Tag Archives: pop

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

The Marquee – “White Room”

Edmonton quartet The Marquee spent two months in Los Angeles writing and recording their debut album White Room.  In that time, their experiences in a different environment, far from home, must have been incredibly positive, because that’s exactly what shines through on this collection of catchy, easy and fully danceable indie-flavoured pop record.

Featuring up-tempo beats, jangly, understated guitar and a generous helping of synths and keys, The Marquee crafts accessible, dance-friendly songs along the lines of bands like The Killers, The Sounds or Metric. The album’s opener, “First Time”, with its mid-tempo groove, rolling bass line and enveloped synth melodies, would definitely strike a chord with any fans of The Killers’ Hot Fuss. Upbeat tracks like “Can’t Take Mine” and “Each And Every Week” offer plenty of bounce and happy riffs while cuts like “Melodies & Memories”, “Fall Back In” and “Save You” also promise to get your feet moving. Though vocalist Jordan Jones often sings about many of the frustrations in life like feeling restless, unsettled or at a loss of control, or the ups and downs of relationships, he usually shines a positive and hopeful light on such issues. Adding even more to the overall positive vibe of Jones’ lyrics are the sweeter-than-icing-sugar harmonies of keyboardist Nicole Riley, which really put the finishing touches on The Marquee’s whole sound. Jones and Riley’s harmonic chemistry really shines through on the touching “Beating Drums” and the soaring “Horizon”.

With White Room, The Marquee aren’t looking to push the envelope or take you into uncharted musical waters. What they’ve done is create an album of straight-ahead, highly accessible and definitely danceable pop songs that get your feet moving and put a smile on your face. The Marquee also want to make sure you have their record, making it available for download on their official website. You can also check them out on their Facebook page.

The Marquee - "White Room"

Rend – “No Lines”

Have you ever heard a singer whose voice completely blows you away? It might stop you in your tracks, render you speechless, or even make you cry. This sort of voice is definitely not common, so when we come across a band with a mix of insanely powerful vocals and original songwriting, we know they’re something special.Rend, an incredible new pop-rock band out of Edmonton, brings us everything we’ve been waiting for, and their debut album No Lines is one of the most mind-blowing displays of talent we’ve seen in a while. Rend’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric. After the release of No Lines in early 2012, the band quickly became known across the country for their multifaceted sound and enormous talent. The album achieved cross-Canada radio play in no time with their first single, “Hide”, and their growth since then has been even more impressive. No Lines marks the beginning of what will be an incredible journey, and every element of the album is a sign of what’s to come. No Lines is a vocal-driven adventure through music. It has almost everything: technical skill, strong instrumentals, and meaningful lyrics, not to mention truly awesome vocals that show off ridiculous range, power, and emotion. Lead singer Carol-Lynne Quinn is nothing short of remarkable, and her voice is easily one of the most powerful and impressive sounds to come out of Canada in the last decade. She can be compared to superstars likes Kelly Clarkson or Alicia Keys, but with actual songwriting talent and a Canadian flag draped across her shoulders, we’d argue she’s far superior. There are different sounds throughout the album that will appeal to fans of different genres: “Hold On” takes on more bluesy, Alicia Keys-like composition while “Pearl” and “Torn” sound very much like Lily Allen tracks. We also see rock anthems in songs like “Monster”, showing off Quinn’s vocals and the overall rock quality of the band’s sound. At times they sound like Evanescence with vocals like Amy Lee, and with comparisons to rock outfits like Led Zeppelin or Radiohead, they fit into a variety of musical tastes. “Hold On” would fit in perfectly with Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, and adding in a cover of Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper”, even those of us with a preference for ’90s music are satisfied. This entire album is fantastic. It’s partially Quinn’s vocal acrobatics that make the album stand out, but the guitar hooks, percussion, piano, and soul lead to an overall electric experience that can’t be missed. To sample the album, check out Rend’s website, YouTube, or Facebook, and definitely buy the album on iTunes. This is an album (and a band) unlike any other, and with your support and love, they’ll get to the top. Rend will blow you away: just give them a try.

Rend - "No Lines"

The Just Barelys – “Mad Bits”

Sometimes when you listen to an album you get a really good idea of the band’s personality. Whether it’s the lyrics, the tunes, or the overall sound of the music, the songs give good insight into the personalities of the band members and make the music a lot more fun. In the case of The Just Barelys, the music says the band is awesome. They seem quirky, cool, and just plain weird. It’s a taste of something different, and like the weird friends we have and the things that surprise us, they make our lives a hell of a lot more interesting.

Adding this interesting break to our music playlist is “Mad Bits“, the latest and highly anticipated release from the Halifax-based The Just Barelys. It has been an album in demand for several years, as fans have waited both patiently and longingly for a new release from the twosome, and it has met every desire. As we have come to expect from the band, they have created an album full of fantastic lyrics, inventive melodies, and a lot of randomness. It’s something you just can’t stop listening to, and even when the music sounds improvised and random, it slowly begins to make a lot of sense.

The sound might be considered “experimental electronic indie pop”. Think of a weird electronic version of Stars, or a poppy dance poetry reading. The melodies don’t follow the (boring) traditional structures or rules, but this is part of the fun. Imagine a kid making up a song as they sing to their food, but with lyrics about getting older or stealing satellite TV. For people who like this sort of quirkiness, the music is fantastic.

Other bands have tried and failed to create a similar sort of sound, but The Just Barelys bring something special to make their attempt successful. Mainly it’s their earnestness, not trying to be anything different than what they are. The guitar riffs are super catchy and inventive, and the two-part vocals go together in a way that’s not completely harmonious but still really cool to listen to. There are computerized beeps, some girly screaming, and rhythms to make you want to dance the robot. In the end, it’s a great album from a weird and awesome band. You can listen to and buy the album on Bandcamp, and then join the queue to demand more.

The Just Barelys - "Mad Bits"

Sunshine Radio – “Sunlight EP”

With the mid-winter blues slowly fading and the brightness of spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for something cheery and fun to chase away our bad moods and put an extra spring in our step. Rocking the Calgary music scene with a fantastic new EP and huge potential, Sunshine Radio is clapping hands, moving feet, and warming hearts, with no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Officially released in January 2012, Sunshine Radio’s “Sunlight EP” is exactly what we need right now. An explosion of alt-pop with some retro flair, Sunlight is a collection of songs that restore faith in happiness. The band’s sound is a mix of older Weezer, The Beatles, The Killers, and Phish, a combination that adds to catchy and memorable songs that are really easy to sing along to. They’ll make you clap with joy when they come on shuffle, and you’ll end up listening to the EP on repeat for hours.

While each piece of the band (guitars, drums, keys, vocals) is individually great, it’s the way they come together that create the magic. These guys seem to have amazing chemistry, shown in their harmonies, timing, and total silkiness of the way they mesh. There’s still a bit of room to grow, but the EP shows off everything that’s great about the band and what they have to offer.

It really is difficult to choose one standout track. As is true with most good albums, every song on here is completely wicked. For a sample of most of them, check out the Sunshine Radio’s BandPage. You’ll find yourself smiling and dreaming about sunny days, loving life and remembering good times. Interested in some more good times? Go like their Facebook page and watch out for upcoming gigs. These boys put on a great show and they definitely shouldn’t be missed. There’s a reason they’ve described themselves as an “anticipated platinum Canadian music group”: they’re the real deal, and this EP is proof.

Update: Sunshine Radio has just unleashed their new website! Check it out and learn more about the band here!

Sunshine Radio - "Sunlight EP"