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