Friday, September 23, 2011

*Stars of Shock*

Last Tuesday Hammer and I had the pleasure of being invited down to the Roxy on the Granville strip to catch no other than TWO previous Fox Seeds winners - Stars of Boulevard and State of Shock! Having caught State of Shock during this years Fox Seeds competition as a guest star for the Granville Street show; we knew they were gonna rock it!

Stars of Boulevard is a very appropriate name for this Vancouver band, for they really know how to rock out like superstars! Previously, I'd only heard their songs online and seen some live footage on youtube. So, needless to say, I was excited for their set that night.. and was not disappointed!! The guitar riffs were catchy and powerful; ripping people's attention from their drinks and conversations to the stage before them. Ken Abbey (guitarist) could have moved around a little bit more, but over all he was fantastic. Especially when accompanied by a fantastic rhythm section! Drummer, Matty Carolei, was incredible!! His hands were fast like a bullet, producing some really showy drum beats, his showmanship was over the top, and we were QUITE impressed! Bassist, Johnny Kaye, had some really great lines as well, and really helped fill out the found - but unfortunately, he didn't help fill out the stage. I feel he was lacking a bit of energy and could have moved or interacted a little more, but all in all a very skilled musician. As for the vocals? Well, they were absolutely captivating. Lead singer, Josh Abel, had every girl's eyes and hearts in his hands. Between his stage presence and his melodies, he wooed the crowd. This band, to put it simply, kicks ass! I recommend anyone and everyone to check them out HERE.

It's always a pleasure to see this band perform. These native Vancouverites have played all kinds of shows, from little clubs like the Roxy and small stages set up right on Granville Street, to big name stages and arenas - and they play every venue in the same fashion - with as much energy as possible, with lots of personality thrown in! Their playing is spot on - From the cool licks and riffs from both lead and rhythm guitarists, Jesse Wainwright and Simon Clow (known to everyone as Kadooh), to the fat bass lines from bassist Alyson (Aly) Toews, and not to mention the wicked beats coming from drummer, Johnny Philippon!! Throw Cameron Melynk's vocals and songwriting into the mix, and you've got a hit! But I'm sure with songs/singles like "Money Honey," "Best I Ever Had," and "Too Pretty" you already knew that. Though, it's not just their killer skills that makes them so great... It's their stage presence! I love seeing how much personality this band puts in to each performance. For example, with songs like "Best I Ever Had" and "Too Pretty," Cameron Melnyk will often turn to bassist/backup singer Aly, and sing the lyrics right to her; as if written just for her. Other little gems include all the band members (minus the drummer) playing around with each other's mic stands, causing them to crouch very low to sing their parts; or tossing each other's back up pics into the crowd. It's well worth any ticket price to see these guys (and gal!!) take the stage. I'd say go check them out - but I'm sure you already have!! But just in case you want to go check their page for new updates, songs, pics, videos.. click HERE! 

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Signing off !

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Madness, Just Pure Madness

Back when I was in a band, I remember sharing the stage with Crimson Roots and being shocked at how tight and amazing they sounded. Now after almost a whole year later, Roxy and I caught them at the Railway Club with The Hutchinson Effect.

The Hutchinson Effect was as unique as their name. A merge of two old bands to create this juggernaut of sound. This was their first show and it showed of course, but you can tell they are old pros at being on a stage. All very sound musicians but some songs were tighter than others for sure. The singer was definitely the most eccentric. Leaping around the small stage and swishing his Led-Zep-esc hair around. Showing off his dance moves during some of the songs he did what appeared to be a small jig. Very strong bass lines and craft full guitar work complimented the vocals. The drums were interesting for me, instead of playing a straight ahead rock beat he often switch to almost a shuffle beat during some songs. A very interesting spin and added depth to the songs. Definitely catch these guys at their next show!

Crimson Roots took to the stage and started off with a classic stoner rock tune to set the mood for the rest of the set. Heavy riffs tighter than the Pope's shut eyes. This band has progressed so much since I last saw them. Songs are well written, sensible length, great riffs, varying vocals in different songs, and the sound is always dynamic. A key element in their set was there between songs there was little to no gaps in sound. At the end of a song the bass player would hit a delay pedal and have his last bass lick repeating until they launched into their next song, or the drummer would keep the beat going, or the guitars would do some back and forth licks. It makes for smooth transitions and never loosing the audiences ears. A big plus was that all of them sang, either lead or backup. Made for rich harmonies and easier for the crowd to roar along with the band.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whats Your Zeitgeist?

September 11th is a big day in our history; one no one will ever forget, or should ever forget. This year was the 10th anniversary, and Hammer and I took to one of the many events that occurred to join in on the awareness of those we lost, and those we saved. Zeitgiest festival was being held downtown Vancouver at the Art Gallery - and let me just say, it was a great day out in the sun! The weather was beautiful, there were lots of people, and the music was phenomenal. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see every band or speaker, but those we did see (Gentle Infidels, Green Tree, Childsplay, Ready Set Die, and Gentleman Prefer Blondes) rocked it.

The Gentle Infidels are an amazing acoustic act. A mixture of folk, rock, and metal influences. A very dark haunting timbre to their music captures your ear instantly. An acoustic bass maned by Ferdy Belland who is a bass legend, guitar by Edwin whose unique vocals flow into your ear drums, and finally finished off by cellist Christina Rzepa who wields the brown beast. Go buy their album, its amazing. We have a live video coming out soon! Check them out on Facebook!

Green Tree has been featured on Hammer Records a few times and we've loved seeing them grow and develop as a band. They played superbly, tight, energetic, and sounded great. A few off harmonies at points but amazing emotion in every song. Such a personable band that connects with their fans and audience. We have a live DVD in the works with them at the moment and will be released shortly! Check out this growing young band on Facebook!

Hammer had to leave for work at the studio, so I was left to cover the rest of the bands and enjoy the festivities and presentations. The first band I caught was Childsplay. I'd heard good things about this band, but had yet to see them live. They brought forth a great Punk-Rock sound, and a lot of energy! I'd love to see them play a full set sometime soon. These guys are definitely worth checking out! Check out and like them on Facebook!

The next band to hit the stage was Ready Set Die. This band simply kicks ass. The female vocalist/guitarist had amazing stage presence and attitude while performing; As did the bassist and drummer, who worked well filling out their indie-pop-punk sound. I saw a lot of heads bobbing and feet tapping while they played. Though, something different happened during their set! About halfway through, at 4:20 pm, a guest speaker at the Zeitgeist festival came up and did a speech about marijuana, sang "Oh Cannabis" acapella, then exited the stage, leaving Ready Set Die to continue rocking out. It was quite an experience. Check out and like them on Facebook!

The final band that evening, headlining the whole event, was Fox Seeds 2011 Top Three Finalist, Gentleman Prefer Blondes! I was really excited to see their set, and they did not disappoint. Every member of the band brought forth their 'A'-Game, and did what they do best - ROCK OUT! From the front man alone, there was so much energy coming off that stage, let alone adding the rest of the guys! I saw every person in the audience either moving to the music, or standing and cheering them on. Towards the end of their set, the band brought out a poster of guitarist, Chris, lying down shirtless to giveaway to whomever rocked out the hardest - and let's just say every lady, single or not, was up near that stage with arms out-stretched! Over all, this band is fantastic and have a great sound that everyone would enjoy. I'd recommend checking out their music, and liking their page asap. This band is gonna make it big! Facebook Page!

Roxy and Hammer Signing Off!

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bringing The Show With Them

When someone invites you on a party bus, there's only one answer. Yes. And when its one of your favourite local bands your answer is double yes. LiftOff invited Hammer Records aboard their party bus to their show in Langley. It was an amazing adventure. By the time we arrived at the show though we missed the first band and caught the second.

Tarl took the stage and sounded amazing. Super tight. Great stage presence. Well written catchy songs with strong melodies. The Dance floor was surprisingly empty though. I know Vancouver bands tend to have a hard time bringing out fans to venues like Langley or Delta. So Roxy and I tried to dance our feet off to compensate. Definitely catch these guys in action at their next show!

The one advantage of bringing fans to the venue is that you know at least 20 people will be there up front and centre for you. Lift Off played superbly that night. Rocking out their modern rock tunes with their calm  collective. Great use of the stage, always playing off each others energy.  The set it self had great dynamics. Going between high energy songs to beautiful ballads and ending the set with a fist pumper. Inviting everyone up on the stage to rock out with the band was an amazing spectacle.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Proud To Be Losers

The Bleach Babes are a rock band with many influences. The released their 9 track album "Losers" on August 13th. They were fairly short tracks, but I was surprised with how much diversity there were on them. Never a dull moment.

The First track, Slush, is an "intro track". It starts with a whining sound and builds into a symphony of sound. Though some sounds may be corrosive to the ear at first listen, once you dig through you can imagine a ghostly image. Bass and drums lay down an underlying vibe but it's the wailing, screeching, guitar that leads that song. Instant statement, "We are different".

Launching right into a punk rock vibe, Kaleidoscope, brings the energy with crazy drums, fat, though simple, bass lines and hammering guitar. The vocals have great melodies, great phrasing, and though edgy, still easy on the ears. This is a tune to listen to when either snowboarding or skateboarding; Or even surfing (if you have a waterproof case).

Starting off with more of a laid back feel, Basement Trash, is the third song on the album. Solid bass line and steady drums hold the song until the whole band kicks into the chorus with a unified riff which really packs a punch. Trading back into the quieter parts are great for the verses, really adding dynamics and feel to the song. Reminds me of Nirvana. Then, after the final chorus, they slam into double time with a catchy hook to finish the song. Tight.

Rain Check has a great vibe. Solid instrumental with a kind of sway feeling to it. Not quite heavy but not at all soft. Once again great vocal lines. The humming vocal lines are my favourite. They really separate this track from the rest. It's more commercial than the rest of the songs on "Loser." I also love the drumming in this. Not overly complicated, but the perfect amount to fill out the song and keep it interesting to the ear.

Following the age old rule of album dynamics, they kick it up a few notches with Super 6, the shortest track on their album. They start with a catchy, head bobbing riff and then blast it! With the awesome drum beat feel,  it just keeps you head banging. I bet this track would sound sound amazing live. Simple to follow the build of the song and great to mosh to.

Love Rug keeps the heart pumping with another rocky-edge tune. By now the listener has heard the sound of the band and their guitar riffing songs with slower vocals and hum catch lines overtop. Wished they had done something new with this tune, music wise. Though, near the end the guitar adds a cool flanger which brings the track to a whole new level! You don't see flanger being used a lot in tracks these days, and I was stoked to hear it come forth at the end.

Dracula, once again, highlights the drummer. Very different beats than the usual 4/4 beats. They then go into a punk beat of high intensity. This tune reminds me so much of Nirvana. Just the way everything is thrown in with such passion but with such a nonchalant-ness. Good tune.

Sandbox brings out a whole new feel once again. Starting with guitar, then drum fill, and then bass, really fills out the sound. A very summery feeling to the song. Great riff and rhythm to the song. I kept expecting the vocals to come in but was surprised to find it an instrumental. This is my favourite track. Not because of the fact there are no vocals, but because without the vocals the riffs and drums and bass get a chance to breath and fill each others space, really sounding united. Great song to blast in the car.

The last track, Beach Babes, is the longest track on their album. It sounds like a track that really defines them. All the elements from the other tracks were there, thrown into one, in a new way! Wished the bass had a few licks that didn't follow the guitar, but solid playing overall. Sounds almost like a surf-punk tune with a little more edge.

The album all together has a cool sound. Not the highest production value, but I don't think this style of music needs it. Mixing wise, I would have liked to hear the drums mixed a bit louder with more kick. The cymbals were great, really filling out the space, but would have liked to hear that driving force of the kick leading the songs on. The vocals were in tune and had that punk feel to it. The guitar was driving and not overly complicated. Bass thumped along at all the right parts. Definitely worth a download, and listen to!

To hear the album and download it go to:

To check them out on facebook go to:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Of A Kind Sing-A-Long

Every first monday of the month the Railway Club hosts a one in a lifetime event. Such a simple concept but amazing results. Remember when you and your family used to go camping and sit around the fire singing songs? If you don't... then come find out what it feels like! Such an amazing joyous atmosphere. Unlike karaoke no one person is put on the spot to sing. The whole crowd unites in song and for those who don't know the words there are handy binders at every table with the lyrics. They play everything from The Clash, Rolling Stones, The Ramones, to Queen and Johnny Cash. A truly unique experience!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Down In The Cellar

Last night James and I had the pleasure of going out to the Cellar Night Club in downtown Vancouver, to catch the final night of the Molson Canadian Launch Contest! On the bill for night was Vancouver band, The Shrugs, Langley band, Cruel Young Heart, and Victoria band, Handsome Distraction! Let's just say it was a wicked show, with one hell of a lot of dancing!

The Shrugs played a brilliant set, though having the unfortunate spot of being first, they didn't have that many people on the dancefloor.. BUT there were certainly tons of heads bobbing and feet tapping surrounding the area! As always, Caitlin Connelly's vocals blew my mind! She has such a strong, power-house voice with near-perfect control! Not once did I hear those dynamic vocals fail to deliver. Alongside the great vocal work, were the rest of the musicians in the band! Stephanie Cole, the bassist, played spectacularily and had a wonderful stage presence about her, Brandon Johnas shredded it up on guitar, playing mad riffs and wicked melodies, and Dan Beavington was the one to get all those heads moving, and feet tapping with his bang-on drum rhythms! (Pun fully intended.) I'd suggest this band to anyone! Check them out HERE!

The name Cruel Young Heart might sound familiar to some of our readers out there - and that's because not too long ago I claimed them as my favourite local band, and to this day the title stands! These guys are absolutely incredible, and bring so much energy to the stage! James Blackmon's vocals are to-die-for, Mark Armstrong's guitar riffs were captivating and insane!!, Andrew Blackmon's drum beats were downright groovy, and with the fella slappin' the bass that night, it really was spectacular. These guys had every person in the venue dancing, clapping, and even singing along to their catchy tunes. Even though their set was shorter than a normal show, they stayed true to tradition and came back on in a change of costume, as well as with a big shiny disco ball!!, and rocked another couple songs. It came as no surprise to me that Cruel Young Heart was announced the winner of the Molson Launch Contest later that evening. Congrats to all of you! Make sure to check out CYH HERE if you haven't already!

Handsome Distraction is not a name I was familiar with before last night, even having lived in Victoria for the previous 6 years, so I really didn't know what to expect. This four piece rock band had a lot of energy on stage, and some pretty catchy songs. They had a very rocky feel, and lead singer/rhythm guitarist, Devin Perfect's, vocals reminded me a little bit of The Smashing Pumpkins; Chris Weaver's bass runs were simple, but that's exactly what fits with this genre of music; Corey Francis had some really great guitar riffs, but nothing too flashy. I'd like to see some kind of effects thrown in on a couple of tracks though. And to wrap up the whole sound was Kyle White's tight drum progressions. Over all they had a huge, straight-up rocky, sound. Will definitely have to keep my eye out for these guys the next time I'm in Victoria. Check out their music HERE.

Over all, it was a great night, with great music, and lots of dancing! Again, congratulations to Cruel Young Heart for winning the contest, and to the other bands for playing AMAZING sets.

Until next time! Rawk on!

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Getting Ready To LiftOff At Vogville!

Roxy's Interview with the band LiftOff at Vogville Studios

Liftoff Facebook: HERE

Vogville Studios link: HERE

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting Stoned With Moses And His Crew

After a night at the Roxy with Aviator Shades, Roxy and I headed across the street to Joe's Apartment to check out Stoned Moses, Satori Tide and Random Dander. Was definitely a ska funk filled night!

Random Dander hit the stage first. Very unique sound. Kind of folk funk if i was to try and label it. Very energetic band as they danced and jammed around the stage. But look wise a very crazy cast of characters. From the bass player who looked like Jesus, to the backup singer rocking the microphone and dancing the night away. Now I'm a short guy but it doesn't help being a short front man when the rest of the band is fairly tall. But just added to that extra ordinary experience. But he owned that microphone with his rough gruff voice. And an amazing drummer in the back, playing such strong tight beats. Totally had the "in-my-zone" look on her face the whole set. Very interesting band! check them out!

Its just common courtesy to your audience to set up as quickly as you can after the next band, but its also courtesy for the band after you. Setting up late only delays their set time, and if they start playing at 12:30 it means people will leave before their set is up to catch the sky-train. I don't know what delayed them in setting up but they took over 45 minutes to set up a four piece band. Normally if you set up late, you cut your set time down to compensate. Not only did they set up late, they played over their set time. After saying "Our final song of the night" they played 3 more tunes after it. Even when the sound guy went up to the stage and gave them the "kill" signal they continued playing. Sorry guys, I'll stop my rant now, but just bugs me (formally being in bands)

As for the band itself Satori Tide had a really chill kind of vibe. On some songs edging a bit on rock but mostly this kind of surf ska. Cool sound, covered some sublime songs which was cool and great because the crowd loved it! But being a chill band doesn't mean you have to stand still the whole night long. Frequently the bass player looked at the drummer and just jammed with him. Not a lot of crowd involvement. 

Stoned Moses set up in record time for a 9 piece band, but instead of starting right away they took a drink break and let their MC's hit the stage and set the groove. After each beat another member of Stoned moses moved in to join them on stage. Great build up to their set. They are a beast of spontaneous nature. Built on jamming out tunes and vibes until a song comes to form they thrive on stage playing off each other and no show is ever the same. Keeping the crowd dancing with there grooving bass lines and funky drums. I have yet heard a studio recording able to capture their true essence. The crowd is as much a part of the band as they themselves. Even at one point getting up and dancing with the band on stage. True Stoned Moses style they were dancing until the bar closed. Having sold out the venue! Keep an eye open for these boys!

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