Archive for alternative rock

2014 INDIE ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

With a significant number of quality Indie releases this year, narrowing a list down to 10 albums, worthy of I Can’t Believe My Earz‘  2014 Indie Album Of The Year, was no easy task. There are some honorable mentions: Neverfriend-‘Evolve‘, The Everywheres-‘Habitualism‘, Harbour-‘Grade School Summer‘ & Social Strife-‘With Friends Like These…’.  We listened to them all, and here is our pick for the top 10 Indie Albums of 2014.

 

#10     DRUCKFARBEN————–‘Second Sound’

druck I am not certain why Druckfarben has been a mystery. These Toronto based musicians are insanely talented. It is an impressive work.   ‘Second Sound offers wonderful musical themes in an array of movements that are woven together in layers to create an incredible musical journey. This is way cool arena rock, out of the 1970s, with a 21st century bite. If you like Progressive-Rock, Druckfarben is the real deal.

 

 

#9     THE RED RAILS———-A Living Fiction

theredrailsno2The Red Rails offer ‘A Living Fiction‘, a classic rock sound immersed in blues.  The Ottawa band has a sound that reminds me 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.

 

 

 

#8     THE SATISFACTORS——–‘The Satisfactors’

the satisThe Satisfactors self titled debut album. It rocks from beginning to end with a wonderful garage groove. The songs are amazing. They are wonderfully crafted, and played with a beat that just doesn’t stop. Bruce’s vocals are great. Cool to hear from  Jersey’s Fantastic 4! The bass lines, and  guitar riffs are insanely good, and I like the less is more approach to the drumming.  This is rock ‘n’ roll the way it is meant to be played! This is Rock Til You Drop! This is The Satisfactors!

 

 

#7     SOUTH OF BLOOR——‘The Street’

south of bloorThis Toronto band has re-generated my lust for pop with the release of ‘The Street‘. The songs are exquisite 2-3 minute masterpieces. Their ability to write wonderful bridges and changes has me almost awe struck. The vocals are spectacular. The melodies, wonderful. This album delivers 5 terrific pop songs with alternative rock influences. And it works. A wonderful album. A fun time.

 

 

 

#6     TOXIC MELONS———‘Bus Therapy’

tm ‘Bus Therapy‘ is my kind of therapy. This album by Northern England’s Toxic Melons is inspiring, soul touching, and mind altering. The album plays like a journey through a toxic mind, but that’s ok. The songs are pop heaven, with shades of folk, blues, electronic, and some western influences. This Paul Fairbairn can write songs. The melodies are out of this world, and the harmonies, well, remind me of The Beach Boys. The music is wonderfully eccentric.The album is insanely addictive. It has me singing along and I haven’t figured out all of the lyrics yet!  An amazing compilation of great songs that has been placed on my must have list. Very cool.

 

 

#5     THE MINNOWS———‘Live At The Belfast Barge’

the minnowsAside from Yessongs, Waiting For Columbus and The Last Waltz, I have never been a big fan of live albums, but I have to add this Irish band’s ‘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 better part of the year 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.

 

 

#4     THE CORSETS———–‘Are You Lonely, Are You Scared’

the corsets

Are You Lonely, Are You Scared is a wonderful adventure. Toronto’s The Corsets manage to harness their individual talents into a harmonic whole that is indeed the sum of its parts. Each is easily identifiable, yet needs the other parts to be heard. The energy level is wonderfully exciting, and the songs well, incredibly creative. Add this to your collection. It is that good.

 

 

 

#3     XPRIME——–‘The Album’

xprimeXprime should be big. Hailing from Niagara Falls, Ontario, they write incredibly melodic songs with amazing harmonies and unforgettable hooks. These are talented musicians who seem to be having fun with every note played. ‘The Album‘ is a must have album. Give it 4 or 5 listens. At least. Pay particular attention to “To See You Here“, a 70′s pop-folk tune that reminds me of Poco, “Feels Like I’m The Only One“, a way cool song with R & B overtones, and “Early To The Sun“.

 

 

#2     THE AFTER HOURS——-‘Shaken, Not Stirred’

the after hoursI really like Los Angeles’ The After Hours. I am a fan! They cite among their many influences The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Zombies, The Hollies and The Turtles. Is it any wonder their music has wonderful 1960′s melodies, harmonies and riffs?  The vocals and the guitar work stand out. ‘Shaken, Not Stirred captures the essence of 60′s music. The songs are wonderfully written, and demonstrate a remarkable ability to integrate all of their influences into one cohesive and coherent sound. This is a must have album.

 

And, finally, the I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year for 2014…

 

#1     THE HOT SPROCKETS——‘Brother Nature’

hsBrother Nature‘ by Ireland’s The Hot Sprockets. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album over and over, and it just keeps getting better. The songs are insanely good. The production, wonderful. These guys can write. These guys can play. The album has a ‘live off the floor’ feel to it. I haven’t heard this much energy in an album in a long time. The Hot Sprockets refer to their music as ‘country dirt”. I prefer to call it Irish Soul! Brother Nature is one of the most powerful albums I have heard in 2014, filled with the unusual, and the unexpected.

 

And there you have it. 10 exceptional albums. The I Can’t Believe My Earz picks for 2014. Give them a listen. Purchase them. Support Indie Music, and Indie bands.

 

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SOUTH OF BLOOR- The Street

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

sob4Taking their name from one of the trendiest, and diverse streets in this city, Toronto, Canada’s South Of Bloor, released their debut EP in January 2014. Simply entitled, ‘The Street‘,  the 5 track album has me wondering where the hell have these guys been hiding?

Take Me In“, is a wonderfully upbeat song. It has a great melody and hook, and some cool changes.I sob5particularly like the bridge. A way cool pop song, and a great way to open the album. The more alternative-rock track “Woman” offers great vocals, cool guitar, and a dynamite ending. I also enjoyed the wonderfully placed hand-claps. “Versus” has a terrific melody, a great vocal track, and an incredibly powerful bridge/chorus, while “40 Lands” gives up some great drumming and a sweet riff. My favorite track on the album, “The Street“, is insanely good. There are amazing vocals, with wonderfully subtle harmonies. Written and performed with dynamic simplicity, this could be a track on any Tom Petty album. Dynamite song.

 

 

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South Of Bloor have re-generated my lust for pop. The songs are exquisite 2-3 minute masterpieces. Their ability to write wonderful bridges and changes has me almost awe struck. The vocals are spectacular. The melodies, wonderful. This album delivers 5 terrific pop songs with alternative rock influences. And it works. A wonderful album. A fun time.

Check out and purchase South Of Bloor here: http://southofbloor.bandcamp.com/

 

 

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COMMENTS AND CONCERNS-Alibi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

alibi2My first impression of Comments and Concerns debut Double EP Alibi when I starting listening, was that is was fusion of traditional elements of western Canadiana pop wrapped in a warm fuzzy ethereal blanket of comfy sound that was soothing and stimulating.   It is always a good policy to never put all your stock in a first impression.  Half way through Alibi…..we take a sharp angular turn.

This isn’t just a collection of songs put together in one place, but a deliberate two part adventure sharing the bands musical journey.  The first half embodies that down home friendly feel good easy to listen to pop.  The second half is more edgy and musically complex in the arrangements.

alibi3“Sweater State Of Mind” is my favourite of the first half.  It is fun, upbeat and catchy.   I enjoy the use of the violin in this song as well as in”Damian”.  It adds that definitive classic prairie influence that stands out as the hallmark sound of Saskatoon‘s Comments and Concerns musical origins.”

alibiAs much as I found something endearing about each song in the first half of Alibi,  I was much more drawn to the more raw and daring style of the second half.   Alibi Pt 1, is a short introduction that snaps us out of the sunshine and clean crisp brightness into the shadier rough and raw Alibi Pt 2 which is a rich sound-scape of full bodied alternative rock with an aggressive in your face attitude.   “Cold Shiver Shake” has a real rhythm driven quality with a Tragically Hip feel.   “Miss Understanding”,  the most unique of the second half of this tour d’oppose.   The poetry blended with the sultry sulk that carries the song through a very unique use of percussion which seems to ebb and tide the song in and out of melancholy.  “Renegade”,  is my song choice off the entire Alibi offering.  Still strongly unique,  both the lyric and the musical energy maintain a strong passionate presence.   It has the lightest and most optimistic feel of the songs from the second half while still retaining the edge.   A satisfying denouement to this voyage of musical discovery.   Comments and Concerns demonstrate they have a solid foundation that firmly supports their vision quest to grow and experiment as musicians

Listen to and purchase Alibi.

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r1Rocinante 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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MUST HAVE CANADIAN INDIE ALBUMS-January 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

Well, it’s already February and time for our top album picks of January.

BETRAYERSLet The Good Times Die

betrayers1This  fuzzed up, punked out, psych,60s garage band from Edmonton, Alberta band blew me away with their third release. The songs are short, yet poignant. The sound is full. The music seems to want to  go somewhere, but the vocals and the melody take it somewhere else. There is tremelo everywhere. This is not music for the masses. Betrayers create a unique world with their music, perhaps a world on a yet to be discovered planet. Let The Good Times Die is not for the focused. I refer to this as the ADHD sound: Its all over the place. Yet, it makes sense. And it works. It is different. It is weird. It is amazingly cool. A great album. A great listen. A wonderful experience. 

JON MULLANEShine

jm2This native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, rocks. It rocks Halifax and Jersey. Jon Mullane writes amazing songs with exceptional melodies. He has that cool, gravelly voice, and subtle approach to instrumentation. His passion for 1960’s pop and 1970’s garage create a near perfect hybrid  of garage-pop. And he looks the part. White t shirt, jeans, and a bit of a snarl that reminds me of early Springsteen. But Mullane is his own force to be reckoned with.  Three singles have already been lifted from the album“New American Girl”, “Body Rock”, and “Any Other Way”. A great writer, a great musician, a great album. One of the coolest albums I have had the good fortune to have listened to. Definitely one for your collection and your car.

REDAMBERGREENNo City

The LondonOntario band, Redambergreen seems to have reinvented themselves. With the addition of new vocalist Sara Preston, the 2013 No City EP sees the band move to a heavier, gutsier sound.I had written ragabout their prior EP, and remarked that I had expected more. Well, here it is. There are definite elements of heavier rock, which the band embraces. The riffs are driving, yet subtle. The drumming is powerful.   The songs are well written and masterfully played. There is a fullness to the sound that I like. The production is dead on. Redambergreen nails it with this effort, providing a blend of power-pop, alternative rock, and hard rock. A wonderful album from talented musicians, who found their sound. Incredibly good.

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REDAMBERGREEN-No City

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

rag2Following the release of their 2012 EP, Through All The Days, the London, Ontario band, Redambergreen seems to have reinvented themselves. With the addition of new vocalist Sara Preston, the 2013 No City EP sees the band move to a heavier, gutsier sound.

ragThe opening track, “Storms And Rain demonstrates heavier rock influences with a great riff, a wonderful instrumental bridge and a dynamite vocal track.”Poison delivers nice harmonies, wonderful transitions, within a full sound and a slower tempo. The title track has a great intro, an exciting guitar riff, terrific transitions, and a way cool tempo change. The drumming highlights “The Night We Won The War, which offers great hooks and riffs, a beautifully subtle guitar solo, great harmonies and amazing changes and transitions. “Good Intentions, my favorite track, delivers a wonderful melody and great harmonies in a power pop-rock song. The changes are wonderful, the effects dynamite.

I had written about Through All The Days, and remarked that I had expected more. Well, here it is. There are definite elements of heavier rock, which the band embraces. The riffs are driving, yet subtle. The drumming is powerful.   The songs are well written and masterfully played. There is a fullness to the sound that I like. The production is dead on. Redambergreen nails it with this effort, providing a blend of power-pop, alternative rock, and hard rock. No City is a wonderful album from talented musicians, who found their sound. and it’s incredibly good.

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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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TRACER FLARE-Black Box

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

tracerflare3As a follow up to the release of their March 2012 EP, Among Us, Montreal’s Tracer Flare released the 5 song Black Box in November 2012,  displaying maturity as song writers and growth as musicians.

Food Chain“, has great transitions, an interesting vocal track and cool harmonies. The soft guitar riff that runs throughout  underlies the distinct progressive rock flavor of the song. The sweet, melancholy and lamenting melody of “Time Bomb” is a wonderful foil for the more upbeat “Madrid“, with great cymbal crashes from Frank Roberts, and great changes. This song demonstrates the vocal range of Marc Morin and the patient guitar of Dan Stein. Add in a change in tempo and some very cool vocal effects, and you have a killer song. “Resuscitate” an up tempo track with a musically punky feel, has tremendous energy that emits  a sense of urgency. I particularly like the vocal effects and experimentation.  And the edgy rock bite. The consistent bass work of Phil Duranlo drives “Somewhere“, with its keyboard heavy sound. There are nice drum shots and rolls which emphasize the story being told here. The emotionality is evident and the elements of Progressive Rock exquisite.

tracerflare2I enjoyed this album. The new wave meets alternative rock with progressive overtones works for Tracer Flare. They demonstrate an intricate use of the instruments with none overbearing. The songs are their strength, and they deliver them with socio-political lyrical content.  The sound is eclectic, a kind of retro-pop-rock with a pair. Definitely worth several listens.

You can listen to Tracer Flare here:     http://www.tracerflare.com/#!music/c61v

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