Review – Combine The Victorious – Autonomous

Combine The Victorious are an electronic, progressive pop band that has great melodies and equally great lyrics.  Buying the new album Autonomous on iTunes was a real gem in the cave of music that is iTunes.  The album was released on September 13, 2015 to the masses and the twelve songs are very good and was easy to listen to and dance around my apartment getting coffee and dinner together.

mark henning isabel dunlop 2015

Mark R. Henning and Isabelle Dunlop

Combine the Victorious formed in Vancouver in 2007, growing from a spirited collaboration between husband and wife: record producer/engineer Mark R. Henning, formerly of Pure and Blisterene, and fashion designer Isabelle Dunlop, formerly of Sex With Strangers.  Isabelle has her own Boutique located in Vancouver, B.C.

Details:  Isabel Dunlop, Clothing, Designer & Singer, 4158 Main St., Vancouver, Hours:  Wednesday – Sunday 12-6.

Already independently successful in their chosen fields, their instinct for collaboration was soon realized on their debut full-length album The World Over. The record received both critical and popular praise, including inclusion on compilations as far afield as Toronto and the Czech Republic! The lead single, “Blue Kitchen” went on to become the theme song for the television series “About A Girl”, and was one of eight songs licensed from the record.

Drawing upon this initial success, Combine the Victorious extended to found the wider Boutique Empire Collective, gathering bands Sex With Strangers, Gilles Zolty, Guilty About Girls and other artists connected with the Vancouver scene. Despite this wider commitment, Mark reunited with Jordy Birch to form Guilty About Girls with Isabelle singing with both Guilty About Girls and Sex With Strangers.  And all the while, Combine the Victorious continued to evolve.

Subsequent releases, Disagreements and Crumbling Hearts saw the band refining their musical identity, distilling to a powerful, evocative essence and perfectly captured on the standout track from Crumbling Hearts, the song “Glasgow”, where sumptuous guitars weave in and out of Mark’s wily groove, a perfect backdrop for Isabelle’s melancholy lyric and heart-breaking melody.

Following a European tour as a duo to support the release of Crumbling Hearts in which they did showcases in Stockholm and London, and continued to work for two years writing and recording material for their second full length album Autonomous. A longer process than before, this album is the result of collaborations with Don Harrison, Stefan Sigerson, Ingrid Schroeder, Leigh Grant and several other highly talented artists from the Vancouver music scene. Once again, Combine the Victorious fuse elements of electronica, rock, dance and pop into a unique and compelling soundscape.


With Autonomous, I can clearly hear and see the evolution and progression of a band with a lot of talent.  The track listing is as follows:

  1.   Hardly Spoken
  2.   Recharge
  3.   Stand In Front Of Tanks
  4.   Caught Up To You
  5.   California ’15
  6.   Smoke and Choke
  7.   Happy Girl
  8.   Best Tonight
  9.   Stop Givin’ Up On Love
  10.   Real Life Turns Me On
  11.   Encryption
  12.   It’s Still On
The first track “Hardly Spoken” is a smack in the face to wake you up to the fact that is band is to be reckoned with in a respectful way in regards to what the album has in store for you.  With choppy and chunky guitar tracks, this song speaks about destruction and devotion, giving up and the like, and they make it clear that it’s been too many times.  However, the chorus is the flip side of the song, and is about hope and not giving in to giving up.  The melody is sweet and matches Isabelle’s fuzzed out vocals that make a great statement in the structure of this song.

“Recharge” is making a fresh start after recharging the batteries.  A sharp guitar picks out the backbone of the song and is almost a bass line which is a perfect match to the melody, which comes in and out of the structure of the song itself.  The guitar work is very good and fits in the song seamlessly.  Awesome.

The third song “Stand In Front Of Tanks” reminds me of a picture of a loan man in Tiananmen Square from China. This song is fast and upbeat with a great electronic start to it, and the melody takes off into the clouds.  Standard drum tracks, which is a background vocal, made me laugh.  I don’t know why, I just found that amusing.  I like the build up of everything towards the end of the song, and handclaps always work in any song.


Tiananmen Square, China, June 5, 1989. Photo: Jeff Widener

“Caught Up To You” has a very catchy guitar groove.  The song explodes with “Woo!” in the background with the pounding melody sounds good.  It’s a great dance/raver song if that’s your scene.

“California ’15” is a slower, more bluesy song with jazz over-tunes throughout the song.  I really like the way it draws you in and washes over you in just over four minutes.  A very pleasant song to chill on.

In “Smoke and Choke”, you have a groovy electronic beat that carries the melody and the whole song.  I like the drum machine changes in this song.  Uniquely done.

“Happy Girl” is upbeat and has a playful feeling to it.  The electronica is the backbone of the song and fuzzed out guitars in places and this gives it a positive feeling in the melody.  This song reminds me of electronica for hippies everywhere, but the truth is that this song is for everyone.  A good dance song.

The song “Best Tonight” has a good combination of guitars and electronica.  Upbeat, positive and making it makes for a good song in the collection of the album.  The beat is solid, the electronica sounds melancholy for a second and it gels with the vocals.  The harmonies are particularly good in this song.

The last 4 songs are in the same vein as the rest of the album.  They are languid, fast, upbeat, melancholy and almost sweet with the song “Giving Up On Love”.  I highly recommend that if you like structured electronica with twists and turns and great dance tunes as well as chillin’ out then this record should be in your playlist.  “Real Life Turns Me On” totally reminds me of being in Germany in October and singing songs in German, drinking beer and having fun polka dancing.

You can hear the album on their website highlighted with the band name, follow them on the Twitter highlight, visit them on Soundcloud here, find them on Bandcamp where you can also buy the album here  and visit the boutique that is Isabelle Dunlop if you are in the Vancouver area.  You can also visit their YouTube  channel to see loads of videos.


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!


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.


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.


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 (, 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”

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

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