Archive for November, 2013

JENNY AND THE FELINES-Don’t Look Back

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

J&F2New Jersey has long since been the home of some incredible popular music. Sinatra, Springsteen, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Gar Francis, The Smithereens and The Grip Weeds. We can now add to this list. From Raritan, New Jersey-I don’t know where it is either,-come Jenny And The Felines, a way cool, alternative pop band who cite The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Buddy Holly as influences. Singer, song writer. guitarist, Jenny Cat-ok, getting a little weird-leads us on a journey through her mind, and it is not such a bad trip.

j&f1Their July 2013 release, Don’t Look Back, an ironic title for a band that draws so heavily from 1960’s pop/rock music, nails it. The title track  opens the album with wonderfully 1960’s harmonies, great transitions, and a cool hook. “The Worst Kind” has a great chorus,  a bridge  that incorporates a change in tempo, and keys that simulate horns, all within a sweet melody. “I Hope She Knows” offers a nice bass line and cool drum shots. “Boston” has a countryfied feel, a wonderful early Eagles groove, with its laid back pop sentiment, a nice and easy flow and multi-track guitars. The layered vocals of “Mommy” add to the super cool, 1970’s John Cafferty feel. Great guitar picking highlights “Alive“, with its ongoing drum rolls and shots, and a beautifully tender melody line. “Bleed For You“, a pop/rock tune has a completely different sensibility, reminiscent of The Go-Gos. The up tempo “Tangerine“, blends power pop with psych rock. There are changes in tempo and time signature with great transitions that make me wish it was 2 minutes longer. Way cool tune. “Wanna Be Yours“, has wonderful structure, with a key change, ongoing riff,  some great drum rolls leading into the chorus, and a 60’s girl band feel. The album closes with “Watched You Go“, delivering wonderfully subtle harmonies, a beautiful chorus and a warm, understated organ that fades out amid some very cool drum shots. 

j&f4This band rocks. This band rolls. Jenny And The Felines does it all. Don’t Look Back is a wondrous compilation of memorable tunes with catchy hooks and melodies. They have created a unique blend of 1960’s and 1970’s music with an alternative edge. The songs all fall within the 2-3 minute range, and contain simple, straightforward yet meaningful lyrics. Jenny Cat writes amazing tunes, with insanely good choruses. The guitar solos and riffs are short, precise and intense. This woman can write songs. This woman can sing. This woman can play guitar. Simple music. Great songs. Nothing forced and nothing overwhelming. Don’t Look Back is a way cool 60’s feel good journey. Listen and then listen again. Once is definitely not enough. One of the most exciting albums I have heard in a long, long time. Destined to be on the short list for I Can’t Believe My Earz Album Of The Year.

You can listen to Jenny And The Felines here:  http://jennyandthefelines7.bandcamp.com/

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THE PYGMIES-Inside Your Mind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

pig5Out of the frozen Canadian Prairies come The Pygmies, reinventing Western Canadian music. This Calgary, Alberta garage-pop/punk band with roots in the 60s and 70s, have released 3 albums in the past 2 years, and thankfully, I have listened to them all.

pig3The January 2012 EP  The Pygmies, contains 2 tracks, “Because You’re Mine” and “Can’t Get You Outta My Head“. The songs are amazingly well crafted, with wonderful melodies. Reminiscent of early Kinks, they contain great riffs and solos, with an edge. Sort of The Kinks meet The Ramones.

pig2Pygmy Parumpapumpum, one of my favorite album titles of all time,  contains 4 tracks, and was released in November 2012 with, as you guessed, an Xmas theme. Songs like “Santa Claus“, “Father Christmas“, and “Pygmy Xmas” offer a Punk/Pop perspective of the holiday season by delivering great harmonies, amazing riffs and transitions, and some very cool drumming. The title track, an instrumental  take on the classic Christmas tune, intertwines itself with a verse or 2 of Silent Night, played with way cool psych guitar effects, and amazing 60’s organ. A way cool Xmas album.

pig1The 10 track Inside Your Mind, released in November 2013, has made the short list of our Canadian Indie Album Of The Year. Refreshingly simple, yet intense, this album has blown me away. “Hold Tight” has great effects and nice harmonies, while “Death March” gives us a great 60’s pop song with a wonderful melody and great harmony placement and shades of The Ramones. “I Can’t Get Out” , a perfectly executed garage-pop tune foreshadows the surf guitar riff, solo and Beatle ending of “Last Night“. The keyboard solo of “Inside Out“, with its early The Pretenders feel, and the obvious The Kinks influence of “End Of Time” make these prototypical  pop songs. The vocals on “No Connection” are tremendous and I really dig the 60’s ending. The pounding drums and ethereal harmonies of “Cannibal” are a perfect counterbalance to the much slower tempo. The heavy garage sound with a 1960’s vocal melody and organ of the title track remind me of something in a 1960’s teen beach movie. And I really like it. My favorite track, “Chain Reaction“, opens the album with incredible keys, a great melody, and way cool riffs and guitar effects. Sort of Smash Mouth with a 60’s twist. This song plays over and over in my head.

pig4The Pygmies have nailed it. The sound is captivating and the songs are brilliantly written. I enjoy the 2 1/2 minute tunes, which are written in a pop style-short and simple, and give me the sense that these were recorded live in one take. These guys are adept at dropping garage melodies into 1960’s pop, and 60’s pop melodies into garage music. They have a distinct knack for vocal melodies and harmonies, and a great sense of humor. I only wish that this was a double album. The Pygmies have developed a style that gives me The Zombies and The Kinks with a kiss of The Flaming Lips, and they have made it work. Definitely a must have album.

You can listen to The Pygmies here:   http://thepygmies.bandcamp.com/

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THE RED RAILS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

rr2I found The Red Rails lurking in the shadows of my internet travels. shortly after the Ottawa, On.  power trio released their self titled,6 track debut EP. After learning they are influenced by Them Crooked Vultures, Jack White, Death From Above 1979, Bright Light Social Hour, and The Beatles, yes, The Beatles, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was an exceptional blend of Pop, Rock, Blues, and Funk.

rr4El Dorado” has a great melody, and a great 70’s rock feel. There are wonderful changes and very cool guitar played over great drumming and a funky bass line. The guitar riffs and fuzz bass sound make “Hustlin’ Queen“, while “Night Owl” gives up a great blues guitar solo, amazing vocals and a great bass line. The harmonies are nicely placed, and the key change made my day. “Soft Face” has very heavy bass and a great rock riff. The vocals here are outstanding. The great blues guitar solo of “Why” just adds to the in your face vocals and shear power of this song. There is a little bit of The Black Crows in here. My favorite track,  “Chapter 9“, opens the album with amazing vocals, great bass and drums, a wonderful chorus and some very cool guitar effects.

rr3These guys know how to rock. Kim Vincent (guitar, vocals), Chris Slaney (bass, backing vocals), and Steve Brogno (drums)  play noting but great music. Power-rock/blues at its best. Every song elicits shade of Cream. It is evident in the Jack Bruce vocals and bass line, the bluesy riffs,  and the Ginger Baker drumming. The songs are wonderfully written and executed to perfection. Just when you think you’ve got the song figured out, there is a change, a transition, something you don’t expect. And it fits. Power rock cool. Definitely on the short list for best album of 2013.

You can download The Red Rails FOR FREE, right here:  http://www.theredrails.com/

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YOUNG RUNNING-Coming Home

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

YR2I truly enjoy receiving unsolicited music. Usually the best music I will be hearing in any given week. This turned out to be true again, when a friend of Toronto band, Young Running sent me the band’s new EP release, Coming Home.

The title track, opens with acoustic guitar and vocals and sets the tone for the rest of the album. There is a great melody, and wonderful transitions. Great song! “Oh My“, a roots/folk song, gives us some very cool guitar picking, brushes on the drums, and a nice bridge.  “Quiver Of Smoke“, with its more upbeat tempo, has an early Blue YR1Rodeo feel, a sort of cowboy-country-pop thing going on. There are great harmonies, wonderful transitions, and a very catchy musical hook. The vocals are remarkable. I am not sure, but I think I heard a washboard. The harmonies of “Rise Up“, give it an almost dirge feeling. The melody is amazing as it rides across some very solid drumming. There is a very nice tempo change and isolated vocals and drums in the final verse.  “Waiting For You” is a roots song, with banjo and, really, is that a washboard? The bass line is great and the drums, well, you need to listen for yourself. This is Canadiana, with lyrical reference to Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Yes Thunder Bay!

yr3Young Running are a Canadian folk-alt country-roots band. Their music is simplistic yet the songs are wonderfully crafted. Their sound is unique and original, something like Blue Rodeo meets Murray McLaughlin meets Ian Tyson. It is pure Canadian roots music. There are no electric guitars here, and they are not missed. The vocals are amazingly soothing and Liam Kearny‘s songs are masterful. Not surprising as The Beatles and The Beach Boys are cited as influences. The strength of this band is in the songs, in their ability to tell a story. This is an album you should listen to, more than once. It is fun and wonderfully executed. Look out for these guys.

You can hear Young Running at this link:        http://youngrunning.bandcamp.com/

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THE BEACHES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

“They are pretty good for an all girl band”,  he said to me.   If I hadn’t been there on business,  I would’ve knocked him on his ass and asked him if I hit pretty good for an all girl writer.

thebeaches3Pretty good is an understatement at best, and the condescending tag for an all girl band was unnecessary.  THEY WERE GREAT, and if they had been cockerspaniels that might have been somewhat noteworthy.  Female musicians have long since paid their dues and have gone lick-for-lick with the boys for decades, and the girls from THE BEACHES….  could give any one of them a run for their money.   The fact that they are all teenagers, and the band is still in it’s infancy, is more astounding than their gender.   The quality and professionalism belies their youth and their experience.   If I had closed my eyes and just listened,  I never would have believed, if you told me, that they were in high school and had only been together, in this line up, for a short time.

When I caught them during INDIE WEEK at The Rivoli,  I had no idea who they were when I saw their set.  I was drawn in completely by the sound and the energy.   This was my game plan.   To have no plan.    I just wanted to go from bar to bar and stay and listen if I liked what I heard, or move on if I didn’t.   I really wanted to be drawn in by the performances.  No previous homework or bias.  I didn’t want to be persuaded by a really cool website or by a well written bio.  And more than that, I didn’t want to chase down a band I liked on SoundCloud or BandCamp, just to find out the live performance was lacking.    I wanted the moment to speak for itself.

And this moment spoke volumes.

thebeaches2Yes, they are beautiful young ladies,  but they are not a T’n’A act selling sex instead of music.  They are very skilled musicians.  Technically, the performance was flawless, engaging and energetic.   Their style has clear influences but it was fresh and distinct alternative/pop/rock that was not trying to replicate something that already existed.

The obvious comparison to The Runaways will probably be made many times,  but more for reasons of age, gender, and look, than the actual style of their music.  Although,  the raw energy and attitude of the performance is definitely reminiscent of the ladies who hard rocked that path clear for Jordan Miller (Lead Vocals/Bass), Kylie Miller (Lead Guitar), Eliza Enman McDaniel (Drums) and Leandra Earl (Keyboard/Guitar).

Audience engagement is a huge deal for me at a live performance.   I can stay home and listen to good music, and I have already paid to hear it, as often as I like.  There is a mystical, spiritual thing that happens when you are captured by a really great live performance.   This is exactly what happened while I watched these young girls doing their thing.   They have that charisma and dare I say it… magic…that gets the crowd involved.    This, I am sure, was a contributing factor to their being named “Breakout Band of 2013” by Toronto’s NXNE Festival.

The_Beaches_EPThe other contributing factor is that they have clearly invested time honing their skills in both playing and songwriting.   Once I walked away from the live show,  I had a listen to just the recordings.   Did the music hold it’s own once I was away from the passion of the moment?   Yes,  it most certainly did.    “Loner” (http://youtu.be/MW3qKk5bqL8),  and “Absolutely Nothing” (http://youtu.be/UMAB286tTYA),  the two stand out singles from the 6 song debut self titled E.P. (available on iTunes) are both edgy, catchy, commercially viable songs with sing along lyrics.  An easy transition out of the alternative/indie circuit into the mainstream.

These Toronto girls have a bright future around the bend and a full performance schedule straight ahead,  including a Hamilton show on November 13th  at This Ain’t Hollywood where they share a bill with Cherie Currie.

That is a torch passing moment not to miss.

To connect with The Beaches:    www.thebeachesband.com  and www.facebook.com/thebeachesband

r1Rocinante’s Aurgasms.

Rocinante is an Innovator, Creator and Passionate Expressionist.

Music is not an interest, it is a lifestyle choice. You do not choose the song….the song chooses you.

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TESS PARKS-Work All Day/Up All Night

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

tp3I am not really sure what happened, but I suppose that I must have been asleep for the past few years. When I woke, there was Toronto’s own Tess Parks, with an EP, Work All Day/Up All Night released in February 2013, and an LP to be released November 2013. Not certain how I missed this, but boy, am I glad that I found it.

tp1The EP contains 6 incredible tracks destined to soothe your soul and blow your mind. From “Life Is But A Dream“, with its great vocal effects and ethereal guitar, and “Fork Tongue” which gives us an amazing 1967-1969 San Francisco sound with echo and reverb, taking me back to “Psychotic Reaction”. There is a cover of the PsychoticsIf You Don’t Believe Me, Don’t“, which has some of the best reverb guitar I have heard in a long time. “High School” delivers Leonard Cohen like vocals-more spoken than sung, and a sound that seems to have been recorded under water. No, really. Check it out!. “Ego Killer” continues with wonderful vocal and guitar effects, and a very cool riff. In “Spaced On The Commons“, the vocals seem to emanate from under the instrumentation, like a weird dream or a very cool trip. The guitar is again devestatingly cool and there are elements of The Doors, “The End.

tp4Tess Parks & The Good People will be releasing an album, Blood Hot, November 18, 2013. i can’t wait. She is the real deal! Incredibly talented and hot as hell.  I was able to hear “Open Your Mind” from the album and it does not disappoint.  A little rockier than Work All Day/Up All Night, but continuing with the psych-rock sound. More melodic, it has great harmonies and amazing transitions.

The album will be released on Alan McGee’s 359 Music, in association with Cherry Hill Records. For those of you who don’t know, McGee was formerly head of Creation Records and was involved with Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and Oasis.  Not bad credentials.

Work All Day/Up All Night is amazing 1960’s Psych-Rock. With an edge. Sort of Psych-Punk. Every track is like a substance induced jam session, and I love it. The layered vocal tracks, shared by Tess and Thom Huhtala, and the varied musical textures create a feeling of weightlessness, of floating. This EP is a flashback for those who were there the 1st time. If you missed it, well, you have another chance. So go ahead. Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream…

http://tessparks.bandcamp.com/

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