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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews


Soulstack oozes soulful rhythm and blues on Five Finger Discount

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Kitchener born R and B band Soulstack have the soles of their feet firmly planted in the sounds of ’60s style STAX Records soul with their sophomore CD ‘Five Finger Discount.’
 As expected there is a lot of ’60s style soul and R and B music featuring  excellent vocal harmonies and a whole lot of soul right from the first track ‘Long Way Down.’

 But, in part thanks to gorgeous organ and electric piano, they also delve into more ’70s roots rock along the lines of the Band on tracks like ‘Not the Only One’ and ‘Fold Up Your Heart.’
 That organ is addictive and those vocal harmonies are to die for.Click here to hear Soulstack

Lead vocalist/ guitarist Jonathan Knight’s appealing tenor vocals sound like a mix  of Steve Marriner of Monkey Junk and Blind Melon‘s  Shannon Hoon, with massive doses of  ’60s soul and R and B and a smattering of gospel mixed in.

 The vocal harmonies give a gospel feel to ‘Warm Bed To Sleep On’ which stands out.
 I also love the shuffle of ‘Hangin’ In The Kitchen.’

They slow things down for  several tracks after that, but throughout the organ and keyboards make this CD an enjoyable listen, which is always supplemented by tasteful guitars.
 They pick up the tempo on ‘Living Room,” which begins with a guitar riff reminiscent of the Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper.’

They end their CD with another gospel tinged number — a live version of ‘This My Be The Last Time,’ on which Jon Knight shows how well he can belt out the soul.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Five Finger Discount
Band: Soulstack
Genre: blues/ soul

Treeline and Shaela Miller further explore traditional country

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Treeline and Shaela Miller continue to explore the roots of traditional country music on their new CD ‘Curtains’ which takes the listener back to the ’50s.
 While  Treeline collaborated with Sean Brewer for their previous CD “Prairie Sentimentalist,” the collaboration with Shaela Miller on ‘Curtains’ takes them even further into traditional country territory.Click here to hear Treeline and Shaela Miller
 The new CD features songs sung by Shaela Miller and Ryan Dyck individually, plus one song, a tender ballad ‘Heavy Wind,’  sung by stand up bassist Tyler Bird and a darker song ‘Bad Thoughts’ sung by lead guitarist Taylor Ackerman.

The CD begins with ‘Daylight Savings Time,’ one of several highlights which is about  the husband working hard, then going out and coming home drunk.
 Even better, the CD features some very pretty duets featuring Miller and Dyck singing together, particularly on my favourite track ‘Problems’ which features some sweet, sighing steel guitar played by Danny Dyck, which adds to the a country air of the CD.

The title track ‘Curtains’ is another superb duet between the duo.
 Miller’s songs are mostly about either breaking up or waiting around for her characters’ husband to come home after a night of drinking, Dyck explores a variety of other themes. MIller’s unique warble perfectly complements Dyck’s  countryside twang especially on duets like ‘Still Call Me Baby.’
Miller has an instantly appealing voice and an adorable twang especially on ‘Sentimental Cowboy.’

 Another standout is Dyck’s ‘Tennessee Sweater,’ which shows off his own twang and is one of the most memorable tracks on the CD. Another highlight is the up beat country foot stomper ‘Leaving Over You,” which is marked by a hot fiddle solo from Shannon Johnson.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Curtains
Band: Treeline with Shaela Miller
Genre: country


The Perms supply sugar rush with new EP

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Winnipeg punk pop trio The Perms have returned with their sixth recording — a sugary sweet new EP called ‘The Aberdeen Ep’
 It is pretty sweet.

It is four tracks of of addictive catchy pop tinged punk music.

Click here to hear the Perms
The title track is more straight ahead pop punk.

 The first track ‘It’s Mania’ sounds like Buzzcocks’ style British punk pop with a touch of new wave. There are and catchy guitars and some excellent vocal harmonies, especially on the ‘whoah whoa’ chorus.

The most addictive of a real ear worm of a CD is ‘Parent Thing,’ which features more of those whoah whoah chorus and enough sweet guitar to glaze a chocolate cake with.

The CD ends with ‘Walk Away,” which is more  of a contemporary sounding  alt rock tune with just a touch  of ’90s pop punk tune. but which also has some sweet guitar solos.

— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
CD: The Aberdeen EP
Band: The Perms
Genre: pop/punk

Perpetrators back to Stick Em’ Up with the blues

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The long awaited new CD from Winnipeg blues rockers the Perpetrators is finally here. It is exactly what you'd expect — guitarist/ vocalist Jay Nowicki playing Hound Dog Taylor style blues rock with a rotating cast of players including original Perpetrators Ken McMahon and Ryan Menard on drums and bass on about half of the tracks, current touring bassist John Scoles on four tracks and Ryan Voth and David Landreth on drums and bass respectively for a couple more tracks.Click Here to hear the Perpetrators

Special guest Romi Mayes adds backup vocals on a couple of other tracks. But no matter the line up it still sounds like the Perpetrators, which is a good thing.
 Nowicki has a very distinctive guitar sound and a voice which doesn’t sound like anybody else.

 The CD starts with the countryish ‘Sweetgrass’ which sounds a lot like JOSCO, their ode to Times Changed owned John Scoles and they take off from there.
The catchy ‘Spend More Money’ stands out  and puts you in the mood to groove.

 They also revisit a few of the songs from Nowicki and McMahon’s side project K-Mac and Howik’s Punk Blues Explosion by adding a strong bottom end to ‘Smokes N’ Chicken,’ which is  the sequel to the popular Perps’ song ‘Six Pack’ about being mugged for beer,  ‘ but this time is about being mugged for smokes tracks and chicken. It adds a little humour as the underaged muggers can’t drive a stick shift.  ‘Shake It’ and ‘Bad Man’ also get more polished on the new Perpetrators’ CD.

 ‘Smokes N’ Chicken’ has been trimmed down to an almost six minute blues jam featuring some sinister slide guitar. I think the version on  K-MAc and Howik’s Punk blues Explosion lasted a about eight minutes.

The catchy ‘Trying To Keep My Cool,’ is another longer song which has an unstoppable, toe tapping groove and tasteful yet gritty guitar solo and chorus which will have you singing along.
 They slow things down on a couple of groovy tracks including  ‘You’ve Got to to Tell Me’ and  ‘I Must Be Crazy.’

‘Who’s It Gonna Be is another countryish song  that sounds similar  to Sweetgrass.’
‘Shake It’ benefits from Menard’s throbbing bass as does ‘Bad Man.’ .
They end on a high note with the menacing ‘Take You On.’

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Stick ’Em Up
Band: The Perpetrators
Genre: blues


Jesse and the Dandelions back with another slice of appealing pop rock

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People love Jesse and the Dandelions. Their second CD “Mutual Understanding” has been embraced by media across the country and is starting to make waves on the radio. People love the cheerfulClick here to hear Jesse and the Dandelions melodies and ambient guitars that a lot of Vancouver based bands like Said the Whale have made their own as of late.

 If you have seen Jesse Northey play, chances are you have heard these songs as many of them have made their way into Jesse and the Dandelions sets over the past year.

 The Cd starts with the cheery “Looking at the Sun.”
They continue on the upbeat note with “Only Just Be Friends.”
 Northey has an excellent, innocent, appealing tenor voice which has an ’80s pop Pet Shop Boys style feel.

Clean, catchy guitar hooks abound throughout this CD.
 There are touches of ’80s pop and elements of the Beatles.

All together it just makes you want to smile.
“Break Me” is an appealing, haunting song as is “Mistakes Often Haunted.”
 But even when Northey  is singing something sad and mournful, it still comes out sounding pretty happy.
 “ If you’ve got the Moves,” has a mellow psychedelic ’60s mood to it as s does ‘Sure Thing.”’
 They end the CD with the opposite of the opening track— “Looking at the Moon,” which is a slower, sadder number with a catchy, pop edged guitar riff and some harmonized vocal harmonies.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: A Mutual Understanding
Band: Jesse and the Dandelions
Genre: indie pop
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