Saturday, May 2, 2009

Macula - Return of the unexpected.

If I were to put this band into a category, it would fall under "Not what I expected". As I watched these guys prepare for their set, I was in turn preparing for some recycled thrash metal style performance with some catchy tunes and lyrics thrown in. Luckily for me, what I got was definitely along the lines of something amazing.

They started out strong with funky rhythms, consistent tempo changes, shocking vocals and best of all powerful outbursts of music made performance. With an ethereal feeling flowing through the music, Macula started a whole new category in my vault of music, I call it Sexy Metal.

Lead singer Tom is absolutely captivating at times, seemingly possessed by the music he embodied the term 'feeling the beat'. His quick tongued, punkish and almost nonsensical lyrics are incomprehensible at times, but lucky for Tom, you don't care that you can't understand him because it sounds so freakin good. This guy practically oozes talent and performs his music so enticingly that you can't take your eyes off of him, which makes it really unfortunate that his eyes are mostly on the lyrics set up on the stage floor. Confidence is key, and to project this you need to have eye contact, so learn your songs prior to the show and give your audience the attention it deserves. In spite of this lack of visual connection Macula fans continued to lovingly welcome their hero into drunken arms. It was quite a sight to see as the crowd quickly developed into a mosh pit, I only wish that Tom would have kept his eyes up and open long enough to appreciate it.

Watching bassist Jordan finger his six string was definitely a pleasing vision. Jordan held precision movement in his hands as he practically threw his body across the stage, this is the performance quality that I would expect from a tour ready band, and I was definitely impressed. I think that the shotgun bass moment was a little over the top, but the crowd loved it and really, that's all that matters.

I think that some of my favourite moments in the music were supplied by Greg on the guitar. He pumped out original rhythms that seemed to take influence from numerous musical genres. I heard blues rifts, funk rhythms, and even tribal tones that complimented the bongo beats pounded out by Clay. One thing I really enjoyed were the melodic bridges in place of fast picked solos. Now don't get me wrong, I love a great metal guitar solo, but I have heard so many poorly performed ones lately that it was a nice break for my over stimulated ears. It was really refreshing to hear a creative sound flow from the lead guitar, rather than the overly exuberant heavy handed unoriginal metal rifts that I have been bombarded with lately. Not to say that there weren't moment where Greg didn't manhandled that guitar like a dirty hooker, but he threw in something that most music is missing these days, an edgy original concept.

Now I come to the unfortunate moment of this show, the Tool cover. Okay, so if your going to right songs obviously inspired by these progressive metal Gods then don't do a cover. Also, discontinue the use of any song that could be confused as a Tool cover, like the last one played in this set. It takes away from your music, and creates the illusion that you are only a carbon copy of something better. Tool is a great musical influence and inspires a lot of bands, but just make sure that you don't repeat their sound. If you want to copy their music, form a cover band.

Moving on from my rant and back to the music, Macula is a band that I feel is packaged and ready to sell. With original rhythms, song that hold emphasis on the bass, a drummer who beats on his kit like it just slapped his mom, and singer who holds all the potential and charisma of an amazing front man these guys are the full deal. They create music that is easy to love with simple, uncomplicated pieces that are exceptionally composed and put together. With musical influences taken from every end of the spectrum, from punk and metal to blues and and hip hop these guys create a sound that rises above todays overplayed and overproduced crap. Their stage show never has a dull moment and starts off as energetic and enthusiastic as it finishes. Macula is like the energizer bunny of progressive metal. This band will kick your ass while making love to your girlfriend, that is the essence of sexy metal.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tenant - Beieve the hype!

If I had to describe Tenant with a sentence it would be this, their music is sadly forgettable but their performance is forever memorable.
Now, this is not to say that the music was bad, because it wasn't. It simply lacked originality and creativity. There were sweetly sensitive melodic guitar harmonies, great vocal transitions with perfectly pitched harmonies, and tempo changes that created a feeling of suspense and built up a real intensity. The music was simple yet powerful, sweet yet aggressive, and yet still nothing I haven't heard a thousand times from a thousand other progressive rock bands. What these guys do have that many others don't, and the reason that I would go out to another show, is the stage presence and performance quality of a stadium ready band.
With a frontman that truly knows what it means to "rock out" and an amazing energy coming from every end of the stage, these guys gave it their all and were gratefully rewarded by an enthusiastic reception of loyal fans. If you look up entertaining and eccentric in the dictionary, the only description would be "Tenant". This is a band that appears to write songs from a love of music, not just an empty desire to be in a rock band and please the pre-teen masses. When they're on stage you believe every chord that is struck and every word that is sung, you can feel the melodies streaming from the guitar. Having a connection to the crowd is so important because if they don't relate to you, you may as well give up and move on, and as I watched their adoring fans move in perfect unison I knew that this band had it and could hold onto it for as long as they choose to create music. I will admit that their were times when I found myself taken aback by their nerdy charm and endless energy, where I had to rise to my feet put down my notes and rock out. You can't help but get swept up in the party nature of their show, and even though Tenants frontman may not be the most attractive guy in the world, he draws you in and holds you there with his powerful voice and emotional performance. Their style of show is definitely an experience, they have fun on stage, put it all out there and even keep the party going between songs with comedic banter. I really enjoy a heavy band that doesn't try to be somethings it's not, that doesn't pretend to be "hardcore", it's very refreshing. I don't know if I'd call it a spectacle of musical greatness, but it was definitely an amazing spectacle of something fantastically entertaining.
Now, musically, if you piece apart the band the individuals are really nothing special, and there were a few moments of lost clarity and sloppiness, but in there defence they did quickly recover and I don't think anyone other than myself really noticed. I really enjoyed watching these guys and I can definitely see their music being played at raging parties everywhere. Personally, I would like to see a little more growth in the musical creativity department.
Overall, I would say that these guys perform a must see show, and although simple, their music is well played and well written to be able to relate to the legions of progressive hard rock fans out there.
Check out tenant at

The Whiteboard Project - A progression in progress.

Kicking off their first Western Canada Tour, The Whiteboard Project, in my opinion, gives new meaning to unrealized potential. I say this because two thirds of this hard rock/light metal trio are amazingly talented while the third member is more of a novice that seems to bring down the band rather than help to hold it up. It's really an unfortunate scenario. Now don't get me wrong, they are a talented band, but they would probably do better to add more creativity and talent to the front line. Their lead singer/lead guitar player appears to not be at the same level as the rest of the band, and really leaves something to be desired. Seemingly playing simple chords, and singing in a pitchless scream, I have to wonder if friendship is more important than the life of the band. I will admit that Paul did have some shining moment on the guitar, but they were far and few between, sadly surrounded by lackluster solo's and basic heavy handed rifts. Although, as a frontman, he does have great charisma and connects well with the crowd....when he's not focused solely on his slight finger movement of course.
Moving on to the better half, percussion and bass.
When it comes to bassist Mark O'Halloran all I can say is "Wow"! With an apparent jazz background he add's originality and complexity to an otherwise repetitive sound. The jazzed up undertones flowing from the bass take this band from basic to progressive. Mark creates a sound that pushes through the music and becomes more like a low pitched melodic guitar than a bass line. He definitely stole the spotlight with cool toned solos, and came together with Paul to create excellent full sounding harmonies. I think Mark's only fault was his attempt at singing, I mean the boy can scream, but should really leave the singing to the pro's.
Now, in the back on drums we have Jeff Laird. In a three piece band you either have to have an amazing lead guitar or a creative and powerfully talented drummer to create a full sound, The Whiteboard Project has Jeff. His precision drumming, and fantastic energy drew me in and held my attention for most of the set. While the intensity and my interest were lost for the more amateur sounding down tempo songs, Jeff makes sure to bring it all back with heart pounding drum fills and creatively strong party style beats. The only issue I have is that there were a lot of similarities between songs and I would have preferred more noticeable differences rather than subtle changes. At the end of the day, I was impressed and intrigued, I wasn't expecting that much raw talent...especially from Nanaimo. Kudos.
Overall, The Whiteboard Project produces good music, not great, but with time and more experience they very well could be. With simple and relateable lyrics, original bass lines plus hard hitting, fast paced precision drumming, these guys have all the makings of an up and coming band. Throw in some vocal lessons for Paul Jacobs and possibly a new lead guitar player with more creative fingering and you've got a contender. These guys have an eclectic sound with amazing moments of originality. I am definitely interested and excited to watch their progression. So with that, I will say to check these guys out and continue to support local music.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stampede Queen - The Live experience!

I am going to keep this review short and sweet, as I I don't really have any criticism for this band.
Finally, a band that knows how to put on a show! Stampede Queen may look and sound like an 80's hair band, complete with head bands, tight jeans, and eye make-up, but they know how to perform on a 21st century stage. I loved it.
The music itself is not radically impressive, but it was tight and very well written. With amazing melodies streaming from the guitars and musical queues taken from 80's greats like Kiss and Motley Crue all put together with a 21st century twist these guys are definitely stage worthy.
Stampede Queen, is what I would call a real Rock & Roll band. They produce fun, up-tempo music that had me moving, and the crowd dancing the whole time.
With amazing talent pouring from every point of this band there is no wonder that the crowd seemed to immediately fall in love. Even as the whole band chimed in the vocals stayed in tune, this is a very rare occurrence and definitely noticed and appreciated. For me, it was the vintage guitar fills, amazingly executed solo's and perfect timing that got me hooked. Stampede Queen creates full music, there were absolutely no holes and I can't think of a single thing that was missing.
Considering how today's rock music has been taking a slightly more 80's twist lately, these guys have picked the perfect time to emerge and make their mark on the music industry. With 21st century bass lines, they keep it fresh and not simply a throwback to the aging Rock Gods.

Watching these guys perform was definitely a treat, considering that every member of the band gave it their all and actually knew how to give a great performance. With the bassist giving a whole new meaning to gettin low, as he practically dragged his bass on the stage floor bending at the knees in ways I though would be impossible, I was locked in and ready for more. When the lead singer takes a break from his vocal demonstration and shreds out some sweetness on the guitar, the crowd went nuts and I must admit, so did I. These guys gave an old school stadium concert feel where I half expected to look around the room and see boobs being flashed, panties thrown on stage, and groupies in leopard print waiting for their backstage romancin. They may have said that it felt like a simple band practice due to the smaller crowd, but this was definitely a full blown musical spectacle. Although when our "Reverend" front man came out with the bible emblazoned with the band logo, that was a little overkill, but still entertaining.
The only thing I found a little disappointing was the constant talk of gettin loaded and high and so on. Now, this could be because I am two months sober, but I found that it just sort of degrades the band and the crowd when you resort to those types of methods of hyping up a crowd.
Once again, it's time for my final opinion. If you see that Stampede Queen is playing anywhere, make the effort to get your butt out there and see them. They put on an amazing, must-watch, show and the music is perfect. These guys are, tight, talented, and know how to rock a crowd. With seamless drumming, vintage guitar melodies, new school bass lines, and 80's style lyrics, these guys have my vote for a must-see band.
Check them out at

Contra Band - Banned from calling their noise Music.

So, normally I enjoy the heavy fast paced sound of a hardcore punk rock band, but what these guys put out there is simply garbage. All it is, is loud messy noise.
They started their set off with a song perfectly titled "We the Weak". It had a great intro, with the drummer digging deep into the toms, but the excitement came to dead stop after that. The music itself didn't make sense, it sounded like each individual player was doing a different song. Timing, which is so important in music, especially the heavier, faster stuff, was non-existant. I honestly felt like I was watching and listening to a few 15 year olds at their first garage band practice. Their was a moment of quick picking display from what I assume was the lead guitar, but other than that and the half decent intro, this song was just weak crap.
After yet another horrible attempt at hardcore punk rock, that actually sounded more like a ten car pile up on stage, the crowd demanded a cover tune. Probably in hopes that it would be better than the mash up of instuments and failed vocals that they were being exposed to. Unfortunately a cover of "Infected with aids" as an attempt to shock us into ignoring their lack of talent, just wouldn't work on me. It did ammuse a few select members of the crowd, but honestly, I could probably ammuse them just as easily by playing peek-a-boo.
I normally don't enjoy being so harsh, but these guys were so messy that I hope this spanking of a review will beat them back to reality. You can't just play intruments fast and loud and call it music, I swear these guys listened to a Misfits album and said "hey, lets grab some guitars and drums and do this, we don't need talent!" So very dissapointing, considering I actually like the Misfits.
Here is a little bit of a shining light for these guys, well the musicians at least. If you take out the overbearing untalented front man, and peice a part the band, their is some actual talent there. These guys can play their instruments, you have to strain your ears to listen, but it is there. Perhaps the problem is too many men fighting for their ideas to be heard, when that happens you end up with Contra Band. For a band to create music, you have to come together and create harmonies, melodies, backbone drum beats, and subtly intense bass lines. Plus you can't have a front man that uses ridiculous displays and a rebel personality to distract from the fact the is completely talentless. It does take talent to scream in music, and not everyone can do it, as I was so rudely forced to realize last night. You can't just have everyone write their own song and throw it together with a loud abnoxoious lead singer in the hopes that no one will notice, because trust me, I will be there, I will notice, and I will make sure that everyone else knows.
In their last song, there were a few short moments of musical clarity, I must admit. The timing finally seemed to kick in, and the music flowed from the stage without incident. But then the lead singer got back on stage and that moment was over.
So here's my final opinion on Contra Band, and as you may have guessed, it's not a good one. Do not waste your time and money on these guys. They need a serious reality check, and to go back and hit up the ole drawing board and actually work together as a band. Definitely ditch the front man, and actually make music. I feel cheated after watching these guys make a mockery of something I love, and that is music.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Burning Borders - Burning up you radio

Okay, so we all know that our radios have recently been flooded by typical radio friendly pop rock bands lately. Bands that I have to give props to for realizing that music is a supply and demand business, where fans create the demand and bands produce the supply. Well, Burning Borders is supplying a great hard rock radio friendly sound with a surprising original twist. Bringing the percussion to the forefront of their music and letting the guitars take on the role of background melodies, they have created a heavier sound that you not only hear but feel. Their music is the type that you can't listen to sitting still, Levi Catroppa pumps out beats that force your body to move.

So we start off with "Sleep" a song that I feel would be the perfect first single for these guys. With the amazing vocal talents of Brian Reed pushing through the music, and lyrics that I can imagine every pre-teen rocker singing along to. This song is a perfect example of feeling the music. With well written melodies, and a heavy guitar intro which carries into the chorus, I can see this song blowing up the charts easily.

Levi starts off "Again" with a simple intro, and keeps his percussion the focus throughout the rest of this song. Unfortunately, that's really the only thing I liked about this song. It's your typical emo-friendly single, with sappy lyrics, simple guitar rifts, and basically just an overall feeling of unoriginality. There is a nice guitar solo break about 2.5 minutes into the song, but it only lasts a few seconds until going back into sad slow rhythm of this teen angst ballad.

"So Divine" takes a minute or so to get going, honestly when it first came on I completely lost interest, but then the chorus takes over. With quick tonged lyrics, hard hitting drum beats and the perfect accompaniment of subtle hard rock guitar melodies, my attention is aggressively man handled back to focus and held for the rest of the song. This song shows excellent timing, I just wish that it had started out as well as it finished.

Okay, so I love the intro for "Bottom of a bottle". This is a song that grabs your attention from the first note and holds on tight. After the last song I was getting a little worried. In this song the guitars actually become noticeable, and you realize that there is some major talent coming from the string department. I love the vocals for this song, Brian Reed stretches his voice and does an amazing job of showcasing his immense vocal talent. I definitely appreciate a singer who isn't simply a carbon copy of Eddie Vedder.

The Burning Borders pattern is slightly broken for "Enemy". With guitar players Justin and Mike taking their place on centre stage and bringing the harmonies and old school guitar rifts to the forefront, while Levi takes the usual drummers spot in the background. Although he does come back out front for the chorus, which also holds a great vocal harmony. Plus we finally have a guitar solo! And it was excellent display of shredding prowess. I also quite enjoyed Korn style vocals at the end of the song.

Alright, lastly we have "Lose Control". This song starts out with a metal feel but unfortunately instead of losing control, I lost interest after the first falsetto note. I found the song to be very basic and kind of rock by numbers. There a few short displays of quick fingered talent coming from the guitar line, but that's about the only thing that keeps this song from being a total flop. I did appreciate the punk style vocals rounding out the end of this song.

So, here's my final opinion. Go out and see these guys live, buy their albums, and get autographs because they are going to blow up on the music scene sooner than later. With an amazing rhythm section stealing centre stage, talented guitar players pumping out hard rock harmonies, and the intense vocal abilities of lead singer Brian Reed, these guys are classic hard pop rock, and todays music fans can't seem to get enough of that. Just don't confuse Burning Borders with your average radio friendly rock band, because they can actually produce well written songs, unlike the fluff I keep hearing DJ's like Todd Hancock raving about. These guys are an amazing local talent, check em out at

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ninjaspy - A cult classic in the making!

So, it looks like I have a new favourite band. They have a truly original edgy sound with hard hitting fast paced drumming and an island beat backing. They are Ninjaspy. This hardcore funk rock band has done the impossible and truly impressed me. Unafraid to be different in an industry packed full of unoriginal pop rock these guys developed a sound comparable to 90's great Sublime and added a new age punk rock twist. I highly doubt that they will become radio rock stars, but I believe that they will be the next cult classic of underground alternative punk.
Now, on to the music.
"Evolution of the skid" or as I like to call it, "The evolution of punk", is an amazing song. It's original lyrics and catchy tune set it up to be one of the greats. With a funky back beat, new style vocals, and even a trumpet thrown in the mix, this song takes the punk rock cake.
Okay, so the next song is hard to understand but the sound is so amazing that you can't help but keep listening. "Defecating on what's left of our child" keeps the originality coming. The first couple of bars sound like a typical punk song, but then in comes the island style guitar and you don't know whether to dance or break shit, I love it.
Next, we have "Hit by a cement mixer", which starts out sounding like an unoriginal take on a Staind song, but quickly goes into that funky hardcore mix between Sublime and System of a Down. Parts of this song even showcase the fact that the singer can actually sing in between all of the screaming. I take this song as being their version of the classic power ballad but with hardcore twist. Another amazingly well written song, that takes the unmistakable talent of the entire band and forces you to pay attention.
"Circle Pity" would be the radio friendly song if they had one. With more melodic and understandable singing, and just a taste of the traditional punk screaming thrown in. If this song was found on the radio, I may actually start tuning in. The drummers timing in this song is incredible as he goes from the quick footed double kick and fast paced beats on the toms transitioning down into the slower rhythms of the song.
The last song I am going to talk about is "Out of tampons". If you can get past the disturbing lyrics and primitive chanting this is a great song. With reference to the shameful rape of our earth/mother nature this song is definitely more along the lines of an eye-opening political statement. If this song was written for mother earth than it certainly does her justice, the music is so well written and executed. It's not very often that find a band that knows how to put it all together, how to take an eclectic sound and make it flow so perfectly. The song starts with a sweet guitar intro which falls into the background as the drums take the forefront for most of the song. The guitarist continues to play more subtly holding the music together as a drummer normally would. I love this position switch and it works perfectly for the song.
Now for my overall opinion. I freakin love this band! They are original, talented, and actually know how to write music! If you are looking for a break from today's normalcy and over rated "hard rock" bands, then check these guys out and prepare to have your mind blown.