Monday, May 17, 2010

Review -- HARPDOG BROWN & GRAHAM GUEST -- Above And Beyond

ABOVE and BEYOND
Harpdog Brown & Graham Guest
Dog Breath Records
8.5-out-of-10

It’s always cool to review music from someone you sort of know. Harpdog Brown and I have chatted via email for a couple of years, and more recently through Facebook, so I’ve followed the Edmonton bluesman’s career for a while.
In the case of his new disk Above and Beyond it was interesting that the artist actually called me up for a coffee and we met here in Yorkton as he traveled back from a Winnipeg show headed to his hometown. As a side note it’s really too bad there wasn’t a place he could have played here. There are no doubt many great bands passing through on the Yellowhead highway, but we sadly lack venues, which I suppose goes back to the fact Yorkton music fans seem sadly satisfied with canned tracks over live music given the sparse crowds many live bands play to here.
But back to Harpdog Brown and piano man Graham Guest. As his name implies, Brown is a harp man. He plays the harmonica, and he plays it fine.
Brown also supplies the vocals, and he has the gravel-infused voice to make the blues his own. One song into the disk and you know two things for sure, the blues was made for Harpdog’s voice, and that he is genuinely in the blues because he loves the music.
The combo of harp work and gritty vocals sell this one as very solid blues.
Graham adds the piano work, and he is a perfect compliment to the ‘Dog.
The disk includes a range of covers, from You Don’t Have to Go from Jimmy Reed, to Percy Mayfield’s Someone to Love to Let Me Explain from Sonnyboy Williamson II.
This of course is not Harpdog’s first recording, having Live at the Vat with his band the Bloodhounds out a few years ago.
This is a CD that should be marked a must for blues fans.
Check it out at www.harpdogbrown.com
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 12, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- HOT CLUB EDMONTON -- Self-Titled

SELF-TITLED
HOT CLUB EDMONTON
Indie
8-out-of-10

When you go to a band’s website and on the front page read “are you ready for a unique musical experience? This is a place where 1930’s Gypsy Jazz, meets Western Canadian Folk Music, creating a sound unlike any you've heard before: Hot Club Edmonton,” you tend to get rather curious about just what is going to be on the disk.
Well, true to its billing, Hot Club Edmonton throws together several musical influences on their self-titled effort.
The idea of Parisian jazz certainly comes through, from the opening instrumental Belleville to the French vocals of Blanche which could have been playing in a French club during the Great War as far as style goes.
The CD liner notes explain the roots of Gypsy jazz. “Gypsy Jazz was shaped within the context of Paris in the 1930s’ by Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France. Together these two masters popularized this style and made waves throughout the world. Gypsy Jazz is an utterly infectious genre of music that encompasses haunting airs, swinging melodies, driving rhythms and virtuosic improvisation. All of this is delivered with the Gypsy flair.”
That a band on the Canadian Prairies undertook this particular project is interesting and gratifying for the listener too.
Hot Club Edmonton looks to capture that historical feel. “It is our goal with this project to capture the essence of the Quintette du Hot Club de France while paying tribute to two giants in the history of Jazz.”
To the group’s credit they do it well. Certainly the word infectious is one which comes to mind in terms of describing the music here. It is a fun disk to listen too.
This is one worth checking out for its uniqueness, its upbeat music, and fine musicianship.
Oh yes the best is Misty, with the sweet vocals of Thea Neumann. Impressive and beautiful.
Check this unique effort out at www.hotclubedmonton.com
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 12, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- NICK la RIVIERE -- Too Much To Do

TOO MUCH TO DO
Nick la Riviere
Indie
9-out-of-10

Nick la Riviere plays the trombone, and he plays it very well.
The guy has a flare, which makes the music simply a joy to listen to.
The opening cut is Inspiration, and the title fits the mood of the music completely. This is a song of joy, of excitement, of well, inspiration.
The album includes four original efforts by la Riviere, and that is always exciting on a jazz album, to see where an artist can take the music. Here the artist does excellent work. The Streets is one of his best here.
Five others are jazz standards, such as Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring, and Weaver of Dreams from Young and Elliot. The latter is a beautiful piece on the disk.
The nine pieces cover 71-minutes of music, and that is a lot of fine music in this case.
La Riviere is complimented by a rhythm section which includes Ross Taggart, Jodi Proznick and Jesse Cahill.
A nice addition to the album is a string section, provided by Cam Wilson, Julian Vitek and Peggy Lee.
The combination of strings and rhythm sections as background add a compliment to la Riviere’s trombone and gives the music a richness. There is a big band element here.
This disk is certainly a wonderful example of jazz trombone, and will find favour with lovers of the instrument, or fans of just plain good jazz.
This is one to look for folks. Totally enjoyable.
Check it out at www.nicklariviere.com
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 5, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- BRAIN SAUCE -- Individuality Is An Old Commodity

INDIVIDUALITY IS AN OLD COMMODITY
Brain Sauce
Indie
7.5-out-of-10

When you get a CD from a band named Brain Sauce you’re not quite sure what to expect,
So you toss it on the player, half expecting screamer metal, or something out of left field.
Then the band comes at you with A Theme From Antic Hay (Whats a Man to do?) which is a seven-minute rock anthem, with a hint of blues and you go this is pretty cool stuff.
The Moose Jaw band wins fans with the opening cut.
But this is a progressive indie rock band according to their webpage at www.myspace.com/brainsauce
That means the band is more out in left field than the first song might indicate.
Gomer’s Shuffle has a sort of southern rock meets bluegrass/folk feel, that doesn’t quite fit with the lead cut.
But the third song, Dirty Disco, does build on the southern rock feel of Gomer’s Shuffle. The pluck of the big bass, the rhythm of the song, the pacing of the vocals, yep southern-fried and served up hot.
That southern feel tends to dominate the rest of the way, on cuts such as Marijuana Stole My Baby, which admittedly has some progressive licks mixed in.
The band includes Brodie Mohninger, Mark Lowe, John Dale, Steve Leidal and David Howard.
This is a fun album. You can tell the band was having a blast pumping out the tunes. This is just good old rock with a few little twists, and that is really a nice change as many bands are trying to create art. This is rock for the sake of rock. Check it out folks, a solid effort from a Saskatchewan band.
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper May 5, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- JIMMY AND THE SLEEPERS -- Self-Titled

SELF-TITLED
Jimmy and the Sleepers
Indie
5.5-out-of-10

Jimmy and the Sleepers is a blues unit out of Edmonton.
The leader is guitarist Jimmy Guiboche, although the vocal lead is carried by Guy ‘Big Guy Slim’ Gagne.
The band is rounded out with David ‘Crawdad’ Cantera, Chris Brzezicki and Grant Stovel.
The disk was actually recorded some time ago, but just came my way recently, and as a blues lover, I have to give it a mention.
As a collection this is all right, although nothing exactly reached out and grabbed me.
Gagne’s vocals are frankly not my cup of tea. He’s in there pitching on every cut, but his voice just doesn’t quite do it.
I also found some of the song selections less than ideal to my mind. Oopin Doopin Doopin by George Smith is just a bad song.
The rendition of Come On missed too.
One little addition of note to the recording is Big Dave McLean adding vocals on Not Gettin’ Up.
While this is my beloved blues, and from a Western Canadian band, there isn’t enough here to highly recommend it. There are better disks out there to spend your blues dollar on.
Check them out at www.myspace.com/jimmyandthesleepers
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 21, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- JOHNNY GRIT -- Make Liars

MAKE LIARS
Johnny Grit
Indie
7.5-out-of-10

Johnny Grit is another band emerging out of Saskatoon.
The CD Make Liars is certainly rock, and it is rather diverse in how it attacks the genre too.
The opening cut Escape From Mexico, written by Grit and Ryan Olenick has a Santana feel to it, and really sets a high tempo to the disk. The song has a bit of a salsa, horn powered feel. Barry Redford does nice trumpet work here.
Up next is Heart Is On Fire which is straight ahead rock.
On Fair the music slows a bit, and Grit doesn’t push and growl his voice quite so much, and that allows his voice to be more melodic and it makes the song stand out because of the change.
The vocal credits on the disk go to guitarist Fabian Minnema, bassist Chris Richardson and guitarist Kyle Dixon, and on Spell they combine for some nice harmonies.
Percussionist Randy Farkas and Ross Nykiforuk on organ round out the band.
Generally speaking this is a pretty solid effort. Nothing exactly suggests gold record hit, but cuts such as Made are certainly solid rock songs.
Certainly a disk worth grabbing if you like rock, and of course to support Saskatchewan music.
Check them out at www.myspace.com/johnnygrit
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 21, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE BRAVEST GHOST -- Self-Titled

SELF-TITLED
The Bravest Ghost
Indie
8-out-of-10

Yorkton’s own Sean Craib-Petkau is back with a new disk, this time a self-titled effort for his new recording persona The Bravest Ghost.
Local music fans should recall Craib-Petkau for his Music For Sleeping Lovers ... And For Those Who Wake Up Alone, which was recorded under the name Welcome to Reykjavik. That disk was released just about a year ago, and rated an 8-out-of-10 here.
I am not sure why the change to The Bravest Ghost, it is something which will be somewhat confusing for some fans of Craib-Petkau’s music.
And believe me, there should be fans for this young man, who does a fine job of music that is essentially modern folk in my mind.
The CD has six songs, with an alternate rendition of I Am Hungry as a bonus. The first rendition of the song on the disk is the best, with some very nice harmonica work. The segment is short, but adds to the song.
The alternate rendition of I Am Hungry takes the music a step farther. There is some very nice saxophone added in the song. While the early copy of the disk I have doesn’t state it, I am assuming Emily Kohlert provides the sax work, at least she did at a live performance I heard at 5th Ave Coffee Cup one night. It was the most notable song Craib-Petkau did that night, and frankly it is here too because the saxophone makes it stand out from the others.
North Line likewise uses an interlude with the harmonica effectively. It is an element of Craib-Petkau’s music he needs to utilize more.
Beyond the splashes of harmonica and all too little used saxophone, Craib-Petkau keeps the instrumentation minimalistic, relying on the guitar, and keeping even that simple.
The lyrics are the strength here. They are heartfelt, and Craib-Petkau delivers them with a relaxed, friendly style that makes the disk a pleasure to listen too.
Check it out a www.myspace.com/thebravestghost
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 14, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- STEPHEN MAGUIRE -- Irish Soul

IRISH SOUL
Stephen Maguire
Indie
8.5-out-of-10

It was in September 2008 I reviewed the debut, self-titled CD from Stephen Maguire, and it’s good news that he is back with Irish Soul.
Born and raised in Ireland, Maguire now has a Canadian connection having married a Yorkton gal so local readers will have some added interest.
The debut disk was one I tagged as having a ‘folk-style’. On Irish Soul, there is more pop styling to the work. In fact Best I Can has a decidedly Elton John feel to it.
Maguire however is at his best when the folk soul shows through.
Streets of Belfast is a wonderful song. The lyrics tell a story, and the music and vocals are infectious.
The same can be said for the opening cut, the title song, which is arguably the second best effort on the disk.
Clearly Maguire is casting his musical net a bit broader this time around, and that is a good thing. The more mainstream cuts, such as So You See Me, have a familiarity to them that will catch some listeners.
True even adds some ‘big band’ instrumentation that is a nice feature, or a song that is near R&B at times.
The key will be to not stray too far from the Irish roots. That is still where he brings everything together, lyrics, music, vocals, most effectively.
Check him out at www.stephenmaguirelive.com
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 14, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- CHRIS DAVIS -- Baile Bonita

BAILE BONITA
Chris Davis
Cellar Live
8-out-of-10

In terms of Canadian jazz I have come to respect the stable of artists and catalogue of material from Cellar Live.
Baile Bonita does nothing to change that view.
Trumpet player Chris Davis does a fine job on Baile Bonita, his second recording with the B.C.-based label. His first effort for Cellar Live; A Night Remembered, garnered a 7.5 here when reviewed in April last year.
This follow-up effort is just a bit crisper in my mind, thanks to cuts such as West 42nd Street.
All That Glitters is a piece in a somewhat traditional vein that is just as fine as they come.
Davis, originally from Jacksonville, moved to Vancouver five years ago, and is carving out a name for himself, and his trumpet, with the two fine Cellar Live albums helping that reputation grow.
Davis is joined on the new disk by Ian Hendrickson-Smith on alto sax, Adam Thomas on bass, and Jesse Cahill on drums. Each adds a layer of intricacy to the music, while generally allowing Davis to be the featured performer.
If you enjoy trumpet-inspired jazz, played by one of the emerging stars of the Canadian West Coast, then Baile Bonita is a disk you do need to check out.
Check it out via www.cellarlive.com
— CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 7, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- TIM HARWELL & FRIENDS -- The Wander Man Revisited

THE WANDER MAN REVISITED
Tim Harwill & Friends
Harwill Music
8-out-of-10

In a world where country music singers tend to have become a homogenized group where one voice simply mimics the last one heard of what passes for country music on the radio these days, it is gratifying to hear a voice you might actually pick out the next time you hear it.
When Tim Harwill starts off his latest CD with Sittin’ In a Hotel Room, you immediately recognize that his voice is unique enough to be memorable. Delores Hershey provides harmony vocals and adds a nice touch to the song.
The song Barely Alive follows, and you know why this guy sings country. He has that old country-style twang going on that frankly would not work on any other genre of music.
That at least tells you Harwill is playing what suits him best. How often do we spin disks and can tell the musician would be better suited singing something different. At times musicians get caught in a trap of following radio fads, or chasing the few live venues that still exist, and in the process they lose creditability in their sound.
Harwill is country, and his voice sounds as if it was born and bred on the Prairies amid wild horses and cows.
The dozen songs here are also penned by Harwill.
Guess what, he understands country lyrics too.
The song Road Traveled Less is an example of his skill with a pen. The song is one of those old-style hurtin’ country tunes filled with imagery and emotion, and darned if it doesn’t fit Harwill’s easy vocal delivery well.
This is a disk which really is what I want in country music. I don’t want someone disguising pop behind a country guitar chord.
There is a realism in Harwill’s music that speaks to the true heart of music.
There is a bit of Waylon in Harwill, and that counts for a lot on a song like the title cut, a song where Tim Hus joins in on the chorus.
Sadly, it may be music that has a difficult time making radio these days, and the airways suffer because of that.
Make sure to check him out at timharwill.com
— CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar. 31, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- NADIA -- Arrival

ARRIVAL
Nadia
ZTO Records
9.5-out-of-10

You might want to etch the name Nadia in your musical memory, because this gal has the stuff to break big.
Hailing from Calgary Nadia Kazmi really does put it all together.
Let’s start with her songwriting. She has solo writing credits on eight songs, and takes co-writing credits on the other three. The songs she has penned are poetic, yet have some actual depth.
The opening Volcanoes is an amazing song, and the follow-up cut called Mother holds to that high level.
On a website I saw that Queen is among her influences, and musically there are certainly elements of that super group. You can hear it in the song Julian and on Arrival too, but it’s really more about the attitude of Nadia’s music.
She has written interesting, and powerful songs, and you can tell she just grabs the microphone and says, ‘here is my music, hope you like it’. From there her voice takes over and it’s just WOW!
Take a song like Tyranny of the Heart, Nadia just simply rocks it. Joan Jett couldn’t have done it better. Nadia just gives her all through the song.
And then she slows it down, and gets all sultry with an R&B-influenced cut like My True Love, and you just get carried away by her voice.
Ditto with The Blues Always Bleed Red.
This is a lady who really does put it all together. Impressive to say the least. This truly in a must have album.
Check it out at www.nadiakazmi.com
CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar. 31, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review -- OLD MAN LUEDECKE -- My Hands Are On Fire and other Love Songs

MY HANDS ARE ON FIRE and other LOVE SONGS
Old Man Luedecke
Black Hen Music
9-out-of-10

Old Man Luedecke is one of those Canadian musicians who really should be a household name, but sadly isn’t.
Granted the music is perhaps not the most popular, being a cross between bluegrass, folk, and Americana, but really folks few do it better than this Nova Scotia-based, banjo player.
The new album, which releases March 30th in Canada is a follow up to his Juno Award-winning album ‘Proof Of Love’, which was reviewed here in Dec. 2008. Proof of Love impressed me to the point it earned 9-out-of-10.
Well Luedecke certainly does not miss a step with My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs.
The new album was recorded largely live off the floor, and also features bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien on every song.
Steve Dawson is the producer as he has been on Luedecke’s previous two recordings as well.
As for music, Old Man Luedecke shows he is a fine songwriter as well as performer. There are 11-songs here, all of them good.
There are message songs such as Woe Betide the Doer of the Deed, which arguably is the best cut here, and then songs that are more just fun, such as Mountain Plain.
Powered by Old Man Luedecke’s fine banjo work, and relaxed, casual vocal delivery, this is a complete package.
A disk that truly impresses from start to finish.
Check out www.oldmanluedecke.ca
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 24, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY STRING QUARTET -- Far Behind I Left My Country:Klezmer and East European Folk Music

FAR BEHIND I LEFT MY COUNTRY: Klezmer and East European Folk Music
The University of Calgary String Quartet
Indie
8-out-of-10

If there is one thing I have learned over the years of reviewing music, it’s that the Canadian music scene is about as diverse as you can get, and I am still surprised at times by the disks that come across the desk.
I can certainly add Far Behind I Left My Country by The University of Calgary Quartet to the list of surprises.
Like most I suspect, I see a string quartet as being rather traditional in their approach, and being first and foremost a vehicle for classical music.
Well this is classical in the sense its timeless music, and certainly old, but it comes at the term classical from an Eastern European vantage point.
This is the music that conjures images of Dr. Zhivago, Cossacks on horse back, Ukrainian dancers and gypsies.
As a result the disk comes across as fresh in terms of musical styles and instrumentation.
The string quartet has received acclaim for the disk, having been selected as a nominee finalist for the Instrumental Group of the Year award – 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
The quartet features Edmond Agopian and Brinna Brinkerhoff on violins, Dean O’Brien on viola, and Beth Root Sandvoss on cello.
So unique it warrants a listen by any fan of good music. Check it out at www.ucalgary.ca/ucalgarystringquartet
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 24, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- NATE SAWKIW and BEN NAGY -- Nate & Ben

NATE & BEN
Nate Sawkiw and Ben Nagy
Indie
7-out-of-10

If there is one thing that technology has allowed, it is a proliferation of basement CDs that have production qualities which are well above the scratchy mish mashes which used to come out of garage bands with an 8-track recorder.
In even a small city like Yorkton there are several musicians who have amassed enough computer programs and recording gear to do a solid job of laying down some musical tracks on a disk.
Ben Nagy is one of those, and he has actually been rather prolific with this disk being his fourth. In this case the 10-song effort is in collaboration with Nathan Sawkiw, with Sawkiw penning three songs, and the pair sharing credit on a fourth song.
Now if you are familiar with Nagy’s previous works, such as his Dr. Qtron CD, you will appreciate he doesn’t usually follow the crowd in terms of music. He goes off on his own, and dares the listener to follow him down a decidedly twisted little rabbit hole to a world where his music resides.
With Nate & Ben, Nagy actually comes back into the more ‘normal’ musical world a bit. Yes there is still some anger in the lyrics, and adult language of course, but this is really a rather straight ahead rock album.
Nagy manages to subdue his usual penchant for warped humour, and keeps the music more serious. He deviates back to the safety of humour on one cut, but in general terms there is a greater level of maturity in the lyrics here.
Sawkiw is the new voice here. On cuts he wrote; Kill Your TV, Lose It and Scrunge, you hear music that has something of a ‘60s feel to it. It’s a nice contrast stylistically on the disk.
So in general terms, this CD is a step closer to the modern rock world for Nagy, although it is in no way a sell-out to following the normal conventions of the genre. The likelihood of this being on radio anytime soon is rather remote.
Still local music fans should support local artists, and this is well-worth checking out.
The disk will be available at Fuzztone Music and B3Xtreme Sports in Yorkton.
You can check out Nate & Ben at www.myspace.com/naten39ben
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- VANCOUVER CHAMBER CHOIR -- Due East:Choral Music By Stephen Chatman

DUE EAST: Choral Music by Stephen Chatman
Vancouver Chamber Choir
Indie
9-out-of-10
It’s always refreshing to have the opportunity to review something which is at least different personally. That is the case here. After years of reviewing, this is the first disk of choral music.
I must say I lucked out. The Vancouver Chamber Choir has been performing at home and across Canada since its formation in 1971 by conductor Jon Washburn, and according to the group’s website has a rather illustrious international record with tours to the United States, China, Hong Kong, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The website at www.vancouverchamberchoir.com also notes, “The Vancouver Chamber Choir is Canada’s outstanding professional vocal ensemble. Based on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia, conductor Jon Washburn and his 20 singers are noted for their diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The ACDA Choral Journal has declared the VCC to be ‘as fine a vocal chamber group as any in the world today.’ In 1998, the VCC and Jon Washburn won the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence for their outstanding contribution to the choral art. Mr. Washburn and the Choir were honoured with two awards at the 2000 Chorus America Conference, including the prestigious Louis Botto award, given in recognition of Washburn’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in the development of a professional choral ensemble of exceptional quality.”
Due East is actually the choir’s third disk focusing on the works of Canadian composer Stephen Chatman. The first disk was Due North, followed by Due West. In Due East the choir brings listeners Chatman’s most recent works. One would imagine Due South is reserved for his works yet to come.
Chatman is certainly well known, as the CD liner notes explain. “Professor and head of Composition at the University of British Columbia, is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Michigan (DMA). He is the recipient of many awards in composition, including 2005 and 2006 Western Canadian Music awards (Outstanding Classical Composition), 2007 Juno nomination, a Fullbright Grant, Dorothy Somerset award, and the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The first Canadian ever short-listed in the BBC Masterprize competition (2001; Tara’s Dream for Orchestra). Chatman is also the only North American to win three consecutive BMI awards to Student Composers.”
Certainly a great CD from a great choir, highlighting a Canadian composer. If you like choral music this is a must have.
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- DIANE CHASE -- Gettin' There

GETTIN’ THERE
Diane Chase
EMI
7.5-out-of-10

Diane Chase is a definite veteran of Canadian country music who continues to record solid country tunes.
Music fans may recall her debut effort In the Middle of Something. The title track and first single was a Top-10 release. Follow-up singles from the disk included; Walkin’ Away With You, Taking Back My Heart, There I Go Again, and Crazy In Love, culminating in two Top-10 and four Top-20 hits.
Next came the 2004, release of Chase’s second CD, The Ride which had two Top-20 hits with the release of the title cut followed by I Hate Love.
And now we have Chase back with Gettin’ There.
You can fully expect Chase to be back in the Top-20 with a couple of songs here. In particular watch I Wanna Live Like That, Gonna See You Again, Soldier’s Wife, and again the title cut.
As always Chase comes at listeners with a relaxed, pleasant voice. She might not have an immediately recognizable vocal style, and it is not the most powerful country voice you will hear, yet you have to like it.
This is the sort of disk you will hear and you will go, ‘gee that’s nice’, but it may also leave you asking ‘I wonder who that is’, because it’s not a voice that leaves an indelible memory.
That does not mean you won’t like this disk. Far from it actually. Chase has put together a disk of modernistic, radio friendly country, which should please older fans, and win her some new ones as well. It may not be your favourite disk, but you will like it.
Check out http://news.dianechase.com/
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 10, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- JIMMY WAYNE -- Sara Smile

SARA SMILE
Jimmy Wayne
Open Road Recordings/Valory Music
9.5-out-of-10
Do you like sad country songs, the kind that can draw a tear if you are already blue? Then you are gonna love Jimmy Wayne. He can perform a sad song like few others that have spun through my player in recent years.
From the opening Things I Believe, this guy captures the listener emotionally, and you are hooked for the next nine songs too.
All the Time In the World is a beautiful follow-up to the heartfelt opener, and then he throws the title cut at you (a former Hall and Oates song), and you are simply wrapped in thoughts of love gained, lost, found and lost. You have to give huge credit to a musician who can get the listener to invest their own emotions in the music, and yet that is just what Wayne does.
If you aren’t ready to ‘feel’ then don’t spin this disk. Wayne’s vocals, the lyrics, the total package is one that is based on emotion, both from the performer, and the listener.
As good as the opening three cuts are Just Knowing You Love Me and Just Look At You, and in particular Counting the Days are all likely better.
A follow-up disk to Wayne’s Do You Believe Me Now, this is a classic not to be missed. There isn’t much else to say. This one is simply outstanding from start to finish. Buy it now, play it forever.
Check it out at http://www.thevalorymusicco.com/jimmywayne/
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 10, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- EMERSON DRIVE -- Believe

BELIEVE
Emerson Drive
Open Road Records
9.5-out-of-10

When it comes to Canadian country music few, if any bands, are better at what they do than Emerson Drive.
And when it comes to the CD Believe, Emerson Drive is at the top of their game.
This is a disk that is as close to wall-to-wall hits as you can get.
From the opening song; That Kind of Beautiful, Emerson Drive comes at you with radio friendly hit after hit. That Kind of Beautiful is a wonderful love song, and while it is a hit, it actually comes up as only second best among love songs on the album.
Belongs To You is a slow-paced love song that is going to be popular at anniversarys, weddings and Valentine’s Day for years to come.
The title cut Believe is a song that will get tons of airplay too.
Of course when it comes to hearing songs on the radio, you could spin any cut on this disk and it would please listeners.
I Love This Road is a song perfect for blasting on the CD player as you bomb down the country road on a warm summer day.
Of course we should expect hits from Emerson Drive, who have put out some excellent past efforts, including the 2006 release Countrified, and What If? in 2004.
What works for the band is the cohesiveness of the quintet musically. They blend their talents flawlessly. From the show vocals of lead singer Brad Mates to the fine musicianship of band mates Danick Dupelle, guitar, Dale Wallace, keyboards, David Pichette, fiddle, and Mike Melancon on drums the unit is as tight as a band gets.
If you are a country fan then Emerson Drive is almost sure to be a favourite band, and this disk will only raise the appreciation of their music.
This is simply a must have disk. One not to be missed.
Check them out at www.emersondrive.com
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- AMY SEELEY -- Eight Belles

EIGHT BELLES
Amy Seeley
Outgo Records
7.5-out-of-10

It is always interesting to read about how a performer came to their music, and Amy Seeley has an interesting story she relates at her website www.amyseeley.com
The explanation is one I suspect many artists feel, the need to delve into their art, but not always knowing at a young age just how to do it.
“In hindsight I think I knew it deep down by the age of eight,” related Seeley. “I’d played since I was four, was writing songs, and I knew I felt drawn to the piano in a way I couldn’t articulate at the time. I just knew I wanted to play and write and perform someday.
“So I feel like it’s something that’s been a part of me my whole life, but it’s how that knowing has transpired that’s really formed the path. It’s taken some time, and a lot of not knowing.
“What I mean is I played piano for my high school choir, and for church, for this and that; tried out music in college and didn’t like the theory of it all so much and bailed out of voice lessons … felt frustrated and ultimately, afraid to explore, to really dive in …
“Then my mid-twenties hit like a storm. That’s the second part to the story. My childhood and my twenties are connected by an invisible string. At 25 I returned to the piano with a fury. The songs 25 was born and that’s when I realized, oh my God, this is it. I have to play these songs live. I no longer knew how not to converse with my piano. I realized it was a part of who I was. The biggest part. The decision to pour myself completely into the craft of songwriting and exploring how to share that genuinely with people has become more and more clear as my calling over the last few years.”
What that journey has led to is a deeply personal set of eight songs on Seeley’s disk Eight Belles.
The music here is thickly emotional. The piano sort of starkly layered in the background as Seeley focuses on making sure her sharing of her lyrics is personal and clear.
There is a sombre mood here. Seeley looks upon the world through sad eyes, heard immediately on the soulful opening cut How Hard I Try.
A lady with a mournful outlook and a voice that is pleasant, a nice combination. Do check it out.
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- DAVID GOGO -- Different Views

DIFFERENT VIEWS
David Gogo
Cordova Bay Records
9-out-of-10

If you like the blues, and in my case that’s a given, and you’re Canadian, you should know the name David Gogo.
Gogo is a guitar slinging bluesman from B.C., who just seems to be getting better and better and that is saying something considering he’s been a solid performer for some time already.
Yorkton blues fans should remember Gogo from a killer show at the Painted Hand Casino a few years back when the Casino held its much-missed biweekly Blues Night. Gogo really cooked that night.
Back in the fall of 2007 I also had the pleasure to review Gogo’s acoustic disk, and loved it. It rated a 9.5.
And, that brings us to Different Views where Gogo just keeps progressing in his music.
This is a disk where Gogo has again picked up the writing pen, and has a hand in most of the 12-cuts here. In some cases they come across with a classic ‘feel’ such as the song Lies.
This is not an acoustic effort, although at times Gogo does slow it down nicely. Such as on the cut Erase Any Trace, a moody, slower-paced effort.
Ultimately, the whole CD is solid blues, powered by Gogo’s outstanding guitar work, and delivered with his smooth vocals. It really is a combination that is taking Gogo to a higher level than most in the industry on this side of the 49th Parallel.
Of course we should expect fine music from Gogo, who cut his first disk back in 1994, and has thankfully been a prolific recording artist since with Different Views being his 10th release by my count. Fans will remember previous efforts such as Skeleton Key from 2002 and Vibe in 2004.
This is simply put, a must have blues album. Just buy this one, you will not regret it.
Check it out at www.davidgogo.com
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 24, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE DAVID LIBERTY BAND -- Objects In The Mirror

OBJECTS IN MIRRORS
The David Liberty Band
Indie
4-out-of-10

When the staple of your music reviews are indie releases you are never exactly sure what you are getting as you spin a new disk.
I had not heard of The David Liberty Band before getting Objects in Mirrors, so I popped on line to www.davidliberty.com to check him out. Seeing the recording was his third CD I was expecting something pretty solid.
Then the lead song; I’m Irked played, and the song really summed up my reaction. I am a stickler that the first song you hear be a good one. It sets the mood for any listener, and is critical to catch the ear of a radio programmer, or reviewer. Well I’m Irked caught my attention for its repetitious, grade school quality lyrics. It took some amount of good conscience on my part as a reviewer to not turn the CD off at that point. It is among the weakest songs I’ve heard on a disk in well ... ever and I’ve been reviewing for years.
David Liberty at times simply tries too hard lyrically. He wants to get a message across, but the delivery just never seems to work.
The music is simple. He clearly wants the lyrics to be paramount, but it just never comes together for me.
Mark this one at best an acquired taste, and in my case, not my taste at all.
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 24, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- BILLY JOE GREEN -- First Law of the Land: If Broken Return To Maker

FIRST LAW OF THE LAND: IF BROKEN RETURN TO MAKER
Billy Joe Green
Strongfront Records
9-out-of-10

If you want your blues with a jagged-edged feel, laden with lyrics that tell both a story, and carry some pretty ugly, but sadly true stories, than Billy Joe Green’s latest First Law of the Land is a must disk.
Green is a First Nations bluesman out of Manitoba who brings all the tools to the table. He plays darned fine electric guitar, and he has a ‘bluesy, smokey voice which carries his music well. Now that combination would work to play any blues cover, and do it well.
However, this disk really has nothing to do with Green’s voice, or his guitar work.
This is a CD where Green set out to tell the history of his people, with a First Nation’s viewpoint.
That effort has resulted is some very stark lyrics.
Right from the opening P.O.W. Blues to cuts such as Los Sin Dios (those without god) to Muskrat Blues and Nightmare Blues, Green tells his people’s story focusing on the injustices he has seen.
Set against the basic tenants of blues music, and its ability to illicit emotion, this CD becomes a very powerful recording.
Radio airplay will be hard to find, but that isn’t what this CD is about. This is about telling a history that is from a perspective that is not usually in the popular history books.
Some may question what they hear, but honestly that is what Green is hoping for. He wants people to think about what Aboriginal people have faced through the years.
This is as powerful a group of songs lyrically as you are likely to find on a CD.
The content will not be for everyone, although maybe we should all listen at least once just to hear the words.
Check it out at www.billyjoegreenmusic.com
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 24, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE SOJOURNERS -- Self-Titled

SELF-TITLED
The Sojourners
Black Hen Music
9-out-of-10

Since I am a huge fan of Canadian singer Jim Byrnes, the story of the creation of The Sojourners has always been of interest.
It was Byrnes who called Vancouver based gospel singer Marcus Mosely on the phone a few years ago to ask if he could gets some friends together to record some back up vocals for his new album.
Mosely brought Will Sanders and Ron Small with him, and the trio clicked.
As noted on The Sojourners’ website, “hot on the tail of their session with Byrnes, the Sojourners went into the studio with roots music whiz Steve Dawson to record ‘Hold On’, their first solo album in 2007. Two years and many sessions later, Mosely, Small and Sanders have taken all they’ve learned in between and returned to record a second CD simply entitled The Sojourners.”
It was two years ago now that I reviewed Hold On and gave it a solid 8-out-of-10.
I can tell you The Sojourners have not lost a step in creating their sophomore disk.
The same things which stood out then still do.
To start with these three harmonize seamlessly. Their voices truly seem as if they were meant to be melded as a unit. There is something special when voices mix so well, and these three sound like they’ve been together forever.
And then there is the music. This is fully gospel. It carries a message and in this case the message is delivered through wonderful voices. An example is the powerful song Another Soldier Gone.
There are also instances where the go upbeat with the message, such as Strange Man.
For many this disk will bring comfort I am sure, along with the simple enjoyment of the fine vocals.
The Sojourners are about as good as it gets in this genre.
Check them out at www.thesojourners.ca
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- HARLEM WORLD -- Before The Celebration

BEFORE THE CELEBRATION
Harlem World
Patriarch Records
??-out-of-10

Coming out of Florida is Before the Celebration, the debut disk for Harlem World.
The music is a mix of rap and hip/hop, and so admittedly it is something that I will admit I have no affinity for, so to actually rate the disk would be unfair.
However, I have no problem informing readers that the disk is out there.
From the group’s Myspace page we learn, “Patriarch Entertainment / Patriarch Records are proud to announce the release of ‘Before The Celebration!’ Independent Artist Harlem World’s debut studio album on Tuesday, January 26th. The first single from the album is titled “Never Be” and was produced by Shi-wun of Sunrise, FL. ‘Never Be’ has received well over 4,000 plays to date and has been distributed to over 5,000 networks worldwide. The single is currently Number 11 on the Fort Lauderdale Hip-Hop Music Charts, after reaching its all time high of number seven.”
Check them out at www.patriarchrecordz.com
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE MARIGOLDS -- That's The State I'm In

THAT’S THE STATE I’M IN
The Marigolds
Indie
8-out-of-10
The Marigolds are a trio that I must say created some interesting thoughts when I first checked them out.
To start with the spot on MySpace describes their music as roots music / country / jazz. Now roots and country are kissing cousins in terms of music, but in my mind it was going to be a challenge to incorporate jazz into the mix smoothly.
Then I considered the make-up of the trio, which includes Gwen Swick, Suzie Vinnick and Caitlin Hanford. That is a rather experienced grouping of Canadian talent.
Now Hanford might be better known as one quarter of the popular vocal group, Quartette, a quartette which Swick too has been involved. That experience in harmonizing and in sharing the spotlight serves both well here.
Vinnick, who is originally from Saskatoon, a singer, songwriter and musician who was awarded the 2003 Canadian Maple Blues Female Vocalist of the Year.
The three ladies have a fine musical pedigree.
The three are also established songwriters, and they actually all had their hands in co-operatively creating three of the songs here, including A Little Bit of Heaven and For Your Love. I suspect the effort of songwriting together helped galvanize this trio.
The disk is at its best when it is focused most on roots. Sometimes I Think I Can Fly is a bluesy/rootsy piece which rises above a very solid collection of 14-songs here.
Why Baby is another cut that has a sort of ragtime feel that is infectious.
Overall the Marigolds are a smooth trio who harmonize well with a selection of music that is simply relaxing to listen too.
Very solid effort as one would expect from such veteran performers.
Check them out at www.themarigolds.ca
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 17, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS -- Lost Channels

LOST CHANNELS
Great Lake Swimmers
weewerk
8.5-out-of-10

The Great Lake Swimmers may not be a household name to many, but when you listen to Lost Channels you quickly wonder why. This is a fine album, if you like laid back, relaxed music. The band terms their style ambient folk.
A song such as Everything Is Moving So Fast is just a great song. I love the way they juxtapose the song’s lyrical theme against their mellow musical style. Serena Ryder adds vocals on the song.
That they follow up with another great song such as Pulling On A Line speaks to how good the band is.
Of course the Great Lake Swimmers should be rather polished in terms of recording. They have been rather prolific since releasing a self-titled effort in 2003, and an EP came out in 2006, which is actually available as an LP. That marketing decision tells you the band cuts their own swath.
Onigara followed in 2007, and a nine-song EP; Song Sung Blue came out in 2008.
The constant for the band, which has seen personnel changes over the years, is vocalist Tony Dekker who has a mellow, emotionally vibrant voice which truly is the heart of the music for Great Lake Swimmers. That Dekker also has writing credits throughout, and co-produced the disk with Andy Magoffin only adds to his influence on the end product here.
The disk offers listeners a dozen songs, and truly there isn’t a weak effort here. This is a great CD.
This is one to mark as a must have.
Check them out at www.greatlakeswimmers.com
CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 10, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE MARC ATKINSON TRIO -- IV

IV
The Marc Atkinson Trio
Warner Music
8-out-of-10

As you might assume from the title, this in the fourth CD for The Marc Atkinson Trio which was formed in 2000.
In the ensuing years the trio has garnered international attention having “toured North America, England and Europe and has received standing ovations everywhere they perform from the Montreal Jazz Festival to the Vancouver International Folk Festival to DjangoFest Northwest,” according to their website at www.marcatkinson.com
Certainly the trio cooks up a wonderful 50-minutes of music on IV. The CD features 11 Marc Atkinson original compositions and one rearrangement of a Russian Rag.
In terms of style, the website relates, “his (Atkinson’s) catchy compositions, found on the self-titled CDs I, II, III and now IV take guitar beyond the usual repertoire and sound. The tunes have a fiery but elegant guitar style, infused with a catchy blend of influences. All this while still maintaining the laidback humour and casual 'good time feel' of Canada's West Coast. Atkinson's picking has been described as flawless, surprise-filled, sizzling and supremely melodic. His music is original, complex and challenging in its conception and delivery but remains accessible and absorbing.”
That works for me. The music here does come across as fun. A song such as Between the Wakes really has one thinking of a scene like a pup chasing a butterfly at times.
Guitarist Atkinsion is joined by Joey Smith on bass and Michael Hamilton on rhythm guitar.
If you like guitar music, or just a relaxing disk for fun, this is one to give a long listen too.
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 10, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- WILL CAMPBELL -- Think Tank

THINK TANK
Will Campbell
Cellar Live
8.5-out-of-10
I have always like saxophone driven jazz, and Will Campbell’s Think Tank certainly fits that niche.
On this disk Campbell really gives himself time to explore musically with his alto saxophone. While having only seven songs, two eclipse 10-minutes as he lets the music take its own course from start to finish. There does not seem like any constraints are put on the piece, it just seems to be allowed to happen naturally.
Currently, Campbell is the Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Saxophone at UNC Charlotte. Originally from North Carolina, he has played saxophone since elementary school.
From his website we learn Campbell has a pedigree musically. “Between his undergraduate and Masters degree, Will spent over three years touring the world and recording with the Harry Connick, Jr. Orchestra. Highlights with Harry include a sold-out Broadway run, The Grammys at Radio City Music Hall, and performances at venues such as London's Royal Albert Hall, Lincoln Center, and The Kennedy Center.”
Still Think Tank is Campbell’s first CD where he gets lead billing. The disk comes across as one he has been working toward for a while. The material is polished and fine.
Olive Street and On a Clear Day get top billing among the cuts here.
Campbell is joined by Scott Harrell, trumpet, Stefan Karlsson, piano, John Brown, bass
and Rick Dior on drums.
If you are partial to sax-driven jazz, this is quite simply a must have.
Check it out at www.willcampbellmusic.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 10, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- RICASSO -- Overgrown

OVERGROWN
Ricasso
Indie
8.5-out-of-10

Ricasso is one of those fine Saskatchewan artists who just keeps doing what he does best, create fine indie music.
Overgrown is Ricasso’s third CD effort, following Pollution and Disgraceland, both darned fine disks in their own right. Of note the bluesy title cut of Disgraceland finds its way to the new disk as well.
That said, I do believe Ricasso takes it to the next level here. The songwriting on the 13 songs is just a step up from previous efforts. That could be because Ricasso seems more focused on just writing a good song as opposed to trying to create a message in the words of his previous albums. Dear Abbey Road, the lead cut is an example of the change. There is not a lot of depth to the lyrics, but the song is so catchy and infectious you are singing along to the chorus on the first listen.
The next cut is the title cut, and as it should be, it is easily the best song on the album. It is lyrically strong, emotional, and compellingly rendered.
Of course if you are familiar with Ricasso from his previous CDs, or past appearances at Holly’s Nite Club, you expect him to be spot on vocally, and I assure you that he is in the groove from start to finish here.
After the superlative Overgrown, Ricasso gets into a rhythm and just adds one solid effort after another on this disk.
Three Words is a beautiful song, with some truly lovely guitar interludes. Musically this is a great piece.
Speaking of beautiful songs, The Same Sky is another sweet love song.
Pictures of You has a sort of subtle Spanish thing going on which works nicely as a musical change of pace.
Hangin’ On ends the disk, and rates in the top two, or three songs here.
And, in case you think Ricasso has abandoned protest songs altogether, there is Buy Yourself, a song with a definite message.
This is a disk which really takes Ricasso up a level. Find this CD, you will not be disappointed.
Check it out at www.ricasso.ca
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SCOTT COOK -- This One's On The House

THIS ONE’S ON THE HOUSE
Scott Cook
Indie
8.5-out-of-10

Scott Cook is a veteran Canadian musician with a series of CDs dating back to 1997.
In 2007, Cook released Long Way to Wander, and I had the pleasure to review that disk, and I liked it a lot, giving it a 9-out-of-10.
So expectations for This One’s On The House were rather high.
For the most part Cook manages to carry the expectations. The lyrics are strong from start to finish. The heart of an old time troubadour beats in this guy’s chest.
The ability to pen a great song for Cook is also firmly rooted in folk music, although he does expand on that.
Lucky Star has a bluesy sound carried by some nice harmonica work.
Then on The Dirt On Your Heart has a throwback country sound.
Cook maneuvers through a variety of roots influences here, and handles them all well.
Vocally, Cook was meant to sing this sort of music. There’s just a touch of grit in his gizzard, and he uses that to come across as real.
As for songs Shady Grove is the best here. Excellent.
The result is a great disk, which I highly recommend, although it does come up just a hair short of the Long Way to Wander.
Check it out at www.scottcook.net
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SUZIE VINNICK -- Happy Here

HAPPY HERE
Suzie Vinnick
Indie
7.5-out-of-10

Suzie Vinnick has a crystal clear voice that takes her blues-influenced music into that realm where one is reminded of show tunes, country and just plain fine music,
Happy Here is Vinnick’s third solo CD, the first; Angel in the Sidelines dating back to 1994. While not overly prolific as a solo artist, Vinnick has honed her considerable skills on several side projects including the 2005 project The Marigolds.
Maybe because the disks haven’t rolled out in quick succession, Vinnick has loaded up Happy Here with 14 songs. It’s always a bonus when an artist gives the listener those few extra cuts.
When it is Vinnick at work it’s even sweeter given those fine vocals, which might best be described simply as musically pleasant. My Kind of Loneliness is a great example of that. It is a beautiful song filled with lyrics which create images in the mind that have you remembering lost loves and special times. It is easily the best song on the album, and that really is saying something since it had to rise above a dozen other very good numbers
Vinnick was the 2008 recipient of the Canadian Maple Blues Award for Female Vocalist of the Year, and 2009 Juno nominee for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo.
A very nice CD that is well worth a listen if you like female blues that aren’t really blues, but is still fine music.
Check it out at www.suzievinnick.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review -- DELHI 2 DUBLIN -- Delhi 2 Dublin: Remix

DELHI 2 DUBLIN: REMIX
Delhi 2 Dublin
Indie
9-out-of-10

There was a night where I was flipping through the television channels looking for something worthwhile to watch, something which at times seems near impossible, at least when dealing with network fare.
This night though I happened upon a channel showing a music concert, and fate made me stop flicking channels long enough to listen. There was only one word for my reaction to the music — Wow!
The sound was one which I would not have imagined as working, combining East Indian and Celtic styles into a single cohesive sound.
However Delhi 2 Dublin pulls the two diverse musical cultures together into a seamless sound which is quite frankly amazing.
On their Remix album Dil Nachde is the song I think best shows just how well the band is at combining the cultures. There are times in the song that you swear it’s a full on East Indian piece, and others where the familiar Celtic beat takes over.
And then there are times where one culture takes the lead, with the sound overlaying the other. It is at these moments you feel totally immersed in something new.
For those unfamiliar with the band, and I suggest you make them a priority to get to know real fast, their website at www.delhi2dublin.com explains their sound rather thoroughly. “Vancouver-based Delhi 2 Dublin is a group of five musicians who mash up electronica and world music, keeping it heavy on the Bhangra, Celtic and Dub flavours. Fusing tabla, fiddle, dhol, Punjabi vocals, and electric sitar with scorching electronic beats, the crew takes listeners on a wild ride through global sounds and synchronicities.”
Yes, I know reading the description makes you wonder how it can all come together, but I assure it does.
This is a band with a unique sound, and that is rare enough these days to make me recommend them. But it goes further here. Not only is the sound unique, but it’s a great sound, with a strong heart beat. Very highly recommended.
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 27, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- DIANA CATHERINE AND THE THRUSTY TWEETERS -- The Spirit Ranch Sessions

THE SPIRIT RANCH SESSIONS
Diana Catherine and The Thrusty Tweeters
Indie
8.5-out-of-10
Good Americana music does not mean it comes from the U.S., and Toronto’s Diana Catherine and The Thrusty Tweeters prove that.
The music here has that folky heart based on solid lyrics which generally tell stories. The songs are all written by Diana DiGiovanni (Catherine), and she has a knack for the genre. This lady can write folk/country/rock that resonates with the current day.
Vocally, Catherine is the strength of the album. The voice lands itself somewhere between country star, soft rock diva, and a folkie that reminds a bit of Sylvia Tyson with an amped up sound.
This is another band which seems to have a pretty steady handle on what they are about. “Ladies and Gents, this group of unruly characters will spin yer marbles, cause yer feet to tap, and provide a warm fuzzy feeling all over; Sonically described as “Northern” Americana, these Tweeters are very thrustable. These boys (Matt Blackie, Nic DiSanto and Kevin Robinson), led by the cutting intensity of Diana Catherine, are a family of travelin’, misfit, musical gypsies who always bring a party to town,” detailed information at their website; www.dianacatherine.com
As a complete package, The Spirit Ranch Sessions are just that — complete. Not every song is an out of the park home run. Some songs, such as Long Road, one of the rockier cuts, may only be a double, to extend the baseball metaphor, but when you mix it into an album with great songs like Blueberry Eyes and Come With Me Baby, you still have a superior effort.
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 27, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- STEVE KALDESTAD -- Blow Up

BLOW UP
Steve Kaldestad
Cellar Live
8-out-of-10
Blow Up is a fine jazz effort from my favourite little Canadian jazz label Cellar Live. It features the Steve Kaldestad Quintet featuring Kaldestad on tenor saxophone, Kevin Dean, trumpet, Andre White, piano, Jodi Proznick, bass, and Jesse Cahill on drums. Together the five musicians offer up a seven song CD that is still a huge value.
The quintet make their song long journey with enough curves and hills along the way to make the journey highly enjoyable.
The lead cut Shimmy! is written by Kaldestad, who has penned four of the sings here. It sets the mood for the disk, with its happy sound, and near 10-minute exploration of the musical skills of the quintet, of course with some added focus on the saxophone.
The quintet does spread things around on the album. White pens the Cut In The Loop, and Dean has credit on So Long Cerulean.
The group also shares the spotlight well. While obviously a vehicle for Kaldestad and his fine sax work, all five musicians are allowed moments to shine, and that includes some sweet beat work from bassist Proznick, and some sweet soft drum work by Cahill.
This is an enjoyable jazz effort which should occupy a place in any collection. Solid from start to finish.
Check it out at www.cellarlive.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 27, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- EAGLE & HAWK -- Sirensong

SIRENSONG
Eagle & Hawk
Rising Sun Productions
9.5-out-of-10
There are CDs that start out with powerful songs, the kind that touch you in some deep place that brings out emotions every time you hear them. Well folks, that is what Eagle & Hawk do on the lead cut of their new CD. The song Someday is hauntingly beautiful. It is one of those simple songs that just speaks to you. Wow, what a great way to start a CD.
Eagle & Hawk are of course a group you might expect great things from. Sirensong, a great song in its own right, is the seventh for this Canadian band out of Winnipeg. That is an indication of staying power, and also tells you this disk has its share of polish.
This disk has only eight songs, but every one of them is a winner.
In fact Eagle & Hawk were big winners in 2009.
At the 2009 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, Eagle & Hawk were up for multiple awards and walked away with a pair of the big awards for Best Group and Best Rock CD.
Sirensong was also the 2009 Aboriginal Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
It helps when you have a lead singer such as Jay Bodner. He has a pop infused voice which is ideally suited to both the moving slow songs, such as Song For The Sundancer, another truly moving piece, or the more upbeat cuts such as It’s About Time.
When you have had the pleasure to listen to Sirensong like I have there really is only one thing you can do, tell everyone that this is simply a must have CD. It blew me away. Buy it folks, you won’t be disappointed.
Check the disk and band out at www.eagleandhawk.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 20, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- BIG JOE BURKE -- Quiver

QUIVER
Big Joe Burke
YVR Records
7-out-of-10
In an era when many country-influenced singers all seem to have voices cloned from a single source, you will never think that about B.C. artist Big Joe Burke.
Burke has a vocal style that sort of makes me think he has a couple of marbles gloating around his vocal chords. It’s that sort of throaty sound which stands out.
It’s also a good fit for the type of music Burke offers up. I like where Burke’s Myspace site suggests his style is “where Hank Williams meets Elvis Presley,” tagging his musical style as country / Americana / rockabilly. That is a pretty accurate self-description.
Now I have never been a big fan of Elvis, but Hank is a different story, and I can certainly hear influences from both on the music here.
The song Rolling Back the Stone for one could be a Williams’ song.
The disk has 13 songs, and Burke does pen the majority. When he goes out to do a cover cut, he picks off some of the best songwriters in the business — ever.
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right is a Bob Dylan cut, Oh Darling is from the team of Lennon/McCartney, Sundown is a Gordon Lightfoot classic and Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down is from the great Merle Haggard.
With songs from such writing legends on the disk, Burke ran the risk his own songs might not measure up. In some cases he falters a bit on that level, a song such as Home Sweet Home isn’t quite there for me. However, other cuts, such as Car Lights, holds up well. In fact it is arguably the best song on the entire CD.
I should add I love Lightfoot’s Sundown song, and while the originator does it better, Burke does give it a credible cover effort.
Quiver is Burke’s sophomore effort a follow-up to his 2006 release Love or Money.
This is music for lovers of that sort of 1950’s rockabilly twang country. If that is something you enjoy, then Quiver is a good choice.
Check it out at www.bigjoeburke.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 20, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SUZIE VINNICK -- Happy Here

HAPPY HERE
Suzie Vinnick
Indie
7.5-out-of-10
Suzie Vinnick has a crystal clear voice that takes her blues-influenced music into that realm where one is reminded of show tunes, country and just plain fine music.
Happy Here is Vinnick’s third solo CD, the first; Angel in the Sidelines dating back to 1994. While not overly prolific as a solo artist, Vinnick has honed her considerable skills on several side projects including the 2005 project The Marigolds.
Maybe because the disks haven’t rolled out in quick succession, Vinnick has loaded up Happy Here with 14 songs. It’s always a bonus when an artist gives the listener those few extra cuts.
When it is Vinnick at work it’s even sweeter given those fine vocals, which might best be described simply as musically pleasant. My Kind of Loneliness is a great example of that. It is a beautiful song filled with lyrics which create images in the mind that have you remembering lost loves and special times. It is easily the best song on the album, and that really is saying something since it had to rise above a dozen other very good numbers
Vinnick was the 2008 recipient of the Canadian Maple Blues Award for Female Vocalist of the Year, and 2009 Juno nominee for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo.
A very nice CD that is well worth a listen if you like female blues that aren’t really blues, but is still fine music.
Check it out at www.suzievinnick.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 20, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SHANE CHISHOLM -- Hitchhiking Buddha

HITCHHIKING BUDDHA
Shane Chisholm
Indie
7.5-out-of-10
There is some interesting country music starting to come out again on the indie front in Canada. Shane Chisholm is trying to carve out his place in the field with his debut release Hitchhiking Buddha, which I will admit is a pretty unique title for a country CD.
Chisholm falls into the traditionalist country vein, although it’s not a complete retro effort either. There are elements of new country, although thankfully it is more of a throwback effort.
I particularly like the slower song After You’re Gone, which has an older, traditional approach.
Chisholm follows the new, tradition-leaning song with his own rendition of the Hank Williams hit Kawliga. An interesting choice in song, he kicks it up just a bit with a toe-tapping backbeat, but overall he stays pretty honest with this song. A tip of the hat on that.
Living Out Our Name is also a beautiful effort.
The CD has a couple of pre-release singles people may have heard, most notably Tundra and Tacoma, which is a very solid story song, a staple of country music.
The title cut is a fun song of life on the highway. It’s one of those songs that is likely to be a popular song with truckers on call-in radio. It has a very traditional old country sound, and touches all the right triggers, such as a line about a double, double coffee, and mentioning a number of Prairie cities such as Swift Current, Regina, Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, and Brooks.
Chisholm has been nominated for Canadian Country Music Association Bass Player of the Year in 2003, 2004, and 2007, so he can play, but it will be his smooth, comfortable voice you will appreciate the most here. He has a very relaxed delivery.
This is a really fine album that pays homage to tradition and still mixes in modern elements. It should be appreciated by most any country fan.
Check it out at www.shanechisholm.homestead.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 13, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- ROSS NEILSEN -- Early Grave

EARLY GRAVE
Ross Neilsen
Thorny Bleeder Records
9-out-of-10
When you look up Ross Neilsen on Myspace.com he categorizes his sound simply as blues/blues/blues. When the opening song, the title cut on this disk, starts coming out of the speakers, you see why he says the blues.
However, Neilsen has recognized there is a pretty broad range of music which can be labeled the blues. Early Grave for example is a near gospel blues piece.
Then Neilsen hits you with Walk In The Sun, a cut that skates the edge of hard guitar rock.
Don’t Need Love is more of a Blues Brother effort, with some killer sax by Chris Mitchell setting the upbeat mood of the piece.
Keith Hallett is featured guitarist on Texas, a song Neilsen has said he wrote specifically for Hallett’s guitar. It does cook folks.
This is Neilsen’s sophomore recording effort, and there’s no slump here. His debut album, Where I’m From, received many accolades. Among them, an East Coast Music Award Nomination for Best Blues Recording.
Neilsen is actually a two-time ECMA nominee and two time CBC Rising Star Award winner, so he’s building musical pedigree early in his career.
What truly impresses me is that Neilsen has such a solid handle on a number of blues styles, and can write and perform them all so well. I also appreciate the songs here. He knows what blues lyrics are supposed to be.
If you like the blues, remember the name Neilsen, this guy is a break-out star. One of the best young bluesmen in the country. A definite must have.
Look this one up at www.rossneilsen.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 13, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- COMPLIATION -- (weewerk) is 6!

(WEEWERK) IS 6!
Compilation
weewerk
8-out-of-10
(weewerk) is a small label out of Toronto which shows that small can still be very good.
(weewerk) is 6! is a disk which celebrates the label’s sixth anniversary by compiling 23 songs from among the bands which have recorded with them over the years. In six years (weewerk) has worked with some very fine bands, and you get a little taste of a bunch of them here.
The disk includes material such as Burn Out by Ox, In the Red by the FemBots; No No No Yes from The Unsettlers, and This Is My Address by Susie Asado.
As you might expect a range of bands and soloists are featured here, with only a couple of acts given more than one slot. The Great Lakes Swimmers are featured on three songs including the lead cut Song For The Angels and Two-Minute Miracles has two including The First Thing I Hear Upon Waking.
Compilation disks by nature are interesting. The best ones have some common theme which tie the various bands together musically. In this case there is no theme, yet the songs here fit rather well as a cohesive package because (weewerk) is a small enough label that the bands they have chosen to promote all fit snugly in the same genre.
(weewerk) was founded in November 2002, and since then, the label has released some 30 albums with 16 artists, featuring folk, roots, bluegrass, alt-country musical acts from Canada and beyond.
A very solid effort to celebrate a great little label that has proven good indie music can sell enough disks if a label is dedicated to the effort. Let’s hope they are doing the same things six years into the future.
Check this one out at www.weewerk.com.
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 13, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SHANE YELLOWBIRD -- It's About Time

IT’S ABOUT TIME
Shane Yellowbird
EMI/Onramp Records
8-out-of-10

Yorkton music fans will recognize the name Shane Yellowbird from his past performances at the Painted Hand Casino.
Well now you can bring his music home with the release of It’s About Time. The disk is Yellowbird’s sophomore effort, following the 2006 release of Life Is Calling My Name.
The new disk starts out with one of those Nashville junky pieces that you know is made for radio air play. Bare Feet on the Blacktop has zero depth, and is derivative of the worst of the current state of the industry. It was an opening cut which had me shuddering as to what might follow.
Then Yellowbird comes back with Watching You Walk Away, and it was like WOW!. I was left wondering if it was the same guy. As bad as the opening cut was Watching You Walk Away is a phenomenal song. I love it.
I Get That A Lot These Days is the third song, and I was curious which way it would go, Thankfully, it is another solid effort. In some respects the song and the performance reminds me of the Johner Brothers in their heyday.
The rest of the way Yellowbird, who is Cree and grew up at Hobbema, AB., keeps the disk for the most part on the positive side of things.
Even My Kind of Crowd, a song which is completely radio friendly, is still pretty good, being more of a throwback to something Hank Williams Jr. might do.
Between You and Me is maybe the best song here. Very nice. Although Next Time I Leave is also a great cut.
If you could cut off the first song, there would not be a soft spot here. Still a very good CD for country fans to check out.
You can learn more at www.shaneyellowbird.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 6, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- DR. RAGE & THE UPPERCUTS -- Sexus Diablo

SEXUS DIABLO
Dr. Rage & The Uppercuts
Absurd Machine Records
8-out-of-10
When you take blues and raunch it up with some southern rock flare, you end up with Dr. Rage & The Uppercuts.
I first heard these guys back in 2007 when I reviewed Hittin' Wood and Diamond Hard, a disk which I liked a lot. That earlier disk scored an eight, and Sexus Diablo is every bit as solid.
The band has changed some personnel since the 2007 release. Steve Silver is now on bass instead of Les Dzialik, Colin Musulak remains on drums and Chris Parkes is still on rhythm guitar, but is joined by Dan Grapko. Dr. Rage is of course still on lead guitar and vocals.
The band always had a power feel to it, but the addition of another guitar slinger certainly makes the new album a guitar-centric rumble of blues rock.
Rage has a growl to his vocals, and the wall of guitar music gives it that grungy, in the gutter, blues feel. It may not to be everybody’s taste, but it bridges the world of good old rock and my favoured world of blues just perfectly.
Rage wrote nine of the 13 songs here. Those not by his pen include the familiar Monkeybone, as well as Ego, Million Miles and Ain’t Get No Pooty.
As for Rage’s work, Greed is a growly good cut.
The Beast is a song Rage gears down just a bit with, and it comes out the best of the bunch here. This one is excellent.
This is a CD which would be a great way to start a new year of music y acquiring. Search it out folks. It’s a sure thing.
Check it out at http://drrage.ca
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 6, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- TRIO ACCORD -- JS Bach Goldberg Variations

JS BACH GOLDBERG VARIATIONS
Trio Accord
Skylark Music
9-out-of-10
Trio Accord is a chamber trio which is exploring somewhat new ground with a disk devoted to Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Bach composed the Goldberg Variations in 1741 for the two-manual harpsichord. It wasn’t until 1985, the tercentenary of Bach’s birth that the variations were transcribed for string trio by renowned violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky. While that is now a quarter of a century ago, in terms of exploring Bach’s music, it is a very short period.
With this CD Trio Accord is exploring one of the greatest composers in history in a fashion which is still relatively new in terms of instrumental interpretation of the Master’s work.
The result is a beautiful album. The music is relaxing, beautiful, and enjoyable.
You do not need to be a fan of either chamber music, or of Bach to just sit back and let this CD wash over you. Take it in and let it carry you to a happier place. Truly I could sit back as I listen to the disk and just let my mind go where ever the music chooses to take me.
Trio Accord is based in Vancouver, and is comprised of Mary Sokol Brown on violin, Andrew Brown on viola, and Ariel Barnes on cello.
This is a CD that has already been recognized as a significant one, having earned a 2009 Western Canadian Music Awards nomination for Classical Recording of the Year.
This is a must for Bach and classical fans, although the recommendation goes broader than that. Any true music fan should relish this wonderful CD.
You can learn more at www.trioaccord.ca
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 6, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE TWISTERS -- Come Out Swingin

COME OUT SWINGIN
The Twisters
NorthernBlues Music
9-out-of-10
The Twisters release of Come Out Swingin marks the fourth disk for this Canadian blues band.
As you might expect from the title, this is a CD which has a definite swing influence, something you hear from the opening I’ll Make It Up To You.
The Twisters actually do a number of things here. Something's Gotta Give could have been a slow rock ‘n roll hit in the ‘50s or early ‘60s, which is a really neat sound on the CD, although there is an underlying swing beat even here.
This is not so much smoke-filled barroom blues, as it is rockin swing, jazz, rock, blues. The Twisters do a really good job of pulling varied influenced together onto a disk that still holds together in terms of flavour.
As an example, Doghouse almost has a rockabilly, country twang going on, yet it fits the tone of the CD so well it’s not out of place. Given the variety of material here, that is no small feat.
The dozen songs here take the listener on a blues ride which has some pretty big curves, although they get you back to the pure blues highway on a song such as Guess That I Was Wrong, before spinning off an another related side road.
There is almost a Jamaican beat to Take My Own Advice.
You get the feeling you’re in an old rum running Ford escaping from the revenuers. It’s a wild ride, but darn it’s a fun one too.
The CD and the band are both gaining critical acclaim. At this year’s 13th Annual Maple Blues Awards at Koerner Hall in Toronto, The Twisters are nominated in five categories: Electric Act of the Year, Recording of the Year for Come Out Swingin', Harmonica Player of the Year for David Hoerl, Keith Picot for Bass Player of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year for Brandon Isaak.
The nominations tell you alot about the band, including that the writing is strong, the individual musicians are excellent, and it all comes together with a fine CD.
Jump on this one folks. It’s one to have.
Check it out at www.twisters.ca
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 30, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- RUBIM DE TOLEDO -- The River

THE RIVER
Rubim de Toledo
Indie
8-out-of-10
Oh yes. From the lead cut Cannonball, Rubim de Toledo cooks through 10 songs on his new jazz release The River.
de Toledo has recorded three solo CDs ‘Charcoal and Crimson, a Nu-Jazz experiment; ‘Seu Swing, a World-Jazz venture; and now the acoustic jazz The River.
“The River features an Albertan musician all-star line-up and showcases Rubim’s original compositions in an acoustic, jazz quintet format. Initially, the music from The River was written as the soundtrack to Calgary’s prestigious dance company Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ 2008 production, ‘Tinge and Tone’, explained de Toledo’s website.
The dance production must be a good one, because the music certainly paints the image of dancers in the listener’s mind at times, including the vibrant title cut, which not surprisingly has some great bass solo moments.
de Toledo’s website explains the musician draws on a sort of dual heritage in creating his music.
“A Canadian of Brazilian descent, Rubim combines the influences of his cultural heritage, his passion for Cuban music, and his dedication to the jazz tradition to create a refreshing sound and to bring a rhythmic and conceptual depth to his bass playing,” states the site. “This keeps him a highly in-demand sideman for projects in any style and has also allowed him to nurture a fertile career as a bandleader.”
An indication of how good the new CD is that The River was nominated for Best Jazz Recording at the 2009 Western Canadian Music Awards.
This is a really enjoyable, relaxing jazz effort that should not be overlooked.
Check this one out at www.rubim.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 30, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- SARAH HAGEN -- Glass House Dancing

GLASS HOUSE DANCING
Sarah Hagen
Indie
8-out-of-10
Admittedly I do not review a lot of classical music, so it’s a treat when a disk does come across the desk.
Some readers may wonder if classical is my type of music. Interestingly, I often chose baroque as an inspiration when writing fiction, so yes I appreciate the genre.
Listening to Sarah Hagen actually makes listening to classical something most music fans will enjoy. She is a pianist, and on this CD at least, she has chosen music that is classical, but with a sort of light, airy appeal. I loved Song Without Words for that affect.
Hagen’s website explains she “is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician, performing in concerts across Canada as well as in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden. She currently makes her home and studio in a beach front cottage in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island. In 2006 she was named the Comox Valley's Cultural Ambassador of the Year.”
However Glass House Dancing is her first solo CD.
It is a debut which should garner Hagen new fans for both herself, and for classical piano. The disk was nominated for Outstanding Classical Performance at the 2009 Western Canada Music Awards, and deservedly so.
A great way to acquire a taste for classical would be to enjoy Glass House Dancing. Check it out at www.sarahhagen.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 30, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- STATIC IN THE STARS -- No Grace In Goodbyes

NO GRACE IN GOODBYES
Static In The Stars
Sound Grenade
8-out-of-10
If you like high energy rock that doesn’t go too far into the realm of metal, or just like being in on the ground floor of a band which should break big, then you had better put Static In The Stars’ debut release No Grace In Goodbyes on your last minute Christmas list.
This Calgary band is just plain good. Listening to the seven-song disk the first time I got the same feeling I did hearing bands such as Art of Dying and Cold Driven the first time. For regular readers, yes Static In The Stars are that good.
Lost Vegas starts off the CD and immediately catches your attention. You have the immediate feeling you are in for something special.
By the time you get a few chords into Raise Your Voice, you are convinced the band is for real.
Through the remaining five songs they simply keep matching the high bar they set with the first two songs. There is not a weak cut here. This is simply a killer disk top-to-bottom.
Jordan Carriere provides the lead vocals with help from Cam Thomas who also plays guitar, drummer Jason Ritchie, and bassist Jeff Pedora, with James Goodon also supplying guitar work.
This is truly a CD to have, and a hot band to keep an eye on.
Check them out at www.myspace.com/staticinthestars
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 23, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE PAPERBACKS -- Lit From Within

LIT FROM WITHIN
The Paperbacks
Parliament of Trees
8.5-out-of-10
You can rarely go wrong when a band offers up a two-disk set of their music, and that is exactly what The Paperbacks do with Lit From Within.
The Paperbacks are currently Doug McLean, Jaret McNabb, Corey Biluk, Kevin Andrechuk and Kevin McLean, although the Winnipeg-based band has gone through a number of lne-up changes over time.
The disk, which won’t hit stores until January, is the band’s third CD release, and it’s a massive one with 32 songs over the two disks. That is a rather Herculean effort for a band when not attaching a ‘greatest hits’ label to such an effort.
The new double album is produced by Jaret McNabb (Projektor ‘Tired Atlantic South’ EP, The Paperbacks ‘An Episode of Sparrows’).
The band’s website explains, “on their new release The Paperbacks continue their exploration of powerful and unlikely lyrical topics. While their previous CD, An Illusion Against Death, questioned the role of art in the life of the artist, Lit From Within examines more fully the motivations behind art and activism, their parallels, and the effect of each on the health of the practitioner. ”
The key to the music is that the Paperbacks know how to write lyrics. These are the types of songs which tell stories, makes comments, and ask questions. To do that, the band lets their songs take on the life they need too. The Arc of a Light is an example. It registers at more than six-minutes, and is worth every second of the time devoted to it.
There is just a ton of music to like here. The Paperbacks simply settle in and let their indie rock carry the day, thanks to lyrics definitely learned from a storytelling folkie at some point.
Highly recommended for the sheer volume of good music you get on the two disk set.
Check it out at www.thepaperbacks.com
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 23, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

Review -- THE CORY WEEDS QUINTET -- Everything's Coming Up Weeds

EVERYTHING’S COMING UP WEEDS
The Cory Weeds Quintet
Cellar Live
8-out-of-10
When it comes to jazz the combo of Cory Weeds and the Cellar Live label have become pretty well benchmarks to measure against in terms of the Canadian scene. Of course Weeds is the man behind the label, and the Jazz Cellar, a club in Vancouver where most of the label’s CDs are captured.
With Everything’s Coming Up Weeds, that trend certainly continues, as The Cory Weeds Quintet cooks its way through a delightful selection of nine songs.
As you might expect the music here is highly driven by Weeds’ tenor saxophone work. That is a good thing since he really knows his way around the sax.
Weeds though knows a quintet is not a one-man show, and at times the rest of the band is given its time to shine. Joining Weeds in the quintet are Jim Rotondi on trumpet, Ross Taggart, piano, John Webber, bass, and Willie Jones III on drums. For example, the drums get some lovin’ on Ella’s Walk.
Weeds, Taggart and Rotondi also have their hand in writing almost all of the music here, which adds some intimacy to the performance.
While the disk is generally an upbeat one, Little Unknown One slows the pace down considerably, and is a beautiful piece of music, made all the sweeter as it stands out against the rest of the material here.
If you like jazz, check this one out www.cellarlive.com
It’s just what great jazz is supposed to be.
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 23, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada