Archive for acoustic

OTTAWA-Capital Rocks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

I was quite surprised to find that there was more going on in Canada‘s capital city than just Senators padding their expense account, and all of the other goings on at Harper’s Bizarre.  The city on the Rideau has spawned some wonderful Indie music during 2014. Here are some of our favorites from Ottawa, Ontario.

 

theredrailsno2The Red Rails offer a classic rock sound immersed in blues.  A sort of Cream meets The Black Crowes. With a 21st century edge. I like it! This is not background music. A Living Fiction is an album you play in its entirety. In your car. While taking a 40 minute drive down a highway. Make sure it is a highway. You cannot drive slow while listening.

 

 

superlativeno2Numero Deux is a wonderful treat. It is a change from ‘Chester‘: It is grittier, edgier, and it has bite. There is a wonderfully full sound, with layers of instrumentation that blend together in magical, musical mayhem. And once again, the album cover is way cool. Give this a few listens, as it gets better every time. And purchase a copy. An exceptionally thrilling adventure by The Superlative.

 

 

rf1Thoughts & Reason is filled with wonderfully melodic guitar, often with electric riffs over the more subtle acoustic. There are great vocals, singing heartfelt lyrics, and nice harmonies. The vocal effects are nicely done, and the changes are dynamite. A sort of singer-songwriter side to Ryan Fitz, with personal songs that touch on universal themes, simply played, with guitar and vocals. Nothing else. This guy can write songs. A wonderful change, perfectly executed. I am liking this Ryan Fitz.

 

 

neverfriend2Neverfriend delivers a raw, energetic, yet sophisticated album. Combining elements of pop, punk, and hard rock, the songs never seem to disappoint. Evolve is filled with pop melodies with punk/rock instrumentation. Way cool. I like the sound. I like the songs. I like the band.  Get ready for the release, and get yourself at least 1.

 

 

 

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GAR FRANCIS-The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

I am not sure if there is anything Gar Francis cannot do. The Guru Of Garage has swung his guitar into The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. Released in 2010 to the European market only, the 12 track album of Americana has finally hit North American shores and has been released by New Jersey’s Bongo Boy Records.

gf3The opening track, “Midnight In Rome“, delivers a great melody, with wonderful changes. The guitar picking is cool as hell, while the keys smolder under a hot vocal track. “How Its Supposed To Be” has an insanely powerful chorus but it takes nothing away from the licks and riff, and the dynamite organ. The Latin feel of “Palaces”  is wonderfully created by bongos, acoustic guitar, strings and organ. The effects on the harmonies are brilliant, and I dig the ‘Mexicali” themed guitar solo! “Down At The Ocean Gate” offers a great acoustic guitar solo, and way cool harmonies amid multi-tracked guitars. I like the mandolin and bongos on “Bank Of The River“, the way cool reverb of the almost rockabilly “Ole Tom’s River“, and the wonderfully Dylanesque feel to “Another Cowboy Rides” , with its great organ, guitar solo, cool riffs, and a dynamite vocal track.

 

 

The jug band vibe of “She’s Still Blue” proves once and for all that Gar Francis can write and play anything! The washboard and concertina are amazing, and the melody, so sweet. Gar’s vocals are spectacular on “Raise A Hand“, and the song’s socio-political gf4message resonates, at least,with me. The melody and harmonies highlight some way cool changes and incredibly melodic instrumentation. “The Sun Will Never Go Down” offers cool changes, a great chorus, a wonderful bass run, and beautiful choral style harmonies. I like this track. The acoustic guitar solo in “Adeline” shines amid the mandolin and bongos. The song is beautifully simple yet manages a great bridge, a dynamite chorus, and a wonderful ending. And, that leaves “Oh Annie“, my favorite track on the album. The wonderful chorus, dynamite guitar, including a way cool riff, an amazing melody, and some great organ, make this the standout track. A wonderful song with a way cool blues-rock-folk-country thing going on, that is reminiscent of Levon Helm and The Band. “Oh Annie, someone’s got to settle you down“. Indeed.

gf54This album demonstrates just how talented Gar Francis is. As a song writer; as a producer; as a musician, and a performer. I hear rockabilly, jug band, Latin, roots, blues, folk, and rock. I listened to bongos, banjo, mandolin, and organ. I heard a washboard, a concertina, and I think an upright bass. There are vocal and guitar effects. But most importantly, there are 12 incredible tracks that will hold you from beginning to end. I have been a Gar Francis fan for years, and this album has me wondering, why isn’t everybody? Get it as soon as you can. Then, put on your cowboy boots, grab your honey and have a blast. The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same is a must have album. Get yours here:  http://www.bongoboyrecords.com/Albums.html.  You can stream some of Gar’s other music here:  

 

 

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THE DISGUISES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

One of the coolest bands I have had the pleasure of listening to, The Disguises, have kept me waiting for a new album long enough. I am determined to write about this Kitchener, Ontario band even if it means going back to a debut album from 2009. The self titled release contains 13 tracks of pop perversion.

disguises1Hot Air Balloon” has a wonderfully, playful jazz theme overlayed with a pop melody. The vocals, keyboard, and changes are great. The cool pop harmonies highlight “The Brush Off“, and “Gossipy Chicks” is filled with amazing organ and some way cool psych-rock elements. “Blues On A Rainy Day” has a dynamite piano and guitar that can, at times, get lost in the amazing melody and harmonies, and I am certain I hear mandolin in the acoustic,almost jug band sound of “Jacob Eldermyer’s Bleeding Heart“. The showtune/jazz sensibilities of “Pick ‘N’ Reed” are fun, while “Four disguises2Letters For You” , offer Beach Boys like harmonies in a Spanish theme. I would really like to hear this with Spanish vocals! “Slow Down” offers a reggae song with a cool country-rock guitar solo dropped inside of it, and “In A Bind” has a wonderful pop melody, with interesting harmonies and great guitar. “The Dip” is an interesting, almost experimental track, with way cool instrumentation that moves into and out of rock ‘n’ roll with guitar effects and a great solo. Yes, “Funky Disco Cat‘ sounds like it should be a 1970’s disco song. It has a pop feel to it, with cool harmonies, a wonderful change in tempo, and power chords to remind us that this is a rock band. By the way, the synthesizer is perfect. “Animals“, a way cool trip to some psych-rock place, has great effects. My favorite track on the album,  “I Get Sick Without You” has a rock beat with a pop vocal melody line. The guitar is brilliant, with wonderful solos and riffs. A way cool track, that could have been on any Spirit album.

 

 

 

 

ggtwThe songs, written by George Guitierrez and Tyson Webb follow no format I know. Each is a well crafted work of art. Ecclectic, esoteric, and engaging. They incorporate several genres in their music, and make the complex seem simple. The album is filled with twists and turns, that surprise and excite. The album is fun. You can listen at Soundcloud, and even download it for free! A wonderful journey to places you have probably never been before.

 

 

 

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THE RED RAILS-A Living Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

Something is happening in Ottawa, besides the usual graft and deceit propagated by politicians and bureaucrats. The local music scene in Canada‘s capital just keep delivering music from some wonderfully talented bands.

theredrailsno3A Living Fiction“, the new album by Ottawa’s The Red Rails, is scheduled for release on Wolf Stomp Records in July, 2014. I have previewed the 10 track album, and was not disappointed. The album rocks from start to finish, beginning and ending with way cool reverb on “Prisoner” and “Fill My Hands“. I found wonderful ‘fuzz’  in “On The Line“, and a 1970’s melodic rock feel while listening to “In A Whisper“. There are great effects, and a western style guitar/tex-mex sentiment to “One In The Attack“, and beautiful acoustic guitar in “The Ocean“. “Lions” offers a way cool mini drum solo, and I dig the  funk bass line, and way cool guitar found in “Beast“. I heard great changes and transitions throughout, but I particularly enjoyed the changes in tempo and time signature evident in “Save Her Soul“.

 

 

theredrailsno2The Red Rails offer a classic rock sound immersed in blues.  A sort of Cream meets The Black Crowes. With a 21st century edge. I like it! This is not background music. This is an album you play in its entirety. In your car. While taking a 40 minute drive down a highway. Make sure it is a highway. You cannot drive slow while listening. A serious contender for Canadian Indie Album Of The Year.

Check out the 1st single off ‘A Living Fiction’:  https://soundcloud.com/theredrails/on-the-line

 

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THE MINNOWS-Live At The Belfast Barge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

minnows1There are Irish bands I like, and Irish bands I really like. I like U2, The Pogues, and The Cranberries. I really like Them, Thin Lizzy,  The Boomtown Rats, and The Minnows. Originally called Tiberius Minnows, which I like to believe is in homage to the captain of the USS Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk, this band released several singles and EPs from the late 80s and into 2007. In 2008, now called The Minnows, they released their full length album, Leonard Cohen’s Happy Compared To Me.. It was a great surprise and thrill to find Live At The Belfast Barge. This 10 track album contains songs both old and new.

The album opens with “Roonkin“, filled with great guitar, a wonderful bass line and cool vocals. The effects add another dimension to this pop-rock song, with stellar vocals that be-cry “Oh no, I forgot my guitar. I don’t know how I got this far“. The melody and harmonies are dynamite and the changes rock. One of those songs I wish was 3 minutes longer. The previously unreleased “What Was I Supposed To Do” contains incredible horns and strings sounds and opens with bongo playing. An amazing melody, powerful vocals and a way cool guitar riff, make this one of my favorite ballads of all time.”The Steepest Hill” has great harmonies, and nice electronic effects. The transitions and changes add to the melancholy feel that underlies this track. With cello and bells, “Baby Blue” displays unique instrumentation within a great melody. The way cool guitar solo doesn’t hurt. minnows2September 25” opens with acoustic guitar, and demonstrates amazing song construction. The melody and changes are great, and there is another very cool guitar solo. The Leonard Cohen vocal style of “Why Don’t You Phone Me Anymore“, adds to the great strings effect and wonderful bridge. The melody rocks, and the reference to Sinatra‘s  “My Way“, perfectly suits the male chorus ending. The pop song with an 80’s feel, “Another Rainy Day“, offers a sweet melody, nice harmonies, and wonderful changes and transitions. The harmonized vocals are exceptional.  “Free Man Freeman“, a folky song, has a great melody. The harmonies again, dynamite and the guitar riff, sweet. The synthesizer and great “chain gang” vocalization as the song ends, kill. “Sailing On” has cool synthesizer effects, a sweet melody, and great changes and transitions. The vocals and harmonies are wonderful, and the guitar riff rocks. Add an outstanding chorus and  wonderful strings at the end, and you have a great rock song. Not often does a 20 year old song still kick ass, unless you’re The Beatles. However, “Time Flies” is still an incredible pop song with a rock edge. The amazing melody drifts over great synthesizer. The wonderful harmonies, great bridge, and dynamite hook, nail it. This should  have been an anthem for that generation of disenfranchised youth, or at least, an Irish Football fight song.

photoAside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums but I have to add Live At The Belfast Barge to the list of great live albums. The songs are as wonderful as I remember them, and they stand up to the passage of time. The band is insanely cohesive, and the musicianship, extraordinary. I have spent the past week immersed in The Minnows and I can tell you that swimming with the fishes is not a bad thing. This is a must for your collection.

Check out The Minnows:  http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Minnows/131768390195614, and get this album. You have until March 15/2014 to go to the band’s facebook page, click LIKE and download the album for FREE.

 

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BONGO BOY RECORDS-The Singles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

There seems to be a whack of incredibly cool music coming out of New Jersey, and Bongo Boy Records seem to have their hand on most of it. Aside from the 2013  Mark Lindsay release, Life Out Loud, and the Gar Francis EP, Shine On, this Indie label out of Belvidere, New Jersey has a truck load of singles that they are about to release on a “Singles” album. Being quite fond of Bongo Boy Monique and Garage Guru Gar-the coolest musician to come out of Jersey since Frank Sinatra– I agreed to listen and wax poetic about this soon to be released compilation.

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Jana Peri, the New York City rocker with power pop and punk influences, delivers a knock out tune with “Ballerina Of The Bowery“. Written by Gar Francis, the song has a great surf-pop groove, great harmonies and a wonderful bridge and chorus. The choppy guitar  rocks and the riff, subtly great. Terrific opening track on any album.

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I didn’t know who The Easy Outs were, but  the New Jersey rock-punk-garage band’s “Come On, Come On” is up there on my list of coolest songs I have heard lately. The track has a great 1960s feel, delivered through wonderful keys and an amazing melody. There are great horns, beautiful transitions, and a dynamite bass line. I can hear Gar Francis all over this song. The riff, clean and crisp, and the solo, as always, class, not flash. Consider this a hit.

 

gr2The wonderfully multi talented Genya Ravan contributes a Gar Francis song, “I Won’t Cry Anymore” with a powerful voice and a delivery that made me shiver.  This rock-blues tune reminds me of something that should be on Janis Joplin album, and hands out great choral harmonies in the bridge and a wonderfully R & B harmonized “whoo hoo hoo”. This woman can sing.  Powerful and pleasurable.

 

 

rk3I don’t know where he finds the time, but Rockids is another Gar Francis project. Originally formed in 1973 by Gar and Wayne Olivieri, this garage band recorded Eddie Cochran‘s “C’mon Everybody” in 2012. I love this song. I dig Rockids cover of it. The guitar layered underneath, the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis piano, and the great hook, deliver an incredible track. Might as well stand when you listen, ’cause it will get you dancing.

kcBorn Dainty“, a country-rock song, was written and produced by, you guessed it, Gar Francis. Recorded by New Jersey’s Kelly Caruso, daughter of The Doughboys bass player, Mike Caruso, this track offers some amazing banjo, cool drumming, and a great chorus. The transitions are wonderful and the guitar riff, great. Kelly delivers a wonderful vocal track. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song covered by Kelly Clarkson.

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The Swinging Iggies,  with one of the coolest band names around, offer up “Lady Gaga“. This New Jersey garage-rock band is another one of Gar Francis’ projects. The song,  humorous and up tempo, has a dynamite power start. There are great transitions and I dig the guitar riff. Great song. Still, what a wonderful name for a band.

gfrocketOne of the most meaningful songs I have ever heard, Gar Francis’ “Rocket” touches me. This heartfelt tribute to American soldiers, raises powerful emotions as an acoustic number. The vocals are something out of Bowie’s Hunky Dory, and this is not the first time I have made a Bowie reference about Gar. The beautifully played strings set the tone and mood amid the haunting melody. Wonderful lyric like, “rest my faith against my gun”, drive home the message. I like Gar Francis unplugged.

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New Jersey singer, songwriter Gigi, contributes one way cool tune. “Put Your Freakin’ Hands Up” a  pop-dance track, in the Carly Rae JepsenCall Me Maybe” style,  has a great guitar intro and some amazing double tracked vocals. The melody, pure pop and the guitar riff in the bridge/chorus, wonderfully cool. The minimized instrumentation during the verses highlights the vocals that come with some great effects. Wonderful song with an incredible hook.

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Plainfield Slim, Gar Francis’ alter ego, offers 2 blues tunes. “Dirty Girl” has wonderful southern blues-rock guitar and sweet, double time drumming. The slide guitar rocks within a cool vocal track and nice harmonies. I swear I hear a train in there. “Let Go My Hand“, delivers a wonderful blues riff and a great rock beat. I love the guitar solo and the muted effect to the entire track. Jersey blues are way cool.

mark-lindsay_life-out-loudMy choice for coolest song of the year, “Merry Go Round (Christian’s Song)” by Mark Lindsay is a definite bonus. What can I say about this song that I haven’t said in my review of the Life Out Loud album? Way cool 60s organ, great harmonies, exciting guitar, wonderful changes, and I really dig the “less is more” drumming style. The vocals rock, the melody, dynamite and well, this is my favorite Mark Lindsay song since “Kicks“. Coolest song of the year for sure.

Well, there you have it. The Bongo Boy Records singles compilation. The genres are varied, with something to please everyone.  11 tracks destined to amaze and entertain. This album will rock you, and  it will surprise you. An amazingly eclectic collection of songs by incredibly talented artists. I would liked to have seen Gar Francis’ “Back In 1985”  included on this record.  Check it out for yourself and see what’s really going on in New Jersey. Its not just Snooki and The Sopranos. A must have for every collection.

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ALEX PULEC-Out Of The Nursery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

ap2I have always been fascinated by, and appreciative of weird. After listening to The Nursery‘s Carnival Nature, I knew that the driving force behind the band, Alex Pulec was weird. It was in his music, like hot sauce in gumbo.I had to meet this guy. I got in touch with Alex, and we arranged to meet to talk about music.

We met at the coolest coffee spot in all of Toronto, Jet Fuel. The connection was immediate. His knowledge of music is impressive. He likes John Lennon and Robert Smith. He likes Sparks-the somewhat eccentric and eclectic Mael brothers-and he knows who Echo And The Bunnymen are. We talked about The Beatles. He told me how he met Pete Best at a gig at The Drake Hotel. Pretty cool.

ap4Alex has been writing and playing since his teens.  He was already performing original song at gigs in his first band, The Ruby Spirit, by the time he was 18, This band had the opportunity to open for  Jesus & Mary Chain 2 years ago. His face lit up when he told me this story. His passion is in creating music, writing songs that he wants to write. He views his music as art, and has no interest in creating what already exists or walking anything but the road less traveled. He is aware that he cannot create within a vacuum and has been able to surround himself with people who he believes understand his vision, which can at times be difficult to understand. He spoke about his producer, Tony Malone with the utmost respect and admiration. Tony gets him. And his music.

Alex’s vision is, simply, to create exceptional music. He writes what he feels and sees. It is in him. His songs unfold, taking shape on their own. He has no formula. He has no preconceived notion of where he wants it to go. It just goes.  Recording, for Alex, is the captured moment in time, the legacy of his work. Performing is the high.

ap1He is not just the leader of The Nursery. Alex performs as an acoustic solo artist as well and enjoys the opportunity to perform his songs in a different format. Alex unplugged. Plugged in or not, this guy has his head on straight.  He aspires to create great music, not to achieve greatness. He is modest and shy, and at times uncomfortable speaking about himself. He is genuine and appreciative. He is insanely talented and a bit quirky. Marches not just to a different drummer, but to a completely different band.  But, this is Alex. Very cool.

The Nursery will be performing at The Rivoli in Toronto, on November 9th, 2013.

You can hear The Nursery here: http://thenursery.bandcamp.com/album/carnival-nature

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