West My Friend “Place”
Grammar Fight Records 2012
West My Friend is:
Eden Oliver: Vocals, Guitar, Flute
Alex Rempel: Mandolin, Vocals
Jeff Poynter: Accordion, Vocals
Steven Taddei: Bass, Vocals
Place represents a milestone in the relatively short life of West My Friend. Their first full length album, following up on their self-titled EP released in 2011 will be available for wide-spread release on April 5th 2012. I’ve had the pleasure of working with West My Friend before to record backing tracks to BFA: The Musical in the summer of 2011, and I am excited to bring you a sneak peek of what you can expect to hear on Place.
The 4 piece consisting of guitar, bass, accordion, and mandolin bring a unique style. The 13 song album comes in at just under 50 minutes, making each song just shy of an average 4 minutes each. A unique aspect of the creation of this album is that the band used the fast-growing site IndieGoGo.com. It allows for groups such as West My Friend to let their fans donate money to their cause. In this case it was recording this album. Their campaign using YouTube helped them with the funding of Place.
The first track on the album, “Tic-A-Toc,” is a great opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album; a slow build to the first chorus that introduces all the elements of the band. This instrumentation is not one that the average listener will encounter on their everyday music-going experience. The mandolin and the accordion bring a distinct feeling to the band’s vibe and musical structure, the shuffling drums carry the momentum of the track throughout, and syncopated lines between the band members provide a back and forth swaying motion (dare I say pendulum like?). “Tic-A-Toc” closes with a fantastic melodic line – with the male members imitating the ticking, and Eden, the lone female and lead vocalist, leading with “Ding Dongs.”
Throughout the record, Eden’s voice has the ability to rise above the instrumentals and then sits comfortably, meshing with the gents in harmony. The production is generally consistent over the course of the record, with the accordion in your left ear and the mandolin in your right.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is “Shakes and Rattles.” It starts stark with just the mandolin and the lead vocal. The reverb suggests a large empty space, bordering on cavernous. The pseudo-sloppiness of the drums works fantastically with the reverb, and this track marks, albeit briefly, the introduction of the flute for the first time. The climax comes when Eden’s voice returns in the chorus with “Shakes, Rattles, Shakes,” and the track denouements into black with a trailing cymbal.
(“I Refuse” – with Chris Ho)
Although the band is able to maintain a high level of energy on all of their tracks, I feel that the ones with drums backing them tend to be more cohesive and convey the style of the song just a bit more. A track like “I Refuse” would benefit from a solid beat behind it, as well as smooth fills in the syncopated bits where the music drops. A few tracks later, the band shows off their strict music talent doing a version of the “Pin Oak Reel.” Each member takes the lead, with Jeff on guitar and Eden on flute, while Alex provides some rather slick mandolin lines.
“Home By The Sea” provides a change of pace from the previous mainly upbeat tracks. The male vocals, provided by Alex, are a welcome variety, the lyrics describing a dwelling the title refers to. Swelling accordion and vocals combine for a captivating timbre as the percussion rises, causing the track to lean toward a bobbing motion while boomy drums rise, wave-like, which was one of the stand-outs for me on the album.
The album closes with what feels like the music that would be playing during the credits of the West My Friend movie. “Oh Future” is a blues and folk infused track with a crunchy piano that fits into the half-ragtime style of the song. It is definitely the perfect track to end the album.
West My Friend provides a great outing on their first full length album, Place, drawing inspiration from many different styles and showing off their ability to play create lush indie, emotional folk, with a bit of roots-twang here and there. The upbeat and downbeat tracks provide a fantastic contrast in sounds that the classically trained band is able to produce. If you wish Mumford and Sons had an accordion and a female lead singer, West My Friend is the band for you. You can pick up Placeon April 5th, 2012 from their website http://www.westmyfriend.com/apps/webstore/ or at their CD release show (featuring the Kovich String Quartet) at Hermann’s Jazz Club.
Music Track Day was yesterday. It was one of the most ambitious things I have ever done. It was also one of the most successful things I’ve ever done.
The concept is crazy and I am still in awe about how we pulled it off. Inspired by “Hack Days”, which is where people get together and spend the entire day hacking a project and then they show it off at the end. You’re in a room with lots of people and you spend the entire day – usually 10am – 10pm just having fun and interacting. Our Computer Music Course Union (http://uvicmucs.wordpress.com/) had done a “Music Hack Day” at the beginning of the previous semester, and I had wanted to do something similar with recording.
I wanted to get in as many bands as possible, spend all day recording them, and have one or two songs done to show off to everyone when we were done. The concept is the same, but we quickly learned that the logistics of a Track Day vs a Hack Day are very very different.
In the works since October of 2011, Thor and I have been planning out just about every thing we can think about. We contacted at least 10 different bands to gauge interest in our idea. I wanted to get a range of sonic groups, so we settled on Bucan Bucan, Ben Parker, the UVic Jazz Combo, and Amy Wood.
The bands had been locked down, and now the logistics of how everyone would flow came next. We were able to book three different rooms for the entire day of Saturday the 14th, so this gave us some options. We decided to do bed-tracking in our Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, doing piano, drums, guitars, and the entire jazz band there. The second room was used for overdubbing and the third for mixing. The biggest challenge was planning how each group would rotate from room to room.
We slotted 3 hour sessions in each room, and surprisingly each group was finished before their allotted time was up. By keeping the drums set up in the hall, with the mics adjustable for each group, we were able to quickly switch from group to group – this turned out to be very helpful in keeping the day flowing.
The schedule went as follows:
9 – 12 – Jazz
12 – 3 - Ben Parker
3 – 6 - Amy Wood
9 – 12 - Bucan Bucan
12 – 3 – Bucan Bucan
3 – 6 – Ben Parker
6 -9 – Amy Wood
9 – 12
12 – 3 – Jazz
3 – 6 – Bucan Bucan
6 -9 – Ben Parker
9 – 12 - Amy Wood
The bands and the plan was in place. We had 4 lead engineers, 12 people who were interested in being involved. Each lead engineer was assigned 2-3 assistants to help with their session. Once the sessions got going, people were able to flow and see what was going on in the other sessions happening simultaneously. I was there at 7:45 to set up our 100 foot snake from our mixing studio to B037 where we did overdubs. Unfortunately the session I was running wasn’t until 3pm, so I was a little tired when that came around.
Bucan Bucan did a rambunctious track with loud horns and shout choruses, whilst the Jazz Band laid down some great tunes. Ben Parker brought in soulful blues song and Amy Wood played a lovely ballad for us. So much great music and great musicians in one place.
I got to work closely with the fantastic Amy Wood as she recorded a beautiful piece. I’ve listened to Amy’s music before and will hopefully be providing a review of her CD “Cinnamon Heart” (which you can get for free – here) shortly!
I can not imagine how an event like this could have gone better, all the people I worked with made things so easy. The bands were great, and were incredibly patient with us as we moved mics and tried out new things. The biggest problem we had was that the coffee I had brought wasn’t ground fine enough, and we had the wrong filters. Other than that, the entire day was great. Our mixing engineer spent 6 straight hours mixing 2 different bands and did a great job with all of that.
For a crazy and outlandish idea, I was so amazed at how well it went over. I will add some of the mixes of the bands as they get posted.
Thanks to everyone who was involved, the bands, the techs, the assistants, Kirk McNally, Shawn Trail and a host of others who had their hands in on this. You can see all the tweets from the day with #MusicTrackDay
Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay – 2011 – EMI
With their fifth album, and latest since Viva La Vida… in 2008, Coldplay picks up where they left off in their experimentation from Viva. For people who enjoyed Coldplay of olde, with songs like “Yellow”, “The Scientist” and “Sparks”, I would advise you to immediately stop reading this review and go listen to A Rush Of Blood to the Head. You will not like Mylo Xyloto. The album blends styles of funk, dubstep, pop and almost everything in between for an interesting en-devour from this supergroup.
To start, the title Mylo Xyloto has come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the press even before its release. Martin, a man who has named his kids Apple and Moses, is quoted as saying
“It is pronounced My-low Zy-letoe… and even the lads admit the title doesn’t mean anything. Chris says: “At the moment it seems a bit ridiculous and I accept that. “Something about it feels quite fresh. The title doesn’t have any other meaning. I think we’re a band with a lot of history now so it’s nice to come up with something that doesn’t have any history at all. We’ve had that title for about two years on a board and any other potential titles had to be written next to it. Other ones made more sense but we just liked this one, that’s all we can defend it with.”
It seems to be pretention bordering on idiocy, which some might say is a decent way to describe the band as a whole, but one cannot dismiss the fact that they have created some powerful music for quite some time now.
The title aside, the album unfolds in a continuous manner, with songs blending into each other as is the style with CD’s for some time. What is unusual about the Coldplay CD is that they have a few shorter tracks that sort of divide the CD into three almost equal parts. These short tracks play as “soundscapes”, and show direct influence from producer Brian Eno. Eno is famous in the music world for his work with legendary bands such as U2 and David Bowie, as well as being the composer for the Windows 95 introduction sound. Eno’s background in electronic and ambient music has a large impact on the band’s overall sound and these smaller soundscapes.
Specifically speaking, a few tracks stand out against the rest, but there is nothing that feels like a stand-out hit. The first single “Paradise” quite nicely reflects the direction that Coldplay is heading. Lushly filled with strings and synths, the half-time tempo of this track just begs for a dub-step remix (Oh wait – they already exist! See the end of the video). This emphasizes the departure from the bare bones of what Coldplay became known for when they first emerged. With Eno’s production, it sometimes becomes hard to find the skeleton of the band beneath all the foliage of sound.
The track “Charlie Brown” stood out to me as a song that many who liked Viva La Vida will latch onto and enjoy. The similar four on the floor beat throughout makes for a driving song with a return to the guitar based tracks. The track ends with a nice little piano homage to the yellow striped character for which the track is named. If you listen closely, you can almost begin to hear the beginning of the “Christmas Time” song in Chris Martin’s final piano lines.
A track that feels like it’s off in a whole new direction is “Major Minus”. Once it broke into the meat of the song, I immediately felt like this should be a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from the 90′s. The chunky guitars and the “Ooh ooh’s” just scream “Higher Ground” off of Mother’s Milk. “Major Minus” doesn’t have the same energy as the early Peppers did, but the song doesn’t suffer either.
Another foray into the synth driven pop world, and bound to be their next single, ”Princess of China” feat. Rihanna is the last stand out from the album. Mostly due to the combination of Martin’s and Rihanna’s vocals, which at times can seem over produced, this track catches the listeners ear. The bridge kind of lags on, but the energy is quickly brought back with a drop leading to the final chorus and hook.
Lastly, it pains me so much to listen to the song “Up In Flames”. The simple piano and vocal track is ruined by a digitized drum set. Martin’s reverberant vocals and harmonies would be so much better suited to a real drum set. When the strings, back-ups and guitar solo comes in, the drums move out of focus and the track finally sits in a really nice place. This track could have been a hidden gem without that drum sound. I think with a few more listens, it might grow on me and become my favourite number on the album.
To conclude, Mylo Xyloto is more so removed from the Parachutes, Coldplay’s first album, and much more similar to Viva La Vida. Hopefully this distinction helps people decide whether or not to pick up the album. It’s definitely worth a listen for its production and thick sounds and interesting experimentation on the band’s part. For those who want Chris Martin to just record himself at a piano singing, avoid this one.
And now for a dubstep remix of “Paradise” – as promised!
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys by Nicole Byblow (Shiny Nickle Music 2011)
Manitoba born, British Columbia educated, and now calling Ontario home, Nicole Byblow brings a sound that all of Canada can love. The young singer/songwriter who is finding her footing in the national music scene has embarked on a tour to promote her latest CD, entitled “Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys.” She made a stop in Victoria where I saw her play and met with her to discuss music, school, life and even a little fashion. Nicole and her piano are packed and ready to go back east with a few more stops in the prairies before heading home.
Over the years, we have seen enough examples of “boys playing guitar”, and Nicole falls into the female opposition of “girls playing pianos” which seems to be a common theme in recent musical trends. Starting with Alicia Keys and Vanessa Carlton, this movement led the way for the likes of Sara Bareilles, Sarah Slean and more.
Slean is one of Byblow’s biggest influences for the career path she chose. The Canadian Juno-Nominated singer was one of the reasons Nicole started playing piano and writing songs when she was just 16. Luckily, Nicole was able to meet her other idol at the 2011 Juno Awards Dinner and Gala in Toronto in March of this year. The spontaneous introduction initiated by her sister and singer Matt Dusk left Byblow both wide-eyed and starstruck. It’s nice to know that even people who make CD’s and tour get a little speechless every once in a while.
When listening to Nicole’s music, you can immediately hear the impact of her influences in her vocal and piano stylings. Citing Ben Folds as one of her biggest inspirations, Nicole told me of how she spent many hours trying to learn his songs. When things weren’t going well, she would write to Ben via email. She assumed that her angry rants about the difficult of Folds’ songs went unheard, until she received a reply from an artist who has sold over 3 million records in his career spanning almost 2 decades. The two pianists continued emailing and eventually Nicole was invited to meet Ben at his show in Seattle. Fully expecting to be turned away at the door, Nicole was shocked when two tickets had been left under her name. The evening concluded with a conversation at the hotel bar where Folds was staying.
Now, I think this is enough background for you, what you’re really here for is to know what her CD is like and whether or not Nicole Byblow is worth a listen. But before I give you that answer, I’ll do my best to break it down for you.
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys actually comes with one of the “Parental Advisory” stickers commonly found on albums from Eminem, NWA and 50 Cent. This is rather unexpected from the girl on the cover with a white background and staring at a red balloon. Nicole’s been described as “hyper-feminine” and “delicate” and for me; this is one of the first things that grabbed me about this music: Nicole’s unabashed attitude towards profanity is rather striking. When hearing her drop an “F Bomb” for the first time in a small coffee house on a rainy night in Victoria, I instantly looked up from whatever it was I was doing and started paying attention. Not many singer/pianists of this genre have the guts to swear on their records. You’ll never hear Sara Bareilles say “I don’t give a shit” about her former job in a hospital, but Nicole is unafraid to tell it as it is. She speaks the way in her songs the way she does in her normal life and that translates to her songs. She’s not trying to beat around the bush or use a clever metaphor to say she doesn’t care; she just doesn’t give a shit.
(Things That I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital)
My favourite track from the album is “Things I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital.” Starting with the toy piano, and the rolling drums chugging along, Nicole’s witty lyrics bring you a real insight to the life of a hospital. Lyrics like, “Patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance, but you’d be surprised how accessible that information is when you have to sweep the room it’s in”, are the kind of sarcastic backhanded lines that riddle this song. The chorus reminds us “who cares what we do in the mean time, it builds character doing the things we hate all our lives,” which, in out of context is rather quite depressing. But in the nature of the song, it’s understood that this is a sarcastic inflection of the songwriter and just an excuse for her to get through her shitty job. The bridge of this song builds follows the typical pattern of most pop songs, with one slight deviation. We have all come to expect the key change going into the last chorus of songs (think “You Raise Me Up”, “My Heart Will Go On”, etc.), and thankfully, Byblow doesn’t go this route with this song.
Once you get past the occasional expletive, the music itself is simplistic in its nature. All the songs only feature piano, drums and bass guitar, with the occasional splashes of violin and the toy piano from the CD cover. It’s Nicole’s song writing and melodies that stand out musically. Some of her lyrics are complex and compact, not unlike the rap counterparts who share her “Parental Advisory” sticker, which is juxtaposed by simple melodies and hooks that make the CD a treat to listen to. The track “February” has a particularly catchy “Ooh ah” section, that later features the range of Nicole’s vocal in the bridge.
Aside from the first single “They Didn’t Think So”, which Nicole describes as a song about what would happen if Jesus came and let every person on earth ask him a question about life, the lyrical content of the album is mostly what you would expect from the genre of girls playing piano. “A Song About A Lover” and “If I’m Lucky” may not have different thematic content, but are striking and beautiful in their own right. The production quality of the entire CD is superb. Ben Nixon, who was the bass player, recording engineer and co-producer of the album, did a fantastic job in a “garage turned studio” to produce The White Keys. I can only hear one minor slight throughout the whole album, but overall I have been impressed throughout.
You will be happy to know that Nicole does play in keys other than C major and A minor, utilizing more of the piano than the album title implies. I hate to use the buzz-word “up-and-coming” to describe Nicole and this album, as I think it gets thrown around too liberally these days, but I feel that you hipsters out there need to latch onto this girl so you can say that you liked her “before she was mainstream.” Byblow’s album is a melting pot of the fairy tale wonder of Cinderella, the epic storytelling of the Princess Bride, with just a sprinkle of Tarantino-esque profanity. If you love “girls with pianos” but are missing something with a little bit of an edge, Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys will be able to fill that void for you. No matter what kind of music you enjoy listening to, I would highly recommend this album for anyone (even if there is a Parental Advisory on it).
This is what Canadian music is all about and I look forward to everything else Nicole Byblow has to offer.
So this is the continuation of the previous post, but more what I really wanted to talk about and less about everything that’s been going on in my life.
Over the past week, I’ve been able to meet and talk with to some great people about this whole music thing in general. Last Wednesday I went to a coffee house show put on by a girl from my music classes. I have her CD and really enjoy her music (http://www.amywood.ca) and decided to go – especially since it was two blocks from my house and I was not going to be getting anything done that night. As you might have seen – I’m that guy who goes to concerts and music events by himself and so I brought my computer and sat at the back and tried to enjoy myself without seeming too awkward. Amy and I are friends on Facebook but not super close – mostly because us CombinedMusic/ComputerScienceKids are a weird breed that rarely permeate into the social culture of the Music kids (but this is another story for another time).
After Amy came Nicole Byblow (http://www.nicolebyblow.com/) and after the initial flub of the first song and the jitters were gone – she played a really good show and I thought her music was really quite good. Being the nerdy-awkward guy I am, I was tweeting at her while she was playing her show (it’s a good thing she’s a good musician and probably turned her phone off before hand). When she was done, I bought a CD and told her that she’ll see a bunch of tweets from me later. We ended up talking more and met for coffee later in the week. It was fun to talk with someone who has already established herself in the industry (a foot in the door is still a foot in the door).
Nicole mentioned reading this blog and she actually called it a “Music blog”, which I found kind of funny, since I haven’t really done anything super musical on this here for a long time. I’ve been in touch with a guy on Twitter who works for CTV, and he’s apparently sending me some CD’s to write reviews of – so hopefully that comes and I can start writing again. There were two main reasons I had for starting this blog almost two years ago, one was just writing a chronicle of my life – in case my memory fades quicker than I hope and I can always come back to see what I did, where I was, and who I was back then. The other reason was to write CD reviews for my university paper. I’ll probably start off with writing a review of Nicole’s album “Plays All the White Keys”, so look for that soon.
And if you’re one of these new people whose just found my blog – leave me a comment? Let me know what you think! This whole blog thing is a lot more fun when you guys interact.
I later spent the evening again with Amy and Nicole and their friends listening to them playing. Again, the awkward-music-computer-science-nerd effect kicked in for me. I recognized some of the people there, had classes with them, even worked on projects with them – and yet, I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Maybe that’s just me being paranoid, maybe that’s just me being awkward, but it’s a weird cliché-y situation. Nicole referred to it as being a “party” and I joked saying that “it better not be a bunch of people sitting around politely listening to people play the piano.” It was.
It wasn’t til the next day that I realized how special that is though. And how much I want to go to more of these kind of things. I was poking fun at one of our professors who does the same thing with his classical music friends – saying we were just like him. And we were, because it’s a collection of great people in a great place sharing their talents. And that’s something really cool and I’m glad I was apart of it – even if I was the socially awkward concert guy.
You should have already heard my favourite track from her CD; “Things I Learned When I Worked In The Hospital”, so here’s a video from Amy Wood!
Good song, good cd.
So for the past few weeks I’ve been working on producing this song for one of my recording classes. This is probably the first output that I can post that I feel confident in. There may be some balance issue to be sorted out shortly. I just wanted to give you guys a rough idea of what it’s sounding like!
It’s sampled from the Lights’ song “Second Go” and my singer and I rewrote the lyrics and melody/harmony. To be fair she did all of the melody writing.
So I hope you enjoy! Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!
[Update:] Just so you know, I’ve uploaded a 2nd cut which is a little better quality and actually has all the instruments! I hope you enjoy! Again, leave your comments and thoughts if you choose.
So I’ve been getting more flack on the Sick Puppies fan forum about my review for their CD.
So this is fun! I’m kind of enjoying being this bad guy who ‘hates’ on their band with no valid opinion and no taste in music. So I decided to listen to this album for a second time and see if I was wrong in what I said in my first review. With all my new insight on this band and that they’re not actually this soft rock band that I had originally expected them to be, I was willing to see if my opinion had changed at all.
Granted this is probably what Sick Puppies fans want. A CD with tracks very similar to each other and what they’re used to. Fair enough. I recently picked up the new Secret and Whisper album, Teenage Fantasy, and a lot of the songs on that CD are very similar to their first. And many songs on that CD are very similar to each other. So I’m not saying that songs that sound the same are a bad thing if that’s what you want.
For me, when I pick up a CD I try and come into it and give it a good representation of what I think it is in a whole. I am looking to hear something new, something different and something that stands out from everyone else. And I didn’t hear that on this Tri-Polar album. I heard a variation of a form in many of these songs. The same form that almost every band these days follows – Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus. Every musician and popular music enthusiast knows this same form. Comparable to Sonata form of the Classical Era, everyone these days does it. It’s what makes a catchy consistent pop song. And a catchy consistent pop song makes money. Period. And this doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Which is why this album fell by the waste-side for me.
So there are a number of good songs on the album, and the three-piece band is comprised of great musicians. I am impressed with their musicianship, particularly the bass lines – usually more than just eight notes of the chord. But there’s nothing that stands out! Each chorus feels like it drops into half time and each verse has some kind of guitar riff, comparable to that of Billy Talent. To me it just got boring. Plain and simple. I decided to look through all the lyrics too. Regarding the Explicit Content sticker which I think was unnecessary. I found one use of profanity and maybe two songs that involve “Explicit Content” – involving sex. Now, this sticker was brought into effect with the NWA’s CD Straight Outta Compton and I just think it’s distributed a little to freely these days. Songs about life don’t automatically make them explicit, I could name hundreds of songs about life that are able to make their point without being explicit.
It may be because I am not a particular fan of this kind of music. Because to me, it all sounds the same. Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Default, Nickelback, etc etc etc. Everyone lumps those bands together, and I hope that Sick Puppies, if they reach a larger audience and larger reign of stardom don’t fall into the same category. But unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that they won’t. But apparently their fans love them long time. So we’ll see.
Now speaking of these fans. Crazy sorts. I feel kind of insulted that my review was considered half-assed. As I said earlier I try and give a good representation of the CD on a whole. That’s not including the back story of the band and not including what they’ve done previously. It does help when you try to chart the progress of the band. I feel that when you’re trying to write for a certain audience – in my case, university students – you have to write a certain way and give them something that they can relate to. Now the majority of students at my university – in Canada – have probably never heard of Sick Puppies and if they have, it’s going to be from the Free Hugs/All The Same video. So that’s what they could relate to. I said if this is what you like, you’ll enjoy it. If not avoid it. It’s a pretty fair and general review, and I think that if you (being all you Sick Puppies Fans out there who didn’t appreciate my review) were to read my review from an unbiased point of view, say if my review was for a different band (which is you weren’t half-assed and did some “research” and realized I did OTHER reviews) you will see my point. A bad or sub-par CD deserves an equal review, not for the views on a blog. One doesn’t write a CD review for his university newspaper for the views.
Well fans, if you got this far, thanks for reading. Thanks for all the nice comments about me and my musical styles. I’m looking forward to my plane ticket to Australia to see the band live – which I’ll requires a review on entirely different circumstances.
Is this lie worth defending?
Close your eyes cover your ears,
Shut your mouth.
You can act naive
But I know you’re not stupid.
(“In It For Life” – Sick Puppies – Tri-Polar – 2009)
(UPDATE: See my newest defense after a flurry of posts from the Sick Puppies Fans. Click here!)
So I did a review of a Sick Puppies CD, Tri-Polar, way back last summer. I found out recently that it ended up on the Sick Puppies fan forum. They didn’t really enjoy it that much. Saying that I’m a “crippled old fart” and apparently a female.
I find this pretty funny. I think that my review is a fair assessment of that CD and discussed it thoroughly. I will admit that the only song I’d ever heard of theirs was “All The Same” and that’s what I was expecting and based the review off of. Maybe if I were getting paid to do these reviews, I’d put a little more research into the music before I started. But nyeh. Not too choked about it.
It’s cool to see that people from all over the world are reading my reviews via my blog. And not surprising that they didn’t like it. I probably wouldn’t like it if someone bashed an Alexisonfire or City and Colour CD, so I will give them that. In my defense, I think I do have good tastes in music and I can definitely tell when all the songs on a CD sound similar and have little variation.
So to all you Sick Puppies fans out there, thanks for reading and enjoying!
I’ve put the link to the forum below. Take a look!
I just spent the past 10 minutes googling myself. There were no links to any of my blog/facebook/photos/anything other than my CD reviews for the Martlet.
This is a good thing. I hate the feeling that someone out there (a potential boss) may be learning everything there is to know about me from my blog before we even meet.
Luckily there’s a XXXXX XXXXXXX who rides horses somewhere in Texas. So all his stuff comes up first.
Me – One. Google – Nothing.
The third record from Halifax’s In Flight Safety was released earlier this year. The band will be playing on Granville Island during the Olympic festivities come February. The Canadian foursome had the first single of this album, Model Homes, featured on the great Canadian teen sitcom Degrassi in early November.
Right off the top, the band brings on their not-so-unique sound. Take a cross between Coldplay, the Killers and a splash of any other pop-rock male vocal led band and put them in a blender. The result would be In Flight Safety.
The first track, I Could Love You More, is not a great way to start off a record. The band chooses to use grandiose harp runs to usher the listener into the chorus. It’s almost impossible to tell if they just found the harp tone on their keyboard and really wanted to incorporate that into a song.
Tracks like Amy Racina and Big White Elephant are soothing enough that one could probably fall asleep to the music. CloudHead is a little bit more upbeat but nothing substantial enough to make you want to get out of your seat.
Upon reading the track list on the back of the disc, one will notice that track 9 is entitled “Paperthin II” while the track after is “Paperthin”. Maybe the band wanted to pull a Star Wars move and put out the sequel before the original. Who knows; all in all, Paperthin II turns out to be a minute and a half waste of time. It could have just gone on the end of the first track and no one would have cared.
“We Are an Empire, My Dear” is nothing special. For those out there who enjoy the soft comforting rock and pop of the bands like Coldplay but not the indie aspect of Joel Plaskett, In Flight Safety would be the perfect fit.
Doing a Google search for this band you will find out: how to sneak alcohol onto a cruise ship, what the drink “rum runner” is, and that a rum runner is someone who snuck alcohol into Canada during the 1900’s. Once you do find the band, you’ll find their poorly crafted, un-maintained website. This five-piece band, with a combined age of at least 150, seems less like a professional band and more like a group of guys with some talent, and a little extra cash to make a CD.
One nice feature of this CD is the drink suggestions. In the liner notes, each track has a different suggested drink. Including, champagne, a keg of Anchor Steam, and a lukewarm 40 oz of Olde English, Rum Runner definitely just wants to get you drunk (maybe they think it might make their record sound better).
Image aside, and focusing on the music, it’s a blend of punk and rock and roll, with a splash of folk and Celtic. Traditional tunes such as “The Leaving of Liverpool” and “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond,” are classics that you’ll probably hear down at Irish Times.
The rest of the songs have a little more weight and power in them. Rum Runner immediately reminds me a little bit of Rancid, except without the whole hardcore punk rock edge. The title track, which should be accompanied with Monthelie, is a fairly standard song from a fairly standard band.
Rum Runner can be summed up just as that: a fairly standard Celtic/rock/folk band. You would be better off passing them up for a Rancid CD and a 40 of Olde English.
Saint Alvia is one of the first bands I’ve heard that combines the screaming element of bands like Alexisonfire but a funky almost ska element of Sublime, and at times sounding like the Offspring.
It’s upbeat, thumping beats and twang of the guitar of the title track get you into the music pretty quickly. The chorus of this song sums up the band fairly well: “You gotta read between the lines, if you wanna follow me/I lead these streets of mine, with four letter words and hollow deeds.”
The highly stylized sextet from Burlington, Ontario is currently touring Europe after a small set of dates with acoustic shows across Canada. One stop included Chinook Mall in Calgary. Why a band would ever want to play a mall is beyond me, but to each their own.
Saint Alvia is able to have a good mix of styles on Between the Lines. The track “Trouble Keeps Me Busy” is a slower, mellower tune, which is quickly followed by the upbeat “Romeo.”
Between the Lines is a well-rounded CD from a socially conscious band. They’re stylistic mix provides an enjoyable listen for the average music listener.
You’re singing that song by Weezer now aren’t you? Well if you weren’t, you are now. And if you still aren’t…here you go.
So it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Which is saddening I know. You all love to read my blog so much and somedays you just can’t live without it. Well rejoice! I am writing again. One of the reasons I haven’t been writing is that my computer has died AGAIN. I was watching the Office with Girlfriend last week, and the screen just shut off. The computer works fine, I am just not getting anything on the screen. If you remember my post from this summer http://silenceassound.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/tragedy-has-struck/, you’ll remember that this has happened before. And I spent two weeks this summer whining and complaining about my lack of computer. I won’t bother you with that story as you can read about it on your own time. Anyways, I called Apple the next day, they said they’d pay for it again (lucky me) and then I took it into a computer store. They said it should be ready sometime next week. Which is nice, but then again. Not really.
I was really hoping to get some homework done this weekend, and maybe review some CDs. Alas, my computer is gone, so none of that can happen. Being in my house sucks without a computer. There’s not a lot to do, so I’m spending even more time playing video games. Really. Such a nerd.
Yesterday was Halloween. Hurray for that. My house was hardly exciting last night. Girlfriend (Baseball Player/Emo) and I (Elvis Costello) dressed up, and we forced my roommates to make some impromtu costumes. We eventually sat around and watched Troy for most of the night. And it really isn’t that great of a movie. Rather boring if you ask me. But still a good time hanging out. K, and his girlfriend carved a pumpkin which was kinda cool. But eh. I thought that it’s quite a pointless endevour. I think they ended up getting smashed by someone over the course of the night.
I’m really not a big holiday guy. Halloween was never about anything more than the candy and Christmas and such is never about anything more than the presents. I guess you could say I’m just greedy. My christmas list will be coming out soon for all of you who want to know what to buy me.
Today is another lazy day, like the rest of this lazy weekend. I’m at work right now. I will be here for most of the day, then home to relax some more. Weekends have become the only time for me to really relax and I definitely don’t feel like doing anything but nothing during them. Maybe if I get my computer next week, I can record. Maybe this week I’ll force myself to play guitar more so that I’ll actually have something to record.
I scrapped by my mid-terms last week with 2 52%’s and a 67%. Thank god.
My parents were here all last week. And this is a visit different from any other that they’ve had here with me. We didn’t go on a big shopping spree and spend $300+ at Wal-Mart or whatever. So there really wasn’t much to do. We went for dinner and lunch lots so I was fed well all week. But I think they were pretty bored. They were on TV for the Torch Relay when it arrived in Victoria. This was a pretty big deal and probably my mom’s highlight of the trip.
Anywho, the show is about to start so I suppose I should pay attention. Em if you are reading, I have not forgotten about our music challenge. I just haven’t been listening to enough good music lately to be able to post anything!
The Bird & The Bee – Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future – The Blue Note Label Group
Get ready for something you’ve probably never heard before. This duo out of California provides a unique sound that is stark by comparison and will blow you away. “The Bee” aka Greg Kurstin has produced albums with indie, rock, and synth sensations like Lily Allen, The Flaming Lips and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And it’s clear; the production on this album is outstanding.
“The Bird’s” (Inara George) vocals can be compared to those of Feist or Adele, but without the soft guitar or piano in the background. For only their second full length album this is truly something fantastic. There are so many layers to every track on this album, and each song is so distinctly different from the next, from the ballad of “Ray Gun,” to the upbeat “Love Letter To Japan.” Each song is a great utilization of every musical element.
The track “Diamond Dave” is a tribute to the former lead singer of Van Halen, David Lee Roth. It speaks of the turmoil the lead singer went through as she followed David’s path through the music scene. Stating triumphantly, “I will always love you.” But the lyrics to this song aren’t the only thing that are a little out of the ordinary. The track uses synth and chimes throughout giving it a poppy feel.
The Bird and The Bee use a great combination of sounds in their album. Their use of dissonance and catchy hooks will have you listening and cringing, but always begging for more. I would highly recommend this CD to anyone out there. You’ll find a track on it that you are bound to like. I know I’ll be blasting this out of my girlfriend’s car, whether she likes it or not.
This is honestly one of the best CD’s I’ve heard in a long time. I love every bit about it. I really want to download this band’s entire discography. It’s so crazy. I think I enjoy this music so much because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. That’s a big thing for me. I’m always looking for something new, and this is definitely it. There’s so much to say about every song on Ray Guns are Not Just The Future that the only way for you to understand it best is to go listen to it.
Well, it’s been a ‘long’ time since I’ve posted on here, so I’m sure you’re all waiting eagerly for my next post. I know my brother is, one of the first things he’s said to me this morning was “no new blog posts in a while?” Which isn’t completely untrue. Thursday was only 3 days ago. So whatever. I feel like I post more than the average blogger does with my schedule as full as it is.
Alrighty so the last 3 days have been quite the whirlwind of events. Classes ended on early for me on Friday so that was nice. The night was spent at one of my roommates girlfriend’s place where drinks were consumed, rockband was played, and fridge poetry was written. Now, I find myself to be somewhat conservative, but at times I can be quite brutal and often crossing the boundaries that some people consider normal. And for some people, like my roommates girlfriend, those boundaries are not hard to cross. Thus when I got a hold of the word poetry, things got a little out of hand. I came up with things like: “your mother dreams visions of dripping honey over me panting like a precious puppy” and “he fingered her bare butt” and “he tongued her sweet wet juices from a sweaty pink raw void that resulted in a symphony of moans”. Or something of the like. So that was basically the funnest part of friday night.
Saturday was a busy day as well, K, B and I went to Future Shop, Shaw and got our cable box, and then Wal-Mart to buy rockband. They’re logic is that: We don’t want to borrow our friends rockband because then all our saved data won’t get transferred. And we’ll probably buy it eventually anyway. This is really weird for me. I don’t understand what’s wrong with not keeping our data, and I’m sure my friend won’t mind letting us borrow his game.
I’ll probably have to fork over some coin for it. These guys seem to have a magic money tree that provides them with a never-ending surplus of cash. Which is not what I’m used to. I’ve been living on bare bones for the last 4 months, scrounging to even go see a movie. And now these guys will buy whatever they need. I’m not used to it yet, or the system by which we buy/share our food.
Everything in the house is for anyone to use basically. So when you go buy groceries, you put the receipt up on the whiteboard and everyone pays a set amount for it or whatever. So we have a list of who owes who what. I’m not really a fan of this system because I don’t see where I am spending my money. I end up paying for food I might not even get to eat and someone is going to get short-changed in the end, or someone is going to have to spend too much. It’s weird.
I feel like I shouldn’t even be writing about them on here, in case that they do read this. But I think they’re mature enough to realize that this is just a blog and read my other posts on this topic.
I came with my girlfriend to a spiritual retreat centre where she volunteers today. It’s an interesting place. Quiet, really big. I hope she gives me a tour later. I think it’d be a good place to come and just study or do homework.
Speaking of homework and classes. I have this one listening to music class, which is basically classical music for dummies. It’s going to be a breeze, because it caters to lots of non-musically trained people. But on the first day, we were talking about this piece and what we heard. And there’s one guy in the back corner, and this seems to happen in every class, who puts up his hand and makes some crazy stupid remark like “being a piano player, and you [the teacher] a musician yourself, what do you think of the interpretation of the performer? Do you stay true to what the composer wrote and wanted to hear? Or do you make it your own?” And everyone was like, “What?!” We weren’t even talking about that. Way to single yourself out as the biggest douche-bag in the class buddy. I think I’m going to hate that class.
Also! In school news, my reviews got published last week! There were two of them in the paper! So I was pretty stoked on that. I’ve got a bunch of more CD’s, just need to find the time to review.
Anywho, I should get down to some homework.
One thing I do enjoy about being home is driving. And when driving, I get to listen to the radio. And when I listen to the radio, I get to listen to sweet shows like “The Ongoing History of New Music.”
The Ongoing History of New Music debuted in February 1993 on radio station 102.1 The Edge/Toronto. Since then it’s…well, it’s taken on a life of its own. Consider: More than 500 different one-hour episodes have been produced, making it the longest-running music documentary in Canada and one of the longest in North America. More than 5,000 one-minute daily features have been written and produced. The program is syndicated on virtually every major rock station in Canada. The Ongoing History of New Music show has spun off four books (all written by Alan Cross), which have worldwide sales of over 30,000 copies, not to mention almost 20 different compilation CDs (including four official Ongoing History discs).
This is the little bio on the website – http://exploremusic.com/ongoing-history-of-new-music/ - which is now in the blogroll. I really enjoy listening to this show as it encorporates a lot of music that I really like listening to. The host also brings up some really cool facts. Like I learnt today that super producer Brian Eno composed the Window’s Start-Up theme.
So being in Calgary feels kind of like a big PR trip, as in personal relations. I’m basically spending all my days seeing people, telling them what my summer is like, what my girlfriend is like, what my life is like etc. I’ve refined the story to about 4 or 5 sentances by now. It’s just nice to see some of these friends. But I think that this is a good amount of visiting. I know that if I lived here, I defintely wouldn’t make this kind of effort to see any of these people. So it’s nessecary. I’ve been here four days, and that means I have one week left. Hopefully I’ll find enough things to do to keep me occupied. Still waiting on some people who I thought were my friends before I left to make an effort to hang out. It’ll be interesting if it ever happens, I’m doubting it but you never know. And if she doesn’t try to hang out, I’ll know what to consider her.
I’m missing my girlfriend a lot. I really want to be back with her and at least talking to her more. Since I’ve been here we’ve barely talked for more than an hour. Granted we don’t usually talk all that much, but it’s nice to at least communicate with her. I went and saw Up today, and the main character and his wife reminded me a lot of my girlfriend and me. In the movie, the characters have their own chair that they sit in and just read. And that’s like us, we don’t have to be doing anything, or talking, we just like being together, and that’s something I love and is really important to me.
You know what I hate? People who handshake too hard. I was at the bar last night, and one guy who I went to high school with came over and gave me a deathgrip. I know that guys are told to have a firm handshake, but it’s suppose to be that. Firm. Not circulation cutting-off tight. I don’t know if it’s like a competition to see who’s handshake is tighter, and if he walks away feeling good about himself for destroying my hand. To me it comes off more as a guy who is trying to hard or too much of a douche bag. Guys, have a firm handshake, give a decent squeeze and then that’s it. Be professional.
Today I met with a friend whom I haven’t seen in 2 years and it was fun catching up with her for a few hours. Sadly I realized we probably won’t see each other again for another two years. I got some new shoes and I’ll be going shopping again tomorrow for some other clothes, so good times will ensue.
Counting down the days,
I was thinking about home again today, and again how much Victoria has become mine. I have a place where I can go to get my hair cut and the stylist knows who am I and how I like my haircut (yes, for those perceptive folk, I did get my haircut today, maybe I’ll post a picture later), I can give directions, I can tell people which bus to take. I feel like I am now a citizen of Victoria and can call this place home. It’s a pretty weird feeling. After being here only one year and I feel like this. Calgary never seems the to change everytime I’m back. It’s always the same streets, the same route home from the airport, the same buildings, the same crappy architechural statues on the street corners. I still find things to explore and discover here in Victoria, and it’s awesome.
Today was mostly a chore day, getting a haircut, getting shoes for work, paying bills, etc etc. Tomorrow is laundry. I need something interesting to happen to me! I’m running out of things to say and things to talk about. I fired off an email to the Martlet to see if they still want my reviews, hopefully you read them, enjoyed them and went and listened to some of the music! I need to know if these reviews are valid or not. On that note, when I was reviewing Sora’s CD “Heartwood”, I noticed the picture on the back cover was quite familiar. I ended up finding her on Facebook, learning she was from Calgary, and that the picture was taken about a minute away from my house (in Stonehenge for those of you who know). So that was pretty nifty.
My roommate came home from New York/Toronto last night! It’s great having him around again, I was getting quite lonely and bored all by myself. Now I have someone to play video games with and converse with and go shopping with and not be all by myself in the computer labs all day.
And holy lame! I was just checking this computer to see if it had Photobooth, which is the program on Mac to take pictures using the webcam, and either this version doesn’t have it, or they got rid of it on these computers! How silly.
It’s only a few more days until my brother comes to visit. 4 to be exact. He’ll be here on Friday, when we have our final summer ending costume bananza! It shall be grand. I was planning on going as Bleeker from Juno, but I have yet to find a pair of shorts short enough and gold enough to be sufficent for that costume. I am excercising back up ideas. Do you have any? Leave a comment with a sweet costume idea
So yesterday was a busy day, for CD reviews that is. I wrote 4 yesterday, which you can view below, and combined with the 3 others I have finished previously, I will have a total of 7 to send to the Martlet come Monday. Which may be a little overwhelming, but we’ll see what happens.
Today was my first day of training for Applebee’s. I was up @ 7 to be ready for 9:30, our training session today took place in a classroom in Clearihue (one of our school buildings here at UVic). It was basically a class on Applebee’s. Although I understand that we need to be learning the theory of the stuff, and what have you, plus the restaurant isn’t even completed, so the opening has been pushed back to Sunday, maybe even Monday or Tuesday. I just want to start working! Grr! It’s so hard to try and focus in a classroom and learn how to cook. You need to be actually doing it! Hopefully soon!
In JuST B news, we’ve been invited to a party at the Gap on Government Street here in Victoria for their Exclusive Premire Party for their new line of 1969 jeans! Pretty cool for a little time blog from Victoria with only a few hundred views. http://jstb.wordpress.com/about/
Other than that, not a lot has been going on with me lately. Trying to stay busy.
Here’s something that may be amusing to you, Smart-Car Tipping.
Also, Usain Bolt did it again, another world record, I don’t understand how this guy does it. It’s incredible.
Or if you want something like my blog, but not at all, go watch Jenn and Katie at http://www.youtube.com/user/thoseweekendgirls
I hope you’re enjoying my blog so far. I’m going to try and maintain the quality and quantity of posting, maybe check out my foe-toes if you haven’t already!
Speaking of photos, I’m slowly becoming my mother. I haven’t been out taking photos for just the art, and the serenity that it gives me. This may be attributed to my use of film and lack of digital camera. But I’m now taking photos to keep the memories. So that I can remember this summer and a lot of the things we did. I can definitely start to see the appeal of keeping photographs as mementos. I hope you enjoy mine.
That’s it for now,
Madina Lake – Attics To Eden – Roadrunner Records
If you happened to go to Vans Warped Tour this year, you may have seen Madina Lake play songs from their newest CD, “Attics To Eden”. These four guys are generally what you would expect to see on the Vans Warped Tour; V-necks, headbands, and facial piercings are sported by most of their members. You might find more makeup and hair-dye in their bus than your girlfriends bathroom. If you saw Madina Lake at Warped Tour, and stayed for their set, you probably could have heard the entirety of “Attics To Eden” as it spans just over a half hour, with no song over 4 minutes in length.
Of the 12 tracks on “Attics To Eden” most are the poppy dance infused with punk similar to Fall Out Boy and The Maine. Songs like “Through The Fire” and “Welcome to Oblivion” incorporate the tambourine and give you bouncy tracks. The bass drum pounds on all four beats of “Statistics” which is a little more synth based and “Never Walk Alone” features a pretty intricate drum intro, but soon a screechy guitar comes in and kind of ruins what you expect the track to be (Good perhaps?). It’s hard to find something that makes Madina Lake different than a lot of the bands. They incorporate a few synth and dance elements, but then they start to sound like Nine Inch Nails does the Backstreet Boys. One interesting track is “Friends and Lovers” which is entirely synth and drums, no guitars. It’s of the better tracks on the as it differs so greatly from it’s counterparts.
Much of this CD is the manufactured pop-punk and I wouldn’t be surprised if Madina Lake’s demographic was more aimed at a younger teenage crowd then that attending a university. With that being said, that’s only my opinion, if you like this kind of music, then you will love “Attics To Eden”, it will have you hopping and bopping along with every track. But with 12 tracks spanning only 37 minutes, it’s not really bang for your buck.
At first glance, Sora’s CD seems to be like any old CD by a solo female singer; you expect a guitar, poppy melodies, songs about boys and heartbreak. This is definitely not the case. Sora, who gives no last name, is a Calgarian who wrote and composed all the tracks on “Heartwood”. Once you delve into the depths of the CD, you begin to see how significant that fact is, there are numerous layers of strings, back-up vocals, and drums on every track. She even does the her own back-up vocals. This layering provides a very thick backing to Sora’s vocals. This is mainly a two person effort, as Douglas Romanow also provides many of the accessory instruments to this CD, along with producing, recording and mixing the CD. I have to add that the album artwork is quite exquisite, all the photos are on their own are very visually pleasing.
There are few comparison’s to Sora in today’s musical expanse. The closest thing that I am able to think of is Sarah Brightman. Sora combines a unique mix of classical vocals with a more mainstream musicality that is completely unexpected. The first notes on the title track, shock you from your seat, giving you a much more interesting perspective on the entire CD. On the track “Eurydice”, Sora and Douglas use their mixing abilities and layer two sets of vocals throughout most of the song (or piece, I’m not sure if I should be calling it that) this layering allows Sora to create a dissonance between her own vocals. It’s quite eerie but once the suspension resolves, you are left relaxed and calmed.
Most of the CD has a bit of a foreign feeling to it. “Hurricane” gives a sense of a desert and an Arab setting, whilst “Drift” is very Celtic. Each track could provide a wondrous soundtrack to a different area of the world. At first, I was weary of Sora, and quick to judge her an over the top liner and for putting herself alongside the famous single names, such as Madonna, Beck and Cher, but “Heartwood” is a completely unique experience for the music lover. If you are looking for something calming but different from just about everything you’ve heard, pick up Sora’s “Heartwood”.