80s Music (and sometimes 10s) Rules—Slave To The SQUAREwave Returns!

ASRR---CARAfter a long hiatus full of whispered rumors hinting at disbanding, retirement, everything Slave to the SQUAREwave fans absolutely did NOT want to hear, something very exciting has happened—a new album release and a hot party at the Hard Rock in Toronto on February 28, 2014 hosted by David Marsden. That sound you hear is the collective thud of gob-smacked jaws hitting the floor—hallelujah and praise the music gods!

The album—Asphalt, Sex and Rock ‘n’Roll—where to start? These Slave-starved ears were ecstatic with the long-awaited product of a flawless, long-standing, and highly successful collaboration between Rob Stuart and Colin Troy. If ever a duo were destined to create beautiful music together, this is it, folks. The result of long hours in the studio is a perfect, fun-filled collection of music that will both kick your ass and caress your soul.

What should you expect? Here’s my humble attempt to describe the pleasure trip this album delivers to its listeners. Strap yourself in, slide your headset on, and prepare to rumble—this is way better than the best road trip you’ve ever had in the mightiest muscle car.

If asked to describe the opening track Middle Finger in one word, “funkalicious” is the closest adjective that does it any justice.  It’s a combination of Max Headroom (without the stutter) meets the Funkateers that is the perfect warm-up for what’s in store along this welcome journey. Alive and Electric (Dedicated to Jodi) presents swelling synths and superb harmonies; it’s a truly pleasing blend of keys and strings that picks up speed and takes on a life of its own.S2TSW-Poster-01

Next up is Texan Thugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, a play on words rife with fast cars, a thrumming beat, and tough-guy lyrics. Who could ask for anything more? Then, wafting through the headset is a slightly off-kilter intro to The Big South that lures the listener into a poetic bop-fest of beat-driven goodness.

Not for the faint of heart, Zombie charges off the starting line in a sheer frenzy. Anyone who can sit still while listening to the exceptional synths and snarling vocals of this party-in-your-ear track needs to check for a pulse because they just may well be a zombie. Then, when you think you have a handle on what’s feeding into your brain, the Dr. Who-esque intro of Poor Man’s Fight draws you smack-dab into the middle of the fray, while trippy, fun lyrics bind you up and hold you captive.

Who wouldn’t wish for a Seven Day Saturday Night? Here it is handed to you on a silver platter—the penultimate weekend escape, complete with kick-ass strings that transport you straight into the party-hearty environment that you crave. From there, the bass-heavy opening of Bump promises—and delivers—heart-stopping percussive goodness.

Early Stone Roses anyone? Montreal is another foray into trippy melodies, sexy organ, and seductive piano. After the shameless seduction has left you breathless, you are thrown in front of a revving engine like a beast out of control. Amazing Grace threatens to spin out wildly; miraculously, traction holds you firmly to the road and catapults you along the autobahn of life and love.

SLAVE-to-the-SQUAREwaveThe next track begs for Peace of Mind, but the direct and driven message is that it’s truly an elusive goal. To emphasize that point, Time is Running Out presents a frantic and breathless illustration that time for us is, indeed, running out. Perhaps we should stop and smell the roses?

Casino is a perfectly crafted analogy of love won and lost the hard way. Better luck the next time, baby. You see, everybody gets a little lucky sometimes. Destined to be a favorite, Alive and Electric (Rob’s Analog Electromix) would be ideally at home on any Ultravox collection. The vocals form a faultless partnership with synths that reach down into the soul and infuse a shot of divine life-sustaining energy.

Zombie (Sonix Mix) is a less-frenetic reprise of the un-dead anthem; a different spin on a great, rollicking song. Likewise, Texan Thugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Mad Flowers Mix) gives one last and different listen to what makes this collection a no-holds-barred masterpiece.

Slave to the SQUAREwave delivers raw, unbridled musical joy with each and every collaborative piece that they create. Don’t miss out on a chance to experience truly artistic genius at its very best, while Rob and Colin still have the passion to make it happen. And, if you are lucky enough to be in the greater Toronto area whenever the sun, moon and stars align in perfect combination, be sure to see the dynamic duo Rob Stuart and Colin Troy, along with supporting band members Doug Lea and Craig Moffitt, for a live performance.  It’s definitely on my bucket list.ASRR---Reel-to-Reel

A very limited supply of 200 Asphalt, Sex and Rock ‘n’Roll CDs will be available at the release gig at the Hard Rock Café (279 Yonge St, Toronto ON) gig on Feb 28, 2014. After that, an “Expanded Edition” will be added, which includes these outstanding bonus tracks: “India”, “Stereo Orthophonic High Fidelity Victrolis (SOHFV),” and “Alive & Electric (Kernel Chiptune Mix).” Also, for the first time, S2TSW are making The Money Shot (another absolute personal fave) available with all bonus tracks. Both albums are for sale starting Feb. 28, 2014 at the locations shown below.

Tunecore-Release-Availabili

80s (and sometimes 00s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Ricky Humphrey and Nature Kills

Rick_HumphreyEvery now and again, I have the great fortune to bump into a contemporary musician or band who embodies the very essence of the 80s music I love. Recently, I was privileged to meet Ricky Humphrey online, currently recording as Nature Kills. The music I have heard him create has blown me away.

As Ricky, himself describes this phenomenon: “Nature Kills”—melody-driven, bass-thumping, guitar-wailing, synth-swirling music.

“Nature Kills” was born out of an idea in October 2010. The band “Rise” had ceased to exist and I was in a musical wasteland. I became driven obsessively to create music that I wanted to hear. I missed the music from the 80s and craved the textures and melodies that were created during this time. I needed a vehicle for this and that became “Nature Kills.” I want my music to sound fresh and new, but also have that contemporary feel; one foot in the 80s if you like.

Ricky Humphrey was kind enough to grant an interview to Rave and Roll. Read on to learn more about this super-talented man and his music.

What is your first musical memory?
Nazareth—Bad Bad Boy

What instruments do you play? RH3
Bass, guitar, and synth.

Which one do you favor and why?
Bass—it’s where I feel most at home and am most proficient.

Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
Bass—self-taught, though I did have a few lessons with Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo/Ellis,Beggs & Howard, and now touring with Steven Wilson), as I wanted to develop my slap/funk style. Guitar and synth—self-taught.

Who were your favorite musicians growing up?
Mick Karn (Japan)—he was my introduction to bass. I was just blown away by his unique style. Gary Numan for being so inspirational; a true awakening took place for me at this time. Talk Talk—just awesome!RH1a

Who are your current favorites?
Peter Murphy—he has such an amazing voice and I just love his lyrics. Depeche Mode—I was not a fan of their material when Vince Clarke was involved, but have grown to like them more and more with each passing album. Gary Numan still does it for me and he is still evolving, which is cool. Trent Reznor, NineInchNails, and How to Destroy Angels—again very inspirational in all that he does.

Have you ever played in a band?
Yes, my first band was Sirahn, then The Open Hand, followed by Rise.

Do you prefer recording alone or with other supporting band members?
Both have their advantages. I have more control over my current projects as I am working alone. In a band situation, there’s a lot of diplomacy and at times tension, which can be good but it can also hinder.

Rick_Humphrey3When you write, which comes first—melody or lyrics?
This one is difficult, I write lyrics as and when I’m inspired but generally don’t have a melody in mind; however, when I have an instrument at hand I create melody, rhythm etc., then seek out a lyric that feels suitable. I don’t have a vocal melody sorted until I have a musical backdrop to work with, and then try to enhance it with a vocal line.

Who or what has influenced your style of music?
Japan, Gary Numan, Peter Murphy, Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, and Talk Talk.

Do you see a particular direction that your music is taking, and if so, where is it going?
I feel it becoming somewhat darker with a few hints of lightness here and there just to keep the balance. I like to move more toward the Dark Wave/Goth genre but for now I’ll stick with Alternative until I make the leap.

Nature Kills music is available live and online, with a CD available soon. Experience it for yourself:
soundcloud.com/naturekills
www.reverbnation.com/naturekills
www.myspace.com/naturekills
www.facebook.com/pages/NatureKills

80s (and sometimes 00s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Tim Langan

Time to meet a wonderful current artist who would have been vital in my favorite musical decade, as he is today. Tim Langan has a very full and impressive musical resume. He gave me the opportunity recently to get to know him and I’d like to share the experience with you. Be sure to take the time to check out Tim’s music on YouTube, as well as the various websites posted at the end of the interview.

Tim_bass_3Tell us about who or what (or both!) has influenced your music.

From the time I was very young, I have known that I wanted to be a musician. My very early experiences in grade 1 involved singing the National Anthem first thing in the morning.

My mother likes to recount a story of being called in to the school by the principle and being told that I had a very good voice and they were recommending that I be sent to a choir school, as they felt that I had a sense for music inside me. She and my father decided that I was a little bit too young to be travelling downtown on the subway every day for school, so they decided instead to get me involved in piano lessons.

What is your first significant musical memory?

The singing of the National Anthem was one of the very first things that I remember about my discoveries in music; however, there were a few other things that were to come that also stick out in my mind.

I was the youngest in my family. My 3 older brothers liked music a lot. They were between 11 and 16 years older than me. I remember for my eleventh birthday getting 2 vinyl records. One was Elton John’s Greatest Hits and the other was Paul McCartney’s Band On The Run. I was hooked. I also enjoyed sports as a kid and used to spend hours hitting a tennis ball against our garage door. My brother had a Volkswagen beetle with an 8-track player in it and I remember specifically listening to Jeff Beck’s “Wired” over and over again while smashing the tennis ball off of the garage door. I must have listened to that album 1000 times as a kid and still enjoy giving it a listen today.

CD CollageHow soon after that did you decide that’s what you wanted to do?

I have almost always had a sense of wanting to be a musician from a very, very young age. It has always seemed like the natural and obvious thing for me to do.

In fact, I have tried to make it “go away” on several occasions, but it just won’t seem to leave me alone.

What was your first group/band and what part did you play?

My first performance with a band was in grade 8 when I performed with 2 friends at our grade school. We played 3 songs together. I believe we opened with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” with myself playing piano with drum and guitar accompaniment. Then I switched over to bass guitar duties and we performed Edgar Winter’s “Free Ride” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” – I don’t recall whether any of us wanted to actually sing these songs, so we may have played them as instrumentals. I find it amusing that this still seems to be a trend for me in my own writing, as the vast majority of the music that I am involved with, somehow seems to bypass the urge to add vocal to the song.

The name of this band was “Jupiter” and my next door neighbor, who was 4 years older than us wanted to be our manager and went out and bought us matching bracelets that had “Jupiter” engraved on them. We used to joke, what could be stupider than calling a band Jupiter?

The drummer in that first group was my lifelong friend Sascha Tukatsch, whom I have had the privilege to write and record with on so many projects over the years, including our high school band, which started as Reign, which would later be released on CD under the name “The Harrison Fjord”

Do you prefer to perform in the studio or live? Why?

Tim_bass_1

I love both. The studio offers the very unique experience of capturing your ideas and how you were feeling at that exact moment for the rest of time. That is very special indeed.

The live experience is also very special, because there is a nervous energy and adrenaline that is created from performing in front of people, with the pressure of wanting to perform perfectly and put on the best show possible for all of the people who have come out to see you play.

What inspires you to write your best music?

This is a difficult question to answer. Inspiration is taken from so many potential sources. Music is also very subjective, so who can really say what is “best?”

My own compositions are so varied in style from one to the next that I have a hard time trying to define what it is that grabs me or guides me in a certain direction. Usually, I am just a conduit that the music flows through. Most of the music that I write happens very quickly, indeed. People, places and events are most often secondary to the writing process. In peak writing times, I just sit down and compose and usually at the end of the day/night I have a finished piece of music, whether it is a short pop ditty or a full orchestral score.

Tim_bass_2What was the best concert you’ve ever attended and what made it so special?

Concerts are a wonderful experience for me. I usually do not attend massive venues, as most of the musicians that I tend to be inspired to watch, are lesser known, virtuoso types of players.

While I have been to may rock shows in large venues, like Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Queen, Aerosmith and Rush in the late 1970’s, it is the acts that perform in the smaller venues that I truly cherish.

Performances by Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin & Paco DeLucia with Steve Morse as the opening act, The Pat Metheny Group, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Return To Forever, Yes, Uzeb, King Crimson, Joe Satriani, Youssou N’Dour, Level 42, Adrian Belew, Marillion, Hugh Marsh, Manteca, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Alain Caron, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Steve Vai, Victor Wooten, Dream Theater, King’s X, Michael Manring, Fishbone, UK, Zappa Plays Zappa, Tommy Emmanuel, and Porcupine Tree are stand outs in my mind over the years; but probably one of the greatest shows that I ever saw was Andreas Vollenweider and friends on Oct 16, 1989. My reasons for liking this show specifically over all of the others is musicality. The inspiration that I drew from all of these shows is incalculable, but this one Andreas Vollenweider show was indeed something very special.

If you had a “do-over,” what would you do differently?

While I do read and write music, perhaps I would have tried to go to a “music” school to acquire a piece of paper with my name on it, although, I guess it is never too late?

What’s coming up next?

I have been quite busy this year adding my musical voice to many different recording projects. I have recently finished playing bass for a guitarist, singer, songwriter, named John Jamieson. I am hopeful that this CD will be completed and ready for release by the fall.

The Green Rain ProjectAlso, I have recently re-connected with a guitar player friend of mine that I worked with about 20 years ago. Her name is Irene MacKenzie and she is very talented indeed. Irene called me, asking if I would record with her and her son MacKenzie Coburn on a piece of music that she wrote for her Mother, who had passed away from pancreatic cancer 20 years ago, shortly before MacKenzie was born. I had always enjoyed working with Irene and given the music that she and her son were jamming on, I immediately agreed. We initially sent a bunch of ideas back and forth through the sky drive in a common email account over the internet and when we were ready, I drove out to their home studio to record my bass and keyboard parts on the CD.

We are currently in mixing and mastering for this debut CD and I am very anxious to get this one out. The CD will be released under the name “The Green Rain Project” and the disc will be entitled “ToRUTH” – Irene and I have talked a great length at working on many more CD’s together, as the music for this CD came together very quickly.

Another project that I have been recording and performing live with is “Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus” – I had been asked to join this band after Lisa Smith Powerhouse_4they had released their debut CD “Maze Of Souls” and we have been working to put the finishing touches on the band’s second CD – “612” – I am hopeful that this disc will be completed and released later this year. I am confident that this disc will be well received by fans and critics alike, as I feel the writing is very strong within the rock genre.

I have also been recording and performing with The David Bacha Band. This has been quite a long term project for me and I am hopeful that 2013 will be the year that we finally get this one to the market. We shall keep our fingers crossed.

David Bacha Band_2Lastly, I continue to write and record at my home studio, as this is just something that I have to do to maintain my sanity.

I have my entire musical catalog, (11 CD’s) which does not include the 5 CD’s that I was commissioned to do for a friend’s record company, that I am trying to get remastered and up for sale online. It would be a major achievement for me to get all of these up to CD Baby and iTunes this year, I remain vigilant in trying to complete this task.

What advice can you give to aspiring musicians?

Follow your dreams, work your butt off to be the very best you can be and don’t stop doing what you love for any reason.

Where can people listen to and purchase your music?

While some projects are currently available for purchase online (try Google to search out the band names) some are available through CD Baby or iTunes – (The Harrison Fjord – Machine Tree / Splub – Splub )

Most of my catalog is not currently available for purchase, although I am trying to rectify this problem.

Should you wish to check out a lot of my music and several of the bands that I have played with and currently am playing and recording with, I have over 100 videos, slideshows and music posted at my youtube channel, which can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/TimsTunes/

Also, be sure to check out these related sites:

John Jamieson – http://www.johnjamieson.ca

The Green Rain Project website, which is still under development, but can be found here: http://www.greenrainproject.com

The David Bacha Band: http://www.davidbacharocks.com

Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus website: http://www.lisasmithspowerhaus.com

The Harrison Fjord website: http://www.theharrisonfjord.com

80’s (and sometimes 00’s) Music Rules ~ Introducing Marilyn Roxie

marilynThis is a huge departure from my usual 80’s music blogging ventures. There’s a method to my obvious madness, though. Marilyn Roxie is rapidly becoming a star of the current electronic music scene. Because a lot of today’s electronic music owes at least a nod to the brave souls who championed the genre during the late 70’s and early 80’s, I believe this review fits in quite nicely with my 80’s post-punk, New Wave, synth-pop theme.

 That said, I also want to dispel any notions that it’s a bad thing to acknowledge one’s musical roots. I mean really, would anyone have taken it the wrong way had Tchaikovsky cited Beethoven as an influence? Or if a music critic from 200 years ago had made some sort of correlation between the two? I sincerely doubt it. So, I mean it with utmost sincerity and respect that Marilyn represents all that is great about what started as a renegade genre some thirty-plus years ago.

 Her hot-off-the-presses release, New Limerent Object is an extraordinary testimonial to what an enormously talented person can do when left to her own devices. This amazing freshman full-length release comes hot on the heels of a couple of EPs released during the past few months. If they were a warm-up to New Limerent Object, what musical delights might we expect from the next release? Here I am already anticipating a marvelous follow-up!marilyn1

 Three paragraphs in and I seem to have missed the most interesting fact of all; Marilyn is only nineteen years of age. That begs the question: If she is putting out music of this high caliber at nineteen, what will she be capable of creating in 5, 10, or even 25 years from now? I can only hope I’m still around to hear and enjoy it.

 Personal favorites from New Limerent Object include the spare yet ever-so-perfect piano set in “Indigo,” deliciously followed by “(Nearer) Interlude.” Marilyn experiments successfully with voices in “Seagull Room” (yes, I can feel/hear them swarming over me). The unpronounceable 12th track is an earnest trip into the inner recesses of your mind with just a slight touch of Asian and psychedelic influence that really, really works well. She returns to her fabulous piano ability in “The Cove” and brings it all to a perfect conclusion with the closing piece, “Complete Thought.” In all, there are sixteen sweet tracks, each one different, superb, and enthralling.

 If you are a serious fan of electronica, the piano/keyboards, or both, particularly (dare I say it?) of the Brian Eno brand of 80’s electronic music and beyond, then get yourself over to Marilyn’s site and treat your ears. Ms. Roxie has offered the public a free download of New Limerent Object and a look onto her musical background at MarilynRoxie.com.  Her other blog dedicated to covering other up-and-comers like her is aptly called “A Future In Noise.” Yes, Marilyn, you certainly do have one of those.

 ***Edit: New Official Video for “Indigo” on YouTube directed by EK Wimmer and via user veduta:

1frontcoverNLONew Limerent Object (Independent Release 2009)

(Download from Sendspace http://www.sendspace.com/file/xw8k9v ) 6backcoverNLO

 (on Last FM http://www.last.fm/music/Marilyn+Roxie)

(from MySpace http://www.myspace.com/marilynroxie )

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Gary Numan

rave-and-rollMy infatuation with Gary Numan began a few years ago when a fellow music enthusiast introduced me to “I Die You Die.” Upon hearing this song, I was stunned – I mean, Gary Numan actually did something other than “Cars?” Thus began a journey that uncovered an endless supply of musical gems, and a better understanding of the mistakenly-perceived-as-aloof artist himself.

After discovering and listening to anything and everything I could get my hands on, starting with his band “Tubeway Army” and finishing with the most recent live “Replicas” performance, I was amazed to come to grips with the fact that I actually preferred Gary Numan’s later, goth/industrial songs. Although I am a huge fan of 80’s synthesizer-driven New Wave, and Gary Numan has indeed been called the “Godfather of Synthesizer,” I identify with the dark, unbridled emotion that surges forth from brilliant songs such as “Exile,” “Pure,” and “Listen to My Voice.”

Numan and his wife Gemma have suffered through the deep disappointment of several miscarriages, causing him to rail against God and the faith of those who believe. Although I don’t agree with his atheism, I respect his views and understand the pain that brought him to his conclusions. I also admire the fact that he has handled these unbridled, raw, and potentially self-destructive emotions by channeling them through his music. This man not only wears his emotions on his sleeve, he lays his soul bare for the world to see.

Gary Numan ~ Dark (via jd800lover on YouTube)
Gary Numan is a delight to watch in an interview. Ever gracious, yet brutally honest, he answers questions with thoughtfulness and dignity. He is humble, self-effacing, and quick to give credit to others where it is due. He is also equally quick to emasculate his critics for the damage they have attempted to rain down on his reputation and his career. Try as they might to destroy him, Gary Numan has bounced back stronger than ever, towing a large and dedicated fan base in his wake. He is never at a loss for words in describing his gratitude to those that have stuck by him throughout the past 4 decades of extreme highs and lows.

Gary Numan ~ Crazier (via Industrial82 on YouTube)

I’ve made quite a few video montages, several in honor of this hugely talented man, three of which were wrongly ordered taken down from YouTube. No matter what Eagle Records says, with the help of another fan, I have received written permission from Tony Webb, Gary Numan’s father/manager to use this music. Numan has always maintained that he has no problem with fans using his music to promote him, as long as we do not profit from it.

That said, here is one of the videos I put my own time and resources into, in honor of a man that has worked brutally hard to achieve the modest successes he has enjoyed.

Gary Numan ~ Pure

Gary Numan: There is far more to this gifted artist than “Cars.” Check him out.