Tag Archives: album

Fumigation – “Integrated Pest Management”

I had the great fortune recently of receiving an email out of the blue from Fumigation‘s Chris Humeniuk with a request to review his band’s soon to be released CD, Integrated Pest Management. Intrigued, I proceeded to download the tunes from the provided Dropbox link and fire up the band’s website, which, brilliantly, has a lyrics page.

Before we get into the release I think it’s only fair to warn you that I have little to no expertise regarding all of metal’s sub-genres, including death metal. Quite frankly I don’t really care if your band is stoner metal, doom metal, melodic death metal or whatever. The only thing I care about is this: when I annoy my neighbours listening to your album is it going to kick my ass?

In the case of Ottawa‘s death metal quintet Fumigation, the answer is a definite yes. The band’s website refers to its sound as “groove-laden death metal” and I would add elements of technical DM as well. What sets them apart, however, is their choice of theme over and above the typical negativity associated with the genre. When I asked him how a death metal band with a pest control theme evolved he replied, “Our theme came about by me getting a job as an exterminator, and one of my friends thought it would be really funny to have a band about my job. I had a bunch of songs ready to go for a band anyways, so I figured I’d try and write lyrics and come up with ideas to turn everything into a pest control themed band…basically the life of an exterminator. I then found people that thought the idea was pretty funny and off we went, and 5 years later here we are with our first full-length album ready to drop.”

Highlights include the outrageous “Fleshlight Castration“, “Pediculosis, (Mommy I Have Lice)“, the crushingly heavy opening track, “Cranofacial Duplication” and the terrifying, “Lick of the Carnivorous Caterpillars“. Who knew that fuzzy little multi-footed critters could evoke such terror?

Overall Fumigation‘s Integrated Pest Management scores a solid 4/5.

Excellent production qualities and well-crafted songs should take this release a long way. Plus, those pesky lice are likely to abandon ship once you start head banging, an unforeseen bonus for sure.Fumigation - Integrated Pest Management

The Electric Revival – “Presenting: The Electric Revival”

Some might say that growing old is a curse but when it comes to loving music getting older can also mean having the privilege of seeing a music genre birthed and then evolve. It also means that younger people and musicians who enjoy a particular genre of music, like metal, will likely delve into its past to discover not only the main influencers but also the innovators, the ground breakers. When that happens it’s almost expected that a group of young musicians will latch onto a sound that harkens from an earlier time, re-imagine it and release their own interpretation. A current example of this is Saskatoon’s Sheepdogs who have brought the world a new version of pre-plane crash-era Lynryd Skynryd.  I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of that band because I was actually partying on the planet the night that the plane went down and the news was broken on Toronto’s Q107. For my tastes a band that wants to get my attention doing a new version of an old thing has to do so in a way that is captivating — being derivative isn’t good enough.

Having said all that and with apologies for the long intro, I have to admit that I was tempted to place The Electric Revival’s Presenting: The Electric Revival in the category of cool-sounding albums that are good for a trip down memory lane but have little staying power in terms of crafting something memorable. As one might expect from the band’s moniker there is something here that is being revived – the question is, what?

The tone of the album is set during the opening track, “Rock n Roll Breakdown.” The tune is a furiously paced two-minute rocket ride that evokes the proto-punk attitude birthed by the legendary Iggy Pop in the Stooges seminal 1973 release “Raw Power.” That isn’t to say that the songs are sloppily played or poorly recorded – it’s really quite remarkable that the band’s performance and production manages to capture the retro vibe in a digital age where so many recordings sound sterile and flat.

The rest of the album shows great pacing with good balance between heavier/faster/louder songs in the vein of the opener and slower more moody pieces like the second track, “Black Widow.”  Three tracks on the “2nd side” of the album (see, I’m old) pay homage to the blues – an admirable aspiration in any R&R revival. “Outlaw Blues” is a hard and dirty blues rocker that serves as a reminder that metal was birthed from playing the blues too fast and too loud, a prescription that worked out well for Zeppelin and Sabbath back in the day.  On the subsequent track, “Goodbye 1979″ things stay bluesy but the vibe mellows considerably.

Overall Presenting: The Electric Revival scores a solid four out of five (4/5) with the only criticism being this:  pretty much all of the vocals are processed with what sounds like a combination of chorus and reverb and this is put to good use in creating that late 60’s, early 70’s retro vibe. However, I think that I would appreciate the album more if a couple of tracks out of the twelve featured a less processed approach on vocals, but that’s just me. Head over to iTunes right now and buy this excellent release.

The Electric Revival - Presenting: The Electric Revival

Flowshine – “Mountain Queen”

There’s a lot to be said for first impressions. They tell us everything: good or bad, our instincts are the first feeling toward love or hate. In listening to a new album, we often know right away whether it’s worth a few more listens or better off serving as background music at a slaughterhouse. In the case of Mountain Queen, the new album from Calgary’s Flowshine, our instincts are definitely right: this is a fantastic release, worth a few listens, a first pump and a membership to their fan club.

Flowshine seems to have come out of nowhere. They’ve been around for a couple years, but now they’re impossible to overlook, with good press, a presence on every website and a lot of excitement buzzing around their upcoming shows. Once you hear Flowshine’s music you realize the reason for the attention they’re getting: simply put, they’re really good. They’re a band the whole family will love — if your family’s cool, anyway.

Part of the album’s likeability is its diversity. Each of the six songs is a little bit different, almost to the point that they sound like different bands altogether. They don’t have the “signature sound” you might hear with other bands, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: some bands get so caught up in their “sound” or their image they become boring and predictable. Flowshine does not have that. They show huge variety in their music, from blues-rock to psychedelic funk-rock to more happy pop. Everything does have a slightly old-school feel, so if they have one quality to call their own, “retro” is probably it.

Because of their diversity, it’s hard to name just one band Flowshine sounds like. “The Coast” brings out the heavier blues-rock, sounding almost like Cream, Zeppelin or the more modern Queens of the Stone Age. “Red Thread” and “Good People”, though, are more poppy; they’d be great to dance to. You might think of The Killers or Weezer, bands with definite radio appeal and huge fan followings. “Something to Go On” is a funkier version of The Killers, with wicked bass lines carrying the music forward. The bass stands out quite a bit, actually: it really complements the guitars and drums throughout, putting together completely solid arrangements of music and showing off some very talented song-writing.

The more you listen to this album, the better it gets. It’s hard to name a favourite track, probably due in part to their diversity. Listen to this album lots. It’s easy to do so, especially with how quickly the six tracks fly by. For a taste of the music, check out their tunes on Soundcloud, and then go like them on Facebook and visit all the other online houses listed on their main website.

And if you’re in Calgary, check them out at Dickens Pub Thursday, January 31 — the show’s going to be huge and you’ll definitely regret missing it. The first impression of Flowshine’s Mountain Queen is a good one, and it’ll keep getting better.

Flowshine - Mountain Queen

Jennah Barry – “Young Men”

Nova Scotia’s Jennah Barry has released her newest album Young Men, which will attract listeners with a minimal yet complex approach. Barry, the daughter of a choir director, has surpassed her father and transformed herself into a successful singer, songwriter, and talented musician. Her move from small town Clearland (Nova Scotia) to Toronto in the pursuits to study jazz music motivated growth in her music, resulting in longing, homesickness, heartbreak, and vulnerability.

The cover art as you can see is an elaborate drawing of her submerged in a dreamy, cerulean sea, reflecting the mood of the album quite well. She builds up wonder, blueness, and the submersion of many emotions for you to glide through. With humble beginnings, the soft acoustic melodies undergo a transformation through her rich, smooth vocals, which provoke a journey of many sensations. Her work can be seen as simplistic yet full. With prominently acoustic ballads, her slow melodic build ups create an atmosphere of winter but her sound will soar over the dark and bare parts in triumph.

Barry’s lyrics hold an interesting combination of not only having the warmth and comforting swirling tone of her voice, but lyrically Barry also confronts many deeper human issues. This stark contrast predominantly is found in many of her songs including “The Coast”, “Black Hole”, and of course “Young Men”. These songs delve into a variety of states such as nostalgia and reflection, sensations of loss and nothingness. The powerful imagery of ice and snow used in the song “Young Men” acts as a social commentary on the destructive nature of adolescent men, and how it creates feelings of helplessness. Jennah Barry’s Young Men will take you through a journey of home, contemplation, and ease, all in one. Although the album is an untainted and fresh perspective, she as a younger artist shows that she will only escalate and improve from here on. It will draw you in and take you back to a place you thought you forgot; an album definitely worth a copious amount of listening to.

Check her out on Facebook and buy the album through Bandcamp!

Jennah Barry - Young Men

Kyley Styles – “One Short of a Six Pack”

In anticipation of writing this review I checked out Kyley Styles’s Facebook page and was immediately struck by the line accompanying his profile pic: “Life is tough. Write a song.”  What struck me upon seeing this is the context it gives the EP’s lyrics which focus primarily on the perils of human relationships. That isn’t to say that they are dry, boring or the sort of navel-gazing drivel we get from some indie/alt acts – Styles presents his view of the world with tongue firmly planted in cheek but still manages to touch the heart.

The EP gets off to a kick-ass start with the infectious “Eye of the Beholder”, a groovy hook-laden tune that reminds me of little-known Canadian indie act Barstool Prophets, who had some brief success in the mid-90’s with the song, “Paranoia”. Stylistically (bad pun intended) these two tunes are of a kind and that is definitely a compliment. In fact, this track would have been my choice for release to radio, which is not to say that “Halo”, the track that was released to radio, is unworthy. It’s simply true for me that “Beholder” is a whole body groove out, head-banging, air-guitar, sing-along endorphin rush.  That, my friends, is worth the price of admission, especially at $4.99 from iTunes!

The balance of the EP is equally satisfying in different ways, although the tone softens somewhat on tracks 2, 3 and 5. Upon first listen I have to admit to being a little confused about what genre Styles fits into; however, on several repeat listens this became less and less of a concern due in large part, I believe, to the fact that Styles is the songwriter and the band all wrapped up in one: with the exception of drums on track 1 and Uncle Bill’s violin, Styles plays all the instruments on the EP himself. As a dabbler in home recording and a hack at multi-instrumentation I can tell you that is no small feat. Being the single creative force behind a project is really, really risky: when it works it can be magic but when it doesn’t…

Fortunately for Kyley Styles it works perfectly: to this ear the key weapon in the Styles arsenal is his ability to create memorable hooks. Lots of us can play a few chords, hum a melody, add a lyric and call it a song but few can weave the elements of a great song/great performance/great recording into an emotional experience that is memorable. What strikes me most about Styles’s songwriting ability is his sense of phrasing and rhythm, key elements in creating a memorable hook and it’s the hooks that, well, hook us (my editor is cringing).

The bottom line is that I love One Short of a Six Pack, and that is saying something coming from a middle-aged metal-head who doesn’t list indie/alt rock amongst his top 3 genres. Head on over to iTunes and invest $4.99 in some endorphin-firing rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll be glad you did.

p.s.  Once you buy the EP make sure you head over to the Kyley Styles website to download the accompanying .pdf EP booklet. Do that Here.

Kyley Styles - "One Short of a Six Pack"