- New Pictures Added 04/17/2014!
- SBS Live This Week returns with our first ALL MUSIC episode of this year!
- 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!
Ysimonis – Regular N*gg# - Album Review
It hasn’t been since Snoop released Doggystyle that I’ve heard an album warrant the tag of explicit lyrics like this! Ysimonis has got plenty to say on his new album Regular N*gg# and he is certainly unafraid of using his extended vocabulary to get the job done right. The result is an album full of deep-gangsta-beats accompanied by a lyrical flow that’s smooth, on-point and even wickedly funny at times.
So – first off…is the explicit tag necessary? With track names like “Pussy” and “Flash Dem Titties” – you can be the judge for yourselves…but I’d be lying if I said decisions like that aren’t one of the reasons I’m continually thankful to not have children. I can remember a tinier version of me recording Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle over top of my store-bough tcopy of MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt’em just so that I could listen to it without my mom catching on and freaking out about. Picturing some young homie out there going through the same ordeal with this new album from Ysimonis…well…let’s just say that someone out there is going through this, and I myself have indeed got a bit of nostalgia goin’ on. Music has and always will be worth breaking the rules for.
And really, when you listen to Regular N*gg#, you have to wonder if that isn’t really what this whole album is all about in the background…Ysimonis breaking free of the daily routine and making his own rules now through music. Thematically this album largely deals with being deep in the rap game and owning your moment, breaking those rules of convention and literally saying whatever the fuck you want. There’s a freedom in this music that I have always have a deep respect for, even if I don’t always necessarily agree with the politics of “thug-life.” The simple fact is – today’s rapper…the one’s that own their style like Ysimonis does here…these are the modern-day outlaws of our time.
Whether real or fake, it can be like crafting a character out of the lyrics and flow. If you own this image with style and confidence like Ysimonis does, it becomes convincing to the listener. Everything I can hear on this record sounds like he has put the time into creating that character, even if it is a true reflection of himself; like I said, real or fake – he’s owning it like he’s living it every day. Listen to tracks like “I Can’t” and “True-n-False” and you’ll get what I mean.
Cause c’mon – you can’t use a line like, “You’re girl likes my pickle…that’s true” unless you’re ready to commit.
I told a story here once about downloading the 8-Mile soundtrack way back in the day and ending up with three tracks that had been purposely mislabeled by a rapper going by Dirty Dave and his unknown posse backing him up. And I swore to myself long ago, that anytime I heard someone with a similar flow I would send a quick shout-out of remembrance to this unknown homie, cause SOMEONE out there one day will have had the same experience I did and knows the familiarity and humor in the rap lyrics. Dirty Dave is the man…so is Mickey Avalon…so is Snoop…and all three remind me of what Ysimonis is doing now.
It’s almost like taking it back to a time of “gangsta-purity” if you will…he’s kinda got the pimp-version of a Teddy Pendergrass album here. That thematic sense of him owning his moment…well, let’s just say that 90% of the time he sounds like he’s owning that moment with a female companion. Or two. “She Got Me” is smooth like that, and again, “I Can’t” is great example of what I’m talking about with an incredible beat combined with piano to make it all that more real for you people listening out there.
We will be talking about this further when SBS Live This Week comes back to its new home on Vimeo, scheduled for late tonight/tomorrow morning after being away for nearly a month. A ton of excellent videos in the line-up for you to watch, and I’ll go further with this review and drop a few more knowledge bombs on ya about this slick new album from Ysimonis.
- Jer @ SBS
Find Regular N*gg# by Ysimonis on itunes now! https://itunes.apple.com/album/regular-n*gg/id741084977
Swami Lushbeard – “Where The Sheep Are Led” – Single Review
Alright…the episode is long over but the rock continues! Swami Lushbeard is back in another appearance here with sleepingbagstudios in print after not just surviving our extremely lengthy video-interview, but thriving through it! If you haven’t caught the episode yet, be sure to check it out! In fact, Part II of their episode will give you a chance to listen to the very song in question today, the latest single from Swami Lushbeard – “Where The Sheep Are Led.”
Now…as much as I like reviewing music, reviewing a single can often be a difficult thing. Again many people are satisfied with a simple sentence and a thumbs-up from an opinion they value, and many independent journalists find themselves asleep at night feeling they’ve done more than enough through a byline blog mention…not us! What was particularly cool about reviewing this new single is that so many people I personally knew came by during the making of the last video interview with Swami, that I’m BARELY able to retain my objectivity here.
Because I’m already FULLY aware of the public reaction to this new song from Swami Lushbeard; they LOVE it.
No joke – when I was creating backgrounds and piecing together a simple video to go with their single to put on our show, I was visited by people from all over at the studio who would watch along with me. I got comments like: “That’s one hell of a band,” “That’s an awesome song,” and “Holy SHIT those guys can PLAY,” from other sources to help confirm the facts I knew so well already. Swami Lushbeard IS an excellent band – I was dead positive after hearing and reviewing their last EP, A Burning Desire, but still, it’s nice to get that confirmation from the outside…now I know I’m not crazy!
“Where The Sheep Are Led” is rock-riff heaven. Beginning in a daring fashion, a-cappela, the track amps up quickly into a chunky riff to build the verse. Lead singer Don Sprouls delivers a vocal-flow perfectly timed and sung with intensity to match the music…he even finds himself in the middle of a deadly guitar solo towards the end of this track. I wanna say personally, after meeting this crew through video and even having been privy to some underground Swami Lushbeard recordings…I KNOW this guy to be tough on himself when it comes to the vocals. And after a thorough listen, fellow readers, I’m sure you’ll come to the very same conclusion I have about all that….
As he has always done in the past – Don fits perfectly atop the music of Swami Lushbeard with a solid and confident tone, supported in this song through the slick & skillful bass of Dre, a sheer beat-a-thon being supplied from drummer Ian and of course melodies from M@ on the keys that are at the core of the song itself. Each of these pieces work together just as well off-camera as they do on it as far as I can personally tell! “Where The Sheep Are Led” is a complex beast; while it might have some standard riffs that allow Don to sing and do what he does best on stage, the rest of the band is going full-out here at all times around those meaty hooks from his guitar. It’s that very push/pull aspect between the rhythm and leads really give this song the vibrant qualities you need to have to warrant a single release.
And wait….didn’t I just mention something about the stage?
If you are in the LOS ANGELES area and you’re NOT going to TRiP on April 19th, 2014 to go and ROCK with SWAMI LUSHBEARD…well…well…well then you should find yourselves in a WORLD OF PAIN instead! Hmmm. I kinda like it…maybe it came off a little too harsh… Yeah…actually….let me try that again….
On April 19th, 2014 Swami Lushbeard will be playing a show at TRiP in Santa Monica, CA….and get this – FREE PARKING!!! How awesome is that? And painless!
Oh wait…it gets even better….like, way better! FREE ADMISSION = FREE ROCK N’ ROLL. At that rate, it might very well work out for me in the positive financially if I was to walk OR bus there from here in BC, Canada…so if you’re within 2-3 states of this show….well I’m just saying I’ve got my shoes on….what could possibly be your excuse? Get to that show!
- Jer @ SBS
But before you go – get yourself a copy of the latest single “Where The Sheep Are Led,” by Swami Lushbeard off their official homepage so you can sing along at their upcoming show! You can download it for FREE right off the page! Find that and all kinds of Lushbearded adventures here: http://swamilushbeard.com/
Sonnet To Sleep – Affirmative Say Nothing – Album Review
Right on! I’ve TOTALLY got something for this!
Now…to many of you who follow my writing here at sleepingbagstudios and know my insatiable need for all kinds of new music, knowing that I’ve “got something for this” might not be so much of a surprise. So here’s a couple fun-facts about ME before I bust into this review of Affirmative Say Nothing…
- Many genres come and go through these ears…but few have claimed the top spot on an ongoing basis over year-spans. The “rock-ballad” was one of them…and that’s gonna come in handy here…
- Not to toot on my own horn tooooooooooo much…but you all know I do my research as well, reading social pages and bios and whatever I can get my eyes on as my ears are listening…and quite often the case has been through these reviews that I find the REAL “sounds-like.” Not the one the bands always want necessarily…bios and influences are usually abundant with so many comparisons that it becomes hard to establish where the band in question is REALLY coming from on a musical level. I like to think my ability to cut through the bullshit is one of the reasons you all keep coming back – so I’ll just say it with confidence today; I am better than the “bio!”
And in the case of today’s band in question, Sonnet To Sleep…I will rise once again as your champion…hang on…we’ll get there together I promise….
I’ve got five EXCELLENT songs here on this new album from Sonnet To Sleep and a big ol’ nostalgia-chubby as this music takes me back to a time where the pop-meets-rock element was a little more pure at heart and I was listening with every free moment I had. Four out of the five tracks on this short & very-sweet album could easily qualify as rock-ballads; beautiful in tone, melodic and emotional. I’ll admit to being slightly shocked the songs weren’t 9 or 10 minutes long – 5 songs seems awfully short to me to declare it an “album,” but for real – who the hell am I to say when it comes to this? If you call it an album, my internet friends…well…I’ll certainly review it as such!
One extreme benefit to the music on this disc from Sonnet To Sleep is the tremendous focus you get to have in making a short album or EP. Let’s be honest here; if you can’t garner some control of the 4-5 songs on these short excursions and master the element of consistency…I’d have to say you were missing something big time! Thankfully, this is not remotely the case here today with STS – this band has made their five so tight it’s NEARLY impossible to find a fault whatsoever!
But there is ONE…and thankfully, for many of you…you might never know it!
In the bio…it references some “sounds-likes” that would throw your expectations were you to read them. Listing Dave Growl, (Like OUCH on the misspelt JESUS of sleepingbagstudios guys – GROHL. I even double-checked to make sure Dave Growl wasn’t someone ELSE, which I knew would be pointless…but it actually turned out incredibly awesome – did you know that typing in Dave Growl will ONLY lead you to EVERYTHING about Dave GROHL…I had to have a laugh here!) listing Jimmy Gnecco (of the band Ours) would all be a slight misrepresentation of what this music sounds like for real. Now, chances are – Aaron Rios, the mastermind behind the beautiful songs being made in Sonnet To Sleep just really looks up to these singers and music-makers…and I mean, who could blame him?
Personally, I never once heard the “hint of Dave Grohl” myself…or Dave Growl lol, though I’d admit to MAYBE a few moments reminding me of Jimmy from Ours (there’s a scream in “Promises” that should have been way more up front in the mix, but he NAILS the Gnecco gnarl in that) …but there was nothing that to me in that set of names that really brought the comparisons to a plane of actual existence…it didn’t completely fit, something still didn’t seem right…
So…time to put my money where my mouth is…if not these artists…what DOES the music of Sonnet To Sleep sound like?
The answer is simple. Dishwalla, J.R. Richards and actually Thom Yorke from the very FIRST Radiohead album, Pablo Honey. You can take these to the bank as a much closer comparison. Aaron’s vocals are a nearly dead ringer for J.R. Richards, either on his own solo or with his band Dishwalla. It’s UNCANNY. Like, to the point where Aaron…I’m calling you out here – you’ve GOTTA be a fan right? Listen to the opening track “Promises” and you’ll hear it instantly if you know the reference…it’s dead on until Rios deviates and adapts elements of this style uniquely in his own signature towards the chorus.
There are also times…and especially if you dig into their other tunes outside this new album, you’ll hear the echo, crack and break in the vocals of that younger version of Yorke. In either of these cases, or even his own comparisons, Rios has picked nothing short of AMAZING role models and through his own confidence and delivery – he’s finding a valid place to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of these great singers he has modelled himself after.
AND – like I said – rock-ballads were way up there for me at one point. I remain, at least as far as I know, one of the most rampant fans of Dishwalla to this day. I want more of that sound, even now. Consider me extremely thankful to have stumbled upon this album from Sonnet To Sleep; make no mistake, I’ve given them PLENTY of a hard-time (All in good fun!) in this review but I do absolutely love this music on Affirmative Say Nothing.
Listening to this on repeat – I’m extremely thankful for people like Aaron Rios. If not for people like him, courageous enough to go against the musical-grain, many sounds that SHOULD have worked and maybe didn’t at the time, would never be resurrected. Dishwalla didn’t work out commercially, neither did Ours…but that far from means that they did anything wrong – those are people built from the same very mettle as Rios – their sounds were in contrast to the musical climate of the time as well.
Yeah yeah Jer...but will it work?
Pffff. C’mon – it DID. Listen to any of these five tracks. I’m on “So Beautiful” right now myself…somewhere in the 5th or 6th run through on this album…the title says it all. Though it might refer to a person inside the lyrics, the song itself is a perfect example of how to do the pop/rock ballad RIGHT. Rios also has guest stars popping in on these tracks from time to time, most notably the fantastic Miss Angie who lends a perfect set of vocals out on “Only For A Moment.” It all works, every single moment of this album…nothing needs to be commercialized or profited upon to make it a success; this is as perfect of an effort in five songs as you could possibly ask for. Consider me a big fan.
- Jer @ SBS
Find everything you need and WANT to know about Sonnet To Sleep at their official page! www.sonnettosleep.com
Fiona Hare – Keep Me Wild – Album Review
I actually get a lot of questions regarding my threshold of acceptance and ability to examine all kinds of music and styles. I’ll be asked; “isn’t it difficult, or boring, or hard, or a pain to go through so much music in search of the good stuff out there?
To which my answer has been the same for years now – “No. And how the heck do YOU do it?”
The truth? Most people refer to sites like ours or other reliable sources out there to MINE and SCOUR the internet, take recommendations from friends, listen to every disc placed in our waiting hands and relay that information to YOU out there…and that’s exactly what I’m doing here today. I want to tell you about a special artist out there I stumbled across through the Bandcamp website and HAD to tell you about. Her name is Fiona Hare – all the way from South Africa.
This bearded face that writes to you all now…is an extreme fan of beautiful music. Many of you who have seen our show SBS Live This Week are often taken aback by just how much this face can hold on a folacle-level, but let me just tell you all now…it’s great music that gives it the strength to push out hair after hair, and if I’m bearded at all in the eyes of this world, it’s all thanks to that same amount of amazing music I mine and hunt for daily. I feel like I’ve put an extra inch to the bottom of my chin after listening to Keep Me Wild, the new album from Fiona. This melodic and atmospheric album has all the right pieces in all the right places.
I’ve listened to this album many times at this point, even though I discovered it was only recently released at the end of March this year. And truthfully, I am desperately wanting to start this review at the END of the album, but there’s so much to talk about in between pushing play and those final notes that it would be a misstep to take you there first.
Opening Keep Me Wild with a track called “Desert Rose,” Fiona opens up a musical vein right away and bleeds out right onto the record. In a beautiful and isolated beginning, much becomes clear upon that very first sample – Fiona can certainly write an incredible song and perform them with maximum conviction.
There are times in our lives, especially solo-artists, that require a little assurance from an outside source that we’re on the right track…
Well Fiona? I’m here to do just that. Nice to meet you, my name is Jer @ SBS…
For real though – she carries her initially displayed grace instantly into the tracks to follow. “Ambulance For Hearts” and “Black Dog,” both sultry and sexy, slow-flowing jazzy/electronic tracks that showcase her ability for fantastic lyrics and passionate delivery. One can only hope from this side of the screen & having never actually interacted with her, that Fiona somewhere out there knows just how truly good she IS. These tracks will remind you of some of the best out there in the female-voice kingdom, notably Feist and Nina Persson, formerly of The Cardigans. All three of these singers, Fiona included, have that beautiful tone accompanied by a soft whisper that comes in perfectly every once in a while.
One of the major reasons I’m loving this album is the song “Magick.” With a gorgeously-sad piano background…Fiona sings quietly and perfectly over top of this song, letting us all into some of the truest feelings spread out over this album. As hopeful as it is desolate – this track racks the full 100% of points for me…absolutely full of raw emotion and true-feelings.
In the tracks that followed, “Hands,” “More,” and “Deeper” – there was no drop in quality, no sense of becoming tired or any less interesting than when she started this album. “Hands” plays out like a single-worthy song and “More,” along with “Deeper” take the proper measures to ensure that this album doesn’t become stagnant around the 7th & 8th track like so many albums out there unfortunately do. Keep Me Wild sounds incredibly focused throughout and you get the sense pretty quickly in that these were songs that NEEDED to come out of Fiona, lest she might die with them and the feelings exploding inside her.
This is the thing: “This Is The Thing” is a great reminder that she’s a folk-artist stepping into an electronic world…I think this track serves the album as a fantastic display of her roots before embarking onto the final two cuts off this excellent album...
And we’re HERE! Like I said somewhere in there towards the beginning….much of me wanted to start the review at this point in the album, if only to highlight what creating a memorable and lasting impression on a listener truly sounds like. Cause if you’re out there right now…and you’re wondering about that very thing…listen to these final tracks on Keep Me Wild, “Could I” and “Galilee” and you’ll have a blueprint for your own success cause Fiona Hare has absolutely done that here. These two tracks are so well made that it becomes impossible to NOT talk about how strong this album becomes by the very end.
“Could I,” is an incredibly comfortable song for Fiona. Catchy and thoughtful, bringing the electronic-influence to her folk-music a little more upfront once again but never becoming mechanical - her use of electronic sounds and beats have never been over-stepped on this album. Always an accent, but never a trick she relies on, you can bet safely that if you find yourself liking any of these tracks on Keep Me Wild that the very reason is the main attraction herself – Fiona delivers flawlessly on every moment of this new album.
The final track, “Galilee,” is everything I want in the last song on an album to entice me to a repeat listen. As haunting as it is beautiful, rich in tone and melody…straight up, this is a track I’ll never want to forget and an artist who will now be under our watchful eyes awaiting news and new music for the rest of time. If an album were anything like the ABC’s of Sales (Always Be Closing) – this final cut puts the pen in your willing hands and gains your commitment in signature to come back for another listen.
So. Yeah. So there. THIS is why I listen to anything I can that comes across this desk…because sometimes, not always but sometimes…you find an incredible undiscovered talent like Fiona Hare out there that makes the entire journey so fulfilling and worthwhile.
Go check this out!
- Jer @ SBS
You can find her on Facebook right here at: https://www.facebook.com/FionaJeanHare
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SBS But No BS Part XII
Affordable, quality recording and jam space has come to the Fraser Valley. While the big time studios remain out of reach for the average person, sleepingbagstudios offers a professional environment that is completely within the reach of anyone who has ever had a dream of hearing themselves recorded. Our studio fees will always guarantee you a live real time recording of your entire session from your band for you to keep, review, cut, edit - whatever YOU like. We can also produce, edit, mix, master your material into suitable demo material to shop to the major labels – and we can help you package yourself right to sell your band in the best possible way.
From jam time to studio recording, sleepingbagstudios offers you an environment where the average person won’t feel the pressures of “other people” being around. With your time you also receive as much or as little dedication from our two studio operators as you like. If you just want to jam and practice and be left alone, or you want the expert’s advice, you have those options and every one in between. We cater to aspiring artists everywhere, anyone that has ever thought they could do it, but just don’t know how. We’re here to help, because we genuinely want to see the talent of our great province get the attention they so rightly deserve.
YOU pick your level of involvement. Hey, we’re all musician’s right? If you want a day here and there to rehearse for an hour, we have flexible schedules. Or if it’s time to get serious and record that album, we offer day rates and week packages. The in-house instrument rental selection is large enough for you to show up empty handed, or you can bring your own gear. Again, at Sleeping Bag -it’s whatever YOU like!
And YOU might like a lot of things!
We can take your band to that next level through our many different services available.
It’s time for YOU to do what YOU always knew YOU could. We have the atmosphere, the quality and the dedication it takes to help YOU with that first step to becoming successful. Our studio operators have the experience YOU need to get a quality recording – the talent comes from YOU. Not only will you find our rates extremely competitive but you’ll never find people that are more excited to help you make your music and help you live your dreams than all of us here at SBS.
Find us elsewhere on the net at:
Our Mission Statement:
To inspire and encourage the independent music community until it over-takes the mainstream.