrics.  Speaking of taking on the world after meeting in high school, its about two people sticking together and making their own way through life and looking out for one another.  This is a very well put together song.  Lush sounding at times and then going to the bare bones of the song is a brilliant way to capture a positive feeling/thought/emotion.  Well done!

On their Soundcloud page, they have numerous songs all of which are pretty damn good.  They also have some very good videos done as well on their YOUTUBE page.  Check them out when you have time as you won’t be disappointed.

Combine The Victorious – Crumbling Hearts and interview with Isabelle and Mark.

Review – Rioting Reverb – High I’m Your Neighbour (4 song EP)


Rioting Reverb is a band from Mississauga ON that have a quirky, folksy and somewhat rock sound to their music.  They are a relatively new band on the scene.  I dig their music.  The band members are:  Mike Batruch – Guitar/Vocals/Harmonica; Devon Golding – Bass/Back up Vocals and Joseph Boyland – Drums/Percussion.

I asked Mike Batruch about the band and this is what he had to say:

“This current line of Rioting Reverb has been around for about 4-5 months now, with Devon joining in August 2013.  Our previous bass player was unable to continue with us. It started off as a singer songwriter project by myself (Mike) in November of 2009, and in January 2012, Joe joined me.  We went through several bass players before Devon joined. We independently released our Debut EP ‘High, I’m Your Neighbour’ in April 2013.  It was recorded and mixed by Devon at a friend’s basement.  We are currently playing shows and we’re working on a stop motion music video for our single ‘This Wasn’t It’.”

rioting reverb ep cover

I am currently streaming their 4 song EP from their SOUNDCLOUD and the songs are:

1.  This Wasn’t It

2.  Respirator

3.  Old Stories!

4.  Untitled Jam 1

“This Wasn’t It” is a dance-able folk song (think the pogo) with some light punk ethic for good measure (standard 3 bar beat).  Mike’s vocals sound inviting, warm and slightly out of tune which makes it a good live off the floor recording.  The melody is not too fast but laid back and is played well by all members.  I like the roughness of the song and its straight-forward message of if things don’t work out like you thought, find a way to do what you love and don’t let anything stop you.  Forge ahead because your time will come.

“Respirator” is a song that reminds me lyrically of playing hide and seek or spin the bottle.  Both go back to a time of innocence when your a child and a teenager.  This song also ranges in its’ emotional side of life “one day I’ll be smiling/the next day I’m sad”.  It also highlights the folksy, harder edged and well played guitars of Mike Batruch.  The bass is low and the drums pound away.  This is my favourite song.

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“Old Stories!” starts out with a harmonica opening by Mike (and is throughout the song) with the steady beat of the drums.  There’s also some time signature changes within the beginning of the song as well.  I particularly like the start and stop musical breaks within the song.  A song about stories told to us about morals, life and watching what you wish for.  A very good song.

“Untitled Jam 1” is a mish-mash of music that is funky, bluesy and kind of folksy.  The first part is really heavy reverb on the guitars; very 70’s influenced.  It’s a good song to rock out to on the dance floor.  The song itself has an uneven sound but that’s its’ charm.  The second part starts out with looping that sounds straight out of the ’60’s and is presented well.  It does have structure and towards the middle, the guitars replace the loop and sound terrific – dreamy guitars on their own standing strong.

These 4 songs are a good start to this band, and I think we might be hearing more from them in the future.  The band’s music can also be found on BANDCAMP where you can also stream the music and buy it straight from the band if you really like it.  They are also on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE for live video performances.

Rioting Reverb LIVE – Respirator

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.

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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.

Video Review – The Nursery – This Wild Heart


Back on August 7 of this year, I had the pleasure of reviewing an EP by The Nursery to which you can find that article here.   One of the songs on the EP is called “This Wild Heart” to which the band have just released a new video for up on the bands’ YOUTUBE channel.

The video begins in a red coloured rocky place (reminds me of Mars for some reason or the beaches on some parts of PEI) where a pretty woman is gracefully standing with a silk multicoloured shift (dress where I come from) on and begins to dance as the music starts.  The first line of this song is “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls…” which totally matches the rocky background the woman is dancing on.  Alex Pulec’s voice is wispy and enticing with this song, and again, it matches the feel of the woman dancing and the rocky background.

The band is seen performing the song in between flashes of the dancing woman in the multicoloured shift of blue, gold, red and green.  It’s good to see the band perform in black and white which contrasts to the colour film of the woman dancing.  I like the visual appeal of the video (as well as the song) and I feel it’s a tribute to artistry in all forms:  music, dancing, colour, texture, black and white, men in band, woman dancing, etc.  I love the end where a man in a black suit/white shirt with a white cloth bag on his head claps for the woman dancing who gracefully bows.  A very well done video!

Credits:

Directed by:  Tom Sokalski

Dancer:  Christine Walker

Costume Design:  Sonja Rainey

Makeup Artist:  Brianna Bisson

Executive Producer:  Alex Pulec (the man behind the vocals in the video)

The Nursery – This Wild Heart Official Video

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.

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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.

qw3

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.

Review – Paper Lions – My Friends


My Friends, the new album from Charlottetown indie-rockers Paper Lions, was released on August 20, 2013 via the band’s own label imprint, Fountain Pop Records. The 10-song collection, recorded with acclaimed Canadian indie-rock producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers, Mother Mother) captures a Polaroid of Prince Edward Island twenty-some years ago. Stories of love and pain, childish fights, best friends, beaches and forts; they evoke the melancholia of youth, remembered by someone not very far from it.

As most people know, Paper Lions was formed in 2004 in Belfast PEI as the Chucky Danger Band by singer guitarist John MacPhee and brother Rob MacPhee (bass), guitarist Colin Buchanan (next door neighbour to the MacPhee brothers) and drummer David Cyrus MacDonald (who met the other 3 boys in high school).  They have released 6 LP/EP’s in the past decade and now have their 7th LP, My Friends, under the belt.

Paper-Lions

In doing some background research, there were 2 things that I never knew about this band – In 2010, the band were finalists for the John Lennon Songwriting Competition with a song from the LP Trophies called “Stay Here For Awhile” and in September of 2010 they were signed to a label for the Trophies LP but had received no proceeds from record sales.  They’ve never said who the label was but due to some confusion on the label end, the office staff had changed and they closed their Canadian offices shortly after staff changeovers.  In this case, The Muse Box stepped in and helped them out.

In the last 3 years alone, they have brought out 3 LP’s, toured with bands such as Cake, Hot Hot Heat, Collective Soul, Pennywise, Loverboy and The Rheostatics.  Their radio interest in Canada and the US has helped give exposure to this talented band from MTV to the World Expo in China, to the Olympics in 2012 from Vancouver BC Canada to the Paralympics in Whistler BC Canada.  In 2013, they won an Independent Music Award for At Long Creek for Best Pop EP.

The track listings are:

1.   Bodies In The Winter

2.   Pull Me In

3.   Sandcastles

4.   My Friend

5.   Little Liar

6.   Ghostwriters

7.   So Lonely

8.   San Simeon

9.   Philadelphia

10.  My Friends Are Leaving

paperlions myfriends

Starting with the lead song “Bodies In The Winter” it has a very catchy guitar hook as well as a flowing melody throughout the song.  Lyrically, running away from anything is not the answer.  But, if you do run, sooner or later, things or people will catch up with you.  You can never escape the truth of your past, your present, people you’ve known, etc.  I like songs with some morals in it.

“Pull Me In” has a familiar melody, but in bypassing that, this is a solid song musically.  Played well and very free-flowing, I like how the song literally pulls you in.  Lyrically, throwing away your genesis (or beginning) might have repercussions later in life when you turn a bend in the road of life.

“My Friend” is a happy little tune about friendship; about growing up, living life and maybe growing apart but the friendship is still there despite differences.  Musically, it does remind me of another song, but only in the beginning.

“Little Liar” is a song that warns “leave the beehive alone” kind of message about lying.  Lying will only get you into trouble because of many varied reasons, but in the end, it does catch up to you.  And when you get caught, there are always consequences to your actions.  Another good moral song!

“Ghostwriters” is more like a ballad than anything else.  The harmonies between the members sounds really good and rise above the music well.  Not too much nor too little.

“Philadelphia” on my mind…..I really like that first line.  It just sounds so natural.  Another ballad type song but as the song picks up steam, the music goes up and down in a pleasant way to the ears.  Lyrically, it sounds like a song of sticking together through thick and thin times with the people that you’re closest to.

With no song longer than 4:19, this is a solid LP.  I’m hesitant in slotting this band into a category of any kind, it’s a collection of truly independent Canadian songs, which is what Canadian bands do well.  You can stream the LP in its entire format form from the bands’ website via Soundcloud.  And if you like it, buy it on iTunes Canada and support this talented Canadian band.

What follows here is the music video from the bands’ YouTube channel called “My Friend”, the lyric video:

CD Review – Sex With Strangers – Behaviours


SWS 1Photo credit to Lindsay Elliott.

Vancouver’s Sex With Strangers released their 4th independent album late last year called Behaviours.  Unique to this album is the addition of keyboard/vocalist Alexis Young who totally changes the dynamic of the band in the creative process of songwriting.  With a trilogy of concept albums behind them, SWS are writing songs about “dystopian themes – but this time we focused on matters of a human nature – namely tension and relationships” says frontman Hatch Benedict.  He continues by saying “our hope is that people will question whether they’re actually listening to the same band from song to song while still enjoying the album as a whole”.

The track listing is as follows:

1.  Behaviours

2.  I See The Gun (And You’re The Bad Guy)

3.  Times Electric

4.  Conspirators

5.  The Brave One

6.  Machineland

7.  Blindness

8.  Terrible Things

9.  Pentagram Blues

10.  Waving My Heart

11.  Call In The Night

BehaveSWS

Let me just start out by saying that this is a CD that I’ve been listening to for 6 months.  Due to a vacation that involved numerous health issues that seem to be subsiding just now, I was inspired by this particular CD while ill due to the fact that this is a progressive, funky, crazy band which isn’t all that much different than my own personality.  That and the fact that I really like this bands’ music and their live shows are a highlight of any club gigs I go to – and they are just so damn COOL.

“Behaviours” is a song that has minor tones of music which gives it a sombre and dystopian feel.  Lyrically, this is a song about being afraid of how someone makes you feel internally and how they make you want to change – your life, your job, your feelings about life…..finding your way alone is hard but choosing to find your way with someone else is mind-blowing to an individual who never saw it that way ever.

“I See The Gun…” is a funky and fun song musically but in some ways totally opposite lyrically.  The beginning of the song reminds me of a TV theme show song but it quickly turns into something like someone you’ve known well may want to cause you harm emotionally.  Lyrics like “I don’t see the sun honey/I don’t see you smiling through the window/I just see the gun and you’re the bad guy” and “I see you slithering on the ground” gives me a good impression of what that person is really like.  It could also hint at someone playing games with you that you go along with for a while until you want serious time with that person who may not be able to give that to you.

“The Brave One” is a song that I can really relate to because in my past there was a person who wanted my “hard reaction” but being young and stupid (and possibly drunk) and having many other personal issues that could have affected the other person, I never showed any reaction.  Musically, however, Rob Zombie couldn’t do it better.  This is my favourite song on the album.

“Pentagram Blues” is musically a harder edged song that I’ve ever heard from SWS.  “Ain’t that the truth” is well said in this song lyric.  Chaos is also felt in this song as well as negative feelings like sadness and jealousy.

All in all, I really like this album as it’s a 50% departure of theme or concept albums and enters the realm of human nature and emotions involving reason, fear, torment, sex and love (lyrically).  Musically, some things have changed but in a good way as this is a band that is always moving forward – they don’t get stuck in a rut or move backwards – and that’s a good thing.

You can download the song “Behaviours” for free on the bands’ Bandcamp site where you can buy the album directly from that site as well as from iTunes Canada.  Photos of the band are courtesy of Lindsay Elliott.

The band can be found at the following links:

The official band website

Facebook

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Youtube

Video for BEHAVIOURS and other videos by the band: