CD Review – Crimes In Paris – Modern Ghost Stories


CD Review – Crimes In Paris – Modern Ghost Stories

Released: August 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Crimes In Paris are a new band that are making waves in the Toronto ON area. The four man band are a theatrical rock performance based kind of group. The music has many elements: ambient, cabaret, folk and alternative sounds. The members are Rayce Veitch (vocals/rhythm guitars), Stuart Miller (lead guitars), Rudy Olsson (bass) and Zach Giannotti (drums).

The 10 song CD is full of so many different styles, sounds and beats it makes for great music. The lead off song “Yesterday” has great rhythm, a solid backbone and is funky and fast. I am reminded vaguely of Celtic sounds within the song itself (which is probably due to the guitars and drumming). The vocals are understated but done very well. Lyrically, you know what kind of song this will be by the opening line “Well I feel happier than yesterday/does it put your mind at ease?” which gives an impression of being depressed or feeling isolated inside yourself while trying to put on a cheerful exterior to the world you live in. “Tonight” is a song that has a jazzy/cabaret style to it that reminds me of The Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer style music. Funky with a full horn sound, this song is well written, mixed and mastered and performed by all members extremely well. Lyrically, it has many lines that bring many different contrasting images to mind which makes this song a real gem on the CD. Other standout songs are”Shine A Light”, “Into The Sea”, “Let Me Know” and this writer’s favorite song “The Artist”. That song hits me right where I live in this moment in time, and it could be about any artist on the planet.

cipstripI would highly recommend the free download from the band’s WEBSITE which has links for Twitter, Facebook, etc. The band can also be found at their MYSPACE page for all info related to the band.

“Running Ink” – Crimes In Paris from Olaf Blomerus on Vimeo.

Official Video for ‘Running Ink’ off the debut album Modern Ghost Stories by Crimes In Paris.

Director: Olaf Blomerus

Cinematographer: Jesse Blight

CD Review and background – Sharif Iman – Shine


CD Review and background – Sharif Iman – Shine

Release Date: January 25, 2011

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography


Nashville based pop rock singer/songwriter Sharif Iman (originally of Leesburg VA) has come a long way since his days as a homeless performer. The story begins when Sharif was brought to Nashville by renowned country music producer Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley, Darryl Worley, Josh Turner and Trace Adkins) who heard him performing at a small club in Myrtle Beach SC. Rogers told Sharif that he had the “x-factor” and could someday be a major pop/rock artist. With hands-on assistance from Rogers, Sharif honed his songwriting craft and quickly landed a co-publishing deal with EMI. H was signed as a writer while they helped him develop as a rock artist.

However, when the group who had signed him to EMI moved on, so did Sharif. But in his own direction. He had a strong determination to take what he had learned and carve his own path. Other deals came his way but he was dissatisfied with these and didn’t take them. At this time, the music industry was shifting fast and independent labels and artists were on the rise. Sharif soon realized that he needed to stay free of contracts, reflect and re-power his tools, write songs, watch the industry carefully and wait for his own opportunity to shine.

But soon he was broke and had little more than his guitar and a well-trodden journey of struggle in a town filled with great talent that comes and goes. He always had the option of returning home to Virginia, but, if he did that he’d be giving up on his dream and on himself.

He chose to be homeless, finding beauty in all the connections the community had to offer and he wanted to share his journey of freedom and musical purity with anyone he touched. Essentially, Nashville fed him, embraced him and loved him. He gave back that love with his time, his helping hand, his heart and soul and his music. He is a big, gentle man whose nickname “The Chocolate Soul Child” was what people referred to him as. He wasn’t going anywhere and he was not giving up.

His CD Shine is to be his national debut project, a musical journey that echoes of hope, freedom and of being embraced. This determination reminds us that we can never give up on our own dreams and ambitions, and that our own life journey is connected to a much larger world family. Sharif’s music is gaining advanced airplay in the Midwest US and will soon be impacting Adult Contemporary stations nationwide.

In Sharif’s own words: “I was never going to find myself looking in the mirror at 50 or 60 and be asking myself “What if…?” That’s scarier than not knowing how my musical dream would pan out! I’m glad that I’m seeing this dream through to fruition and I’m glad I stuck it out.”

Sharif’s musical dream began at age two when he saw his brother Mark playing the guitar. He loved the sound and began plucking at the strings. Growing up in Reston, VA, his heroes were Michael Jackson, Prince and The Police. He knew that he wanted to be an artist. He began writing songs at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped. He has taken opera singing and diction lessons and his range as a singer is from a liberal baritone 2 up to a tenor 2. He attended Coker College in South Carolina and focused on the performance aspect. He spent many of his college years homeless, crashing in dorm rooms and writing on his acoustic guitar in the hallways at 2 AM.

He recorded his first project and began pounding the pavement, passing out flyers for his local gigs. He soon hooked up with Swirl, a group with a Hootie and the Blowfish/Edwin McCain vibe that became regionally popular. He secured work at venues like the Hard Rock Cafe and The House of Blues and performed everywhere from Charleston to Hilton Head to different venues in Virginia and Myrtle Beach, which is where Frank Rogers first heard him. Sharif left the band after a successful five year run and decided to follow his dream of becoming a solo artist and he had to take the chance on Nashville.

In Nashville, he played in clubs like The End, Exit Inn and Rutledge and worked day jobs painting and soccer training. He continued to receive encouragement from artists like Brian McKnight and always from Frank Rogers. He stayed highly focused on writing and recording projects for years, fine-tuning his sound before he embarked on Shine.

In the fall of 2009, Sharif’s passion and faith in his dream served him well when Liz Fox of the Nashville-based Fox Music, LLC discovered his music online. She immediately recognized his talent and signed Sharif to her indie label with a plan to create his national debut album. David Wilson and Mark Lambert were brought in to produce, mix and master Shine.

Sharif’s longtime Nashville friend and colleague Catherine Highfill helped him out by having him stay with her family when he was homeless and always encouraged him relentlessly. At that time, Catherine had a PR agency located on Music Row and they both felt that one day they would work together. They reconnected just before he began working on Shine and they inked out a management deal.

Sharif strongly believes in giving back to the community that helped him for so long in Nashville. He has “Project: AK47” which is an NGO dedicated to rescuing and restoring the lives of children in Asia, Africa and Latin America who otherwise would only know lives of violence and exploitation. Those involved help save child soldiers who have been brainwashed by drug lords to rape and murder. These children have been subject to physical, sexual and mental abuse. The organization has reached out to musicians like Sharif to help increase awareness of the group to assist with fund-raising and financial support.

The 12 song CD opens with “Feel Me” which is upbeat, funky and powerful. This song is very fluid with vocals like velvet. The melody is very uplifting and the song itself is performed well. All the instruments meld together and are understated with the vocals layered over top. Lyrically I feel it’s about a long struggle with a dream that may or may not happen but working hard to achieve it – “I got my shine on from the inside/Nothing is bringing me down”. The lead off single for the CD “Shine” starts out slow and a certain feeling builds consistently throughout the song. The melody is very soft but powerful in its intention within the song. The lyrics to this song are a very personal statement for Sharif – “Said I wouldn’t quit till I reach the top/Well here I am and I’m still grooving/Aren’t you proud of me/I’m talking bout my family/And all the ones who were there for me/That knew one day I would”. Musically all the instruments blend well behind the vocals which are outstanding. Sharif can sing really well and is a very crafty songwriter with abilities that really shine from the inside out. Although more in the adult contemporary range, many people will find something within the songs on this CD to relate to. Other standout songs are “New York”, “That Girl” and “Tennessee”. This is one talented man who is ready to take his musical life to the next level. I feel that exciting times are ahead for Sharif.

His website can be found HERE with all kinds of information on the singer.

Video for the song SHINE

CD Review and Interview – Se7enSided – The Silver Lining


CD Review – Se7enSided – The Silver Lining

Released: May 19, 2009

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Se7enSided the band. Photo by Nicole Ashley Photography.

Se7enSided are an interesting and solid rock band currently residing in Edmonton AB Canada. This is a band that has been together for over 7 years, have shared a stage with the likes of Canadian acts Default and Social Code among others . This is a band that is driven and passionate about their music which is powerful and original. The current members of the band are: Darren Nakonechny (lead vocals/guitar), Graham Bissell (lead guitar/backup vocals), Aaron Hanley (drums) and Jon Squires (bass).

The 10 song CD starts with the song “Break Me Out” which has some tight bass playing that are under the vocals and guitars which gives it a really solid backbone for the melody to float on. Darren’s vocals are sung with passion, Graham’s guitars are choppy and fluid and the drums pull it all together. Lyrically, this song is about a breakup that leaves you feeling that even though its hard to let go, you need to follow your instincts in matters of the heart (I hate goodbyes/but I think its time we’ll say it anyway/I’m letting go). “Watch Me Burn” is a kick ass song that starts out slow and mellow and builds to a solid chorus. The acoustic guitar works so well with Darren’s vocals and the timing of the song is impeccable. Lyrically, this is a song about feeling trapped with one person who may not be the best match for you personally (have you ever felt broken/had your everything/your whole life stolen/ I am running out/out of air). “Your Fool” is in this writer’s opinion the best song on the CD. Musically, its an odd time signature but it works with the vocals very well. The bass break in the song is played really well and is kind of ominous and foreboding. Darren’s vocals are passionate and edgy. Lyrically this song is about being in a relationship in which the other person is making you feel like a total ass (call me a fool/cause I miss you/well its not right/you’re on my mind/you’re off with him/I’m losing again). Another standout song is “Rust”. The melody is very catchy as is the riff. I totally dig the beginning and I like the fluidity of this song above the others. The drumming is superb with timing changes in the bridgework. Lyrically, I love the way the lyrics really speak of being in a “rusty” relationship (hello how are you feeling/when you’re cell phone isn’t ringing/I thought you always had my back/What the hell would ever make me think that).

Se7enSided are currently recording new material which should be out in the near future. In the meantime, you can find the band on their website, Myspace page and watch a video for a live acoustic performance right here:

The band has a couple of shows on December 28 & 29 at The Rose and Crown in Banff, AB where they are headlining. Tickets are $10 at the door and the doors open at 8pm.

I also had the opportunity to interview the band via email, and here is what they had to say about all things Se7enSided….

What personal goals has the band as a whole achieved in the last year?

The last year has been extremely busy for us; last March (CFBR) 100.3 The Bear & Astral Media sent us to Canadian Music Week to take part in the RADIOSTAR contest as Regional Finalists for our song “Rust” off our debut album ‘The Silver Lining.’ We met a lot of great people, cool bands and learned a lot about the industry. In July we played at the Kin Slo Pitch Festival in Edson, AB to a crowd of 5000 people opening for Default! We also shared the stage with Soul Side In, and Social Code in the past year as well. We feel as though we have accomplished a lot, and continue to try to do bigger & better things in the future!

What goals in relation to the band are you setting now to work towards over the next year?

Currently we are writing and recording pre-production tracks for our upcoming album. We’re just begging the process but it’s definitely exciting to start writing again!
We’re looking into producers, studios, and all that kind of stuff – but it may be a while until you see a new Se7en Sided record on the shelves!

As a band, what has been the best thing that has happened, and the worst thing?

So far, the best thing for us was playing with Default at the Kin Slo Pitch Festival in Edson! I mean, 5000 crazy, screaming fans… you can’t go wrong! & they loved us, so it was a great time!!! The worst? We haven’t had horrible luck, but we have shown up to clubs with like 5 people in them and had to play – and been double booked (we were double booked with a burlesque show in Calgary last year haha!!)

How do you see the current state of the Corporate Music Industry in relation to your band? How do you see your band in the big scheme of things (ie/ indie Canadian band) in comparison to counterparts in other countries? How does being an indie band bring the creativity out of yourselves? Do you feel you have to compete for an audience? What’s your take on all of this??

Well as an independent, unsigned band currently we just have to be hopeful. We work extremely hard, practicing and rehearsing countless hours every week, playing as frequently as we can, continually getting better as musicians & song writers and trying to get as many people to hear our music as we can – that is all we can do at this point. Being a Canadian band trying to make it is tough. There are only 32 million people and are all very spread out. Maybe it’s good? Maybe it’s not? It sure makes touring tougher… you need to drive 8 hours a day to get to the next city… sometimes longer! Who likes 15 hour drives? If we were in the UK there would be the same number of people in the size of Alberta… you could tour it easily! So you really have to make your music something great, as well as the live show. You have to be noticeable enough that people on the other side of the country are like “I wanna see these guys! I wanna buy their record!” But as long as you play good music and give it all you got, people respond to it and that’s all that counts.

Do you feel that the band have control over how your music reaches the fans? If yes, why do you feel this way and what factors into that?

It’s sort of a yes/no answer. We certainly try to put our music out in every way we can; whether that’s building up a fan base online (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.) or playing live as often, and in as many places as possible. We also have our songs on a number of radio stations across Canada. Just in Edmonton alone, we’ve received high rotation on 100.3 The Bear for our song “Rust” and on 102.3 NOW radio for our singles “It’s Over” & “Face Yourself.” All of this has come through hard work and perseverance, but if we were signed or had higher connections success would be much easier. You can’t make someone listen to your music, but you can definitely try!

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard the music before?

A musical experience that can only be appreciated by heading down to your local HMV or hitting up iTunes, or Amazon and grabbing a copy yourself.

Who are the primary songwriters in the band? Collectively, how does the songwriting process go within the band?

Darren (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) usually writes the skeletons of the songs, and then brings them to the band and we flesh them out there. Whether it needs some lyrics or just musical parts or whatever, we figure a lot of stuff out as a band and just try stuff until it works and feels good. We all come from very different backgrounds literally and in terms of what we listen to musically. So it’s great to have a bunch of different ideas flying around – it keeps things interesting!

How did you come up with the band name?

It’s a question we seem to get asked all the time. Although we get this question on a regular basis its always been the same simple answer…. a seven sided figure is a unique an uncommon shape, we like to believe this is very true with our music as well. As a seven sided shape does exist (Heptagon), so does our distinct, original, diverse style of modern rock music.

What is your opinion on the current state of the Edmonton music scene? Do you feel that there are enough venues for bands to book club shows, or, do you feel that there is too much competition for the club slots? What’s your experience with this issue?

There are a number of great venues in Edmonton and it’s got a great scene! If you play good music, people will like you – if people like you, places will book you. That’s my impression of it, and it seems to be working for us. There are great bands on the scene as well, and when you can hook up with two or three other bands and get a real bill going it’s a lot of fun!

CD Review – My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys


CD Review – My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Release date: Monday November 22, 2010 (Canada and US)

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

CD Cover.

It’s been four years since My Chemical Romance brought out The Black Parade. Since then, many things have changed for this band – relocating to LA, marriages, member changes, children, dogs and a much needed recharging of the batteries. Their newest offering of 15 songs are well crafted, imaginative, mature and artistic in ways that mirror a comic book that has a Mad Max/Thunderdome kind-of-feel to it. To be honest, I thought I wouldn’t like this record but I found myself liking it more and more as I played it over and over in my iPhone while working my hospital job. And I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised. I hear a lot of influences in all the songs including Abba-like piano/synths chord structures and MSI-like lyrical structure and vocal performances by Gerard Way on the song NA NA NA (NA NA NA…..). I can also hear other influences such as MC5, The Stooges, Metallica and The Beatles (with the more psychedelic aspects of certain melodies). If you think about each of these bands mentioned, you get some idea of how versatile these songs are. I really dig “Party Poison” that begins with Japanese spoken word in a slightly hostile female voice and the punked out chord structures and vocals which has a Ramones feel to it. “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” begins with Metallica-like drums for the first 30 seconds or so and Gerard’s vocals are performed really well with an edge to it that I’ve never heard before. And the bridge is downright creepy musically and the growl in the vocals is pretty obvious. And of course, you can’t go wrong with having mofo in there too. “Scarecrow” is one of the better tracks on this CD. Sounding vaguely like The Beatles or the 90’s Canadian band The Tea Party with psychedelic touches on the vocals in particular. “Summertime” has a real pop rock sense musically to it and I also get the feeling this is a song that Gerard has special ties to (When the lights go out/will you take me with you/the highways I call home/with your lip gloss smile). I like the guitars in the bridgework as they are understated but stand out in the melodic rhythm of the song itself. “Destroya” reminds me of Rage Against The Machine at its peak with a bit of awkward rapping and is musically interesting in its rhythm, vocal work, guitar work by both Ray and Frank and some awesome root chord bass structure by Mikey. “Vampire Money” is so crazy, you just have to get up and dance to it. A catchy hook in the melodies that just suck you in, smoking hot guitars in the bridgework and vocals that sing of being a movie star, acting out of control and being on the edge.

The videos have imagery that is comic book like in its look.  Here is the official video for “Sing”.

Overall, this is a strong musical return by this band. Welcome back from The Black Parade. I would highly recommend this CD to all the people who don’t like this band. Because this CD takes the band in a more artistically musical direction that will appeal to pretty much anyone who likes hard biting rock and roll with a sprinkle of maturity and a touch of madness.

You can pre-order the CD in Canada on iTunes here and you can find the band at their website. Currently, the band is on tour and you can check out the dates here.

CD Review – Decade Of Sleep – Self-titled


Cd Review – Decade of Sleep – Self-titled

Release date: November/December 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

CD cover for the self titled Decade Of Sleep CD.

Decade Of Sleep reside in the busy city of Toronto ON. Back in 2009, I interviewed lead singer Phil Laffin (lead vocals) about their first EP release, Morning Sun. At that time, I knew this band had what it takes musically to go global. And this self-titled CD of 11 new songs just reaffirms this first impression. Rounding out the band is Lance Schibler (guitars), Eric Walker (bass/backing vocals) who plays lead guitar on “Dog” and Mat Pataki (drums/percussion/backing vocals). This foursome have a lot of talent packed into the genetics of the band – they produced this CD on their own and also have engineering credits as well (Lance and Mat).

The lead off song “Sympathy” is a jazzy/rocking tune especially with Lance’s guitar and Eric’s bass locking into each other immediately. Then we have Phil’s powerful voice belting out the lyrics while Mat plays his kit with all the right cymbals and high hats. The break in the bridge work is stellar and overall these guys play so well together that it comes across to the listener effortlessly. Lyrically, this song is about relaxing, forgiveness and just going with whatever life is dishing out – and dance while showing some sympathy towards others. The video for this song is interesting in its visual of the band in action. “Northern Lights” is musically more pop rock oriented that shows the lighter side of the band. Lyrically, Phil and Lance write great lyrics (is there something out here anywhere/that can save us from our disrepair). Having never seen the Northern Lights with my own eyes, I’m sure Phil has and maybe Lance too but I get a vision of what that looks like from this song. It speaks too of leaving it all behind for something better. “Fool Heart” has great drumming and bass work, “Lovers” has some of the best vocal work I’ve heard in a long while as well as some under-stated guitar work layered under Phil’s vocals and “Dog” is just so … dirty, but in a good way. The guitars from Eric are just so well suited to the song which has a definite Soundgarden/Pearl Jam feel to it. Every song on this CD is well written, constructed, executed and performed to almost utter perfection. This writer’s favorite song is “Corinna” based on the music, the lyrics (come on corinna/show me you want it/show me everything/dance for your dinner/sing for your supper/be my beauty queen) and the whole performance of the song by all four members. All songs are standouts in their own ways. It’s just a pleasure to listen to this music. Jazz, rock, country, fushion jazz and progressive rock is in every single song. I highly recommend this CD to anyone who is a music fan of edgy, powerful and dangerous music from a talented foursome. This band is a force to reckoned with.

Decade of Sleep has a CD release show coming up on December 2 at The Rivoli in Toronto. And the CD can be bought on iTunes or directly through Tangent North Music. You can also find the band at their website and on MySpace.

 

CD Review – The Quiet Kids – Serious Lovers


CD Review – The Quiet Kids – Serious Lovers

Released: April 2010/Unsigned Indie Band

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

 

CD Cover for "Serious Lovers".

 

Vancouver’s The Quiet Kids are making some real waves in the Vancouver Indie music scene. They formed the band just last year (2009) and have recorded and released their debut 11 song collection called Serious Lovers. The members are Jay Hosking (vocals/keys/guitar), Ronnie Ellis (guitar/vocals), Mike Bowd (bass) and Geoffrey Stratton (drums). This band is totally original in its music but could be compared to bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle and maybe The Killers. But, I stress that The Quiet Kids only mildly sound like these bands.

 

Starting out with “Fugue State”, this song makes you want to jump up and get moving in a good way. Musically there is a great amount of tension in this song (as all the songs on the CD have this same kind of tension) that makes for a high strung feeling throughout the song and CD. Great drumming and vocals make this song a good choice to open the CD with, and there is some fine bass work with root chords that are just outstanding. Lyrically, this song speaks of isolation, paranoia and of moving away to find better things to come after being through the wringer, so to speak. “Her Euology” starts out in a kind of Devo-ish way but quickly changes to an original song. Musically, its a fast paced song which has that tension as well as anger in the chord structure. Lyrically, speaking of funerals and asking “what the fuck is your problem” and “nothing ever happens” can be taken in many ways by different people. The fourth song “Instrument” is a bit more on the slower side but has biting tension in not only the music but in the lyrics as well. For this writer “The Party” is the most original song on the CD. Starting with trippy keyboards that go back and forth fast this song utilizes many instrumental melodies, off key chord structures and all instruments played by the band are used in unusual ways. Lyrically this song speaks of wanting to be with a person or group of people you haven’t seen in a while. Other standout songs are “The List” which has a sombre sad feel musically to it; and “’Til Then” which is a lovely ballad sung well and played acoustically. Brilliant! This song is also the longest at 4:15 on the CD.

 

I highly recommend this CD to anyone that likes harder edged music that is original and really doesn’t resemble any band that I’ve ever heard to date.

 

The Quiet Kids are playing some shows in the Vancouver area over the next several months with more dates to be added. You can check out their MYSPACE page which has other links to other pages. If you’d like to purchase a copy of the CD, you can contact the band directly at the following email address:

 

quiet.kids.vancouver@gmail.com

 

Upcoming shows:

 

19 November – Pat’s Pub w/ AK-747’s, Wizerds and Vincent Parker

18 December – The Forum w/ Bangarang, Oh No Yoko!, DJ Fratkid and Junior

 

9 March 2011 – The Forum for Push The Amp 2011 Battle of the Bands (the money you pay for the tickets purchased through the band goes directly to the band so contact them through email for tickets)

CD review – Henry and the Nightcrawlers – 100 Blows


CD Review – Henry and the Nightcrawlers

Released: November 1, 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

CD cover for 100 Blows. Photo by Henry Alcock-White.

Henry and the Nightcrawlers band members read like an all-star line-up from some of the best indie bands in BC at this time – The Zolas (Zachary Gray and Tom Dobrzanski), We Are The City (Andy Huculiak and Cayne MacKenzie) and Said The Whale (Peter Carruthers). Leading the band is Henry Alcock-White (The Zolas and formerly of Bend Sinister) who takes this talented group into this riveting collection of songs called 100 Blows, the debut and birth of Henry and the Nightcrawlers. One thing that should be said about this 10 song CD is that this is a journey of two people and how each affects the other.

Having said that, the title song “100 Blows” opens with quirky upbeat drums and weirdly off-key backing vocals which set the stage for this unusual and likeable song. Laid back guitars and a good mix of lead and backing vocals make this an interesting song musically. Lyrically, this song speaks of pain (the pain that you feel and the way in which it burns) and of life’s hard knocks (trying to start a fire without a match/rocking your kayak forth and back). “The Fucking” is a song in ¾ time and is a favorite of this writer. It speaks of wonder, waiting and not wanting to be fucked with because that game is old (it’s better to be fucked than to do the fucking/so don’t fuck with me I won’t play that game). Musically, the guitar solo is pure blues and works well with the keys in the background and the vocal work by Henry is superb – a bit angry, a bit sad and speaking your mind about how you really feel. “The Fight (La Luncha)” musically reminds me of cabaret-style music (much like The Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer) mixed with blues done in 2/4 time which builds with consistency through the song like mountains and valleys. Lyrically, its about seeing through bullshit basically and this song ends strong with a chorus of voices chanting “La Luncha”. Well done! Other standout songs are “Fan the Flames” which is about painful memories of a past relationship (some things are never forgotten/some loves should never have happened) which is also musically appealing; “On a Week Night” is the longest song which musically is up-tempo and upbeat and moves fluidly but has biting lyrics (it’s kind of like love/with a lot of self-destruction/my head is getting heavy/my head is deconstructing). The musical breaks in this song are interesting and original. Musically the song, as well as life for the singer, is chaotic. For this writer, the best on the CD is “Amberly”. So many influences are heard in this one song. The vocals work so well with the music it sounds like magic in many ways. The musicianship is very fluid and all members are on the same page with this song as well as all the songs in this eclectic band.

If you are in the Vancouver area, Henry Alcock-White will be on CiTR on Tuesday November 23 from 11am – 1pm where he will play acoustic versions of some songs from 100 Blows and be interviewed about the CD itself.

You can buy this CD on CD Baby and iTunes.

Upcoming shows for Henry and the Nightcrawlers:

13 Nov 2010 – Music Trader, Winnipeg MB @ 14:00 (2pm)

13 Nov 2010 – The Park Theatre, Winnipeg MB @ 20:00 (8pm) w/ The Liptonians

15 Nov 2010 – The Slice, Lethbridge AB @ 20:00 (8pm)

17 Nov 2010 – The Central, Fernie BC @ 21:00 (9pm)

19 Nov 2010 – TBA, Kelowna BC @ 20:00 (8pm)

27 Nov 2010 – The Billy Bishop Legion Hall, Vancouver BC @ 20:00 (8pm)

Tickets for the Vancouver show will be on sale through Zulu Records soon.

CD Review – Lola Spriggs – Nobody But You


CD Review – Lola Spriggs – Nobody But You

Released: January 2010 Canada, February 2010 US

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

Lola Spriggs is a native of Montreal Quebec Canada but started her career in trendy Ottawa nightclubs. She has 3 previous releases under her belt with 2004’s mini CD Expressed, 2005’s Lifescrapes, and 2008’s Barefoot. Lola’s collection of all original songs over the years is extensive and they have received regular play on radio stations in Canada and the US. Her career includes stints in regional favourites The Republic and fronting Rough Edges as 2 good examples. She has also been nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media award in the Adult Contemporary/AAA categroy for her breakthrough US single “Nobody But You”. Lola is the only Canadian nominee in this category. The nominated song was co-written by internationally acclaimed platinum producer Marcus Kane (Snow, Xquisite, GQ).

Lola’s newest offering is a six song collection called Nobody But You which was released in January 2010 in Canada (and in February in the US). Lola has original, fresh and vibrant music that has great pop sensibilities, good hooks and melodies that have a flow and ebb all their own. First up is the very pop oriented song “I Wanna Love You”. This song is so catchy it flows smoothly like Jack Daniels over ice on a hot summer day. Original melodies and good chord structure in blues, this song is worth the price of the whole CD. “Nobody But You” is the song Lola has been nominated for with HMMA. On the slow side in a good time signature, this song evokes passion and and a sense of longing for what you’re looking for in love or in friendship. Well written, well performed vocally and musically, this song stands head and shoulders above the other 5 songs on this CD. The other standout song for this writer is “The Game” which has a rock edge to it. This song is structured differently in a rock sense as opposed to a pop sense. Good hooks, a great melody and stellar vocal performance from Lola makes me wonder what she will do next in her career. I’m looking forward to what she does in the future.

You can find Lola Spriggs on her MYSPACE page as well as her WEBSITE.

CD Review – The Murder Plans – Good Omens


CD Review – The Murder Plans – Good Omens

Released: September 24, 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

 

Residing in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa ON, The Murder Plans have released their newest offering called Good Omens. The 11-song CD is definitely a well crafted listening pleasure. Starting out with the haunting song “Someday I Won’t” which weaves a particular feeling through the listener to set up the rest of the songs that follow. Melancholy, strong and patient are words that best describe this song. In comparing these songs to their 2007 debut EP, this is a much more introspective offering. “Tell A Lie” is a song that is moody, dark and brooding in its melody and chord structure. The music through all songs is at times funky, jazzy, rocking and brooding – just the sort of music you would expect from a band that is emerging into its own style of music. Recorded and mixed by Dean Watson at Gallery Studios (the Soiree, Ana Miura, Jetplanes of Abraham) and mastering done by Phil Bova of Bova Sound (Jason Collett, Zeus, Hiltotrons, Arts & Crafts), the checks and balances are pretty much perfect. Other standout songs are “Hurt Somebody”, “A Minefield” and “Electric Lights” for this writer based on the remarkable seamless melodies and the way the songs make you feel…almost as if the band were in my living room and playing only to me. A job well done!

 

You can find The Murder Plans at their MYSPACE page which will give you various videos and links to where you can buy this CD as well as vinyl.

 

The Murder Plans Album release party September 24 2010 @ Elmdale Tavern.

 

 

 

CD Review – Pierced Arrows – Descending Shadows


CD Review – Pierced Arrows – Descending Shadows

by Jade Sperry

Pierced Arrows are a band that has formed from the demise of Dead Moon. Fred and Toody Cole have reformed this new band with drummer Kelly Haliburton, and with an endorsement in Spinner Magazine from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder (http://www.spinner.ca/2010/02/02/pierced-arrows-eddie-vedder/), they have delivered a superb album called Descending Shadows. This CD was released in early February 2010 and the songs are alive, fresh and energetic. The Coles are at an age where most people retire but instead they decided to form another band. And for most people who were into Dead Moon, this was and is fantastic news. They are probably one of the best live acts this writer has ever seen and are the most genuine down to earth band as well.

Pierced Arrows, photo by Simone Muller.

The CD opens with “This Is The Day” which reminds me of a more aggressive Neil Young song. The drums in this song standout as does the guitar work by Fred. Also the vocal work by Fred and Toody are bang on as they were in Dead Moon. Singing about how things used to be and how they are now is what this song is about. The pause breaks in the song and how its structured is as fresh as any new band today. “Buried Alive” has a creepy sounding bass lines which Toody creates in conjunction with Fred’s raspy vocals. It also has a 1960’s Munster-like theme show sound. But not in a bad or campy way; this song evokes a retro feel from the guitars to the vocals and bass. Simple and effective. “On Our Way” is a song that has a reminiscent Pat Benatar “Treat Me Right” feel to it but then it totally becomes a Pierced Arrow song as Fred and Toody’s vocals come in. I like the fact that the Coles incorporate their own styles mixed with classic styles and they blend it so well. This song is a good example of this. “Ain’t Life Strange” has a really good hook with the drums, bass and guitars and strong vocal work. This song has it all – classic rock, hooks, riffs and the lyrics are reminiscent of the 1960’s as well as the 1990’s as both those decades were similar in that music changed its sound. “Paranoia” has a tense feel to it right from the start. Fred’s vocals are effective and he growls with paranoia in a sense. The guitar work is particularly effective as well. “Tripped Out” has a catchy riff and is a well mixed song. For this writer, this song reminds me of being totally out of my head and feeling like a total outsider from everything in life. “On The Move” is an exchange song of lyrics by Fred and Toody about being on the move – touring, traveling and all things related. The guitar work is stellar and has a preciseness about it that’s hard to miss. “This Time Around” is not the strongest song on the CD but it has charm in the vocals by Toody. This song is about the past bands, the new band and everything in between in the life of the Coles. “Let It Rain” has to be the best song on the CD and was one of the best songs they sang live here in Vancouver last year (2009). Passionate vocals, good melody and provocative lyrics make this song a standout. “Zip My Lip” is a punk song at heart and is played that way on this CD. This song is a classic and when you see them perform it live it’s the kind of song that gets you shouting, shaking your fist in the air and leaves you with a feeling that you want to create mischief in some harmless and fun way. The last song “Coming Down To Earth” is the strongest song lyrically. It speaks of having friendships that you realize you’ve outgrown and having painful splits from people you have loved in the past. The music is varied and solid as is the vocal work.

Overall, this is a very good start to a new chapter in the life of Fred and Toody Cole, and I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter in their varied and successful careers. You can find the band at their various sites, plus an interview from when they performed at SXSW earlier this year:

Official Band Website: http://www.piercedarrows.com/

Official Band MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/piercedarrowspdx

Pierced Arrows Interview on Spinner: http://www.spinner.ca/2010/03/14/pierced-arrows-interview-sxsw-2010/