Archive for canada indie week

THE HOT SPROCKETS-Brother Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

hs6I have been following The Hot Sprockets since their 2011 release of ‘Honey Skippin. I was fortunate enough to catch this Dublin, Ireland band at Canada Indie Week, part of a North American Tour to promote the June, 2014 release of their latest album, ‘Brother Nature‘.

The album opens with “Quarter Roam“, with its powerful vocals, great changes, and choral harmonies. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is wonderfully melodic, and I think I heard some slide guitar in this track. The melody rocks, the effects are cool, and I dig the drumming. The early rock and roll influences on “Boogie Woogie“, are almost Rockabilly. This song delivers a high energy tempo, with dynamite and unexpected changes, some dynamite harmonica, and a great vocal track. “Shake Me Off” brings great harmonies, cool changes, and wonderful hs3instrumentation. The country-blues sound of “Comin’ On‘ offers some sweet guitar picking, a dynamite bass line, and a great melody. A wonderfully lively track. “Lay Me Down“, a beautifully sweet song, with acoustic guitar, nice harmonies, wonderful vocals, and, as an added bonus, some way cool banjo. The western style of “El Torro“, an instrumental, comes across like a cowboy tune, a great song to listen to on a cattle drive! It brings wonderful guitar, and great harmonica. The powerfully “Show Me The Weight” gives up dynamite guitar and great harmonies.  “Women & Chile”  delivers some R & B vibes, incorporating great guitar effects, wonderful drumming, a cool melody, and perfectly placed harmonica. One great track! The melody of “Someday” joins the acoustic guitar picking to create a simply serene track. “Soul Brother” just plain rocks. A wonderful tempo brings this blues-rock track to life. There are great guitar riffs and a way cool solo, wonderful harmonies, dynamite changes and insanely good vocal effects. The bluesy, acid hs2rock sentiment of “Heavy On My Mind“,  reminds me of Steppenwolf. With a cool guitar riff that drives the great melody, and incredible drumming, what else could I ask for? Well, The Hot Sprockets thought that flute would be a good idea. They were right. Amazing! The incredibly wonderful “Homeslice” offers a great melody, coupled with sweet harmonies, over what sounds like strings and a mandolin. My favorite track on the album, “The Worried Kind“, brings a great melody delivered by a wicked vocal track. The changes and harmonies are wonderful, and I hear strings! The song has a John Lennon thing going on, both in melody and vocals, and I like it. A beautifully written and performed song!

 

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Well, there you have it. Brother Nature. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album for the 4th time, 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.  A definite must have for your collection, and a definite contender for I Can’t Believe My Earz’  Album Of The Year. Don’t just take my word for it, listen here: http://thehotsprockets.bandcamp.com/album/brother-nature

 

 

 

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STAN SIMON AND THE HOTEL BIBLE/JJ AND THE PILLARS-Toronto Roots Music

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

So, I have discovered two  Toronto area bands who play an interesting blend of folk, pop, rock, and western. I suppose it is as close to Toronto folk/roots music as one could get. Both of these bands were on my “must see” list at Canada Indie Week, however  I was unable to catch either due to scheduling issues.Pretty excited by the sound, though.

sshbHailing from Toronto, Stan Simon and The Hotel Bible released an album in July 2013. ‘Escaping The Madhouse‘ shines with 10 wonderfully written songs with wonderful melodies. There are some cool guitar riffs, wonderful harmonica, clarinet, and violin thrown in with incredibly satisfying results. The vocals are soothing, coupled with sweet harmonies. The album comes off with a singer/songwriter focus, which Stan Simon clearly is. A very cool album, with great songs and creative instrumentation. A sort of alternative folk-pop-rock with a western bite. Check out the way cool guitar on “Into Nowhere“, and the clarinet on “My Drunk Heart“. Definitely one for the collection. You can have a listen here: http://stansimon.bandcamp.com/album/escaping-the-madhouse

 

 

jj1Another Toronto based band,  JJ & The Pillars are originally from Peterborough, Ontario. Winners of The Edge’s Next Big Thing competition, the band released their 7 track album, ‘Wolves“, in August 2014.  Each song is filled with wonderfully soothing acoustic guitar, exciting melodies, and exceptional harmonies. There are dynamic changes, some great drumming, and cool harmonica. The vocals are insanely good as they deliver poignant lyrics.   The songs are hypnotic, offering great melodies, wonderful harmonies, and way cool changes and transitions. Pay particular attention to “Ship Away“, “Gone With Me“, and “I’m On Fire“. A wonderful folk-pop sound, highlighted by amazing harmonies. A must have for your collection. Beautiful. Check it out here: http://jjandthepillars.bandcamp.com/album/wolves-2

 

 

 

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A GOOD YEAR, INDEED

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

1 month into 2014, and its already promising to be a good, if not great year.

toniks55The Toniks, England’s greatest export since The Beatles released their new single, “Jealousy” on January 3. I have heard from reliable sources that the band has a lorry full of songs they will be heading into the studio with this year. And, if that’s not enough, their tour plans include a return trip to Southern Ontario in late summer to grace the stage at The Shores Of Erie Wine Festival, and a few gigs in the Toronto area. We hope that super producer/manager Graham joins them on this trip. Someone has to watch them, and well, to be honest, they were a handful last time around.

nursery55The weirdly wonderful The Nursery have completed recording enough songs for another album as follow up to 2013’s Carnival Nature. Along with regular gigs in the Toronto, the band has made it to New York for a few shows, and released their first video. I have been informed that the sound is an extension of previous material, as The Nursery looks forward.. At the time of this writing, the tracks are in the process of being mixed. Way cool.

ss55Toronto’s own rock demons, Social Strife have been busy recording. They already have a song out there and are working on several more. I will be joining them at the studio in a few days for an inside look at their material. Hopefully a new album comes out of this. From what I hear, the song writing just keeps improving and their live show is an epic event. I really like this band, so perhaps the Strife army can back off now…

the strays55The Creekside Strays, long a favorite I Can’t Believe My Earz, have recently worked with another London, On band, High School Sweetheart and their is a really cool tune out there. The boys have been furiously working on a new project, which will apparently include half acoustic and half plugged in. The always ambitiously daring trio are due to have their album out sometime this year. We hope.

xprime55Out of the Niagara Region, Xprime, my pick to win Canada Indie Week, have completed recording their new album. I was fortunate enough to receive advance digital downloads of the songs, however under threats of bodily harm from drummer Phil, I have not been permitted to play them or write about them.  I will say that this album is amazing. Great melodies. wonderful harmonies, and a great deal of fun.

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The always entertaining Toxic Melons, have been working on an album for several months. With a truly original approach to music, head melon, Pablo has amassed a cacophony of incredibly talented musicians from around the globe to participate in this monumental event. Pop music that bites and tickles. I have been waiting a long time for this, and as they say, good things come to those who wait.

Yes, indeed, its going to be a great year.

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I, The Jury Or Rather, The Judge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

ciwI was recently offered to be a judge at Canada Indie Week. I was honored and I was distraught. I have never believed that it was possible or even appropriate to have musical competitions. What is it that is being judged? It seems to me that it is just too subjective. I always believed that The Beatles were the greatest band ever. I still do. Yet The Beatles never released Dark Side Of The Moon. Pink Floyd on the other hand, never released Rubber Soul or Revolver. How do we accommodate for genre? Do we judge the material? Should more weight be given to the melody or the technical aspects? Do we consider commercial appeal and success? I have no idea! Yet I agreed to judge Indie bands in order to assist in determining the Indie Band of 2013. And so, I gathered my thoughts, and headed out to fulfill my duty as a Canada Indie Week judge.

XPRIME

XPRIME

My venue for Thursday night was Czehowski’s, a nice, non descript bar on Queen St. W. I signed in and was given a pen, and 4 score sheets. I was to judge 4 bands in areas of stage presence, performance, image, crowd response, song writing and ready for the next level. Who knew it would be this difficult? Could I be that objective? Isn’t objectivity subjective? But enough of my philosophical ramblings. Let the bands begin!! The night opened with J.J. and The Platters. A decent rock band with great energy and good songs. The crowd enjoyed them, and J.J. had good command of the stage. Something was missing though. There was nothing original, nothing unique in their music.  Nothing distinctive. Next up, Xprime. I had seen this Niagara Falls band on several occasions during the past 2 years and was amazed at how they had developed. They blew me away. They blew the crowd away. Their energy, intricate songs and amazing harmonies made them a tough act to follow. I will be writing a review on Xprime as soon as I hear their upcoming album. I spent the rest of the evening speaking with this band, getting a sense of where they were headed. Phil Taylor, the drummer, manager, booking agent and business manager is on top of it. These guys play bars, corporate gigs, and private functions and put their earnings back into the band to fund recording projects. Smart and talented.  Following Xprime was an unenviable place to be. So much so, that I cannot remember the other 2 bands who played that night.

As for the venue, there were not enough monitors for the bands and not enough lights to read the score sheet. The server was incredible, loaning me her flashlight so I could mark my scores. Thank you.

Friday night took me to The Silver Dollar Room, a venue I had played many times, a long time ago. Surprisingly it looked exactly the same. In fact, I think I recognized some of the stains. Its nice to know some things never change. I got my score sheets and pen and sat at the seat with the best vantage point in the bar. Once again I was to judge 4 bands.

Boy + Kite

Boy + Kite

Sue Newberry & The Law

Sue Newberry & The Law

Boy + Kite, an amazingly cool band out of Austin, Texas took the stage 1st.  I liked their music. They were innovative and had a unique edge. I chatted with them after their set and picked up an Ep and a full album. Very cool band. They are also due for a review. Next up, The Waxmen, a power trio with some nice songs, but nothing I haven’t heard before. Talented musicians who still need to find an edge.   Sue Newberry And The Law followed. A kind of Parachute Club approach to the music, but this girl can sing. Nice harmonies, and original, but lacking energy. Cool sound though. Finally, Maladies of Adam Stokes, an interesting band that supports a Dylanesque front man. Good songs, cool image, but lacking in uniqueness. All in all a pretty good night.

passesWhen I left The Silver Dollar Room I realized that it is impossible for me to be completely objective in my judging of music. I have my biases, my likes and dislikes. I have been around music long enough to know what I like and don’t like as soon as I hear it. It is not judgemental to prefer one genre over another. It is what makes music universal. There is something for everyone. I will not judge again. It is too stressful, too anxiety provoking. I have lost sleep and I have lost some sense of innocence. Next year, I will just go from venue to venue checking out the bands and writing about Indie Week. It is a lot simpler for me, and it does not wreck havoc on my conscience.

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