CD Review – The Strokes – Angles

CD Review – The Strokes – Angles

Release Date: March 22, 2011

by Jade Sperry


The Stokes are back with a 10 song collection on the new CD Angles.

Track listings:

  • Machu Picchu
  • Under Cover of Darkness
  • Two Kinds of Happiness
  • You’re So Right
  • Taken For A Fool
  • Games
  • Call Me Back
  • Gratisfaction
  • Metabolism
  • Life Is Simple In The Moonlight

As everyone pretty much knows The Strokes were formed when teenagers Julian Casablancas (Vocals), Nick Valensi (Guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (Drums) started playing together at school and, after hooking up with Albert Hammond, Jr. (Guitar) and Nikolai Fraiture (Bass Guitar), they adopted ‘The Strokes’ as their name in 1999, playing local gigs to growing crowds. And they have maintained their fan base to date. Their new songs are collectively a solid set to get people excited.

First off is “Machu Picchu”. This song is a mixture of reggae inspired riffs and dreamy chord structures which The Strokes do so well . The melody of the song is good and the time changes are simple but effective. And Julian’s vocals fit the song very well. It speaks of jealousy and how to not fall into the trappings of disposable things. The fourth song, “You’re So Right” is a really well written song and kind of reminds me of the future of songwriting in some ways. The music reminds me of a twisted and updated Joy Division sound while the vocals are robotic and trace-like in some of the spoken words. Wow. At just over two and a half minutes this song is punk and electronic and Julian’s vocals punctuate in the right places in the verses – the chorus is stark and pleading. The lyrics are very 1984-like and remind me of a futuristic society and how their music might sound. The song is also forlorn in its subtle use of minor tones under the melody. My favorite track is the fifth song “Taken For A Fool”. Scathing lyrics that bite, a good melody, simple chord structures that flow and vocals that perfectly match the music. Loneliness, fast paced lifestyles, the small faults of others, toxic radio and not needing any more woman right now are talked about in a stream of consciousness kind of song. Other favorable mentions are the songs “Games”, “Call Me Back”, “Metabolism” and the final song “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight” which has a beautiful melody.

And The Strokes are now on tour. This article is hot off the press about The Strokes playing a show at SXSW concert which you can find here @ REUTERS.

Video – The Stokes – The making of Angles Part I January 2010

CD Review and Interview with … Seven Year Riot

CD Review and Interview with … Seven Year Riot

CD Self Titled and released February 3, 2011

by Jade Sperry


Seven Year Riot are a band from Windsor ON. Formerly called Citizen Erased, this is a new life for the band with a new name and outlook. They have hard, kick ass music that immediately lops off your head while you wonder what just happened. The members of the band are Justin Forsyth (vocals), Jim O’Neil (guitars), Jeff Azar (drums and percussion) and Jarrod Oglan (bass).

One day in the recent past, I had some time to kill which doesn’t happen often anymore these days. I was scouring the internet for new music and bands to write about, and I found this band on and contacted them to see if they were interested in some media.

And so here we are. What follows is a CD review and interview with links at the bottom of the page to where you can find the band and info on the band. I’ve also listed 4 shows the band is playing in the next 2 months for you to catch them:

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

Justin: Well, to start, we FINALLY released our album. This was massive for us, because it seemed as if all the things we wanted to do were kind of hinging on the release of the disc. It was over a year in the making, and at times it felt like we would never get it done. So that was huge for us, as well as the overwhelming response we received from around the world.

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

Justin: We really are just trying to become a well known name. Radio rotation is a huge goal for us, because we want to reach the mainstream, and come out with a bang. Touring is also a goal, as we would love to break into the united states and begin touring there.

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

Justin: I think I can safely say that there really hasn’t been a “worst” occurrence for us. Sure, there have been ups and downs, but that comes with any band. As for the best things, we’ve been very fortunate to have been able to share the stage with a lot of big names and subsequently get great exposure so we’re very thankful for that. And I think I speak for us all when I say that the fans and the constant support have been and will continue to be the best part of what we do.

Jade: How do you see the current state of the Corporate Music Industry in Canada? And how do you see in comparison to the DIY band who puts out their own music independently? And, how do you feel that either (the music industry and DIY bands) help in the creativity within a band?

Justin: Hmm…well I know there is a lot of complaining about the state of the music industry today, and while I would like to see certain things done differently, the bottom line is that it’s all evolution. The internet was a MASSIVE game changer to the music industry, and certain people embraced it, others didn’t. I think the state of the industry right now is just a byproduct of the quickly evolving use of technology. It’s easier now more than ever for a DIY band to get their music heard without a label. We did it for a couple years and had success with it – you just have to embrace and use every avenue that’s available to you. To answer the second part of the question, I think the state of the industry is actually HEALTHY for a DIY band, because it’s now imperative for a band to push their boundaries and attempt things that will get them noticed in an over-saturated sea of music.

Jade: 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?

Justin: In the beginning, absolutely. Until you are signed to a major label that calls all the shots, I think it’s completely up to the band to decide how to get their music out there. As I mentioned above, there are SO many ways for music to be heard now, I think every band needs to jump on those outlets. We put our entire album up on our My Space page to listen for free, because we wanted people to get our music as easily as possible. As far as I see it, even if you’re with an indie label like we are, nothing is stopping you from getting music into the hands of people that want to hear it. Find a way, and do it.

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

Justin: This is always a tough question, because I really hate to put labels on it. It’s hard rock with melody. I could say we sound like so and so, but I find that immediately puts an image in peoples’ minds. And if I say we sound like a band they don’t like, they won’t listen…you know? I’ll say this: We write rock music. It’s hard rock with a melodic edge. And as one venue owner put it, we have “Pop sensibility with Rock Credibility.”.

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

Justin: The primary song writers are Jim (guitars) and myself (vocals), who write the music and lyrics respectively. Generally a songwriting process begins with Jim having a rough riff or chord progression and building from that. If we are writing as a duo we will spend time constructing the entire skeleton before bringing it to the band. If we’re writing as a band, it starts with the riff, and we kind of just see where it takes us. No song is ever done in a day, we always re-visit it, and make tweaks until it just sounds right. I will add lyrics as we go, finding words that sound right, getting the flow right, then I will sit down and craft the lyrics until they work for me.

Jade: How did you come up with the band name?

Justin: We basically spent a couple months compiling a giant list of names we liked…some were full band names, others were just cool words we thought would be cool IN a band name. It got to the point where we HAD to pick one. So we sat down at a pub, got a round of beers and vowed not to leave until we decided on a name and three hours, twenty-four beers, and eight shots of Jager later, Seven Year Riot was born.

Jade: What is your opinion on the current state of the East York/Toronto/Ontario music scene? Do you feel that there are enough venues for bands to book club shows, or, do you feel that there is competition for the club slots?

Justin: To be honest I am really not sure. I feel there are enough venues, but it feels that bands are striving for just the premiere venues and don’t like exploring all their options. There is definitely competition for club slots, and that is bound to happen with an over-saturated market. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter where you play, as long as new faces see you, and your word spreads.

Jade: How has the new CD changed life for the band members?

Justin: Well, things are still pretty much the same for the time being, but becoming busier with every day. We’re all completely blown away by the response we’re getting, and I know Jarrod (bass) and I are spending more time than ever replying to fan questions and input. Things are moving up slowly but surely.

Jade: When you were in the studio recording the new CD, how was the overall experience for each member of the band? What were the best and worst times?

Justin: This was actually the first time we were hardly ever in the studio all together for the recording of something. Because we all still balance jobs and school for the time being, we recorded the entire album while working around everyone’s availabilities. It’s not the way I would have preferred things done, but it was unavoidable. So Jeff did his drums, then Jarrod did bass, then Jim did guitars, then I did vocals, and we pieced it together and made it happen. Using the technology at our hands however, we were able to always keep in contact. For example, our producer (Martin Bak at SLR studios) would email me the track that Jim completed that day, so I was able to offer input, etc. So it was as if we were all there anyways. I can only speak on my own behalf, but the worst times were those six to eight hour sessions in the vocal booth. I started to lose my mind.

Seven Year Riot CD Cover.

Now onto the music of this band. This 10-song CD really stands above others in the hard rock with melodic edges realm that will definitely give Nickelback and Shinedown a run for the money in the near future. First off is the song “Victims (Aren’t We All)”. With a melodic beginning of 40+ seconds that lulls you into thinking it’s a ballad-type song, the band launch into the song full force and smack you in the head while screaming ‘wake up!!’. Nice. Although I can hear influences of other bands’ music, all members of Seven Year Riot are making that sound their own. Choppy, hard guitars with vocals that are strained and on the edge combined with the sublte foreboding sound of the drums and bass, this is a really good song. It’s very well written with good time changes that makes this song very radio friendly. The second song “Stitched and Mended” is equally just as good and in some respects is better than the first. A steady drum beat that the guitars and bass follow to create a sound that is almost mesmerizing and the vocals float seamlessly on the melody of the song and beckons you to listen. That is great songwriting in the melodies folks. Both songs seem to speak of inner conflict, dark desires and evolutionary changes from within that are hidden in some ways to other people. The fourth song called “Headcase” is this writer’s favorite song on the CD. Sarcastic and scathing lyrics, explosive and dangerous music that’s on the edge and vocals that just sound so pissed off make for a great song. Other standout songs are “Close Your Eyes” which is a fast, head-banging song that speaks of taking whatever you can get; “Behind The Mask” which has hard and fast drumming and speaks of swallowing your pride and admitting defeat and of falling apart in some way; and the final song “Black Wedding Dress” which is a pure musical assault song in every way. This is one CD that you want to have in your collection if you like the musical styles of Shinedown, 30 Seconds to Mars and Muse. You can buy the CD here on iTunes for under $10 Canadian.

Seven Year Riot will be playing 2 upcoming shows in March in Toronto and a few shows in April:

March 13 – Cherry Cola’s Rock and Roll Cabaret – Toronto ON (Canadian Music Fest Show)

March 18 – The Opera House – Toronto ON

April 10 – All Stars (an all ages show) – Brampton ON

April 30 – The El Mocambo – Toronto ON

You can find all this info and more on the bands’ sites:

Twitter: @sevenyearriot



Columbia interview after live acoustic set and interview on Hot Shot Band Radio

Columbia Interview Feb 5 2011

After Hot Shot Band Radio Acoustic set

by Jade Sperry


Kevin Schallie and Richard Jacquard are the foundations for the Vancouver band Columbia. They write the melodies, harmonies and lyrics for the songs the band performs and then they hire the best musicians at that time to go on tour.

They currently are writing demos for the next album in various apartments and home studios in the Lower Mainland and they are shopping them to producers. To date, they have about twenty songs written and are constantly writing more. Finding themselves free from past commitments, they have the time to think about what the new songs inspire within them to take their music to the next level.

Kevin and Richard sat down with Tracey Lynn Shane (Hot Shot Band Radio host) and did an hour interview live on air which you can listen to here on Columbia’s website. It was a great interview with them and they had a drummer, Joel, join them for a mini-acoustic set. I was fortunate enough to photograph the band during their live set and interview courtesy of CC and Tracey. Thank you both so much. It was a great night!

Kevin Schallie, Tracey Lynn Shane, Richard Jacquard and CC. Photo by Jade Sperry.

What follows is a mini interview with Kevin and Richard after the Acoustic set on Hot Shot Band Radio in the downtown area of Vancouver….

Jade: So what’s going on with you both?

Kevin: Writing songs!

Richard: We’re in the process of writing a lot of songs so that we have a good selection for producers to listen to. We’ve been recording at my place and Kevin’s….

Kevin: Our management is shopping a few of the demos to producers right now, and so we’re just trying to get some interest. In the meantime, we’re just continuing to write.

Richard: Our demos so far are stripped down to the melody, the hook and an acoustic guitar. Producers want to hear those things raw so that they have something to work with.

Jade: And so what’s going on with the band as a whole?

Kevin: Well, essentially Columbia is Richard and I as we are the songwriters and the creative force behind the music. When touring comes around, then we hire the best musicians we can find that will fit our sound.

Richard: Yeah, Columbia has always been Kevin and I. We are the songwriters who create the music.

Kevin: And we are coming up to the next stage in our careers. Kind of like an “evolutionary” process really. We’re raising the “musicianship” to a whole new level!

Richard: Yes the musicianship is being raised as is the whole process – professionalism, hard work, social networking…all of that is part of being a musician in 2011.

Kevin: And we want to work with the best available people so….

Richard: Yeah it’s all good. We have very good feelings about what we’re doing right now. We have a crazy drummer lined up for the next CD who is a good friend of ours, Joel (who played acoustic drums and did harmonies with Richard on the Hot Shot Band Radio acoustic set) who was there with us at the very beginning. He played on our first CD Join Our Ride and he played some of our very first shows with us onstage.

Joel and Richard harmonizing during the live acoustic set. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Jade: That’s awesome news about Joel being on the next CD!

Richard: Definitely. Before we started writing the new demos, Kevin and I realized that we’ve become better musicians since our last CD and that’s because we did a fair amount of touring last year. I used to play a lot of bass as has Kevin…..for me that was my first instrument. We’ve both become better guitarists for sure……

Kevin: And when you play a show every night for over a month, you just become a better player because of that.

Jade: I did notice that when you were both playing the acoustic set tonight on air, you had a “fuller” sound than you had before. So I do hear quite a difference for sure….

Richard: Thank you.

Kevin: You learn quite a lot on the road….

Richard: Yeah you get more seasoned. That’s a word that gets used a lot to describe touring.

Jade: When Tracey Lynn Shane was interviewing you tonight, you mentioned that you wanted to have a whole lot of demos for producers but in the end you want to strip it down to 10 songs for the new CD. Why only 10 songs?

Kevin: All the best albums and CD’s in the past have only had 10 songs on them. So 10 is the magic number….I’m not sure about the 80’s but in the 90’s and even into the 21st century, the best albums all have 10 songs……

Richard: And it’s the same idea as when you go watch a band play a live show. Whether you listen to a CD/album or go to a live show, if it gets too bloated or carries on too long it’s just too much. You want to deliver a good performance live of the CD/album to an audience of any size. The quality of the songs and the performance is what matters because it leaves people with a sense of “wanting more”……

Kevin: So in getting back to the 10 song theory……

Richard: If you have a bunch of songs written and out of that bunch you have 15 really good tracks which you whittle down to 10 songs, that’s not a bad place to be in.

Jade: No, it’s a good place to be in….

Richard: Yeah it is. (laughing).

Jade: At some point, do you find yourselves listening to the demos and systematically in your head going “No not that one, no, no, yes, maybe…”? Is this a kind of process you might go through?

Kevin: We’re not doing that yet.

Richard: Kevin is better at figuring out what type of song we want and choosing the right ones. I just want to write and play the songs.

Jade: When you put a band together to go on tour in the future, what kind of people are you looking for?

Kevin: Good ones. The ones who “get it”. You know that there are people who play music but they aren’t musicians. We want the ones who are musicians not players.


Kevin Schallie performs during the live acoustic set. Photo by Jade Sperry.

Richard: Yeah but we also want passionate, driven people. People who take pride in what they’re doing and want to always better themselves as musicians. And people who are cool to hang around. There are some people who are great players but they’re impossible to be around and to deal with.

Jade: So are you concentrating more on the demos at this point in time?

Richard: Yes, and getting the new album done. We’re done touring for Join Our Ride and we’ve closed the door on that. So now we’re in the album stage and the touring will follow.

Jade: How is Brian encouraging/supporting you with the new demos?

Richard: When he gets them in his hands, he shops them. It’s all about “networking” and Brian has some really good contacts.

Kevin: We also want to get a good producer interested in our music so Rich and I are really focusing and concentrating on these new songs. Because when it comes right down to it, it’s the songs themselves that capture attention from an individual. When the songs are good, everything else follows.

Jade: Are you writing theme related songs? Or are you writing about certain things…?

Richard: I gave Kevin this song called “Dirty Theme” and if you listen to it, you know what I’m getting at. It just has this really “skanky” groove to it! And I don’t mean in a raw way, it will sound like us; better songs, better writing – more mature. It’s a natural progression in our songwriting. It’s gotten a lot better. They sound dirty.

Kevin: Organic with feeling.

Richard: Yes, more soulful, more feeling, more groove to it. Kind of like the song “Join Our Ride”.

Jade: So how are things in your personal life, are you in a good place?

Kevin: I think we are. We are better than ever!

Richard: Yeah, Kevin and I are neighbours again. We lived together for a while.

Kevin: Life is good, there are some ups and downs, but overall good.

Richard: We’re both really focusing on writing and recording demos.

Jade: How is the social networking aspect going for you both? I know that on the show tonight, someone from Malaysia was tweeting about the show when it was on air…

Kevin: Twitter is pretty amazing. I was kind of skeptical – I mean, I know it works obviously – but we don’t want to compromise ourselves too much with the networking and socializing. But at a certain point people start thinking of “us” more than the music. Right now we are social with everyone because we do have some time to do that. Hopefully that will continue.

Richard: Yep Kevin is trying really hard on Twitter to bring the focus back to the music.

Kevin: For example people are worrying more about our hair…..

Jade: (laughter) Yeah I heard the story about Richard’s “Bieber” cut (more laughter from all of us)

Richard: Oh yeah, the hair incident…..well, it began by me making a comment on getting a “Bieber” cut on our webpage and I was crucified there! It was insane, you know, I was just joking. (laughter)

Jade: Are you planning on a tour this year?

Kevin: Maybe at the end of the year. But I think this album is going to take a while to complete because we want the best possible product out there that reflects who we are now.

Jade: So, what are you expecting this time around with the new music?

Kevin: The next step basically. We hope to tour with a band. That would be great!

Richard: Yeah……there is no reason why not to tour with a band with the songs we’re writing now. Kevin and I have talked about this a lot lately and we know what we’re shooting for. If we could get the songs out of our heads and put it down on tape and make the album, there is no reason why we won’t tour with a band.

Jade: Well, I know you’re playing a show with Jakalope and Fine Times on February 24 at The Forum on Granville and it’s an acoustic set….

Kevin: Yes, it’s a forty minute set. It should be a good show, Rich and I are doing an acoustic set and hopefully there might be a new song or two played.

Hot Shot Radio banner. Photo by Jade Sperry.

At this point, we started talking about things that don’t go to print and we’ll just leave it at that. I think that there are some exciting times ahead for Kevin and Richard – new songs, new goals and a step in the right direction are what they’re focusing on right now.

As this goes to print, I was hoping to attend this show for a future review and new live photos, but I am unable to attend due to my paid job. But if you have the night free, I highly suggest you go check out the show! You won’t be disappointed.

EP Review – Philoceraptor – Philsoraptor

EP Review – Philoceraptor – Philosoraptor

Released: November 2010

by Jade Sperry


Philoceraptor are a Vancouver trio who make some of the most interesting music in local bands here in the Lower Mainland. The band members are: Justin Penney (guitar and vocals), Phil Jette (drums) and Steve Mann (guitar and vocals). This is the band’s second EP release and it’s a stellar EP that has five songs that were produced, mixed and recorded by Matt Gauthier (who has recently relocated to Southern Ontario). The EP was recorded at two studios in the Lower Mainland – The Track Factory and Ocean Studios. Harris Newman of Grey Market Mastering in Montreal Quebec mastered the EP.

philoThe opening song “Races” has a garage/punk sound with a surfer rock feel to it. It has a good beat and the melody flows really well throughout the entire song. For this writer, this song speaks of becoming “black and blue” which could mean physical bruising from just running and going full tilt, burning out essentially. “Clever Girl” has a fast melody, good time changes and is lyrically about a girl that has captured the attention of one (or more) of the band members (you know that I’ll be seeing you/you’re twice as hot through jealous eyes.). “Gay Boy” is a cheeky song that has some humor in the lyrics. The melody is soft but this song is played hard through the bridge and chorus. Good drumming, vocal work and harmonies. Finding yourself in a gay bar when you aren’t gay and looking for company can be embarrassing. “Menthol Sweet” has a melody that is more radio-friendly than the other songs. Raw and desperate vocals mixed with the drums is always good thing. This song also has a surfer rock feel that is kind of happy (guitar work) and speaks of “never having the time for someone else” because that person has a full life. The final song, “Surfer”, is a song that just makes me want to get up and punk out by dancing in my living room. Lyrically, it speaks of making excuses to be with another person in an intimate encounter that could be a mistake of sorts. The music is choppy, fast and has some good time breaks and changes in the chorus.

All in all, this is another strong showing of Philoceraptor and what they do best – rock out and have fun doing it. You can download the first and second EP’s at the band’s Bandcamp page. They are both a free download but if you can afford to pay a small amount of money, the band would really appreciate it. And you can also find them on their MySpace page for all info and upcoming shows that the band is playing.

Free Legal Music from Vancouver’s Thorny Bleeder

Get Thorny 3 – Double CD sampler

Release Date: January 23, 2011

Released by: Thorny Bleeder

by Jade Sperry


Thorny Bleeder in Vancouver BC have released a free legal download sampler of some of the fine talent that they have. Besides the bands listed below in the official press release, some of the other bands that are outstanding on this CD include Dead Eyes Open (who reside in British Columbia and were in the Top 20 of the CFOX Seeds in 2010), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (a Vancouver BC hard rock band who are playing at The Media Club on Monday February 21), The Order Of Good Cheer (a Toronto ON band who started their career in early 2010 with the recording of their debut album “Tanto Manta, Manta Tanto”), The Post War (from Vancouver BC who are a really good kick ass band), Static In The Stars (a stellar band from Vancouver who rock out hard and fast), Venice Queen (another killer live show band from Vancouver who can and will rock out harder than any mainstream band ever will) and finally Western Medicine, a Vancouver band that I personally love as they have a sound that crosses Rage Against The Machine with post-punk melodies that just kill.

One of the best things about this sampler is that it was immediately posted to torrent sites on the net and is downloaded by thousands of people everyday in countries that normally would not hear this music EVER. Giving exposure to these bands in countries over the globe is one of the most important resources we have here in Canada. There is an explosion of talent here in Canada that is not being tapped into by the Mainstream except in forms of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. Although these are good bands, they are a bit on the “safe” side as far as the “music” goes. Most of the bands on Thorny Bleeder 3 CD 1 (Side EH?) are a bit on the mellow side for those folks who are into contemporary music or into singer/songwriters, while CD 2 (Side BE) has the not so safe music that is on the heavier and harder side by metal or post-punk metal bands. So whatever your tastes are in music, there is something here for everyone.

You can download the sampler right here off the Thorny Bleeder’s FREE LEGAL MUSIC page, and while you are there, check out the awesomeness that is Thorny Bleeder.

Below is the original announcement from Brian Thompson, one of Thorny Bleeder’s Managing Partners:


JANUARY 19, 2011 – Vancouver, BC

Enterprising independent record label and artist management company, Thorny Bleeder Records, has roared into 2011 with some exciting new developments.

The all new Thorny Bleeder has re-branded itself with a new look, a new website, a new line of clothing, a new free music download, Get Thorny 3, and a free industry newsletter called The DIY Daily, delivering digital music news, social media tips, DIY marketing advice, and inspirational thoughts for entrepreneurs.

The just-released Get Thorny 3 features twenty four songs from twenty four different artists. Get Thorny 3 is a free & legal download from, with no strings attached (requires no email sign-up or registration).

Thorny Bleeder also released additional free album downloads from Billy the Kid, Billy and The Lost Boys, Black Hat Villain, Burning Borders, Columbia, Quartered, The Rebellion, Ross Neilsen & The Sufferin’ Bastards, Scott Valentine, and TV Heart Attack.

All albums are available on the Free Music page with no strings attached.

Thorny Bleeder has only one request with all of the free music they’re giving away: “Sharing is caring. Please share the music with at least one friend.”

Sounds fair.

About Thorny Bleeder Records:

Thorny Bleeder is a record label, an artist management company, a music blog, and an artist development community. We provide free & legal mp3’s, music news, industry commentary, marketing tips, and DIY advice for musicians.

For information, contact:

Brian Thompson

Managing Partner, Thorny Bleeder Records

Phone: 604.787.1493


CD Review – Crimes In Paris – Modern Ghost Stories

CD Review – Crimes In Paris – Modern Ghost Stories

Released: August 2010

by Jade Sperry


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


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

EP Review – The Bloody Five – Bedroom Music

EP Review – The Bloody Five – Bedroom Music

Released: June 2010

By Jade Sperry


The Bloody Five is a 4 member band hailing from greater Toronto ON. The members of this band are connected by a mutual passion for creating music and building on each others’ imaginations. The band members are: Kevee Dee (KD, vocals, rhythm guitar and keys), Tomi Fear (lead guitars), Chris Hau (bass) and Robbie “Raw Beats” Sedran (drums). This is a band that has many different eras of Rock that influence the bands’ sound because the members of this band grew up in different musical eras but they’re all drawn to Rock music that has a timelessness to it. Tomi and KD found a common passion for music appreciation and production while playing weekly with The Vinyl Knights, a jam band from Claremont ON. Bass player Chris Hau’s passion for music is fed both by his ongoing solo acoustic project and The Bloody Five’s energetic group dynamic in which his bass licks – and onstage acrobatics – are a driving force to be reckoned with. Robby “Raw Beats” Sedran (drums) rounds out the band with his uncanny ability to define the groove with innovative fills and his double pass pedal. Their 5 song EP, Bedroom Music, was well received by fans and was given positive reviews. This band also works hard to manage and promote itself using online social networks (such as Twitter and MySpace) and they collaborate with different people who also yearn to express their artistic passion in different ways. They released this EP online for free in anticipation of their upcoming second EP which will be released sometime this year. They were also nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award in 2010. This EP was produced by Derek Hoffman and was mastered by Joseph Coupal.

tbf 2

One thing that should be stated here is that you can hear the influences of such bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Tool and The Cure within The Bloody Five’s music but, in hearing these influences within their music, they take the influence and make it their own. That’s pretty difficult to do in this day and age.

The EP starts out with the song “Never Again” which is a hard edged, head-banging, get up and start doing something kind of song. The guitars are hard, distorted and command your immediate attention. The time changes within this one song are done amazingly well and at all times the bass and drums combine strength to make the song fluid for the full four plus minutes of the song. This song basically speaks of never doing anything again that would depress or isolate you in some way. “Bedroom Music” is fast paced, rocking and has overtones of actual jazz chord structure within the rock context. And the song speaks of “bedroom music/will you be my lover” which could mean the love of music or another person. “Under This Mountain” is a complete 180 from the first two songs. Much in the groove of a trippy, slow and melodic song that flows out from all four members in a very good way. Understated, mellow guitars mixed with a melodic tone of the keys sounds really well with the bass and drums. The vocals add that oomph layer that makes the song work. The line “under this mountain/there’s no pain” and then “it happens three times a day/what was I going to say” just makes so much sense with the music. Well done! The other two songs, “Just Joking” and “And For Me The Forest” are also songs with substance. I would highly recommend this EP as the music is produced (by Derek Hoffman) mixed and mastered (by Joseph Coupal) very well.

The Bloody Five’s various links:



Facebook Page

And you can download the EP here::

The Bloody Five – Bedroom Music – Free download

Chris Hau’s music can be found right here:

Chris Hau music

The band members all have their own Twitter accounts and you can find them on their MySpace page.

Video – Under The Mountain

Shoot The Image – Emerging new Toronto band with killer music…

Shoot The Image – Cranes In the City – The Singles

Release Date – April 2011

by Jade Sperry


Shoot The Image are a brand spanking new band out of Toronto, ON. Their two song preview for the CD Cranes In The City shows a ton of promise. And their background is just as promising as well as intriguing. The band has 2 lead singers/keyboardists/guitar players. As to the identity of the band members, no one knows…yet.

Their story begins on MySpace where they met Boz Boorer (British guitarist and producer who founded The Polecats and is a co-writer, guitarist and musical director with Morrissey). After sending him various recommendations for bands and films, they ended up talking back and forth for a year. The band booked a show at the 12 Bar Club in London, UK, and invited him come. To the band’s surprise, he showed up. After a few pints they hit it off and he invited them to record in his studio in Portugal (Serra Vista Studio). Boorer has worked with the likes of Adam Ant, Jools Holland and Shillelagh Sisters. He recorded the Portugal garage/blues/rock band The Murdering Tripping Blues in this studio over the summer in 2010.

svs 1

Details of the name of the female singer (or any band member) is scarce.  All I know is that she is an Urban Planner by day. She has never played in any band to date. After a drunken night out in 2009, she spontaneously broke out into Nina Simone’s song “My Baby Just Cares For Me” at an afterparty which is what started Shoot The Image. They immediately bought an Mbox, learned how to use Pro-Tools and began to record for six months – ten hours a day, 5 days a week – in preparation for Serra Vista Studios.

All members in Shoot The Image agree that Serra Vista Studios is by far the most amazing studio experience they have ever had together or individually. It’s more of a villa and recording complex deep in the mountains of Portugal. Boz’s wife, Lyn, also helps to run the studio. There is no cell phone or internet service and they recorded basically fifteen hours a day for three weeks. Boz totally understood how to get the best out of them and the band says “it was amazing to work with a producer of his caliber”.

As their bio states:

The days were long but laid back and fun. We laughed….a lot, ate amazing food, drank an enormous amount of wine and beer, and only had the TV on once to watch “Flight of the Concords” on DVD on our last night there.” Sounds more like bliss to this writer.

Boz and Lyn have created the studio as a vacation spot (and its literally a paradise) and as a space for Independent or new artists/bands to record at. And the best thing is that they don’t have to do any of this! Their mutual love of music and excitement for new songs lead them to do this. They give new and emerging musicians an opportunity that otherwise would be totally impossible.

In the video department of this band, they have a working production house with all the gear and have confirmed several directors to record a video for every song on Cranes In The City. One of those directors is from Vancouver – Olaf Blomerus, who will be shooting the video to the song “Lithograph”. Olaf has worked with Crimes of Paris who are also a Toronto based band. This is a big undertaking but is unique in its vision. I am intrigued to see how the music is interpreted to a visual form.

Getting onto the music side of things, the two tracks are very upbeat, funky and are overall brilliant songs. They are original through and through. “Fortified” has a steady funky beat with the rhythm section. The guitars come into the bridge and chorus and leave the rhythm section to deal with the versus. The melody is seamless and flows very well under all the layers of the others. And the keys are used subtly in the middle layers of the song. The bands’ 2 singers take on the song and the rhetoric is between the thoughts of a woman who is perhaps unhappy in a current relationship and muses about having affairs with other men, the male singer, who sings “i’m just what you’re needing/ I am the wicked son of an honest man”. That’s powerful imagery which comes to mind in just two lines of the full song! Emotions are not easy to get across to a listener. The second song “Lithograph” has a very catchy beginning with the keyboards which mixes rather well with the rhythmic beating of the drum, the smooth but funky bass line and the vocals. All these sounds weave almost a magical quality to this song that makes you want to get up and dance. Although slightly forlorn in the way the vocals sing, it has a line that says “don’t shoot me/don’t shoot me/don’t shoot me/down”, which can be taken in many ways, emotionally or otherwise. When this CD is in the hands of this writer, it will be the second top priority (after working my day job) to listen to the music and ponder its meaning to the listener.

You can find the band at the following links:




EP Review – Rec Centre – Long Weekend

EP Review – Rec Centre – Long Weekend

Released – October 26, 2010

Runtime: 18+ minutes

by Jade Sperry


Eh! Jay is the voice, musician and songwriter of Rec Centre. Currently residing in Vancouver BC., he has released a 6-song EP entitled Long Weekend. The songs on this EP have the flavour of many musical influences. Starting with the song “Sleeper” the melodies and vocals in this song reminds me strongly of the superb Manchester UK band The Stone Roses from the late 1980’s. There is a very catchy melody through the entire song that is languid and pleasant to listen to. This song speaks of “using the headphones/the music disses out the neighbours” which anyone can relate to. “Sainted” is a song that really has a heavy blues influence which reminds me of The Doors. It has a slow groove that builds and creates a certain atmosphere in the song and is in minor keys which give it an Eastern feel although the song is about “east van basements”. I especially like the dream-like/psychedelic inspired vocals in this song. “Funner” is upbeat, great tempo and has a quirky melody. Mostly about going back to school, this song is original in its overall sound. “Pacific Ocean Don’t Die On Me” is an original song that has modern folk influences as well as having psychedelic overtones. Speaking literally about Environmental changes to the coastlines of British Columbia, it is a hopeful but sad song in its overall melody and sound. The chorus is rhythmic and sung well. “Begin The Benign” sounds like blues inspired psychedelia that is reminiscent of the later 1960’s, particularly with the guitars. The verses are guitar-free and mellow and as we get the bridge and chorus, the guitars come into the song and speed it up, and the song is like 2 songs in one – upbeat and uptempo with tambourines and synth-beats as well as mellow. The last song “Where Is Our Summer?” remind this writer of My Bloody Valentine from the early 1990’s. Slow, sad, mellow and trippy guitars are all in this one song. Overall, this EP is definitely worth the free download. I would recommend this to anyone who likes new and interesting music in the Indie vein/Vancouver modern folk scene.

You can find Rec Centre on their Myspace page as well as downloading this EP for free at this link:


Video – Rec Centre – Funner