- Swami Lushbeard has come to SBS Live This Week in a video-interview you won't soon forget!
- We talk to Rabbi Danielle Upton about spirituality, religion, music, and her new album Reveal The Light!
- We step into Russia for the first time to interview rock-band Grenouer!
- Jer @ SBS finally put out his first blog of the year!
- New Picture Post 03/06/14 - Swami Lushbeard & more!
Jackson Caged – Entity – Album Review
Right on. It’s that GOOD kind of heavy.
You might be surprised, my hard-rockin friends, but the reality is they DON’T come along too often. When you check into Jackson Caged, you’ll see they’ve got quite a following already going; and after hearing their new album, Entity…I completely understand why.
This band is TIGHT, explosive in all the right places and relentlessly right in your face throughout this album. The drums are off-the-charts – just absolutely in the zone for the entire album strongly driven by these intense drum-riffs. Vocally there’s a lot on the plate to keep up to this band, but as far as hard rock goes you couldn’t ask for a singer & back-up vocals more suitable.
After a thorough listen to the Jackson Caged album, I had to smile a little just thinking about how huge Papa Roach made it…way back when…
They never should have made it all.
And especially when you listen to a band like that in comparison with Jackson Caged; if you ARE somehow still a Papa Roach FAN, well, then DON’T put this in your player cause this Entity will kick the crap out of your stereos once and for all & teach you a musical lesson! Papa Roach always should have been your “Last Resort” anyway…and besides…I’m not kidding around here – there’s just way more dedication and commitment on this album from Jackson Caged that it’s undeniable that this indie band is way more worthy of your earholes.
But I’m not here today to bash ROACHES – I’m here to talk about this kick-ass band, making music with such a powerful energy that it makes me want to jump back into my moshpit days. I mean, I grew UP on the very sound that Jackson Caged is doing so very well now. Being here in Vancouver, we’ve seen Finger Eleven, Three Days Grace and bands like Tool hit our stages throughout my concert-going age. They could be fairly compared with all of these bands, along with other Vancouver favorites Billy Talent and Disturbed…what can I say…this is a city that has ALWAYS loved its hard rock and Jackson Caged would be right at home here.
Each song is LARGE. Those drums really just pound away like their entire band’s existence depends on it in each song that demands they bring the energy – beyond impressive all the way through. Listen to the opening of “Monster” and try to tell me this guy doesn’t have the chops! He’s a BEAST and he proves it time and time again on Entity.
But each song is LARGE also in the sense that they’re actually extremely accessible for a hard-rock that is definitely on the heavier-side of the genre. This is that kind of crossover album that will get a lot of “straight-ahead” rock fans craving music with a harder-edge. “In Hell,” and “Darwinian” are great examples of songs that make this album have this appeal. “Darwinian” is a machine with TEETH – it’s an incredible song; amazing vocals, unbelievable guitars and the aforementioned brilliant drums. Everyone is at the top of their game on this track, a certifiable standout on an album that contains an incredible display of quality to choose from.
Even when they slow it down, they nail it extremely well. But I’ll also admit – once “Liam’s Song” came on, I had to double-check and make sure that my Soundcloud page hadn’t jumped to a different band! Almost like a track on the album designed to see if the reviewers out there are REALLY listening!
It’s a change-up for sure, but it works completely. Great vocals and production…a stripped down version of Jackson Caged to make sure the people know they could come and take over the other genres at any time!
Look out for this band!
- Jer @ SBS
Find out more about Jackson Caged at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jackson-Caged/25360383931
Seashaped – A Pill For Everything – Album Review
At least that was the first thing that came to mind when pushing play on the Seashaped album! You know what I mean though? It’s…pleasant! Music that I can’t see anyone ever frantically running over to a stereo to turn down the sound on…yeah – that’s what I’m trying to say! Seashaped, from my experience, are not only extremely approachable and friendly as people, but apparently their music spills out of that same vein!
A Pill For Everything – a concept altogether too true of our society, mind you one that I’m not yet convinced is a totally bad thing! I mean…I’m all in favor of holding two separate Olympic matches; one for the “straight & narrow” and the other for the pill & injection-heads that want to see just what the limits of this human-body-machine really are! Think about it…it’d be awesome…
Sorry! Music! Seashaped!
This duo from The UK consisting of Alison Riley and Pete Gustard are creating some really inviting, warm and beautiful sounds. Spread out deliciously over the span of A Pill For Everything, the album moves like reading a good story, sharing a “Kodak” moment with your friends, or the gentle soundtrack you’ve always wanted to wake up to in the morning. Self-described as “easy-going,” dear readers – I couldn’t agree more with that!
What I like a LOT is the variety of sounds they’ve chosen while still retaining that easy-going feel. You can hear in a track like “Kitchen Party,” which leaves behind the somewhat acoustic feel of the previous songs and takes the album into funk & disco territory. It’s an interesting track to me for several reasons, the first of course being that it was such a radical departure from the feel of the rest of the album. Don’t get me wrong – the layout of the tracks really does lead to that bursting point; it’s a well-planned album…
But it’s the first and I think only song on the album where if I hand the studio-cans over my ears…I might have demanded that Alison give me that 10% I felt her holding back on this song!
LOL. It’s NOT a criticism – here’s why:
First of all – I think she has a beautiful voice. There’s been nothing in any of the tracks that hinted at anything other than her own perfection; a fragile, delicate and passionate voice that delivers smoothly over each and every track she’s leading on, and adding the perfect harmonies on the songs backing up Pete, like “Will You Be Mine.” On the former track in question, “Kitchen Party” – I felt like there were a few moments where she was caught in the flow of a really unique and wonderful song, something almost challenging their own version of “normal” and could have went for it just an edge more. Cause what she’s doing on the track, is truly fantastic.
But perhaps that could be part of it. With it being so far outside of the comfort zone, it sounds a little unsure. Again – if this even WAS the case, she shouldn’t be. She should have every bit of confidence in her fantastic abilities and voice, especially if you compare it to the way she attacks a track like “Slipping Down.”
But in contrast…had I not ever heard such a solid & firm performance in “Slipping Down” – I might not have ever been so demanding for more in “Kitchen Party!”
Alison – it’s just that I know you’re MORE than capable of it! :)
Really! “Slipping Down” - I mean if this isn’t a singer at their finest moment, then again, I haven’t heard it! Alison hits her stride in this track, delivering with confidence, passion and conviction.
Pete’s an interesting cat on the vocals as well – I dig what he’s doing a lot as well. Not limited to any particular sound or style; naturally he sounds like a cross between Michael Hutchence of INXS and the lead singer for Better Than Ezra – but he’s also not afraid to mix it up and try new effects. Often harmonizing with Alison, they find a beautiful combination in their voices no matter which direction Pete chooses. They’ve also done some immaculate work through production and subtle use of samples.
“Life Gets In The Way” – an absolute gem you’ll discover deep into the album, shows their deep affection for rhythm and putting together songs you’ll not only be able to relate to – but that will make you move, physically AND emotionally. The evidence becomes even stronger in the title-track; “A Pill For Everything” swirls like an epic theatre performance…you can almost visualize them assembling shows with orchestras, amazing lights and an all-enveloping atmosphere.
It’s an epic song, and one that certainly earned the right to title the album. And while there might truly be A Pill For Everything in this day & age – you won’t need to rush to the medicine cabinet to endure this new album from Seashaped – far from it.
In fact, much like a drug…there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself hooked.
- Jer @ SBS
Check out Seashaped further and give their page a like at:
And don’t forget to check out what ELSE I have to say about A Pill For Everything and this excellent band on SBS Live This Week 03/08/2014! http://www.youtube.com/sleepingbagstudios
Marty McKay – Sin's Disciple – Album Review
This was an extremely interesting album to put into our reviews. Marty McKay comes to us all the way from ZURICH, Switzerland (Holy are we GLOBAL or WHAT these days?) with a name ready for the radio and the songs to match. Everything you’ll have on Sins Disciple is extremely well put together, tightly produced and performed with incredible skill.
Europe and the surrounding countries have always fascinated me personally. I find it interesting which parts of the world the “North-American” musical influence has fanned out into, but more so, exactly WHICH pieces resonated and stuck with these other locations. For instance, you can still find hair-metal running rampantly in Germany and Russia, the electro-wave that still consumes much of France, or here in the case of Marty McKay he found himself attached to the rap-rock era…maybe throw a little Evanescence/early millennium power-rock in there as well to round him out in this description…
But it’s interesting in the sense that Europe, at least from my Canadian perspective…can often be found either two steps forward, or two steps behind what’s happening here, rarely joining us in what’s happening currently in the present musical climate. In the case of Marty McKay, this rap/rock is a style of music that we’ve long explored throughout the past two decades, but also one that never truly wears out and still has incredibly passionate fans.
McKay makes music for parties and good times. His rap/rock combo mainly combines an old-school rap vibe against the power-rock of the early 2000’s. When we’re talking about “old-school” rap – I’ve got some knowledge here. As some of you already know, the first concert I ever went to was DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – and you can hear a lot of that classic-style rap-flow throughout much of Marty’s work. Interestingly enough, if you check out his page at Soundcloud (Which includes clips from this album) you’ll find an interview clip from Swiss Radio towards the bottom…
Now…I’m not going to pretend I understood much, as I’m limited to English myself, BUT…I did actually listen to it. There’s a music within the language we even speak daily…sometimes it’s just nice to hear the tone of a person’s natural voice you know?
Again – BUT… If there’s one thing I COULD understand without a doubt, it’s that they made endless comparisons between Marty McKay and Vanilla Ice. So, to all our readers and friends in North America who are certainly familiar with the Ice-man, I know this makes you think TWO things:
- Alright, Vanilla Ice or anything that remotely sounds like that was from our late 80’s to early 90’s period in our musical timeline.
- Every SINGLE time “Ice Ice Baby” comes on you STILL nod your head, shake your rump or jump to the dance floor. At the VERY least you crack a smile.
So let’s be clear here – no one gets to make fun of Marty for being compared to Vanilla Ice – you all loved that guy. Unless Marty starts re-building homes on a reality show…then I say have at him!
Like it or not, it’s a great comparison; and again with the accompanying update on the musical-side & guest-star side of things, there’s plenty of an update on that old-school sound for Sin’s Disciple to not sound like it has been done, or is simply redundant. Songs like “Can’t Get Enough,” “Turn Up My Sex,” and “Sin” make the most out of exciting, dynamic music and beats as McKay delivers over and over and over again. What’s even more cool, is that with a little digging you’ll find out that this particular rapper uses absolutely no samples. Everything you’ll hear was made with real instruments, which has been pulled off so well you might actually think they WERE samples! But the decision to go this route musically wouldn’t be the only challenge McKay would have to conquer to take his music to the world…
You gotta imagine first of all, that English is not his first language here. He’s done a fantastic job of taking the lyrics and words to a place where it all feels natural for him. I honestly think there are only a few spots that gave any hint of an accent whatsoever – I might not have even picked up on it had I not been aware of McKay’s geographical situation. His delivery in the old-school rap style is flawless and on-beat, none of it sounds awkward or misplaced. His tone is great and the enthusiasm & genuine love for the music comes through cleanly over the mic; what else can you ask for?
It seems like he’s content to continue the work as well. Beyond this new album, Sin’s Disciple, he’s got something incredible brewing in something called Project 7, which sounds like quite a departure from what you’ll hear on the album. At the moment you can find some instrumental songs on the Soundcloud page…I know I’m here to review Sin’s Disciple, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t turn over every stone…
And boy am I glad I did. Check out the track “Lust II” and tell me that the band Zero 7 doesn’t sit at home wishing they wrote this track themselves. Love this tune. You’ll also find the single version for “Emptiness Returns,” which is another powerful tune with an excellent guest-star; a well-written song that certainly highlights the skills of these two contrasting vocalists and their ability to work together.
So….yeah….Sin’s Disciple….what can I say other than a time & place for music like this ALWAYS exists. Listen to a track like “I Want Your Life,” and tell me you couldn’t find a moment in your OWN life where this would be the perfect track to become the soundtrack for it. I suppose in a lot of ways that’s what I hear in this album…that ability for everyone to relate to it, WANT to hear it, smile and have a good time.
Accessibility; I don’t know TOO much about music, lol, but isn’t that kinda like, how we’re all kinda hoping our music would be received upon sharing it with others?
Well played Marty McKay…well played....
- Jer @ SBS
Check him out further through his official site at: http://www.martymckay.com/
Ain’t No Other – Never Really Broke – Album Review
Here’s the straight-up in one single sentence; I would be a way bigger fan of the entire rap genre if it was all as entertaining as this album is.
Ain’t No Other has had me paying attention non-stop since I pushed play on Never Really Broke – I honestly had no clue I was in for an album so packed with good times. Halfway through my first listen through the album I was blown away at how the album refused to let up…how every single track I was hearing was “single-worthy”- almost like I had to pause and take this album in as two EP’s!
There are superb skills on the mic here, no doubt about it. It’s tough to decide if Ain’t No Other is stronger as an MC or as a songwriter in general. Cause if one thing is for sure – A.N.O. knows how to write and deliver a hook with full force. I’m not even kidding – I’m damn near speechless at the skills this guy has to deliver a song straight to your brain.
And incidentally…in case you were wondering how the other half of that first listen went…
As well as the first half did! – are you kidding me? I mean c’mon – if you’re listening to the same album I am right now those first six tracks should give you every ounce of confidence in the last half! Never Really Broke GOES for broke on every track and pulls out unique beats left, right and center stereo. Styles range epically over the history of hip-hop & rap; you can hear influences like Outkast, Mase and in my opinion – even P.M. Dawn.
Don’t get me wrong – that’s a compliment in my books. Loved those guys…
Not to stretch the glowing commentary too much, but this album has about as much ingenuity as a Kayne West album. Though their styles are quite different, they have one major thing in common - knowing your samples and how to use them to the absolute maximum. Let’s cite some tracks here…check out “Hard On Myself,” “The Man,” or “Stay Away (Selfish)…” choose ANY of those as a benchmark and try to tell me I’m wrong!
Now…”Hoodie On (Feat. Phil A Gee)” definitely wins the award for best rap lyric. All credit to Ain’t No Other here – his flow is both skillful and completely understandable no matter what temps he rhymes at. But when he hits the hook in the chorus after a full rip through a sickly paced rap verse, and he utters the line “Yeah, I get my Frito-Lay on…” I almost died. Ain’t No Other, it seems, can bust out a sense of humor at any time and throw down lyrically at will. The flow is on-point, no matter what the subject – this guy FEELS the beat and literally lets it rip. The skills come out sounding completely natural, unforced. Overall, this album feels like the start of something that could genuinely hit it huge.
There are minor production flaws that peak tracks just slightly – nothing that makes anything unlistenable – just room to grow as this young artist continues to step into the limelight. I look at it this way - someone out there is hearing what I'm hearing and was just trying to do us all a favor and turn it up!
As per the indie standard, one thing matters above all else; that the ideas are THERE.
And they are. They’re here. They’re ALL OVER Never Really Broke.
Ain’t No Other…might just be the most aptly-titled artist to come out this decade. Trust me – you’ll be hearing this name all over, real soon.
- Jer @ SBS
Ain’t No Other – Never Really Broke drops 03/11/2014 via itunes. Make sure you know what’s goin down by staying connected with A.N.O. at: https://www.facebook.com/anomusic
Aaron Baldes - Horizons - Album Review
Food for the soul – that’s what “they” say isn’t it? And much like your diet or what you might like to throw into your pie-hole year after year, those tastes can change & grow and become more expanded and accepting over time. We should never have to be restricted to a certain style or genre – imagine for a second right now that you were only able to listen to the first five albums you ever purchased for the rest of time – how would that go for you?
Cause let me tell ya…it gets pretty ROUGH over here on MY side when I start to look at life like that…I’m thinking I’d end up with a bizarre set of five that would include the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Richard Marx, M.C. Hammer, Suicidal Tendencies and Boyz II Men.
I was allowed to change. Hell - I hope SOMEWHERE in me I WANTED to change! Look at that embarrassing/erratic list! You should EMBRACE change!
So meet Aaron Baldes – a man that has done that very thing – change. A self-professed former “metal head” – you’d have to dig for sheds of that evidence on his new electronic album Horizons, which is more or less the audible history of his last several years. In talking briefly with Aaron, it seems that his whole musical landscape has changed of late, now choosing to play in jazz, classical, funk and of course this electronic genre here on Horizons.
If I can go back to that food reference for a second…I would think quite plainly that if you understand and KNOW how to eat breakfast, well, then at noon you’re probably inclined to be like, ‘bring on lunch – I GOT this…’ Adaptable skills you know? It seems like Aaron has made the switch quite easily from metal or any of his other styles to this electronic format.
Does it WORK? Yes it does I’m proud to say. I’m not gonna lie – Aaron seems like a rad guy from our brief interactions and knowing that he’s all about the DIY and making it happen for himself & his music…well, I was pulling for him to have put out a great disc here with Horizons.
He can rest easy on a mission accomplished – like I said – embrace the change!
I’ve always been a huge fan of the unique work put in on record and the trails blazed by innovative artists like RJD2 and DJ Shadow – two artists I could certainly cite here as influences on this album in many ways. Horizons has that electro-pulse and rhythmic-beat aspect of the RJD2 catalog while bringing in the diversity and range of ideas that you can find on any of DJ Shadow’s work. Case in point – one of the largest departures on this album – “In This Valley (Prelude),” is one of my absolute favorites based on how well it serves to take you away from the rest of what has been happening for a brief moment. Like taking a sip of your favorite wine, refreshingly cleansing your palette before taking another sip to get that excellent flavor back.
After repeat listens, you can hear that Horizons is not only precisely programmed, but also carefully laid out in sequence – there’s a purpose to the order of these tracks and it flows like a good album should. Each song is short and on-point; this isn’t electro that will drone on and rely on one beat or effect for minutes at a time. Aaron has built excellent electro-grooves that build, swell & change in natural ways that make for an easy listen. Check out “Darkness In The Groove,” only the second track into Horizons and he’s hit his full electro-stride here in this track and carries it right into a full on display of ability in “Prelude (Bloodsound)” – which is one step away from becoming a Venetian Snares track, hence “Prelude (Bloodsound)” is still more than listenable…in fact, it’s full on awesome.
The melodies Aaron has been able to create and the soundscapes in the songs on Horizons are a testament to that ability to change one’s taste & flavor. I’m not saying this particular track was any indication with definite PROOF, but it would seem to me that if this is the aural history of Aaron, that a track like “A Change For The Better (Discord, Hate, Trauma, Malice),” might just have come along during that time of changing between genres and styles and realizing he has every right to be stepping into the electronic categories. I’m not sure how his metal sounded…he seems to be talented in anything he does…but I’m assuming that this direction was in fact, “A Change For The Better…”
Doesn’t matter what track you choose, you’ll find an excellent idea contained within. The execution, recording and production of the songs keep up to the ideas with no issues. The amount of creativity is astounding…as you weave through the middle of the album into tracks like “Frost (Outside Looking In),” “A Theme From Corelli’s Sarabande In D Minor” and “Electric Improv 1 In D Minor” - you can’t help but crack a wry smile at just how these songs line up back-to-back-to-back. Each of them are so unique from one another, yet everything fits so well here as a full album.
Closing strongly into the electro through “Rapture” and “The Clap,” before giving us a SLIGHT hint at the former metal head who served this whole musical meal on the final track “VGM;” you’ll get a GLIMPSE – but don’t get ready to bang your head against the wall just yet. There’s still more than enough electro in this track to keep it included and it’s a great idea as a closing song, bringing it up that one extra notch in energy to close out Horizons on the right note.
So you see? Embrace the food!
Wait! I mean…embrace the CHANGE! It can lead to amazing things and wonderful creations. If you have any doubt about that, I suggest you listen to Horizons by Aaron Baldes immediately – you might just change your tune!
- Jer @ SBS
Check him out further at his official homepage at: http://www.aaronbaldes.com
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