Archive for November, 2011

Even though I bought Tom Wait’s latest offering (the deluxe addition at that) the day of it’s release, it has taken me a while to write this review.  I figure if you’re a Waits fan then you already have it and know how masterful it is.  Plus I admit to being a little bias.  So this is directed at the non-Tom Waits fans.

Tom Waits has been writing great songs and producing innovative albums for decades.  He’s one of the best live performers I have ever seen. His creativity knows no boundaries and he’s one of very few recording artists, now in his sixties, who is actually improving with age.  He’s the kind of artist who has no polish in his tool box but has a bigger hammer than you, grittier sandpaper and touch of glitter amongst the dust and bone.  With most songs on Bad As Me clocking in at under four minutes, this collection is a concise display of Waits’ strengths of past recordings with timeless appeal constructed by the adventurous soul of a man who doesn’t use a safety net.

…by Sandy Gritt

 

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Back in early October a good friend of mine took me to the Biltmore in Vancouver to see a band from California called Girls.  I didn’t know anything about them but he assured me that this was a must see show.  I checked out their music and videos online and got a good taste of what they were about and looked forward to the show.  I wasn’t at all disappointed with the show but it wasn’t the headliner, Girls, that impressed me.  The band that left me wanting more was San Francisco’s Sonny and The Sunsets.  The very next day I looked them up online and was happy to find their recordings, especially their latest album Hit After Hit, as fun and infectious as their live show.  Frontman Sonny Smith has a laid back vocal approach and chunky rhythm guitar style which is endearing in it’s combination of basement bravado and tongue in cheek humour.  With a solid rhythm section, sweet vocal harmonies and a prominent retro-surf sound this quartet retains a certain innocence that transports the listener back to a musical time of rolled up jeans and suitcase record players.

…by Sandy Gritt

Dojo Workhorse is a side project of Danny Vacon of Calgary’s the Dudes. While the Dudes get their point across with frat boy aggression, precision distortion and catchy indie melodies, Vacon is willing to turn himself inside out and show us a softer more delicate side with Dojo Workhorse. Dojo Workhorse’s 2009 release “Weapons Grade Romantic” has captured an easy feeling organic soul sound that introduces a few more layers to Vacon’s song writing. With elements of chamber rock, pop harmonies and a cast of alternating members, Dojo Workhorse allows Danny Vacon to shine as a frontman and show off that soulful voice of his. The path Vacon is taking with this so-called side project will definitely have much wider lanes and a lot more turns than his main gig as one third of the Dudes. Well worth checking out.

…by Sandy Gritt

Josh Rouse’s latest release with his new band The Long Vacations may have been released in late September of 2011 but it’s the perfect kick-back-with your-favourite-beverage-on-the-beach-summer album. Josh has been living in Spain for some time now and the warm weather has been a big influence on his last few releases. This collection of catchy sing-a-longs however, trumps all that precedes it. He has definitely created something special here finding the perfect balance between his earlier 70’s melancholy soft rock style and his love for Spanish acoustic arrangements. Sweet and mellow, this CD is good enough to be 2012’s summer soundtrack for lazy beach days. Listen to a free stream of the album at www.joshrouse.com.

…by Sandy Gritt

Another great Canadian band that I found via greencouchsessions.ca. And I’m very glad I did. Regina’s Library Voices’ latest long play really ticks all the boxes fro me. It’s always exciting for me to hear a band for the first time and instantly be drawn to their music. It’s the one of the best things about being a fan of music and new music in particular. Released in August of 2011, this album is filled with danceable, sing-a-long Indie pop with smart lyrics. And they’re not afraid of some well placed hand claps either! Dynamic song writing, catchy grooves and the little details give this release a very cohesive sound that holds up through repeated listening. Definitely worth checking out. I can’t get enough of their single “Generation Handclap”.

…by Sandy Gritt

I just stumbled upon greencouchsessions.ca via youtube. This is an amazing site for anyone who enjoys watching up and coming bands and solo artists perform live, raw and intimate. Very well filmed and recorded, this Vancouver based production company is showcasing some incredibly diverse acoustic (mostly) songs by really cool bands shot in scenic Vancouver locations . My favourite, so far, is this performance by Ben Everyman.

There’s a lot of bands around that we all know that have a few great songs. There’s also some bands most of us know that have a lot of great songs. Then of course there are bands few of us know that have  a great song that no one’s heard. Well, Papas Fritas is a band I’ve known for a while but I don’t think a lot of people know of them, and it’s a shame because they have a lot of great songs. They’ve been together since 1994 but have only 4 long plays. They  toured in 2011 so they are obviously still active and they’ve appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba so they got quirky kid cred. I can’t believe they have gone relatively unnoticed. Anyway, check out their album “Pop Has Freed Us”. Get the name now? “Papa Fritas”. Here’s one of their ultra cool videos.

…by Sandy Gritt