March 3rd, 2014 - Ain't No Other - Never Really Broke - Album Review
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.
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
March 1st, 2014 - Sprightly Moans - Demos III - EP Review
Sprightly Moans – Demos III – EP Review
I feel like I almost need to give my head a shake here…
Sprightly Moans – it’s almost like I couldn’t HEAR you last time! You know…like how in White Man Can’t Jump that dude could “listen to Jimi,” but he couldn’t HEAR Jimi…that’s the kind of feeling I’m getting here as I’m listening to the new demo EP from this power-rock duo. These three songs are packed with just about everything I want to listen to in three songs and has me stoked on the future of Sprightly Moans like never before.
I know that the line-up hasn’t changed, but man do I feel like the songs have both tightened up in the writing and become a whole shitload more accessible to people out there. I am overdue for a re-listen to the last EP anyway…but at this point…I’m not sure just how many times exactly now I’ve spun this latest offering…but I almost feel like I’m crazy! Were the songs on the last EP THIS GOOD and I somehow missed it? Cause I remember them being good and well done for the genre, but these new tracks from Demos III are just flat out awesome.
Like…I’m on the third song “Love Is Nothing Without Eternity” and I’ve got chills…that kinda awesome. But we’ll get to all that…
This latest 3 track EP from Sprightly Moans opens with “Blushes All Around,” and, literal first impressions again…I wasn’t sure in those opening seconds that Sprightly had changed from their last go around all that much…and I found that my attitude changed nearly 20 seconds in.
While at first I was trying to keep up with the complexity in “Blushes All Around,” I found myself surrounded by a blissful rock-infused-pop chorus and swirling in a track that is a true musician’s delight. The structure of the verse is jagged and sharp, and truthfully is still going to be a little difficult for the average listener to get their mind around – but that’s a hook in a chorus that can safely grab ANYONE. Just an absolutely smokin’ tone on the guitars on this track and throughout the first tracks on the EP.
“I Wanna Be Afraid,” the second track on the EP is the unsung hero for sure. I know just by my own natural tendencies that this will end up being the track I love the most. There’s something about the approach to this track in the chorus…but that line in particular “I Wanna Be Afraid…” it’s almost like you can hear him searching his mind for the feeling each time he repeats the line. Vocally, this EP again shows just how much a band can grow in a short time. They are beyond spot on in all three tracks, beyond rock and into the beautiful. They pull you in; it’s that same somewhat…I dunno…it’s a different approach…like…if you like the singer from The Cold War Kids, you’ll know what I mean I suppose. They sound like there’s a struggle and a battle to be won each time the mic is switched on; full of raw emotion and a trembling hint that they could just as easily break as explode.
“Love Is Nothing Without Eternity…”
How on EARTH am I going to keep a review on a three song EP to a reasonable length if you people are going to put a track as amazing as THIS on your discs?
This third track is the most radical departure from the Sprightly Moans traditional sound as I’ve ever heard. With a sparse background of minimal effects and ukulele, this last track floats along like the dream you always wish you’ll have right before you fall asleep. As I mentioned earlier – literal chills. Reminds me of that wonderful atmosphere and feeling you can get from a lot of Beirut’s music.
Absolutely beautifully played, focused, lyrics match and the song is just under six and a half minutes long. To listen to an attempt this far outside of the standard Sprightly explosive-rock-box is an extreme treat, they have pulled off an incredibly emotional and powerful ballad; I could honestly listen to a track like this every night.
Wow Sprightly Moans, wow. I cannot express just how much of a difference I heard in these three songs and just how much you’ve won me over as a true fan of what you’re doing over there. Be extremely proud of yourselves – this is a huge achievement and a sign of amazing things to come.
You can find Sprightly Moans officially at http://www.sprightlymoans.com
February 27th, 2014 - Sin Twister - Sin Twister - Album Review
Sin Twister – Sin Twister – Album Review
Yep – I can be the bigger man here…I can admit when I’m stumped. With as many traditional influences from rock & metal past can still be found prevalently all throughout this album – the sheer uniqueness of the vocals of Sin Twister are…not “throwing me off” necessarily, but adding something into this combination that really seems to have made this sound become unlike anything I really listen to!
And as you all know already – the “different” and the “unique” are two qualities we look for viciously, rather than push away back out of our comfort zones…
Now – as I’ve explained in several of my last reviews…my sensors have been way off the mark lately! So in a quick scan of the titles on this debut, self-titled album from Sin Twister, let’s just say I was convinced I was in for a repeat of Bon-Scott era AC/DC-style music. It’s definitely not like that! As much as I might like those classic tunes myself, it was more than pleasant to listen to the full Sin Twister album and feel like I’m hearing music based on the old-school, but trying something new.
Musically – you’re looking at some pretty hard stuff here. I’m thinking more along the lines of KMFDM…only turned a little down in the production. If there’s any beef whatsoever with this album, it’s definitely surrounding this particular issue…let me explain…
You can hear quite easily that this is BIG music. It’s meant to be loud and in your face. I’m listening to a song off the Sin Twister album right now that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about here…it’s called “Happy.” Listen through the opening, and get yourself to the breakdowns and the solos. Now notice something awesome – the clarity of the instruments. Up until this point, much of this track - guitars, bass, drums…they’re all recorded at nearly the same volumes and frequencies…resulting in a somewhat muddy sound. Now – keep in mind, this particular track, “Happy” – is about as on the side of Alice In Chains that Sin Twister has gone to, and that band released the album DIRT – so a muddier sound might very well have been the intention here and throughout much of this album.
Something like “The Force Of Habit,” to me is a much better example of their sound separation, but even on this particular track, those guitars, drums and vocals absolutely bury the shit out of Isaac Hankinson’s bass whenever they get kickin. And of course anytime the vocals come out this in front of the music - that largeness of the music completely goes away – no matter what band you’re in. One of those most relentless questions plaguing Tool even to this day is the one of “How do you guys get such a big sound?” The answer to that question lies mostly within the production…that ability for the vocals to become more of an instrument being played along with the others also allows for a mix that is a little more in favor of the music as a whole, which can also take some of that pressure off the front-man!
ALL of this being said – the vocals are by far and away the most unique element of this band. There’s nothing wrong with ANY of the music really, you can hear it’s always well-played and tight to their style. While much of it is a lot like music you have heard in the past, Shaman Crowe’s vocals come into each song much less predictably, which is great! At any point, Crowe can switch between Layne Staley, Axl Rose and Bon Jovi; sprinkle in a little bit of Ozzy and Les Claypool, and serve. As a long standing fan of grunge…well, you could definitely understand which of those tones from Crowe I’m personally looking for each time – but there’s zero way to tell which way he’s going to go with each track – call me crazy, but that makes things a little more exciting for me from song to song. I like a band that can keep me guessing, or at least make me think – Sin Twister has managed to do both of these things quite well on this self-titled debut.
Definitely want to point out – Mark Lombard is an absolute beast on the guitar. It is ALMOST to the point where I would want to ask him if he is responsible for the mixing and mastering of the album – the guitars on ANY of these tracks are easily the brightest sound you’ll hear, up highest in the mix every time instrument-wise. Whenever he has the chance to grab a solo, he does; but better yet, Mark truly takes these moments for an excellent ride, fueled by superb skill. And they fit! Not only does he have a great sense of what to sound like in a solo moment, but he really fits those moments tightly into these songs. If you’re one of those people who just wants your verse/chorus/verse, believe it or not – these solos fit in so damn well you won’t feel like you’ve “left the track” to simply go on a guitar-solo adventure.
Jared Scheelar on the drums is damn near a machine himself. Quick beats that often use extremely well written, rhythmic parts and fills – it’s like this guy is always working out constantly back there, even in their slowest moments. “Heretic Sons” is a completely wicked example of what he’s capable of. In particular – this is a definite stand-out track for Sin Twister overall; excellent energy and an incredible beat.
Yeah…okay Sin Twister…at this point, I gotta come clean with ya…I just gotta ask ya straight up I think….
But…what….is the problem….with…..Isaac your bass player? Why do you guys HATE him so much?
Ha! Ok – just bugging you. I know you obviously don’t HATE your 4th member – but let’s be HONEST here Sin Twister – you’ve got him turned down SO FAR in every mix that there are moments where people straight up are going to think he’s left the stage or stopped recording for a moment! And from what I CAN hear, there’s no need for it. Isaac is more than holding his own back there – we just have to supremely struggle to hear his contributions to the songs. TURN HIM UP!
Overall – I think there’s some really good ideas here in Sin Twister that perhaps just aren’t getting the full respect in the mix to highlight just how good they might really be! But hey – we’re all indie here, so production and super-slick recordings aren’t going to be what come out of 99% of us to begin our careers…you can’t fault them for anything here production-wise – those are the pieces as indie bands and artists that we need to take with a grain of salt and understand that some of us have that access to every person and every instrument we’d need to make an album, but many don’t. And besides – it’s not nearly like the production makes any of these tracks unlistenable; far from it - they’re more than fine to listen to.
What IS important is that the ideas are there…that the pieces are there to be built upon, refined and continue to move forward. There’s nothing about Sin Twister that would make me believe this project doesn’t take this excellent group of starting blocks, examine this first album after a year, and come back to the studio with a completely different approach to what they’re doing.
Cause the pieces are all there – I can certainly hear that – and over time I think these guys all show the promise of being able to smooth out what are really small and understandable kinks in this debut and become even MORE solid from here in the future. I can dig what I hear now – but let’s just say I’m looking even more forward to where this band might go from here!
Check out Sin Twister here at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sintwisterband
February 25th, 2014 - The Hawthornes - More Than Eyes Can See - Album Review
The Hawthornes – More Than Eyes Can See – Album Review
Meet The Hawthornes! Through their debut album More Than Eyes Can See, I’ve just been able to discover them recently as well – you’re not that far behind at all! Push play and let’s examine this first full length effort from The Hawthornes.
And if you were initially thinking country music…don’t panic. I kinda was myself – but I listened multiple times and I can safely say there’s no hint of the genre or resembling twang anywhere on here...
What I did get was a series of pretty spectacular jams! But you know that already…you’ve pushed play – you’re already ear-deep in the opening track “Spare Me Your Sorry,” which gives you an excellent idea of what’s to come. This opening track comes at you like a mixture of Living Color and King’s X, resulting in a heavily funked-out track that easily provokes the listening of the tracks to follow.
Walter Charles – the lead singer is a very flexible cat upfront on the mic. His ability and skill in adapting to the needs of each song is a tremendous gift. Who out there remembers The Verve Pipe? Cause I do. And if you listen to “Beautiful” and you’re sick like me and can recall the tone of the vocals in The Verve Pipe material (C’mon…you remember…”The Freshman” at least right?) – you’ll hear the dead ringer he becomes, adopting a more throaty-vocal style to this pop-rock jam.
But with each song, he finds a unique avenue and way in. He’s clearly both not afraid to try anything AND his band has completely afforded him that ability to go with his instincts. Take their track “Imagination” – he starts out nearly like Kele Okerele of Bloc Party before coming back to an almost Steely-Dan-meets-King’s X type-thang. His writing style often reminds me of the band Feeder quite often as well in the spacey-style pop-rock songs often found in their fantastic catalog.
Now of course which style he chooses might help dictate which of these 8 songs become your favorites, but the quality, consistency and skill never drop in any of his ventures or stylistic choices.
And to the rest of you singers out there – do you have this same kind of freedom to branch out and do new things? Cause if you don’t – you should WANT that. Especially when you get results like this.
But again – credit to an incredibly tight band. Mike Prescott has a wicked sense of what to put into these songs, often opting for being a prevalent piece of the music rather than the dominant one – though if he’s taking a solo watch the fuck out cause this guy can put enough electricity into a guitar to power it without an amp. Chris Freeman – an incredibly gifted bass player, has the ability to really lead the songs in playing with Mike and you’ll often find him just ripping it up in their more funked-out grooves.
Seriously – these guys can PLAY. But you know what’s REALLY awesome? That you can HEAR them doing it! Here’s what I mean:
Through both the production AND the way that their drummer Rob Bowser plays with style, patience and space really gives light to ALL of the players in this band. It’s not that he’s a minimalist – he demonstrates all kinds of skills, but perhaps none such more than the choices he makes in his writing. He doesn’t overplay – ever.
His style truly allows for each member to take their own turns in the spotlight in a band that certainly harbors many skills to be represented.
When I say these guys can play, (Really – no joke!) I also mean something else…
You can hear how well these songs would come off live, like to the point you can close your eyes and visualize it kinda clear… Each of these tracks have such an excellent jam-like quality to them that I can only bet on-stage they take on a completely different life of their own. It’s obvious that the skill from these musicians is something they can bank on – I’d be willing to bet that ANYTHING could happen out there on their stage on any given night. Take a track like “Listen” and just imagine the glorious animal that song could become in a live venue!
All in all – definitely a band I’ll be keeping an eye on. There are old-school-skills that run deep in this band with new ideas on how to bring them out in their songs; played with precision but still somehow able to keep that jam-like feel. For a debut album, More Than Eyes Can See is tight enough to convince you it was their tenth album.
You can SEE more of what I have to say about The Hawthornes on episode 079 of SBS Live This Week featuring Swami Lushbeard posting up late tonight!
Find The Hawthornes here at Facebook and give their page a like! https://www.facebook.com/TheHawthornesMusic
February 23rd, 2014 - Utuvis - Pathogenic Symphonic - Album Review
Utuvis – Pathogenic Symphonic – Album Review
Awesome, is probably a great place to start…
I’ve always been a huge fan of dark electronic soundscapes, and as many of you already know, I’m also a gigantic fan of melody in music, no matter the genre. Utuvis has found a comfortable place in this rare combination, maximizing every opportunity to make these songs envelop and hold on to listening ears. Pathogenic Symphonic is well put together, strikingly intense and as artistic as electronic music can be.
I often talk about my first impressions on an album. This one’s an interesting story…
I had received the mp3 files, but noticed they weren’t in any order other than alphabetical. So in effort to respect the artist as always, I jumped online to see if I could see where the album is sold and view the order. And of course, google-play-store is still unavailable in Canada (Read: Get WITH IT Google!) so alphabetically was the order I was left to go with. From there, I get to make a decision…I could play tracks at random, or I could play them straight alpha-style.
Those of you out there that have seen the movie High-Fidelity understand that it’s these very crucial decisions in one’s life that lead to being able to categorize your entire album collections in autobiographical order later on down the road…
I decided that there was no theoretical way that Utuvis had put out Pathogenic Symphonic in alphabetical order, so random was the obvious choice for me. I clicked on the track “Dreaming” to start…
And within seconds I was in love. It’s just such an incredibly BIG song. The set-up, the bring-in, the beat itself, the emotion that STILL breaks through the distorted and effect-laden vocals…all the pieces were there, flowing beautifully right into my face. I loaded in the other songs one after the other to the playlist and then noticed something else strange within this first experience with Utuvis…
According to my music player – this album was over two and a half hours long!
Keep in mind, at this point, the first track I’ve clicked on, “Dreaming” is still playing in the background, registering at around 5 minutes at length, meaning I still in theory had well over two hours to go on my first listen through the Utuvis material!
So I want you to know TWO things:
- Pathogenic Symphonic is just over a half hour in length – don’t be scared. Media players fuckin lie.
- I was not the least bit sad at the idea of spending over two hours if I had to on that first listen to Utuvis. If “Dreaming” was my example of what was to come on this album, I was getting my sleeping bag out and preparing to camp out beside my speakers for the night.
So I let the music play out, as it was, without actually knowing the album was much shorter than I had originally been led to believe; and when it ended so suddenly after expecting so many more minutes to come it was like I gained several hours in which to press repeat and listen to it again instead! Sweet deal!
Utuvis (pronounced Oo-Two-Vis) is making a wickedly tempered style of electronic music. Comparisons become tough, it’s a blend for sure…you’ve got industrial sounds, electronic sounds, artistic pieces, vocal experimentation… If I can get anywhere close for you by comparison, you’ll have to imagine something like Orbital-meets-Big Black Delta-and-has-a-dinner-&-editing-session-with-BT. How’s that? NAILED IT.
I suppose what I mean is that you’ll find that back-alley-darkness of Orbital in some of the atmosphere’s created. You’ll hear some of that furiously intense music accompanied by vocals with incredible effects but tangible melody, much like Big Black Delta. And if you’ve got the ear for it, you’ll really be able to hear the work in the editing room; there are sharp and precise cuts and choices all over Pathogenic Symphonic…digital creations so on-point that BT himself would be proud.
If you check out the main homepage of Utuvis, you’ll see an incredibly inspiring quote right there on the main page. It ends with an incredible moving last sentence; one that I would hope would resonate with any set of eyes that might scan them over: “Cease to exist, and LIVE.” I love this quote for many reasons, but mostly for its direct challenge to satisfaction with mediocrity. I too, believe that this life is all about pushing every moment you have to its maximum potential – so to read this encouraging statement to others was truly inspiring and also quite an insight into the overall character and nature behind the music of Utuvis.
“True Power” is another great example of his work on Pathogenic Symphonic, though I couldn’t find any real faults within ANY of these eight tracks. And at the length the album ACTUALLY is, it plays tightly with no wasted space or filler. You can play it and LISTEN to it without it becoming like 85% of the other electronic music that slowly fades into the background whilst you’re doing something else – this will keep your attention in full. As far as “True Power” is concerned…it’s bizarre – I like it so much but I really feel like I can’t define properly in words exactly WHY – let’s just say this track DOES it for me - just this once ok?
But what came along with “True Power” for me, was also relief. I’ll fully admit, once I heard “Dreaming,” I was like, “Oh shit – I DEFINITELY just went and clicked on the best track first for sure…” Hearing “True Power” pop up only a track or two later as well as others like “Innocence Lost” and “They Are Coming” was a completely audible confirmation that there was much more in the tank.
Now, I’ve often said that I’m a SONG guy, not an ALBUM guy – and we all know what the difference is there. That being said – I can hear consistency as easily as recognizing my own name spoken aloud, and Pathogenic Symphonic is exactly that - consistent. If you start out the first track digging Utuvis like I did myself, you’re not going to find yourself let down by any of the other tracks to follow; it’s in his amazing capabilities for CHOICE itself that within reside the true magic of the music of Utuvis.
These are songs that work together to form one overall artistic vision…one complete album…one musical chapter in the life of Utuvis…with a pulse so strong it demands a second chapter.
- Jer @ SBS
Check out the Utuvis official pages at:
February 22nd, 2014 - Marga Lane - Expressions - EP Review
Marga Lane – Expressions – EP Review
Well, it’s close enough to Valentine’s Day, so I’m heading into the straight up club-pop section to find me something to love! This particular V-Day of 2014, it just so happens that’s coming to us from Marga Lane – a deeply skilled and tremendous songwriter based in L.A.
Understand me readers: This is not simply cupid’s arrow at work – there is an absolute TON to love about what ML has done here on her Expressions EP.
How’s THIS for a first impression; I pushed play and the first thing that HIT ME IN THE FACE was outstanding songwriting. It was literally to the point where I opened page after page socially and learned what I could about Marga Lane. As it turns out – she has graduated from Berklee College of Music…
…and let me tell you that after a thorough listen, that is NO JOKE.
Every strength of songwriting could easily be cited in this review. Though I haven’t spent a ton of time in the pop genre as of late – you never stop knowing what perfect is when you hear it. Expressions is an outstanding and immaculate effort and there’s not a single hand involved in this EP that shouldn’t be proud of the work that has been done.
Listen to “Aftershocks” and tell me I’m wrong. Hell – listen to ANY of them and tell me I’m wrong. Each track is immaculately produced, each song superbly written and pure pop perfection. If all these facts are true – all that studying certainly paid off and that my friends, was a degree extremely well-earned.
Right! The best part. I’m so sorry…I keep forgetting!
The best part is that Marga Lane has every bit of the talent necessary to keep up with her amazing songwriting skills. This isn’t a songwriter that should ever be handing off her material for others to sing and perform; she has ounces of audibly-measurable talent and if this isn’t the sound of a determined artist giving it their all, well then I’ve honestly never heard it.
I’ve accused the genre of pop many times for its thorough lack of sincerity in contrast to its heavy themes…saying everything and nothing at the same time, but with no emotion. I can absolutely say with 100% conviction that this EP from ML absolutely hits the spot the rest are missing. You can hear the focus, determination, craft and skill. You can hear she is ENJOYING herself and LOVING these songs – and why shouldn’t she be? It’s that justifiable belief in her material that allows her to relax, sing and play with full confidence & full force. You can HEAR the emotion, and it’s AWESOME.
As a sucker for melody – when ML hits the slower tracks like “Crime Scene” or “Finish Line,” I personally feel like she really nails’em! And to say that they’re “slower” jams might even be unfair; one of Marga’s most solid songwriting capabilities is to make songs that build and change, starting slowly with a gentle idea before blossoming into full-on anthems to take immediately to the safety of your car to sing them out as loud as you can.
Debut EP eh? One has to wonder…if her career-path goes anything at all like her song-structures…
Marga Lane will be huge one day – everything about the Expressions EP gives me full confidence that this is an artist that makes it.
Check her out further at her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MargaLane
February 20th, 2014 - No - Meet Me After Dark - Album Review
No – Meet Me After Dark – Album Review
We were lucky enough to have interviewed No through our written work on the site in 2013, exposing us to a pure and melodic pop-rock sound led by the Jarzabek brothers in an interview that offered a lot of insight into the inner-workings of the band and details on this very album.
And since that time…we’ve waited patiently…knowing that whatever No would come up with would assuredly be of the highest quality in production, songwriting and melody; all played with maximum conviction and skill. Expectations for this indie band are almost abnormally high…I know how seriously they take their craft and how much dedication of their time and effort goes into what they do…does it pay off?
No…is a great band (See what I did there?). Of course their hard work and ability for writing excellent songs shines brightly throughout their new album, Meet Me After Dark!
What amazes me every time I listen to the music of No is the sheer amount of focus they possess – it’s absolutely astounding. You can hear easily that no mistake would have been accepted; this is music made tightly and without flaws.
What surprised me the most about Meet Me After Dark though, was just how much this band has matured and defined their sound in such a short time. To be completely honest – I was expecting something almost a little MORE Beatles-ish from No, but it seems that the steps have been taken in this band to truly define their sound as their own. You can hear slight influences pop in and out for sure, but to listen to this new album is to really hear a band hitting their stride. I can only imagine just how proud the members of No must be with this excellent end result in the final version of the album.
Whether it’s a gentle ballad like “Take Me All Apart” or “Tuesdays,” or a more up-tempo pop-rock track like “Climb,” or the title-track itself – that focus remains completely intact and never wavers; on either side of their musical map, No is completely comfortable. I’ve heard many acts in the past “focus-up” and tighten their material, with the end result sounding like a forceful trauma for the band, but that is not the case here…not even close. How natural their music sounds and how confidently they play it is a large part of the overall magic of No, and certainly, this album.
No continues to make moves - a great new album, a one-hour show called Mobbed that just dropped on Fox...even career advice from Bono of U2 himself! DECENT right? They are making that maximum effort to live out this dream and with each carefully planned step, they'll continue on the right direction.
As for the album, after dropping the tempo slightly towards the later-half of the album they finish appropriately strong with “Bang And A Shout,” capping off an album that is absolutely worth a listen.
THIS is what can be accomplished when you focus. THIS is what you can achieve when the right pieces find their way together and you OWN your time. THIS is what you get when you truly love what you do and dedicate yourself to your craft.
If there’s one thing I’m certain of…No is no joke.
Find everything you need to No right here: http://www.notheband.com/
February 18th, 2014 - The Striped Bananas - Lady Sunshine - Album Review
The Striped Bananas – Lady Sunshine – Album Review
Yep. They just MIGHT have had me at their own description of their music: “Psychedelic Basement Rock” – who doesn’t want to hear some of THAT? Consider me all about it. And after pushing play on Lady Sunshine, the new album from The Striped Bananas all suspicions are confirmed – this is definitely something I can dig on.
One could easily imagine The Striped Bananas as maybe what the modern-day Beatles would have become…had they continued to follow the marching orders of Sgt. Pepper. Though the vocals come out a little more Crosby, Stills, Nash AND Young, the combination works well against a thick 60’s-70’s atmosphere that stays constant and true to the sound the entire album through.
There’s commitment here, and you can audibly hear it. They’ve got many of the vintage tones and vibes long missing from modern day music; it’s almost as if this album was secretly written 40 years ago and just released now after a fantastic restoration and re-mastering. Lady Sunshine is spectacularly vibrant in clarity. Songs like “Wednesday Morning” and “Dark Peace” allow you to really hear that separation in the instruments through the mix, letting you really dig into each individual part being played.
“Black Velvet” sees this band switch up the vibe to a place the Beatles most likely would never have gone…perhaps as the title implies, this is a much more Lou Reed/Velvet Underground style that works extremely well for them and carries right on into “Oasis Of Time.” No joke - this song NEEDS to have its own paragraph…
“Oasis Of Time” is pure fucking genius. I know I try not to play favorites and it gets the better of me all the time…as you all know, I’m a song guy not an album guy…but this…THIS track is an absolute masterpiece. Does anyone out there remember the song off the Beck album Mellow Gold called “Whiskeyclone, Hotel City, 1997?” I know – completely different tracks in nature of the writing – but listen to those gorgeous similarities in the production and the atmosphere in that track. It remains to this day one of the most haunting tracks in the Beck catalogue, and “Oasis Of Time” is a track that can match that spine-tingling sensation note-for-evil-note.
A track like “World Can’t Be Won” with its themes of togetherness/love, anti-political/anti-guns, do a lot to show the inside of The Striped Bananas, what they have to say and why they’re here to do what they do. Like I said, there’s a commitment here – I mean that in all kinds of ways. Commitment to the style. Commitment to their message. Commitment to the people.
Commitment to that guitar solo in “Mistress Of Existence!” Hot damn!
The vocals are stylistic…for some they might sound “off.” If you’re a fan of that psychedelic basement rock sound though – just take a look at their influences on their Facebook page and you’ll know if you identify with their sound. Nearly every one of the influences listed has a controversial vocalist at the helm that some would argue is genius, while the other half can’t seem to grasp it. Personally I think it fits this music well – and considering musically they never let up I think that’s an accomplishment; to find vocal ideas and rhythms that fit in with all these creative ideas at all would be extremely hard work.
All in all, The Striped Bananas and their album seriously sent me back in time musically in a wicked way. Lady Sunshine stands as a great reminder that a true “sound” can exist long outside of the decade it was born from and still be completely relevant today.
Check out The Striped Bananas at their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/thestripedbananas
You can find the Lady Sunshine album here: http://thestripedbananas.bandcamp.com/
February 16th, 2014 - Jer's Blog - 2014.001
YES, YES...I'M ALIVE!
That was one hell of an absence from the official blog wouldn’t you say? November! Jeeeeeeez. That’s honestly too long! So Merry Christmas, Happy New Years and Happy Valentine’s Day – I’m back! LOL…whatever…
Over these past months a lot of time has been spent in self-reflection, especially towards the end of 2013 throughout the holidays. Always an interesting time to be had somewhere in my split-family lineage – this year was no exception. A lot of time was spent thinking about the show as well, getting ready for the big 2014 launch with BLACKOUT LIGHTS and really spending some time on pondering where to take the show next.
I like to think all that thinking paid off! The first two official episodes of SBS Live This Week in 2014 are now completed and both were an extreme success for all concerned. And we’ve heard the feedback – you’re enjoying the show much more in 2014 it seems already, setting a record month here in January at the good old sleepingbagstudios homepage, and smashing our hit count from February last year in only nine days! INCREDIBLE – and thank you!
For what it’s worth – we can see it too. Blackout Lights was a perfect episode to lead off our year – a knowledgeable crew and a whole set of killer songs with some wicked video accompaniment. We’re never trying to play favorites on the inside of a band, but we’ve already talked with Steve about coming back for our first genre panel this year…we’ll get to that in a bit…
How about CLOSER? Did these guys tear it apart or what? I can’t even begin to express just how much fun it was to hang out with those guys, or even how much fun it was to put all those videos together. Tyler is still away at the moment and has yet to see the episodes but the feedback from the rest of the crew has been spectacular. Justifiably so! Those killer performances warranted some handy video work to go along with them and it seems like we were able to pull it off. Absolutely STOKED to hear how this first album for Closer shapes out after hearing these songs as many times as I have – it is going to be IN YOUR FACE.
And speaking of Closer…you DID stay all the way through the credits and thank-yous of this last episode right? Cause if you didn’t...let’s just say you’re missing out on a bit more vintage Closer footage…
WHERE TO NOW BOSS?
So where to now? I’m very proud to say we’re continuing on at full speed in this excellent direction we’ve found ourselves in. The show has certainly hit an excellent stride to begin this year, so for one more episode, we’re going to celebrate in the multiple of three! Third episode, in three parts for the third and final time to lead off this year before we head back to our usual format of two-part shows. Had to be done – the interview is absolutely incredible to watch and I couldn’t cut it down and justify that action against how much work I know was put in on the other side of the screen. That’s right – it’s my favorite project back in action – a video-interview, with a band that just turned TEN years old (Holy shit right?) – SWAMI LUSHBEARD.
After watching the interview in full multiple times and talking back and forth with lead singer Don – I can’t say enough about this amazing group of people. As far as the video-interview project is concerned – this is certainly the vision fully realized. Just astounding the amount of work Swami Lushbeard put into the filming alone, nevermind the absolutely mind-blowing editing they did on their end. As this project allows YOU to be as hands on as you could possibly want, Don and his crew took the ball and ran with it the whole damn distance. Everything you’ll see on screen that features the SL crew was completely shot and edited on their end. You’ll see “interactive” questions! Hell – I might even answer a question or two in this episode!
All in all, I couldn’t be prouder of the way things are going. We’re seeing bands all the time from our site and our show make connections founded on this common bond and putting shows and tours together. The idea was always for sleepingbagstudios to become that hub…that glue that helps hold the indie scene together…there’s still much work to do…but every step of the way has been encouraging enough to take the next. The upcoming Swami Lushbeard episode is another episode I fully recommend that you watch and, well, basically study! THIS is what YOU can do on your end of these video-interviews – they can be this fantastic – it’s all about how much you put into it.
Swami Lushbeard gave it their 100% maximum effort – and every inch of it shows. Subject-wise, we go all over the map and get a real sense of who the people in SL really are; we tackle the light, we tackle the heavy, and every response should find plenty of room in your earholes. Can’t wait for you to see it too! We’re attempting to drop the first of three parts on the upcoming Tuesday, the 18th. Be ready!
AND AFTER THAT?
Beyond Swami, things look to stay the course of continued awesomeness. We have video-interviews in the works with WARRIORS OF THE INFINITE and NICOLAS & THE ICENI that we know will turn out incredibly. We’ve got live specials planned for AETERNA and THIS DAY BURNS. We have our first genre-panel of our year and agreed-upon participants that make perfect sense; we’ll be talking about GRUNGE. I mentioned earlier in the blog that we have Steve Barmash from Blackout Lights coming by for that – our other two guests scheduled for that episode are EQUALLY incredibly well-versed in this genre…as we get closer to filming that episode we’ll be sure to fill you in on the other two guests…we’re just waiting for someone to get back from their world travels so we can set the date in stone….*hint *hint.
The SBS official page here will see a LOT of action in between now and the end of February, with new album reviews planned for THE HAWTHORNES, MAN MADE LAKE, UTUVIS & more. We stepped into Russia for the very first time as well! We have a written interview with GRENOUER coming out in the next couple days…I know I say it every time but it’s just so freakin awesome to be able to talk to people from so far away!
Ok! Believe it or not – I think that does it for now. Feels good to get the first blog of the year finally up and out there…I’ll do my best to not simply make this a quarterly event.
February 8th, 2014 - Young Coconut - Bieber Heads - Album Review
Young Coconut – Bieber Heads – Album Review
Nice. We reviewed Young Coconut not too long ago and his latest album I Got A Vibe…and we definitely got our ears deep into the unique and creative sounds he had put to record. So, in an effort to dig deeper into the bizarre world of Young Coconut – he’s back! Well…sort of…
Bieber Heads, the album in review by Young Coconut here was released prior to I Got A Vibe but definitely still has that flavor you’ll find only YC can add. Take the opening/title track itself – “Bieber Heads” instantly takes you for a trip into a world of sounds you won’t expect and vocals that will always make you crack a wry smile.
In what becomes one of the strangest turns on the album after repeat listens – the following track “Sabrina” is about as perfect as our indie songs can get these days, though much more “straight ahead” than you’ll find nearly another other track from YC to be! It’s an absolutely beautiful song and incredibly performed. The tightness in this track is impeccable…the groove is undeniable…I’m not a guy to just get up and dance but…
I…uh…just have to go get something….be right back…
Right. Ok. Where was I?
How about this? What I appreciate the most in Young Coconut’s music is the amount of strength he puts into his innovation. Each track is a stretch of my own imagination just to keep up with where he might be going to next, and I appreciate that. Whether it’s tracks like “Lazy Liars” or “Cup Of Snow,” each track brings out another arrow from his musical quiver and showcases an ability he seems to be able to flex like a muscle at any given time. There’s thought behind the music here…an effort to not be “normal” while still somehow sounding effortless…
And much like the album to follow from Young Coconut in our previous review, this album has that blessed amount of atmosphere and ingenuity you’ve become accustomed to in his work. “Koca Bebek” in all its shortness, is a wicked trip that again highlights some of that real atmosphere YC can create in a track…each of these tracks take you somewhere else than the one before just did.
In another somewhat bizarre turn (Like, what’s bizarre on a YC record right?) the final cut “Torch Bearer” has an interesting disco-like feel to it, mixed-in with some smooth vocals to go along with it. Nearly a little “straight ahead” in the Coconut catalog as well, but a good song nonetheless and a great way to go out and leave a nice hook as a lasting impression.
All in all, to be honest, as a song guy…”Sabrina” alone would have made this album for me. But as expected, Young Coconut, long before we met him through his latest album I Got A Vibe, had already put out all kinds of excellent songs in the past and many of them can be found right here on this album Bieber Heads.
Check it out! http://youngcoconut.bandcamp.com/album/bieber-heads
February 4th, 2014 - Paul Y Justin - Your Peaks Are Valleys - EP Review
Paul Y Justin – Your Peaks Are Valleys – EP Review
I’ve got half of me convinced I might be listening to one of the best tracks I’ll ever hear in my life right now – the opening and title track to PyJ’s “Your Peaks Are Valleys” is such an atmospheric and original track that the song plays out like a full novel. One of my absolute favorite things, as you readers know, is music that has the ability to take you somewhere when you close your eyes and listen. I have been successfully transported into the musical minds of PyJ safely; this is a band that completely has the ability to write original and unique songs that have incredible life and pulse to them and I am digging on everything this EP has to offer.
We can start by talking title. I don’t necessarily think they’re being arrogant so much as they might just be apt. Your Peaks Are Valleys, at least to me in the context of listening to the innovation on this EP, is nearly a challenge to other musicians and artists out there…a comment on the state of creativity in the present day perhaps. Again, the outset of the album nearly confirms this with an absolutely brilliant and crafty title track. Reaching out and combining all kinds of various influences and sounds, this track is like listening to TV On The Radio with Serj Tankian guest starring on vocals and Peter Buck lending a hand on guitar. The result is that haunting feeling, coming from the chant-like vocals, familiar in the System Of A Down mellow tunes or Tankian’s solo work. This combination of simple acoustic guitar and the amount of space given in the production result in that eerie feeling you remember hearing when R.E.M. put out “Drive.” Chills – straight up.
“It’s Not” has more of that TV On The Radio early-work vibe with the pace and skill of Bad Religion. At only just over 15 minutes this EP rips by quickly, largely due to the explosive franticness found in tracks like this one. Largely combining songs on electronics, guitars and a steady beat – they keep the energy up without losing that original magic they put forth on the opening track on the tracks to follow with “Waste” and “Never Enough” also being punk-inspired and played with controlled-chaos.
PyJ stands for Paul Y Justin – hailing from San Diego & Sacramento CA down in the ol’ USA. For only two people – they are creating gigantic sounds here on Your Peaks Are Valleys. To myself, as a person who has also spent his time in music in a band of only two, I not only understand the challenges that can present – but also the pure joy that comes along with getting something recorded that sounds like it was done by a full five-piece band. These songs take WORK – and you can tell that PyJ has put plenty of that in here. Each and every move, beat and idea are well placed, imagined and realized. The scale of sound in this duo reminds me of listening to Big Black Delta for the first time in these last two years, realizing just how big, innovative and LOUD these tiny independent 2-3 piece acts have become.
“Ladders Up” is the track that will test you. Are you WITH PyJ or not? I instantly loved the beat – I honestly wasn’t sure about the vocals on this one on my first listens…now I seem to not be able to get enough of this finale to the EP. The longest song in the set, nearly hogging the EP at four and a half minutes – this last epic track finds its way along big time. With a NIN-inspired synth-bass line, wicked acoustic breakdowns and EPIC vocal freak-out towards the end, it might have taken me a couple of listens, but I can hear it now. This was the ending that was needed for this set of 5…a culmination of the sounds brought forth in the previous four songs…a virtual melting-pot and swelling of sounds.
So…I know it’s kinda hard to pick up on throughout this review…but I suppose what you can infer is that you can definitely consider me a fan of what PyJ has put down here on record. Truly captivating five songs that demand your attention.
Don’t even try to resist; if you don’t willingly give these songs your attention - they’ll straight up take it from you.
Check them out further at their Facebook page:
January 29th, 2014 - Blindside Thunder - The Storm - Album Review
Blindside Thunder – The Storm – Album Review
Okay – so even if I lied my hardest to you at this point, you all know me well enough to know that straight ahead rock’n roll is about the biggest challenge I can have thrown my way. There’s no convincing you that I’m sitting here simultaneously reviewing this album from Blindside Thunder at the same time as re-watching Rock Of Ages for the 6th time today – I know that you won’t believe me…
And though it might not be the particular genre of choice for your humble reviewer, as I have found with ALL music - there is ALWAYS something to like.
Sometimes you just have to be in the right mindset. How would a typical fan of TRUE rock listen to The Storm? LOUD. So I cranked it. Much better.
Within seconds you can identify two things through the crunchy guitars and crisp drums – Blindside Thunder is not out to go and redefine rock’n roll, they’re here to make the music that they and so many others still identify with and love more than any other. Seriously – the fans of 80’s style rock’n roll and metal are still among the most passionate I’ve ever met when speaking about their genre.
You can easily hear that passion in Blindside Thunder. With an up-tempo rock album that suggests you not only leave your pillows on your bed, but throw them out completely as there will be no sleep to be had while this album is on. These are the rock-party anthems; certainly not to be confused with the vice-versa! The production and the performances are geared up to rock the entire time, matching the energetic themes of the lyrics. To pull it off as well as Blindside Thunder does is almost a tribute to those nostalgic times when rock rolled over the Earth.
Musically, I’d put this band as right in the middle of David-Lee-Roth-era-Van-Halen-meets-Kiss. They take the anthem-style rock approach that Kiss had to the writing of their hooks and through the vocals bring it to the more Van Halen side of things. There are some deviations towards the end – “Say Goodbye” is a catchier pop-rock side of Blindside Thunder, whereas the track to follow “She Wants Sex” almost incorporates a Ramones-ish feeling and a little harder edge to the vocals.
While I might always be looking for bands to re-invent the wheel in the musical universe, I can never argue that more of a good thing ISN’T a good thing, cause it IS…a good thing. If you’re a rock fan, if you’ve read through this review and you know and love the bands we’ve referenced in comparison, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t go out and get The Storm right now. BlindSide Thunder play their music with complete skill & enthusiasm and could easily hold their own against the heavy-hitters of rock.
January 22nd, 2014 - Oktayne - Prime Potential - Album Review
Oktayne – Prime Potential - Album Review
Eazy? Eazy is that really you?
Rapper in review – Oktayne – references how he used to want to rap like Common, but after a thorough listen to his new LP Prime Potential you might come to the same conclusion I have here; Oktayne is much like what I’d imagine the legendary rapper Eazy-E might just sound like today if his was still on the M.I.C. (R.I.P. E.Z.E.!)
Our introduction to Oktayne actually came through putting his video & lead single “Turnt Down” on our show SBS Live This Week. At that time and through that track we learned about ‘Tayne’s ability to create anthem-style rap tracks with hooks that stick deep in your memory. Now that Prime Potential is out and available, on a personal level I was excited to see just what else Oktayne has been coming up with in the shadows of rap awaiting his turn in the spotlight.
What I appreciate a whole hell of a lot in rap right now are the rappers that are taking chances in the writing of their own hooks, ones that try something new and don’t just rely on samples or the chorus of a hit song to ensure their tracks are heard. Right away on the first track “Prime Dreamer,” Oktayne comes in with a hook that at first sounds nearly awkward and over-complicated against a really minimalist background beat.
I mean…Yeeeeeeeeeeez! Who does THAT remind you of?
That style of minimalism through the music and supremacy in the lyrical department has paid off big time throughout the last year of rap music. While Kayne might not have had the commercial success through Yeezus that he had achieved in the past, hundreds of thousands of musicians well outside of the rap game still had to acknowledge the genius in that record and the way that it all came together. Oktayne has taken a similar approach with Prime Potential – while the background beats are tight and banging out at all the right places, he never relies on the beats to make the tracks memorable. That’s a responsibility he takes all on his own, every time he steps to the mic.
And whether it’s cuts like “Strong Like Hard Liquor,” “I Feel Good“ or “Do Your Dance Mama“ – that ability to write a memorable hook and deliver it with confidence, flair and style is there and on full display at every turn. Some of those hooks seem like they were meant to be, others resonate with the true confidence of Oktayne, almost daring you to follow him through the rest of the track to find out how it all fits together. There’s a lot happening through the vocal delivery, which might result in a little confusion on that first listen as you adjust to Oktayne’s style – but rest assured by only the second listen there’s a hook from EVERY track that has worked itself into your brain and the Prime Potential truly becomes realized.
It really is a perfect name for this album. Prime Potential is a perfect description of Oktayne, where he’s at and how this music he has made is ready to launch him into a lifelong career. The “blueprint,” so to speak. Every rapper that has ever put a rhyme into a microphone has surely wished they took out a word (or seven) of a verse or a chorus to perfect the metering in a particular cut, but at the end of the day it’s all about what the true foundations in the writing ARE. Oktayne is probably no exception to this – 99% of this LP flows flawlessly through the lyrics. Sure there’s a bit of stretched out wordage to fit the scale, but again, as the title says – this is Prime Potential. He’s well aware that there’s still room to grow and refine his skills, but confident enough to know that his current skill set should absolutely lead to him being sought out as a number-one music draft.
And who wouldn’t want a little extra Oktayne on their team? There’s evidence all over Prime Potential that shows just how well he can play with others. Featuring guest stars like Kareless MF’ah and Charlie Fingaz, Oktayne adapts and has no problem sharing the space in a track in order to strengthen the overall song. A perfect example of this is “Ask Me Anything,” a guaranteed hit if ever there was one, featuring Kassanova. Intelligently arranged and expertly produced and delivered – this should be all the evidence that you need to support the opening of your studio-doors if Oktayne ever comes knocking.
At his most playful – a track like “Murda Self Esteem” resembles the laid-back summertime vibe that surfaces in the rhymes and music of Shwayze. Kareless MF’ah comes in to lay down-and-dirty verse in this combination of rap skills, vocal effects and good-times. Oktayne delivers some of his best here once again, never letting up on his ability to make his songs leave a lasting impression.
Really. Really, really, really, really, really.
Listen to Prime Potential – you’ll get it. “Really Really” is a great example of what I’ve been talking about with Oktayne all along. Listen to this track and tell me that you’re not saying “Really Really” for the next month in your house, in your car on the way to work, while you’re mowing the lawn, while you’re in the grocery store…I’m sure you get what I mean…really.
Finishing just as strong as it started, Prime Potential wraps up with rap tracks “Rockin And Rollin” and “Potential.” Intense and geared to leave a lasting impression, these tracks being as strong as they are finalize an album laden with consistency and skill. Oktayne is bringing excitement and enthusiasm into independent rap – that’s unquestionable.
And the best thing about the word “potential” itself? It ALWAYS implies there’s even more to come.
I’ll be looking forward to it, every time.
Follow Oktayne at Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/oktayneoffical
January 17th, 2014 - Various Artists - Take Me Home And Love Me - Album Review
Various Artists - Take Me Home And Love Me – Compilation Review
Nothing makes me crack a smile like random creativity. This multi-artist disc, Take Me Home And Love Me, is all over the musical map and full of ideas you could sit on your couch for years and still never dream up. And I appreciate that! So let’s check this out – push play!
Or if you want to – stare at the cover art a little longer...but don’t get any ideas – that dog is coming home to SBS! Seriously – I NEED to find a way to adopt this SPECIFIC dog!
Right, right. Music. Concentrate on the music. I get it. You fiends…
Alright – the album stands an entire eight tracks in length and each one brings an entirely different sound and idea into this compilation. What starts with “Housebroken,” a beautifully acoustic & sax track with lyrics and tone that match the sad, sad look in the eyes of the dog on the cover! Rad right? Any Grandaddy or Sparklehorse fans out there? You’ll dig on this track from J. Marcien Caron for sure.
Following this forlorn but oddly beautiful track, this compilation throws its proverbial “nuts on yer chin” by sending the sound sideways in the first of two tracks from Moonshiner called “Banjo Boogie.” This track absolutely begs the listener and asks – ‘Just how weird DO you want it?’
Well – if you’re anything like me, you like your music plenty weird. Especially at the hours you know I keep! I love the recording in this track…the banjo track sounds like it was recorded and then played on a phonograph. Not gonna lie – this is about as weird as music can get short of Primus’ “Grandad’s Little Ditty.” It’ll be beyond the scope of many; but definitely not mine!
The whole album comes out of left field continually, song after song. Anthony Vincent brings the music back to something a little more familiar with a jazz/rock freak-out in “Deadman’s Hill.” Up tempo and well put together – this will the song that those looking for something a little closer to their musical safety-zone will enjoy.
But what’s this? Storm’s a-comin…
Yep. Here to make sure the instant you get comfortable…is Moonshiner again. Again, production values absolutely KILL on this track – you can fully consider me a fan of Moonshiner’s work – this is atmospherically unique and just brilliantly put together. So bizarre and unexpected upon those first listens that, well at least for myself – made it so I couldn’t wait to hear them again right away.
Francisco Benetiz is making some excellent music, fully rocking away on a piano-jazz influenced track known as “Oversize Load,” with that excellent saxophone coming through into this compilation once again. He also shows up towards the end of the album on “Warm Sweet Darkness,” another example of some excellent ideas in melody and songwriting. Truly – this is a phenomenally beautiful track.
Now…after Moonshiner showing up on the second and fourth track – naturally I braced myself for another dose of bizarre-meets-awesome, even though this time the track was from a different artist. This magical, toy-box of a song hits the spot for me every single time I hear it. Sarah Pountney – that’s the name – now go and re-affirm this amazingly talented artist! “The Wire” is a short and astounding delicate song, full of heart-felt melody and beautifully performed. An absolute stand-out gem.
BUT! If there is ONE thing I’ve learned from what to expect of this compilation, it’s that if weird ain’t in the song I’m hearing…then it’s just around the corner. And for one final time, it certainly was. “Reeser’s Mountain” ends this absolute TRIP of a compilation with another banjo-laden, production-refined song that billy-goats of all-ages will cross the field for in this track from Sean Downey.
If you like creativity…if you like the bizarre...if you appreciate the true freedom of music and where even the craziest ideas can take you – forget about the dog on the cover and take this compilation home instead!
- Jer @ SBS
January 12th, 2014 - Qon J. Jamal - One Man Show - Album Review
Qon J. Jamal – One Man Show – Album Review
There are two things I can really dig in rap verse spit WELL; commitment and style above all. Qon J. Jamal has just recently dropped this album One Man Show – a complete rap set that leaves no room for doubt about just how much hard work went into every aspect. Full of style, commitment AND flavor – Qon J. raps with an audible dedication to his craft, making the most of every verse on every cut.
The music itself is vibrant and full of change-ups in texture and tone from track to track. The album uses a range of modern elements in production from fine chops to auto-tuned vocals but doesn’t shy away from showcasing his natural skills on the mic either. The skills themselves are sharp, with lyrics pointed hard to their targets, creating stories and themes you can certainly follow along with throughout any of the tracks.
Annnnnnnnnnnnnd…while many of those themes would be dismissed by many as “typical” themes that show up in every second rap song (Bitches, money, guns, drugs etc…) – it’s the style of Qon J. that was able to get me past what might be “typical” about the songs and appreciate what he’s bringing to the table.
In this humble reviewer’s opinion the best asset that Qon J. has going for him is that I could easily tell him apart from other rapper’s in the game. To have a sound and style all your own in the rap universe is a tough thing to achieve, but Jamal knows how to find himself “in the pocket” on each of these tracks here on One Man Show. Whether it’s a more straight ahead beat like the one used in “Headed To The Top,” or more on the unique side like in “Talkin To The Clouds,” he has a groove that he can easily slide into to deliver his intricate flow. And yes, surely there are East-Coast rap all-stars you can hear that have influenced his style, but at the end of the day, Qon J. Jamal truly owns what he does.
Sample choices are varied enough to keep you plenty interested through this short but tightly made rap album. And it doesn’t stop there either! My first introduction to Jamal’s music was through the New Year’s anthem he just dropped on Soundcloud at the front of this year already. The anthem itself takes you all over the map in just a single track, again highlighting Qon. J.’s ability to adapt his style to a whole variety of song-styles.
Versatility…the ability to adapt…style, commitment and skills to match…I mean…if those aren’t the ingredients that should lead to longevity in the rap game, I don’t know what they’d be. You might just be hearing about Qon J. Jamal now, but if he keeps on the path he’s on at the rate he’s at with the dedication, care and time he’s obviously putting in…you might just have a few more albums in the “Q” section of your collection quicker than you think.
Support Qon. J. Jamal at his Facebook page here:
January 10th, 2014 - The Thiefs - It's Not You, It's Us - EP Review
The Thiefs – It’s Not You, It’s Us – EP Review
Now here’s something interesting!
Through our show SBS Live This Week and here on the page at sleepingbagstudios.ca we’ve talked plenty about that quest for timelessness in songwriting; specifically pondering on how to go about achieving songs or albums that stand the test of time decade after decade. Whether The Thiefs have done it with this new EP…well…as indicated – only time will tell...
But what made it instantly interesting to my ears personally was that right from track one – “Cue Up The Band” – I kind of did this weird mental checklist all of a sudden. Mentally I began to check off decade after decade of music and its influence on the music of The Thiefs, and as I sat here listening I thought to myself:
“60’s, 70’s, 80’s check. 90’s and up, check that too. Yep – if you listen to rock music from ANY of those decades, you’ll easily find something to like here...”
It’s Not You, It’s Us has that magical ability to appeal to nearly any age group and sound right for rock fans of any generation. Well…okay…you can probably still write your grandparents off as fans, but any age under that is certainly fair game. The music is BIG and designed to be turned up LOUD or most certainly seen live as well I’m sure. Each track is electric with life and energy…these tracks are movers...
And while many might argue there’s a lot about The Thieves that are “straight ahead rock” – I think there’s more to them than that. If I was to make musical comparisons…I’d say we’re looking at a combination of Fuel, Reef, Social Distortion and Pearl Jam. The good Pearl Jam. The one you all love from Ten. Don’t believe me? Check out the track “Headhunters” on It’s Not You, It’s Us and go about two minutes in…classic Ten vibe there for sure!
Each and every one of those bands I can hear in the third track “Liquor Store” – the centerpiece of the EP and a truly fantastic song. I’ve spun the EP several times now and each time this track comes on it’s as welcome as having your best friend come over for a beer. Also the longest track on the EP – there are no ideas they test out that fall flat; as the track twists and bends alongside the tremolo-effect guitar – Ben Wolfgang also displays some of his best vocal work and guitar abilities. Definitely a standout track and certainly one that has all kinds of crossover potential while they tone the rock down slightly here in the middle of the EP.
But chilled out and toned-down is NOT where you’re going to typically find The Thiefs I suspect, as they instantly come back to the full-on rock with the next track “High Command.” With this track, you could add Stone Temple Pilots in as a listed influence…thankfully Wolfgang hasn’t wussified himself like Weiland has and fits the track perfectly with a low rasp and powerful punch in his delivery.
“Good For My Age” also has that tremendous rock-anthem feel to it – though this is where I’d personally advise the band to be cautious. I know, I know…I’m always the weird one in the room…
Cause if you listen to it – you’ll hear Mike Eudy absolutely stomping and kicking the crap outta those drums, perfectly written for the song and communicating perfectly with the bass of Matty Bryson…so what could be wrong, right?
Nothing. Technically over the five songs there’s precious little I think anyone who likes rock would want to change – but I would PUSH them. Some of you out there have read similar advice through these reviews on your own work as well – so at least some of you already know I mean this in the kindest possible way… When I listen to The Thiefs track “Good For My Age…” well…it’s just that it sounds like they could rip that one out with their eyes closed and create another rock anthem equally as big right after.
Personally, I heard four tracks that DID push – and again, no technical fault on the last track “Good For My Age” – it’s a damn good rock song too. Maybe it’s just that they play it so well it sounds too easy for them…I dunno. Maybe I’m just crazy…maybe it’s late… But while I might have made comparisons to other bands throughout this review – it’s the way that they bring these influences and sounds together to create something unique and identifiable to The Thiefs.
EP’s are fantastic tools – you know that. The feedback on this EP from all kinds of sources and earholes will certainly help guide this band to success in the future – they have all the right tools and a sound that’s still plenty relevant in today’s world. There is as assuredly a place for them in rock music as there is for It’s Not You, It’s Us to stay in my own rock-rotation.
You can bet on it.
Check out the music of The Thiefs directly through: http://www.thethiefs.com/
January 7th, 2014 - Young Coconut - I Got A Vibe - Album Review
Young Coconut – I Got A Vibe – Album Review
I’m not exactly sure why I assumed this was going to be an emcee ripping rhymes into the mic…I couldn’t have been farther off! Well…for the most part at least. Young Coconut is much more pop/rock/experimental…
This album is a musical project a long time in the making from Dave Fox - and MAN does this album have some LEGS!
And I’ll fully admit – when the first track played I wasn’t sure about what would come out next. “Pity Junction,” like many of the tracks on I Got A Vibe, isn’t necessarily instantly accessible – but it will LAST. Keep in mind when I say not “instantly accessible” I should probably mention by thirty seconds in I knew I wasn’t just going to be hooked on that single song, but that this album would bear the fru-its of greatness. And it does.
What I can DEFINITELY say – is that the entire time spent listening to Young Coconut has been spent grinning. I mean really – when you hear innovation and idea and EXECUTION like this in music…this endless creativity and willingness to explore the NEW…well, how can that NOT make you smile? Much like a band we recently loved in review called The Yellow Dress – this is music that gives me an incredible hope. It hasn’t “all been done,” Young Coconut is proving that track after track.
Take for example, the track “Sumotuwe.” Awesome right? I’m assuming you’re listening to YC while reading this review…
And if you are – then you’ve found this…GEM…this…like….weird….Weezer-meets-Red Hot Chili Peppers-meets-Flobots kinda track. But this track has it all – literally. From rap to rock, slow to fast, trance-like to dance-like, it’s ALL here in one track and you know what? Young Coconut is pulling this off incredibly. The words are incredible in this track as well…also reminding me of the “tongue-in-cheek” style of Anthony Kiedis of RHCP as well through both the content and the delivery. It might just be the final switch at the end of this track that does it for me though. This is that classic case of someone who KNOWS (Yes Dave – you KNOW) just how strong this part is – it could have been its OWN song even!
But in the end – I’ve gained a tremendous faith in what he’s doing here. As frantic as the ideas might come off to many listeners – there’s an unbelievable ear for music at work here and a truly gifted mind for composition. He might only give you a little sometimes - but whatever sound hooked you will definitely make you want to come back to it.
I’ll tell you right now – I don’t know this for a fact (but I DO assume this for a fact!) but I don’t think Dave could possibly sleep with all of these swirling sounds going on for him in the forefront of his mind. And if it all sounds like this in there anyway…who the hell needs sleep anyway? In fact – get this guy a coffee and let him back in the studio!
Let’s talk about playing ability. Good lord! This album has so many components you can’t help but want to listen to it a whole shit-ton…there’s a full musical meal here on the table and it takes a while to digest it all! Dave’s vocals are so incredibly adaptive to whatever the song calls for. “Bye Bye Ninja” has him ranging inbetween a Mick Jagger-meets-Ian Asterbury style – just wicked. At other moments, you can expect him to turn much more Kiedis-cool in tracks that call for that extra funk.
And that extra funk is coming in from some truly incredibly well played bass. If I HAD to choose an all-star stand-out instrument on I Got A Vibe – the bass takes the first place prize. It’s just so incredibly well-written and well-played that its presence is completely noteworthy in any track. All this being said – the drums, the guitars, the inclusion of saxophone & other various instruments…it’s all perfectly executed with precision in the timing. The music of Young Coconut can go anywhere at any time – there’s no “forgiveness” for a musician…no respite…
You have to be at the top of your game to be able to pull this off musically, you gotta keep your head up and be ready for the change to come - cause it definitely IS coming! Young Coconut has shown skills on every track that have brought these complex ideas to life completely – YC has pulled it off.
But you have to nearly come from another planet to come up with this whole album of amazing songs. However Young Coconut got here – I’m thankful.
Check out Young Coconut & what’s up at: https://www.facebook.com/YoungCoconutMusic
And find the music directly here at bandcamp: http://youngcoconut.bandcamp.com/album/i-got-a-vibe
January 4th, 2014 - Karina Vismara - Two Winters - EP Review
Karina Vismara – Two Winters – EP Review
Karina is coming to our page all the way from Argentina! I racked my brain to think of any other act, artist or band that I know of that might come from that area and I can honestly say that this is the first time I think I’ve ever dealt with music coming from that region. So in a true case of ‘I have no idea what to expect’ – come and join me as I push play on this latest EP, Two Winters, by Karina Vismara.
There’s a strong start in opening the EP with her song “Only You,” the first of four beautiful tracks. Each of these short and sweet acoustically driven tracks fit incredibly well with Karina’s soothing vocals. Every syllable of the wording is clear and pronounced with an emotional touch that matches the tone of the song. “Spread Our Love Around,” the second cut on the EP really highlights this combination and goes beyond to show her imagination in songwriting. She invents unique vocal patterns and challenges herself to incorporate extra melody into the music by using her vocals much like an instrument.
“Tied Up Tight” is another great example of what Karina is capable of. Through this track, comparisons could be drawn to an act as modern as Feist, or as old-school as the project from Ann & Nancy Wilson that existed before their days in Heart – anyone remember The Lovemongers? That project of the famous sisters once covered Led Zeppelin songs exclusively – and a lot of the acoustic guitar work at times hints at that sound if not only in tone but through production.
Karina’s EP Two Winters sounds so incredibly alone – but in a beautifully isolated way. It’s music that is so sparse that it feels like you’d find it in the back of an empty cupboard in a boarded-up abandoned house; but everything we’re left with is excellent. I’ve always loved that isolated, far-away-and-wanting that can come around in music, but it’s only ever done right so often. Karina has played that well with this short EP that includes every sound it needs to make these songs effective. They may sound alone and isolated – but they are incredibly full of heart and life.
The final track, “Sister,” is like the anchor of a great relay team. This is the track that if you somehow weren’t convinced by now, you’d have to give in to Karina’s style & voice. This wonderfully performed song wraps the entire EP up incredibly well and gives us Karina one last time at her ultimate best in this track that was recorded live at Dilute Studio.
Overall – no complaints here, only compliments. It started incredibly strong and finished even stronger. This is a beautiful EP to listen to and welcome to my eardrums anytime.
Check out Karina further at: http://www.karinavismara.com/
January 2nd, 2014 - Ian Marquis - Faces From The Static - Album Review
Ian Marquis – Faces From The Static – Album Review
I don’t think I’ve ever wanted some structure to come into the music as badly as I did during the opening moments of Faces From The Static – yes it’s super-early in the morning but c’mon – that was all kinds of confusing! Those prayers are answered quickly once “Hide And Seek” expands to its sonic maximum but quickly into the second track “Help Me Make It To The Night” I realize that Ian isn’t going to go the “normal” route on anything coming up. And thusly – you KNOW I’m interested.
“Help Me Make It To The Night” is a huge song just waiting for radio, and if anyone is curious, hell YES I wish I wrote this one. It’s a wicked song in a kind of Weezer meets The Police composition. Using that choppy but soothing guitar-style that made The Police famous and updating it with a more pop-rock infused sound – this track has heart and excellent hooks.
GOOD LORD IAN MARQUIS – there you go AGAIN! Three songs in, with three intensely different sounds. “Slow Down” is a digital pop-frenzy that shows off some excellent planning and production in the songwriting as well. Call me crazy but the following track “Call Me Crazy” has even more juice in the vibe than “Slow Down” has and that track MOVED! But again – the pop hook in the chorus is something that seems to come quite naturally to Ian, and the switch in “Call Me Crazy” makes that track stand out that 10% more for me in this mini-battle of electronica-influenced pop-rock.
Marquis has game in any arena of music and could fit right in with the electronic or rock crowd. Similar in ways to bands like Big Black Delta and Panic Channel – a track like “Venus Aphasia” supplies good reference to this style as well as an incredible blast of energy, whereas a track like “Paper Hearts/Paper Friends” provides another dose of electro. Ironically, this particular track also reminds me somewhat of the band Faded Paper Figures. Weird!
There’s an art to pop-rock and Ian Marquis is nailing it. The key to great pop is figuring out how to make it LAST. Most pop-rock is very one-dimensional and over time becomes flat upon repeated listens. Marquis has attacked this by adding all kinds of elements in the sound to maintain interest and a fine tune on the production. You can listen again and again and there will be something new to listen to each time.
“Heisenberg, Revisited” – I mean…title alone had me ready and waiting for this one. As a huge fan of Breaking Bad, whether or not it’s a reference to the show or not – this song is incredible. The chorus consisting of distorted/FX vocals…just INCREDIBLE and a perfect fit for the music. A track that reaches out into the beyond and right to the fringe of his own style, “Heisenberg, Revisited” is a definite highlight on this album.
As the album winds down with “Triumph And Sin,” second to last track on the album, we get one more glimpse into the work and music of Ian Marquis…still adding new dimensions of sound to his album deep in at the eleventh song. For this track, Ian takes everything down to the bare bones in an acoustically driven pop-rock ballad. The result is a gorgeous track that nearly leaves you wondering how he ever got near a vocal effect of any kind to begin with – dude’s got a great voice!
“Triumph And Sin” serves as the perfect set up for the final track “Lock Your Lips.” Leave a lasting impression…that’s what they say right? Consider this DONE on this album Faces From The Static. Marquis brings back the energy, the pop, the rock and all of the things he’s done best throughout the album in this final cut. It’s a final song that will leave you wanting to press play again to take the ride once more.
Personally, I’m glad the album had that effect. It let me go back and hear that opening to the album once again. What a difference context can make! Repeated listens definitely helped that beginning come clear to me, and now that I feel like I “get it” – I can just relax and listen to the rest of this excellent effort from Ian Marquis.
Check out Ian’s music further at http://ianmarquismusic.com/album/faces-from-the-static
December 30th, 2013 - The Yellow Dress - Faint Music Ordinary Light - Album Review
The Yellow Dress – Faint Music Ordinary Light – Album Review
When you look up The Yellow Dress on Facebook one of the first things you see and notice might very well be the same first thing that caught my eye. At the top of the page, right by the “about” button where I usually go to check into all of you wonderful artists…you’ll see a simple, small quote that perhaps is somehow to encompass the entire feeling, theme and inner-band dynamics is all of five short words - ”It’s going to be ok.”
To see the quote on its own without the context of the music to go along with it simply wouldn’t make sense. But to know that quote exists and THEN listen to this music helps to offer a completely different experience in listening to the music on Faint Music Ordinary Light, this new offering from The Yellow Dress. In fact, from the moment that the rush begins with the opening track “Tummy In The Blood” you feel like you’re a part of this music…you can feel that desperation and genuine hunger to make this a career that lasts right there through the words and the frantic playing at the outset of the album.
I’ve had the opportunity to listen to The Yellow Dress throughout this past week and I can honestly tell you I’m incredibly excited about this band. To me, if you were to take The Head And The Heart and The Airborne Toxic Event and tell them they had to live on a musical diet of The Pixies alone and nothing else…the music that could come out of that chance encounter and direction might sound exactly something like this new album. Maybe a slight addition of some Cold War Kids, or The National, just to round it all out.
Led by Dan Weiss, the sole member that can be found on every album, The Yellow Dress is a project that could very well renew your faith that there is still plenty of amazing music left out there to be made. With a combination of Folk/Pop that is frighteningly unmatched – The Yellow Dress personally have me believing by only halfway through the album that it’s actually “going to be MORE than ok” if bands like this continue to stretch their imagination and creativity. The ideas that exist within this band are phenomenally unique in their composition and execution.
What hit me at first was that extremely strong folk element to the music, but what stuck with me and stayed was the immaculate gift this band has for pop songwriting. NEW and EXCITING pop songwriting. In many ways, pop music is much like the often referenced “seven endings to any comedy sketch” whereas even though it might sound new and exciting, it wears itself out quickly upon listening because it truly HAD been done before. Somehow – The Yellow Dress have put together an entire album full of hooks that are guaranteed to own your earholes, but it truly is amazing at just how NEW all of this sounds.
“An Elegy For Laura Shain” is another wicked example of the argument that this band is the complete package. The lyrics are incredible, tell a story and make you feel SOMETHING. The music is inventive, creatively over-flowing and passionate. The vocals are attacked like it’s the last song to be sung, with haunting harmonies creating an atmosphere that leaves you no choice but to become a part of it. Guitar solos, a crazy bass line and stomping drums – this track has it all.
Now I’ll share a secret with you – so do the rest. To single any track out on this album of completely ingenuity would be a disservice through review and I simply won’t be party to that. Besides – that would also be like saying that “An Elegy For Laura Shain” isn’t instantly followed by the equally amazing “A Complete List Of Fears Ages 5-28,” which it most certainly IS and definitely cannot be ignored. But like I said – I truly feel this could be argued for each of these tracks containing new qualities and experiences for your musical palette.
To close this – I want to remind you all that music can be this amazing if you want it to be. The Yellow Dress are well ahead of the curve right now, offering music made completely new through some mind-blowingly unconventional ideas and combinations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up! Faint Music Ordinary Light excites me beyond belief because every moment, sound and instance was NEW but stuffed chockfull of pop that it contains an accessibility most “new” sounds don’t get to enjoy. Break free of those conventional sounds and songs and IMAGINE where you might go if you were left only to your own devices and instincts.
“It’s going to be ok.” Perhaps it’s advice for us all to go with our gut and see what spills out of our untainted souls onto record. Whatever the case may be, however that comment was meant, there’s only one thing I can even think of that makes me question their logic…
I’ve come home from work in this past week with this new album in some pretty OK and average states…so how come every time I push play on Faint Music Ordinary Light my day goes from OK to INCREDIBLE?
Go check out this band!!!
You can also find more info on The Yellow Dress here at:
December 24th, 2013 - Cinja - "Still Love You" - Single Review
Cinja – Still Love You – Single Review
Cinja! That’s a name that you just have to love. Surprisingly, this singer/songwriter with a name that could just as easily fit in the punk-rock category, makes music that is incredibly sweet. Coming to us all the way from Germany, Cinja has just released the heartfelt piano ballad “Still Love You.”
That’s right. I said HEARTFELT PIANO BALLAD. What – you think a bearded guy can’t get down on a love song every once in a while? C’mon now…I’m a lover not a fighter….
I can admit up front, this is a little outside of my genres of expertise and in 1000 ways it IS in my expertise overall, and yours as well. Follow me on this one…
“Still Love You” is that kind of quintessential simple love song you can’t not like. Whether it’s out at dinner with the one you love, or coming in as the background in that perfect movie-moment – this is a quaint and isolated track – and YES it really does sound heartfelt – quit making fun of me!
What I suppose I mean by that…is that I LOVE that isolated feel to this track. Like Cinja is just sitting there on a piano and staring out the window, missing someone she used to love. This is one of those songs that are kind of just made for winter; an in-front of the fire snuggled in your blanket kind of song – know what I mean?
The piano is pretty and well played…the lyrics are sweet and Cinja puts herself out there on every note. Singing convincingly with the emotion of a second language can certainly be a challenge – Cinja pulls this off well. There are some excellent starting blocks here that show promise for more beautiful music down the road.
Production-wise, Cinja’s passion and taking charge in every moment also result in some slight peaking issues with the vocals within the track – not nearly troublesome enough to discard the recording, but something that can be slightly noticed when you’re listening to a single song on repeat!
The important thing is that the sweetness of this track comes through sparklingly clear and it certainly does. Short, sweet and simply beautiful – check out CINJA and her brand new single “Still Love You.”
Find Cinja here!
December 18th, 2013 - Kyle & Lisa - Impasse - Single Review
Kyle & Lisa – “Impasse” – Single Review
At not even 2 minutes and forty seconds long, one might think there might not be a lot to talk about in today’s review…and one would be wrong! A clever single from Kyle & Lisa called “Impasse” that has just dropped onto the net has caught my ear & I’ve been listening on repeat. It’s dark, it’s melodic, and it has nestled itself quaintly within my eardrums never to leave – so I figure it’s only fair that I share my findings with you!
Understand, first of all, that this track lives and exists in the dark-back-alleys of your mind. Makes for an interesting contrast against the brightness of tone in the guitars but the more I listened the more I appreciated the way this whole song came together. The bass and drums communicate in a jazz-lounge rhythm, provided in part by their drum-machine ally A.K.A. “Lester.” Providing a simple but solid base-track serves guitarist Kyle extremely well, allowing him to get truly inventive on his guitar.
Invention and innovation are two tough things to come by, but I think Kyle has done those well with a somewhat simple guitar rhythm absolutely maximized through extreme production. It’s so crisp and crunchy – I just love the way the sound came out. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure that was going to work for me at first.
Now I just want to hit the amps and boards and twist knobs until I can find a similar sound to use myself!
When I first looked into Kyle & Lisa and had a scan over their pages, I became incredibly interested in hearing what the music would be like. With influences listed like The Cure, Panic! At The Disco and Queens Of The Stone Age listed among others – I figured this single from Kyle & Lisa couldn’t miss for me.
And you know what? I was RIGHT.
But you know what else? This song “Impasse” didn’t remind me of ANY of the bands they listed as influential. So what’s up with that!?!
Listen. I’m not the band so you know I’ll be able to tell it to you straight, but this is what happened. They BORROW and USE little snippets of these inspirations in their music and style but they absolutely did NOT allow themselves to become a copy of those that influenced them the most. And when you think about it – that’s not an easy thing to do. We all like what we like, we all listen to what we want to listen to…to take the music in a different direction, or to have it naturally go there will reveal itself to be a true gift over time as they continue to incorporate influences, grow and adapt but never have to fear the danger of being stuck into a specific style.
Let’s talk about Lisa. Love this voice. She has that same dark/sexy contrast in her voice that Shirley Manson or Poe has. As a composition overall, “Impasse” could be a close relative from the band Curve as well; similar songwriting structure between both bands but with a different result in the texture of sound for each song and each singer.
Lisa brings it all together though. She has a great grasp on what her voice can do and where she fits in best during the song, showing her ability to use the space and her capable songwriting.
Ha! Yeah…I’ll probably get all-kinds of a hard time from my wife about this one, but I’ve just gotta say it on the record – that’s a damn sexy voice Lisa has. Admittedly I felt that way about Shirley Manson and Poe as well…something about that rich, full, low and sexy tone that makes me always come back for more. There's both an element of danger and sweetness in the style and tone, which makes for a fascinating combination and a true delight for the ears. And if Lisa is the latest to come out and do this as WELL as she is…I might just be able to forget the other two and finally move on….
IF Lisa and Kyle continue to make more music that is. One track is simply not enough sometimes. I’m very interested to hear where the rest of their music goes and what it will sound like. I’m curious to hear if these influences they’ve listed creep their way into their music over time, or if they’ll continue to on the path set by this latest single “Impasse.”
In any event, this single DOES what it’s SUPPOSED to DO. And by that I mean it’s supposed to get us excited for more music to come. “Impasse” absolutely does and I can’t wait to hear more from Kyle & Lisa in the future.
One track to gain my attention. One track to invade my ears. Just shy of 2 minutes and 40 seconds - ONE TRACK. Mission accomplished Kyle & Lisa – job incredibly well done.
And to the rest of you out there, well, at least those of you outside of the punk genre… NEVER underestimate the impact you can have through your music and let this track from Kyle & Lisa along with this review be that lesson. Sometimes short and sweet is best – keep it tight and within all of your creative control and you can open ears and turn volumes up across the globe.
Your songs don’t have to be 10 minutes long for them to be good, just like my reviews don’t have to contain a million words and descriptions to….be….good…..
....Uh-oh. I better wrap this up! I’ve said too much!
CHECK OUT KYLE & LISA AND THEIR NEW SONG “IMPASSE!” They just hit the Triple-J website in Australia – that’s no joke by any stretch – that’s big news and some great recognition for this band - hopefully a sign of some more excellent things to come or at least serve as the inspiration to continue making more music!
You can find them here at this Facebook link!
December 17th, 2013 - Bees In A Bottle - Quiet Room - Album Review
Bees In A Bottle – Quiet Room – Album Review
It feels oddly like it has been awhile since I’ve done a review, though we all know it hasn’t been long at all… Whatever the case is, it’s great to be here and I’m stoked to be able to talk about this latest album, Quiet Room by Bees In A Bottle. I wanted to get this review out the minute I finally heard the music amidst this extremely busy week we’ve had here at sleepingbagstudios; it took me much longer than I wanted to get to some dedicated time to listen to new music, but from the moment this album opened and set the tone with “Lost” my continued listening made me want to share my findings with you immediately.
First of all – I love this album. We’ll get to that…
These references…these influences that they’ve listed…I had a chance to look into the band during my research into their music and I was nearly surprised by what I found! Influenced by artists like Wilco and Tori Amos…Ani DiFranco…I mean, these are all heavy hitters…but none that honestly came to my mind.
In fact – the very reason I looked them up was because I was certain they were Canadian. Listen to the immediate opening of the album and tell me that the Bees In A Bottle track “Lost” doesn’t remind you of the laidback tracks from our very own Tragically Hip like “Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man.”
And then I heard lead singer Christine McAllister’s absolutely gorgeous voice and it hit me. It wasn’t so much The Tragically Hip this band reminded me of anymore – it was their close friend and ally, Sarah Harmer. Compliment? Here’s a reference for ya; Sarah Harmer’s last album would have easily been my pick for album of that year. The other piece I can hear, at least for myself, is a slight twinge of Sarah Bettens of K’s Choice. Whatever the combination, or however Christine comes by her sound, it’s completely brilliant, tone-rich and will definitely define the sound of this band in the years to come.
Overall, it’s a very crisp and smartly produced album that covers a lot of ground in between the worlds of acoustic-folk-rock and female singer/songwriter world. Each track is extremely well put together – and all of them artistic in their composition and assembly. I’d cite a track like “Not Like Ours” as a great example of what I mean here…and this might be what I love the most…someone get me a new paragraph!
That’s better. Okay. Here’s the thing…Bees In A Bottle aren’t writing “hits,” at least not one after the other. Again, let’s use “Not Like Ours” as our example again…the track is GOLDEN in every aspect from the angelic guitars to the immaculate vocal harmonies. The words crush hearts and tell a story and the way she sings it with a fragility that sounds near tears is incredible. In fact, there’s nothing I’ve found yet NOT to like on Quiet Room…so what gives?
There’s certainly a market for this music, and critics/reviewers like myself everywhere will fall in love with this album because of the heart and soul you can FEEL in it…but that authenticity is largely lost on the mainstream…at least for now. Independent acts like Bees In A Bottle make me truly believe that there’s every reason to believe in that day where the masses can resist the quality of the music no more, give up, surrender and listen with an indie-smile.
The middle core of tracks, “Not Like Ours,” “I Still See Your Face,” and “Summer Nap” reveal not only the diverse nature within their own style, but also truly reveal how comfortable this band is in going with a range of ideas in their music.
As a husband and wife – Chistine and Chad (Guitar) McAllister make up 50% of Bees In A Bottle, so comfortable it SHOULD be…but…well…where’s the CHEESE?
I have to say that anything I’ve thought about Bees In A Bottle outside of the music, well…I’ve been wrong on my first hunch every time. When I first saw that Christine and Chad shared the same last name, I automatically assumed brother and sister as the music was completely devoid of the CHEESE factor that comes along with 99% of the music made by lifelong companions. It’s just not there anywhere on this album.
In fact, I’ll go on record saying this is a completely beautiful album. Doesn’t matter what track you listen to or choose; the band is assembling perfect compositions that are captivating to the ear. These well-written tracks tell a story and this band makes sure that each one is told in such a way that they demand your complete attention; that the story will be LISTENED to.
Ha. Maybe that’s it. Quiet Room. It’s such an incredible title now that I think about it. You could hear a pin drop hear in the studio. I’ve come back to a track called “Eviction (Learning How This Goes),” I guess I just wanted to hear it once more real quick before I finished this…it’s the honesty and genuine feel in a track like this…this demonstration of pure heart on display that make this a great band and a force to be reckoned with.
It leads into “Space To Fill,” second to the end, a song that highlights the choices of Ian (Drums) and how conscious he has been with his drumming, again on display in the last track “Finally.” Combined with Leland (Bass) and the McAllister songwriting duo, musically each player expresses their instrument with passion and true emotion, attention to detail and wise choices. “Finally” – an instrumental end to this track shows that this band can be equally amazing without words as they can with them.
Bees In A Bottle. There. I’ve said it. Now trust me – go get it!
Check out Quiet Room by Bees In A Bottle right here at: http://beesinabottle.bandcamp.com/
And support them on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/BeesInaBottle
December 14th, 2013 - Jim Vierra & Friends - Untitled - EP Review
Jim Vierra & Friends – Untitled – EP Review
Well…the day has finally come fellow followers of SBS…Country music has made its way all the way from Nashville to our tiny corner of the internet. Though I’ve never shied away from any style of music – here we are, into our second year and only now finally busting into the country scene! Thankfully, we get the real deal here through this untitled EP from Jim Vierra & Friends and get the authenticity that comes with that traditional Nashville sound.
In all truth – Jim Vierra is actually a song-writer and producer. This EP is comprised of scores of local talent from Nashville that truly help bring these songs to life in the recording. I personally love it when I’m in contact with song-writers as it really allows you to close your eyes and hear where the songs themselves could go. As a true songwriter – Jim might write in a certain style that lends itself particularly well to a genre like country; but that true talent for song-writing exists when they can be brought outside into other styles of music as well. Adaptable songs. Jim has done that here, and incredibly well.
This could be country…this could be power-pop…this could be rock…his writing has that versatility. Truly on display through the song “Tonight” – a track written in such a style that even Avril OR her new husband Chad could cover. And there is something special about that Tennessee tone in the guitar – I can’t explain that part well enough to do it justice…but there’s like, a secret sweet coil in the strings of those Nashville guitars, again on display through “Tonight” and throughout the rest of this untitled EP.
As played, these songs are plenty strong enough to fit in with the current climate of the world's country scene. Each song is BIG and full of the heart and emotion that can make or break this style of music. Ron Wallace and Mark Riddick jump in on this album through vocals; everyone comes through in a solid performance to do this song-writer’s songs great justice. The production is completely on-point and solid throughout…except for maybe one thing I’ve noticed and I’m not sure that I blame Jim here…
Though I’ve looked into as much as I can, I couldn’t find the name of the female vocalist on his song “Drivin Me Crazy,” – which IS crazy, cause she’s crazy-good! That being said, if anything I noticed production-wise I thought she rose a little too far in front of the music, more than likely due to an excellent performance that couldn’t stop those mixers from going up just one…more…notch…ok ok…one more…
Throughout the four tracks I’ve taken in from Jim I can safely say there’s a genuine song-writer’s talent here. I can appreciate what he’s going for on the writing of each and every track and I really think these recordings themselves turned out extremely well. All of these artists working on them should be extremely proud of the way this all came out – job well done.
December 14th, 2013 - Syndrome Of Fire - Save Me From Myself - EP Review
Syndrome Of Fire – Save Me From Myself – EP Review
Hmmm. Now that I read that opening, I’m thinking you might not all know what I mean…I better explain that better I suppose cause I’m certainly not implying this EP is bad in ANY way. Polar opposite; this is a genius set of four songs together, performed by a band you won’t be able to hide from the name of very soon – Syndrome Of Fire.
What I was referring to in that opening was that this reminded me of the popular electro-rock band Garbage with a harder edge to it. As a music journalist – I can absolutely hear where 99% of the comparisons are GOING to go for Syndrome Of Fire…they’re going to latch like vultures onto Evanescence comparisons…and they’d be wrong.
Part of that reason is that lead singer Cassie Goetzke could match Amy Lee’s tremendous vocal range any day of the week. Listening as a music producer as well when I’m doing these reviews – I often hear that ONE line, or verse, or spot in a song that I wish the team recording my subjects had pushed the singer or band 10% more to get that maximum result and best performance. In Cassie’s performance I truly hear perfection and a voice that was created to do exactly what she’s doing on this EP – I wouldn’t have asked for even a bit more – you can HEAR she put everything she had into every line.
And for the record? This band would kick the crap out of Evanescence.
More accurately – these guys remind me more of current bands like I See Stars and our own local band from the island, This Day Burns – both acts of extreme quality themselves and of a similar style for sure. The hard-electro edge, fronted by the female vocals, is a style of music that is beginning to swell in the underground…poised and ready to spring into the spotlight again very soon in my opinion.
Cause much like Limp Bizkit had brought attention to and then ruined the genre of rap/rock, forcing it back underground until other bands came around to do it BETTER…that same thing could be said of what Evanescence did for the metal/melodic music of the 2000’s. The immense over-popularity of that style of music sent it straight-up, and then eventually, straight-out of existence again, back into the underground.
Waiting for bands to refine the sound.
Waiting for the next generation to take it to the next level and be BETTER.
And to this, I say quite warmly – Welcome Syndrome Of Fire…really…WHERE have you been?
Bands putting music together as well written and creative as this aren’t getting LUCKY – they’re just that damn good. On this EP they come out guitars BLAZING on the first track called “So Sorry,” in a sonic assault led by Ryan McMahan on a menacing riff and Cassie instantly demonstrating just how powerful she can be in the chorus of this opening song. The energy, the desperation, the HUNGER and the LOVE of doing what they’re doing can so easily be heard not only on this track, but on this entire EP. It is not every day that you’ll come across an EP so tightly made…where you can hear crystal-clearly just how harmonious the inner-workings of the band are. It’s a relationship so special that when it exists you can hear it beyond the togetherness of the music itself and know that it has to exist in real life.
Now, you’ll hear the second track, “Sins” and you’ll think I’m the one who is wrong about comparisons. You’ll hear the Evanescence side of the argument at the beginning. But wait!
First of all – have some FAITH in this beard you love! Secondly – listen to the production as much as the structure and you’ll hear what I mean. Or try the opening line of the chorus and the rest to follow…that’s not Amy Lee…that’s much more like the brilliant craft of Shirley Manson…
If you LIKE…I’ll concede that perhaps it’s just a great combination of many of those influences. I STILL think they could blow Evanescence out of the water…I’m not taking that part back…
It’s in that combination, and their use of digital and traditional instruments that truly leads them to their own refined version of the sound of this genre. Syndrome Of Fire gives me a tremendous amount of hope for this style of music and the breakthrough I predict we’ll see from this style in the coming two years. Rock itself is on its way to that same comeback – but with the world’s attention on the digital superstars of today – it’ll be much more likely that bands like Syndrome Of Fire here will be the bridge to the gap between the those worlds.
The opening of the final track, the epic song that is called “The Fall,” is a musical masterpiece in itself. Sonny Cutler (Keyboards) and Micah Oser (Drums) should have already been mentioned in this review, but now will have to do; they’re perfect. Sonny has found an insane amount of ways to incorporate the keys into this music and make it sound like NOW instead of 1970 – a challenge still rampant among keyboard players of our present day. The drumming is not only perfectly metered but extremely well written and played, bringing the songs into chaos or serenity whenever the feelings are called for. As they open the final track with Cassie, you can hear that the possibilities for what they could make musically in their career is endless.
Ohhhhhhhhhh – OUCH!
You see…it pays to do your research in my line of work. And if you do it PRIOR to your writing, it makes you look like less of an ass…like I’m about to do now…
I just looked up their listed influences and saw Evanescence as their first named band. Oops!
Influenced or not, I stand by what I said. Syndrome Of Fire have taken that sound from Amy Lee & her crew and refined it, made it their own, more dynamic and powerful to listen to. And while I’ve often questioned Lee’s passion for her musical career and effort on recordings – I haven’t had one reason on this entire EP from Syndrome Of Fire make me feel that way. Cassie is explosive on every track, entertaining and unbelievably talented – a voice surely to become an absolute necessity in today’s rock-electro world. She has vocals strong as steel and a mastery of melody in a rock setting; she knows exactly when to turn it on and turn it off.
Four songs out of four on the Save Me From Myself EP struck me as completely killer – this band has definitely caught onto something special and I’m extremely excited to hear what they come up with when they release their new album, titled A New Beginning in 2014.
Check out and support Syndrome Of Fire at these pages!
December 14th, 2013 - Broken Stems - We Are Home - EP Review
The Broken Stems – We Are Home – EP Review
Wow. First thought that came to my mind was ‘what IF Band of Horses and Cold War Kids had a children together…would it come out like this?’ Yeah, okay…that’s weird even for me, and as the EP from The Broken Stems plays on, it’s not nearly musically accurate enough. The comparisons will come soon enough I’m sure – right now I’m enjoying my inability to pin down their sound and digging their beautiful melodies, harmonies and creativity in their song writing…press play and enjoy the We Are Home EP by The Broken Stems with me, I wanna dissect this one!
I mean, this is a truly fantastic EP, no bullshit. You want a tightly played, diverse and well-crafted display of a great band’s skill-set, look no further. Each song plays within a pop-rock perfection, well produced with excellent vocals throughout; powerful with thought-provoking lyrics. Check out the middle of the EP and listen to “Maybe” and you’ll dig on what I’m saying. This is an excellent, dramatic and theatrical piece of music and the fact that lead singer Jesse Gawlik drifts in and out of a Maroon 5’s Adam Levine through his vocal delivery and tone doesn’t hurt.
What amazes me is just how MUCH of something there is for everybody in this one EP. You are a hate-filled, degenerate, no-taste music-mongrel if this makes you want to turn the volume down, off, or anything other than UP. And you’re better than that. So DIG The Broken Stems, says I!
How about the 4th track on the EP – what an amazing track. So bluesy and ridiculously well-played on guitar, but with so many other parts…each and every time I draw comparison, it becomes useless. The Broken Stems have a incredible ability to adapt and conquer not only a variety of styles and sounds within the five songs on We Are Home, but actually within the songs themselves. “Castles” is another perfect example of this as it ranges through beautiful pop melody into malicious rock and stomping drum beats. Guitar tones that are immaculate and really stand out well in the recording.
Easily one of the most repeatable EP’s I’ve heard in years, the moment this was done I pushed play again and so should you. It makes much more sense on those repeat listens. “The Only Way” starts so epically with simple guitar, beautiful harmonies and emphatic drums. This song at the beginning sets the standard for the songwriting and it absolutely does not drop in quality from there no matter how much the musical landscape of The Broken Stems may change throughout.
And it WILL change – LOTS. That immediate straight jolt into the pop-choir-reggae combo of “Around The Bend” is just another example of this band’s ability to adapt to any style with success and produce something brilliant. This warm and atmospheric track is one to certainly leave you wondering why you HAVEN’T heard The Broken Stems yet.
But in truth, they all really are songs of the highest quality and caliber. I love this EP by The Broken Stems, I think it’s incredibly inventive and innovative in each and every track. Couple that with their perfect production and flawless execution – this is a band I’ll be keeping a firm ear on from now on.
Go get some! You can find The Broken Stems at Facebook at:
And at Soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/thebrokenstems/sets/we-are-home-ep
December 14th, 2013 - Teni - Afrodisiac - Album Review
Teni – Afrodisiac – Album Review
I love how every time I think I’ve reviewed it all, another genre pops up that I’ve put on the shelf for a while only to be resurrected by all of you wonderful independent artists and bands. Awwww! That’s sweet right? Well here’s something else that’s sweet – this album by Teni - Afrodisiac.
Ohhhhhh Teni. If you only knew that my afro grows from my chin and consumes my face…
First of all, it has been a long time since I hit up the afrobeat vibe – that would date all the way back to my days at my former online magazine (Kludge, R.I.P.) and reviewing Steel Pulse’s album True Democracy; if you know the album you’ll know that was some time ago now… Though my references might be a little thin in this category, Teni is also attempting something new, so a musical “guidebook” isn’t exactly needed either…
The question is, does it work? There are several things about it that work extremely well. The music is well chosen and the concept behind all of her music is fantastic; it’s nearly free-form poetry in accompaniment with diverse and rhythmic, jazzy beats.
It’s all quite well-played; some of the drums perhaps programmed or just dead-on beat. There’s a ton of innovation and originality in the music – check out the track “When Will It Be” and you’ll hear exactly what I hear.
The following track really says it all about Teni musically; “Wilderness” is a complete combo of jazz and reggae that works so well on all levels, with Teni herself fitting perfectly into this track. On a musical level, it’s nearly impossible to fault this album for everything it’s attempting to do; the beats and the basslines are infectious and guaranteed to capture your mind.
However – to ignore the feature artist in favor of the music for the entire review would just be plain rude! So let’s talk about Teni and her vocals, what she does and what she brings to these songs. It’s throwback for sure – this is classic smoky lounge vocal style with an Africana twist. If you were to ask me about nearly any of those artists of that time, from what I’ve seen, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t – but they always took chances and risks and weren’t afraid of the music.
Teni isn’t afraid whatsoever. Each track, she comes at from multiple vocal angles with poetic lines that float along with the music. “Surrender” is another example of Teni working well with the style of the track and doing what she does best. She definitely has a sound and a style and I respect that – if I closed my eyes with a mix of 1000 songs on I could identify Teni’s music 100% of the time. That’s something that can elude an artist or band throughout the duration of their career – so Teni is starting off on the right path, there’s no doubt.
Polarizing. I love the word, I love the meaning, I love finding examples of it in real life and Teni’s vocal-style is going to be just that for listeners.
There are times where the music producer in me wishes that the producers and engineers of Teni’s music had pushed her 10% more for a few smoother performances…but in the end I more than likely would have left this to Teni’s intuition for how she wants to sound, much the same as I am sure they did as well.
That’s the difficult part in recording the vocals of the truly unique – who are we as producers to tell you when you “nailed it?” I can tell you all day long what a hit song is; but when it comes to how a vocalist wants to scream, freestyle or wander through their tracks – who are we to judge? At the end of the day a hit song isn’t always the end goal, and thankfully an artist like Teni has the integrity to stick to her style of artful music and not give in to sounding like anyone else.
Lyrically it flows like poetry. Themes of love, life, death, spirits, ressurection run throughout the album in a combination that’s somewhere along the lines of Portishead meets Sade.
Hey. C’mon. I told you my references might be a little thin…
Afrodisiac kept my interest – this I can say without hesitation. Whether it was the creativity and rhythm of the music or simply wondering what Teni would be up to next, I listened with full attention each time she’s come on this week in my rotation. There’s more than enough uniqueness in concept, sound and execution to warrant Teni as an artist of merit.
Check her out further at: https://www.facebook.com/Tenimusic
December 13th, 2013 - Joey Jive - Joey Jive - Album Review
Joey Jive – Joey Jive - Album Review
Yessssssssssssss. Remind me to thank Joey personally if I’m ever to meet him in person for making an album tuned to my particular ears. With a brand new album full of music as interesting in the writing as it is in the texture and production – there’s so much to listen to in just seven songs that it’s a lock to keep your interest.
The lead single is called “Boardwalk,” the second track on the album with one of the best change-ups your ears can hear coming to life just after two minutes in and until the end. Joey took a track rooted in a The-Cure-meets-The-Strokes style and turned it into an indie-pop sensation by the end. The track to follow – “Foxes,” shows a more aggressive aspect to Jive’s music and the incredible ingenuity in his work.
Some of you out there…well…some of you are going to call what I love in Joey’s music “the noise.” Jive displays a mastery of using effects and samples in his work, creating inarguable atmospherically rich tracks that take you somewhere. “Starlight” is another absolute stand-out track; a brilliant vocal sample playing against a hypnotic sample/synth rhythm and guitar. The story is as dark as the track is haunting; this particular cut shows a different side of the Jive we’ve seen on the record thus far and really starts to make you wonder just how deep the well of creativity runs over there in the UK, as Jive’s ideas appear to be endless.
I suppose I should have known from the opener “Summer Days” and it’s other-worldly-opening that this wasn’t going to be a typical album by any means. The excellent vocal work mixed in with the bright distorted guitars and vocal samples…it doesn’t start “normal” in this cut or give any hint at becoming so at any point in these seven songs. This is music for the fringe-listener.
Consider me one of them.
Ironically, when listen to Joey Jive’s album, the track that “separates the men from the boys,” so to speak, is actually called “Diner’s Girl.” This is the moment on the album if you find out for sure if you’re WITH Joey and what he’s doing, or if you can’t hear it yet. Because I can see it now…dismissive reviewers that don’t put a full listen in are going to say Jive’s vocals are “off” or “all-over-the-map.” It will be easy for him to spot passive journalists as this track in particular shows Joey’s commitment to his style. In fact, the moment the vocals hit the song I began to smile.
“This guy’s a genius,” I thought to myself.
And genius, or madman is how he’ll most likely be remembered by any listener. To some, this music has such an intense attention to detail and creativity in every nuance that it’s more than captivating. To others, this is going to be seven-steps too far into the beyond…he’ll be told he’s not writing “real” songs etc etc... “Midnight Drive” will more than likely be their argument…a wickedly intense dark electronic that again contains a wicked vocal sample that is welcomed by the ear every time it invades the music.
So. If you stuck with Joey and his unique style past “Diner Girl” then you’ll be in for a more than satisfying ending with the track “Jive.” With a frantic and familiar guitar line, creative percussion and great ideas, Joey Jive boarders on the work of early Pink Floyd & Primus here. Once again, can’t say enough about his choices for creativity in sound throughout these songs and again, this song is no exception. Pushing his vocals to the limit against the contrast of a narrated vocal sample, this track of a Jive nearly yelling his words makes perfect sense to me as his choice to end the album.
It’s like a final statement, shouting loud to anyone listening, (And their neighbours…)
“I am here.”
No matter the direction, no matter the sound choice I felt like I was right there with Joey Jive the entire way through the album. His ability to incorporate samples and sounds carries over into an ability for these songs to make you feel like you’re right there in the room with him while he’s recording. Absolutely worth a listen.
Check out more info on Joey Jive and what he’s up to at: http://www.joeyjive.com/
November 29th, 2013 - Ralph Conde - "I Love You So" - Single Review
Ralph Condé – “I Love You So” – Single Review
Perfect way to start this day! I’m departing from my review on the first compilation album to come our way in yesterday’s review to today’s new jam from Ralph coming from the smooth-jazz genre. Having yet to take on jazz through sleepingbagstudios – I’m excited to be able to listen to something unique to us and share that with you guys. Let’s push play and talk about this new single “I Love You So.”
The first thing you can tell right off the bat is that Ralph has a major talent and feel for the guitar. With a wandering lead-line that runs through the length of the track, it bends and solos through this jazz track with an inviting warmth. Full of rich tone and expertly played, after some research I find that Mr. Condé has actually been playing guitar since he was a seven year-old child in 1976. Those skills amassed during the years & that relationship and bond with his guitar serve as the centerpiece of “I Love You So.” Against the beat and backing instruments – this guitar is upfront for you to hear it well and have it carry you through this song.
As far as the rest of the music is concerned, you can also hear the years of expertise in the assembly and production on this track. The levels for the track are perfect all the way through and he has done really well to have the other instruments, drums, keys, & bass all pop up through the mix at different times as a gentle reminder that they too are well played and as much a part of this overall track as that beautiful lead guitar.
There’s a tiny bit of vocals, a “chorus” if you will…if there can be such a thing in jazz! They come in subtly and understated – much of this track does really. For the amount of talent on display through Condé’s “I Love You So,” it’s a great track in the sense that it doesn’t feel like it’s punching your ears drums begging you to like it. This track is gentle, melodic and the more you listen to it the more you’ll tap your foot and start to smile. His chorus of vocals helps to add that extra warmth to the track, and also makes us wonder who Ralph might have written this particular song for…
All in all – this IS jazz and it IS smooth! Ralph Condé has written and recorded an excellent track with “I Love You So.” Jazz as a genre spans miles; it can often wander out too far on the fringe for some and for others that very wandering makes them feel right at home. Condé’s found a way to bring some of those amazing elements together to form a listener-friendly style of his own with this brand new single that truly highlights his talents in a tightly written song.
He has performed in bands and collaborated with artists from places all over the world. Taking this time out to record this solo jam was a great idea and it’s a great introduction into the smooth-jazz world of Ralph Condé. Check out his track “I Love You So” – if you’re a fan of easy-to-listen-to music – you might not even need to put on another song that day! I’ve listened to it previously as well as had it on for the length of writing this review and found no reason or want to stop it from playing. It’s well played, well produced and well thought-out; who would ever want to stop that?
November 28th, 2013 - Iggy Taylor - Ataraxis - Album Review
Iggy Taylor – Ataraxis – Album Review
I wasn’t prepared for this. Maybe I’m still not…
Iggy – first off, I want to tell you direct it is completely WRONG of you to make a heavily-bearded man like myself enjoy a song called “Coochie Coo;” brother, that’s just straight evil!
Ataraxis is an extremely interesting album that ranges in many sounds and styles. Iggy Taylor clearly not only has a number of influences but he also listens to music in a way much different than most, but one shared by yours truly…
This album incorporates one major element time and time again – great pop-rock songwriting. Each track has its own flavor and sound, just as each pushes the pop or the rock edge to a certain degree, exposing each as a lighter or a darker sound. The production on the album by Iggy also plays a major starring role as with each touch of the controls, Taylor has morphed himself and his sound from track to track. No matter how much of a musical chameleon he chooses to be – he still understands quite well how to write a hook and music that holds attention with each track that passes.
Now, because the sound varies so much between songs, it’s only fair to comment on what’s working well for Iggy Taylor on this album. For instance, the fact that the sounds and songs vary so much is an achievement in itself. Iggy has virtually set foot into many genres here and created many unique tracks within them on Ataraxis. Musically – Iggy has a tremendous ear for the harder rock edge as displayed on tracks like “I Sit Alone” and “Psycho Bitch” – both of which take the middle of the album and pump it up with some energy where most albums tend to sag.
“I Sit Alone” though I like a lot on an instrumental level; struggles a bit against the high-end vocals of Taylor. The contrast might be a little too far spread to truly appreciate that there is definitely a song here, and a good one at that. Although I like the vocal pattern – his vocals come awfully close to a “Weird Al” sound on this song and I’m just not sure that was the right sound for this particular track.
Production wise, a track like “India Love” just can’t be beat. This track lies in a weird spot between 54-40 and the oldest albums from The Tea Party and it sounds fantastic. Simplistic and clean – this is a standout to me for sure; and Taylor sounds right at home in a heavily filtered vocal melody that fits perfectly with this anthem-style song.
He ends this album on another fantastic piece of pop-confection. The ear-candy comes in the form of “It’s You” with beautiful sections of chorused out-vocals and harmonies and an immaculate guitar tone. The vocal pattern and style that Taylor chooses on this track really expresses some of the highlights in the music Taylor makes. The guitar solos towards the end of this track are out-of-control good and played with an excellent feel and touch, producing forth a tremendous tone and sound that fit perfectly within the song. There’s a common strength you can find in Iggy Taylor’s music from track to track, whether he’s chosen a sound you like, or not.
Cause I’ll admit – I look at a title like “Coochie Coo” and I want to poke both of my eyes in with the closest plastic fork. But I’ll also admit there’s no denying he’s written a catchy song and thankfully my eyeballs remain intact. While the sound effects push it past the point of being taken as a “serious” track whatsoever, the meat of the song is a truly catchy groove that has a classic feel to it. “Rosie, Rosie, Rosie” walks this line as well…again, completely well played but after breaking some truly new ground over the three tracks prior it comes in like an intermission between the chapters of the main event.
And for myself, I’m much more sold on the serious side of Iggy Taylor. “Don’t Cry For Me” is a fantastic example of an epic acoustic track – one that you can hear the passion and depth…that extra 10% comes out big time from Iggy on this track. “I Do,” a Beatles-esque track nearing the end of the album, comes across compellingly honest and real. Focused. It sounds like Badfinger met the Beatles and made the ultimate pop-rock song, another excellent example of songwriting found on Ataraxis.
What I like by Iggy Taylor, I like a LOT. What sounds come out that I'm not as attached to are at the very least is still very well played and written with dedication to the craft and style. It’s tough to always like a range of sounds when we all clearly have strengths and weaknesses in what we record and play. At the end of the day, it really is that range of sound that makes Ataraxis the album that it is and really shows that the best attribute that Iggy Taylor possesses in addition to his songwriting ability is his courage to take on any sound with the maximum musical force he can bring to it, every time.
You can find out more about what I thought about the Ataraxis album by Iggy Taylor when I go more in-depth for a video review on SBS Live This Week! – Episode 065 – SBS But No BS Part X.
You KNOW you want to!
November 22nd, 2013 - Morning Fame - "The Golden One" - Single Review
Morning Fame – “The Golden One” – Single Review
Long standing Canadian SBS favourites Morning Fame are back with a brand new single called “The Golden One.” This new single has all the elements of their music that you’re familiar with…all that good stuff you know, love & expect from them in terms of great tone, songwriting and production. And it SHOULD! Not only is this band already known by us to release music with crystal clarity, but this particular single has Mike Turner former guitarist of Our Lady Peace overseeing the boards ensuring that this band from the East puts out a sound that can be heard from any direction.
“The Golden One” still has that trademark early 90’s feel to it…that wonderful time when bands like the Gin Blossoms, Toad The Wet Sprocket and even Better Than Ezra were having their day…it was a time of clarity in the music with subtle solos and desperate, thoughtful lyrics. This new cut from Morning Fame has all of this and more and truly shows them maturing as a band in creating one of their tightest songs on record to date.
The real bottom line is this: Though I was looking forward to the new Morning Fame album BEFORE I heard this new single – well…after listening to this track I am now incredibly stoked on what’s to come from Morning Fame. The clarity of tone on “The Golden One” is just MADE to be listened to on repeat through headphones…the guitar work is just perfect and comes through beautifully clean. The bass is incredibly smooth and inventive and really drives this track in each of its components. The songwriting standard they previously set with their last album “Back And Forth” remains in their own classic style but with a little more magic than we’ve heard from them before…
So where does that come from? What I hear in this track is not only harmony in a band that works incredibly well together, but one that’s working extremely well with Mike Turner and the production team. “The Golden One,” sounds like everyone in the room was on the same page and is certainly a new highlight in the Morning Fame catalog.
The release of ANY single these days nearly has to carry a justification with it in our present day musical climate. It has to promote a new sound, demonstrate a new strength or direction…sometimes it can be about defining a new musical standard for the music and sound. I believe this song represents the latter…and that “The Golden One” will serve as “The Golden Rule” in their playbook and guide them to continue making music of incredible quality, into another brilliant album. Excellent track from this band.
Check out this BRAND NEW SINGLE from Morning Fame called “The Golden One” here at this link!
November 19th, 2013 - weRwe Records - Volume I - Album Review
weRwe Records – Volume One – Album Review
A compilation album…I’m not sure how you all take one of those in, but for yours truly here – this is a gift and certainly help enable my obsession with listening to all kinds of music! Brought to life by weRwe records, this album showcases talent from all over with a bunch of future superstars from all kinds of genres and styles making some incredible tunes. I’ve had enough listens through it to be able to explain what’s happening the best I can – so let’s push play and do this thang!
Starting the multi-record is Athena with a song called “Movement” – a great choice to open this all-new experience with weRwe records and a decent insight into the level and caliber of artists they’re working with. It sounds like it has a Spanish or Latin influence in the music and Athena puts her smooth vocals against some big-beating drums to help start this compilation off on the right note.
Rex Razor steps in immediately on track two with “Celebrate Life” – a track you MUST know already from this past summer…right? RIGHT? If you don’t know this track yet, you can’t consider your summer complete; you cannot pass go and collect $200. The fact is – in all honesty I don’t know if you had access to this track, but I do know that this song possesses all of the qualities of any hit song on pop-radio stations right now. No reason this shouldn’t be a huge hit in the clubs and I certainly expect to be hearing the name Rex Razor again in the future very soon….
At this point in Volume One – you’ll still feel like you’re listening to something you might expect from a compilation…but by the third track, coming from Janice Kephart and called “Cherry Whispers,” you’ll change your tune as the compilation diverts away from traditional song-structure into true art pieces like this song. A combination of poetry, narrative and dance-music – Kephart brings something different to this collection and having that track sit so close to the front of the album leads me to believe that things will continue to be “different” from here on in…
The next two tracks confirm the suspicion. KaiCarra brings in an operatic performance on her track “Lady,” in a track cut with an immaculate and isolated atmosphere. In contrast to that, the following cut from Kari Tribble has the opposite effect; in a swirling feeling similar to Portishead or Massive Attack, this song envelops the listener and pulls you into another world. With completely soothing vocals – this dreamlike track off Volume One is an extremely gorgeous track.
At just under halfway through the album we get yet another complete stylistic switch with Ryo Utasato and a wicked electro-mix on the track “Blue Montage.” If the rest of the album has relaxed you so far, “Blue Montage” will wake you back up and easily convince you that there is far more to come on this mix. And there certainly is. And just like the rest of this mix – it comes at you right away.
Steven Buckner and I need to have a beer together. I love this track he’s got on here called “Heaven Vs. Hell,” which is at this point in the album the largest departure from a “typical” song and into true soundscape territory. Its subtle pulse and unique rhythm serve perfectly on its own and also as a set up to the energy explosion provided by MikeWhitePresents on “Abandoned On The Dancefloor” immediately following. With a unique blending of electronic and guitars – this is a good idea from beginning to end. Makes me think of tracks like “A Wash Of Black,” or “Restless” by U.N.K.L.E. – the use of actual guitar SOLOS is a supremely tough thing to pull off against the grain of electronica but MikeWhitePresents has found the path to doing this extremely well.
A HUGE credit to weRwe records for their hand in this mix. As I head to guitar driven tracks from Mike Colin and L.O. Crocodile after getting just a taste of guitar in the MikeWhitePresents electro-track, I take a quick moment to truly appreciate the assembly in this compilation. They’ve handled it expertly and it flows as perfectly as your favorite mix-tape. It has taken us through all different genres and styles and has truly done it well by introducing pieces of what’s to come subtly within the sounds of the tracks you played only moments before.
Mike Colin does his thing. In perhaps the most standard-sounding track within the confines of Volume One, it also ends up becoming the largest departure from the material on this album after a complete listen. I can see this song easily packing the dance-floor with cougars aplenty to this track that sits somewhere oddly between Bruce Springsteen and The Flaming Lips. While it’s more of a stripped down pop-rock melody, weRwe again cranks it up a notch when shifting into L.O. Crocodiles instantly catchy guitar-rock frenzy in a perfect example of one of those tracks that make you want to see what it would look like LIVE as well. It has a perfect bouncy-rock beat that is sure to hook in any listener.
Heading into a track called “Smell Like A Supermodel,” it’s the first of the last three tracks on the mix but far from letting the energy on the album die down. This mystic track from a band called MSG has a wicked mix on it with incredible background vocals happening against a hypnotic beat and guitar rhythm. This track lives in the dark alleys of your mind, reminding us just how cool those places can be even if they are a bit scary sometimes. As far as atmosphere in a track is concerned – they’ve nailed it here. Listening to “Smell Like A Supermodel” is literally like stepping right into the perspective of the world of MSG.
It is Eugene Jacquescoley’s track “I Am What I Am” that even gives you a hint that this compilation is nearing the end. After the all-encompassing atmosphere of MSG, weRwe again chooses to switch up the vibe and brings you into minimalist electro as the album progresses towards the final cut. Eugene does what he does well and has assembled a decent slice of music here with “I Am What I Am,” again perfectly placed by weRwe to help set up the end of this album.
This final track, actually called “Volume One” comes to us from a band called Cannon and it is an EPIC ending to this expertly assembled mix. This is the most chilling track on the mix and man does it sound BIG. An instrumental track and as inventive as it can get in sound-choice and samples – this was an astoundingly perfect choice to end the compilation from weRwe Records. Definitely looking forward to hearing more from Cannon in years to come; this particular track reminds me of some of the mellowed-out atmospherically HUGE tracks off of the album Drukqs by Aphex Twin.
This entire mix started perfectly, never let up and ended immaculately. Not only is weRwe Records showcasing a plethora of talent but they truly do showcase their own ability for being able to FIND this talent and better still – properly assemble it. If the purpose of this mix is to simply introduce us all to these artists and make us curious enough to listen to more – weRwe and their talented artists and bands can consider that mission accomplished. I want more. Lots.
November 18th, 2013 - Tommy Homonym - Uglier Than You - Album Review
Tommy Homonym – Uglier Than You – Album Review
Wow Tommy did you EVER catch me on a strange day to do this review! I’ve spent the day with Vancouver hard rock band FEY and to say that your music is a switch in sound and style would have me surely winning the prize for understatement of the year! But I both can and do listen to music of all genres – and now that the ringing in my head has stopped from the mind-blowing performance just put forth by Fey live in our studio, well…I think enough time has passed for me – time to switch genres and dive into this new album from Tommy Homonym! Who’s with me!
What instantly struck me from my first moment listening was the “throwback” element Tommy’s music has in its production. It was just like throwing on an album in the heyday of Bowie, The Turtles and Strawberry Alarm Clock…it has that same warmth in the sound…that same comfort. Through the vocals Tommy actually finds himself drifting in and out of a younger Bowie, especially in the first track “What’s There To Eat?” Oddly (But thankfully) that title is also reminding me that it’s 8:10pm and I still haven’t had breakfast…be right back…
What I like most about each track on this album is the dream-like atmosphere they all have. It sounds distant…like a great memory recalled to all of your senses…something you can remember in your mind like you’ve been right there WITH Tommy before. Atmosphere is not always an easy thing to create, nor is an identifiable sound as strong as Tommy’s. The combination of his style and production make it no question to the listener as to who they’re listening to – and after multiple listens I feel like I too could now pick a Tommy Homonym track out of a line-up of songs with no hesitation and not be wrong one time in ten.
If anything – for once I have an album here that is almost TOO consistent! Many of the songs pulse along to a similar beat and pattern, creating an overall experience into the music of Tommy Homonym that really feels like it all belongs together. Meeting somewhere between Paul Simon and that David Bowie sound, Tommy is definitely doing something different than anything else you can hear out there right now.
With that, of course comes the challenge of going against the grain. It can be tough when the musical taste of the world has shifted past, or has yet to shift to a certain sound. And though Tommy might find himself in either of these boats at times – there’s still enough here on the fringe to possibly attract fans of more current acts like Jesus And Mary Chain, Mazzy Star or maybe even Massive Attack. “A Kind Of Freedom” actually reminds me a lot of the feeling I get from certain songs on Protection, one of the first albums from Massive Attack, way back when they had that jazzier, smokier lounge feeling to their music.
Being a huge fan of a great pop hook – check out the Supertramp-ish track from Uglier Than You, just past the middle, called “A Taste Of Your Flavor.” It has this cheeky little keyboard line that runs through the background perfectly against this highlight on the album. Tommy comes to life as he sings out “You’ve kept me waiting too long,” with the passion of a man who’s time to make his musical stand right here and right now.
I keep coming back to this whole idea of WHERE I might find Tommy’s music just simply playing in the background and I still can’t think of where that might be. Life seems to have become nearly too busy in today’s internet age to take a proper chill-out and listen to an album like Tommy Homonym has put out here – so there’s still much battle to be won out there in terms of getting this music to the masses.
Thankfully – that can’t be the reason any of us really do this. It really does take a certain type of extremely cold and robotic person to only want the achievement of fame through music. Most of us out there all want the same thing: to share, to communicate with each other. To SAY something…but more importantly, to be HEARD.
The album closes on another strong track from Uglier Than You called “Undone.” I’m a big fan of this track and how it really shows the best side of what Tommy does. That atmosphere is definitely there. The haunting narrative full of imagery you can see in your mind just from listening to the words. In a very heartfelt performance to end this album, it almost sounds like this particular track meant 10% more to Tommy personally through the lyrics than the rest as he delivers sorrowful lines with strands of hope woven in between in an extremely genuine tone.
I don’t think that Tommy is out there making music for the masses; I don’t think he even gives it a second thought – nor SHOULD he. He has music you can clearly hear he has dedicated himself to and believes in. Masses or not – music is truly born from that need to express and communicate, and in this business sometimes all it takes is one person to listen with an honest ear to make it all worthwhile.
And for what it’s worth, Tommy my friend…I’m listening.
November 16th, 2013 - Nearly A Year!
WHAT THE WHAT?
SBS Live This Week turns ONE YEAR old coming up here on November 17th and we're already in good shape for the upcoming year ahead of us. We have already had interviews and footage shot for SHMOLTS, FEY and AZTEC to name a few & we have more still to film and edit in November with BLACKOUT LIGHTS having just come in this past weekend as well as GOOD FOR GRAPES later this month. Exciting times, there's no doubt.
So...true achievement number one - this whole thing survived its first year handily. Establishing our credibility and continuing our longevity in the indie scene...we're staying the course...
I couldn't be happier with the way this first year has gone despite hiccups in nearly every relationship I have outside of the music. Passion can cross the line for anyone and I'm no exception; in that sense the year has been a pretty rough ride! So I try to look at it from what I've helped accomplish here with you all and your music...when I do that, there's no amount of beardage that can hide my smile.
What started as a local vision has truly branched out all over the world and that has been an incredible gift. Amazing to learn about other music and other scenes across the water on other continents than our own. Just flat out awesome.
There's a wicked picture posting up on our anniversary date...I've already seen it. Damn near brings a tear to this bearded eye; it's just a simple plain background that contains the overwhelming amount of bands and artists we've worked with in this first year. It's literally PACKED with names and I couldn't be more proud to have worked with each and every one of them.
I am however...a huge fan of this on-going tale we're all creating together...so I'm bringing back someone to help tie this all together nicely. LAURA KELSEY will be returning to SBS on our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY weekend. EXTREMELY awesome! Where it began one year ago with an out-of-practice interviewer, (Me) a dog, (Tundra) and an indie talent we didn't know then, will come around full circle after an entire 365 days. Couldn't think of a better person to help us celebrate - we'll be working on some new collaborations together and if I can wrestle it out of her, you KNOW I wanna ask her some more questions!
SBS LIVE THIS WEEK!
No excuses - we were late again! You'll see a little of why if you watch the episode that just posted. Just updated the software we use which meant there were a few new bugs and hiccups thrown our way. The end resulted in the audio being out by a second or more throughout most of the episode - big time apologies to the bands in Part IX of SBS But No BS...we're looking into it and for what it's worth, trying to make sure we don't have the same issue when Part X is released.
It's another killer line up and a great way to end our first year. So happy with the way it has all turned out...despite any editing hiccups!
Excellent episodes in the works - we've had some phenomenal guests lately here in the studio and more still to come here in November. FEY and BLACKOUT LIGHTS will both be featured in full episodes later this year after we finish our upcoming episode with SHMOLTS through a video interview all the way from the UK which will mark the start of our second year. STOKED!
Both Fey and Blackout Lights put on incredible performances here in the studio...just awesome all the way through for both bands and I can't wait to show you some of what they've done! But without some key background assistance from our part-time SBS homies it might not have been pulled off - so I want to take some time here to shout out TIM STINSON for assisting in the filming of the Fey episode and to TYLER HUTTON for taking time out of his rock-schedule to help us film Blackout Lights. HUGE thank you to both of you - literally couldn't have done it without ya!
Video interviews still continue to go out on a semi-regular basis...though with each one sent the mystery surrounding these projects continues to grow...
For instance - I might just contact Neve from the reality show Catfish to hunt down Tourie of ALONG CAME LIFE just to ensure that it's really him I've been talking to! He accepted the invitation to a video interview a long time ago and we somewhat scrapped the idea when he let me know he was coming to the upper west coast for a possible visit. So sadly, I've yet to see with my actual eyes that this is in fact the man I've been talking to all along and the video interview has not been mentioned since...hoping that's still coming our way one day so the record gets set straight in my brain!
Or how about the often talked about yet still incomplete video interview for NICOLAS & THE ICENI? They've been extremely patient while we tried our hand at putting something new together. And though it has taken some time - we should hopefully be able to get them something in time for us to get some killer details on their upcoming album.
I'm just recently wrapping up the shooting on the LUNARSEA episode, filmed in blue for our new friends in Italy. This death-metal band has a different approach to the genre and as always I'm extremely excited to see what comes our way for responses from this band from so far away!
We just posted the latest episode of SBS Live This Week! - SBS But No BS Part X - the very last chapter in our first year on-screen. Not only does this episode include some more AMAZING bands through live performances and video but it will also give you a little more insight into my own video history as well! We'll be showing the first video I ever cut as well as the latest project I collaborated on myself through a unique video project.
Here's something awesome. Long time SBS favourites THE PIT will get together near the end of this month with original bass player Scott Lubchynski somewhere in Kelowna this November. We'll pass on more details to you as we get them, but from talking with Tyler Hutton (Drums) it sounds like this show is set up and ready to go. So...if you're in K-town anytime towards the end of this month, keep an eye out and go to this show!
Our friends way over in Eastern Canada - MORNING FAME - have just released a brand new single called "The Golden One." Always love hearing from these guys! Liking the new song right away on those first couple of spins through; I'm a big fan of the sweet tone in this band. I'll be talking about this single soon on the main page - keep an eye out.
Our absolutely crazy friend in WOLF COLONY, electro genius and masked-man-supreme, is back with a brand new EP that you can download for free. This guy makes some wicked music from what we've already heard in the past when we reviewed the last EP - go and have a listen to what he's up to now - you can rest assured I'll be doing the same!
WRAP THIS UP!:
Alright! The odds of another pre-year-old blog posting are fairly slim, I'll admit! You can count on us celebrating the day and having a great time, blasting the amazing music of yours that we've found over this past year. Looking forward to starting year two off RIGHT with our main man Jay from SHMOLTS on that first episode through video from the UK. The future seems closer than ever...and the past only feels like yesterday.
I love it here. Thank you everybody - you all make this possible for me, every day.
- Jer @ SBS
November 7th, 2013 - Colin Ward - Cappuccino - Album Review
Colin Ward – Cappuccino – Album Review
Alright readers – we’re not leaving this Americana subject quite yet. Hot off the heels of our last interview with a blues-country-rock slice of Americana with Skinny Cool Kid – let’s get into this new album Cappuccino by Colin Ward with his folk twist on this classic style of music. Though outside my genres of choice…I can’t help but crack a smile every time the album cycles through and I hear the track “Sometimes Sleep Don’t Come Easy;” as it never has for me…but I suppose that’s why I listen to as much music as I do…
I also watch a lot of stuff. Not all of it good either if I do say so myself. In fact, most of what I choose to view is just horrendously awful; endless sub-par horror flicks written with the flair of a third grader’s imagination…but I also catch a lot of great stuff as well. You couldn’t get me off the couch when Breaking Bad was on. Absolutely loving Sons Of Anarchy right now. Love my cartoons too…like Family Guy for instance…still a classic…
This is all going somewhere, I swear…
Right! My first impression. Strange that it would come from a cartoon reference, but that was the immediate reaction to hearing the lyrics from Colin Ward from the opening track “The Emigration Song.” Though listening securely on his CD Baby page with a “Recommended If You Like…” section that includes Jerry Garcia, Mark Knopfler and Tom Petty – I found that my immediate comparison came from the extreme amount of information related through that first song…and it made me think of the moments where Randy Newman has shown up in Peter Griffin’s world to tell a tale of what’s happening at that very moment through song. If you’re not convinced by the opening track, listen to “I’m Amazed,” you’ll at least hear where I’m coming from…
And you can take that for what it is – it’s definitely not an insult, just a connection made through the lyrical style of Colin Ward. No song on Cappuccino is an exception; Ward packs a full novel into every song. And if you were to ask THIS bearded guy reviewing this album (Seems someone must have!) – this is an incredible gift from Colin to all of you who listen. Let me explain…
Lyrics are tough! Go ahead and try this right now and you tell me I’m wrong…
Out loud, you just go ahead and tell – you don’t even have to sing – your favorite story from your life, don’t spare any details…and take notice of the clock. See if you can wrap up the most important, most beautiful or most heartbreaking moment of your life in under TEN minutes. Every song is an opportunity for a lyricist to put their words to a fresh, untainted canvas – and in my heart-of-hearts I like to believe that we’re all trying to say SOMETHING. I even like to believe that these writers try to recreate these amazing tales of their lives – just like the ones you all said out loud moments ago – into songs. And they have to typically tell those quality tales between 3-5 minutes!
To write in the style that Colin Ward does is a freedom that the pen in most hands will never know. Coupled with the easy-to-listen-to music, this album Cappuccino really feels like you’ve gotten to know Colin Ward personally by the time the album closes. His lyrics truly reflect the world through his eyes giving you a genuine, true insight into the mind of Ward. In OR out of song – I have the feeling Colin is definitely the storyteller in ANY group of people.
They say “write what you know” – and what Colin knows is a good story. Whether it has come from his own personal autobiographical collection, or a fictional tale – his effort into relating these tales through song is a real testament to how much you really CAN make out of that 3-5 minute instrumental track when you focus and put your mind to those lyrics.
Musically I find I’m in nearly the exact same boat as our last review in this genre with Skinny Cool Kid. Though I myself personally am always thirsting for new and unique sounds – I’m also not going to be the reviewer to knock everyone down who doesn’t go out and re-invent the musical wheel. Americana, almost by the default nature of the very genre itself, might never sound NEW. But much like with what Colin has done here on Cappuccino it can certainly sound plenty comfortable and familiar, relax and put you in a chilled out mood.
Is it well played? Certainly. There’s a ton to like about this project of Ward’s. Beautifully toned and crisp guitar solos, there’s some sax I believe…some strings as well. In a real tribute to the Americana genre – it’s subtle but if you listen to “Let’s Go Downtown” – you’ll definitely be able to hear an authentic organ in there as well, filling in the background quite nicely. “Sometimes Sleep Don’t Come Easy” also features a stellar female back-up vocal that works very well – I’d be shocked if she didn’t have a career of her own somewhere out there as well…fits perfectly in this song.
Hmm. Maybe it’s trumpet. I should know this... Nahhhhh…that’s a sax for sure… “How Does Your Heart Feel Now” has just got some incredible stuff happening in this song from the keys to the sax (Yeah – I decided.) creating a real highlight on this album from Colin Ward. He drifts from styles influenced by Clapton, Cash, and Petty…sometimes even nearing the edge of Cohen.
But never to the point where Ward loses himself inside his influences; expanding on these sounds through great storytelling and dedicated lyricism, his style that cannot be confused for another’s. It’s still Americana, yes, but it’s identifiably Colin Ward the entire way through. Artists can go through their entire careers lost in the sea of sameness due to being audibly unidentifiable, but Colin will never have that problem.
All he has to do is stay true to himself. After listening to his album Cappuccino multiple times, I feel like I know him like a musical-brother-from-another-mother, so I feel like I can almost say firsthand that this won’t be a problem for him. Each of these tracks represents an honesty and a story genuinely felt by Ward and expertly passed on to you through song.
Check out Cappuccino on CD Baby at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/colinward5
And support him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ColinWardMusic
November 2nd, 2013 - Skinny Cool Kid - No Risk - EP Review
Skinny Cool Kid – No Risk – EP Review
At the outset of reviewing this new EP by Skinny Cool Kid from West Chester, PA – I was instantly welcomed into the warm country/blues-rock sound much of middle America is still well known for. Beginning with the track “Just Like Me,” I was also full of worry in writing this article. Throughout these pages of sleepingbagstudios it’s certainly well documented…the A.D.D. way in which I listen to music that is… I’m always looking for more of a NEW thing, not always pausing to appreciate more of a GOOD thing, like what we have here on the No Risk EP.
The first tracks of these latest reviews on our site have thrown me a bit – I must admit. “Just Like Me” is no exception to this run of late; it’s a good song to open with as the quality rises exponentially during the next tracks “All Over Creation” and the title track “No Risk” - ironically nestled safely in the middle of the EP. During “I Roll On,” Skinny Cool Kid takes a turn towards melodic country rock before returning to a blues-rock-rooted final track in “Beyond An Orange Sky,” leaving you feeling like you’ve gotten some highlights from this band…a top-five, if you will…
It’s an almost bizarre feeling for a journalist to approach a point where there are no words, but this No Risk EP is so well put together and perfect through its production, song-writing, and performance that there’s almost nothing to pick on whatsoever. You already heard my beef with the EP subtly in the intro paragraph anyway – I’d be the last to say that Skinny Cool Kid is breaking any new ground here; but they are doing something comfortable, something we all feel familiar with and pulling it all of perfectly.
And you know what? I’ve got to just learn to chill out anyways.
On my re-listens through the EP, you can clearly hear some of the classic influences from George Thorogood, Steppenwolf and Elvis Costello, to name some of the giants. Lead singer and overall project title “Skinny Cool Kid” seems to be able to drift easily into the spirit, feel and sound of Costello at any time he chooses. And again – he pulls it off perfectly as a backing band of pro-musicians continue to play flawlessly throughout these songs.
Seriously! COSTELLO. I’m telling you. Listen to “All Over Creation” and don’t you dare tell me I’m wrong…
No Risk is like a 5-song EP tribute to great country/blues-rock songwriting. Skinny Cool Kid is no fool – he can certainly READ; and through these pages he’d certainly realize that I’m on the fringe of this genre at the best of times. This is music outside of the norm for me in my never-ending quest for new sounds and sonic experiments to fit into my earholes…I suppose I could say that.
But also in truth – I listen to a track like “No Risk” and think to myself – this absolutely IS something I would want to reach for and hear in my collection. I’d like to hear it in anyone’s collection really, for that matter and especially if you’re a fan of that true Americana sound.
Skinny Cool Kid has done a great job in a short amount of time on this EP. No Risk is accurate; I wouldn’t expect anything less that superb quality from him now or in the future.
Check out his latest EP at Bandcamp: http://skinnycoolkid.bandcamp.com/
November 1st, 2013 - The New Ages - Piper Man - EP Review
The New Ages – Piper Man – EP Review
This should make for an interesting review!
This new EP from The New Ages is full of influences you can audibly hear. Part Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Placebo and part UK altogether – this latest effort from the New Ages has a steady rock pulse pumping through the entire course of the EP. It has complex beats and rhythms that never let up – these songs are all alive; vibrant, full of life and well written.
Musically speaking – Piper Man is very, very well played. These are strong songs in composition – a perfect example of this is “Waterfall,” a cut near the end of the EP but one that is played with a ferocity and rare pop-intensity. It’s also the track where lead singer Ant finds his place solidly and takes a steady foothold within his own place in this band of very talented players.
One of the influences they list is The Red Hot Chili Peppers…which is appropriate in a couple of ways. When you listen to their track “Disguise” you’ll hear the capability Ludo has on the bass and decidedly agree that the Chili’s have a solid place in that sphere of influence surrounding The New Ages. Guitarist Dan riffs along this song just like Frusciante did in his most intense moments, filling in with the random alongside the driving bass-line. Guitar freedom at its best.
Unlike the Chili’s – the song “Disguise” is HUGE. A real highlight and compliment to drummer Ben – this track absolutely showcases his uncanny rhythmic and inventive drums played flawlessly. This certainly isn’t a slight on Chad Smith of RHCP – he’s incredible of course – but the Chili’s have never gone BIG in their sound production-wise. This track “Disguise” shows that The New Ages have another gear they can slide into and provides some real hope for the future of their music altogether.
Ok. Ok ok ok OK! I’ll address once glaringly obvious piece of this puzzle – the vocals. If you’ve paid attention so far – you’ll notice I’ve listed bands like Rush, Placebo and Red Hot Chili Peppers as sonic influences you can hear in their work…and ALL of those bands have ONE thing in common above all others: A “Love’em or Hate’em” singer. They might very well all be extremely talented – but they’re all polarizing. Even Rush fans can’t put their finger on exactly WHAT they like about Geddy Lee’s voice, they just do. The people that don’t like him find him nasally off-key for what their ears are expecting and that same can be said of Placebo. Anthony Kiedis is notorious for walking the fine line edge of on-key and off.
Lead singer Ant fits in with all of these singers and their attributes. Some of you will love what he brings to the music; others will be listening and expecting a different tonal quality than what comes out of Ant in combination with the music. Like Rush or Placebo, much of it comes across nearly as narration, rather than traditional singing. Regardless of which style in his repertoire he’s singing in – he inarguably brings with him an excellent vocal hook or two per track as well.
Coming back to “Waterfall” again makes me appreciate what a true BLEND this music is. This particular track is such a superb combination of the old-school and new. You can almost hear old-time bands like Mariliion or Gowan bonding with bands of today like Franz Ferdinand or The Killers. Seriously – that makes for music that gives you something interesting to the ear. I think this particular track grabs me as well as it has a haunting early R.E.M. feel to it as well, and of course you all know they remain my favorite band to this day. Even the title track “Piper Man” has that same cryptic feeling and dynamic soft vs. hard edge to the music that has made alternative a timeless genre as valid as the rest.
Composition-wise, there’s no argument – The New Ages can certainly write tight, multi-faceted songs that really take you on a rock adventure. And while the comparisons have led to polarizing singers that some respond to and some don’t – one thing can also be said for Rush, Placebo and The Red Hot Chili Peppers…they have ALL enjoyed massive success and careers with longevity.
I think that recipe for success should hold just as true for The New Ages and here’s why: It’s because I also think that if you were to go back to where all of those bands started and listened to those first albums all over again…well…I bet you’d come out of that listen and agree that this band The New Ages and their EP Piper Man shows every bit as much promise for the future as those now classic albums did when they were released for the first time.
Listen to the EP Piper Man by The New Ages at their Soundcloud page at: https://soundcloud.com/thenewages
And why not support them at Facebook as well!
October 31st - Jimmy Mac - Lucky Star - Album Review
Jimmy Mac – Lucky Star – Album Review
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…WHAT are you up to here?
Immediately in my first listen I can hear a strong songwriter right off the bat. Between the opening and title track “Lucky Star” and “Happily Wasted” I’m already convinced that Jimmy Mac has a complete gift for writing a song and a powerful hook. These two songs certainly display that element, but they hit me in two completely separate ways. Let me explain…
“Lucky Star” is an interesting track to me for several reasons. Title tracks in general always are to me. In theory, whether it’s track one or track eight – if it’s the TITLE track, it’s the “centerpiece” of the album…the crown jewel…the proudest moment. To me – after a firm listen to this album on repeat – I found that “Lucky Star” was more of a jumping off point, rather than a centerpiece as I thought the content on this album as well as the performances became stronger as the album played on.
That’s not to say it’s a bad song – it’s the complete opposite. It actually doesn’t matter what song you choose off this album, they all display a completely gifted songwriter. But with “Lucky Star” the song, I found a blending of sound that I suppose maybe I wasn’t expecting. It was like the lead singer for the band Cold had gone and joined a blues band for a second. Much like the lead singer for Cold, Jimmy lethargically and hazily sings this track against a contrasting sound to really create a unique opening, almost deceptive…
Because immediately in the following track “Happily Wasted” you get a much better sense of what Jimmy Mac is capable of. The pop sensibilities on this album showcased in songs like this, or later in “Lazy” are a far distance from the opening track. And Jimmy…I’m talking to you directly now…you KNOW you can hear it too. Listen to the ENERGY and the LIFE you’ve got in your performance on “Lazy” (LOL, of all tracks!) and you can hear quite easily this is your comfort zone for sure.
I’m not sure if anyone does this when listening to an album…but I do; when I can hear so quickly that I’m hearing an amazing songwriter, I don’t always expect a cohesive album. I do expect amazing song after song, but not always connected in sound itself as these people tend to focus on the moment rather than the grand assembly at the end. Cohesive albums are also the result of bands and writers that have millions of songs in the vault to pull from, and even in that instance they still have to stand the test of time and still be relevant to have that feeling of togetherness. While I’m not all that convinced that this particular group of songs on Lucky Star all tie in together – there’s no disputing that each and every one of the songs that make up this album are brilliantly written as separate entities.
Listening to “Sweet Nothings,” deep in the middle of the Lucky Star, I am literally continually blown away by the ability this guy has to write a hook. “Suckers,” another great example, is an explosive track with wicked vocal effects and a driven determination to not let the middle of the album sag. Written in a familiar style, much like Gavin Rossdale of Bush and something you can also find in the song “Fly.” Jimmy Mac has learned an incredible amount from his 90’s predecessors and really knows how to get the most out of each and every song.
“Boy And A Girl,” this is an all-kinds-of-interesting track for me. Part Three Doors Down, part Silverchair and part blues-rock – this track walks a fine, fine line for Jimmy Mac. I advise extreme caution here Jimmy! There’s no disputing that this track is a hit song – again, I truly believe anything you’ve written can be off this album – but this particular track could catch fire with the bar crowd easily. I’m just saying…if they love this and want MORE of it from you – you might get pulled into that! And though again, it sounds comfortable and well-written, the majority of the album is different in sound…you don’t want to get locked into something permanently!
But perhaps therein lies the theme of the album, and also of the “songwriter” in general. Thematically, the albums range so far between the extremes because they’ll never want to be locked down. If that’s the case, I applaud you all – you as well Jimmy Mac!
The album closes on a pop note with “Happy Forever,” another song that could easily be heard on the radio station anywhere in your town with a remix happily fitting into any of the station’s formats. It also has another shot at the “Lucky Star” track with an acoustic/strings rendition. Does it succeed? In a couple of ways…
The first being that the music works a little better with the vocals and the song seems to gel a little better in this style. The strings are absolutely beautiful – and just like in the original, there is a bridge in this song where Jimmy breaks free of the hazy vocals and really lets loose at his full 100%.
The second way is that it truly serves as the other “piece of bread” on this album. And just like a great sandwich – what’s between the bread is everything you’re craving, but the bread's still good too! There’s an incredible amount of talent on display from Jimmy Mac on Lucky Star - you rock fans will definitely be big fans of this.
Check out Jimmy Mac’s new album on soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/jimmy-mac-6
October 30th - Matthew Heller - Invitation - Album Review
Matthew Heller – Invitation – Album Review
I have taken longer in preparing this review than I’ve ever taken before. If you’ve read these reviews in the past, you know I quite often start out with an apology on how long it has taken to get it on the page, but let me tell ya…Matthew Heller is not only an excellent musician, but he’s a completely patient gentleman and has literally waited nearly five times as long as anyone I’ve reviewed before him.
There’s a justified reason as to WHY I’m so last minute with everything…one that goes beyond my commitment to Hunter S. Thompson-style journalism; I listen. You could find a million journalists and reviewers out there, but never one to take their role as seriously as I do. Not everything can be understood, heard or written about during the course of a single listen, yet I can see 99% of the time from the writing of these reviews that this journalistic low-road has been taken again and again.
Let me explain. I suppose if I had reviewed this new album Invitation that I wouldn’t have had as many good things to say about it. That’s not a knock on Matthew, his music or anything other than a knock against ME. Hopefully I’m not alone in this – but have you ever listened to that NEW album by your favorite artist and come out of that listening with a big ol’ “WTF?” Then somehow, because you REFUSE to believe that your favorite band could do you so WRONG, you eventually listen again. Only this time, the WTF is now pointed directly at yourself and you wonder how you missed all this amazing music the first time around.
I can admit when I’m wrong. I missed Matthew Heller’s album Invitation when I played it the first time. And Mr. Heller – you certainly have my apologies. These (many) subsequent listens have put my brain on track – now I can hear this as I should have to begin with. In fairness to myself, rock is not my genre of choice necessarily – but this is far from the “straight ahead,” and I should have noticed that right away.
The level of creativity and ability in this album has no limit. There are so many of those things….aww shit…you know what I’m talking about…those…things…they used to happen all the time when the singer’s not singing…RIGHT – solos! I’ll admit, through sleepingbagstudios we’ve dealt with a lot of progressive rock, which of course is laden with solos, but also expected. In typical modern day verse/chorus/verse songwriting the solo and bridge have nearly disappeared entirely; with that, the ability to showcase not only the songwriting ability of a band, but the exceptional playing as well.
Invitation is such a complete break from the normal all the way through. From the off-the-wall lyrics to this wonderful incorporation of extremely capable musicianship – this album is what I’d imagine Les Claypool to sound like and make once he’s retired and sitting on the porch of some backwoods ranch.
Yeah…okay…that’s officially the WEIRDEST compliment I’ve ever handed out, but Matthew, I assure you, it IS a compliment.
The other comparison I drew to instantly was Stephen Malkmus after listening to the Matthew Heller track “Space Girl.” After jumping into a riff-laden opening to the album, Matthew switches to a alternative-pop-indie-thing that reminded me a lot of the song “Pencil Rot” by Malkmus after he had left the lazy style of Pavement behind and tightened up the musicianship for his solo work. “Space Girl” has that instantly recognizable feel and pulse and the moment I heard it, all of a sudden I could easily remember hearing it before when I had first spun the album. Track after track, not only did this continue to happen, but I was actively SINGING ALONG. Matthew Heller writes songs that have hooks that stick into your brain whether you realize it at first or not.
There are moments of the big and the small all over this album, but it’s the small that suits Matthew Heller and his vocal style the best. His voice is that of the perfect indie hero; fragile and vibrating with energy, emotion and genuine belief in the music he’s making. The end of this album is incredibly strong and really highlights the strengths of Heller’s voice with the music. “Sink Or Swim” and “Dismay King” end this album in a musical splendor; fantastic songwriting, incredible emotional songs, one slow and one up-tempo to close out the album in a way that will instantly taunt you to play it again.
Incidentally, the fifth track on the album, “Interlude,” a song with no vocals is a cut that could easily bring tears to your eyes – listen with caution. A piano and strings combination that truly solidifies the amount of skill in Heller’s songwriting, some songs don’t need words and he was right on that one. Perfect track.
And as that track breaks, we get a 70’s rock production feel to “Howdy From Hades,” nearly Zeppelin-esque in the assembly. There are nods to other greats as well, like Tom Petty and his song “Last Dance With Mary Jane” that bears a resemblance to the Heller track “Mercy.” He never crosses over into being a copy, never even gets close to that line…Heller re-invents each and every sound completely as his own and plays them all with incredible skill.
Regardless of the time it has taken to put this together – I’m glad that time was taken. Apparently my earholes had to adjust before I could fit this music into them properly, but now that they have, I don’t want to lose these songs or these moments. I keep coming back to “Sink Or Swim” as THE example of why on this album…that sound…that one right there is the one I don’t ever want to lose in the soundtrack shuffle of my life.
Yeah. Took some time but it was completely worth it and I’m thankful I came around to my senses. Believe me when I say the next time Matthew Heller sends out an Invitation, I’ll be gladly accepting.
See what else I had to say about Matthew Heller and his new album Invitation on SBS Live This Week! – Episode 61 – Part II With Kyle Truelove of Aztec!
And support Matthew Heller at these fine pages!
October 29th - The Jesus Clause - Downtime - Album Review
The Jesus Clause – Downtime – Album Review
YES. You know what’s awesome? This. New. Album.
This band The Jesus Clause is the sole work of a nineteen year-old wonder-kid named Trevor Hook and man has he stumbled onto some incredible sounds. Each different from the one before, layered, looped and textured to a blissful musical state – if this is just “Downtime” for him right now he may as well pack his bags and get ready for a long life as a musician. This guy has got it.
I’ll fully admit in the first two tracks he had me all over the map with an album opening with short bursts of sonic audio-experiment, before settling into the first full length track, “Halves.” What starts in the bizarre becomes incredibly inviting to anyone listening the minute this track begins. It sprawls out into an unbelievable loop-riff jam collective that is full of rich guitar tone and incredible ideas.
Perhaps now is also a good time to mention that he has recorded all of this LIVE with no editing?
“Halves” continues on to show his ability to be creative and bring music to life right there on his own through looping and innovation. From the initial riffs, to the breakdown, build-up and final break – this track put the full picture together and now I can see it all much more clearly. As The Jesus Clause, Trevor has created some unbelievable moments, now recorded and out there for the world. They exist, and so they should.
Equally incredible – “Waters” has that same melodic guitar beauty I can find in Explosions In The Sky. There’s an absolutely wicked bendy guitar line in this track that is just one of the reasons I love it. Between this song and “Halves” I was already more than sold on the creative talent of The Jesus Clause; Trevor can certainly write a song, but what else can he do?
The answer comes in right away with the next track “Navigate;” a track that shows the definition of what sonic texture is all about. The main melodic line sputters and delays, creating a hazy, dream-like atmosphere that feels cozy…until near the end of the track… Heading right in to the guitar work in “Warmm,” if you were to ask me, this is what they call “Right In The Pocket.” On this album I can hear one of two things on each track – the effort to challenge what is “normal,” and the effort to do “normal” better than the rest.
For what it’s worth, I think The Jesus Clause has pulled this off insanely well. Keep in mind – I’m a dedicated listener and certainly a little more forgiving knowing this is done right there and live with looping and all that. There are admittedly a few awkward switches in a few tracks, but nothing that remotely snapped me out of wanting to listen to what was coming next. “Functional” is a great example of this. I could listen to this track 1000 times and try to imagine him recording these ideas all together like he has and it blows my mind. I’ll never know how this track comes together as well as it has, but it did and there you have it.
I have an incredible amount of love for the song “Stocks.” The idea on this track is perhaps even slightly better than this particularly recorded version. The lead guitar comes in a little too over-the-top in volume in comparison with the rest of the track, just slightly but enough to make it so I’d personally want to hear this in a studio remix. Not a knock against him at all, it’s a volume issue and a consequence of doing things live on the fly. But in comparison, you can move to the very next track “Drafts” where the balance between it all is as perfect as it could be. Absolutely killer track and base melody.
There’s an excellent, organized and jazzy feel to the music of The Jesus Clause and I dig that. The final track on the album “Space” puts on a wicked display of loud vs. quiet with an overhauled musical-battle of a song. Everything compared to the rest of the album has become bigger and stronger for this last epic song as the album closes out on yet another fantastic idea.
And in a wicked turn of events – we even get a bonus track, where unless I’m mistaken, Trevor even grabs the microphone for a second… But like much of these short electronic bursts – it lasts for only a moment before finding one final excellent hook and finishing strong. That forlorn piece on the microphone shows up once more at the very end to tie up the bonus track and full album on an interesting note; one that points to the amount of emotion in the overall album.
At nineteen years old – this is well beyond where it typically starts. What little sharp edges there are will smooth out quickly with Trevor’s ability to learn and adapt to his musical equipment. The most important elements are all here soundly; the innovation, the creativity, original songwriting and melodies. He reaches for complex structures and has truly not only challenged himself musically on this album Downtime; he has been every bit successful in finding new strengths.
Find out more about The Jesus Clause at: https://www.facebook.com/TheJesusClauseBand
October 28th - Human Behavior - Golgotha - Album Review
Human Behavior – Golgotha – Album Review
To be completely honest – at many times listening to this new album from Human Behavior, I found myself wondering HOW on earth it was able to retain its immaculate authenticity. It takes nearly all of my concentration when writing lyrics to not write them in a sequence, a chronological order or a story that could be understood by even a four-year old child…I’ll admit quite easily, though I seem to write these reviews quite well – I still have a long way to go before lyrically I’d consider myself to be anything whatsoever original. Today – I’m inviting you to learn about this completely inspiring album absolutely full of originality and beautiful uniqueness. Golgotha by Human Behavior is an awesome effort that will be taken to instantly by fans of “true” indie music…not the pop-influenced “indie” many of us know today from its steady flow into the mainstream.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t fake authenticity…at least not for long. On many an album you can find unbelievable songs that “stand-out” – another way of saying “they got it right,” and nearly suggesting that they didn’t “get it right” in others. Sometimes that’s simply inconsistency, and other times it’s the internal struggle of a band trying their best to create something outside of their sound. It can often lead to an album feeling incomplete – or even worse than that…hollow altogether.
Human Behavior will never struggle with this, never break from their character and as far as I can tell – they’re never going to release music that sounds forced whatsoever. No matter what song you choose from Golgotha – you’re not only going to find unique sounds and compositions well played and thought out – but you’ll EASILY be able to hear how truly genuine this is. I felt like listening to this album was a complete foray into the “new” of music in many ways.
Before this goes ANY further – I want to point out that this band came our way as a direct result of meeting another band we’ve had in review not so long ago – Electrician, also known as the brainchild of Neil Campau. When hearing this band today, Human Behavior instantly struck me as a sound very closely related to what he was personally doing in Electrician and upon realizing that they had been sent to us by Neil…I started to think to myself, ‘This guy is not only a goddamn genius – he’s full on creating an entirely NEW music scene over there on his side of the screen.’
I could honestly rant and rave about the originality of this music for the entire duration of this interview just as much as I can turn up my volume on their music here at the studio – and it is LOUD in here right now! Whether it is through the music or through the words – this music is so right up my alley it parked itself right in my driveway and put itself on blocks so as not to be moved. It has ALL of the elements I love in the truest of the true Indies out there; beautiful melodic music, original invention throughout and lyrically wearing a straightjacket.
I’ll point you to the perfect example of this, coming in at track #5 – “Drone” is such a perfect song that it becomes nearly hard to describe here in fact without sounding like fiction. The music is so incredibly beautiful; well played and sparse, allowing for the fragile vocals of lead singer and band leader Andres along with the four-piece female choir you can find throughout this album. Those two vocal components work fucking phenomenally together. I apologize for the language, but there’s simply no denying how much this music makes me want to stand up on my console desk and shout “Oh Captain, My Captain” towards each and every member that has contributed to Golgotha. I listen to something like this and it provides a personal assurance that creativity and originality are FAR from dead in music. If you’ve ever heard someone tell you that it has “All been done” – you can now officially tell them to go and pound sand. Human Behavior are not simply creating songs about chicks and cars.
The most beautiful thing about this style of reaching so far outside of the box for the wording is that, when accompanied with beautiful music, they’re creating moments in time that will never be duplicated. The kind of moments you will feel YEARS from now and wonder where you remember feeling that same way before, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was that band you listen to….that band Human Behavior CREATED that feeling you experience there in that moment, like déjà vu.
Where is my friend KYLE TRUELOVE of the band AZTEC on this one? Now that this beard of mine has reached a certain length and I’m officially covered in old-moldiness – most of the excellent indie music I’ve been hearing has been the result of my conversations with Kyle about his music and influences…but not today! Today I get to be the champion of this fantastic music by Human Behavior and I can assure you all I am going to put this personally into his EARHOLES because this is something I know that he would more than love, just like I do. Today – I get to tell this particular indie hero about a band he might not have heard of yet, and knowing him to be a true fan of real Indie music – there’s no denying this is a fantastic and complete album from beginning to end. In a nod to the universe agreeing with me – the song “I’m Sorry, You’re Saul” has been playing in the background and while writing that last sentence, echoed their lyrics, “We like the same bands, we like the same bands…”
Deep down we DO. Not just Kyle and myself, but many of our supporters, readers, listeners and viewers are so accustomed to our search for the unique and beautiful, the original, melodic and diverse in sound. Human Behavior displays all of these qualities in this span of their album Golgotha. I’ve had this on a steady repeat and I really can’t get over this constant shock of just how new, but also just home much like “home” this album can feel like. It has nestled itself into my ears like I was simply born to listen to it.
When you research this band through their official site – it becomes crystal clear to me that this IS what we look for at sleepingbagstudios. You know I’ve said it countless times – be a band with something to SAY or with something to PROVE. Human Behavior is one of those truly rare gems out there to have the distinct honor of being BOTH. Not only are they saying completely new things through their lyrics that sound inexplicably close to that of reviews on the latest Mike Doughty album submitted by his fan base, but you can tell that this music is taken incredibly seriously in the background, regardless of the lighthearted sound or lyrics. It is played with a preciseness that is golden and never loses that passion in the execution to ever sound sloppy. This is literally music that COULD go horribly wrong – but Human Behavior have not let a single poor moment invade their music or this album; they’ve nailed it, creating one of the most original and highly likeable new sounds I’ve heard in a very long time.
If you can imagine The Arcade Fire went and sat down with the unchained Modest Mouse of ten years ago, went on a weekend drug-binge and wrote about what they saw on the inside of their heads…that might come close…but that’s about as close as you can get to for a comparison from me. That leads me to believe that this IS in fact every bit as original and uncharted as music can get and I highly commend Human Behavior for their inability to be normal. This has kept my attention in full upon multiple listens, and caused others around the SBS camp to prick up their ears and ask what the awesome music I’ve been playing is and where it comes from. No one is complaining about listening to this as many times as I already have – each time it comes in fully new, vibrant and inviting.
Inviting. That’s a great word for this album. Often things that are outside of our own comfort zones do not have that feeling attached to it, but this entire album Golgotha truly pushes past any pre-conceived feelings you could possibly have and pulls you in through outstanding lyrical imagery and brilliantly played/assembled pieces. I’ve asked many people over my decade of reviewing and interviewing – ‘just how hard IS it to create something that has never existed, never been done before?’ That’s an extremely RARE quality – go ahead and close your eyes and try it now if you don’t believe me! Attempt to invent something that borrows nothing from anything you already know – it’s about the toughest thing anyone can do. Somehow – Human Behavior has managed to create that very something and thankfully they’ve decided to share that vision with us all.
I wish that you could all sit here with me one day and see my bearded face radiate happiness when I find music like this, and I have to crack a sly-smile when I realize that yes, I AM about to post yet another positive review on our site. You already know that no one puts this amount of wordage into a fluff piece, or music that no one could feel passionate about – so once again I ask you to all go out there and connect with each other…to bring the independent scene out of the shadows and into the spotlight it so clearly deserves. Our reviews are positive for one reason and one reason alone – YOUR music is literally that good right now. Human Behavior is a model example of expanding the boundaries of musical genres to create something all to themselves and lead the way in a new and beautiful sound – what’s not to be liked about that when you pull it off as incredibly well as they have here on Golgotha?
Check out the official site, stream and buy the album here: http://www.punksandcriminals.com/humanbehavior/
Support them on Facebook at:
October 27th, 2013 - Origin Story: The 3rd
Alright...it has been a long long time since I put out an origin story of the beginnings of SBS Live This Week...and the show turns ONE YEAR OLD on Nov. 17th - so here you go!
Shortly after the second interview we ever completed with IRON KINGDOM and deciding that I still had a valid place in music journalism, I immediately set out to really push what I could do and see just how far I could take it. So for the first time in my life, I set up multiple interviews in one day...something I'm certainly no stranger to now!
On my agenda: Pop-rock band A COLD CITY NIGHT, the sometimes independent/sometimes not Richard Fordham of THIS THING and later that day I had THE PIT coming into the studio for the very first time. This is a day that would eventually shape much of what we did at SBS for the show content and how we went about the interviews. I was in a rhythm of my own now...I felt, as always, that I was prepared and that I knew what I was in for.
As many of you already know - I'm out and about in cyberspace for much of my time and if we're doing a show, well, we talk. We e-mail or send carrier pigeons, whatever we have to do, but by the time you get here for an interview on SBS Live This Week, if you've reached out to me then I've more than likely sent you a 10-page e-mail response to even the most basic questions about the show.
Having talked to them all about the tight schedule I was on that day (Keep in mind the length of the show! 2 hours X 3 bands = One exhausted & hairy host!) I made sure they all knew when to roll into the studio, to allow not only time for the other bands to complete, but to allow time for me to charge my cameras and batteries...eat my Wheaties...that kind of thing... Didn't seem to be any hiccups coming, the schedule was laid out easily enough to handle...so I thought.
I had A Cold City Night coming in first at around noon, followed by This Thing at about 3pm and The Pit later on that night around 7 or 8. That's plenty of time in any scenario. Again...so I thought.
Talking with Richard from This Thing shortly before the day of the interview, he asked if he would be able to show up early. I apologized and said that wouldn't be able to happen this time due to the time needed to interview A Cold City Night and to charge up the batteries for This Thing. I had already sent out the "tight schedule" e-mail beforehand, but I suppose this e-mail was to re-affirm that, 'No Richard, I can't have you showing up early..." But if you've seen the episode with This Thing, well, you already know that RF is a cat of a different kind to say the least!
So shortly after noon, SBS is invaded by the young-punk kids of A Cold City Night. Now...I'm never going to be one to dictate HOW you represent yourselves - that's not my style...but be ready for some questions! I have no proof beyond my being a veteran BC stoner myself...but I'd suspect that at least a few of them had visited the...errr...herbs & spices cupboard...before coming to the studio. No judgements here! Other than I don't remember them sharing...and again, just a hunch...no proof or solid evidence, not even a roach!
The interview is going well. 3rd one into the show overall - it has some life + energy and I'm feeling like I can handle this day without error. As it turned out, I wasn't the only interview they were having that day and already having come a long way out to be at our compound, they had a long way back and were going to have to jet without performance. Ahhh, rockstar life!
Now, there's ALWAYS a lot on my mind in these interviews - there's stuff I want to know and there's always amazing things being said right there in the present to branch off of. Time itself, is the last thing on my mind.
Perhaps it was the nerves, perhaps it was my goldfish-like memory coming back to bite me again, but when Becky from SBS came into the studio to let me know my next act had already arrived...I was mind blown. My immediate first thought was 'Man - I have literally talked to these guys for forever,' which unbeknownst to me then, I actually hadn't. To this day the A Cold City Night interview is one of the shortest I've ever done and that was completely accidental.
All of a sudden, This Thing appears in our studio. Okay, it wasn't as scary as that sounds if you just say: All of a sudden, Richard Fordham appears in our studio. See? Not nearly enough ZING.
I boot out the guys from A Cold City Night and APOLOGIZE for keeping them so incredibly long. At this point, I was still convinced that I had interviewed them for over two hours. Time is apparently irrelevant in my musical space... I'm now freaking out because I've got no time to unwind my nerves and jitters from the first interview and next to no battery life. I also have a very odd fellow now in the studio who seems...strangely comfortable being in like...ANY environment. Interesting.
So I stalled as best I could to get what little battery life I could and just talked with Richard off camera for a while. That might be one of my biggest regrets as we just didn't have the battery life at that time of the studio to be able to continue to run them all for what I thought would now end up being a total of nearly five hours straight; but many of our best conversations never made it to the screen.
Then I saw the time. I had only interviewed A Cold City Night for a total of like, 40 minutes or so - the length of one half of our two part show. Richard, despite my request, was well over an hour early, and for a moment...I wasn't sure I could save that day from going under.
Then I saw it. It was PINK and it was WEIRD and it was BEAUTIFUL. Richard Fordham of This Thing had an authentic HELLO KITTY GUITAR. Unbelievable. Not only was I sure I had a great set of questions lined up, now I knew this would be my centerpiece. I wanted to talk about that guitar and get the amazing story! As it turned out...that particular story fell a little flat with a somewhat "normal" answer. It led to a conversation I had once with radio host and friend Jeff Jeffries who wisely told me "There's no such thing as a great question without a great answer." And no knock on Richard - that was an early lesson in my own expectations...he gave the best answer he could; the honest one.
This Thing - see more photos of his time on SBS Live This Week by clicking here!
Still, no lie here either, going from one band of five guys to a totally bizarre conversation with one guy totally drained me. By the time we had wrapped up Richard's performance in the studio, I was completely spent. DONE. I said goodbye to Richard once we wrapped and thanked him for his time, but here's the weird part...I never really SAW him leave. All of a sudden, he was just GONE. Not even kidding, I actually went out to the end of the driveway and took a look up and down the street and I DID NOT SEE HIM. Part of me is convinced he is living in the studio somewhere, even to this very day... Legend now has it that when you turn out the lights in the studio and they give off that final burst of juice before fading...that you can still see the flash of a Hello Kitty guitar and Richard Fordham giving you the thumbs up.
Enough of the campfire story. What's real was that at this point after two interviews and a much needed break in the day before The Pit showed up...well...I wasn't sure I was going to do this anymore after that second interview. I enjoyed it yes...but what was the overall POINT to what I was doing? What in the hell did I create?
I had apologized to Becky @ SBS - once The Pit got here I was convinced it was going to get LOUD, and that's not really her scene. We watched the video for "I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere" and though she enjoyed it, she was still fairly ready to sit the third shooting out. That all changed when we met Tyler & Trevor Hutton and Scott Lubchynski of The Pit. But then again, so did everything...
The Pit - Live On Stage @ The Fairview Pub, Vancouver, BC, 2013 - Get in The Pit here!
All of a sudden I had what still remains to be the three nicest and most humble people this side of Dave Grohl. People with some BEARDAGE that I could relate to. Out of that moment in time, gave birth to their song "Closer (You NEVER go full babyface!)" in reference to Scott's bare chin at the time of the interview. And now, in recent times...CLOSER has become the name of the growing side-project of Tyler & Trevor with bandmates from ex-band Doc Holliday, Ryan Rutherford and Jake Cummins.
I mean...for a guy who's entire life goal is to exist between your liner-notes...it doesn't GET any better than that does it?
But during the course of that interview I learned just how much the independent scene did NOT have a voice that fully represented them, or gave them proper time of day. Here I am writing about an event that happened nearly a year ago now...talking about it AGAIN...still. And I realized a truth I had always known deep down...the good guys never get a break.
If you watch that interview with The Pit you'll see that moment where Tyler talks about not getting any real help out there during the course of their recording three EP's. They had this amazing video and song in "I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere" and still not nearly enough recognition to punch through to the spotlight. And for the second time that day...mind blown. These were the three most excellent people to meet and they hadn't had any help in making that incredible music.
They played their songs "Closer" and "Solar Powered Night Light" and rocked the walls out of the studio. Trevor, unknown to him, was using a faulty guitar from sleepingbag and still managed to make it work for 95% of the songs. Regardless of how the guitar held up - the performance was epic and completely made everything seem not only possible, but just flat out awesome when it all goes right.
I came out of that interview and began to draw up this insane plan to help the independent scene, what little I could, shouting from our corner of the internet. I'm proud to say that slowly but surely...it's working. My goal became to simply inspire creativity and encourage art...to connect as many of you together as I can in one unstoppable indie-music time capsule. We're all here, and in a million ways we're all in this together. Thank you for being here.
JOHN KEENAN - who we've met through review on this site for his album Imagination To The Nation, is sending us a completely new and yet-to-be released cut of his new DVD to review. This guy continues to be an absolute champion and a relentlessly hard worker. Absolutely love the passion John has for being a part of the music scene and with his songwriting skills and ability to write a hook - he's got every right to be in it.
AZTEC - Kyle Truelove's new project from one of our latest episodes of SBS Live This Week has just put out a free download of their latest track, "Feet Like Roots." Click it to get it!
SPACEPORT UNION - Hearing from lead singer Caroline is always an incredible treat. I'm quite happy to receive an e-mail or message from her at any time, she's an incredibly inspiring and genuine personality. And she has given the word that herself and her band of prog-rock specialists are refining tunes for that next recording session coming soon.
EXPAIN - Now THIS is awesome. They'll be sharing a stage with seriously not-famous-enough-though-he's-still-famous comedian Brian Posehn at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver this November. Check this link to find out details and GO TO THE SHOW!
Expain - Photo from their interview on SBS Live This Week - click here to see more!
SBS LIVE THIS WEEK UPDATE:
THIS DAY BURNS - They're back on the show up early this final week in October before we head into November to celebrate our first full year as a show! TDB was EPIC on that last interview and has drawn a lot of positive comments from you all out there regarding the new tracks we played on the last show. These guys are awesome and I can't wait to have them on again - coming very soon this week!
After that - we've got something special in the works before we take on upcoming interviews with BLACKOUT LIGHTS and FEY. We've seen both of these bands share a stage with our good friends in Closer and I can't wait to get them both here in the studio to immortalize their music within the SBS walls.
A year old already. I almost can't believe I survived it, alongside all of the written efforts here at sleepingbagstudios.ca, a tremendous amount of effort perhaps - but nothing I'd ever want to call "work." It has been, and will remain long into the years to come, an honor and a privilege to be with you on the frontline of the independent scene.
Long may you run.
- Jer @ SBS
October 15th, 2013 - Evoletah - We Ache For The Moon - Album Review
Evoletah – We Ache For The Moon – Album Review
I remember way back when I had first lived with my studio partner, Rob @ SBS, long ago before our studio ever existed and we were just tuning into the different talents for music that we possess. It was one of those seemingly endless summers of youth; full of bright beautiful British Columbia colors, late nights and completely too much fun. Completely identifiable as the year 2003…some things you just never forget…
I was in the most full-blown stage of my musical piracy that I would ever come to know. I wasn’t just downloading a song or two at this time – I was downloading the ENTIRE internet. It was back in that time where each of our internet providers promised an “unlimited service” – to which even to this day most people would believe to be true. Then there’s me.
At that time – I had been downloading such a filthy amount that I had actually found the limitations of their “unlimited service.” The providers would call the house and tell us that we were currently downloading at the rate of FIVE TIMES the average business, never mind a residential address. All of those amazing songs and sounds we heard that summer remain firmly in our collections today, and for the most part Rob @ SBS was able to fend off their threats to shut down our internet service by asking them to hold for a moment while he would ask – “Hey Jer – are you almost done downloading the ENTIRE internet?”
To which I would assure him – “Yeah man, should only be another two weeks and I should have the entire thing.” He’d get back on the phone and let them know it really wasn’t that far away until we had it all, and they just had to hang on a little longer. There were so many new sounds that needed to be heard and absorbed – the process could NOT be interrupted. We saw ourselves kicked off of one service only to join the next. Only one thing was absolutely certain - we had to have it all. And to this very day I still remain just two weeks away…
I’m bringing all of this up because in that time frame of listening to immense amount of music – it took a completely standout SONG and an unbelievable feel to the opening of an album to jump right into the line-up of already verified solid tunes we would be playing each day. Many of you will know just how RARE it is to get that CHILL up and down your spine from hearing the opening notes of an album, and just how concretely that feeling will stay associated with the music over time.
EVOLETAH – the actual band supposedly being reviewed here today – brought me right back to the moment I heard “2+2=5” opening up the Radiohead album Hail To The Thief. Looking at this page’s worth of pre-amble now…that’s a lot of build up just to get to this particular point and truly start the review on Evoletah’s new album We Ache For The Moon – but understand that a Radiohead comparison does not come easily for me…it’s a kind of musical hallowed ground and not something I want to throw around lightly. But there it is, right here in print – this new band from Australia has created an album opening as incredibly haunting and chilling as pressing play was in 2003 listening to Hail To The Thief come on for the first time. And my point? I will just as easily remember where I was this week in my life while discovering the music of Evoletah, ten years down the road from now.
It also instantly invites the question for many of you; “If the comparison is to Radiohead – then what the HELL is there not to like?” So I will respond pre-emptively by saying this; if you’re looking for negatives in this review you may as well click onto one of those other indie music sites for a review on something else entirely because you are not going to get that here today. This album by Evoletah is nothing short of incredible. In fact – that opening hit me SO HARD that I instantly jumped online to share some of these thoughts with the band the minute I had a chance to press play for the very first time.
Absolutely stunningly beautiful all the way through from moment one to the final ending of this nine-track album – the opening track “Halfway” puts all the elements and skill of Evoletah on the table within mere seconds. The tone on the guitars throughout this track (And again, the ALBUM entirely) are pure gold. Lead singer Matt Cahill asks the question “Will you meet me halfway?” Let me answer by saying that if this is the quality of the music their making – I’ll go beyond the halfway point easily, in fact, I’m already THERE.
There are two other bands I’d like to include as sonic references for you that I believe echo much of the creativity in songwriting that Evoletah displays; a lesser known band called Paloalto and another that you might know already called Pink Floyd. If you were to combine the production of Radiohead, the structure of Paloalto and the jazz-influence of the more artistic Pink Floyd songs – you’d get something very close to Evoletah. And since merging those three bands is not likely to happen anytime soon – I’m EXTREMELY thankful to Evoletah for jumping in and filling this gap in the sonic universe. Take the second track on this album called “Time” – this is literally the jazz version of “The Great Gig In The Sky” by Pink Floyd. It has this incredible, smoke-filled lounge feel to it, with vocals coming from Katie Underwood this time in one of what becomes MANY beautiful and flawless performances on this album.
Really! I’m in love with that voice. She has the ability through her jazz-influenced background to really add herself in as another instrument and the contrast between her vocals with Cahill’s results in fragile sounds that evoke emotion, guaranteed. Whether it’s the quiet, haunting desolation in a track like “The Eleventh Hour” or the dark & hopefulness of “Black & Blue” – these two complement each other fantastically and have really got themselves onto something spectacular here. As far as I can see from their bio, Katie has been writing this album with Evoletah for this past year…but no word on her being a finalized part of this line-up that I can see…yet. I can’t be the only one who can hear just how special this combination is and it would be my true hope that the collaboration continues into more albums in the future or becomes a permanent evolution in their sound.
You can also understand and hear just how well she fits into this band by listening to the track “Guillotine” – her voice along with the well-placed drums of Jason Eyers-White develop that audible tie-in…that moment in clarity where you can hear how well she fits in not just with Cahill – but with them all. The addition of strings and saxophone take this track into new musical territory on the album, again highlighting their creativity and their immaculate songwriting together.
Now – as wonderful as she is – it would be extremely far-fetched to say that they don’t crack the musical bat just as hard without her prominently on a song. A song written as strongly as “The Forgetting” is something a band can work at for years and years, come close and still NEVER achieve – but Evoletah displays through this song ANOTHER side to their music, one with lighter pop overtones that works unbelievably well. Leading into “Everyone Waits For Nothing,” – a lyrical masterpiece and bone-chilling, sparse track that really highlights their clarity in sound and the true art of perfecting a track.
Did I mention that was track number EIGHT on the album? With only nine songs on We Ache For The Moon – there is NOWHERE for Evoletah to hide themselves. They’ve made an album with such an unbelievable amount of consistency and depth that there is no need to bury anything in the mix – it’s all on display; each song is like a welcoming invitation to listen to the next.
The guitars of Andrew Boyce and bass from Michael Shanahan work together as a team solidly throughout this album and are once again put on crystal-clear display in the final track. “Thirteen Moons” is such a perfect ending to this perfect album and nearly ventures into the sonic territory of post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky, and much like that band – Evoletah continues to express the emotion through the music of the band and in complete harmony with the rest of their album but this time without singing a single word.
There is nearly nothing I like better then when I absolutely KNOW I’m at the end of an album. A consistent and well laid-out album is just like the experience of listening to an amazing speech – you want to KNOW when that speech is over; you want that finality in the statement. If you’ve ever seen a speech where the speaker has no clear ending and the whole thing kind of just, well, ENDS – it can nearly drain the life out of much of what had been said previously – and the same can work for an album easily. This is where we all get divided into the “album” listeners and those who listen for the “songs” they like. I can happily straddle the fence between these for sure – but it is simply undeniable to me or to ANYONE when you listen to an ALBUM with an overall idea and not simply a set of new songs.
We Ache For The Moon is consistency at its finest hour; my words cannot possibly recommend this music to you all strongly enough. This is music as art through and through; satisfying in every one of its elements…an album that after listening simply makes you feel like you’re a better person than you were before you heard it.
Definitely go and check out anything you can by Evoletah! Check out these links!
Official Homepage: http://www.evoletah.com/
October 12th, 2013 - Unified Giants - Rise - Album Review
Unified Giants – Rise – Album Review
Heads up rap & hip-hop fans – this one’s for you! In review today we have the new album from a crew from the USA; Unified Giants are on my playlist this morning with their new album – Rise. When you check into this crew, it mentions right on their Facebook page that they “make hip-hop music for a specific group of people with specific taste about the rap music they consume;” there’s no questioning their specifics as I continue to read about them and listen to the new album – they’re not just from Long Beach, CA – they’re from NORTH Long Beach, CA - don’t forget it!
And it IS specific, as an album and style of music; this is hip-hop designed to bring out the gangsta in you. Many of you that have seen our show SBS Live This Week, or read interviews with other hip-hop artists know I’ve asked many times…rap CAN’T be all about bitches, money and guns can it? As the beginning tracks like “Til They Fall” and the title track “Rise” play through…it appears that maybe, just maybe it COULD be all about these three subjects!
I remember when the movie 8-Mile came out. A proud music pirate well before the release of that soundtrack – the moment it came out I downloaded it straight away. As it turned out – I didn’t actually RECEIVE the 8-Mile soundtrack on that first attempt…instead, I found I got myself a copy of some tracks by an indie rapper who went by the name of “Dirty-Dave” with an un-named crew to back him up. I mention this, because much of this reminds me of that and someone out there in the rap game will understand the reference to the flow. Like Dirty-Dave – Unified Giants display a definite skill in their ability to put together lyrics into entertaining and cohesive stories even though they tend to tread on subjects that have become common themes within the rap universe. Like they said – straight up, it’s not music for everyone – it’s music for a specific group!
In terms of beats and samples – the minimalist approach is the hot idea of the year 2013 no matter what the genre. Unified Giants have answered the call and put together straight ahead bass-heavy beats to rhyme over. Minimalism is by no means a bad thing, but it CAN be a tricky thing to pull off WELL. This crew from down south makes good use of the space in each track and execute it well, but tread the dangerous line of having tracks sound a little too much like each other in terms of tempo, beat and flow-style. Like the case of the tracks “Let Live” and “Beautiful Life” – both solid tracks in their own respect, but back-to-back nearly make them feel like they’re together in one grandiose track.
On the flipside there are some truly creative sounds and wicked samples used throughout this album. In a local reference for those in my own hometown – Swollen Members come to mind. When you listen to tracks like “Welcome-Here,” “The Business” or even “Outro” – you can hear easily that though they might reach for minimalist beats – they’re still looking for unique combinations of sounds to create their flows over. The beats are often darker in nature, but not aggressively in your face; this is music to take out in your low-ridin, tinted-window pimp-mobiles…ridin’ dirty of course… “Payin-Bills” is another great example of how a simple addition can make a track stand-out from the rest; the incorporation of horns into this track make this a track with a completely unique flavor and pulse – ridiculously fantastic track to rhyme over!
In delivering that flow, the other major influence I can hear in the delivery is that of the legendary Sen-Dog of Cypress Hill. Many of the rhymes spit over top of these beats draw on that familiar and menacing style of one of rap music’s most iconic – not much to complain about when that’s the company you’re keeping on a peer-level! And even your parents don’t need to worry about not being able to make out the lyrics; they might not like what they have to say but each line is delivered precisely and on-point, clear and with energy, moods and themes to match the track.
I found an interesting dynamic that exists between the personalities and the music however. Much of the time, they’re shouting “world-wide” within the track somewhere – which I almost found odd, given their pre-determined course of making music for a specific group. But let’s face it – there ARE huge fans of this style of music locally around you now and certainly across the globe. More than likely they understand that no musical act out there reaches every household – but that shouldn’t stop them from finding enough fans out there from each city and country to dominate the entire map.
I’m no different than the next homeless-looking bearded guy in my neighborhood – every once in a while even we have to take our inner-thug for a test drive. Unified Giants’ goal of going “world-wide” wasn’t meant to happen by blazing city to city without being able to take it all in, no; if this is the music they’ve made for the soundtrack to that journey across the globe – they’re going to get there cruisin’ with bass-beats pounding so hard that they’ll let you know they’re on their way to your hometown a whole city in advance of their arrival.
Check out what else Unified Giants are up to and support them at their Facebook page:
October 6th, 2013 - Leadsucker - Burn - Album Review
Leadsucker – Burn – Album Review
I have to admit – it’s not every day that I’ll find an album with THIRTY songs on it that spans a total length less than any of the TEN-song Weezer albums out there, but that’s exactly what you’re in for here today in this review of the new album called Burn by hardcore punk band Leadsucker. I’ll also admit that there have been many times where I THOUGHT I was listening to hardcore punk, but after listening to Leadsucker I’ve decided to redefine the parameters of that particular category. THIS is as hardcore as it gets ladies and gentlemen; Burn is an album that EXPLODES straight out of the gate – and it never stops for a single second from there. If you are looking for the next industry-fabricated super-ballad, well, you’re certainly in the wrong place today!
There are many completely fascinating elements at work on this album. I think for myself – the one that peaked my curiosity more than the rest was the sharp contrast between the amount of knowledge displayed through the lyrics and the amazingly short track lengths. I know, I know – I’m WEIRD. I GET IT. But follow me down this rabbit-hole for a second…
Leadsucker has made an album that has multiple facets and layers. What could be instantly dismissed as music for the A.D.D. – is much more than you might think at first. The songs are completely frantic, chaotic and PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE as hard as any song ever could. But within all of these elements lie the puzzle of Leadsucker itself. You could easily move-on from one song to the next – but the point of this album and the way that it is made is to hear SOMETHING that makes you go back and ask more questions about what you’re listening to. This is not surface level music, even in the slightest.
Now – you all know what a giant fan of melody I am, and of bands like R.E.M. and The Cure; to claim that this album is in my musical wheelhouse would be nothing short of an extreme lie. As I had said before, I once THOUGHT I had heard hardcore punk…but now…now I KNOW what it is, all thanks being to Leadsucker.
So what’s in it for me? I like a challenge. I like mystery. I like bands with something to SAY and something to PROVE. For as in-your-face as the music can be – there’s actually so much going on that I couldn’t help but to listen to the album in complete entirety at first and then believe it or not – I went straight back multiple times to listen to what each and every element of this band is doing. The drumming is played with tremendous skill & genuine feel and the guitars and bass just totally feed and shred off that energy, creating songs that sound like the stereo you’re listening to it on might implode the minute the last song ends. You can hear something like this and recall the mighty Lee Ving of the band Fear – known to many of the younger generation as the OTHER crazy maniac in Dave Grohl’s Sound City movie aside from Dave himself.
But what’s that you SAY?
While specifically throwing you songs that rip by within literal seconds (No joke – only FOUR of the thirty songs are one-minute or longer…but never even close to two minutes!) the lyrics demand extra attention. Burn is actually as political of an album as you can get with lyrics that don’t waste the meaning of a single word.
But for real – what’s that you SAY?
The words themselves would be hard to make out for most and here we find an element of exclusivity – you’d be missing much of the point of Leadsucker’s music if you couldn’t get past all the distortion and frantic delivery of the vocals. But if you can – there’s a whole slew of information, passion and delivery in these words – don’t let titles like “The Color Of Justice Is White” throw you off like it did for myself upon reading the title for the first time (Read my blog post, Sept. 22nd!) – there’s no overtones of brutal hatred on this album so much as there is a desperation for change and social equality.
While the overall music that Leadsucker has put together for Burn might not be made for the masses – it IS made for those that want to listen to an album the same way they’ve watched their favorite movie twenty times to absorb all the details. As a person that listens to all kinds of music each and every day – I’ll admit just one more thing to you… I completely and thoroughly enjoyed learning about this band, listening to this album, reading the words and going on the journey WITH the band as this album played through.
And if you’re really hearing what they have to say – there’s no exclusivity factor whatsoever. There’s room for everyone that can truly hear their message; in fact, it’s damn near a musical call-to-arms.
October 5th, 2013 - Electrician - "This Is How We Do It" - Single Review
Electrician - "That's How We Do It" - Single Review
Every once in a while I get asked to review someone’s latest work; in fact, if you’re reading this you’ve probably already come to notice that. In this coming week you’ll come to appreciate the diversity in that first statement as we range from covering an album with THIRTY tracks to this humble request from a solo project called Electrician to review a single solitary track!
Here’s where we’re endlessly different from the other website reviews you’ll read…I’ll share a secret with you...
I don’t take direction all that well…
Call me absolutely crazy, but the idea of reviewing someone’s current single without having any frame of reference to their previous work would simply be irresponsible journalism. And I’ll say this as well – if you ever find yourself reading one of my articles, you can count on the fact that we’ll always go much more in depth than the latest track! We LIVE music, we exist between the liner notes – at sleepingbagstudios we are ALL ABOUT music in every possible way! Let’s push play and find out what Neil Campau, the genius behind the indie music of Electrician, has got for my waiting ear-holes this morning…
The comparison that struck me instantly will make me sound like an elitist asshole, but nonetheless accurate. If you’ve ever heard the very little known band Eric’s Trip – a band with massive expectations from an unforgiving record label – Electrician is making music in this same pure vein as they once did. After never rising to the mainstream expectation that saw many bands with ideas and heart rise to the top – Eric’s Trip had to fold up their musical tent and go home, sent packing by their label. Thankfully – as an independent artist – Electrician will never have to give up.
If you took the honesty in the recording and performances of Eric’s Trip and combined them with another fantastically unique indie band I’ve referenced before called Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – you would have something close to what Neil is doing with his music in Electrician. This is not music for the masses and I’d presume he not only knows that, but is also completely comfortable with that. Electrician is making music for niche fans but believe me when I say that there are certainly enough of us out there to listen!
Now, in the interest of staying on subject – the track that we’re here to review is called “That’s How We Do It.” Phew! Half a page and I’ve only JUST mentioned the track in review! Okay…I feel better now…at least we all know what we’re here to actually talk about today! So let’s move on to something else…
Looking into Neil’s work with Electrician – he has been around and making music as Electrician since 2012 and has released a significant handful of songs throughout these past two years. Are they typical sounds that you’ll hear in the music scene where he lives in Oakland, California? No. No matter what song you choose from Electrician – these are sounds and compositions so rarely found anywhere that they completely stand out to me for a host of reasons.
At the moment I’m listening to a track called “All Is Lost In The Light” – which is yet another beautiful, honest and unique track from Electrician. Very happy listening to this track, which incorporates a wonderful backing female track, allowing Neil to play off her voice and again inviting a fabulous comparison to Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. These snapshots of life…these insights into the lyrics, topics and mind of Neil Campau really allow you to get involved with the feeling and atmosphere of the music. Stylistically – he’s all over the map in a great way. Not every note is perfect, nor would he want it to be. For you fans of jangled indie music – ask yourselves if you’ve ever REALLY wanted Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse to be completely on the note. You don’t. What makes that style of singing so identifiable, what makes it resonate like inside of you like a permanent echo-chamber, is that WE can hear ourselves in it. Whether it’s communicating despair or expressing extreme happiness – it’s the “everyman” feel to the vocals that make these songs feel like we could have sung them ourselves…we can relate. Each track he makes retains that honest quality, inviting you in to listen to more. Whether it’s older tracks like “Hold On To Your Fear” or the brand new single “That’s How We Do It” – this music is completely identifiable to Neil Campau’s overall work every time; despite any previous comparisons – there’s no mistaking what IS or ISN’T the music of Electrician.
OKAY NEIL! We promised we’d talk about that new single of yours…let’s talk about it! Now that I’ve built a firm frame of reference by listening to the former music of Electrician – I feel like I can comment on this new song with justified reasoning…
There’s a subtle intensity that burns slow behind ALL of the music being made by Electrician…a desperation to be heard that can be audibly SENSED. A need to communicate that is so strong each song demonstrates that desire through the music or the lyrics, or both. The new single “That’s How We Do It” is no exception.
It starts off on a nearly forlorn note…very low-key and very intimate. Listening to the words of Neil and the way he delivers them…it makes you FEEL something. That feeling itself might be different for everyone…but for me…it gave me this feeling of being trapped in an all-white room – but KNOWING that colors existed on the other side. The build-up in this track serves perfectly…and as it began to explode into a static-filled experiment into sonic texture – I could imagine breaking through this wall and seeing the colors invade the room, filling the void with as much as the eye could see. Musically – at this point, Electrician is ALSO giving you as much as your ears can handle, to match that feeling. It has that “must-break-through” feeling to it at the start and then fully delivers when it bursts right through.
My experience in production has left me with one certain fact however…people are quite resistant to static of all kinds! Bands like Mogwai and Nine Inch Nails use this musical “special sauce” all the time and get away with it just fine – so too should Electrician! So before any of the producers out there begin to climb waaaaaaaaaaaaay up high onto their all-knowing soapboxes and start to argue on behalf of a cleaner sound…don’t bother! There are people much like myself out there just WAITING for new innovations, new musical experiments and frequencies…WAITING for artists just like Electrician to go out there and challenge the boundaries of what we listen to and open us up to new sonic experiences.
The music of Electrician represents the tiniest and most fragile parts of ourselves – the parts we tend to push past and ignore in favor of our dominant traits. Everything inside of us – all of our emotions, needs and wants – they ALL need attention, stimulation and growth. Neil Campau has definitely proven to me time and time again after digesting his ENTIRE collection (That’s right fellow “journalists” – not just the ONE track in review…) that he is not only in-tune with his music – but incredibly in-tune with what he himself needs as a person. That need to communicate and relate to you all runs deep within the subtext of his music…a not-so-hidden message to those that are listening, but one that certainly invites anyone and everyone in to continue the discussion and further the music.
You can find out a TON more about Electrician!
Support Neil and his music on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/electricianmusic
And check out his official page at: http://www.electricianmusic.com/
September 27th, 2013 - The Future Exes - First Thought - EP Review
Right on. That was my immediate first thought pressing play on this new EP called First Thought by The Future Exes. I already had a few conversations with this band that already put my mind at ease – before even listening to the EP we had already talked about Dave Grohl, Alice In Chains, Pink Floyd and more. On paper – or at least in the thoughts in my head – there shouldn’t be anything stopping me from liking music laden with influences such as these…
I’ve taken longer than normal to fully digest this new recording from The Future Exes – but that time taken has been justified! This music DEMANDS further listens! Anytime you can catch me angrily shaking my fist at a computer screen, cursing the invention of the EP and how FEW songs that format can spare…well, you’re onto something.
There are SO many elements of sounds you LOVE in the music of The Future Exes. This EP First Thought shows a range of sonic influences that you can hear creep in and out from the music as it plays. Queens Of The Stone Age, Led Zeppelin, Big Wreck, Black Keys, anything by Chris Cornell – all of these talented acts come to mind along with the influences we’ve mentioned already. These bands all come to mind with good reason – their impact and influence has certainly inspired a lot of the SOUND of The Future Exes….but….
Like a band with true direction – this two-piece musical-beast of a project never lets those influences own their style or dominate their rhythms; The Future Exes have an incredible writing style that truly is all their own. With their being five songs on this latest EP – the challenge is to keep the listener engaged long enough to have that amazing experience with the music, and to want more again soon after. I cannot tell you just how many times I’ve played this EP over and over. What I CAN tell you – is that each time I do, I’m impressed more and more with how far they were able to take these five songs.
Starting with the throat-ripping delight of “Nowhere To Go” – you almost wouldn’t see the funky and inventive “She Got The Best Of Me” coming as the track to follow; but herein lies the beauty in this short and sweet EP - it has MEAT on it! It instantly confirms their capabilities to write incredibly within all sorts of different rhythms and sounds. These two build your appetite leading up to the track “Recognize” – a song for which they’ve already made an official video for.
So let’s talk about that track. I mean…if they went to all the trouble of making the video to accompany it, well, the least I can do is “single” it out…
“Recognize” is a powerhouse of a track. They’re doing this WONDERFUL thing in the chorus that I just can’t help but obsess over – so I’ll tell you about it… In the chorus, when they actually use the title in the song…the way their harmonies drift out on that actual word find their safety in the most perfected-crafted and subtle Alice In Chains sound…it only serves to trail off the word itself but I can hear it and it sounds AMAZING. Hopefully someone out there knows what I mean by that or this entire paragraph will simply read as cracked-out-journalism!
But perhaps this is what I’ve been trying to say all along. Influences are something that we ALL have, but it’s the way we choose to use them when making our own music that really lets us know how far down the rabbit hole you’ve gone with the liking of a style. The Future Exes did not, at any single point, make me roll my eyes or even remotely feel like I had heard it all. Again, with the start of this EP containing such a contrast within the first two songs – it really does set you up well to expect this band to keep you guessing on what direction they’ll go next.
In my honest opinion – there is damn near literally no argument when it comes to the progression of this EP. What started strong with “Nowhere To Go” nearly seems like a weak and distant memory by the time you reach the final track “Simple Lie” or the completely genius “She Can’t Sleep” that comes before it. But in the interest of transparent journalism – let me be clear in my communication: There is no weak here – only strong to stronger.
Vocally this album ranges from a scream to a whisper, but they shine through on “Simple Lie” like no other track. Crisp, clear and beautiful – this song has such an incredible atmosphere that it pulls you in like a musical black-hole, leaving you in an incredible sonic space where you feel the isolation, despair and frustration against melodic music. An absolute powerhouse of a slow jam and a song that has left me with a lasting impression of feeling like I can’t wait to hear what else comes out from The Future Exes in the years to come.
If you’re looking for something new and inventive using sounds and tones you’re familiar with and love in a completely new and brilliant way – I fully recommend picking this album up. Turn up “She Can’t Sleep” as loud as you possibly can and listen to an absolutely killer track that should make two pieces like The White Stripes wish they could re-record their entire past.
The First Thought EP is inventive, creative and absolutely impressive – consider me looking forward to a musical future that now certainly includes the music of The Future Exes.
Find out more about The Future Exes at their homepage:
And support them on Facebook! C’mon! Do the right thing!
September 25th, 2013 - Gandalf's Fist - A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer - Album Review
I had mentioned to this band straight away that I love the name of the band, and I do, for several reasons. Obviously when I think about “Gandalf” the only one I can immediately think of or draw to is the legendary wizard from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – and that’s cool with me, I dig that. The other thing it makes me think about, is that I can’t immediately pin-point what I’m about to listen to from name alone. My best guess would be that I’d be listening to prog-rock, or maybe electro… what have I signed up for this morning?
These are just the first thoughts that go through my head during my favorite moment of the day. Thought I’d share them with you all, but I can’t wait any longer….it’s time to push play on this new album A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer by Gandalf’s Fist!
Alright – so I have to confess…I’ve pushed play more than once already… I know, I know – it seems like literally NO time has passed since I pushed it to begin with. Here’s the thing though…I’m a firm believer that bands spend HOURS and DAYS and give up VACATIONS with their loved ones just to hammer out the final order of how the tracks flow on an album. I know this doesn’t always happen, but it IS what I want to believe; they’ve been some of my favorite conversations and also led to some of my finer mix-tapes back in the day! But the fact here is, I had my player set to randomize whatever came on and I have jumped ALL OVER this album. Now I’ve got it in order and I’m easily able to hear the planning and care put into this album…it’s very well thought out.
The album opens with distant sounds and clever narration in a voice that sounds nearly like it’s being delivered by Morgan Freeman…there’s no one else out there getting narration work ANYWAY if he’s still alive…I’m going to assume that it IS him…for now…
That narration is extremely important however, and it sets the thematic premise that runs deep within the album and work of Gandalf’s Fist. At this point I’ve cheated and peered into their Facebook profile deeply…it is most certainly prog-rock coming our way this morning. Every bit true to genre-form, this band has delivered an album that is incredibly cohesive and truly takes you on a journey into their world. The narration goes on to explain the importance of belief and hope – two of my favorite themes in music…I continue to expect big things…
“The Nine Billion Names Of God” shows through song what the narration had just pointed out to you. Weighing in with eight minutes of incredibly unique sounds, textures, tones and style – I can’t help but become attached to this immediately. The drums have incredible flavor, the vocals are delivered in good contrast to each other and overall the sounds are incredibly well-produced and clear. At just past the two-minute mark you get you first sampling of the instrumentation and skill of this band as they launch into guitar solos before breaking down into a saxophone and changing up the song yet again. If this is what the first “official” song is like on the album – you can consider my thinking much like our narrator who opened the album; it is my BELIEF that the following songs are going to be of equal caliber, and I HOPE that I’m right!
The ability to change and the mastery of space runs deep throughout this album. I looked these guys up and they’re from Cumbria, Northwest England, in the UK. That’s known as one of the places there with the lowest percentage of people versus available space. I read a statistic like that and it makes me instantly understand making music in a place like that. For you garage-bands out there – imagine that the garage next to you is another street away from you instead of three meters of grass that separate you from your neighbors currently. It would be amazing – at least that’s the way I’m picturing it. I imagine you could be free to make ANY sound of your choosing, one after the other and completely different from the one before, and never hear a complaint from the neighbors – ever.
I’m going to have to talk to Gandalf’s Fist more – but this strikes me as the case for them. Listen to “Somewhere Beyond The Stars” – this incredible, stand-out departure from the rest of the album shows the depth of their music as they surrender the microphone to a female guest-star who shines brightly against this change-up in the music. This leads into “Orphans Of The Sky” – another stand-out track from the album that shows the range and depth of the creativity in Gandalf’s Fist’s music. There are incredible synth and effect lines that rule in this track along with mystic guitars that all explode into a powerful chorus.
The lyrics come out clear without it sounding like they decided in the control room that the vocals had to be in front of the rest of the band; they sit right where they should in each track – there’s a great mix on this album.
Your humble narrator comes back to us again throughout the album in other tracks as well, providing that thematic tie-in and creating a unique cohesion in the album that doesn’t spoil the music. The best way I can put it, is that I’m a singer myself but I don’t always need “singing” to be the vocals on the track. I like effects, I like narration – I LIKE using the voice as an INSTRUMENT. Through all of these examples – this album A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer executes in creative spades.
You can hear another perfect example of this in the incredible track “Nexus” which blends a Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd style track (As in YES PLEASE, MORE OF THAT!) against contrasting male and female vocals that just work incredibly together. This track has the whole package and certainly hasn’t forgotten how incredibly talented the band is; you’re treated to saxophone, keyboard and guitar solos that are full of the purest of AWESOMES.
I can tell you this; the album and music from Gandalf’s Fist held my interest for the entire duration. Did they stumble at all? Not so much. If anything I thought the track “A Universal Wanderer” attempted to go for that “anthem” feel with a little too much attack; it stood out to me a little as a departure of from what sounded so compellingly natural in the music of Gandalf’s Fist. As much as I like the vocals of “The Battle For Tannhauser Gate” – this track borderlines on that same element…that fine line of what is “written for the moment” versus what is “created in the moment.”
How about this – I’ll explain it this way instead… There’s Gandalf’s Fist INSIDE the lines, and there’s a Gandalf’s Fist OUTSIDE of the lines. Inside we have one that draws on musical influences and can write really amazing songs that people will love. Outside we have a band that does their OWN thing so incredibly naturally and well that ANY new sound or direction they create or come up with is something you will want to hear again immediately and listen to with your full attention.
The closing track, “The Wanderer Goes South” is a return to the outside from where it began…where the majority of this album LIVES. I extremely enjoyed listening to this last track breakdown and build-up; more great vocal ideas and the harmonies between the vocalists are just flawless. Though Gandalf’s Fist’s official line-up is of only two men – Luke Severn and Dean Marsh – the addition of back-up singers of all kinds and other instruments like flute, drums and saxophone from guest stars has done an incredible job in strengthening, supporting and filling out the music throughout the album.
I think that Gandalf’s Fist has really challenged their creativity and dug deep to write this album A Day In The Life Of A Universal Wanderer. I think the work was more than put into making it and you can hear it – they have certainly made an album that will pull people in to listen. There are just too many unique elements at work to ignore it and a dozen ways that it weaves and ties itself together to sound like an entire album. Very solid stuff.
Read more about Gandalf’s Fist at: http://www.gandalfsfist.com/
Support them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gandalfsfist
September 22nd, 2013 - Defining Censorship...
FREEDOM OF SPEECH:
Alright everyone - thanks for coming by! I've got a ton to say today, to the point where there's even less of a probability of brevity in this blog than normal; consider yourselves warned!
When I left you last time in the official dated blog postings - I mentioned the upcoming review for a band called LEADSUCKER and their new album Burn. I invited you all to check it out before we get to discussing it on the main page (Coming in the next couple days...) - hopefully you've had a chance by now, if not click this link and check it out...
How often do you remember a band having an impact on you or your thought process BEFORE you've heard them? It CAN happen - it's more than possible, but to do it without their main asset requires them to do something outside the box: Wild or explicit album art, publicity stunts, interviews that go awry...there are plenty of ways to make noise beside the music itself.
Sometimes it's as simple as a title of a song.
As you can already imagine I'm sure - our control room is a LAIR of music. Our studio collection spills over a 3TB hard drive, there are independent CD's EVERYWHERE, you can find vinyl and even cassettes. If there's a way that I can listen to your music - you KNOW that I will...but you know that already...
The HOW of how these albums get to us comes from many sources. As a proud pirate, I scour the internet daily looking for new artists to listen to, and yes, even mainstream music cause, hey, ya gotta stay well rounded right? Now that we're out on the internet as a reliable source of information, we also find new album submissions by sent directly to us as well, MP3's over the net, sometimes physical copies mailed direct to the studio. As a person who spends WAY too much time looking for new material - this is an incredible gift each time it happens; not only do I not have to hunt that album down now, but it has arrived direct from the artist or band and ready to PLAY. It doesn't get better than that if you were to ask me! It is after all, out there and widely known that I WILL accept music of all kinds, coming from any genre, in any language.
And you know what? That's one hell of a safe place to be in! What could possibly go wrong in that scenario right? In my thinking - the WORST thing that could ever happen to me would be that I would get some music that would be the album long equivalent of "The Brown Note" - but it's not like I haven't heard nearly all of it all before.
I've always handled those albums with extreme exception. Knowing that an album doesn't gel with my personal taste makes me feel like I work harder at my journalistic craft and find the positives from a perspective that normally wouldn't give a sound outside their comfort zone the time of day. With my reviews I make sure that to highlight what these bands are all doing RIGHT and I fight against negative tendencies. I'm here to encourage your creativity and inspire you to do MORE and I've never thought that I'd even see a roadblock on that musical path anytime soon...
And then I saw it. I saw that thing from a band that sent my mind into near MELTDOWN before having listened to a single beat. Congratulations to LEADSUCKER, and a huge thank you to this band that has sent me an album that truly made me question a great number of my core beliefs and has even managed to make me question just how far I am willing to go down the musical rabbit hole myself...
After talking with Aaron from Leadsucker briefly - all I knew that I was in for was an album with THIRTY songs on it. Ensuring that I wasn't afraid of the number of tracks, he sent over the album right away.
It was one of those mythical movie-like moments; it was a beautiful sunny day outside, summer in full bloom, birds chirping and all that good stuff... And then I saw it. The sky went black and I swear all those beautiful birds dropped right out of the sky. They did! I swear! That thing I mentioned earlier - that ability to stand out for one reason or another was right there as I scanned the track listing, still long before pressing play, but there it was staring me dead in the face...
"The Color Of Justice Is White," was the name of the track and became quickly the ONLY thing I could see on the screen. Without listening, without looking into a single thing a minute further - I closed down my browser and left the computer completely. Consider me officially afraid.
Now - please keep in mind, this is ALL before listening and reviewing the album, scanning every lyric and word...this terrifying feeling came from the song title alone. I began to think about freedom of speech INSTANTLY and how truly important to me that everyone maintains the right to feel and say whatever they like. I thought about racism, and how that's one of the only things that truly PISSES ME OFF.
Worst of all - I began to think about the juxtapositioning of those two things in relation to myself, my writing and what we are about through sleepingbagstudios. What IF this was a completely racist band and they were ready to spew all kinds of hatred out over a full album? Should they STILL have their say - or is this that moment where I'll finally find myself put in a position to align myself with censorship? Not gonna lie - I began to dwell on this like no other situation that I've ever come across.
We've all dealt with "angry" music in one way or another. Rage Against The Machine is a perfect example - there was a TON of hate in their music - but I AGREED with that hate. So does that make it okay somehow? All I could think of was NO - but this was, and still is one of my absolute favorite bands to this day. I thought about all of the people that DON'T agree with the messages of RATM - they still heard them on the radio, or passed through an event with the music being played in the background.
Censorship. That's what it would mean to me if I was to not listen to, review, or simply take a second look into what got this ball rolling in my brain. Now that I have, I suppose that I wish I had done so immediately...if I had simply read the lyrics to the song in question, I might never have gone down this path to begin with. Leadsucker is a hardcore punk band with a LOT to say, and NO - it's NOT racist. Much like RATM - they're against nearly all facets of the political embodiment of today's world and they're not afraid to let you know how they feel whatsoever.
Finding that common ground made it a lot easier to review the album on a personal level - but I still kept coming back to the possibility the nightmare this scenario COULD have been, could still very well happen to me one day. I'm not going to remotely agree with every opinion that ever comes my way but if I'm truly a champion for freedom of speech and overall acceptance on this planet - at the moment I believe I'll have to push aside my differences at that time if that ever WAS to happen. Who knows - maybe you've already heard the perspective of an artist through our site that you don't like or agree with? Regardless, without questioning or without thinking - I've put those albums on display in full view for you to all judge on your own.
Will I back down from this if the time ever comes? Will I still review an album if I don't agree with the political connotations in an effort to preserve our right to freedom of speech? Or will I begin to filter and censor your content? Only time will tell for sure - but with that being said, please don't START sending me albums full of racist overtones and maybe we'll never have to cross that bridge.
And again - I want to THANK Leadsucker personally. There was literally no way to get through that album without asking a lot of questions of myself and thinking a ton about the state of society we live in and the role that music plays in that. We'll release the hounds on this review in the next couple of days and add it to the homepage for you all to see and listen for yourselves.
What I can say for now with certainty - is that I've read through the lyrics at least a dozen times. The writing, for the record, is nothing short of brilliant. Looking forward to showing that to you all very, very soon.
THIS DAY BURNS: Came out to the studio TODAY! Exciting stuff - I've been waiting to catch up with this band since meeting Jon and Jasmine from the band way earlier this year on one of our adventures to the island. Now with a finalized and solid line-up - they've been in Vancouver working on the filming of their upcoming music video this weekend and from the sounds of it, it went more than well! I got a chance to check out some exclusive photos from the video shoot and honestly - they looked incredible. They found an unbelievable place to film in Vancouver, I can't wait to see the finished video!
Sending me into an absolutely unprepared panic this morning with a request to arrive a bit early - I got everything as ready as I could. At the end of it all - I don't think it could have worked out any better! It's typical for me to ask for 80-90 MINUTES from a band for an interview with performance, and nearly every one of them ends up shocked, with a "yeah, sure..." feeling about how long it will really take. Well, let me clear this mystery up for you - yes, I ASK for 90 minutes, but typically we end up having so much fun with whatever band comes through that the process spans HOURS in length instead, with no complaints from any of the involved parties! In the case of today with This Day Burns - Jon, Jasmine, Chris and Skye stayed for nearly FOUR hours. Every minute was awesome - these people not only play extremely well, but they're just honestly great fucking people to talk to. Having met Jon and Jasmine before, it was most excellent to finally meet the other half of the finalized line-up with original member Chris and their newest addition Skye. The performances were AWESOME and really demonstrated just how well these four can put songs together. They rotated all over the studio, playing every instrument they could get their hands on in a true display of what this band is capable of. MIND BLOWN! After the length of time we had kidnapped them for - you can safely bet we'll be seeing a live performance on the show from TDB when we put out that episode later this year!
CLOSER: Oh YEAH! Becoming more and more their own entity with each passing day - this supergroup born out of BC bands THE PIT and DOC HOLLIDAY has now got their official Facebook page up and bumping - so show them some love and go support their page! If you missed the full concert presentation that SBS put on for their show at the Media Club earlier this year - check it out!
WEST MY FRIEND: Are just about to head into the studio to record their next full length album! Awesome right? I know! Having just seen them play over the summer, I can safely say that they are at the top of their game, creativity and talent right now - totally looking forward to this new record!
SBS LIVE THIS WEEK UPDATE:
Going sllllllllllllllllllllowly behind the scenes right now but we will make it back for the end of September, more than likely this week sometime. We've had a lot of files bouncing back and forth and I feel like I've cut a near-blinding amount of footage over this past month for some incredible bands. We will return with EXPAIN and we're already running some promo-posts for that on our Facebook page.
Video interviews are still being sent out all over the globe. I'm down to one relentlessly overdue one to send to NICOLAS & THE ICENI in the UK - but after that point you can consider us ahead of the game on that one due to an insane push and effort to send them out. So if you've got one - send them back! Good lord - they take forever to put together and the return rate is about 15% with the other 85% of the work heading straight out into the void never to return. If you'd like a comparison - this project seems to carry along with it a 15% RETIREMENT rate as well - with many of the recipients getting the interview from us and then disappearing from the world altogether. Crazy!
I've been a little on the down-and-out as far as my personal health has been concerned over these past two weeks. Nothing some sleep won't cure I'm sure, and for what it's worth it feels like the worst of it has passed. Looking forward to being back on the show and with you all once again, elbow deep in this indie music scene.
We'll talk again soon alright?
- Jer @ SBS
September 17th, 2013 - Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects - Counterclockwise - Album Review
Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects – Counterclockwise – Album Review
Ooooooooooooooh boy…..we’ve got a melting pot on our hands here!
I was only two songs in when I realized that Ivan Mihaljevic and his band Side Effects were going to attempt to cross the entire landscape of musical history in one album. Pushing play on any one of these tracks will certainly take you into a broad musical landscape each time, one that changes throughout; songs that play like stories are read.
This album Counterclockwise comes to us all the way from Croatia! Incredible! Not only do I thoroughly enjoy music from all over the world on a daily basis – it is beyond incredible to have some insight into what is happening and what the influences are in the independent scene around the globe. At the moment – this would be the first time for sleepingbagstudios to have reached Croatia (Unless you count the internet site Nohazik.com, who shamelessly STOLE all of the content on our show SBS Live This Week to use as their own – yes, including my FACE!) and if this is any indication of the quality and style of music there then I gotta say – they’re doing quite fine!
Now, I can’t call the style outdated or say that they’re behind the times – they’ve categorized themselves as “eclectic rock” in perhaps the most accurate self-description of a band in the history of music! Clearly they know where they’re at in making a sound and music that plays well within the lines of a style they know that you’ve heard before. However, in that line of reasoning you can also safely assume that they know who their audience is.
They play the strengths of the rock-meets-prog-rock genre: intense guitar solos, immaculate drum work and vocals that go for the extreme highs with harmonies to match. Ivan – the named member in the band’s title leads the way with guitar & vocals and really drives the direction of each song’s structure. There are elements of bands like Dream Theater, Soundgarden and Incubus in here to provide the overall “eclectic-ness” with a bit of a modern update. Listen to the track “Eclipse” and you’ll see what I mean; at times Ivan can sound like Cornell or Boyd against the varied musical landscapes that band-mates Marko (Bass) and Alen (Drums) continually create.
The songwriting is strong and the production is crystal clear. If anything, Ivan himself might be a little high-up in the mix overtop of the music but with the range he has on his vocals, it is bound to sound like that at times no matter how you mix it. I actually didn’t notice it until I had turned down the sound for a phone call interruption – and then I noticed with it down low that Ivan’s voice was nearly the only sound still breaking through. It can be hard to find that balance; sometimes an audio engineer can start the day WITH hair and come out bald just from tweaking the knobs in every direction trying to get the best. But the most important factor is that they never go so high up that the music gets LOST – and thankfully, though it might peek through a little more than the other musical elements, Ivan’s vocals never block the incredibly assembled music in behind him. These two Side Effects alongside Ivan are truly making complicated and very well arranged music; these are true compositions.
I should clarify for the written record – Ivan can sing. Big time. There’s no knock against any of the abilities these three members possess – they’re all clearly playing at the top of their game right now. The bass from Marko in their song “Build Your Destiny” fits as perfect as it does in all of their songs, but you get a wicked little solo patch in this one where you really get to hear him clearly on his own. Hearing Alen switch between styles within the song or from track to track, it seems like there’s nothing that can throw him off and he displays a constant ingenuity through his style.
I can only imagine what it would be like to be in a room playing music with these three heavy hitters. Throughout the album, songs like “Driving Force,” “Time Travel” and “I Am” continue to show the strengths of this band and their consistent approach to in-depth songwriting. As the album begins to end the consensus is an easy one; this is well played rock through and through.
Check out what they’re up to and support Ivan Mihaljevic & Side Effects at:
September 15th, 2013 - Connor O'Brien - Prizefighter - Album Review
Connor O’Brien – Prizefighter – Album Review
Connor, Connor, Connor…where do I start? You’ve thrown an absolute curveball into what has so far been a fantastic ride through genres I gravitate towards normally…describing yourself as pop-rock, my friend – you’re in my toughest and most critical category! I always feel like I’m a little tougher on both of those genres…I’ve found a tremendous amount of insincerity within that format over the past five years. Not being negative – just can’t make any promises my friend! Let’s see how this goes Connor – I’m pushing play on your new album Prizefighter…
Alright – so…first impressions…
Right off the drop I felt comfortable in listening to this. Not meant as an insult in any way whatsoever – but I instantly felt like after listening to the opening track “Make Ends Meet” that I knew what would come to follow in the songs to come. It opens with one of the most straight ahead (in the traditional, not boring sense) rock songs I’ve heard in years. It has all the elements: energy, structure, fantastic drumming and a huge hook. It has crystal clear guitars and a singer that at times resembles the younger, hungrier Bon Jovi.
Upon realizing that I got worried. Bon Jovi is nearly my antichrist. But despite being critical of the pop/rock genre – it IS a genre I truly love. Bands like the Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Better Than Ezra or even my favorite R.E.M. could all be considered part of that genre at one point or another. Was I going to have to throw my personal taste out the window for this album?
Thankfully no. I was instantly and totally surprised to hear the second track “Bobby And Me” take the music in a different direction – one that was certainly a lot closer to something like my Gin Blossoms reference. For myself – this track was the gateway into this album. From this point I became comfortable with what I was listening and certainly had a much clearer version of what Connor O’Brien was about…much clearer than my naïve first impression.
I started to realize that all of the elements of great songwriting are here. Now, I say that with some caution – because a lot of people can write fantastically, amazingly, perfect songs that annoy me to no end…but they’re still PERFECT. Like Nickelback. That kind of thing. I’m not ashamed to admit it – they write perfect songs too. But I digress…
Connor is delivering in the rock element every time with the song structure and the way he writes his music. It’s carefully planned, designed to bring out that energy…much like bands like Oleander did back in the early 2000’s. It delivers that boost of energy you need to get through traffic, or better yet – to hit that open road with. Listen to a track like “Customize” and realize that could just have easily been the summer rock song that you DID end up listening to all summer long.
He has learned and absorbed an incredible amount from listening to music over the years. I’m continually blown away at the quality of each and every composition and how they are perfectly placed each time. Doesn’t matter the style or tempo – listen to a track like “Falling To Pieces” – Connor can mix it up and play it slow. I also believe this is where his true strengths in songwriting show through the most.
That gift for writing a “hook” is something that will never be quite explained fully. Some people have it – some don’t. Connor does. “Falling To Pieces” leads directly into “Nothing At All” – a standout track that shows off Connor at his absolute best; this is pop/rock that sells itself and doesn’t need to be pushed on you. Melodic and well thought out – this track has that sincerity I’m looking for. You can hear clearly in this track that he believes in his material.
And that’s where I ended up. Of course I finished the album! I listened to “Reconcile” and “Inside Out (Acoustic)” multiple times! What I meant was that the conclusion I came to was that this album managed to maintain that element I need the most when listening to pop/rock – that intangible sound in a singer’s voice…that tone in a guitar…that rumble in a bass or thump in a drum that tells me the people creating these sounds BELIEVE in what they’re doing.
And after thorough listens through the album – I can tell you for sure, Connor believes in what he’s doing.
Listen to Connor O’Brien and support him at his pages at:
September 9th, 2013 - In Circles - Let Go EP Review
In Circles – Let Go – EP Review
I have had a run of extremely good luck when it comes to reviewing albums…I know I certainly like a LOT of music – but being honest with you as always, I have to say this EP was perfect to wake up to this morning. Yep – that means I have actually slept for once – these ears are open and ready to accept whatever comes their way and today it is the new EP from this band In Circles.
The project is put together by just one dude – Christopher Ramos from south Florida. Florida! I’m not quite sure just what they’re putting in the water over there, but it seems like we’ve spent an incredible amount of time in that state lately, at least musically from all the way over here in Canada. I’ll be the first to say I’m extremely thrilled about the music coming our way from that direction; we’ve seen talent like Drazah Backwards and 2Brain through album reviews in the past and interviews still coming up – and now we have In Circles providing us with a different sample of what’s happening musically down south of our border.
Ok – enough pre-amble. Let’s start by saying that Chris is gifted in many, many ways. The first thing that comes to mind is his organization. You can dissect any of these tracks, close your eyes and almost visualize completely how he’s going about making his music. Elements of electro, infused with tripped out guitars and beautiful tones – when I hear something like this it fills me with a tremendous relief; I can HEAR in his music that Chris Ramos of In Circles is NEVER going to run out of ideas. He understands composition incredibly well, to the point where I haven’t heard a single misplaced or unplanned note in the entire EP of Let Go. While that might come as a “given” to some – the reality of our particular corner of the internet is that we deal with people all the time just like Chris, making music on their own to the best of their abilities… I’ve gotten used to the occasional wrong note, or an artist stretching just slightly beyond their means – but that’s just NOT happening on this new EP from In Circles – Chris Ramos has taken his time and has nailed this EP from front to back.
If you read his Facebook write up you’ll see a pretty accurate description from Chris himself on HOW the music sounds: “Imagine Explosions In The Sky jamming in a room with Massive Attack and you get kind of close to the ideas and inspirations.” There are definitely elements of both of those bands in there, but I’d like to submit a couple more! While I think he borrowed a lot in guitar style from EITS, the tone itself can almost be found more comparable to John Frusciante from the sweetness emitting from the strings. As for the band he’d be jamming with? Simple. To me – the closest comparison to the music of In Circles overall is without a doubt The Album Leaf.
In any event – he’s keeping extraordinary company through comparison. The Album Leaf has, from the moment I started listening, made it so that I’ll never STOP listening. In Circles have quickly found the same musical path, creating beautiful, richly-toned music that is spread out, desolate…but hopeful. Every band and artist we’ve mentioned by comparison has a key element that Chris has been able to capture flawlessly on his own EP here; he can deliver an emotional impact without a single word.
Take a track like “End Of Time,” the first official track on Let Go after the intro lets out. The emotional tone of the album is completely set at this point and stays both cohesive and haunting to listen to, track after track. You might think that feeling disappears quickly into the beat of the next track “Say Nothing” – but you’d be wrong! Just slightly before the end of the second minute (and third) – In Circles minimalize that beat and strip it down to the melodious basics before bringing it back with more intensity each time, delivering that extra punch up to drive home the emotion in the song.
“Try Again” is where you can easily hear the influence of Massive Attack that he had referenced before – in a dark-electro track that begins like it could have nearly fit onto the instrumental albums from Nine Inch Nails when Trent Reznor made his Ghosts instrumental series. The track plays out like the intense parts of “Teardrop” by Massive Attack – adding a deep low end with a simple, yet complete effective piano line.
I can reference all I like, but there’s no element of copying anything here - and he knows that himself. While bands like Explosions In The Sky or The Album Leaf might readily come to mind through tones – the composition of HOW these songs work comes completely from this one man’s brain. To listen to how that brain functions on the last two tracks “What You Want” and “Wish You Well” is a complete privilege. This is a musical ride that I’ve been more than happy to take with In Circles; the music has taken me to the far corners of my mind and all the way back again, comfortably.
Let Go, the new EP from In Circles, is well-played, well-thought out and flawlessly executed. From production to singular notes, I’d have to believe after listening that this is the audible version of the EXACT vision Chris Ramos had in his head all along. Nothing needs to be changed and no more songs need be added either, proving that true composition extends beyond the formation of a song into the formation of a set of songs, or mindset that leads them to the cohesion of an entire EP or album.
It’s all here – and it should be.
Check into what’s happening with In Circles at these pages!
September 4th, 2013 - 100,000(+!) Views
First of all - THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU reading this blog - you're the very same wonderful people supporting our other popular pages on Facebook and YouTube, along with our Supernova site, which just passed the 100,000 view anymore! And YES I know it's not proper form to use a comma within a six-digit set these days but dammit I'm old school and that looks REALLY awesome to us right now. Your dedication to independent music shows in numerical and audible volumes. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
In the interests of coming back SOONER to the written blog here - I am going to once again attempt to keep this BRIEF so that I can both:
A) Finish the terrible horror movie of which I am just about to start.
B) Come back to you all here sooner by devilishly holding back things to say!
But before I get into your independent news for the day here...my quick comment on being BRIEF...
You all KNOW it is NOT my thing. So in saying that, excuse my language but fuck VINE. Some of you may know about this internet craze and some of you will not. Basically the application allows for quick 3-6 second videos to be posted as yet another new form of short communique between us all. SIX SECONDS. If you want to know what that's like to look at on video - just think back to any fake file you downloaded in the past where it started out being the movie you wanted and then dropped out the video or sound. Or in the case of VINE - idea itself...at least damn near. Like all forms of art in the digital age - I'd be wrong to say that some people aren't using this new idea incredibly WELL, cause there are certainly examples of that. But will you ever find us on there? Let me say this in as few words as I possibly can...
In no way, shape or form will you ever find sleepingbagstudios to be a part of a culture that would impose any sort of time limit on your creativity or art. So if you have a seven second MASTERPIECE...come by and see us anytime.
LUNGFLOWER: So...how did they do? How did the ever-ready frontman Tyler Mayfield change and handle the crowd now without holding onto his bass guitar? As a personal friend for nearly a year since meeting him now - I am proud to say he kicked a fair amount of ass on-stage now in his new role with Lungflower. Even jumping into the crowd at one point to get his dance on and check out the show from our perspective - the more experience and confidence he gathers from playing live is clearly demonstrated by his rising ability to entertain. As for the music? They had the drummer from the headlining act - Stryker - filling in and for only knowing the songs for two days, pulled it off well. Marcus, the guitarist in the right of the picture below, is extremely entertaining to watch and you can clearly see just how much playing this music and being on stage mean to him. With Kyle on holding down the bass as well as backup vocals, they ripped through a four song set at the Railway Club in Vancouver. Now - you can take my word for it, and as always that's appreciated...I like to think I know what works well in all kinds of music...but if you can't simply take my word for it - know THIS:
We've been to many, many shows and live acts since we began to jump into our video work with sleepingbagstudios. We stay close to the action but not so close that we become invaisive to your space or cause the crowd to shift their focus to a person taking a picture instead of you at your show. I personally like to believe that's what ZOOM is for. But what I can say about the Lungflower show is that we WERE close up and right down the middle for the show - and I'm honored to have caught the footage that shows a flood of people heading to the stage in front of our cameras to the point where it blocked the view. Nice work guys - good first impression on me.
Lungflower - Live @ The Railway Club In Vancouver, 2013
Speaking of good first impressions - big shout out to our new friends that we found in the opening act, a band called BLACKOUT LIGHTS. I was definitely impressed with the energy in the performance and the creativity in the writing from this three piece band. I've talked with Steve the vocalist and guitar player for the band and I'm hoping we can set up an interview in the not too distant future. I will, at the very least, be able to see them again VERY soon when they play a show with our hairy-homies in THE PIT at an upcoming show on September 13th. Stoked!
WEST MY FRIEND: Have I mentioned how much my bearded face ADORES this band? Am I allowed to ADORE anything whilst being this chin-hair laden? Or does the very use of that word land me in trouble with the law and legal system? Whatever - I'll take the risk. I love West My Friend. They're incredibly talented and have a great sense of humor. Hell, I know that I ranted against VINE earlier but I would cite this crew as one of those bands using the medium creatively and WELL. Here's the thing though...PSSSST! This is why I wanted to bring them up today here in the blog... They're putting together a NEW album!
Presumably when I saw them perform last on their way through to their US "Madrona Migration Tour" they had played some of that new material and let me tell you personally that the quality of what they're putting out is second to none in their genre. But as you know, recording an album is not cheap in many cases and bands are becoming creative in all sorts of ways to attract funding for their new projects. West My Friend definitely deserves some help and encouragement to continue on making the incredible music they make. We ran their latest campaign promo video in SBS But No BS Part VI - but if you missed it - check it and and support them here!
AZTEC: You couldn't have missed the gigantic LOGO I put into the last officially dated blog entry - it was HUGE! And this band continues to drive themselves forward in creative ways as well! They are currently running a contest for writers regarding their music, so if the pen is your SWORD then click this link and get involved!
I went to see grunge-era heroes THE BREEDERS the other night at the Commodore Ballroom with SBS Alumni "Matt D." Talk about incredible! To see these LEGENDS up close was something that I truly never thought I'd get to do - I thought my chance for that was long gone. Thankfully it wasn't; this show not only surpassed my expectations but introduced us to yet another awesome opening act in the band TWEENS. This electrifying three piece from Cincinatti really got the vibe on the floor in the perfect place for the main act to follow - extremely impressed with the power of this trio and really hope to run into them again somehow (Read: I'll be trying!)
As for The Breeders themselves - they played their entire breakthrough album Last Splash from track one to the end before launching into tracks from their debut album Pod for an eight song, entirely deserved double-encore. And wouldn't you know it - they ACTUALLY played my favorite song! NO band does that! Nothing but a million thank yous to The Breeders for playing it - but of course the first band that finally does and it's a song not even two minutes in length!
Alright my friends - what started as a simple "thank-you" for our 100,000 views has turned into yet another full on post. And I've got interviews to write, film, record and send out to ALONG CAME LIFE, 2BRAIN, THE GENTLEMAN, NICOLAS & THE ICENI...this list could go on but if I don't wrap this up it won't even be close to brief anymore!
But before I go - when I come back I'm going to want to talk some more about this album we're about to review by a band called LEADSUCKER, who just released their latest album Burn - so check it out early so we can continue the conversation when I get back!
Thank you again so much for the support on our way to this last milestone of 100,000 views. Absolutely UNREAL. We'll see you very soon at our next musical achievement!
- Jer @ SBS
August 27th, 2013 - Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Classic Album Review
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain Album Review
One of the last moments I ever had with the cassette tape format happened just prior to me buying this in my first purchase of CD’s, 4 in total on my first buy totaling roughly $85-90 at the time. Little did I know heading from the land of already purchasing the most expensive tapes put in stores as “imports” that I would be in for a far worse set of personal economics once the CD was available, back when the MP3 was simply three random keys on your QWERTY keyboard.
The path to our favorite music is not usually anything that would represent a straight A – B line. On a night late in December 1993 our local radio station announced that a brand new and never before heard Nirvana track would be played late that night. For those of you who have become curious about just how long this beard has been around, I’ll solve the mystery for you right here – I was thirteen years old. Perhaps not normal at that age (or now for that matter) and certainly musically obsessed since the age of eight years old – I was determined to stay awake as long as I had to in order to not only HEAR the new Nirvana song – but to RECORD it and PIRATE the radio recording for my own personal collection. After all – who knew when I would hear that song again?
As it turned out – the song would later be known as both “Verse Chorus Verse” and “Sappy” at different times – found on the last tape that I had ever purchased, a compilation known as No Alternative. It was the ultimate in fan-boy belief – purchase this new alternative mix tape with a HIDDEN TRACK – that’s right – nowhere on the tape or jacket did it mention the world’s biggest band at the time had placed their music on it. I could have simply flipped the tape onto the B-side and rewound it to find out if the track was truly there like the radioman said it would be…but I was the same then as I am now; with all those other bands in front of this potential last-track-guaranteed-to-like goldmine, well…I suppose I just HAD to listen.
Perhaps one of the best purchases I’ve ever made – that tape lead me to all kinds of relationships with music that would become staples of your household only years later. It was the middle of the grunge era; David Geffen and his cronies had already gone around and snatched up what they could as the bones and muscles of the prehistoric thinking of the music industry stretched and flexed to include any sound remotely close to a “Nirvana.” I discovered artists I had never known for the first time like Matthew Sweet, Urge Overkill, and Uncle Tupelo were creating sounds I loved but had no idea they even existed for my ears to hear them until this tape. Other favorite bands of mine at the time like Soul Asylum, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and The Breeders had all put “B-sides” of their work into the mix. Oddly enough, it was also my gateway into Sarah McLachlan and The Beastie Boys.
It was literally impossible to miss the band I’m ACTUALLY reviewing here – PAVEMENT – with their submission to the mix tape being called “The Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence.” It’s much more than a mere track title; with the amount of space it took to write on the back of a tape case jacket it was the equivalent of a banner ad in today’s world. It stood out in a million ways to me.
The first being that I had yet to hear a song like this – ever! It sounded…so…damn…lazy. Even at that early age I could still recognize the difference in the laziness I was listening to; this music was intentionally played to throw you right the fuck off. The subject matter was of a specific band I barely knew at that time, one that eventually become my favorite band of all-time, still to this day – R.E.M. Not an inch of this track made sense to my brain at the time and I LOVED it.
That track isn’t on this album either. I should have mentioned that these classic album reviews would be just as much an oral history of my autobiographical musical life as well…
So! Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain!
One of the first four CD’s I purchased, (All to be revealed here soon through reviews) I had actually unwrapped this one third after listening to two of the purchases that didn’t gel with me right away. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain does not start with a bang, or a whisper – it starts with the simple beat of a drum and an impromptu guitar solo so rich in tone and wandering that the idea it was going to become a cohesive song was quite far off in those first 20 seconds. Then it hit, big time.
“Silence Kit” aka “Silence Kid” as it was labeled differently from the back of the CD case from the disc itself. The internet consensus has become “Silence Kit” – we’ll go with that. Talk about an introduction to a band! This song explodes in all the right ways and my young ears quickly heard sounds that would immediately come to call home inside my head. From the moment that intro ends – the chord progressions and tone in this first track were revealed and my mind was blown open.
Even at that early age I was suspicious of the industry and their abilities to sell you an album through clever marketing, getting the musically-eager to be at the front of the trends and buying albums containing a half-song’s worth of actually redeemable content – so believe me when I tell you that no matter how good a track like that was, I was still waiting for the bottom to drop out of this album. It was so rare to find an album back then where you could truly argue the ALBUM as being solid, especially in the grunge heyday where any off-played chords could be potentially recorded.
As it played on, “Silence Kit” breaks down into an incredible jazz-like ending that again offered me something to listen to that I had never heard yet. “Elevate Me Later” the track immediately following was such an EASY track to listen to! The combination of these tracks left me believing quickly that I might have pushed play on this new CD, but they had just gone and truly pushed play in my headspace. With these two tracks, my music palette had instantly changed.
Grunge was pre-internet. Sometimes I even forget that myself now, but at that age there was no other way to research your favorite bands other than to dig DEEP into the liner notes, read Spin and Rolling Stone, watch MuchMusic, (Way back when videos were actually played) spend hours of your life in record stores and of course hit the library for anything in the archives you might have missed. I did all of these things at that age…a time where I would simply sit and listen to music and do NOTHING else.
As it turned out, what I had read then was that Pavement was giving birth to a new kind of music called “Slacker Rock.” This entire Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain album represented that new category to the maximum. It had then and still has amazing songwriting, an incredible uniqueness and freedom in creativity and production that let you know they had support to record but weren’t trying for the crystal clarity of the mainstream. But even with all the genius laden over track after track – there was still something “off” wasn’t there? WHAT IS THIS?
Once “Stop Breathing” began to play, the third track of the album I knew what it was. It was him! Who IS this guy singing anyway? Is he trying? Is he NOT trying? What is he DOING? WHAT IS THIS?
Who he is, is Stephen Malkmus – the true genius behind the music of Pavement and a true artist in every sense of the word. After this album, slowly over time I would digest, listen to and devour every album by Pavement – always led by Malkmus and ALWAYS doing what they wanted to do.
Slacker wasn’t correct for the actual story behind the music. Yes – it SOUNDS lazy – but if you truly have a musical ear you’ll easily hear this is music that takes a tremendous amount of timing and ability to play and pull off. One of those genuine situations where you’ll probably hear tons of bands cover Pavement songs in these decades to follow but not ONE of them will ever be able to catch the true style of which this band was playing WITH.
As a songwriter Malkmus was continually blowing my mind open with what he would write about. Hearing their indie-hit “Cut Your Hair” for the first time was such a revelation in the combination of great pop with this new sound of “Slacker Rock” masking it with great subtlety. There’s no doubt when you listen to that track that it would have caught on with a ton of people and it did. It put Pavement on-screen with a video and really made some waves throughout college radio-stations everywhere.
You name a track – “Newark Wilder,” Unfair,” “Gold Soundz” – it doesn’t matter what you choose, the authenticity of this band shows through every time. I’ve looked and I’ve listened but the fact of that matter is simply this: There was no Pavement BEFORE Pavement. Even today, while you can certainly point to a modern act like Modest Mouse and hear that influence – if not in sound then in musical expressionism and freedom of creativity. This band blew the doors open for bands today to go after what they REALLY wanted to put down on a record and settle for nothing less. If it didn’t sound like a “hit” or even normal – those sounds were embraced rather than discarded in search of the next number one single.
Take the instrumental jazz-jam of “5-4=Unity” on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. You can consider this one of my first experiences with that as well; the idea that you could do both on a single album. You could have BOTH! Songs with words and songs without – and on the same album! This song on the album really provides a short break before Pavement continue with the rest of the set of songs on the album into its finality. It shows the tremendous skill in their timing and ideas, as well as the playing in the rest of the band which could often get ignored by being too close to the Malkmus spotlight – something he himself seemed to never want, care for or even acknowledge. Steve West came in to drum for this particular album and the impact on their music left a long lasting effect, one that saw the incorporation of jazz-influenced beats spring up on every Pavement album since. Even in anything you can find in the recent years of Stephen Malkmus’ solo work – that style of drumming is a constant quality that drives the sound of the music he likes to make most.
“Range Life.” That song deserves a review in itself. Not until that first song – “Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence” had I heard a band really shout-out or reference ANOTHER band in a song. Weezer would do this later on in a much different way, much more like a hipster reference rather than a genuine need to say something. On “Range Life” – Malkmus’ mind wanders lyrically to a couple of bands and he pulls no punches – causing one of the great rifts known in the alternative music scene.
The song has a verse that did not gel with one guy known as Billy Corgan. It went like this: “Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins, nature kids but they don’t have a function. I don’t understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck.” In the prime release of Lollapalooza concerts and amazing alternative line-ups – this very track saw Pavement removed from the line-up of exciting bands on the bill or the Smashing Pumpkins were taking themselves of the bill. They were one of the headlining acts; pressure was applied and Pavement was booted from the Lollapalooza spotlight.
Between “Range Life” and “Heaven Is A Truck” – you also get to hear the elements of desolate country music that has also shaped much of the tone and feel of their career. The way Stephen Malkmus writes you’d almost swear he has never written anything down so much as he might be simply thinking aloud. No matter what track you listen to – that freehand writing, or free-spirited nature – whatever you want to call it, is ALWAYS there. He doesn’t expect you to understand the correlations, I’m not sure if he even does – his mind wanders all over the map creating lyrics for people just like myself – the musically A.D.D.
As the album begins the final descent into the final tracks – the second to last, “Hit The Plane Down” serves to crank up the volume one last time before the final track, “Fillmore Jive” sounds engineered to send you hazily off to sleep as the final notes play out. That sleep won’t come easy though; this final cut really has it all, from the lazy “slacker” style playing you’ve come to love throughout listening to the album, to the crashing waves of tonal guitars ripping into each other in a giant musical crescendo.
The bottom of this album never dropped out. I was never “sold” this album – I sold it to myself. Listening to a tribute track on a compilation tape way back when, and then in buying this CD of my own accord. I didn’t need marketing to hold my hand at the counter then and I still don’t. This album was every bit the proof that I needed that amazing music was being made underneath the surface – something that still remains true to this day.
I might now be, or represent your ever-loving independent music fan - but this is truly the album that turned on that switch in my brain. Give it a listen and see if it doesn’t open a few musical doors for you too.
Learn more about Pavement here at: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/pavement-mn0000752314
And at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pavement/103969769639155
August 20th, 2013 - Holy S*#t! Two Days In A Row!
Yesterday was a very encouraging day my friends - thank you for that outpouring of incredibly heartfelt support...tremendously appreciated and inspiring - hence I'm here and in your face with all the other details I couldn't fit in yesterday and new ones already from these last 24 hours....here we go!
SBS LIVE THIS WEEK!
It has now been confirmed that the next episode will be another musically filled one! We will be rolling out another infamous SBS But No BS All Music Episode (Parts V & VI) as our next official episodes out. All stuff you've already seen of course.
Hey! Hey, hey, HEY! Don't believe EVERYTHING I say okay?
There is an incredible amount of new stuff you HAVEN'T seen before on these up-coming two episodes. We have many of our talented artists that have only made appearances with SBS through our written work here on this site, on full display through their own videos. Expect to see artists from upcoming video interviews with SBS as well - we'll have the likes of SWAMI LUSHBEARD, 2BRAIN and ALONG CAME LIFE in the mix in addition to SBS Favorites CINGED, MAN MADE LAKE and more!
I'll also be talking a little bit about the recent interview we did with French band THE OTHER COLORS and bring you some indie comedy once again through the eyes of CAMERON NICOLSON who creates his own show on the internet. Tons of reasons to be there with us - stay updated with us at http://www.facebook.com/sleepingbagstudios for the updated posting times coming soon.
Thank you in advance to all the artists we're featuring in this episode. We've all talked very recently and your enthusiasm in being included was awesome.
AZTEC: How did I forget this last time? An SBS fan-favourite - KYLE TRUELOVE has really found a home in this new band, and there's a completely acceptable reason why. AZTEC displays all of the things I like best about indie music and they're absolutely nailing it for me right now. Highly recommend checking out their new tracks "East" and "Untitled Pt I" as soon as your ears can listen. Kyle and I talk music quite regularily and we've talked about some bands I love being close to the sound their making today. If you're a fan of bands like Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement...you gotta check out this new band.
2BRAIN: Our homie down south has finished work on his new Fuck You EP and that's available to stuff into your earholes at your earliest convenience. We're excited to be working with this wordsmith on an upcoming video interview for SBS Live This Week! We interviewed him here on the site not so long ago, and just like we have done with Rob Loncto from THE DANBURY LIE, we're tracking him down by video to see what the full story is from his perspective. Keep you posted.
LUNGFLOWER: Just talked with lead singer Tyler Mayfield today about this upcoming show on the 25th and he sounds more than ready to go! Gets better each time I see him do his thing and it sounds like he's taking over the stage at this upcoming show. Looking forward to it!
No REAL story here - I just wanted to say that I am very excited about the plan I've put together up in my old braincells. I mentioned doing classic reviews on albums from the past - well, I decided that I'm going to start at the "beginning" more or less...at least the switch from cassette to CD. I'll be starting these classic reviews up featuring the first four CD's I bought when I was only fourteen...many beards ago. What are they? Not dropping that information here just yet - but watch for them to be posting up here very soon.
Well! It appears that not only can I blog successfully two days in a row but I can also keep one short enough that it should fit within one or two mouse scrolls. And they said it couldn't be done!
Be excellent to each other.
- Jer @ SBS
August 19th, 2013 - Where Have I Been???
First of all, let me say to you wonderful people that read my blog that I appreciate you coming back to read what I have to say after having been absent from really posting a new one since the end of JUNE. Crazy! I've never gone that long without being in touch before...I better explain...but where to start?
Alright, well, you know that I haven't been completely gone. SBS Live This Week slowed down slightly in the posting of the show as we prepare material for the final quarter of this year. I feel like the show could exist an entire year more with just the material we've already shot along with the commitments that we're already engaged in. Full concerts still to be unleashed, interviews with the likes of KYLE TRUELOVE and hardcore metal band EXPAIN are on schedule, video interviews with NICOLAS & THE ICENI, ALONG CAME LIFE,SHMOLTS and SWAMI LUSHBEARD are either in the final prepping stages or have been sent out. Like I said, content wise, we're...well...content. Can I get away with that sentence?
But that's certainly not an explanation of it all...those are just the "ends;" it remains to be seen if the means will be justified...
Truthfully, like a lot of you, I've been working a regular j-o-b. I've been out there at times with Rob @ SBS over most of this summer...when I could handle it. Being the sole content provider for an online publication, with at minimum four sites of ours to keep updated, as well as a show to produce - I'll admit there isn't an ounce of my "old life" left in me. And for the record, while we're on this subject, YES - I do in fact blame you ALL for this...
Many of you reading will understand this. Many of you have had that moment where you realized that the band you're in was the one that was not only perfect for you - but gave you that feeling that this was the only thing you'd want to do with the rest of your lives. Well, understand I'm right there, shoulder-to-shoulder with you - only my band is in sleepingbag form. THIS - writing to you all, talking out the music and how we can unite this independent scene once and for all...might seem insignificant to some...but it's the only thing I want to do with my life anymore.
The complex part being that whole LIFE thing getting in the way, much like it does for you all when trying to juggle schedules or make an album. Bills, weddings, insurance renewals, doctor's appointments...the list could go on forever...if we LET it.
After this summer - I'm officially DONE with letting that get in the way.
If you look at the history of this blog, or you watch the show - you'll know I've been a far cry from where I've been at in my most productive times. What you might not know - is that during that same period of time, way back to earlier this year when SBS Live This Week first started to gain traction - that I had never had so many people I care about truly concerned for my health and well-being.
Take a moment and conceptualize that. Have you been there before? I was at my literal happiest - involved in this independent music scene and out there making a DIFFERENCE with you all. I might have been up for 48 hour stretches of time but what I wasn't doing was complaining about a single moment of it. I was actually LOVING life. I was able to willfully blind-out the valley of malls we call our planet and feel like I belong...for a moment...
Around the end of March, this all began to change. People I loved most and respected would come up to me and in the same sentence say, "You look sooooooo happy doing what you're doing now! Good for you! Are you OK?" I could not for the life of me, and still can't, figure out what might have even looked remotely wrong about seeing a dedicated smile on my face day after day. But soon enough, after this went on to happen multiple times with many different people I know and love...I began to question it myself. Maybe there WAS something wrong; I've never believed I was meant to be happy OR satisfied - and if I wasn't BOTH of those things at this time then I sure was close.
And in April you can see how that affected me. A single blog posting. I believed everything that these respected opinions were saying. I WAS happy; therefore the universe must be crumbling right from underneath our feet, correct?
By the time May had rolled around, Rob and I continued to try and work out the differences in direction this whole SBS thing had taken. And for two guys that have worked together and been in a band for well over a decade...well, we sure suck at talking to each other. Might be the case of too many cooks in the kitchen - we'll both always be the type to assume that the direction we're going in is the one that we should be. But to know where you're going is to know where you are to begin with. I was lost in a world of positivity and inspiration from the independents through interviews and e-mails and keeping in touch with you all daily. Rob hadn't had that experience - as an audio-engineer with no other SBS-related aspirations - his experience was limited to those that had come through to record - a significantly smaller number. It was then viewed that the show actually got in the way of what our true purpose was - to push the record button...
The show managed to hold on, though I can tell you exactly from watching myself on screen which of those shows I had barely made it through with a dry face of no tears. Our podcast, The Great Canadian Hitlist with radio host Jeff Jeffries crumbled as well. As it went into June - I'll be the first to admit, that I, Jer @ SBS was officially hiding inside the studio safe and away from the outside world.
For those that follow this blog and what I personally do, that news of me hiding inside is nearly no shock at all. I'm one step under an agoraphobic with my only place of true comfort coming from those of a similar musical passion. I venture out to go and see live music, or talk about music with people through interviews. When there's no music or musical conversation to be had...well, that's when I come here to write and start up some more! But in the back of my own mind I truly know - I'm hiding...
The only common denominator in all of these situations going south was ME. My own passion for this music scene was gutting SBS from the inside out. I was trying to plug all the holes in my boat as well as steer and draw the map to where we were going - all at the same time. And I was failing. In many ways, I might still be.
I've said it to many of you before, when drive and determination do not match in any given project with partners - it is either bound for trouble or doomed to fail. As far as Rob, Jeff or I were concerned - we all had different goals and ideas as to WHAT this should be. And feeling smacked with this realization, this knowledge that my vision for my team was crumbling around my own enthusiasm...I withdrew even further from you all. I was even a no-show at a couple of events that you'd be sure to have seen me at only months earlier...and the blog postings stopped altogether as I tried to regroup. As a result, June and July nearly saw me put an end to this thing I love so much.
I know there's not a TON of positives in any of that. I realize that this blog posting isn't the off-the-wall, crazy and over-caffeinated Jer @ SBS you've all supported and become used to. Let me fix that...
Earlier in August I began to finally realize exactly what my mistakes have been all along. Coming back to that drive and determination thing, I realized that our markers for success and running this thing were millions of miles apart. I realized that my passion for music and the independent music scene were FREAKISH in nature and unmatched by any of my team or truly anyone I actually know and see in person. Many think they can - until they see my round the clock regimen and realize it would be impossible to keep up. The reason they can't is simple - that passion is truly not equal.
I mentioned before that life gets in the way if we LET it. This is what I mean - and this applies to all of us looking to rise up to that next level... There will NEVER be enough hours in a day. There will ALWAYS be multiple tasks that need to be done. You will ALWAYS be tired at the end of a work day. And from what I can see - if we all continue to let those be the dominating factors governing our decisions, well, we're doomed to be in that cycle from now until the last breath we take. It's the greatest trap of the planet - your responsibilities versus your overall happiness.
Here's the good news (FINALLY!): You - much like myself - are the ONLY one who can get yourself out of that never-ending circle of hell you call the daily grind. If those 48 hour days don't exist, if that extra gear is never shifted into - we're doomed to simply repeat this process over and over and over. For some, that's absolutely OK. For those with goals and dreams and an overwhelming feeling you're supposed to be a part of something more - this is the complete opposite of okay.
I can now accept that I am a FREAK. I'm comfortable with that. I'm more than at peace with my 20 hour days spent working on video-interviews or written articles. I'm comfortable with my team keeping a distance until they're ready to be a part of this at full capacity, I'm also comfortable with the idea of new people cracking into the SBS inner circle - people that WANT to make this the rest of their lives, just like I do. But mostly - I've accepted that people are who they are, and that it's not my responsibility to change them or mold their focus. I just want them all (you included) to be happy doing whatever it is they're most passionate about.
And as I wrap up the story part of this blog - I pose this to you now... You are currently doing what you're most passionate about. That's right - you totally are! Our time spent doing anything reflects but one of two things: 1) You truly love to do it or 2) You are afraid to fully go after what you truly love and you are simply continuing on in your existence.
Agree or disagree? Let me know at email@example.com and tell me all about what you think. But before you tell me that you don't fall into the criteria for number one or two - and that you need a third option because you simply "can't" because of all of those life obligations...ask yourself how many of those extremely long days you've put in to make those steps towards your goals. Do you let life, sleep, The Colbert Report or anything else for that matter stop you from having a life spent with your creativity and art as a career? I know that I was.
And I know that I won't be any longer. It's good to be back and FEEL that I KNOW that I'm back. Thank you to all of you for sticking this out with me over time. If it wasn't for the sheer extreme volume of support from all of you artists reaching out to me randomly at different times - I certainly would have walked away by now. Validation is something I've never sought after - but I'll be the first to admit that it was yours that has kept me going here at sleepingbagstudios.
Alright - let's move on from that Eeyore of a narrative! There's LOTS going on I want you to know about! Check out this stuff!
LUNGFLOWER: Heard of them? Me neither. But this local band has picked up an asset so large they probably don't even realize it yet with their new vocalist TYLER MAYFIELD - made official only a couple weeks back. They have their first full show coming up here in Vancouver on August 25th - and you KNOW you'll see me there for this. I've said it a million times - Mayfield is one of the most determined people I've ever met - someone who KNOWS that this is what he wants to do with his life and will stop at nothing to make it happen. I'm sure it will be a show to remember, I'm looking forward to it big time...
THROTTLECASTER: Exciting! Just wanted to add that Erko Nomm and his crew have officially entered the SBS Thrice Contest - which is completely awesome! Just like the Kelowna based band CINGED - it's always exciting to see someone who has worked with us in the past come back! On the down side - we're not sure Thrice will continue after this current contest due to low entry submissions...so if you're a fan of free recording time or video shoots - make sure you register by the end of August as this might just be the last time we run it!
IRON KINGDOM: Our friends in IK have just come back from their North American tour from one side of the country to the other and managed to make it a complete success for the band! Gaining new fans in every city they played in - I've heard it firsthand from Brad from AETERNA who helped out on tour that they played harder and better than 99.9% of the bands they shared the bill with. Brad's no slouch - he knows talent and "what's good" - I'm inclined to believe him! Huge congratulations to Amanda, Chris, Kenny and Leighton for surviving in a van together and coming back loaded with Iron Kingdom success stories. Word on the street is that when they hit Dawson City they all downed the infamous "Sour Toe" drink, where YES, there is in fact an old human toe in the glass donated from some unfortunate frost-bitten soul. Ask'em!
AETERNA: Guitarist Brad Wengranowski came back from the Iron Kingdom tour ready to hit the studio with his band. Look for more news to come as Aeterna begin the process of recording their next album. Every time I see them, every note they hit - this band seems to grow and continually get better and better - so keep an eye out. This is a band to watch, especially if you're a fan of BRUTAL POWER METAL!
SPACEPORT UNION: Dropped by the studio just yesterday for a VISIT! That's right! You read that correctly - no interview, no filming of any kind - just a good old fashioned hangout on their way back from a recent show in Kamloops. I had met Aaron and Adam from SU before on one of the SBS Island Adventures, and singer Caroline briefly at this year's VIMA awards - but it was INCREDIBLE to actually sit down and talk with her at length. What an incredible head this woman has on her shoulders! I could have talked music with her for hours - she so truly "gets it," and I could easily identify with many of the ideals she has sought for and then found in her band. We had an immense amount in common and I could have easily talked to her until this time next week without wanting a break! And also filling in my last piece of the Spaceport puzzle was meeting Taylor their drummer - a guy who appears loaded with confidence and love for his band. Extremely awesome to spend a significant amount of time with this entire band all off the record just hanging out. I'll admit though - while talking to Caroline the rest of the band were jamming it out in the studio and from what I could hear...well...let's just say that as much fun as I had, I might not be so willing to let them escape un-filmed the next time we meet! I got just a taste of what Aaron can do on the bass - a guy that proves yet again that age makes no difference in your relationship with your musical instrument of choice - he's young but he was KILLING IT in there. Completely chilled out and just give'n it! They left - but what hasn't left yet is my now unquenchable thirst to see Spaceport Union live for myself!
WEST MY FRIEND: Have also recently come back from their "Madrona Migration" US Tour. We were able to check them out when they passed through Langley and we'll have some great photos for you very soon. From what we can see and hear - they had an excellent time and made it back in one piece...just a couple of flat tires along the way...no big deal!
EXPAIN: Unreal people! We had the opportunity to interview these guys about a month ago now - we're just getting the footage ready to unleash soon. Best news on that? Well - first off all I don't even know what the HELL they were doing here! If you've seen any of their videos you'll know they've got superior skills when it comes to visual editing - so I considered myself very lucky to even have them come by. But in an even braver moment - I asked if lead vocalist Dan might be interested in helping edit that particular show and I'm more than stoked to confirm he's in! I watch videos like he makes for Expain and think about just how vast the visual sea truly is, and how much more I still have to learn. Huge early thank you to Dan and to the rest of Expain for a great interview and performance - beyond stoked to show you that when it's all said and done. To achieve this, mind you, will more than likely require a heroic effort on my part to keep up with them all at the drinking table...seriously...wish me luck cause I'm thinking the odds are severely stacked against me!
SHMOLTS: I've been talking with Jay Serrao from this band from the UK - a project of his that features rotating collaborators and all kinds of creativity. We've put together a video interview that he's currently working hard on - I've had a few updates from him and can tell he's stoked to be a part of this project. That always goes a long way in these situations - many of these have been sent out this year and we don't end up with a finished interview coming back. As many of you out there know - the project is severely large in scope and takes a tremendous amount of effort on both ends. I can't lie - this project has scared MANY bands away - I've even seen a few cases where the particular artist we were working with has not only backed out of the interview, but disappeared from social media altogether. As serious as I want anyone to take this project if you DO take part in it - please don't QUIT MUSIC if you don't want to do the interview! But with Jay and Shmolts - I'm extremely confident that we'll be seeing something excellent come our way from him later this year. We're also extremely confident in other acts like SWAMI LUSHBEARD, ALONG CAME LIFE and NICOLAS & THE ICENI finishing theirs once they're finally sent out later this month.
SBS LIVE THIS WEEK:
Show has been sporadic! If you've read this entire monstrosity then you already know most of the reasons why! That being said - our recent interviews with MAN MADE LAKE and THE PENSKE FILE showed some of our best results to date as have the recent postings with full shows from CLOSER and THE PIT. I can't deny that the show is continuing to gain traction and support - thank you all so much for that.
You can expect more full concerts to come out before the end of the year, at least another two parts of SBS But No BS (All Music Episodes) and interviews with Expain and Kyle Truelove set to launch - all projected for this late August and September coming up.
While the re-design of this main site continues to hold us back from posting up our main outlets of content - you can basically find all the missing photos and videos you'd expect to be finding on this very site you're on now, over at the supernova page! Swing by and check out what we're doing over there - we had a modest goal of 100,000 hits by the end of our first year there and you can help us beat it early! Currently weighing in with 89196 on the hit counter - we don't have far to go to reach the goal! About a month and a half left to click away and help us forward in reaching that - our anniversary date on Supernova is Oct. 2nd. The first official SBS Live This Week posted up on November 17th, 2012, with our first guest and now great friend/occasional collaborator LAURA KELSEY.
WRAP IT UP JER:
Alright! It's great to be back on the blog, and thank you for reading any of the articles on this site. I can see from the back-end numbers here that you all read quite a bit actually - it's incredibly comforting to know this doesn't simply go out into the internet void without another glance. Album reviews will certainly continue - I'll also be including my take on some classic releases from the mainstream very soon and evaluating how these albums have stood up for me over time. Written interviews will certainly continue as well - we're just finishing up one with an electronic band from France called THE OTHER COLORS. We've yet to appear in France and we're thrilled to be able to present our work there as well - I can personally assure you that much time has been taken to absorb the details of this band and create something excellent on the page.
I am dedicated to continuing on the current sleepingbagstudios path and have the resolve of ten men right now. I am ready and willing to put in that extra time and find every hour and minute I can to be with you all here again on a regular basis. I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement you've all sent in during these past months and nearly entire year here online with SBS - BEYOND appreciate, really. By all means - continue to send your thoughts out this way - the more we communicate our struggles, our wants and our needs in the independent scene - well...the more I can continue to rally and fight for the spotlight you and your music deserve in this world.
Find something new to listen to today, and turn it up EXTRA LOUD just for me will you?
Talk to you soon(er)
- Jer @ SBS
August 16th, 2013 - Maxwell Demon -
Aurora - Album Review
Maxwell Demon – Aurora
That’s where I’m starting with this album in today’s review. In truth, I’ve been awake for an extremely long time again…to the point where I’ve stopped keeping track of just how long it has been…I’m floating along…existing…breathing like I’m counting it as a victory…could this album by Maxwell Demon have possibly come at a more perfect time for me?
I suppose what I mean is that this new set of songs by MD, beautifully titled Aurora, plays out thematically, the exact state I’m in right now…somewhere between dreaming and awake. From the moment I pressed play on the first track “Cross” it was like the entire room around me got as hazy and dreamlike as the music – instantly having me recognize the atmospheric elements that play an extremely large part of what Maxwell Demon creates.
For an eight song album – this thing BREAKS GROUND. Literally – you haven’t heard this before; the best I can personally put it would be that if you took the alternative rock band Arcade Fire, the electronic genius of Styrofoam and sprinkled a little of the eccentricities of Built To Spill in there and you’d have something that would sound CLOSE to what MD has created on Aurora. This is the kind of innovative, inventive and unique music that keeps my brain in good company.
I’ll never get over that amazing feeling that comes along with listening to something new for the first time. The playful guitar line in the opening track had me hooked instantly. “Cross” has that soft but crystalline vocal feel that our hero (& Jesus of SBS) Dave Grohl puts so much work into for the softer side of his music projects. As it drifts along into “Laidback,” I realize the minimalist approach that Maxwell Demon has put into his music here. Drumbeats are nothing frantic or too fancy…they fit the song, every time. And as was the case with “Cross” – he continues plodding along through the mist of his own creation in “Laidback” filling it in with some absolutely astoundingly well-recorded guitar tones.
One thing that struck me while listening to that last track was just how familiar ALL of this music feels – which is surprising yes, I know – I’ve already mentioned how we’ve never heard this before… Let me explain!
It’s as if Maxwell Demon has found that chord that resonates deep within me…maybe within us all. Every one of these songs felt like they reached into a part of my memory and helped me remember something from the past unknown…but comfortable all the while. I fully recommend closing the old eyelids and really taking this one in.
I’ll admit – on my first listen through, I had no idea what to expect. Once I had finished with “Ballroom” - which had felt slightly out of place to me - the rest of the album lined up in one incredibly fantastic sonic adventure. I think I got the overall picture in this diverse and experimental mind-maze-on-wax from Maxwell Demon…
The track “Ballroom” went a little too much towards the straight and narrow for my personal taste, resulting in a track that was nearly right out of the Social Distortion catalog, only updated by Maxwell’s signature vocal tones. If there’s was a miscue, or a misstep in the album - this might be it; but fortunately – this album Aurora INSTANTLY dives right back into the artistic roots of whence it came with a flawlessly BRILLIANT interlude (“The Snow Was Falling”) that runs into two of the strongest tracks on the album with “Deep Mass” and “Castles.”
“Castles” is completely awesome; it brings in a scattered electro-beat and a reverb-laden vocal masterpiece that nearly sounds like a lyrical nervous breakdown. I can’t get enough of this track; it envelopes, it PURSUES THE LISTENER and comes directly at YOU - practically pulling you into the atmosphere and texture he has created, physically, through the audible dreams he has collected here on Aurora.
It's albums just like this one by Maxwell Demon that make me a continued believer in the approach sleepingbagstudios takes to music. While the sounds are hazily pulsing along, one thing becomes abundantly clearer than the rest – I’ll never get tired of hearing the music of the independent scene out there in this present day and age. Each and every time it’s brand new – it’s a complete gift; a new feeling or a new thought, or a guiding light for my own musical journey still to come.
Aurora, by Maxwell Demon is no exception to this beloved routine of mine. I want to put this album on at four o’clock on a foggy morning and simply walk around my city. I want to create art and have this playing in the background for power and inspiration; for through the haze becomes the vision and the dream.
And through the dream becomes reality. This album has an incredible amount to offer in such a short amount of time…and I’m realizing now that I’ve been listening with every ounce of my attention. The music may sound like it’s right out of a dream, but the lasting inspirational impact this album has will leave you feeling like you’ve never been more awake.
And not just existing. ALIVE.
Check out Maxwell Demon further at the Soundcloud page here:
And hell, why not support him at Facebook too! Check it and LIKE it! https://www.facebook.com/ledemonmaxwell
August 14th, 2013 - Bennie King -
Evolution - Album Review
Bennie King – Evolution
I’ve mentioned in past reviews on mix-tapes from D-Bo and Drazah Backwards that the mastery of a solid mix-tape really comes down to sample selection and the ability to string it all together. The skill it takes to put the sounds and samples together consistently so that they line up and SOUND like they were meant to be there, is an ability that will never receive enough credit. Once again – I’m here in mix-tape music land to make sure those very skills are pointed out; make no mistake – Bennie King is swinging for the fence on every track with his new mix-tape Evolution.
I also truly believe that what makes this new mix-tape from B-King work so well is that it really does take you all over a musical landscape – giving you a literal sample of some amazing sounds from all kinds of moods and tones. Vocally, Bennie is not afraid to take chances and change up his natural sound underneath layers of effects to switch it up and keep it interesting for you to listen to. And there’s no doubt – this is a guy that understands how to write a hook.
Listen to songs like “Afro Baby,” or “Beautiful” and you’ll hear exactly what I’m talking about. Bennie King is a classic example of how you don’t need to be completely pitch-perfect 100% of the time to get your hook across, or stuck in someone’s head; just ask Yeezus and he’ll confirm. “Afro Baby” was one of those rare times that I stopped an album during reviewing it and went back to immediately listen to the song again before hearing the rest. Bennie! I NEVER do that man! Something about this track just made me have to hear it again – it’s just a gigantic song! The production itself is over-blown and tweaked – almost sounding larger than the previous tracks. When you combine that style with this absolutely wicked lyrical hook that can’t be denied and the SICKEST almost afterthought of a horn solo that takes us to the end – Bennie, all I’m saying is that there is nothing but WIN on this track for me. Incredible texture on this song.
King hails from the UK but his accent is often disguised by effects, giving him a sound that doesn’t sound particularly localized to any one area. I think the work he has put into this is incredibly tangible – you can HEAR the actual Evolution within this mix-tape itself as he changes up styles and beats from track to track. The layout of the tape itself is perfect – every time he mellows out just slightly in tracks like “Roller Coaster” or “The Kidz,” he comes back in bumping with tracks like “Rock” or “Donk.” The titles might be simple – and that’s because the music speaks for itself.
The pulse and swell of a mix-tape, caused by the relationship between compression and the low end, is ever present…I’m not sure if that’s the staple of an authentic mix-tape or not but it is a common and consistent element. On tracks like “The Kidz” and “Clique” – Bennie pushes that line between clean and dirty production to the extreme. The low end rampages out on these tracks, sure to be that bass sound you hear in the car next to you at the light with the volume on max, rumbling away. And oh! What’s that? “Clique” uses a sample from Yeezus himself? Now I definitely don’t feel wrong about my earlier comparison!
As the album closes out on that final note in a collaboration of sound between B-King and Kanye, I realize there are so many tracks that I immediately want to hear again. When I heard Kanye West’s 808’s And Heartbreak years back I knew I was listening to something that was going to change something, if not only his own direction. I’ll fully admit – parts of it had jarred with me upon several listens until I fully got my mind around both his style and WHAT he was trying to achieve with that sound and album – and this mix-tape from Bennie reminds me of that day I heard it, way back when. I realized that the songs I wanted to hear right away served a higher purpose: they helped me understand the OTHER songs that I didn’t “get” right away.
The hooks of Bennie King on Evolution will grab your attention and hold it. The beats themselves will take your rump and shake it. And when you’ve finally blasted your favorite tracks from this album enough and start listening to the whole thing – you’ll realize they all fit together like pieces of a puzzle. To take a track out, or skip one, would be to disrupt a purposeful flow put together by King; one that truly expresses Evolution over an album.
Check out what he’s up to at:
August 12th, 2013 - Skyed Pillars -
Cloud Opus - Album Review
Skyed Pillars – Cloud Opus
THIS. This is my genre. Hello and WELCOME to my new friend Christian P. Bassett – all the way from Munich, Germany – the mastermind behind the songs of Skyed Pillars and the new album Cloud Opus. Where have YOU been? Oh sleepingbagstudios…how I have waited for this day when you would finally present me with some brilliant and beautiful, emotional INDIE post-rock. Like I said – it took a while – but let me assure you I’ve found what I was looking for in Cloud Opus from Skyed Pillars.
No lie – I listen to the BEST of the BEST in every genre I can get my ears around – but the post-rock category is something I truly hold dear to my heart and feel like I know inside and out. When words fail me as a writer, I can put songs on from amazing bands like Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, Fuck Buttons, Godspeed You Black Emperor, This Will Destroy You and let these bands play out my moods through instrumental sonic journeys. I will now be counting Skyed Pillars in with these giants. Christian P. Bassett is clearly a man that has not only gone after the sound and sonic textures that he loves to hear – he has absolutely inserted himself right into this genre and taken all the right elements of post-rock to a completely beautiful level.
Cloud Opus opens with the title track – a twelve-plus minute masterpiece that both sets the tone for the strength/consistency of the album and manages to get right the most important element post-rock does best: It explodes. One of the most magical elements in the tracks of this style are the relentless crescendos that rise with such extremity and ferociousness that the calm breaks that reside just in the distance seconds after can make you feel like you’re the only person left listening on earth.
Take a track like “Davenport Creek” from Skyed Pillars and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Push play and close your eyes; you’ll know when you’re a minute and a half into the song – I can promise you that. Christian has an unbelievable gift for tone and melody in his playing – doesn’t matter WHICH of the parts you dissect in this one-man powerhouse – any instrument he seems to touch begins to leak golden-flowing, beautiful music. Through the timing and precise nature of the songs he demonstrates a dedicated care to his craft and continually finds room to make the songs contract and expand, becoming organic with lives of their own.
“Short” – as in there are only five tracks – or “long” if you’re comparing it to his peers in Godspeed You Black Emperor! At minimum you are with Christian along for a music festival complete with fireworks inside of each track for eight minutes. With two of the tracks over twelve minutes long – the melodies and music have GOT to make an impact and make the listener want to keep it playing for the duration without skipping to the next song – and again, Skyed Pillars deliver the goods on every track - leaving me wanting for nothing else and completely 100% satisfied.
There are people that perhaps might hear a song like “Creation” and say it’s TOO close to what Explosions In The Sky are doing. Think of it this way – instrumental music has a fantastic way of communicating as well – something like this, a song that starts with so many parallels to Explosions before an adventurous synth departure, that perhaps the title “Creation” alludes to the inspiration and the influences Christian has encountered on the way. In any event – when the song bursts into drums three and a half minutes in, you get a real sense of where Skyed Pillars can take this post-rock thing.
Music has and always will be a FEELING; great instrumental music can always translate the emotions we feel and describe in words into tones and rhythms that can shake you as easily as the most profound prose you’ve ever read. It can tell a story and it can captivate and dominate the attention of your imagination – it can take you to a whole new musical plane where thoughts become emotion and emotion becomes vibrant tone and rich melodic layering.
I could (And WILL) eat this album for breakfast, dinner and lunch. The playing, structure and production are all in line – Cloud Opus is crisp and clear and absolutely HUGE. On a broad appeal – the album is so painstakingly perfected that anyone could enjoy it – and on a personal level it’s such an incredible match to my musical taste it leads me to wonder if Christian has been on Google-Earth and searching SBS daily to spy on what I’m having for breakfast and what I’ve been listening to! Skyed Pillars have made absolutely incredible music that I will be reaching for consistently and constantly.
As the album begins to close with the final track “Fated Children;” I’m suddenly hit with a certainty that this IS my favorite indie album that I’ve come across in the journey of sleepingbagstudios so far. Though our followers know I try not to judge or play favorites – there’s absolutely no denying this. By incorporating more synth and keys into the tracks as well – Skyed Pillars are ensuring that their place in this world is more than unique enough unto themselves along with a permanent residence in my earhole. We’ve commented many times on playing on the inside of an influence without simply copying a style – and while this band might have the formula down pat for the perfect post-rock symphony – Skyed Pillars are no copy and certainly no accident; this is beautiful music made with excellence from a band that will surely see the respect of its peers and fans of the genre alike.
GO GET CLOUD OPUS HERE: http://skyedpillars.bandcamp.com/album/cloud-opus
And support Skyed Pillars on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/skyedpillars
August 10th, 2013 - John Keenan -
Imagination To The Nation - Album Review
John Keenan – Imagination To The Nation
Ok! John said himself in a message to me that he’d “rather be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie” – so let’s get to the slappin’ shall we? No one really wants to kiss this overgrown beard-garden I call a face anyway. Seriously – I have no idea HOW my wife puts up with it… I also believe I still qualify as a lover and not a fighter despite being confused occasionally for a homeless person and/or the missing-link; at least I can say I’ve never actually slapped anyone…yet!
And as much as I appreciate John’s sentiment and the courage it would take for him to stick his musical face out there so ready to be slapped, but alas, I will not be doing any slapping today. I was so looking forward to it. :(
The fact is that John Keenan has a sick amount of lyrical skill and can combine words together in a verse like he himself had written Thesaurus. I appreciate one thing above all others in a rapper or hip-hop artist – hell, any front-person or singer at all really – and that’s the metering. Time after time you can hear an artist try to fit in that extra un-natural syllable, throwing them into a lyrical train-wreck or performance tailspin. Independent rap, as these young emcees begin to learn and hone the craft, can be laden with these. John Keenan does not have this issue – he’s on point all day while you push play.
Not only does he stay correct and on top of the rhythm of his rhymes – John’s a man on a mission; the rhymes themselves pack a powerful punch from the life-lessons he has picked up along the way by stumbling towards his musical career, not so much hurtling… He’s been through the battles, the drugs and the alcohol and come out on the other side still intact. You can’t possibly listen to his music and suggest he even has a single marble missing out of his mental collection; the attention to detail in these tracks, especially in the lyrical department, is so carefully looked after - refined and recorded like it was meant to be there all along existing in your collection at home.
Researching the album a bit through his bio on his main page (John Keenan Online) – it is amazing to read that this album, Imagination To The Nation, was recorded in just over a month’s worth of time. That only confirms what I’m hearing and proves that there’s not only talent on the microphone – but that there’s a whole bunch of hidden talent as well behind the words through programs, beats and production.
It seems as if our friend John here is quite ready to take on the world. Looking after nearly all-aspects of this album – he should be extremely proud of what has been recorded on his upcoming album (Imagination To The Nation drops August 20th 2013) – the quality is excellent and the tracks all have at least one hook if not more that people will grab on to. But all “hooks” and well-written beats aside – it’s the confidence of John Keenan that will have you reaching to repeat the album.
Listen to a track like his single “A King Has No Friend” and dare to tell me I’m wrong. If the beginning doesn’t sell you immediately on his skill, FINE – jump to 2:40 into the song and witness some SUPREME lyrical talent; now….now you’re on my side - and it only took two minutes and forty seconds! Sometimes I try to imagine how full the ocean would be if a song was to represent a milliliter of water – there are so many songs out there at this point I’m thinking it could rival the current size. To think that there’s people out there not actively seeking something new to listen to when there’s artists like John K here just below the surface…it blows my mind. Two minutes and forty seconds on this side of the speakers and he had himself a new fan.
But whether it’s the up-tempo feel-goodness of a track like “Do For Love” or the despair and emotion on a track like “Hope In Their Eyes,” Keenan delivers crisply on each and every verse and has comprised an album full of beats worthy of your ear-time. I’m jumping all over his album timeline here, but the mid-album track “Saw Her Face” gets stuck in my head for days at a time and has continued to since I started listening…
HOWEVER! He wanted a slap if there was one to be had…and I feel my pimp-hand tingling…
It’s still not even a slap really – both of these comparisons I found musically that came to my mind have skill…so…I say this hoping he didn’t give me permission to slap it out just so I’d hit’em first… My first impression, vocally…was actually a band called Len – the one-hit-wonder band of “Steal My Sunshine” fame. The second impression was actually Lonely Island, the notorious joke-rap act of Saturday Night Live’s poster-child for A.D.D., Andy Samberg. Before you start slappin back John – know it’s all LOVE brother – I spin the Lonely Island here probably waaaaaaay too much for anyone’s good…
If John Keenan can stay the course – continue to put together quality tracks like “Garbage Can” and “Forgot My Medicine” without having to LIVE (Or nearly die for) the subject-matter, or single-worthy tracks like “Make It Home Tonight,” then he’s going to be just fine. I’ve always been a firm believer that true talent shines through – it simply can’t be ignored forever. Stars like John shine bright amongst the rest, burning with passion for the craft and determination to reach that next level – this isn’t a game for him; this is his LIFE.
And that care he has taken is audible on every track. This isn’t WORK or a JOB to him – he’s loving what he’s doing regardless of the subject matter. He might need to consider taking on something part time just to fill his calendar though – it seems like a month of recording is all he really needs.
Check him out further at these sites below – no joke – he’s got a lot to say!
And don’t forget – this album, The Imagination To The Nation drops August 20th. So…I guess what I’m saying is that there’s plenty of time in between now and then to listen to his last album while you wait for the new one to drop!
Get it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/where-i-went-wrong/id576146867
July 23rd, 2013 - New Pink Floyd - The Animatronics Of Fuck Yeah - Album Review
New Pink Floyd - The Animatronics Of Fuck Yeah
Wow. Are you EVER going to think I’ve gone crazy when you hear what I have to say about this album, The Animatronics Of Fuck Yeah by New Pink Floyd…do I like it? You BET I do – but the WHY is strange! Read on…
First of all – if you’re looking for a musical comparison to the ACTUAL Pink Floyd you will not be finding that here – it simply does not exist – this is entirely different for most. MOST! But I’m not most – as you know I listen to EVERYTHING all day, literally – not like your friends say they do when you ask them for the for the first time.
I’ll say this – there’s not a lot of people doing what they’re doing – so it IS completely fair that when you push play and hear “Test Test” the first track, that you may very well be completely lost. My best comparison comes to a beautiful indie band that I truly love and not many people I’ve met know, or at least they rarely come up in any conversations with me; Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. Anyone?
Much like CFTPA, New Pink Floyd is as experimental as it gets. True blends of electronic freak-out with stylistic poetry guaranteed to polarize with every listen; some will love it, and many will not understand it. Lead vocalist Jaimie Sharkey and her musical cohort Robert Costello have MUCH to fear from the public response, as we all know what humans can be like when they don’t understand something.
Take a track like “Denasa” – one of my favorites from the album. Art and music is it not? YES IT IS. What the two of these people have done is thrown caution to the wind and literally put out an album and a style of music that you’ll either get or you won’t – but I can tell you firsthand that if this is the type of music you’re making, you’re not expecting that anyone WILL get it, because it’s ART – simply existing, living and breathing - simply being made and not carefully considering how an audience might respond.
I applaud that, big time.
Ok – let’s break this down a bit. It’s important to note, that Robert Costello – master sound creator behind the music of this two person band – is a freakin genius. I’d bet money he’s taught himself everything he knows too. He has an absolutely incredible gift for electronica and creating unique, inventive and completely well written beats. You want unique? How about a furiously paced organ coming at you in “Crossed-T’s?” Instantly drives into the minimalist “Up Walk” – another standout track on this album. Jam after jam – Robert proves that he is an enormous contribution and seemingly never-ending source of creativity.
On to Jaimie! First of all – I’ve talked to her plenty online and she’s an incredibly sweet and excellent person. Very pure of heart and I dig that. Her genuine character completely plays the pivotal role in the music of New Pink Floyd – where the real magic comes in. You wanna know the secret? I’ll let you in on it…
You see, Robert – our gifted electronically charged friend, makes incredible MUSIC. Jaimie, using her poetry as the platform for her lyrics and a flair for the dramatic in her style, transcend this duo beyond the music and into performance art. If you were to ask me (and it seems that someone must have!) – I’d say that Jaimie is living in the moment; that is to say her performances are organic and not bound to any static formula. Cool right? She might even be a vocal purist – you know, one of the “what came out was what was meant to come out” kinda people. She uses her voice as an instrument and constantly explores new territory through vocal texture, effects, lyrics and of course that genuine personality we mentioned earlier.
The album begins to close with “Chorus,” the second to last track, highlighting yet another minimalist but completely satisfying beat from Robert before bringing up the tempo once more in the final track “RNA-LA.” Arguably one of the better tracks on the album – they close out on another successful collaboration between the music and words, a final piece of art in this musical gallery.
I’m always impressed by the creativity of our musical world. New Pink Floyd are no exception to that rule; they put an album in my ears that takes me right back to a time where my own band was successfully putting together full tracks and we were fully about the integration of poetry to music. We did then, and we still do, whatever we want to musically. Thank you Jaimie and Robert for reminding me how awesome it is to exercise that freedom, and that we’re not the only ones.
It’s a great reminder for us all. When you picked up whatever it is you played for the first time, there was nothing written – the universe was wide open to you to create and make your own music; New Pink Floyd stand as a reminder that it can still be that way if you want it to be. Robert and Jaimie will certainly go on to create many more sonic journeys from here as well I’m sure.
And as always my friends – you know I’ll be listening.
Find out more about New Pink Floyd!
Wanna throw down your own review? Check this out! http://www.last.fm/music/New+Pink+Floyd/New+Pink+Floyd
And be sure to check out what else I’ve got to say about New Pink Floyd and this album, The Animatronics Of Fuck Yeah on SBS Live This Week when we return with Part II of the video interview with Man Made Lake!
July 16th, 2013 - Drazah Backwards - Elephants & Dinosaurs - Album Review
Drazah Backwards – Elephants & Dinosaurs
If you’ve been following our written work, you’ll see that we’ve only just begun our foray into the mix-tape world. In fact – it’s only been a short while that we’ve known about the artist behind today’s review – Drazah Backwards – from when we were lucky enough to have an interview with him earlier this year. As it turned out through that interview, not only is Drazah an incredibly vibrant and easy going personality but an incredibly hard worker.
The evidence of these claims can be seen throughout the interview (You can view it here) – but the true evidence can be heard all over his latest mix-tape album – Elephants & Dinosaurs.
You can find the sound of this mix-tape to be much like the referenced title mammals: BIG. And just like we found the man behind the music to be through the interview – this album is nothing but non-stop good times. No matter the subject – the beats behind the lyrics on this album will constantly have you in a good mood. As far as I’m concerned – hell YES I’m a in a great mood right now – doing my morning thing listening to my man Drazah Backwards do what he was clearly meant to do.
Now throughout the existence of the mix-tape – this style of collaboration has always taken the comments of it “not being real music” from musicians who have spent years of their life dedicated to their one and only instrument. That bullshit argument is tired, weak and overplayed – one that we completely cut off at the knees by realizing that this musical world is nothing but a combination of ART & MUSIC – and that can shine through in many, many forms.
So whatever – he doesn’t “plug-in” to an amp. What he is doing – track after track, is creating an art form and honing his craft. From my experience with mix-tapes, I’m learning that what separates the good from the bad is the musical ear of the artist putting it all together. Either they understand music, and put together these incredibly smooth mix-tapes that flow with ease (Just like Drazah has here on Elephants & Dinosaurs) or they don’t and you can hear the roughness in the cuts and editing and the jarring of samples that truly don’t go together.
From the moment you press play and open with the track “Anti-Lock Brakes” – you can hear the skills and the sheer amount of work that it would take to put in to get an overall quality with this high of a standard. Before halfway through the album you’ll have a number of confirmations to follow, with tracks like “Radio (Feat. Urban Champ)” and “What I Look Like” confirming that, yes, there are also some SICK skills being spit into the mic to go with these killer assembled beats.
I think what I like best about the whole mix-tape genre and ideal is that it truly plays to an artist’s strengths. Let’s face it – if you’re creating one – hopefully it’s always in the back of your mind that the beat you’re creating is one that you KNOW you can work with. Drazah Backwards has proven over this entire album that not only is he completely capable of creating an entire album’s worth of creative and dynamic beats – but that he chose to challenge himself and keep it diverse. You won’t find the find same tired flow echoing over every track – nah son - Drazah is completely unafraid to take on all kinds of sounds and rhymes, something you can hear instantly in that progression past the halfway mark with tracks like “Get In That Frame Of Mind,” “Respect My Arrogance” and “Field Trip To Mercury (Feat. Illdot Logic).” These three tracks back-to-back-to-back are incredible together and make for a mid-point in the album that is captivating, rather than dragging or repeating as it can be on many albums of any genre.
“Been ready for this since I was five-foot-nothing” – and truly it sounds like he has been. On this track “5 Nuthin” he rhymes about something that’s crucial and important to ALL of you independent artists out there: It doesn’t matter WHEN you burst out onto the scene – if you LOVE what you do then you’ll be prepared for that day; and it WILL come.
Oh shit! Was that a sample of “Careless Whisper” by Wham? YEP. On the track “I Know You’re Not” Drazah reaches back into the 80’s to rhyme over a beat by this former George Michael super-group. The saxophone line is literally one of the most iconic sax lines ever laid down and certainly recognizable to ANYONE who listens, regardless of the age. We’ve all heard that song; now hear it the way that Drazah hears it and realize again, the real mastery of the mix-tape is to know how and where you fit into the careful selections of samples you cut - there's no doubt that Drazah knows his every well-planned move.
As he closes out the album and rips some sick rhymes over “Horatio” and creates one of the most unique beats on the album on “Jumanji” – he saves one of the sickest of all to close out the album on a “must-repeat” note with the track “Lambo Dreams.” This track serves as a reminder that Drazah Backwards is not only here for one album – he’s got goals and he won’t stop until he gets there. And as much as I’m always happy to see an artist reach their personal definition of success – I take a great comfort in knowing that until he himself feels that he’s achieved that goal and satisfied his incredibly high standards, that there will be plenty of music to come from Drazah in the future.
Support him at:
And get the album here:
July 14th, 2013 - Leftfield Keele - Sandlot -
Leftfield Keele - “Sandlot” Album Review
Anytime I see a track called something like “Rollin Smokin,” the first track on this seven-track groove filled album from hip-hop artist Leftfield Keele, well…I live on the west coast of Canada in BC – there can only BE one connotation that comes to mind. It seems like Leftfield Keele, based out of Toronto had the same theme on his mind.
Talk about flow. “Land Of Opportunity” comes directly after “Rollin Smokin,” with one of the best rhythm and lyrical cascades that you’ll hear this year. Listening to a track like this, and realizing this is a two-for-two punch in the opening tracks – there’s no denying that Leftfield Keele is overflowing with talent and putting everything he's got into these tracks.
Hip-hop and rap is something that we’re gaining experience points in every day that seems to go by here at sleepingbagstudios. What started out here with a major dry spell here in the wordsmith department has branched out over these past months. During that time one thing has become astoundingly apparent – the underground indie rap scene is alive and well with a creative thirst like never before. I listen to these MC’s coming up and it really is jaw-dropping just how much talent truly is out there.
“Field Of Dreams” is another example of the masterful grip that Leftfield Keele has on his lyrical design. What I’m appreciating more and more from this album as track after track goes by is that I’m not hearing that EXTRA word. Tell me someone out there knows what I mean! Indie rap – while almost always a guarantee to display a fantastic level of talent, still usually has a verse or two where I find that I wish the verse or chorus had one or two less words to truly fit the metering of the flow. This is where Leftfield Keele truly shines; there’s no mistakes here, no words out of place. The time has been taken to make sure this comes across as correct, direct and on-beat as a great rap album should be.
“Foot up on the gas, cut the brake pads, ain’t nothing slowing me down,” is how Leftfield Keele has put it in the track “Cruise Control” – and that’s a statement in bold truth. This might arguably be the slowest and most chill track on the album but still has room to house yet another incredible rhyme scheme on this album; leading into the final track “Window” – a playful party vibe that has both beautiful melody and a well-designed chorus that is guaranteed to get you swaying along to the beat.
All in all – I’ve said it before, but it’s a true pleasure to have this gift of being able to wake up and start a day with new and exciting music. There’s no time of day I’d rather do a review than first thing in the morning as the sun is coming up behind me through the sliding glass doors of the studio control room. I never know what’s coming at me – it’s always a unique experience and surprise. Leftfield Keele is certainly no exception – it’s got me staring out my own “Window” right now daydreaming while I listen to this incredibly cohesive and tight album Sandlot.
Whether Leftfield Keele is riding solo or getting help from talented artists like Xtiin Jones on “Away” or Gardener on “Bill Murray” – each and every track put down here is a solid entity and something you’ll want to hear again with no doubt. With skills like this – and the constant demonstration OF said skills coming track after track after track – there’s no doubt in my mind either. Not only would I myself listen to this album again and again – Leftfield Keele is also a name that I am positive I will be hearing again in the future as well. His rhymes come in a tightly wrapped hip-hop package and deliver the full flavor of summer all the way through.
And if he keeps his skills this sharp – there won’t be anything in the game that can slow him down or stop him from reaching the top of his field. Check this album out!
July 11th, 2013 - Swami Lushbeard - A Burning Desire - EP Review
Swami Lushbeard - A Burning Desire EP Review
This music takes you on an incredible sonic journey.
I had very high hopes from the moment my chia-pet-resembling face was contacted by this band in review – Swami Lushbeard! Could it be the hand of fate steering another brilliant album towards my hairy chin? After listening – I just might have to consider that possibility...
This EP is short but precise; at only three songs long – they have to be good. Three songs have nowhere to hide when you press play and an EP has different expectations surrounding the quality than a single with a few throwaway B-sides; the purpose is usually to hype up the future and highlight the present state of the music. Whatever their purpose behind making it happened to be – they did their music proud; all three songs work perfectly. If this is what Swami Lushbeard is capable of then you’d better believe I’m looking forward to a full length album!
One of the things I like the best is that it’s the same…but it’s not! Each of the three tracks has such a tremendously different pulse and feel to them…again, this is a sonic journey. Yet, each and every track has the core elements that make Swami Lushbeard’s music their own; from the singing to the constantly inventive and challenging arrangements they’ve come to record here on this EP, A Burning Desire.
Getting into this album track by track from multiple repeat listens, the opening track “Stay Lost” brings up one constant thought in my head: Accessibility. This is a true music fusion; blending styles from all forms of classic & progressive rock to late 90’s alternative – Swami Lushbeard have somehow managed to create an EP that sounds new to the ears right from the beginning from this collage of music styles.
The demonstration of musicianship on “My Best Thinking” and the different direction in the tone and feel show that this band isn’t simply one dimensional in their sound or their scope. You can’t help but completely dig the drum rhythm that creates this kind of tribal feel that mixes incredibly well in between the melodic guitars in the verse. This combination works effectively in the following track – “The Bottom” – which drifts hazily along close to the musical lounge line before coming back with a vengeance blending some great harmonies against a swaying rhythm that becomes nearly hypnotic over time.
Though each of these recordings indicated their rich musical palettes, there’s a cohesion in these tracks that is undeniable. I feel like I would recognize this band instantly if I was to hear them again in a brand new song – and there’s something to be said for that. Their style of writing and level of execution really show that this is a band that will also be around for quite some time – so I’m looking forward to that opportunity to audibly identify them one day.
I’m sticking to it: Accessibility. Swami Lushbeard is writing complex music that would find its way into anyone’s collection; under the guise of something they think they already know and like for sound – this band will show you a fantastic update on all their influences by bringing them all together to give you something new on A Burning Desire.
Said very simply; short, sweet & worth the repeat.
Check out this album further on the SBS Live This Week Metal Panel Part II episode at this link here:
And hit up the Swami Lushbeard facebook page to show you support and learn more about them at:
July 10th, 2013 - Velvet Symphony - Counter Clockwise - Album Review
Velvet Symphony – Counter Clockwise
It’s only fitting that we end up posting this album on Father’s Day. My immediate first impression upon pressing play was one of, ‘Wow – was I EVER raised on this kind of music!’ The opening track reminded me very much of something that Joe Satriani would have put together…maybe around the time of his Surfing With The Alien album. One thing is certain – you can’t make an instant comparison to one of the instrumental GIANTS like Satriani without there being an intense and large level of skill in both the instrumentation and in the production – Velvet Symphony is bringing this kind of A-game – listen up!
Right into the second track called “Surface” and I’m more than in love with this album. Get yourself caught up – hit that sweet spot around 1:40 and see what this act is capable of! This jazz-line piano that is brought in works so perfectly in this track and reveals a large element in the overall work of Velvet Symphony; though at the core this music stays true to progressive roots – it is not afraid to give it an update by reaching for different genre elements like jazz or power-ballads and do something new with it. When you’re listening to the track “Horizon” – you might think to yourself ‘yeah – this is prog-rock, but the Postal Service could even find a way to work with what Velvet Symphony are doing.
We’ve said it countless times – good music can transcend genre barriers. A track like “Horizon” will take you through a journey from the prog to the pop side of Velvet Symphony. “Clock It” comes ripping in back to the progressive with an absolutely mind blowing guitar performance. The skill level is no doubt in my mind up there with the greats – I’ve spent a near lifetime listening to Vai, Satriani, Fripp, Johnson… the musical brain, songwriting and skill of Ed Melendez and his work with Velvet Symphony easily deserve a mention alongside what could easily be considered his PEERS.
During “Clock It” I had to sit and think for a second. I had to check pages. Yep – this is ONE guy. So if you had ANY beef before – you can drop that shit now – cause this is made by ONE guy. Sick! His ideas on how an album should flow are incredible and the production on the sound is absolutely beyond pro and so incredibly true to the style – it just works on every level track after track.
Prog-rock has taken a beating lately – those of us who listen to it fully know it. The genre has become confused with bands that wander but don’t understand structure or proper timing elements, resulting in it becoming a genre many music listeners became afraid of… If you’re looking for the classic sound – this freaking NAILS it on all fronts. Listen to “Going To Jupiter” and tell me you can’t love that! Again – a very guitar driven melody – but it’s truly the rarest of musicians that can really make their instrument SPEAK to us like Ed can through these fantastic guitar lines. The rest of the classic elements are rounded out – in a track like “Labyrinth” you can absolutely hear the influence of a band like Marillion. Another brilliant song for his guitar; he’s almost channeling the blues soul of Gary Moore in playing on this one. It has tension – it has a tremendous build up that completely pays off.
As does this album. As I went from track to track – I had to kind of smile and think to myself, ‘You know what prog-rock? You’re gonna be okay…’ Indie prog-rock is fully alive and well – you found that out with us before when we reviewed The Great Airport Mystery. This album by Velvet Symphony – Counter Clockwise – shows the more traditional side of progressive rock and could easily hold up with the best of the independents OR the mainstream.
Shit – I have to be honest. This is like the damn manual on what you SHOULD do in making progressive music true to the style. The rise, the fall…the epic journeys that this genre can take us on when we just close our eyes and listen are all here. That feeling of freedom in music…is here…all over this album…and you know what? It sounds awesome.
You all know that I’m a huge fan of melody in music. Listen to the Velvet Symphony track “Cloud Parade,” surrender, give up, and agree with me that it’s not just AN important element of songwriting but that it could very well be THE element of GREAT songwriting. After all – it’s through that melody that we connect emotionally to a track – without that could we even at all? It is again to be noted the complete phenomenal level of skill it takes to be able to communicate this without the means of vocals and Velvet Symphony seems to have an entire degree in musical communication. The album completes itself with “Metal Circus” – another epic journey through the land of skill and epic-ness but this time also bringing in a bit of the funk for us before the final explosion.
Well written. That’s probably how I’d describe it if you limited me to only two words. Give me three of those word-things and I’d say INCREDIBLY well written. Ed has literally left no stone unturned and covered every base on this album – no bullshit here. When you hear how these tracks flow and weave through each other, and then the culmination of the album in “Metal Circus” which nearly incorporates all of the different aspects and elements you’ve come to love throughout the album…there’s no doubt in my mind that every sound and note was looked at and examined before putting this out there as finished work. For this prog-rock genre, this is as perfect as perfect gets.
July 9th, 2013 - Lizzy Lehman - A Place I Know You'll Love - Album Review
Lizzy Lehman – A Place I Know You’ll Love
Musically, when you’re authentic, it’s impossible to hide. I’ve expressed in the past how much of a gift it is to listen to all of your music, starting each and every morning with a completely new and unique experience for my ears. Pressing play has got to be the best moment of my day...that mystery…that wonder…what comes next?
Today for you I have an album that I’ve been playing nearly EVERY morning for the past couple of weeks. This is the new album from Lizzy Lehman – A Place I Know You’ll Love – it has some of the most incredible depth and texture in sound I’ve heard in this independent music scene of ours. She has created an INCREDIBLE atmosphere in each and every one of the eight tracks on this short but sweet album – but it’s the authenticity in the songwriting as a whole that will make you want to spin this every bit as much as I have.
Take a listen! Really! You all know I listen to Vancouver’s hard rock band The Pit on near endless repeat – now picture my all-too-bearded chin switching it over to this from one of their songs to one of Lizzy’s! Yes – I can do this – my ears were born ready to listen. I found an incredible amount of “small comparisons” to other artists that I respect incredibly throughout these multiple listens. I say small because no matter who it was whether it was a male or female artist – that moment of comparison would come and go so quickly, as if she was simply borrowing the best of the very best out there and then making it her own & original.
My first thoughts had Lizzy’s songwriting somewhere in between John Mayer and Bob Dylan. The vocals were nearly a cross between Chrissy Hynde, David Gray and Aimee Mann. At points – she can remind me completely of the style of bands like The National or Mimicking Birds. So how’s that for a mix of completely respectable musical careers in comparison? When you leave Mayer’s personal life out of it – this is pretty good company to be keeping overall – at least in my mind. But with all those references in there – how could you even begin to categorize this into a musical pigeonhole? Ha! Nice try music industry – you CAN’T.
It is certainly no secret that I listen to a ton of music by all genres and artists but I’ll admit it has felt like it has been a while since I did nothing at all but sit there and listen. On my first run through Lizzy’s new album – that’s all I was capable of doing! I was musically frozen and between tracks from this album you could have heard a pin drop in the studio I was so quiet. It stood out so much to me that anything less than a complete 100% of my attention on that first listen simply would not have been acceptable – this is music that commanded my interest through excellent songwriting and fantastic production on her musical vision.
On this album – A Place I Know You’ll Love – LL gets it RIGHT. I was glued to the words of her songs – each one telling a story painted through excellent wording and phrasing – but mainly through the delivery of these incredible heartfelt and emotional vocals, lyrics and sentiment. The combination of her songs “The Arctic,” “Stars” and “Nothing To Say” being completely back to back to back might just go down in history as being three of the most well written tracks to sit side by side like that on an album.
“The Arctic” is a sweet song through the melody – and in behind it a tragic and cautionary tale is taking place through the lyrics – “What a beautiful, horrible thing,” sings Lehman over a melody that might make you think it was a love song. “Stars” might just be the standout for me. Lehman challenges herself in creativity and in her own complex vocal part here – this is where I would draw that comparison to a band like Mimicking Birds. The delivery and note choice is so refreshingly unto this song and this song alone; this is hearing something beautiful and new. And here’s another example of her great sense of texture in song – listen to the distorted guitar against the melody overall – quite often it’s reaching for the surrounding notes and what might sound jangled to you at first, you’ll grow to appreciate.
See? Here’s the problem! I say “Stars” is the standout – and then that song leads right into “Nothing to Say” – and when that happens I fall in love with this song all over again. I’m starting to think that whatever song off of A Place I Know You’ll Love that I’m listening to becomes my favorite during that moment. The drums, the absolutely beautiful cultural guitar…the absolutely convincing and compelling performance of LL on her vocals – all make this track such a unique moment in time.
The feeling doesn’t let up or stop throughout the rest of the album – this is beyond strong all the way through. Believe me when I say I took a LOT of time with this review. I listened over and over and over to make sure that I was hearing all of these fantastic things about Lizzy Lehman that I’m describing to you. I double checked to make sure I still owned hard rock, and the mirror to make sure my beard was still growing…yep – I’m the same old me.
Good authentic music will always enjoy that luxury of being able to bring in people from other genres. Once I got past that point of listening to only what I liked in life – I became about listening to the best of the best of everything. I think this completely holds up as an incredible album – the mainstream can SUCK IT; if this is where indie is at – I’m NEVER leaving and I’ll never stop listening. Congratulations Lizzy Lehman – you’ve put together a timeless album that I know will be around in my own personal catalog for years and years to come – and I know I can’t be alone in that. Your passion for what you do and your songwriting craft shine through radiantly. A Place I Know You’ll Love is an album full of music worth listening to – and wherever this place might be – I want to go to there.
June 27th, 2013 - Morning Fame
- Back & Forth - Album Review
Morning Fame – Back & Forth + Cast Away Album Review
I always start at the beginning when doing an album review – I didn’t this time…I’ll admit it…
It’s certainly not because I don’t like the track – I’m a huge fan of the opening track from Morning Fame on this album Back & Forth, called “Cast Away” – so much so that the video was featured on our show SBS Live This Week and ranted/raved about! So just so we’re clear – no love lost on this track whatsoever; in fact – I’ll click the album repeat setting to make sure I get a listen in once again to what is a killer lead off song and single from this band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
So I suppose I started at “The Colour Of Sound.” The standout aspects of what I had enjoyed so much in the video and review of “Cast Away” on the show were completely prevalent here once again: well written songs, inventive guitars and vocal flow, steady rhythmic bass….and where on EARTH did they get this drummer? Alan Dennis is a freakin beast back there and stands out immediately in “The Colour of Sound” demonstrating that the band isn’t simply writing songs with a steady beat – that steady beat becomes inventive and explorative on Back & Forth, always keeping it interesting to listen to.
Once “Joker’s Game” and “Turn to Stone” played – I knew EXACTLY where these guys were at – and for me that was a super exciting conclusion…I’m sitting and listening and thinking to myself – “Self, these guys remind you of the Gin Blossoms don’t they? Why yes, Self…they sure do…” Whatever – it gets weird in the studio sometimes…especially when I answer like that…
I did a little digging. Turns out if you look them up on Facebook you’ll see that not only are the Gin Blossoms the first listed influence (Victory!) but they also have my two favourite bands of all time listed right after – R.E.M. & The Cure. The only one I found missing that I truly felt should have been there would have been to reference the Canadian band called The Watchmen, not too far away from them in Winnepeg…get on that bill guys – you’d fit there quite nicely!
Meanwhile….if I could simply stay on topic….
“Joker’s Game” really has that element that made songs like “Day Job” or “Follow You Down” popular for the Gin Blossoms. Lead singer Vik Kapur is able to replicate that sweet sound that also made the voice of the Blossom’s lead singer Robin Wilson such a treat to listen to every time and the ideas on great songwriting never seem to run out on this album. The sweet guitar riff on “Stranger” is another perfect example of them writing tremendously melodic music, incorporating a female backup singer as well not often used but a very welcome harmony each time.
In talking with Joe Liranzo – the guitarist for Morning Fame – he had made it clear to us that this album, Back & Forth, was a collection...a musical documentation of this band up to the current point of their newest single and video for “Cast Away.” It captures the evolution in their song writing and certainly gives you a complete picture of what Morning Fame is all about.
As they begin their decent into the final tracks of the album – “Time” is another example of Alan Dennis’ drumming ability – so rhythmic, beautifully written and timed – the drums continue to be a major element that sets Morning Fame apart from simply being a re-hashed version of the mid-nineties heyday of pop-alternative. This is a band that has innovative ideas on how to bring more to that clean pop sound – listen to the drums in the third minute of “Time” and you’ll hear what I mean. This might be a sound you feel like you’ve heard before – but with intelligent twists that keep it updated and fresh to listen to, even if it is an album more like a retrospective.
As they close out with “Long Time Waiting;” – I know that I’ll be back to listen to this album Back & Forth again and again. There’s too much here for me to ignore and I think that the progression I’ve heard in the music of Morning Fame leads me to believe that there’s still even better yet to come from this Canadian crew. The recording and the songwriting are there – as this band continues to realize just how valid a place it has within this music scene and builds their confidence – they might find out this is music that could very well be written in that more anthem-like U2 or Coldplay style, should the band want to take charge of stadium crowds and have their tunes sung back to them!
However they choose to do it – they’ve got me singing along. As promised – this album on repeat led right back into “Cast Away” the latest song and single from this album in review. Man – I just can’t say it enough – I dig this track and it gets lodged in my head for days! While this review might end here where the whole thing had started – right at the beginning; this album likely stands to repeat and continue on long past my writing it.
Go pick one up! Check out and support Morning Fame at: https://www.facebook.com/morningfame
June 26th, 2013 - The Great Airport Mystery
- The Great Spaceport Mystery - Album Review
The Great Airport Mystery – The Great Spaceport Mystery
I thrive on multiple sounds and franticness in music when I’m not in a steady diet of acoustic music. I like music that can be challenging to the ear and make me listen for the difficulty in the assembly, the mix and the work in the writing behind it. No lie – I’ve been in that acoustic genre a lot lately…all the way into folk music accompanied with a massive injection of hip-hop into our world at sleepingbagstudios – so believe me when I tell you this album started out like a direct punch to the musical face. In a good way, if there’s such a thing….
What I mean is this: It opens like the first scene to make you crap your pants in a horror film. Again – in a good way…hmmm…am I making ANY sense here today? Lemme explain…
The Great Spaceport Mystery, the new album by band of similar name The Great Airport Mystery starts with an incredibly melodic and beautiful guitar line that goes deep into a pulsing bass beat before absolutely RAMPAGING in nearly halfway into the track, long after you expected it. Now – I listen to my music LOUD – what other way IS there? So when this song kicked in, the double kick just murdering the drums and the intense vocal work from Ryan Gilpatrick – yeah…complete honesty here…I almost crapped my pants….
Self-described as progressive metal – take a listen to an absolutely KILLER track right at the front of the album – “Expo.” Excuse me for saying but…FUCK YEAH! My ears LOVE this. I’m finding it somewhere between the music of Hella and Faith No More, with maybe a twinge of Brandon Boyd (Incubus) tone mixing with those Mike Patton-esque vocal patterns. I respect the shit out of all of these bands – and to realize the company that The Great Airport Mystery is keeping is very inspiring. Progressive metal is a completely accurate description – furthermore it is alive and well in the indie scene if this is what’s out there.
What is also true is that there is an undeniable texture that runs all over this album. Much credit should go to a fantastic mix on these songs – tracks like “Portal” with the heavy bass riff coming out just right like it does is just as much a testament to the playing as it is to the mixing. Ryan Gilpatrick it seems, has talents for many things. To go further into “Portal” – the use of voice samples during the middle of the track were haunting and set up the climactic build up to the end.
It should be noted that Ryan’s musical partner John Kennedy is responsible for some incredible guitar work in addition to playing the bass and keys. Take a song like “Orbital Descent” listen to the range of what these guys can play, cause in a song that is only 2:56 long and one of the shorter tunes – they cover the sonic map front to back. The guitar work at the beginning, jagged, something like out of the Mars Volta playbook nearly…
Then watch them expand. “Orbital Decent” heading into “Horrible Discovery” was the selling point in this album for me. I had already been impressed with each and every track up til these two; then as I mentioned “Orbital Descent,” which shows the full range of the band with 3 minutes leads into “Horrible Discovery” with is nearly four times the length at almost twelve minutes long and shows what The Great Airport Mystery can do with space – lyrically and musically. About twenty seconds before the eighth minute you get another fantastic guitar solo before Ryan’s vocals come ripping through once more in another display of how the instrumentation is present and accounted for at every turn on this album.
The intensity that they start the album with once that initial explosion bursts through in the opener “Spaceport” honestly never lets up through the twelve tracks. This sounds about as “pro” as “indie” gets; it won’t surprise me when I hear that The Great Airport Mystery has been added to the Warped Tour or to hear about them touring with bands with enormous street cred.
They’ll continue on to challenge themselves musically throughout their career – the work and songwriting effort they’ve put in to make each and every song as tight as their last has paid off and they can certainly check off “make consistent album” off their bucket lists.
“Conduit Closing” the final track brings the overall story of this concept album to a close with all the heaviness and skill put into every solid track before. Metal fans will love this. Progressive Fans will love this. I, again, loved this.
I like visions, I like concepts and I like hard work. This tale of space in The Great Spaceport Mystery by The Great Airport Mystery makes all three of those necessities shown and known. The final two minutes of this album made me instantly want to play it again as it drifted back out through the acoustic of whence it came. Overall hypnotic in every way – this album went well beyond anything I expected and never let up, always gave me something extra in the playing or mix to listen to. For this progressive-metal genre we’re talking about – I just don’t personally hear how it could get any better than this. Incredible work guys – keep it going.
June 25th, 2013 - D-Bo
- Table Manners - Album Review
D-Bo “Table Manners”
This was an interesting review for me to do. By the very definition of a mix-tape a listener is likely to find some elements they find amazing and some that don’t appeal to them as much – it’s a music-game that requires skill in sample choice and production. This is music from the underground assembly line – and once created can earn the producer behind the mix a lifetime of street credit if they get it right.
Does D-Bo, aka Davinn Boersema, get it right on this mix-tape compilation Table Manners? I think so. I can’t profess to know as much about the mix-world of music as I know some people deep within the genre do – again, I know what I like and I know what works for me as an artist and as a producer myself – but I’m far from mixing tapes as well as D-Bo has done here on Table Manners.
When you look at this music in that “assembly-line” view – imagining building this up from nothing but pieces to what they’ve become as songs will give you a genuine respect for what he’s doing. There’s no possible way that what he’s done here was easy in any way – this is something that has taken work to put together and to put himself into.
Not only listening to the album but checking out his website information as well – you can see the reactions from the people out there – it goes beyond the positive. The amount of people shouting out this mix-tape from D-Bo is pretty spectacular – gives you an impression of just how many people are out there looking for this type of music right now. Again – do it well and they WILL shout you out like they have all over the D-Bo sites; do it poorly and risk anonymity for the rest of your musical career in a sea of “almosts.”
I’ve personally found something to like in every track – but that might be easier for me than some. Whether it’s the brilliant assembly that starts up Table Manners directly in the intro track and into the next called “My Mind,” or the wicked lyrics and flow of a song like “Perserverance,” or listening to “King Of The Castle” – a track that uses the kings of the samples of this mix album – there is an element of every track that you can get into and appreciate what D-Bo was going for when he put it together.
Here’s the one thing that might throw you off: The tone in D-Bo’s voice tying this all together. Is the skill there? Yes. Is the flow itself there? Completely – Davinn can absolutely find a great way to be relevant in every track he’s putting together. Does it sound like it is supposed to be there? That might be the one question mark you have – and again, it comes down to the actual sound itself – the tone in Davinn’s voice isn’t thin in the mix – it just sits a little naturally higher in tone than the rest of a compressed and bass-tone driven mix-tape. Is that even bad in mix-tape world? I doubt it. And again, make no mistake – it’s the tone, not the flow. On a lyrical level D-Bo has written some tight rhymes here on Table Manners.
Why I point it out though, I suppose…well, I suppose it’s because when bringing all of these samples and beats from other artists together – the hardest thing to mix will always be your own parts into these. It requires a lot of knob twiddling to make it sound natural and like it was truly meant to be. Again – listen to “King of the Castle” by D-Bo and see where he has gone beyond and kicked it into full gear. This track has everything – massive swells in the beat, great pop hook and to me – this is absolutely nailing that spot you want to find the vocals in – almost a touch down from the rest or a knob twist different than the others. To me, on a full album of beats worthy of busting moves in my chair to – this track was a standout and really shows you the full capabilities of what D-Bo can achieve.
Regardless of my own, or anyone’s preference in how it’s produced and mixed – the completely undeniable fact is that Davinn “D-Bo” Boersema has a great skill and craft in putting not just an entire track but an entire album together. And all those people out there that don’t think this is “music” because of the genre, or the way it’s put together – your arguments are so tired and need to be put to permanent rest – this IS music – I know that cause I’m listening to it; argument over – that simple - every single time. There is an art to knowing how to manipulate sound and feel and be able to turn that into a new song - this new album and mix from D-Bo shows you that skill in full display track after track.
Definitely worth a listen through – check him out further at http://www.datpiff.com/Davinn-Boersema-Table-Manners-mixtape.476078.html - and if you don’t believe what I say – again, have a look at the ton of shout-outs regarding this mix on the site walls. Or look at the other 35,000+ downloads of this free mix-tape if you’re still not convinced!
I’m far from alone in this. Davinn Boersema is doing what he loves most and that has become an audio tangible – it’s in the form of Table Manners – his new mix tape. Go get it!
June 24th, 2013 - Wolf Colony Music Review
Sometimes you just know.
Reading the initial communication from Wolf Colony I knew I’d find myself something I could dig personally and from the first of the four songs posted on their Soundcloud page it was already heading in the right direction. The vibe I got from the band is that they’re extremely accepting of all feedback, making music that they’re proud of and are continually seeking to grow and expand musically – these four songs I believe reflect that sentiment.
This is beautifully written electro-pop. Musically comparisons could easily be drawn to Postal Service, maybe even Passion Pit – but the twist and what makes them truly not like the rest are the vocals. At their best they are incredibly stylistic and passionate with lyrics that are thought provoking and well put together for lyrical flow.
Take a track like the first one on their site – “Youth” – this is virtually dripping with style and rhythm. No joke – as far as first impressions go this is the way to start it out. I can see this appealing to many – a fantastic track to draw you into the rest. The question became could Wolf Colony follow up this first track with another three of equal caliber?
Quite simply – the answer is yes.
Every single one of these tracks has one or more extremely well written hooks; the element of actual songwriting is so prevalent in every track it’s impossible to ignore. You can hear the work, the time, the passion and the heart that went into making all four of these the special entities that they are.
“Calling” has a forlorn greatness to it. I mentioned the best of the vocals – there truly is no “worst” of them – singer/songwriter Seventhleopard is only guilty of throwing you off occasionally through his stylistic choices – the occasional note bend that you might expect would go up might go down lower instead – that kind of thing – but the talent is undeniable.
The third track, to me, is where this hits full stride. The beat provided by producer Neal Sarin combined with the vocals of Seventhleopard are in perfect unison right here. “Beauty” reveals the cohesion between these two collaborators for those that weren’t somehow convinced by the first two tracks. Up tempo and with a blissful pop verse, the hooks (again!) stand out so incredibly that the image in my brain is becoming so clear now….I think I understand Wolf Colony. This is natural talent at its songwriting finest.
Like I said at the beginning – sometimes you just know – but here’s something I believe….I bet that the duo in Wolf Colony is self-taught through and through. Genuine natural talents. I have no evidence to support this theory but to me this is talent in songwriting you just can’t be taught. Whether it’s the music from Neal or the vocals from Seventhleopard – on any track at any time you could point to it as an example of what “well-written” really means. These four songs will stand as a great introduction into a long and assuredly successful career.
Support them at their facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/wolfcolony
And while you do that – I’ll be keeping an eye on them as well…they’ve really got something here.
June 23rd, 2013 - Treehouse!
- Growth - Album Review
No joke – this album starts off on the RIGHT note!
I’ve actually been waiting in anticipation for this album release by TreeHouse! and instantly I find exactly what I had been hoping for – consistency in their character and quality in the music. Now, we all know that expectations like this can often lead to heartbreak - but let me assure you that was not the case on this new album from TreeHouse! titled Growth. From the moment I pressed play I knew that my ears were in for a real treat with this experience into a wicked blend of rock, funk, reggae and overall awesomeness…..
Do it. Go ahead and push play! “Call To Arms” the opener – is a perfect track to start this off. TreeHouse! has come out attacking with a slick and funked out groove that sets the standard for the quality you can expect from that moment and forward. While I’m sitting here and listening for the third or fourth time straight – my jaw is dropping from the absolute authenticity in their music. You can hear it in songs to follow like “Ziggy” and a personal favourite of mine – “Blessings.”
I’ve always been a huge fan of the melody in music and no matter the genre it can always be supplied. Is there music without melody? Not so much for myself I don’t think. Then you listen to a track like “Blessings” and it literally has it ALL. If the melody in the track wasn’t getting to you already – just you wait til they bring the horns in. Against the beautifully played guitar and perfectly placed reggae-style vocals courtesy of Jeremy Anderson – this track works on so many levels and so too does the album.
I can’t go on record saying any single element of TreeHouse! stands out over any other – that would simply be false information. Matt on bass has not only a tremendous natural feel but his playing is so smooth AND appropriate! You’ll hear what I mean – bass-line after perfect bass-line – this is a man that knows his place in this band and certainly in this genre. It’s nearly an understated part of every track on Growth but it presence is noticed and necessary in each of these tracks.
The band themselves truly know their direction. Between the tracks of the album allows the silence necessary to realize just how well together this music really is. And the trick to any great reggae influenced band is to make it sound effortless – like they’re playing at the end of your couch. Listen after listen - this album will certainly hold up against the race of time because of that very element. I hear music like this and think to myself: “You’d have to be a pretty cold hearted person to shut this off or even turn it down.” I stand by this.
Jeremy Anderson’s solo work in “Call To Arms” or “Healing Rock,” and of course “Endless Cycle” and “Darlin” are immaculate. Skills are demonstrated and the melody never leaves the band around him. Often at times the solos themselves sound like they’re from a different influence than the main vein of the song, allowing for a unique sound and triumph in songwriting. His vocals go with the music a staggering 100% of the time and are completely spot-on.
Again – there’s a ton to enjoy on this album and certainly for people outside the reggae genre as well. I mean – at the end of the day, that’s me! And if you could see my head bobbing up and down listening to the music here you’d be inclined to assume otherwise!
These are assembled songs – TIGHT in every respectable sense of the word. Trey keeps a steady beat and uses great tones in his kit sounds – he clearly knows what he wants to hit when he is sitting down with the kit. “Vision of a Lion” is a great example of what he can do and bring to the sound and perhaps on this album, a true reflection of many of the ideals and style of TreeHouse! Did I mention that I LOVE these solos that find their way onto each and every track? Kinda? Okay – so a little more on that then… I’ll say this – instrumentation has been sorely lacking in much of today’s music; what used to be verse/chorus/verse/bridge/solo/verse/chorus/chorus has been shortened dramatically for many, becoming verse/chorus/verse tracks – static and undynamic. TreeHouse! have managed to create the virtual opposite – take a listen at how they begin to close the album out on the second to last track “Wildman Rastafari” and you’ll understand what I mean right away. TreeHouse! pushes the boundaries on each of their tracks but retain that authenticity entirely intact along the way. Each track not only sounds like them – it sounds just the like personalities behind the music – inviting.
That carries not only throughout TreeHouse! but all the way through their party line. Their manager Jen is a pleasure to talk to – I’ve been incredibly impressed with her passion for this band and having now digested this album thoroughly and repeatedly – I can certainly understand why. Originally during the written interview we did with TreeHouse! she had sent me the acoustic performance of “Young One” with Jeremy playing a solo rendition. My first impression became my last as this closed out the album.
While that solo performance will always have a special place in my mind from hearing it first and having it be that introduction into the musical world of TreeHouse! – I can certainly appreciate this full band version of “Young One” to be more than just different; this is a representation – a metaphor. It closes the album reminding us that this is a cohesive unit - “surrounded by the sound.” This album has a tremendous amount of focus and heart – one I truly enjoyed listening to repeatedly. It plays on like a party unto itself – one that TreeHouse! has certainly recommended that you join in on. I do too.
Check them out further at https://www.facebook.com/TreeHousetheBand and at their main page: http://www.treehousetheband.com/ Support this chilled out band from Myrtle Beach and check into what they do. I’ve repeatedly pointed to them as a shining example of what doing the hard work will earn you out there in internet-land and the live show forums. This album, Growth, is definitely another example of what you can achieve when striving for excellence in your craft.
June 22nd, 2013 - Chords Of Truth
- Reflections Of Reality Album Review
I’m a big believer in writing “unforced” reviews – one’s that come in the moment and not from forcing the work, but rather from wanting it. As many of you have come to know through our last album review with the band We Steal Flyers – I write these while in the middle of a heavily repeated listening session. And today I needed something different.
Pressing play was different enough for what I’ve been recently dealing with musically through the SBS artists – I’ve been on a steady diet of folk and hard rock music – and largely electronic influenced music has yet to make a strong dent in our line up by comparison to how many bands represent those other two genres, as well as the rest.
But I won’t make it a completely clean getaway from those other genres….Jason Garriotte, the mastermind behind Chords Of Truth is mostly known for being a folk artist! So what gives?
Folktronica. Yep. That’s right. I’m not making this up. And yes you should listen to it! Now!
To kick it off – both the song “Tune Your Mind” and the title of this first track made me pay attention instantly. Chords of Truth – that’s bold! You’re telling us all to tune our minds? What if we feel they’re already in tune!
I feel like my mind was pre-tuned and ready for your music and it instantly resonated with me for a whole slew of reasons. I mean – the first introduction, first note and beat are electronically steeped in a playful beat and it only gets stronger from there. I applaud Jason’s idea that working with these other producers in various new formats of music would lead to something great. It has – and Chords of Truth have made an album with this double-disc release that builds and gets stronger as it plays.
Musically – there is so much going on creatively on this album. And this is where this review might get a little hurtful to some readers who might listen and then dismiss this as “not music.” You know – those purists who feel music is only made with drums, bass and guitar…..welcome to the year 2013 – where at this point we are making amazing music with computers and incredibly powerful editing skills. Accept what you cannot change – because I’ve listened to all forms of noise from the electro genre and I can say that some of the most emotional moments I’ve felt have come from a simple cut and edit job for someone who knows what the heck to do with the music they’re remixing.
For a large part of this album – I found that the different versions of the tracks still made it so that they had a life of their own, with each really putting out a different spin from the version before. Arranging it as they have really gave it that genuine feel of the proverbial underground mix-tape and the samples of Chords of Truth within these tracks really tie it all together with this new “folktronica” they’’ve put out.
The strengths are most certainly composition but beyond that the lyrics themselves. You can tell Jason is a man with something to SAY – a quality you know I’m a big big fan of. He’s writing from the heart – he’s writing for change. Each song contains a truth – good band name! But I mean that in the sense that it absolutely sounds like these are from genuine experiences Jason has had or has felt in his lifetime. Each song is a story, each verse a chapter of his journey.
If I have one potential beef with the album it’s not simply with this album but with the producer’s “choices” in beat in reference to the lyrics. I can’t be alone in this. As a singer/songwriter myself – I have always felt that the lyrics have to somehow represent the beat to really feel that incredible unity that is felt within one of those songs that ends up practically defining you. I think it’s undeniable when you listen to the different versions of “When I Was Wasted” that the “Oopoe Electrofolk Remix” is an example of truly getting it RIGHT. The other versions of this song do well – they’re good in their own respects – but that haunting element of the lyrics when coupled with the “Oopoe” mix is really brought out.
But let’s face it – these are hopeful but not necessarily “happy” or upbeat in tone or original sample from Chords of Truth. Versions of “Moments” and “What Life Is About” provide some of the lighter sounds to brighten up the album – the “Cold Cheek Electrofolk Remix” was a personal favorite for me. This occurs around track 7 and completes the first run through many of these tracks though some appear less frequently than others. But it’s also significant for another reason – up until this point I honestly wasn’t sure if Jason’s voice worked with this whole genre as much as he might have hoped….I was half sound on the overall sound of it at that point. I found it to lie somewhere in the David Gray-ish kind of sound in his tone but with a completely different delivery. But once this track came on and ran through the first of several times I would listen – I realized that it does work in all kinds of ways.
It tells you a story, like I mentioned before. And that true story is the story of Jason Garriotte of Chords of Truth expanding his horizons and through that potentially your own. It’s the story of a guy who put himself out there in the polar opposite musical spectrum and has found some great success in these new twists on his songs. It might not have gone that way – Jason took a great risk in this endeavor branching out the way he did.
I believe it paid off – and I believe you’ll find a ton of mixes on this track that will convince you as well. Who knows – maybe you’ll be blues-jamming with an electro person yourself? Or maybe Chords of Truth make a folk-metal album next!
The story’s conclusion is to never stop creating, and to never stop loving what you’ve created. You’re all artists – you’re all wonderful people with creative minds that do this for a reason – you love it. Through lending out his art to other artists in the production field – Jason has found a new life with these tracks on the Chords of Truth album – and no matter what the purists might say – this was music to my ears.
Check further into Chords of Truth at:
June 21st, 2013 - We Steal Flyers
- Sidecars & Sideshows Album Review
I have to admit once I had read the name of this band I had a completely different impression of the sound of We Steal Flyers and their music already buzzing inside my head. I envisioned young punks taking posted information off of telephone poles back to where they make their music and re-posting it in their jam space – which in my mind now looked like scrapbook on the walls in the picture in my mind. I’m not too often wrong in a quick “name assessment” of a band regarding which style of music they play – but in this case I certainly was. We Steal Flyers, I can declare, are officially NOT a punk band – hell – not even “hard rock!” What a pleasant surprise…..
Upon pushing play I could tell I was in for something a lot different than I find being sent to us on a regular basis from our hard rock town in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The city itself might not like to be referred to as a hard rock city – but facts are facts – this is what we are and this is the music that holds this city together. So closing my eyes and just listening to the music, my mind drifts to a dreamlike place full of simpler times and unique surroundings the likes of which I’ve yet to see.
Always looking for a personal relevance in any music I might listen to – this singer/songwriter duo from Northumberland in the UK has me really appreciating how simple it can all really be – that true songwriting stems from the heart and nothing more, with our brains and vocal chords being our first instruments. I begin to forget my first-world problems that continually plague my beautiful home in sleepingbagstudios and slip into a place where there are no cables or wires, no computers and no hum from the amplifiers. “No alarms and no surprises,” as the great Thom Yorke of Radiohead once stated… I’ve been debating leaving North America completely behind in this past month of reviewing and listening to this album and this music and the feeling I get from it are telling me in a very strong voice that a change in this direction might be what I really need.
Welcome to Sidecars & Sideshows – the new album from We Steal Flyers. I mentioned it has quite the atmosphere right?
It truly does. It’s a strange but welcoming atmosphere in the sense that it feels so isolated, yet so inviting – so very wanting to be heard and enjoyed by others; a style of music that wants the people involved and a crowd to gather and sing along. From the moment of the album’s introduction on the short opening track of “Sidecar” you can already get that feeling – it’s instant. As a first track – this is nothing short of a genius way to start the album – a quick decider that really gives an accurate glimpse into what these two are capable of.
Lyrically these two from We Steal Flyers have continually impressed me more and more as the album goes on. This songwriting duo of Derek Allan and Jason (Shaggy) Vare completely belong in the company of some of the truly great folk artists of our time – Iron and Wine, David Gray and Calexico all come to mind. If you’re not convinced somehow in those first four tracks (Impossible) then hold on until track #5 – a song called “For You” and realize the potential and expansive style they can reach from what might be considered a fairly simplistic approach to songwriting. Let it never be said in my presence that an acoustic duo can’t reach that intensity. Seriously – listen to this track – “For You” finds a completely unique gear on the album so far and really shows you a slow burning intensity yet to be displayed on the first four. It pulses along with a slow fire just like “Drive” by R.E.M. did so many years ago now. And moving right into “Another Song” from there – it’s almost completely apparent that R.E.M. had drawn a lot of influence from sounds just like these in We Steal Flyers, kidnapping them and making them “new” for our North American audience. In turn, on tracks like “Another Song” you can almost hear that influence being returned to the UK – now complete with that special pop twist Michael Stipe had crafted so well.
I should probably mention – I know there’s more than a few of you out there reading this that I haven’t met personally out there right now – so let me just say up front – R.E.M. was, is, and most likely will remain my favorite band of all time. Any comparison to that band is hallowed ground to me, not something I’d throw around lightly. So to Derek and to Shaggy of We Steal Flyers, I tip my hat to you gentlemen – this is music I can appreciate in many many ways.
If I had any criticism of this album – it would simply be that to me it really comes alive from “For You” and forward. And to criticize that when the main problem in North America is largely the polar opposite with four great songs front loaded and crapola filling the rest – well, that almost seems irresponsible to me.
While I can certainly appreciate songs like “Down We Go” or “Wake Up” – two of the earlier songs on the album – I can also recognize and acknowledge the stretch they make in songwriting over the course of the album as a whole. I personally think this album improves track upon track from the get go – another reason the song “Sidecar” itself is such a small but brilliant opening. It’s the tiny musical seed of an album about to bloom right in your eardrums.
Listening to a track like “Butterflies” should give you goosebumps. This kind of chord progression, this kind of natural songwriting….there’s nearly nothing else I can say other than “good job” as I sit here listening, somewhere between sadness and appreciating the beauty of it all – words suck in situations like these when the music says it far better than I ever could. Do yourself a favor and pick this album up. And before you get on your soapbox to rant against me “liking everything” all over again – realize again I’ve already drawn comparisons to my favorite band and here’s another one for ya to cement just how much I love this sound: The vocals remind me a lot of Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms – one of the sweetest and most emotional set of male vocals to appear on record in the last two decades. While a track like “Something Missing” might actually feel like that to me as a tune I didn’t feel as strongly about – I still completely loved the vocal element of that track and the comparisons it has led me towards.
The ending of this album coming closer with “Can I Be Your Rain” – second to last track, really starts to bring home the entire essence and concepts of the album. Complete with actual rain sounds falling in the background – you can really sense again that atmosphere that simply MUST be present in the room whenever these two songwriters pick up a guitar. Heartfelt and real – this track, along with the final track of the album, “My Show” – really display just how beautiful the songwriting can get and end the album with an instant feeling of coming back to it for a second listen right away.
People often dismiss the folk genre – that’s just a fact – one I know firsthand as years ago when I was just a young lad (ok – a LOT of years ago) I had a tendency to do the same. My years of late and my time at sleepingbagstudios has truly developed a strong bond with this type of music – one that lies in waiting for albums like these among an endless sea of hard-rocking Vancouver tunes.
Ending on the line “You’re all part of my show” was a terrific choice. After listening to the album (now several times) I truly felt like it. Like I said, eyes closed – I wouldn’t have even known that I was on my own continent and wouldn’t have wanted to. This is music that made me stop everything and listen. The careful craft in the writing, the brilliance in the vocals and melody, the beautiful guitar work in the music – these are the things necessary to truly declare yourself in that class of amazing singer/songwriters.
We Steal Flyers have a check mark in every one of those categories as far as I’m concerned. This new album of “Sidecars & Sideshows” is completely worth your time and I’d feel confident recommending this acoustic collective genius to anyone with a set of ears. For fans of the folk genre and lovers of true songwriters - this new album is simply a must have and this mighty band of two amazing voices through Derek and Shaggy will be something to watch out for in their bright future still ahead of them.
Check out more from We Steal Flyers - support, subscribe and like them at their:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/westealflyers
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/westealflyers
Deezer Page: http://www.deezer.com/en/artist/804472
You can also find them connected to our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Sleepingbagstudios
June 20th, 2013 - What Are We Up To Now?
Oh my. I started this on June 9th...be prepared!
It seems that on any given week that goes by we can end up doing something outside of our original intentions - that beautiful opportunity to step outside our comfort zone and participate in some of the most real and genuine moments we've been a part of, simply because we can't always know what we're in for or how to plan for it. Believe me when I say we enjoy a challenge but MAN can we end up pushing ourselves to maximum capacity when in the pursuit of it all...
So let's see...where do I start? May 26th was my last time in here...
I should make sure I mention what I had missed on that last posting...I really should be mentioning a new band I got to film and see - the FINGAH POPPIN MOMMAS. This was definitely one of those moments for myself...well outside of my element and comfortable studio zone, I made that trek out of the studio again...we all know SOMETHING strange will happen for sure - it seems to every time I venture out.
The set up surrounding this particular event was that through all the hype around new Canadian all-girl rock band from the island - WHITE HOT JET - I had reconnected with a friend from my old working past...long before I had yet to even turn onto any avenue of the work we do now at sleepingbagstudios - C.J. Jackman Zigante was officially back in my life!
Whether or not she and her new band, Fingah Poppin Mommas become a world-wide sensation or not - she has always been a star to me. You know how some people just have "it?" Yeah - she's always had it and still does I'm proud to say! But I mentioned being outside of the comfort zone somewhat in this tale...here's why!
The set up itself was a little loose in the details - I knew I was going to film this band but that's about all I really knew. What I didn't yet know was that this was the first official time that the seven member band ITSELF had gotten together! So right away - my sense of "right-on-I-get-to-share-this-fantastic-unique-and-awesome-moment-ness" kicked into overdrive and the next thing I know I had about 5 cameras going around this incredible room in an absolutely beautiful house.
But again - I wasn't prepared really for what came next...
Because this was their first time getting together and because these are musicians that understand their instruments incredibly well and know how to play them - for the first hour I was there I watched something I had never done myself...talk about a song in theory before it existed.
At first - I won't lie, - it seemed inorganic...all logic and no emotion. Music needs emotion right? I stood there filming and thinking to myself - "You can talk about it sure - but why aren't you all just jamming it out until it does what it's supposed to do?" That's simply a reflection of my own experience as a learned musician - I can hear the symphony in my head yes, and I can bring it to life through whichever instrument I choose - but I don't think I've ever so much discussed it as just simply done it and built around it somehow through recorded demos or expanding ideas. This was foreign territory for me musically - but interesting to watch. Very little was played in those moments aside from guitar player Ilya entertaining us all with guitar riffs that were awesome though unrelated to this new but still theoretical song.
There is always something to be said for outstanding communication between the right people in a unit. That's what can create a dynasty...and attain longevity. To watch this conversation and preparation take place in nearly over an hour's worth of time was one thing; to watch it all come together right in front of my eyes was nothing short of spectacular.
I approached every job I ever had the same way; your training book is fine - let's get out there and actually DO this so I can actually LEARN it. So in my head I was still assuming that all this talk in the set-up was still going to lead into an hour of jamming it out and trying to get it right. I have never been so amazed at how wrong I was.
What a method! I mean - I never would have believed it if I didn't see it myself - but this band put together a full song right there within seconds of starting it up. Believe it or not - the first run was an assembled piece - at the VERY least like they had already played it together ten times before! These fantastic musicians were actually somewhat hard on themselves for not nailing it the full 100% on THE FIRST RUN THROUGH! Really guys?
Within about a half hour they had something special that would more than work as a stellar and stand out track. I'm excited to show you more on how that day went soon.
SBS INDIE ARTIST UPDATE!
- IRON KINGDOM - Huge congratulations to Leighton, Chris, Amanda and Kenny for making the EveryDayMusicTV site with their song "Crowned In Iron." The vocals came out low but the footage is super bad-ass - check it out - this is news of it coming out pre-release but check that channel link and subscribe!
- If you haven't seen the posted videos that have made it already from the SBS alumni - LAURA KELSEY & RORY MACRURY made it to a posting with their song "The Technology Song" as did our boys Tyler & Trev Hutton from THE PIT for "I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere." As always - Rod from EveryDayMusicTV hit musical home run after home run in the shooting here at sleepingbagstudios - they all look fantastic!
- Speaking of LAURA KELSEY - she's coming to SBS this weekend to continue the writing process of our track "Dandelion!" Kick ass!
- And speaking of those twins from THE PIT - they're keeping plenty busy while bassman Scott is away in Australia! They've played a couple shows as a two piece in electrified sets - but maybe none so much as the last one that they played at the Exotica Showlounge. This was a battle for the guys - both overtired and lead singer/guitarist Trevor being extremely sick. Let me tell you - if they didn't tell us that during the performance (Which we have recorded!) - as an audience to that show we never would have known. The boys looked better than ever and absolutely pounded through a merciless five song set including their hits "I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere" and "The Machine." But wait...there's more!
- As a bonus they enlisted some help! It seems behind the scenes we have a newly formed band of four called "CLOSER." This new group with Ryan Rutherford on vocals & guitar along with Jake Cummins also on guitar put on a guitar fest that kept the crowd loud for the rest of the night. Incredible on-stage debut - this was a performance to remember and surely not the last!
- Incidentally - the first people to see the footage aside from myself will actually be close friends of THE PIT - ANDY & JOLYNN - who recently just got married! We'll see how much attention they're paying to the ol' SBS Blog here and see if they shout us out before we shout them out within these next 24 hours. We have finally completed their wedding present - it took a long time in the making - but we're about to unveil their private video collection from SBS & THE PIT to be known as THE 12 DAYS OF PITMAS! Stoked to be able to send this out to them - and why the heck not say it one more time - CONGRATULATIONS TO ANDY & JO!
- Album reviews have been an incredible hit with our readers. Excellent to see that the power of the written word is alive and well as always! Check out the latest one with VELVET SYMPHONY on the main page. Starting this week - we'll be posting the albums reviews simultaneously here on the Blog page for them to have their own unique URL while the homepage is still under complete overhaul. No update on that...been silent there from Rob @ SBS for a while now but we'll use this method as a temporary solution until the main page is done. You will also see links to the show with pictures and colorful sparklies - it's time to do this up right. Coming soon to our world of written reviews - you'll see bands SWAMI LUSHBEARD and MORNING FAME coming up on the site as well as mentions in our upcoming episode of SBS Live This Week - The SBS Metal Panel. Coming finally this weekend - we are STOKED!
- The infamous Tyler Mayfield formerly of OVERDOSE appears to have landed with a new band! He's fronting a band called LUNGFLOWER, who just put on their first full show together at a house party - Tyler has confirmed that it went down as well it possibly could have - great atmosphere, vibe and of course he made sure to mention that the music was freakin out-of-control rad. Always good to see he's doing well and glad to know he's out there kicking some musical ass!
- Just completed an excellent interview with a true gentleman by the name of TRENT CRAWFORD in Australia. Another musical ally if you ask me - this fantastic guy is filming all kinds of bands in his "Alt-Country" scene and I truly think what he's doing is fantastic. Like our friend Rod at EveryDayMusicTV - this guy is a selfless human being who sacrifices much time and effort to shed light on the work of others. HERO! He's got a regular music night set up and a crowd of fantastically talented individuals stopping by to jam it out. Be sure to check out and support his YouTube channel, and well...we're in British Columbia, Canada BUT if you're anywhere near Newcastle in Australia - check this promo out for a wicked night of music coming up and GO to the show!
SPEAKING OF SHOW - WE DO HAVE ONE DON'T WE? SBS LIVE THIS WEEK UPDATE!
We have an excellent show. The more time goes by the more I love looking back at this chronological on-screen history of the path and direction of SBS and these interviews. I love all of the new challenges that have been thrown at us and the different genres we've worked with. Being open to all things has led to some fantastic musical discoveries and recordings - I really couldn't have hoped for a more accurate depiction on my overall vision for this show and its development on-screen, right in front of your very eyes...in the shadows in the background...history is being made here...we just don't know it yet...
Hopefully you've seen what we've been up to lately! If not here's easy links to our latest with THE DANBURY LIE and our latest ALL-MUSIC EPISODES - SBS But No BS Parts III and IV. What is upcoming for the show has been long, long overdue - The SBS Metal Panel. We brought in indie-metal experts Ruddy from AETERNA and Leighton from IRON KINGDOM to come and have some beers and teach Rob and I a few things about the genre itself. I'll be the first to admit - I don't know nearly enough about metal - but I certainly know a ton more after talking with these two!
The reason for the delay on the episode mainly surrounded the departure of Mike, the drummer for Aeterna. The band are currently on the lookout for the perfect replacement and have since made a band decision to stay united and continue on strong as Aeterna with a new piece in place. For the time being, Ruddy's band is in the writing process after having upgraded their own jam space to better suit their time to record. So that's wicked, and the news really couldn't be better overall from the guys in the Aeterna camp - they sound like a band that has been through some heavy stuff and are more than ready to come back out on top.
So again, apologies on teasing you with the release of this episode for so long - it is time to finally, officially, release this metal beast. Check for that this weekend, you can also check out the "What's New" section of the SBS homepage now for easy links to our current work outside of this site! Bookmark it yo!
That is the update for now people! I've certainly missed you and I look forward to getting back to regular postings here - like I said, I've made it easy on us - we'll be posting links to Album Reviews and You Tube Videos all the time. You'll see. We might be late but we'll never let you down and we'll never miss the party!
You fantastic people make my world turn.
- Jer @ SBS
May 26th, 2013 - Pinch-Me Moment For Jer @ SBS
Each and every day that we live and breathe we can find another opportunity for ourselves to help and assist someone else. It was long ago that any of our SBS Alumni lived a life that is simply about themselves - now we look for these incredible moments where we can help you in your own quests to get your music heard.
When we first started this up we tried to think of a few unique ways to reach a few more people that were outside of our area - how far across the world can we reach from our converted garage studio anyway? We ended up on the typical social sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter - but one site that always continually amazes me is the one we have located on Fiverr.
As some of you know - I handed off any and all of the financial aspects of SBS to Rob, my studio partner & audio engineer extraordinairre. I had begun to unravel somewhat; in looking for the truth behind the music I found out that I almost couldn't handle or process the information I was finding... So I let it go and handed it off to Rob.
When I get REALLY worked up - it can actually bring me to physical tears the idea that any of your music could be related to a $ in any form. Very, very hard for me to separate. At the best of times Rob @ SBS will remind me that we're a service, that we're not putting a price tag on your art...and it works. At the worst of times it has fallen on deaf ears that are attached to a head and a brain on a quest to keep the music meaningful and as relevant as possible to all of our lives.
So why Fiverr then? Well - I can tell you now after seeing some massive interest and success from this site that the answer is simple. It has connected us to you all in a completely new and unique way that we never could have dreamed up on our own or experienced here locally. Through this very site we have managed to reach Australia, Ireland, Bulgaria, England, Sweden and the USA. We've done written interviews, video interviews and now music and album reviews like we have just done with WOLF COLONY on the main page!
If you saw the last episode of SBS Live This Week! then you'll also know that we have brought many of these bands and artists to life on our screen in our corner of the internet. I like to think I offer a different view and perspective but still manage to think and feel like any other fan does. I have an opportunity, like I said, each day to help someone else through this project - something I'll never take for granted and am continually grateful for.
This last episode with THE DANBURY LIE and musical madman Rob Loncto was nearly all inspired and created from different contact points established through Fiverr - the interview itself, the comedy from TOM WILLIAMS, the music review from WOLF COLONY - everything except my hairy chin and the music from NIXIE. When you look at that combination of indie talent - the creativity of The Danbury Lie, the explosiveness of the on-stage performance from Tom Williams or the impeccable songwriting of Wolf Colony...well, I know I can't help but smile. All of these people are insanely talented - and by giving you my history on the finances of SBS, I'm also telling you once again that we're not in this for the money. Many times our completed Fiverr gigs and clients have told us that we could charge much more for what we do and that the experience goes far beyond the $5. I like to think so too. When I think about it - I think that for that same $5 what I get is: The knowledge that the artist on the other side of the screen is thinking outside of the box to get their music heard. That's already satisfying. Then I get to learn about the content and creators themselves. Again - on both sides of this two way street it becomes about so much more than simply dollar bills y'all.
Here's an example, nearly in real time...
On days out of the studio Rob and I will also build and create things. Sometimes they're instruments and sometimes it's actual physical landscaping. I was working in one of the most incredible yards and gardens I have ever seen yesterday with all of my gear with me ready to go and see THE PIT play downtown at Lana Lou's right after. I've said many times that this body was born to rock - and it is - just not meant to do a heck of a lot else apparently...
I more or less wrenched my back into a question mark (I must've had the new album "?" by The Danbury Lie on my brain...) over the course of the day and by the end was walking like a terrible B-Movie star trying to look important - stiff and straight as a board. As much as I like to get out to live shows - especially ones with our homies from The Pit - going out would have been a painful and bad call. I benched myself. Rob @ SBS and Brad Wengranowski from AETERNA went down to check it out.
Being at SBS for the night certainly doesn't mean that opportunity was gone - that moment to provide that musical assist might still be out there...
After I logged onto and checked all of our sites and scraped my jaw off the floor I posted on Facebook. Some of you might remember this posting showing up...
"Oh man......this is one of those incredibly awesome days to be here at SBS. Words cannot express - I am unbelievably shocked and humbled at who has just contacted us to do an interview....
Words CAN express - and they will. But not here, not now...
I've got to blog my thoughts on this one. Promise to post soon. Not much else gonna be on my mind except this for the next while!
Wow. Just WOW.
Love it here."
99% of the people we've met we honestly don't know, have never met before - that's WHERE we live and thrive, bringing representation to those that have never experienced that in a professional (Yeah, right...well...I try my best!) capacity. But what happens to Jer @ SBS when he's contacted by a musician he truly loves and respects? In the words of the internet buzz - MIND BLOWN.
While I sat here missing out on the latest show from The Pit - my pain instantly subsided when I saw that TOURIE formely of a duo of electric violinists called NUTTIN BUT STRINGZ from AMERICA'S GOT TALENT had contacted us.
Pinch my WHOLE FACE please.
I asked Becky @ SBS to come and sit with me and do some extremely intense research to verify that this was in fact Tourie - now on his own in an act he calls ALONG CAME LIFE. We must have sat here for a couple of hours looking at sites and footage - she was right there with me watching AGT when Nuttin But Stringz made their run to the FINALS way back when Jerry Springer was still the host, before Nick Cannon became the man. I'm not sure if I was happier myself, or if Becky was happier for me - we couldn't find a single hole in this fantastic correspondence from Tourie - it was really him.
You all know I've mentioned these particular talent shows many times. I'm addicted to that MOMENT - which I've talked about as well - but just in case you haven't heard the rant....
That MOMENT is the one just before they perform. That MOMENT where you can SEE in their eyes and hear through their words whether or not this is their time - whether or not they will OWN that moment. I remember seeing that in Nuttin But Stringz performances I had seen and as Becky @ SBS had reminded me - I had picked them as the winner that season.
For plenty of good reason. Unbelievable talent, humble but confident characters and instrumentation/musicianship beyond comprehension. To be able to talk to someone like this - someone I've followed myself...that's where the words start to go on me...this really is one of those genuine "How AWESOME is this SBS thang" moments in time.
From what I've read and seen, Tourie has led and continues to lead a very interesting and musical life. There's always a story behind the split of an act and I'm sure we'll be able to discuss that somewhat but what I'm really excited about is the opportunity to talk to him NOW. I want to know all about his new act Along Came Life and where that's going in the future. SBS actually has an electric violin on hand in the studio - one purchased long ago and certainly inspired by acts just like the one Tourie was in. I can say with certainty that I had not seen anyone DO what they had done on AGT until they did it. Since that moment I have listened to anything and everything with an electric violin incorporated into it that I can.
It's an unbelievable instrument that captures the soul and passion of the player. Sorry bassman! Yes of course - all instruments can have that connection - but for me this is where it's at. Between the innovative performances, update on the musical style, emotion and passion in the music - a great violin player can stand out incredibly. I think back to our recent trip to Vancouver Island for the awards show and watching KYTAMI take home the "Best Live Act" award for her own signature violin style. I had only seen her perform just that very night for the first time and it had left me with zero doubt that she deserved the award - it was entertainment at its finest. Becky @ SBS had a chance to talk with her briefly while I was packing up our gear...a chance to let her know that we'd be pursuing her endlessly for an interview...
Heads up Kytami! We wanna talk about the music with you! :)
You'll see just how much we love the electric violin and what these incredible performers can DO with it. This ain't no middle of the mall shit! You'll see Kytami later this year in our VIMA 2013 wrap up story at the very least and we're excited to put together a great interview with Tourie from Along Came Life and see what he's up to. He's managed to put himself and his music out there in every way imaginable! Can't wait!
Really! Can't wait! Gonna go start writing this up right now...
Talk to you soon. Make music that matters - so good that it inspires YOU to make more of it.
- Jer @ SBS
May 21st, 2013 - Real Deal On Acres Of Lions + More
This has been an exciting week to say the least!
Having Acres Of Lions on the show has been something I've been waiting to put up ever since the day it was shot - so to get it out there to you all has been somewhat of a relief...
I say relief because I was for once interested in my own side of this interview as well...let me explain...
As narcisistic as television and internet hosts tend to be, I like to think that I break away from the ego-inducing parts of this process and maintain a grounding that allows me to relate to the creative minds in the way that I do without the interference of some need for my own personal greatness. The goal will always remain the same - the music is what we're here to see succeed and any individual successes we might achieve would almost stand in the way of our overall goals for the greater good of the community of music. A lot of me had been curious since we taped it - did I manage at all to get any real questions in? Or was I star-struck by the biggest name in independent artists to roll through our studio?
And in truth I miss them already! How could I not? It's one of those things - when you meet people that you truly feel you relate to, they become wisdom and guidance that you seek out. Jeff and Tyson were incredibly wonderful as guests - truly respectful people who you almost wonder about in terms of if they ever utter a discouraging word.
So I flat out asked them at one point near the beginning; "Are you guys at that point yet where you're like, what the fuck did we sign up for? We're in a garage right now?" To which they STILL responded humbly. And this to me is another reflection of WHY they're important - they understood that we ourselves at SBS are still just getting going. I believe that they recognized this instantly - and rather be "rock stars" about it, simply sat down and enjoyed their time. Awesome.
I was taught long ago in my corporate days that when we used to walk into our customer's accounts that you treat every worker you pass like the CEO of their company because one day, you never know, they could very well be your boss or at least the person of which we have that relationship and contact point with. That's the same respect I carry with me now for independent artists - in a way you're all our "boss" because WE simply don't exist with a YOU.
Value wise I felt like we had a ton in common in our mutual respect for our respective vocations - there was truly nothing false about Jeff or Tyson. I never once felt like they were trying to "wrap it up" - dangerous because you all know I could talk to them all day long.
And appreciated in the sense that our beautiful studio, though re-designed from the original set-up - was in a near shambles that day. Again, they made no big deal, no noses were turned in the air...
Rob and I had spent the better part of the week moving instruments, maximizing the space and optimizing the recording areas and in doing so we totally couldn't put Humpty back together again in time for the arrival of Acres Of Lions. I remember feeling like we had blown it before they had even stepped foot in SBS....this terrible sinking feeling that I was going to meet some people here that I truly WANTED to meet and that we were going to let them down BIG TIME that day. And as time drew closer we realized just how far away from a full set up we were. Brutal.
Then the filming issue came up. Our roster of SBS crew is small but mighty - but on this particular day every one of our own crew had prior commitments leaving me with the option of completely still cameras or to find SOMEONE who could help bail me out that was part of the SBS "fringe."
Rob and Becky were out, Keera as well. I tried Mitch, a graphics artists we jam with sometimes....busy. I tried the infamous Matt D, also to no avail. I reached out to our grunge-homie Tyler Mayfield formerly of the band Overdose and now part of the SBS Team....also busy. Jeff Jeffries, radio host in Vancouver, same story. So it seemed like it would be up to me alone to pull through that day somehow, feeling inadequate in every possible way. To make matters even worse I realized I had left every single one of our tripods in Becky's car and she was gone for the day. So not only were the still shots going to be still - the cameras themselves would have to be placed in some bizarre spots and I think I can see that reflected in the footage we captured. There's much of me that is now attached to the memory....and in that sense I wouldn't have it any other way - but from a video-editor's perspective I think we missed an angle or two on that shoot despite being extremely happy with what we have put out for their video.
As you CAN see from the footage - all was not lost. One of my own personal indie heroes - BRAD WENGRANOWSKI from the brutal-power-metal band AETERNA bailed us out big time that day by coming by to film. I also like to think that says a lot about our friendship with the scene in general, but with Brad as well. Through our site and correspondence to you, through our show, we preach the inclusion and acceptance of all music into your life - as much as you can fit. And let's face it - while I might personally LOVE the music of Acres Of Lions, well...let's just say brutal-power-metal they are not. So for Brad to come by that day to help out really meant a ton - and just like the core values of SBS and what I saw in Acres Of Lions - Brad also has that high respect for people that truly love what they do and instantly could see the passion in Jeff and Tyson for their music. You literally just can't help but respect people of this calibur. Huge thank you again to Brad - beyond appreciated friend!
So panic not friends - we WILL be back tonight - late in the PM with Part II of the episode - no lie from us - lots going on at SBS today so the posting of this episode could theorectically head into the hours of AM on Monday - but we're here and doing our best as we always try to do. This episode includes a couple of videos - another brilliant performance by Acres Of Lions - a song called "Prairie Fire."
I might not know where the oil goes into my car but I can hear a catchy tune on the radio while I pay someone else to do the work on said car.... I hear that resonance this song will have with people and I am so proud of this performance to come out of SBS. In comparison to the album it of course is without the amazing drumming of Shane, whose performance on the finalized studio version is incredible. He came up with a ripping beat for a softer song in sentiment and melody and really made it RUN. But again - I didn't have the album at the time - this was the way I saw and heard the song for the first time - instantly convinced that it will not be the last. I think they have a genuine hit on their hands with that song and I know it's going to make me smile when I hear it being played by someone outside on a kick-ass summer day this year.
Speaking of that - this busy band on a tour that started with a visit to us and then kept on across Canada, is now home safe and sound having made many new friends and found a lot of great new music along the way. From what I could see from the social media boards - Acres Of Lions had a successful time on tour and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. And truthfully they're far from done for the summer - there are festival shows they're a big part of this year with a lot of new fans anxiously awaiting to hear the new material live for the first time.
Once again I'd like to thank Jeff and Tyson for their time and their putting up with me being a super-fan throughout the interview. Also again, huge thank you to Sacha Miller from Audioblood Inc. for setting that up - you rock lady!
The last two things I want to say about Acres Of Lions are quick and to the point I promise....c'mon now....brevity is my thing isn't it?
I want you all when watching this episode to really take it to heart. These guys could very well be YOU in a couple of years or a matter of mere moments. It all changes quickly in this industry and the only thing that doesn't ever need to change is a respect for the craft, the fans and the overall station it puts you in life. Jeff and Tyson have shown me that no matter what, they'll continue to appreciate these very things. So I'm asking you all, as a personal favour to me, that when you watch these episodes, KNOW that they've experienced a spectacular amount of success and they've never let it affect their art. They still make the music that THEY want to make. They still enjoy the creative freedomes they've always known with their art. They still LOVE what they do. Again - there's simply no way to NOT respect people of this amazing calibur and candor.
One more - and this is just another example that we have been explaining over time to different artists coming through SBS...we've always said that leaving us with some extra music in any way, shape or form is never a bad idea....we'll find it a good home! I have this quote on camera from Jeff regarding Vancouver hard rock band THE PIT when we passed on the last two EP's to them as well as the latest EP from AETERNA.
"I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere" is a great name for a song!" He's so right! Just wait until he hears it for the first time like we all have!
But again - super cool for us to have the opportunities to pass on music to other artists and we fully encourage you all once again to start viewing your music as the best possible business card there has ever been. Even Patrick Bateman would stop and stare. Everyone can carry around a piece of cardboard, but not everyone can pass out the very reason people like myself exist and breathe and LOVE their life. You can form connections with people you'll never even meet and change lives for the better through your art. And just like Tyson points out in Part II of the interview - there wasn't a ton of people at the Limblifter show (Again Vancouver - wake the HELL UP!!!) and they weren't sure just how many new faces they saw would seek them out again.
Sometimes it's a ton. Sometimes it's none. And sometimes, like many of us say - it starts with ONE. I was at that show. I still have that melody for the song I now know is "Forgive & Forget" in my head. I still feel that want to express and connect and help people through the emotion in Jeff's voice. And now I'm here, telling you all to check them out and I truly hope that you do this week on our show and beyond that into these next brightly lit years of their future. And if there's one of you out there that hears the music like I do, and they gain another fan through this that's all I'm ever looking for. Me + 1. Net gain of 100% on return fan investment. Because it DOES start with one - and if I can paraphrase Tyson once more - we make this art to share it with each other. One will always become two. Two will always become more. The lesson in all of this I believe - is stick to WHO YOU ARE. Make your music in the most honest way you can. Don't compromise your artistic integrity.
Do these things and the people WILL come. One by one.
OTHER INDIE NEWS:
Okay - I'll give you a little more on this episode coming out and why it's taking a little longer to get out....we added a couple things....
First of all we added a video from a French animation team for a band called NICOLAS & THE ICENI from the UK. We're developing a video interview with them and since this was my own personal introduction to their music, I thought I'd share. So consider this a preview of an upcoming episode later this year as we follow up on the written interview we've recently done with them!
Secondly we added brief but curiousity inspiring clips of our upcoming to indie comedians on our show - TOM WILLIAMS and TIM E. D - I simply can't express how thankful I am to them both for reaching out from as far away as they have and they've both taught me that the level of passion, that maximum potential we all reach in the craft we love, is universal. I really enjoyed speaking with them both and I can't wait to show you these clips. We'll be leading off with Tom Williams in the upcoming video interview with THE DANBURY LIE, followed by Tim E. D in the episode to follow, TBA.
Rob Loncto of The Danbury Lie incidentally, is a freakin rock star. I've been heavily reviewing and editing the footage for that episode during this past week and it really is something exciting to watch. We've all seen the studio on screen - and we love it of course - but it's awesome to see YOUR perspective on YOUR art with YOU having creative control. These opportunities have provided me with countless amazing conversations and daily inspirations. We sent one out to our homie NOVA just the other day and if you could hear how PUMPED this guy is to make this all it can be you'd be every bit as excited as I am right now! He has editing skills in the video department and I like to think what we sent him is really going to inspire him to take this to official "baller status" for a video post!
IRON KINGDOM - the second band to be featured on SBS Live This Week is about to embark on their first US tour. As you all know already I'm a HUGE fan of people that put the WORK into their music - not just in short bursts when things are happening - but consistently pushing your art out there like recent SBS Live guests WEST MY FRIEND, CINGED (Winner of the SBS THRICE contest) or TREEHOUSE! does. I can safely say I'm not sure I can name a person that I know of right now out there doing more work in pushing their band than CHRIS OSTERMAN of Iron Kingdom. So on a personal note - I just want to congratulate this entire band on the work they've done with the release of their latest album "At The Gates." It's absolutely impressive and I continue to see postings from this band reaching out well beyond our borders and across the globe having their work noticed, heard and reviewed. You're setting the example for us all Iron Kingdom - keep up the great work!
THE PIT - oh my! Can I say that I'm in love with the editing on that last video? I hope you don't mind! But for real - aside from considering my words as art - the video world has become the world I live in most and truly love. And there's not one of us out there that doesn't love to see their own evolution or progression - but I really felt like the timing on the latest SBS music video post for The Pit - the cover of "We're In This Together Now" was - just as their newest fan and New York radio host Ed Tyll says - "Tight as a crab's ass." I'm very proud of that one. And how about that guest performance by Ryan Rutherford? Me standing next to him is a comical farce. I'm literally about half his height, which for several reasons can make it awkward to meet someone when you only stand waist high to them.... LOL. Ryan is beyond cool as a person; I've run into him on a couple occasions through the wedding, SBS and listening to him call in to support The Pit during the Ed Tyll broadcast - let me say the consistency of character is completely there. It's rare to meet someone you can so quickly feel 100% about - but Ryan is the genuine real deal. I am however, still cautious - if I'm not quick on my feet his giant frame could accidentally step on and squash me. He's a big dude! I think you're getting that by now....ok....I'll move on then.... What I've been wanting to tell you is that THE PIT are playing a show coming up at LANA LOU'S in Vancouver on the 25th of May and YOU SHOULD GO! And once again huge thank you to our friends of friends in The Pit, wedding bride + groom of the video event Andy + Jolynn. Incredible honour for us to be there to film that special performance on the best day of your lives together! Thank you for allowing us to share that with the world - I think it's fantastic that you can absolutely see just how much you two love each other, right there on screen. Incredible!
The EVERYDAY MUSIC TV project with SBS for the 18th was cancelled due to scheduling restrictions resulting in my first ever strained-beyond-repair relationship with a band! It would be unprofessional to name them and there's no need for that - I'm simply pointing out that even doing what we do in providing this promotion and excitement for bands and fans can still make blood boil on the other side of the screen when something like this happens. We had set up the 18th and 31st as days for shooting with Rod Matheson of Everyday Music TV and unfortunately the 18th didn't work out for any but this one band on a day where we were already asking a lot of Rod to come out on a busy day for him. So we made the correct call and unfortunately cancelled the date. Not thinking, I simply added this band to the line-up on the 31st in error, completely forgetting that they would not be able to make this date. Certainly my bad, however well intentioned.
I always say it's important to measure intentions. There's simply no need to over-express the disappointment in the situation as I truly feel it myself if not even more so. And as I had now read through e-mails how truly disappointed they were at this error and cancellation - I thought to myself, well, if they were willing to come out for one song....maybe just maybe they'll do my show....multiple songs and interview and all that...best I could do to make it right somehow, I mean, I'm free on that day too now right? Anyway - the offer was rejected due to the disappointment in SBS and that's completely fair for them to feel how they do. Though we saw a much different side of them through the correspondence at the end (They've created their first video and sent me a sweet link with "In Your Fucking Face" attached to it....if only I could find it somewhere....) we do wish this unidentified band the best of luck in the future as they continue to pursue their art.
It was a good reminder for me to again remain humble. Not everyone will like what I do personally or what we do through SBS, something I've had to come to accept and realize over time, much as I did years ago when I first started writing about and interviewing bands. I remember when the alternative band CHEVELLE rejected the photos we had taken with the very press pass they provided us to take them with...beautiful shots...all rejected simply because they were unhappy with their overall performance that night and didn't want that out there visually...or at least that was the reasoning I was supplied with. And just like this did at first - that feeling that I could somehow LET YOU DOWN or disappoint you all through bringing attention to your art, or embarass you through our work together - stung a little but has never left my side and continually guides me to do the best I can for you - to be the best version of myself to represent your art on a note that is inviting to others.
So the POSITIVE part of the Everyday Music TV project is that the date we had set up for the 31st is still alive, fully-stocked and kicking STRONG. I am BEYOND excited at this opportunity for these artists and bands. If you've seen what Rod has been able to capture in former SBS interviewees ANNIE BECKER and BRODIE DAWSON - you'd be stoked for them all too!
Check out this list of awesome acts confirmed to come out that day for the shooting: LAURA KELSEY (With Guest Rory) - FILTHY LITTLE THIEVES - BRAD WENGRANOWSKI of AETERNA - IRON KINGDOM - THE PIT - THE BEARDS OF CANADA. It promises to be a busy but unique day for all and I think that this will be another great memory of what we can all accomplish together through the music. There IS the possibility of still squeezing a couple more acts into this time frame but the time is running out to get involved - if you're interested (Reading this now or in the future) contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if we can't fit you into that day or a future date to come. And from there we'll do our best to not disappoint! ;)
Alright - it certainly feels like I've written the longest blog post even in my own personal history...so I'll wrap this up for now, knowing I'll surely curse myself out for missing a couple of details somewhere along the lines!
Great things still to come in May! See you on screen for Part II of SBS Live This Week with Acres Of Lions! Catch up Part I here if you haven't seen it yet or just wanna see Jeff's inspiring solo performance of "Bright Lights" again - click THIS!
You're all awesome + we appreciate you stopping by our little corner of the internet.
- Jer @ SBS
May 5th, 2013 - VIMA & THRICE CONTEST Wrap Up!
Jeez! With the amount of time in between postings here on this blog you'd almost assume I was never really here at all.....not the case, I assure you....
So! Where have I been in this last little while? Covering the Vancouver Island Music Awards and shaking hands with some great friends and musicians we had met in the past through interviews - incredibly awesome to just hang out with them all instead of have to rapid-fire questions at them upon first glance. But big shout outs to all the artists we got to talk to that night - SBS might not have been a giant presence at the event itself but we certainly received more genuine love than we'd ever imagined from the artists and bands that make the music and put their time and efforts into their interviews with my bearded face. I appreciate you all so much - we'll always feel like the small guy in the room press-wise - so the acknowledgement of our hard work and dedication to your music and projects is more than appreciated; Instead of the "small guy" you make us feel like true V.I.P.'s
And we dragged (well, sorta...) a new friend and ally with us for this adventure - Rod Matheson of EveryDayMusicTV. First of all - STOP reading my blog and go back to that link in the sentence before this - CLICK IT - and subscribe. You can thank me later. But if you DO have time - take a good look at the site I just sent you towards and realize the AWESOMENESS. This guy puts my own work ethic to shame and has the abundant energy of a teenager contained within his professionalism. His goal is simple yet daunting: 1000 bands, 1000 songs, 1000 days straight. I am, to say the very least, a massive fan of his work and tireless efforts for independent music.
But I say sorta dragged cause I missed two consecutive ferries over to the island and really seemed like I took forever to get there. Oops. Sorry Rod!
We made it across the water and made our way to the event. Spectacular venue and so many people happy to be around their element all wearing smiles brighter than any stage costume or special awards get up. Incredible energy buzzing around the entire building and all kinds of bands getting to know each other, introduce or hang out for the first time. It was a relaxing and thoroughly entertaining affair and one we certainly hope to be around for again next year!
On a special note - always cool to see some of the SBS-related bands bring it home! ANNIE BECKER was voted Vocalist of the Year, CHRIS HO was Songwriter of the Year and our new friends in SPACEPORT UNION picked up the award for Song of the Year for their track "Fueled By Consequences." All fantastic people and creative minds much deserving of their awards. Congratulations again guys! And while we're on the Annie Becker subject - not ONLY did she give an amazing performance at the show itself - but she was instantly put onto Rod's EveryDayMusicTV Channel in an absolutely KILLER solo and off-to-the-side bonus performance. Seriously - check that link - it's one of the best and most NATURAL that I've seen in a long time. Rod has a very gifted eye when it comes to both the camera work and locations to shoot. Awesome.
WHAT ELSE? Lots....
THE PIT - have probably started the final show of their interior run happening pretty much right as I type this out. We've heard plenty from Tyler who had amazing things to say about this run of shows in Kamloops - particularily citing that The Blue Grotto was a kick-ass place to play. They took part in a battle of the bands - and promptly disqualified themselves by not adding cover songs into their set which in fairness to the club was outlined in the rules. That didn't stop the boys from absolutely ripping up the stage playing a solid four tracks in the competition including "Solar Powered Night Light" and the indie hit "I Wanna Plant Bombs Everywhere" from their EP Real Boy Times and new songs being recorded at SBS - "The Machine" and "Closer." Tyler has assured me that the patrons of The Blue Grotto will not be forgetting them anytime soon and they've gotten some pretty positive reponses from some new fans found in the interior. Nice work gentlemen! I have to say though....something about this cover song thing isn't sitting quite right with me.... And don't get me wrong - it's not me having an issue with the rules this time....it's.....it's....I don't know....the insinuation that maybe someone out there in music-land might think for a second they couldn't rock the shit out of a cover tune....so make sure to keep your eyes peeled this week for SBS to show you the proof that yes they can....
LAURA KELSEY - How about this for pure JOY! Laura stopped by SBS on Monday for the first time since we initially met her back in November last year when she became the first official guest on SBS Live This Week! And of course she brought her dog/our friend Tundra in for a visit. Seeing Laura 6 months later was like seeing her yesterday - she's freakin timeless. And let's face it - last time I was the interviewer with no show and no idea what his role in the musical universe even was! Did we have just a wee bit to catch up on? Uh-huh!
It should come as no surprise to you that Laura the free spirit that she is - taught her dog Tundra to sing. Not even remotely joking - I have the video proof! It was great seeing her again outside of my interviewer role - though I have to admit it's completely easy to slip into that mode where I begin to ask 1000 questions.... Laura put up with all that and more - she let me borrow her beautiful voice for one of my own personal demo tracks as I suppose I myself have been trying to get back into music as well. It was an honour and a privilege to work with an artist I have such a huge respect for - and whether or not we release any of this stuff - that was a moment in time I'll never forget. We ended up working on another old tune to see if you could fix what my own voice had broken, and as I mentioned Tundra literally got in on the jam. Incredible. To cap it off - we wrote a track together - now incubating in both our minds as to how to attack it. But MAN she's an incredible woman - she found a killer vocal melody within seconds of any of these tracks we worked on but the original we were working on together, stemming from this collaboration....let's just say I can't wait to see Laura again soon to see if we can get that track to where it needs to be post-demo!
WEST MY FRIEND - are on the show again this week when we come back! Great to see these wonderful folks at the awards and I think they're some of the truly nicest people I've met through this entire process of SBS evolution. Couple of songs included again - the beginning of a month we're truly excited about with a ton of great music to come!
ACRES OF LIONS - We're moving closer to that episode as well featuring two absolutely beautiful perfomances I can't wait for you to see. Jeff (Lead Vocals, Guitar) and Tyson (Keys) came by in one of those genuine rub-your-eyes-do-I-REALLY-get-to-do-this-stuff moment for yours truly. Speaking of great moments in music to come - it's moments like these that will continue to echo in the studio, absorbed into the sleepingbags that line our walls forever.
THE DANBURY LIE - Video interview for May! OH YEAH! Beyond stoked as you all know I love this project. Rob Loncto from Danbury, TX, USA will be joining us and we'll get to see a little of the world from his own perspective. It has been since JANUARY since we've posted one of these and they have become the most talked about and exciting project we offer and I can't believe how well these are turning out on screen. We'll also be taking a look outside around where Rob is living in Danbury and see the town from his perspective - more than awesome!
TONY TIG - Not for the upcoming month but this hip-hop artist deserves a major shout out for his music. I'm thinking about him right now because I'm just wrapping up the editing on his own video interview and I'm currently uploading them into the hypersphere to await his responses. As I've said many times - our best work it yet to come out and these video projects are turning out "tighter than a crab's ass" as our friend in broadcasting ED TYLL in New York would say...
KYLE TRUELOVE & THE HEAVY HEARTS - Gave 100% of what they had in their first perfomance as a full band at the Railway Club in Vancouver. We were there to support this event and we've got some great footage of the whole experience. People in the crowd at tables playing along on their tables....great lighting....great hosts from the Railway....it was a good night to be there for sure. Sadly due to van troubles on the way back from their Alberta tour - Laura Kelsey and I missed out on our arranged time to jam with Kyle and had to continue to rock out SBS all by our creative selves. Next time guys!
Hmmmm....I feel like I'm missing something....
COMEDY! Oh yeah - that's right! HA! Your favorite non-judgemental host of indie music is expanding the show's content variety and opening it up to comedy! Do I know what funny is? HELL NO. Does anybody? I find comedy to be extremely polarizing in nature and sparks some genuine debate - and like all art that comes our way - I highlight the positives of what I see going on but I'm never here to pass judgement - just to keep the dialogue open and put art out into the world as much as we can. To encourage artists to create MORE, want MORE and grow to their potentials. All artists. So pass or fail - when these pop up I can certainly say they'll be amusing for several reasons!
ALL MUSIC EPISODES also being planned out for the not so distant future with some brand new tunes from SBS past favorites once again. I love these hard-drives full of artistic-soulery. Can I get away with that as a phrase? I shouldn't be able to....
CINGED - WINNER OF THE 1st THRICE CONTEST FROM SBS! Picking up an incredible promo package in a sweep of all three offered prizes they'll be coming down from Kelowna when they're ready to push record and make a new video and this excites me greatly. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their music - but also for Rob @ SBS's talents in production - I really think the result of this time spent with Corey and Theresa of Cinged will result in something sonically astounding. Just sayin.
NEW SBS THRICE CONTEST DETAILS WILL BE RELEASED TONIGHT IN A VIDEO BROADCAST TO YOUTUBE WITH THREE BRAND NEW CHALLENGES FOR YOU TO GO THROUGH TO WIN RECORDING TIME AND ALL KINDS OF GOODIES. CHECK THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL AT: http://www.youtube.com/sleepingbagstudios for details and if it's not posted up there yet - check out one of the past interviews that rocked like:
- - - CINGED - - - SBS ISLAND ADVENTURES PART I & PART II - - - THE PIT - - - NIXIE - - -
Alright everyone - I'm out for now. Can't let my man TONY TIG down - I promised I'd make sure he got this interview today....
As always - thank you so much for reading, watching, talking about and supporting these great artists coming through the hub of SBS. Everyone of you is appreciated - you can reach out anytime at email@example.com to talk about the music with me!
Reach for what you think you're capable of and you'll always find you can go beyond.
Talk to you soon.
- Jer @ SBS
P.S. - You're all seen the truly astounding number of pictures we've posted of these amazing people this week right? Click here!
April 16th, 2013 - A Whole Mess Of Stuff...
I'm always excited to reach out to you all through this written medium and we're not quite ready to break the silence on SBS Live This Week just yet....but soon! Everytime I log in here though, I really wish I got to this writing stuff a little more - but we all know how much I write and just LOOK at the title of this particular piece....hold on cause HERE WE GO!
Where do I even start? I think I'll keep it somewhat linear this time....keep the facts straight in my head and all...
I left you last time getting ready to head to the island to meet up with JAMES KASPER and official photographers for the Vancouver Island Music Awards promo. The day was a MASSIVE success - really, really good time had by all....I think? I'll let you be the judge by watching the footage on an SBS Live This Week coming out before the VIMA event...but I think it went extremely well and I can't wait to tell the full story on the show. In the meantime - here's some shout-outs to who I met and a little of the WHY I'm excited to show them all to you and our followers world wide via the internet.
Thankfully the getting there to the island was smooth sailing and I'm not even kidding - that was one of the most beautiful days in BC I have laid my eyes on since I can remember....gorgeous place that island....you should check that place out if you haven't been lately! The music is incredible right now and it's getting ready to kick into the high beauty of summer soon enough....but we'll give you plenty of reasons to go before that...I digress.....I'm talking weather when I should be talking tunes....
OK - who did I meet again? Right!....
SPACEPORT UNION: Listed influences included everything from KATE BUSH to LED ZEPPELIN. No joke - that was a completely kick ass thing to read and really got me excited to meet this crew. Plus they're stoked on their new album "Flirting With The Queen" and having their band in the running as a VIMA nominee for vocalist of the year.
ANNIE BECKER: This. This is the way you want a bright sunshine day to be. Spent with a tremendously large and colourful personality like Annie Becker - what a privilege! Absolutely as radiant and enthusiastic about her fellow nominees as she is about her own new fantastic music coming out - did I mention she is up for FOUR awards? From what I got to see that day through her performance she should have every expecatation of bringing something from VIMA home for the mantlepiece. Great time with Annie. VIMA nominee for vocalist of the year, music video of the year, artist of the year and songwriter of the year. Huge congrats to you Annie - getting nominated four times is a victory in itself my friend....
GEOFF HOWE: Freakin rights I met Geoff Howe! Great conversation here. Soft spoken but tremendous knowledge and extensive thought and emotion put into his music. Also got to see Geoff perform acoustically - which was fantastic and left little doubt that he belongs in the category for song of the year as a VIMA nominee - what I heard was excellent, well played music to the ears. Again - what a great day to be out there with all there awesome people! Geoff just playing in the wind with the water and boats in the background...gorgeous day....beautiful song....makes a guy like me really stop for a second to appreciate the excellent opportunities I'm presented with in life.
BRODIE DAWSON: Holy shit! Pardon my french here - but SHUT THE FRONT DOOR as they say! What a truly truly beautiful person inside and out - first of all she knocks it out of the part with a performance that shows you why she's in the running for best live act at VIMA. Knowing that going into meeting Brodie - she doesn't know it - but the pressure was ON... But there's little doubt in my mind - no one I met that day had been remotely misplaced in their nomination and Brodie was no exception to that rule. Absolutely humble as a person - she's enjoying the moment, living in the present and truly loving life along with the music she's making - and you can see it on her face by simply meeting her. Good luck BD!
THE GLASS TABLES: Ha! Genres you can't escape me....ya just can't. I had been anxiously awaiting these guys all day - from the roster line up of interviews that day, this seemed to be right up my musical alley - nominees for Instrumental/Experimental album of the year at the 2013 VIMA's. I got to meet Chris Rieche of the band and talk about some really cool elements that make up his music and this style and really get into a great conversation about some of our shared favorite bands.
PHOENIX LAZARE: It was not a competition that day - let that be known. But if this was a day divided into genders, well...the ladies were bringing it full force! I was talking to Chris from The Glass Tables when out of the corner of my eye I spotted Phoenix arriving. It's like a sixth sense I have for music - I can just sense a future star's energy in the wind.... This 17 year old has musical wisdom well beyond her years - she's an incredibly humble and respectful individual - I'm telling you she was raised RIGHT (Well done mom + dad!) and knew a ton about her fellow nominees in the category of Youth Artist Of The Year at the Vancouver Island Music Awards. A pleasure to talk to - there's no doubt in my mind that Phoenix has a fantastic career in music ahead of her.
WARRIORS OF THE INFINITE: Ohhhhhhhhhhh! Ok - it just got REAL on the men's side as my newest homie Jay Woti represented his crew in an interview. Totally awesome to talk to people in this genre right now. After first meeting Perception The Author through the internet - our determined producer/underground artist in the UK to our recent interview that left you hanging with only a single part of the episode posted before the break, LoMega - these crews and MC's are starting to realize we're about a lot more than just rock at SBS. Talking with Jay made me appreciate that not everyone in this rap game has the overblown ego we see often portrayed through video - this guy is down to earth. And I mean that in every sense of the words - Jay and his crew have a strong connection with this planet and really do their best to help defend it. The world needs more of these people like Jay. Warriors of the Infinite are nominated for best Hip Hop album or EP (And province wide, not just the island - NICE work WOTI) at VIMA 2013.
Alright so at this point in the interview we had a mysterious no-show and I could catch my breath. Sometimes in that respect, the occasional no-show isn't so bad! Plus I could hide my giant forehead from the sun for a second instead of continually advertising this perfect campaign for skin cancer atop my eyebrows....but it might have already been too late....
CHRIS HO: So like I was saying about my ridiculously genetically inherited oversized and built-for-two-heads worth of forehead - I had DEFINITELY gotten my share of sun. No excuses, at least I don't think this qualifies cause I didn't stroke out or anything - but I completely and utterly lost my train of thought in the middle of questioning this VIMA nominee in the categories (That's right - multiple!) of songwriter and artist of the year. Chris, for what seems like a soft spoken and generally all around good guy is also extremely intense in that quiet guy kinda way. His eyes study everything like he's making a mental recording of the event for songwriting fuel later on. Always awesome to talk to an artist with tremendous focus like this.
NORTHTOWN: Like Phoenix Lazare earlier - another nominee for Youth Artist Of The Year at VIMA 2013. I don't know - I know I'm enthusiastic, I know I find SOMETHING to like in everything...BUT....there's a REASON. Imagine what an incredibly inspiring day this has been - and then NorthTown to send it off - a great group of guys at the beginnings of their career. Let me tell you - it's awesome to be able to meet people this way. Every time. These young rock stars were no exception - very energetic and enthusiastic crew that made for a great ending to a great day of interviews...but not the ending to the entire adventure by a long shot yet...
This whole event was done in about 3-3.5 hours. As I've said to those that talk to me over e-mail or other social media - my hero Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud of that one I think. It's a heck of a lot of talking - a lot of enthusiasm - lots of caffeine and little sleep prior to these events with time spent busy researching bands as best I can in whatever time allows me to continue the search for independent awesomeness. But after that long in the sun, let's face it - a beer is required.
Ever the perfect host for my trips to the island, James Kasper not only grabbed us a couple cold ones but also led me back to the lair of the still-yet-to-be-formed all-girl Canadian rock band WHITE HOT JET. Now this is another level of awesome - I actually get to SIT IN on the auditions? Sign me up! I got to meet a couple of the official members of the band as well as a young hopeful trying out for vocals. Did I mention I LOVE THIS MOMENT IN TIME???
If you're just reading my blog for the first time, or you're trying to figure out what makes me tick - this is IT. THIS SPECIFIC MOMENT. ALL CAPS YAAAAAA.
But it's the truth. Seeing people in that moment where they have to mentally flip the switch. That moment where it's "go time" and they realize like is just to short to suck - this is the time to give it 110% of everything they have. That moment where they say "fuck it" inside their head and just let themselves be how they are. That's what I live for...to continually watch for and SEE that beautiful moment for myself.
I get most of it from a steady diet of "...Got Talent" shows. Doesn't matter what language - that moment is completely universal. And I'm man enough (or not perhaps?) to admit these moments JUST BEFORE they take the stage can often send me into a river of tears before they even start their act. The reason why is because you can see it in their eyes - that's the REAL moment. It's so obvious and clear at that time whether the gravity of this spotlight has hit them and whether or not they can rise to the occaision....it can be a truly beautiful thing.
Many thanks to White Hot Jet and to James Kasper for allowing me to be a part of that experience and the opportunity to be involved on the scene doing interviews at VIMA 2013. The WHJ line-up has now officially been completed as they continued to audition long past when I had to leave these wonderful people to catch my boat back to SBS until another time. I've said time and again that belief and determination can often lead you to results much more quickly than a natural skill set - and it's because of that belief and determination I see in James Kasper that I had no issues supporting the White Hot Jet project sight unseen for the first time in my musical life. I have faith in his ear for talent and for the passion he has in this project to succeed. Brace yourselves for take-off ladies of White Hot Jet....
So.......looking at this I realize now I've managed to cover ONE single day of what happened in between the last blog post and this. I'd blog more often if I didn't write like I talk......
The week that followed was just as interesting on home turf.
In hunting down resources available for independent bands through different websites - I was busy checking into fiverr.com where we currently offer a host of different options for people that we can't reach otherwise - a place where we ourselves offer interviews etc. So I thought I'd check into "what else" was out there like us in this scenario - and innocently typing in "band interview" - there I was about a page and a half down with one of our fiverr deals. Satisfied that the link was working and that we weren't too far away from the top of the list, I continued on down scanning for other similar offers.
And to you I pose this question: How much more similar does it get than EXACTLY? Someone had completely stolen our "gigs" that we offered on the Fiverr and used them as their own promising written and video interviews with SBS and JER @ SBS. Ummm? That was completely unique to me. So so so so foreign of a concept - this idea that people or bands even find us over the internet let alone steal our content! I still wonder how they intended to deliver these orders?
E-mailing Fiverr support was not so much of a treat through this experience and I was happy to let them know I like to share my stories....To this point I've had nothing but a fantastic relationship with Fiverr and really do think the site has opened some incredible doors for us. But in the same amount of time that I was uploading what was a completely unique offer to Fiverr from our other work, which came back rejected due to similarities to another offer of ours - someone else was able to offer our SBS Live gig word for word without it even being caught? C'mon Fiverr.....
And you all know our reputation is completely important to us - we don't like to let anyone down in the musical realm or otherwise, so to have this out there for a moment longer did NOT sit well with me. In a politely worded e-mail (Yes I'm being truthful) I asked them to look into the issue, linked them to the fraudulent offers and user and asked them to please follow up with me on the proceedings and how this is handled. For the fantastic relationship my site and theirs have had - I was more than suprised that an issue of this nature could go unanswered for 24 hours let alone the entire week it took them to get back to us. In the end we received no apologies from the site, no "sorry we didn't catch that, our bad" - nothing. And truthfully? I sleep exactly the same way knowing that as I did the night before. I don't need an apology - it just would have been polite. After another 48 hours the user has now been officially disappeared from Fiverr.
Somehow it got weirder though. I googled sleepingbagstudios to see what was out there and discovered that a site in Germany had been leeching and hosting our entire site's worth of content as well. I gotta admit - both these times resulted first in a genuine head shake of "people even KNOW about SBS?" I mean - we make NOISE but we ARE still the little guy out there on the block....for now.... Anyway - they currently generate a large amount of ad traffic & presumed revenues not being shared with either the artists or SBS whatsoever - and since we've yet to invade you with ads ourselves even - seemed like a little bit much and they've been asked to remove it as well. Let me be crystal clear with you all - please continue to happily repost your interviews and videos through SBS and your own sites. To the pirates out there that think they can profit off of other people's original content by simply taking the files and hosting the content....well....to you guys I say let's talk that out through an interview....open invite to anyone who's brave enough to take that conversation on!
THE OTHER STUFF YOU WANNA KNOW ABOUT:
THE PIT: Continue to stop by and make SBS their home away from home while finishing up work on their upcoming single for "The Machine" and "Closer." At this point they're now flushing out full ideas for new tracks in the studio and we've really seen this band continue to go big, continue to attack their music with intensity and determination to break through to the next level. We just finished off another weekend with them all, including their friend Ryan who had called into the Ed Tyll show in New York when he was promoting The Pit on his live radio program. Great guy to have around - and late night when it maybe should have been quiet but sure wasn't at SBS - the six of us all launched into freestyle jam after jam. With the atmosphere and lights in the studio working their magic, this giant 6-foot-everything frame of Ryan stepped up to the mic to deliver one of the absolute highlights of the night, jumping in on a jam for vocals and pulling off what sounded like a song he had written for years rather than in the moment. Big thanks to him for being a part of that weekend and of course to The Pit for continually finding new ways to both entertain and work with SBS.
TYLER MAYFIELD: R.I.P. OVERDOSE. This young grunger continues on his quest to find his new place in the musical world and in the meantime we're totally taking him up on doing some random work on some new projects with SBS. You WILL see this guy popping up in all kinds of crazy ways in the future through SBS as part of our official alumni. He's currently helping out on a couple of video interview projects we're getting ready to film. Happy to have him as an official part of our team - we're looking forward to sharing his point of view through our work together.
KYLE TRUELOVE: Word has it that this nominated performer for song of the year at this year's VIMA's will be stopping by SBS on his way through to Alberta for his upcoming tour! Awesome! He's also playing a show at the Railway Club here in Vancouver and you can bet you'll see myself there along with radio host and friendly-friend of SBS - Jeff Jeffries. Stoked to see the show and have him pop by! So stoked in fact - I put a call into an old friend from waaaaaaaay back (yeah, all the way in Nov. 2012....) LAURA KELSEY - the first guest on SBS Live This Week in the show's history - and I asked if she'd consider doing a track or two with Kyle while he was here. Similar in temperment, personality and large quantities of heart and soul - I thought it might just make for a unique and beautiful musical pairing and I am very excited to see how this all turns out....
SBS WEBSITE UPDATE: Closer and closer and closer to the re-launch and re-design of the main SBS website. Rob @ SBS has been putting in all kinds of crazy hours to perfect the design and the progress sounds more than promising. I'm hoping to have something for you all to view that way really soon. Lots of new sections, we'll finally host our own show on our OWN site instead of elsewhere. In the meantime our facebook page still sees a ton of traffic daily as does our supernova site which just passed it's 33000th view in just over 6 months. Click that supernova link and take a look around at the pics and vids - not gonna lie - in this next six months I want to take it to the 100k mark. Let's see if we can do it!
Written interviews continue to draw in more and more readers, as does this blog (THANK YOU ALL!) and it's great to see that support visibly coming from all over the globe. I like to think that somewhere out there you readers can see this all goes far beyond caring about the music - I've absorbed my entire life into SBS and transformed into this tireless internet mouth intent that its every yelp and yap be the name of an independent band. So it is with great excitement that I'm announcing that we will also have album reviews on the main site upon re-launch with different perspectives being offered by SBS alumni on albums throughout time, not limited to any genre of course, and without ratings. The music speaks to us - and these people we've got involved in this project truly have the gift of being able to express the essence of WHAT makes music and these artists amazing through the printed word. You can look out for a test run on a couple of single perspectives of my own as I post interviews for bands like WE STEAL FLYERS and CHORDS OF TRUTH.
ACRES OF LIONS: We have had the privelege of welcoming what I'd certainly say is the biggest indie band we've had so far with AOL coming to our studio. We had Jeff and Tyson here at SBS HQ to represent the band on tour in support of their new album "Home(s)" and it was a real honour to talk to these internsely DRIVEN musicians who truly appreciate the ride their on and are currently writing some of their best material. I had yet to hear the album as it had only been released a day or two before they arrived here and they were awesome enough to drop a copy for me to listen to! Many thanks to them both for that, and for putting up with a studio that was in near shambles at the time. Rob and I had pulled it apart to redesign the wiring on the inside and had fallen short of the mark for reassembly in our timeline with Acres of Lions - but Tyson and Jeff made no deal about it whatsoever and truly seemed to enjoy their experience with us here at SBS. We got to see Jeff perform "Bright Lights" solo and acoustically as well as "Prairie Fire" performed by them both. Words simply cannot express how precious these performances became to me once I listened to the new album. The amount of change in "Bright Lights" is astounding - taking the energetic pumped up new single and stripping it down to reveal the real soul and emotion in the writing. Jeff's voice is pure indie gold in these performances, allowing for those slight imperfections that make for the same reasons we love singers in bands like Jimmy Eat World or anything Ben Gibbard has ever done. And as far as "Prairie Fire" goes - if you've yet to hear the album yet - let me fill you in on a well known secret you probably know already...."Smells Like Teen Spirit" was intended to be the "warm-up" track for the people to Nirvana...for the intended big release of "Come As You Are" as the main single. This is quite often the case with any given band - you get a taste before they let you have the whole pie. "Prairie Fire" has everything about the indie/pop genre I love embedded right into the pulse and emotion of that track - believe me when I say - "Bright Lights" is the first track on the album and the first release, yes - but there is a lot more depth beyond revealing an incredibly strong middle portion of the album with great tracks like "Great Escape" and "Better Luck Next Year" really keeping this band lyrically engaging as well as chronicling many of the events that lead to the making of "Home(s)." And yes - as a supreme grammar nerd you better believe I asked about the brackets in the title....
Again - massive thanks to Sacha and all the people AUDIOBLOOD for setting that up with us, to Jeff and Tyson from Acres Of Lions for donating their time and music and to Brad from AETERNA who helped us film on a very shorthanded day here at sleepingbagstudios.
SBS LIVE, SHOW DETAILS AND I'LL WRAP IT UP: Alright - so like I've been saying, this machine of SBS never quits fighting for your music and this hiatus from the show has been anything other than pleasant for yours truly - I wanna talk about the music! So by this weekend latest, you can expect to see us popping back up online if not sooner. We've got island specials along with hip-hop from LoMEGA and we'll finally get to see our first GENRE PANEL in action as we take on the metal genre with indie experts Leighton from IRON KINGDOM and RUDDY from AETERNA. Beyond awesome!
We've also sent out more video-style interviews out into the universe to see what comes back to us through the random of the internet... Projects have been sent out to seven piece band MAN MADE LAKE on Vancouver Island and to singer/songwriter/DJ ANDY RUCK in Ireland. New ones are being planned for r&b/hip hop artist TONY TIG, rapper NOVA (U SERIOUSLY gotta see him rap the periodic table elements - CAN'T be easy!) and for metal-turned-electronic artist ADAM DREW - exciting things in the works coming! We got one back just the other day from Rob Loncto of THE DANBURY LIE. I'm VERY excited to dig into this as soon as I can - I know him to want to rush himself and I know for a fact he gave it time, thought and effort. Can't wait to show ya!
In addition to all that - COMEDY will also be making the occasional appearance on the show - indie style of course - but we'll be featuring that whenever we come across brave souls willing to submit their videos - no judgement from us! Besides - what do I know - I watched "This Is 40" the other day and thought it was a documentary all too close to home! Not for me to judge what funny is, and just like with MUSIC or with all ART we like to encourage and support the creativity. So I'm proud to say that we're gonna lead it off on one of the upcoming SBS Live shows with comedian Tom Williams who has promised to show us some hardcore comedy - and after talking with him and setting this up I'm inclined to believe him. Something about his correspondence is telling me that he truly believes that his time is now. I'm looking forward to this very, very much.
JEFF JEFFRIES has decided to end The Great Canadian Hit List podcast that he had developed in favour of a new and more independently focused idea that he has called "iIndie." Somehow he has come to the conclusion to have me as his co-pilot on this show and host the program with him as we talk about the independent scene, featured independent artists and insights into our musical worlds. We've found a way to make the show more personal - a reflection of our growing relationship built on mutual respect for these amazing creators of indie music everywhere. Much thought went into the format and design for the musical content - demographics were argued - so was being true to our ideals and to the truism that is known between us all - YOUR music holds up. BIG TIME. Don't ever think it doesn't just because the Geffen's or Capitols or ANY label isn't paying attention - just continue to pursue your art and we WILL eventually cross paths in your musical adventures. What's underground right now has a pulse and heart that beats with an intelluctual and emotional strength the mainstream has lost touch with altogether.
It keeps me up at night. For real - it's 5:43 A.M. and once again, thanks to you all - artists, bands, followers and fans - I couldn't be more content or possibly be more awake.
See you onscreen real soon.
Jer @ SBS
March 30th, 2013 - Have We Run Out Of Steam?
As I've mentioned to the online contacts from bands and artists that have come through SBS in the past - it's pretty easy to see from online postings whether the content owners are busy or in some form of flux as the postings all tend to die down or stop altogether. We all create in waves - our most brilliant pieces almost always coming in the forms of massive tidals....
At sleepingbagstudios - we're no exception. Despite my kicking and screaming and staying awake for days at a time - I suppose I have to admit that it had caught up with me in this past two weeks. I feel like I've been asleep the past two weeks or so - missing out on that connection with all of YOU with SBS Live This Week on hold. Admittedly even I was a little frustrated as of late with some breakdowns in the two way process between SBS and artists that we know and love. Many of the shows we put out are heavily promoted by both ourselves and the band or artists themselves. Sometimes it ends up only being part one - the band sees the success and stops creating awareness for their part two (Or they might not have liked part one, which is fair) and we've seen these episodes "tank" in comparison with their previous results. As the intention is ALWAYS to create awareness for these artists, I must admit that sometimes this leaves me scratching my head a little....
When you compare these shows sometimes with the results that our international guests achieve through printed OR video interviews through SBS - it can also make me wonder sometimes. Bands like Treehouse! and artists like Philip Foxley or our latest with Irishman Andy Ruck have shown us that the printed word is still highly sought out. Some of these results are so visible - so obvious as to WHY they are achieved - promotion, promotion, promotion. It's absolutely 100% appreciated from us here at SBS - we've mentioned many times it's a two way street and I'll always believe that. The harder we all work TOGETHER - the more results we'll see....always. In turn, the more awareness for YOUR MUSIC - the ultimate goal....always.
OK - enough whining from me! That's a little of the behind the scenes bitching - something we tend not to do too often. In our quest to remain honest with our readers and viewership - it's important for you to know that we are and always will be music fans...and I guess human after all....
So - some POSITIVES. What has been going RIGHT lately? Lots, despite the silence...here's some of the highlights:
- We've been cutting footage for a special episode for good friends of The Pit who just got married. Andy and Jolynn held their reception with The Pit as the musical act. Talk about a kick-ass wedding right? Congratulations again to the happy couple - know that we are continually working on making you something truly special to remember this day by. Can't wait!
- As far as The Pit goes - we've also completed our first recording session and last night Rob @ SBS sat down with Trevor and Tyler to really get their heads around the mixing and mastering plans for both "The Machine" and "Closer (You Never Go Full Babyface!)." From the sounds of things and talking with Tyler earlier today - the boys couldn't be happier with how things are turning out and the communication level that runs deep between these two entities working together.
- Video interviews have SPIKED! Incredible response to this program! The work that Cinged had put into their video interview way back when this first started continues to inspire artists from all over the globe to participate in these crazy new interviews. We currently have projects in Ireland (We The People, Andy Ruck), Britain (Perception The Author), Bulgaria (Better Than Grey), Vancouver Island (This Day Burns), Danbury USA (The Danbury Lie) and still have a new one being currently filmed for local act Nixie and Man Made Lake's interview is in the final editing process getting ready to send. Without a doubt, as much as I like a one on one interview with people right in front of me - these are without question my favourite projects of the moment. Cinged inspired ME as well - don't forget it! The work I've put into all of them since that episode has gone far beyond my own creative boundaries - I pushed myself into a new editing gear altogether to make these new episodes coming out...
- SBS Live This Week is also not far from the return to the REGULAR (Like, ACTUAL Wednesdays and Sundays NOT Thursday and Monday mornings...) schedule once it does. At this point - we're still hesistant to release a date for the next episode (Part II of hip-hop act LoMEGA) until we're sure we're good to go with edited and ready-to-upload videos for several weeks to come. The content is there and always has been. Taking this time off actually has us risking a gluttony of it, hoarding much content I would like to see released to you as soon as humanly possible....
- Pictures are being continually updated at the supernova page (Filthy Little Thieves got a major new picture splattering!) and are being worked on behind the scenes towards another SBS Massive Picture Day and to also hand out to a couple of previous SBS related friends in order to see their own artistic perspective on our acts. Looking forward to seeing what comes back there from some truly creative minds - word has it that Gordo from Filthy Little Thieves and Tyler Mayfield formerly of Overdose are both involved. Well, hell, I can confirm both for you - and I can add a little more excitement to the mix....while Overdose may have come to a retirement all too quickly - it's important to remember that not ONE of them has ever mentioned quitting - they're simply pursuing their individual musical interests. That's a mature decision for these guys at a very young age and as much fun as we also had with Overdose - we respect their decision as a band very much. I'd also like to officially announce that we have snagged lead singer Tyler Mayfield's point of view and have made him a part of our SBS team. This announcement is overdue - he has actually been in the process of assisting me on some projects already and co-wrote the video interview that we've done with We The People. He also helped shoot footage for The Pit's show at The Cellar in Vancouver along with his good friend Kyle. Additional shout-outs to our other SBS alumni for helping film that night - Randy MacRae helped out BIG TIME along with Becky and Keera of SBS.
- Lastly, in this sea of wonderful positives - I want to mention heading over to Vancouver Island tomorrow to have another adventure with James Kasper and a whole slew of bands. We all know what happened last time - 52 hours of NO SLEEP and an unbelievable experience with 5 bands and artists in 3 hours. Apparently I passed that test from Mr. Kasper - who has put me on the task of interviewing 10 bands & artists for the upcoming Vancouver Island Music Awards in the same short time frame! Madness! But as you know - there is NO challenge or opportunity I would walk away from willingly. You can drag me, but I promise to make that tough on you.... So to James and all of the bands on Vancouver Island getting ready for the VIMA's on April 28th - I say BE READY - cause here I come - caffinated and extremely happy to see you all.
OTHER NEWS in the SBS universe you might want to know!
- The Pit have secured their show in Kamloops for May 4th at Bailey's Pub - so BE READY interior BC - it's about to get LOUD. Vancouverites - you should all come too - but if you can't make it that night just open a window - I'm sure you'll still be able to hear them playing no matter where you are. Avalanche warning - you heard it here first. Come hell or high water - you know you'll find us there at this show somewhere....& many thanks to Katja, management from Throttlecaster for helping set that up.
- Thrice contest subimission entry is officially CLOSED UP. No lie - though we were happy with registration - that went WELL - submissions took an interesting turn - we'll get into that later on the show as we announce the winner later on this year....
- Brad, guitarist from Aeterna and I continue to plug away at their newest video. The guy is a BEAST learning all this stuff as quickly as he has...
Alright - that's it from me for now - I mean, that SHOULD do right?
I'll update you on the island adventures to come. Totally looking forward to it.
Keep the volume up.
Jer @ SBS
March 15th, 2013 - The Editing Process...
I thought this time it might be a good idea to explain our side of the editing process as far as SBS Live This Week is concerned - what we go through on a weekly basis in order to bring the show to the internet each week for two episodes....it's not always easy but I can safely say that it is always a righteous good time.
You need a couple of seriously key ingredients first of all. Anytime we're doing a show - it's awesome to have a guest right? So getting those is one thing. Thankfully due to our first advertisement for interviews at SBS, we've yet to have a need to put out a second one thanks to continued interest in the show, your AMAZING music, and good ol' word of mouth...alright...so...now we've got a guest....
Like for instance - today and throughout this weekend on our show (And we'll get to why it's not too specific!) you'll see electro band NIXIE on our show. If you've followed ANYTHING we've done in this last month, or listened to a word I've said - then you KNOW how long I've been waiting and just how EXCITED I am that this day has finally come to SBS.
So - short aside tangent - NIXIE - what a group of absolute heroes and great people. I'm very proud of this interview coming out tonight for multiple reasons.... We had talked about them PRE-SHOW on The Great Canadian Hit List with Jeff Jeffries - I offered my insights in to what I thought NIXIE was about - I was dying to know right or wrong! So that got answered through this episode.
And how about NIXIE musically? We talked about my credibility last time I blogged here - well - you want some obvious and real feelings? I maintain they're always there on screen in some way shape or form for each and every episode - but I have to admit - if ever we have put out an episode (BESIDES the video-interview from CINGED!) that makes me look not so much like a host but more like a total fan-boy - well boy-o-boy this episode is for you!
Back to the editing! So we film a show - from as many angles as I can set up cameras for usually. Depending on how long I keep them captive, and which of the SBS staff are available to film if any, cameras could be timing out along the interview process - but for the most part are covered from all sides from some sort of lens no matter what happens. We occasionally have the odd malfunction - like where we barely had Amanda from IRON KINGDOM in the shot, or a particular angle only lasts for a half of the episode - but for the most part, we get so much footage that seeing it all each week through the editing process can be a little like the musical version of Groundhog Day!
All a labour of love though - I can assure you that. You would think though, after watching the South Park special on what brings an episode of their show to air - that we would have learned a lesson from that and not put ourselves on such a grueling pace. We have goals much the same as you do though and we really want to continue to bring the show out two times a week for the remainder of this year if at all possible without collapse! PHILLIP FOXLEY - blues guitarist from the UK recently sent in a hello and had also commented on not knowing how we could do anything else with all these interviews and what not....
It DOES take an incredible amount of effort to sift through the footage and colourize the shots, add title screens and fancy effects etc - but there is still a life outside of the show. The studio itself functions more or less through its small stream of bands now finding us and choosing to work with us for our unique perspective and creative recording processes - that keeps us busy too. And then of course, we head out to live shows whenever we can....actually heading to the AETERNA show in Mission tomorrow night - you should come out!
Once the entire show is cut and edited, the only part of which we don't thoroughly enjoy occurs....those editors out there and uploaders know EXACTLY what I mean....processing....
It actually looks like that more or less..... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Or feel like what life is like at those moments.... ..... ..... ...... ..... ..... .....
Just waiting...... ...... ...... ...... ......
You get the idea. A typical part one or part two may take up to 3 hours to process the first time alone - and it's a rare situation that NOTHING is missed on that first run - not even a guarantee on a third or fourth run through that nothing will be missed, but we do the best we can. But any setbacks or missed details through that first edit can of course result in another 3 hours of processing time to correct. So always people - fingers crossed!
Then "re-pro" - where we take these massive files of about 4-6 gigabytes and condense them into files about 1-1.5 gigabytes in size. You know - "suitable" for upload lol. This process takes about an hour and can also have potential for digital hiccups in the program through this conversion....so we always try to watch it AGAIN before we post...but at this point, you can see - it is a LONG process to get it to the internet....
Cause the last step is the You Tube'n - the most painful and potentially misleading one... It can literally take over 10 hours to bring an episode to the internet channel - that's how big the files are, that's the speed of the upload, and that's the processing power of You Tube behind the scenes. Even once the file is uploaded to You Tube it technically takes about another hour before it becomes viewable to the public through their own processing.
And after that? After that we can FINALLY sit back, relax and enjoy a great interview and usually a great tune or two.
Just like today! We mentioned NIXIE was already out did we not???? Rob did an AMAZING job on the music audio from their live off the floor set. Can't wait for you to see!
- Jer @ SBS
March 8th, 2013 - The Lowdown On The Silent SBS
I should really start this particular blog with an emoticon winky face.
Cause even though we've been behind on posting our show, putting up pictures and of course this blog...you'll still always find us at the polar opposite of silent or still when it comes to the internet and fighting for YOUR music.
March is looking to be a far less silent and still month than our February. We achieved some major milestones in that last shortest month of the year - we finally passed 20000 hits on our supernova page and it continued to climb, with picture day seeing that number skyrocket over the 22000 mark by the end of the month. Huge results...but never looking back, we're thinking well into the future as always...
Hard to be silent when we've got grunge band OVERDOSE booked into do their latest demo. We started recordings with a quick session in February that saw them lay down a sick set of live jams and start to work on their track "Beauty Queen." No SBS bias here - believe me when I say this track shows a serious maturity in this band and a very unique sound overall in the Overdose catalog.
We went to their show recently at The Forum in Vancouver. Now, because lead singer Tyler Mayfield already mentioned this - I feel it's only fair we shared the crowd perspective on this particular story...
As we mentioned in earlier SBS Live's and blogs - this was their FIRST pub show in Vancouver. Alex (20), Dakota (19) and Tyler (19) had already been served a beer and been in the pub for an hour, including soundcheck and all that. Everything was going extremely well for Overdose and then all of a sudden one of the reps from the show came up on stage and straight I.D.'d the crew right there in front of the audience. And because they're just great people and probably to young to know what was or wasn't normal in that circumstance - happily pulled out wallets, obliged and went to rock the fuck back on.
But it still wouldn't be that simple to battle Vancouver on a first pub show experience would it? Of course not! Overdose encountered all kinds of ghosts in the machine that night - Alex's guitar cut out almost completely towards the end of the set in one track, Tyler popped his patch cord out from rocking too damn hard and Dakota...wow! First of all - we NEVER got to see this side of him in the acoustic set on our show. We see him when the rest of the band is plugged in and he is kicking that drum so hard he is pushing his set away from him! But in every challenge they faced, Overdose never quit and kept on grunging up the joint. In a true testament to defining leadership - as things got chaotic switching out and diagnosing the problem with Alex's guitar - lead singer Tyler Mayfield jumped in to lend a hand in keeping the audience satisfied with a mini-dance freakout that was featured on SBS Live This Week - SBS But No BS Part II.
But it's truly the breakdowns that separate the "men from the boys" - how they handle it, how they triumph over adversity - and Overdose has proven through their first experience in a Vancouver club that they have every right to be on these stages for several reasons.
What else? You saw THE PIT came by to review some footage at SBS not too long ago. A rad time and many a beer were had by all, stories were told, the future direction of The Pit was discussed as well. Talks about their upcoming debut album, music videos and their March recording date at SBS were discussed heavily....from what it sounds like - SBS will be the first studio to have a crack at the song behind our first music video to reach the 2000 view mark - "The Machine." I know I can speak on Rob's behalf when I say we are beyond excited at the opportunity to give this track the attention and respect it deserves in the mix! And I know that Rob is just the person to make it come out the way it should...
Projects have been sent out to people around the globe inspired by the video interview sent in by CINGED. International projects seem to continually find us through our site at fiverr which offers different services from SBS to those not in reaching distance. It has been an incredible success so far and something we certainly hope to see continue to inspire your creativity around the world. Current projects sent out are with PERCEPTION THE AUTHOR in Britain and BETTER THAN GREY in Bulgaria - and we just sent out the first follow up interview I've ever actually done! I had to pause and scratch my head on that one! Loosely in this industry for nearly 15 years and I've never interviewed the same band twice! So that's freakin awesome - and it's a band we totally dig and get behind musically - THIS DAY BURNS from Vancouver Island. We met Jasmine and Jon during our trip to VI in part one of the SBS Island Adventures and we have talked about them and their music at length since then, everywhere from The Great Canadian Hit List with Jeff Jeffries to our own sites and show.
Speaking of JJ - where IS that guy? As far as we know and we've talked with him - the program itself is in a heavy re-design. Talking with him before, we conversed the situation of playing something like The Pit on his show in the same line up as something pop and top-40 like Serena Ryder - and though our own show on SBS Live is committed to transcending that genre barrier, continually bringing you music for you to judge for yourselves - a more pointed direction certainly wouldn't hurt! We know and recognize the challenge in bringing you a program that is of a widespread genre variety. Some weeks we see you with us, and some we don't based on the musical choice or band. And there's some that watch regardless, checking out anything and everything.
So I'll end this here - on that note. My own "credibilty" lol. I seem to get asked or confronted about this issue almost everywhere I go - which I have to admit makes me chuckle a tiny bit inside.... Credibilty? What credibilty? When did I ever even have any anyway?
This is the way I live my life - and what you see is what you get. Quite simply put - there's an ASPECT of something in EVERYTHING that you can like or find facinating. And I do! Continually! The way we all connect to music - that's our common ground....and we go from there. Sometimes I talk about the music, and sometimes I talk about personalities....production values....all kinds of topics. Whatever it is, they're comments and questions pointed straight towards the heart of our subjects in hopes that they will strike them where it matters, and that they'll share something real with YOU. And beyond all this - why am I so enthusiastic and happy to interview every band that comes our way?
That one's easy. We love what we do.
Talk at you soon!
Jer @ SBS