Thursday, June 20, 2013

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes!

Between reviewing albums for Maritime Vinyl and 97.9 CHSR FM, I am constantly discovering new and old music. Good albums exist; however, they are few and far between. The lyrics can be complex, deep and/or meaningful, but sometimes they really need work. All of this exploring takes a great deal of attention especially when I am giving a critical review.
At times a break is needed, not from music, but from thinking (enter ‘dumbass’ joke here).  Every now and then, I just feel like listening to something that’s familiar and entertaining.
Enter Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s! This is a punk supergroup consisting of members who already have successful music careers. They are not about originality, stardom or money, but instead they play covers of their favorite songs, and have fun!
The band members are: Spike Slawson of Swing’ Utters and Re-Volts on vocals; Fat Mike of NOFX on bass, Chris Shifllett of Foo Fighters on lead guitar, Joey Cape of Lagwagon on guitar and backing vocals and Dave Raun also of Lagwagon on drums. These five guys have the talent to play amazing songs and the sense of humour to keep their fans smiling.

You can hear them play 60’s classics like Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind and The Beach Boys’ Sloop John B.  Or, if you’re in the mood for country, you can listen to them play Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again or Garth Brooks’ Much to Young (to feel this damn old). Hell, you can ever hear them play the Ghostbusters theme or check out their newest LP called Sing in Japanese which is… well… them singing in Japanese.
Below are some of my favorite cover by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Enjoy!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Torch and Rope - These Ghosts - Review!

Fredericton’s Torch and Rope consist of Shyanna McWilliams on vocals; Grant Harrison on vocals, guitar and bass; Rob McFee on guitar and bass; and Rick Bastedo on guitar. These four along with numerous guest musicians created their debut album called These Ghosts filled with heart, memories, and appreciation.

I have talked to guitarist Rick Bastedo with regards to how they were planning to push sales and airplay but they are still trying to sort this out. It was never written with money and fame in mind, but instead written to express their art, experiment in a studio environment and have fun with their instruments. See, these four are friends who have lots of musical experience. They just wanted to play together, have some fun, make a record and see what happens.

All songs were written by Grant Harrison and then arranged by the entire band. These are highly personal songs. The track Everything and Nothing is a song about a Grant’s struggle with his beliefs when confronted with a tragic situation involving his son in a car accident. The track The Young Man in the Old Picture is written about Grants relationship with his late father and his reflection on it. You can get the idea from these examples that this is not a party, humorous or light hearted album, but instead all songs are written with meaning and feelings. I’m often not in the mood for such a deep, personal album so it took me a while to find the ‘right’ moment to take this one in, but when the time came it was well worth the wait.

Torch and Rope excel at their instruments and their musical experience is evident. Filled with some complex fills, solos and time signatures, musicians like me can really appreciate this approach. The recording was a very solid attempt for a self-produced album. It’s a little heavy on reverb and other effects, but still a great sounding LP and something the entire band should be proud of.

For now, they do not have this album for sale online or in stores but if you would like a copy you can email me at and I can put you in contact with them.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Adam and the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier - crash course!

At almost every performance early in their career, Adam and the Ants had a steady stream of line-up changes. The album Kings of the Wild Frontier was the first that had a completely fresh line-up with Adam Ant himself being the only returning member.

Having his prior band leave to form their own group called Bow Wow Wow (with Annabella Lwin), Adam and the Ants re-formed with Adam on vocals, Marco Pirroni on guitar, Kevin Mooney on bass, and the drumming duo of Chris Hughes and Terry Lee Miall. This new line-up independently released a single called Kings of the Wild Frontier. It quickly gained attention from labels and eventually landed Adam and the Ants a major label deal with ABC records. With this deal in their pocket, they hit the studio and recorded this album, Kings of the Wild Frontier.

Prior to purchasing this LP, I have never heard any Adam and the Ants’ music, so I went into this with a completely fresh and open mind. Having read an interview with Adam Ant in the recent issue of Record Collector Magazine and often seeing his name associated with punk rock led me to seeking out this LP. I can’t compare this record to any other in my collection. It has a completely unique sound and is obvious why it was so influential to other punk bands. With the two drummers forming the Burundi drum beat and Marco Pirroni with a guitar style often compared to Link Wray, I have never come across another band with a similar sound.

The album released three hit singles: Dog Eat Dog, Antmusic and Kings of the Wild Frontier. With this album, Adam and the Ants soon became one of the leading bands in the New Wave/Post Punks genres,  and quickly took over the UK airwaves. With their fetish lyrics, sex influenced performances, and flashy clothes, music fans were paying attention and the album climbed to the top of the charts resulting in it becoming the 1981 bestselling album in the UK.

 Check out this video of Kings of the Wild Frontier. Enjoy!



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Theresa Sokyrka - Prairie Winds - Review!

Saskatchewan’s Theresa Sokyrka had a very unique approach to the recording of her fourth studio album.  While visiting Madrid, Spain, Theresa met up with pianist Sebastian Gosnell and the two ventured to performances around the city in search of ‘great’ musicians to recruit for a new album. They successfully found a rhythm section consisting of drummer Daniel Garcia Bruno and upright bass player Reinier Elizarde el Negrón. Together, they went to Casa Limon studio in Madrid and recorded this great new album called Prairie Winds.  


This is a beautiful sounding album with Theresa’s vocals nice and loud up front, a crystal clear sounding guitar, and great jazzy rhythm. I particularly love the rattle of the drums brushes almost always present in the background as well as the sound of the scraping of the guitar strings when she slides her fingers up and down the neck. It makes it sound so real, cozy, and personal. Oh, and the whistling on Prize to You sounds so great that I’d have sworn it was that cartoon bird on Cinderella stopping by the studio for a visit! 

Theresa self-produced Prairie Winds with the goal of not heavily relying on technology for sound. She approached the production as if all the sound depended on a good live studio mix and great performances from the band. Basically, she aimed to make it sound right the first time. She did an incredible job producing and I can’t see any reason why she shouldn’t pursue this role on future albums.

This is my first introduction to Theresa Sokyrka and I was pleasantly surprised. Great folksy songs sung by a gorgeous voice, all while giving it that quiet coffee shop music sound. After discovering this album, I began researching Theresa for this review. I was surprised to discover that Theresa was a finalist on the second season of Canadian Idol in 2004. Personally, I have never been a fan of these competitive singing shows (hence why I never knew she was a contestant) even though I think that they are a great way to gain interest in music, and heavily responsible for many album sales. My problem is that most of the music doesn’t cater to my personal taste since I don’t like new poppy, fabricated music. So, this was a huge surprise to me discovering that she had made it to the finals. Apparently she had a clear road ahead for a successful pop music career, but instead took the long road and pursued a career in folk rock... lucky us!

Prairie Winds hit the shelves on June 4th and you can order copies on her website and also find it on iTunes. Theresa is also in the middle of a cross Canadian tour and will be passing through the Maritimes next week including a show at Plan B in Moncton on June 12th.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This Ship - Interview - Podcast!

Last Saturday I posted a review by up and coming Halifax pop-rock band This Ship's debut release All the Stars and Elements. Today Bondo from 97.9 fm CHSR's Homemade Jams and myself had a chance to sit down and chat with This Ship as they were passing through town on tour.

So sit back and enjoy this interview with Halifax's This Ship and be sure to check out their brand new album All the Stars and Elements.