Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mute Math Self-Titled CD Review Christine Albrecht

I find myself feeling like an observer during a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde play. The reason being, I am reviewing the CD of a band that recently wowed me during their April 20th concert at Richard’s on Richards. I anticipated Mute Math’s self titled debut CD to be a raucous, keenly produced, wall of frenetic sound.

I definitely received a keenly produced, wall of sound (not a frenetic note to be heard) that was self produced with guidance from Tedd T. However, Mute Math’s energetic and animated Dr. Jekyll performance, had been replaced by a melodic, attention-to-detail, layered upon electronic layer, luscious Mr. Hyde.

This is not a complaint. It is an observation and I almost wish I hadn’t seen the band live as my expectations were completely misguided. If I had been expecting a U2 meets Coldplay meets The Police type of sound, then I would have been prepared.

After my initial consternation, I settled into the sound of Mute Math. The New Orleans band (consisting of: Paul Meany, Darren King, Greg Hill, and Roy Mitchell-C├írdenas) brings an explosion of atmospheric riffs. Paul Meany created Mute Math in 2003 after leaving the ‘Christian’ pigeonholing of his former band Earthsuit. Not that Paul is no longer Christian; he was tired of his faith being one of the main adjectives describing his music.

If you prefer the jauntier, livelier version of Mute Math, stick with their 2004 Reset Ep (9/10). If you want to evolve and mature alongside Mute Math, then their self titled CD is the one for you. 8.5/10


Ache Brasil By Lezah Williamson

Today I attended a performance of the locally based group Ache Brasil. They are a performance group originally from Brazil who do a fusion of Brazilian music, dance and capoeira (a combination of Brazilian martial arts and acrobatics).

The performers explained a bit about the origins of their music, which started in the slave fields; the guards were afraid to allow the slaves to do any form of martial arts or fighting, for fear that it would give them enough practice that they could use these skills to escape. Instead, the slaves ended up incorporating their fighting moves into a dance which they would practice in full view of the unsuspecting guards.

But it was the music which really intrigued me. Dave's been listening to a lot of Brazilian music over the last five or ten years, acts like Os Mutantes and Gaetano Veloso. The influence of the traditional Brazilian music as played by Ache Brasil is readily apparent in the more contemporary Brazilian acts.

Ache Brasil was up for a Juno for best live act; they also have a cd out called Ecosda Mangue. And if you're into doing something a bit more physical than just listening to music, maybe you can try out some capoeira - in Vancouver, it's taught at the Capoeira Ache Brasil Academy.

Go to for more details.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Cliks - Snakehouse Christine Albrecht’s CD Review

Just as the now defunct television series, Queer as Folk used to introduce us to original, cutting-edge, alternative music, The L Word appears to be providing the same. As with movies, the soundtracks to television series are becoming equally as important as the series’ plotlines. I was introduced to The Cliks after reading the media buzz fuelled by the song, Complicated. Thanks to The L Word, The Cliks’ CD, Snakehouse, has been added to my daily listening regimen.

Lead singer Lucas Silerira has been compared to a young Chrissie Hynde mixed with Leisha Hailey, but I don’t hear it. When I listen to Lucas I hear... and I am not being sarcastic nor critical when I say this... I hear Wayne Newton. I have played this CD countless times, only to arrive at the same conclusion each time; Lucas channels a gritty, hard rocking Newton and I love it. I heard strains of Newton from the first song, Complicated through to the last track, Back in Style (These two are also amongst my favourite tracks with Oh Yeah rounding out the top three).

Lyrically, the opening lines of ‘Complicated’ are like a bucket of ice water being thrown in one’s face - It’s definitely an attention grabber. The Cliks also perform a cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’ . With its beat slowed down considerably, the vocals come across as soothing, melodic and heartfelt, but the track remains my least favourite song on the CD.

The themes of alienation, betrayal, and confusion run throughout Snakehouse. Similar in its raw emotions as Alanis Morissette’s debut, Jagged Little Pill, The Cliks are sure to attract a huge following with this well produced (thanks to Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness) offering. Snakehouse is definitely the perfect soundtrack for many listeners’ angst filled lives.


images from archives and

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mute Math - Impressive Vancouver Gig Wows Audience! Christine Albrecht

Mute Math April 20, 2007

Richard’s on Richards

Full Capacity

...because they are one of the greatest live bands touring the club circuit these days. Their experimental ... sound good on disc, but phenomenal when brought to life... (By Jen Cray @ - December/06)

I republished the above excerpt after coming across it on Saturday. It summed up perfectly what I felt after leaving Mute Math’s concert.

Mute Math (Darren King - drums, Greg Hill - guitar vocals, Paul Meany - guitar/vocals, and Roy Mitchell-C├írdenas - Bass) played Richard’s on Richards Friday, April 20th. The venue was close to being sold out - if not already sold out. This was a good sign considering another cult fan favourite, Blonde Redhead was simultaneously playing at The Commodore. (Personally, I’d rather have three hours of dental work than bear witness to BR’s caterwauling again.)

Swank’s superficial crowd observations: this was a young crowd aged approximately 19 - 25. The male to female ratio was 5 to 1, which I have come to realize is a good sign for a band’s staying power. Plaid shirts, Royal Air Force tees and various grunge getups were the outfits du jour. Mute Math’s appearance on stage had me scratching my head and double checking the CD pictures. Not that they’re an unattractive lot - far from it - but they are also not the ‘eye candy’ they appear to be in the CD’s photos. I want their photographer to snap some pictures of me.

After a bland 2nd (Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin) opening act, Mute Math singer, Greg Hill, took the stage drumming, banging a gong and making a huge entrance. Drummer, Darren King, is a force to be reckoned with. He is mesmerizing on his own - laying down the huge sound that has made Mute Math so popular in the indie scene. King also had headphones taped on (listening to a click track?) The tape came in handy given the amount of energy Darren pours into his playing, frenzied and fabulous. Hill could have used some headphones as well, just to tone down his occasional screams blasting through such an acoustically challenged venue.

Kudos to Mute Math’s sound and lighting technical crew. The band focuses on giving an exciting show no matter how small the booking. The lighting was impressive - floor to ceiling neon, often triggering the crowd into an anticipatory frenzy. The sound highlighted MM’s attention to song endings. The sound was crisp - with songs ending perfectly, swift and concise and no over the top, solo, trailing guitars/ drums. Again, with Richard’s on Richards being known for its poor acoustics, sounding this good was an achievement in itself.

Mute Math has around eight songs that, after the first three chords are played, send the crowd into blissful ecstasy. Bands usually have around three to four songs (unless, of course, they’re a band with 5 albums under their belts) that draw the, ‘Ohh! I looovve this song!’ response. Mute Math has released an (2004) EP and in 2006, their debut CD. Given this stat, eight songs is a huge percentage. This band is here to stay.

A marketing aside - Mute Math’s CD reminds me that all the downloads in the world cannot replace good CD liner notes/ inserts. Mute Math is obviously aware of this and gives their fans a portable, in-your-hand publicity prompt. As well, their clothing/merchandise line has a simplistic, catchy design and all merchandise was selling at a quick pace.

Mute Math is selling out venues all across Canada and the USA for their North American tour.

4/24/2007 - Virgin Megastore, 6:00 PM, San Francisco, CA

4/24/2007 - Slim's, San Francisco, CA

4/25/2007 - House of Blues Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, CA

4/26/2007 - M-Theory Music, 6:30 PM, San Diego, CA

4/26/2007 - House of Blues, San Diego, CA

4/29/2007 - The Clubhouse, Tempe, AZ

5/1/2007 - Sunshine Theater, Albuquerque, NM

5/3/2007 - La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX

5/4/2007 - Granada Theater, Dallas, TX

5/6/2007 - The Meridian, Houston, TX

5/7/2007 - House of Blues, New Orleans, LA

Images from Joy and others at Mute Math’s page

Sunday, April 15, 2007

CD Review: Jesse Malin Glitter in the Gutter By christine Albrecht

I immediately declared heresy on Jesse Malin’s Glitter in the Gutter(March, 2007) after spying on the cover, a remake of The Replacements’ timeless ‘Bastards of Young’. However, after a couple of listens, Malin’s acoustic, world weary, slowed-down version of Paul Westerberg’s lost generational anthem, gradually grew on me until it inched its way to the top of my daily ‘must listen’ cd shuffle. No easy feat, me being, Miss Morning-Misery, here. Then again, that’s not to say I prefer it to the original - not a chance.

Jesse has been making music for over 27 years, starting at the age of 12 with punk/rock bands. His third solo album, Glitter In The Gutter was not what I expected. I was hoping Malin's album would invoke the same jaded rocker angst as The Fine Art Of Self-Destruction.

This album has everyone noteworthy on it, to the point where I wonder if ‘solo’ release is truly accurate. The album features appearances from Ryan Adams, Chris Shifflett of Foo Fighters, Josh Homme, Jakob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen who contributes his vocals to 'Broken Radio'. While Springsteen’s vocals flavour ‘Broken Radio’ in a very “Boss’ way, the result is that the tune becomes both predictable and, for some, comfortable.

In listening to the cd several times to and from work, I was struck with the fact that the songs are well written from a technical/business point of view. There are the prerequisite hooks, fun and interesting lyrics (gotta love, ‘you know I can’t resist, my little anarchist’ on Black Haired Girl) and good melodies. Listen to the music and turn down Jesse’s vocals; you can almost hear The Gin Blossoms or Toad & the Wet Sprocket. Turn up the vocals and you have the same well written tunes, fronted by a chain smoking, hard-livin’ voice that was predominate on the airwaves before the studios’ advent of autotune (not to say that Jesse smokes, drinks, etc - he just has that hard voice.)

Let’s just say that Jesse Malin is an acquired taste. This CD is good, but I would recommend buying his CD, The Fine Art Of Self-Destruction prior to this venture. Call it an ice-breaker, if you will. 7/10

I have starred the songs worth a download purchase

1. Don't Let Them Take You Down*

2. In The Modern World - featuring Ryan Adams

3. Tomorrow Tonight - featuring Josh Homme

4. Broken Radio - featuring Bruce Springsteen & Ryan Adams

5. Prisoners Of Paradise - featuring Chris Shiflett [Foo Fighters]

6. Black Haired Girl - featuring Jakob Dylan [Wallflowers]

7. Lucinda*

8. Love Streams

9. Little Star - featuring Ryan Adams

10. Bastards Of Young - The Replacements cover written by Paul Westerberg.*

11. Happy Ever After (Since You're In Love 2007)

12. NY Nights

13. Aftermath - featuring Ryan Adams*

Friday, April 13, 2007

Warner’s New Release Dates as of April 4/07 By Christine Albrecht


GUSTER Satellite (EP)


MANX, HARRY & K. BREIT In Good We Trust


VEIRS, LAURA Saltbreakers


SHY'M Mes Fantaisies


CLIKS, THE The Cliks


HALLYDAY, JOHNNY Flashback Tour Palais Des Sports 2006 (2 CD

LIL' FLIP I Need Mine




VARIOUS ARTISTS A Tribute to Joni Mitchell


ACADEMY IS..., THE Almost Here

BUBLE, MICHAEL Call Me Irresponsible (CD, Special

COLD WAR KIDS Robbers and Cowards

GENESIS Studio Albums 1976 - 1982

GYM CLASS HEROES The Papercut Chronicles


OST Spider-Man 3: Music From And
Inspired By

PARAMORE All We Know Is Falling


SPILL CANVAS, THE Denial Feels So Good (EP)

PORCUPINE TREE Fear Of A Blank Planet

VARIOUS ARTISTS World Circuit Presents


ADAMS, YOLANDA Greatest Hits


FIELDS Everything Last Winter

VARIOUS ARTISTS Aubade: Sensualidad

MAY 15


LINKIN PARK Minutes To Midnight (CD, CD/DVD)

VARIOUS Atlantic Records: The House That
Ahmet Built

WILCO Sky Blue Sky (CD, CD/DVD)

MAY 22


USED, THE Lies For The Liars

VARIOUS ARTISTS Atlantic Standards 2

MAY 29


WILEY, NATHAN The City Destroyed Me


BIG & RICH Between Rising Hell And Amazing


DEEMI Soundtrack Of My Life

LARRY THE CABLE GUY Morning Constitutions (DVD)

MEG & DIA Something Real (CD, CD/DVD)

PETTY, TOM Highway Companion (Special Edition)







VARIOUS ARTISTS Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save




CLICK 5, THE Modern Sounds in Power and Pop

ELEPHANT MAN Let's Get Physical




CINCOTTI, PETER East Of Angel Town

HIGGINS, MISSY On a Clear Night

OST Entourage Soundtrack

SLAYER Unholy Alliance (CD/DVD)




CRIBBS, THE Men's Needs, Women's Needs,



YUNG JOC Hustlenomics



T.I. T.I. vs T.I.P.






MCKENNA, LORI Unglamorous


HOT HOT HEAT Happiness Ltd (CD, CD/DVD)

images from

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And the Winner is ... By Christine Albrecht

Results of the 2006 International Songwriting Competition

Back in September and October I wrote an article encouraging submissions to the International Songwriting Competition (Deadline was October 16, 2006). The ISC judges included such notables as: Brian Wilson; Tom Waits; Rosanne Cash; Sean Paul; Mark Chesnutt; Jerry Lee Lewis; Frank Black (Pixies); Robert Smith (The Cure), etc.

Almost 15,000 songs by amateur and professional songwriters from 88 countries were submitted to the 2006 competition, confirming ISC's status as the world's leading global songwriting event. Entries were received from faraway countries such as Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Hungary, to the more common countries such as Canada, The USA, and the UK.

More than $150,000 in cash and prizes will be shared among the 56 winners, including an overall Grand Prize of $25,000 (US) cash - the largest cash grand prize of any songwriting competition in the world.

This year's Grand Prize Winner is Scott Leger of Austin, TX, USA for his song "Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow."

(Image from

Scott wrote the song after a personal friend’s disclosure of a cancer diagnosis. The song was meant both as a personal coping mechanism and as a tribute to cancer survivors across the world. Leger’s hope is that the song will encourage people everywhere to live life to its fullest, whether they're dealing with cancer or any other challenge. In addition to its lyrical content, the song's memorable chorus and strong pop sensibility resonated with the ISC judges, culminating in it being awarded this year's Grand Prize.

Leger’ is also the lead singer and main songwriter of the award-winning band, Wideawake. Wideawake's two releases, ‘Bigger than Ourselves’, and ‘Not So Far Away’ have sold well, and they have shared a stage with Switchfoot, Blue October, Third Eye Blind, Sister Hazel, Sheryl Crow, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Tears for Fears.

The other 18 categories in the competition provided a list full of winners. To see the complete list of all of the winners (and to hear their songs) go to

You can also browse other music making information on the site, especially information/promotion of a DVD that records a seminar on the music industry. The DVD covers beginner questions such as: Things to say (and not say) when an A&R person contacts you; What makes an Artist/Band signable, and How to improve your songwriting talent.

Swanktrendz would like to extend our congratulations to Leger as well as all of the entrants in the International Songwriting Competition

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blue October April 6/07 Concert Review Christine Albrecht

Blue October Commodore Ballroom

800+ Capacity April 6, 2007

The 800 or so crowd and I saw one of two things: a seminal emo/punk band that will hone its chops and end up another arena-rock-act, or a band that will consistently fill smaller venues with faithful fans.

Formed in 1995, Blue October established a solid fan base with the 2nd release of their Calling You single, which was included in the American Wedding movie soundtrack. Their recent chart topping Hate Me and Into the Ocean songs were released (April, 2006) on their fourth album, Foiled, and welcomed a new audience into their steadily growing numbers.

Blue October’s 18 song set began with a rockin’ HRSA and ended with the favourite, Hate Me. The band's sound is hard to pin down. At times there was the Terence Trent D’Arby poppy synth sound; the snarling punk infused Hate Me, or the addition of a violin to an already moody love song. So, which direction does Blue October prefer -the biting hard emo/punk, or the melancholic mood crooning? Either way frontman, Justin Furstenfeld, clearly enjoys his job and plays the audience like a well-seasoned pro.

Although Blue October have clearly played enough gigs, they don’t have confidence in their ability to keep their fans interested. This was evidenced in their play list. They threw their fans a ‘bone’, Calling You, 5 songs into an 18 song set. However, Into the Ocean was played at the ‘end’ of their set, which was clearly counting on an encore to bring the anticipated Hate Me to the audience. I do not like having my encore be manipulated. I would hope the band consider receiving an encore after all their charted songs have been played. That’s like wondering if 1000 fans clapping with one hand is better than 500 using both? One handed clapping is both absurd and orchestrated - so was the encore.

I came to the Commodore expecting to dismiss the band as a one (three?) hit wonder, destined to fade away to expired chartland, but instead found that I truly enjoyed the gig and the band’s charisma. Go figure. Perhaps with less polish and more spit, this band could pull off big venue future gigs (sans the song manipulation).

Blue October is scheduled to appear on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on April 25, 2007. Check them out.

first pix from

in studio pix from

violin from

Monday, April 02, 2007

A long-winded “Woe is I” Post That Eventually Gets to the Point

Or... An Update on Andrew Hoshkiw

By Christine Albrecht

Swank Home

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I have spent literally hours trying to find articles that I have posted on Swanktrendz between September 2006 and January, 2007. Why am I choosing to peruse old articles rather than have a life? It appears... (appears as no official statement or explanation has been offered) our website server/host suspended our account after mistakenly determining Swanktrendz was delinquent in its monthly payments.

These activities (searching for past articles and the suspension of Swanktrendz) brought to mind two questions: a) Do real ‘live’ human beings actually work at website server/host sites (or any internet sites for that matter.)? and, b) Can one actually ‘spend’ time? Obviously one can spend money, but is ‘spending time’ an accurate statement? Would my English Professor deduct marks for my use of slang/ colloquialism? Where did the expression originate? (Hell, if my English professor saw this website and my contributions, he’d probably remove his name from my transcripts, thus obliterating any trace of his involvement in my education.)

Now, back to the server... After the mistake was found (again, not publicly acknowledged by the company), my website was restored to its former glory - not! The server somehow managed to post my main page, period. The page led to nowhere. Not a single link was ‘live’, in working condition. After repeated attempts to contact the ‘live help desk’ (refer back to question a), I sent several responses to the host’s email determining the Swanktrendz website looked ‘fine’ from the host’s perspective and to ‘please tell us exactly what the problem appears to be”. After a day or so, I managed to secure the rest of Swanktrendz’s links/pages. Then came the next (current) problem.

Most of Swanktrendz’s articles are intact, however, there is a period of time (September/06 to January/07), in which very few articles survived. These, par usual, eloquent posts have been expelled to cyberspace’s Immense Black Hole of WWW Despair’; destined to forever float about in Internet Purgatory. This being the very same intangible home for our so-called ‘deleted’ emails (because nothing is ever truly deleted and some people have an odd, technological knack for recovering these “Dear Aunt Mae, my boil is growing rapidly’ trashed correspondence) which can be restored and reposted for all the world to enjoy. Except, of course, Swanktrendz’s posts for the block of time mentioned.

I could have just accepted the mishap, posted a notice saying, Whoops - we lost a whack of articles. Quite a shame as they were extremely well written with riveting topics.’ But, nooo. I am obsessed with recordingkeeping. I record everything, be it the weather, books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, people’s birthdays (even people I am not close to!), etc. So, not only could I not let the lost articles fade off into the IBHofWD (see above for definition), but I also abhor the dreaded Error 404 - Page not Found directive. (If you ever want to be rid of email pen-pals, send them a dead link.) Every lost article link on Swanktrendz’s site gets a 404 message. There goes Swanktrendz’s immense audience! (I believe it was six at last count). So, I have set about searching my casual blog entries, (thank you tblog!) hoping to come across my milk-carton, missing ‘babies’. (And NO, I don’t have a back-up as that was the allure/drawing card of my host server.

As I was reading through old articles, I came across a former Swanktrendz contributor, Andrew Hoshkiw. Andrew is a fabulous writer, and an actual columnist for a newspaper up North (in the Yukon). However, (I’ m not sure how he will respond to this declaration), his photography skills surpass his written. This fellow takes pictures that I would be(more than),willing to shell out my hard-earned cash for. He has an incredible eye for his subjects and their surroundings. To appreciate his talent, you must visit the working link below, and share with me your opinion of this man’s photographs. I simply wanted to say that Andrew is still writing, away up North, and still producing fabulous art.

Image from

The Payola$ Reunite By Christine Albrecht

Bob Rock and Paul Hyde Reunite

After close to 20 years of working with other artists (Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, The Tragically Hip & Offspring) and various solo projects, accomplished producer and recent inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Bob Rock has reunited with Paul Hyde under the Payola$ banner.

"I miss the egos, the fighting and the constant attacks on my guitar playing. I miss the tension. I miss the stress," laughs Rock about working with Hyde again. "But seriously there is nothing better to do on a Friday night then hang out with Paul and turn up our guitars way too loud and bang out the music that we love."

The result is a new 5-track EP entitled Langford (Part 1) due out on June 19, 2007 via EMI Music Canada, and its first single "Bomb".

"We've been messing around with songs for the past two or three years and have written far more than we need," says Hyde. "Consequently I think the quality is very high and it's time to finally get on with it and put out a CD"

"Bomb" pulls no punches and delivers a musical message that is timely and provocative.

Although there was several lineup changes and name changes in the band's history, The Payola$ at their core remained Bob Rock and Paul Hyde, who (together) wrote all of the band's songs. As well, Bob Rock engineered and mixed every Payola$ recording.

image from

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Scentsational April Birthday Recommendation By: Lisa Brown

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

image from urbanbotanic.

If you know someone celebrating an April birthday, here's a fantastic gift to give them. I've been in contact with a person who runs remarkable site, and she's putting together a great deal for my readers. And my, does this ever sound like the perfect gift to highlight that fabulous friend‘s and/or loved one’s unique personality and charisma. Truly, a one of a kind gift that will be cherished forever.

You know how it seems like every celebrity has their own signature scent? Sarah Jessica Parker, Britney Spears, J.Lo; they've all got one. Now you have the opportunity to create your own scent, too. UrbanBotanic creates custom scented bath sets.

How it works is... you take a Scent Personality Test. I took one, and mine was pretty accurate. Despite all the kinds of scented oils I love, all seemed to fall in line with my end result - my own ‘Intricate girl’ fragrance.

Then UrbanBotanic mixes unscented bath products with your ‘perfect concoction’ of scented oils to create your personally scented bath and body products. In other words, NOBODY in the world is likely to have the same fragrance as you do!

Better yet, if you enter UrbanBotanic’s site through Intricate Girl’s blog and hook up with UrbanBotanic’s spokesperson, Shawna, you might be able to get a further discount of 15% (more explained below!)

I know, you're probably wondering how you could arrange a gift as intimate as a personal scent? But when I spoke with Shawna, she said that anyone clicking through the Intricate Girl site can take their own tests!Just contact Shawna when you enter UrbanBotanic's site and let her know that you entered through the Intricate Girl link and you are trying to create the perfect gift, for a perfect friend.

In addition to the normal MyScents collection, Shawna is putting together special packages of lotion, shower gel, and parfum spray for all who take advantage of this offer. And, as was noted before, it definitely appears that Shawna plans upon giving a 15% discount to those who enter using Intricate Girl’s site link. How generous of Shawna, and how exciting for us to create an ‘identity fragrance’ by exploring and blending aromatic oils!

Remember, the products are custom made; the prices are excellent, and there's a 15% discount on top of it. Thanks to Intricate Girl for sharing this find and leading us cyberspace world ‘could-smell-a-lot-better readers’ to an excellent gift idea.

Now get going and order for that loved one! Intricate Girl has told us it was great - let’s go and find out just how great.