This is a Rallying Call for “The Express”

In the beginning there were “Hey Rosetta!” and “Two Hours Traffic”, two bands from East coast Canada. Liam Corcoran, singer with “Two Hours Traffic”, and his cousin, the “Hey Rosetta!” violin virtuoso Kinley Dowling, decided to get together to make a little music, and then hit the recording studio belonging to pedal steel player Dale Murray of the third band, “Cuff the Duke”. He joined in, and something truly sweet has been born.

Their Nova Scotia based initiative has produced a delightful blend of country, folk and pop that is definitely worth a listen.

The album is to be released on July 5th. I’ve heard one track from it so far – “Nobody Knows”, and it blew me away. The lyrics are interesting, the music is wonderful, and the vocals are sweet and soulful. I will hope to review it once it’s released.

You can hear a little from “The Express” by going to their MySpace page. There isn’t much on it yet, just three songs, but hopefully once the album is released there will be more activity there.

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MediaChick is completely overcome.

Last night I fulfilled a dream of mine that’s been 8 years in the making. Let me explain, and although my explanation is a little long winded, trust me, I will get to the point eventually and it will become clear, I promise.

Years ago, there was a show on TV called ‘Angel’, and one of my favorite characters was a cold, amoral lawyer by the name of Lindsey McDonald. Lindsey was played by actor Christian Kane, who also had (and still has!) a band. An LA based friend of mine sent me the track, ‘Rattlesnake Smile’ from the first Kane album, back in 2001, and I was hooked.

I flew down to LA specifically to see them play, fell in love with Kane’s music of course, but more specifically with the amazing voice of one Steve Carlson, founder member of Kane.

When Steve put out his first album, ‘Spot in the Corner’ in 2003, I snapped it up gleefully. There are many tracks on that album that I love, but on in particular, ‘Come Around More, Alabama,’ especially resonated with me, because as well as the familiar honey and whisky gravel of Steve’s pretty voice, there was another – a second voice singing harmony, and I really, really wanted to hear more from that singer.

Time passed, and ‘Rollin’ On’ was released in 2005, and again there were harmonies, and again there was that voice, blending seamlessly with that of Jason Manns, to be heard, most especially on the wonderful ‘Hummingbird Billy’.

I soon found the album that had been released by the very wonderful Jason ‘Angel Voice’ Manns, but when I looked for any product from that other singer there was nothing to be found. That singer, of course, was Jensen Ackles.

I looked in vain for his music. It didn’t take me long to discover that he was in fact primarily an actor rather than a musician, and that really depressed me. I admit to falling a little in love with him when I finally saw him as Alec in ‘Dark Angel’, but there was still no music – nothing I could find beyond Steve’s albums, and a rather awful version of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ during which he sang the middle break, or at least a part of it.

Since then, of course, we’ve got Jason Manns to thank for his duet on ‘Crazy Love,’ and one notable impromptu rendition of ‘The Weight’ sung to the accompaniment of the shrieks of 1,200 or so fangirls, (and let me tell you that trying to remaster that from a YouTube clip so that one can actually listen to the voice is a daunting task! However, Jensen has never succumbed to my hypnotic vibes and simply burst into songs, and my pain is great.

At least, until last night, because last night I was finally privileged to hear Jensen sing. I don’t know quite what I was expecting to hear – perhaps I was anticipating country music – but whatever I thought he would sing, the actual event was so much more. The event was billed as ‘A Jam Session with Jensen and Jason,’ and as I’ve already said, I think their voices blend together really superbly, so I was very excited at the possibilities ahead.

About 30 of us were ushered into a small room to experience this event, and sat quivering with anticipation as first Jensen and then Jason filed in bearing guitars and glasses of whisky. He’d put on a white beanie, ‘so that he’d look more like a musician,’ he said. The two of them took their seats and we were off. Jensen apologized that he didn’t have any original materials for us. I don’t think any of us had expected any. I certainly didn’t. He also said that the price we’d paid to be present had made him think that the two of them should perhaps perform naked, but despite encouragement there was no further skin to be seen. I don’t feel cheated really, although I would definitely have applauded if he’d skinned down to his boxers!  He explained his reluctance to burst into song at conventions saying that the cons are about Supernatural, but his music is about him and not the show.  He also said that he’d worried about ‘performing’ for fans, but on reflection he didn’t have any problems singing in front of his mom, and she’s the biggest fangirl he’s got, so here we were.

And so to the set list. First up was a Ray LaMontaigne song, ‘Rock and Roll on the Radio.’ He has a sweet voice. It’s very versatile, with a range that runs smoothly from tenor through baritone without any straining, and which at need will roughen to a seductive rasp. I’m definitely smitten.

He began his song looking and sounding very diffident and nervous, but when we didn’t all throw things the first time he faltered on the lyrics he seemed to settle down, got his game on, and sang his heart out.

Next up was a mix of ‘Crazy Love’ and ‘The Weight’ – both songs we’ve heard him on before. The two of them traded verses, teased each other and harmonized as Jensen gained more confidence. Jason, who was incredibly supportive, confessed to being very nervous himself, and didn’t know why since he sings in public all the time. Jensen suggested he was catching it through the foot that was closest to him. “It’s rolling off me in waves,” he admitted.

‘If I had a Million’, the Al Green song, was next, and Jensen told us it was the first song he ever learned to play, under the mistaken assumption that it would make him a sure thing to get any chick he wanted. Frankly, I was puzzled that he would need such a prop, but it was great to hear it anyway. It was the one song I wasn’t familiar with, and I really liked it. Then came “She Talks to Angels,’ from The Black Crowes. Both men went to town with lots of guitar work and harmonies that were perfect for it. From there they got into the Leonard Cohen classic, ‘Hallelujah’, a song we’ve heard Jason sing on more than once occasion, and again they traded verses, added harmonies and brought the tears to my eyes.

“Sing some Skynyrd,” was called from the back – I believe it was Clif who yelled it out – and immediately Jensen launched into ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. I am pretty sure that wasn’t one they’d rehearsed, but it was perfectly rendered anyway, and Jensen’s voice was suddenly all about rocking out. I loved it, and it made me smile inwardly, because there was that Alabama connection again. My quest had begun and ended with Alabama. Go figure!

Jason was told to sing one of his songs, and the audience picked “Your Song.” Jensen abandoned his guitar for a pair of bongos, and tapped out a rhythm, although he felt that he can’t sing and keep the beat simultaneously. He didn’t seem to be having that much trouble to me, and Jason murmured that when he first began playing he couldn’t play guitar and sing at the same time either.

My favorite song of the evening was undoubtedly the next one, another song by Ray Lamontaigne – ‘God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.’ Jensen talked a little about shutting himself away in his trailer when he’s feeling despondent and alone, and singing this to himself. His rendition was amazing. If I could have him record just one song, that would be the one; it was poignant and sensitive, and more than that, it showed Jensen’s perfect vocal control. I teared up all over again.

‘Free Falling’ followed, and Jensen let go. He denied that he’d go high but did, and nailed it beautifully. His version was a little Tom Petty and rather more John Mayer, and delightful. He was going great guns by now, and I absolutely didn’t want things to end.

Sadly, there was only one more song, and that was Ben Harper’s ‘Walk Away’, slow and melancholy, with lacy harmonies from Jason.

At that point the plug was pulled by Adam Nalin of Creation, and we watched as Jensen and Jason did, in fact, walk away, but not before they both expressed appreciation of our enjoyment, and of the fans as a whole. The jam session had been scheduled for 45 minutes, but in fact went for an hour and a half. I emerged dazed but ecstatic.

The cost of the performance was high, and a lot of fans who would have loved to hear it were denied the chance because of the price, and that saddens me, but I would do it again in a heartbeat, given another chance.

Thank you, Jensen and Jason. You were amazing. I loved every minute. Now I have a single plea. Please, PLEASE make an album together. Please put out an album, and if you do, please include ‘God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise’.


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An open letter to Jason Manns

Hi, Jason:

I am one of your fans. I buy your CDs. I promote your music, and I attend your gigs whenever I can. I’ve recruited a lot of people to your music.

Now I am conflicted. I see that you and Jensen are planning a performance for a very select few at the LA convention, and that disgusts me. If you were planning something like this and felt you needed the money, given the number of fans desperate to see it, you could have auctioned it off during a general session, or you guys could have charged admission. Believe me, you would clean up.

Instead, you’re buying into Creation’s apparent desire to create an elite squad of superfans (who are always the same ones that buy every ‘special’, because they can afford it, unlike most of us.) and that makes me sad.

I am sure that you’ll make a load of money at the con with this. I am also sure that both you and Jensen will suffer in the aftermath, and you more than Jensen. I don’t think I can continue to support and promote your music, since this depresses me so utterly. There are a whole lot of others like me, who won’t be able to buy your special concert, and who will feel both cheated and angry.

I don’t usually whine at singers I like, but you’ve always been very pleasant and approachable, and I do hope you will take notice of this and do something about it.

Warm regards,


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2010 In Review

So here we are at the start of another new year, and I’ve been looking back over 2010, picking out the music that played as a background to my year.  I’ll stress that these are my favorites, and I hope that there will be a similar post from RadioChick in the next little while.  So before we let 2010 go completely, let me point you to some of the music from it that made me really love the direction the industry is taking.

1: Steve Carlson – Days Behind

I’ve been a fan of Steve’s since the early days of Kane.  When “Spot in the Corner” came out I snapped it up, and I’ve always loved his albums.  However, I think that of them all, “Days Behind” is the best so far – he’s definitely ‘moving in the right direction!’ I love his jazz/funk groove, I love his softer, folksy sound, and I think he has an amazing voice, husky and rough without losing any musicality.  Days Behind spans topics from the elation of performing onstage to the introspective look at his life so far and the big question as to where he’s going.  My very favorite track on the album is “Out Here Alone”.  The lyrics are gorgeous, and the music begins quietly and builds layer upon layer like lace until it
becomes wall to wall sound.  My other favorite track is “Take Time to Shine.”  Kaniacs will recognise the main riff, but what Steve has done with it is so different from “The House Rules” that there will never be any accusations of plagiarism.

The production values are perfect, and a tribute to the Sound Parlor, Steve’s new endeavor along with Darren Sher.  It’s going to be a long time before another album comes along to replace this album at the top of my personal charts.

2: Bodhi Jones – Where Does the Time Go

I first saw Bohdi on the street, playing for coins on the corner of Robson and Howe Street.  I liked his sound so much that I bought the CD right there, and I can’t stop playing it. If you’re a Jason Mraz fan you should give him a spin. Listen to “I Used to Know How” and reminisce with Bohdi. Watching his childhood through his adult eyes offers him comfort.  His song “Oh Father” is a punch to the gut, and feels very personal  The line, “Oh father, I never wanted anything from you but time” morphs into “I never wanted anything from you but love.” Sad and compelling, but pretty to listen to for all that.  Finally, the song “Work the Night Shift” is a song for all blue collar workers, and it’s one that will make your feet tap.

3: Oak and Gorski – Love Destroyer

Here we have cello rock! Oak and Gorski have been described as “The best band you’ve never heard of,” and I’d love to change that. Their music is catchy, commercial, sweetly lyrical and melodic.  My favorite track on the EP is “New York” and it’s a love song about the joys of the Big Apple. In the title track, the singer confesses to being an incredibly bad boyfriend.  The song makes me giggle, but there’s underlying despair in it.  The duo are very good at what they do, and what they do is combine pretty vocal harmonies with guitar, cello and occasional piano.

4: Kane – The House Rules

At last, at last! We’ve been waiting for this album for what seems like forever. We all know “The House Rules” of course.  I can’t quite remember how many versions of it I’ve got on my hard drive, but it’s definitely the Kaniac anthem, and this version is as energetic and appealing as anyone could wish for.  I have to play it if I’m doing housework, because it makes everything go by so much faster.  However, despite my approval of Rule Number Seven, it’s not my favorite track.  I love “Whiskey in Mind,” and the strong vocals on the Leverage-featured song, “Thinking of You,” but to me the very best song on the album is that special extra track that they tried to keep from me.  I’m talking of course about the accoustic rendition of “A Different Kind of Knight.”  I think it’s my second favorite Kane song of all time, and this version is beautiful.  I managed to get a copy even though iTunes wouldn’t let me have it, and all I can say is that it’s a crying shame.  It’s so pretty.  I love Christian’s voice, and this showcases it perfectly, not only that but the lyrics are outstanding. So how about it, iTunes?  I want to buy it.  I don’t want to be pirating from Christian, but I don’t live in the US, and neither do at least 50% of his other fans. Why the discrimination?

5: Postcard Fiction – The Dreamers

I discovered Postcard Fiction because of the monthly awards show.  Their song “Take Me Home” won the April contest, and I contacted them. Bless them, they started to email me free music, and I am now a huge fan.  You can’t ever insult me by giving me free music. I bought their EP, “The Dreamers” and I love it.  As well as “Take Me Home,” the song that caught my interest in the first place, you’ll find four little gems that are reminiscent of Muse.  Jeremy Sakovich is the driving force behind Postcard Fiction, and his music is full of the kind of hooks that get under your skin and don’t let go. It’s pure pop.  Listen to the song, “Wish You Were Mine,” and see what you think.

6: I Am Arrows – Sun Comes Up Again

This is a new band, formed by Andy Burrows, the drummer from Razorlight.  The track that made me sit up and listen from this band is called “Green Grass”, and having heard it I twitched until the album came available and I could buy it.  The sounds are so unlike Razorlight that it’s hard to believe that there was ever a connection.  The songs are melodic and well produced, and, unsurprisingly, given that Andy is a drummer, very rhythmic.  I love “Green Grass” of course, but there are so many other good songs on the album. Most of them are tales of relationships that have died, and the lyrics are often sensitive and melancholic.  Just listen to the beautiful but somber “Bruises” to hear what I mean, and the title song from the album is totally impossible to resist.

7: Jason Manns – Soul

Jason has an incredible voice, and I first discovered him from his work on “Rollin’ On,” Steve Carlson’s second album. His own music is soft, sweet, romantic folk rock, and his fans call him Angel Voice, a nickname he richly deserves. He sings his own material, but does some wonderful covers too, and on “Soul” you can hear his take on the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah.”  It’s by far the best version I’ve heard.  The title track, “Soul,” was penned by Jason along with another of my favorite musicians, Henri O’Connor, one of the forces behind The Life of Riley, and it shows that he’s becoming increasingly influenced by some of the R&B we’ve heard him play onstage. I love it.  Jason’s music is like that warm, fluffy sweater that you put on when you’re feeling in need of a snuggle before you dig into the comfort food.

8: Rosalee – Love is the Way

My first experience of Rosalee was during Steve Carlson’s tour of the UK, back in 2008. She has an incredibly sweet voice, and even when she was just singing backup for Steve she stood out.  When her album finally came out I couldn’t wait to get a hold of it.  She’s been performing “Jack and Jill” at Steve’s gigs lately, and it’s a really good song, but by far my favorite off the album is “Shooting Star” Rosalee has the looks, personality, and most of all the voice to go mainstream. I hope in a way that she doesn’t, because I’d miss all the backup stuff she does, but I’m just saying, the girl has got “IT”.

9: Layden Robinson – Music Meets Emotion

Layden has been documented on this site before, so I won’t say too much here. Suffice it to say that he makes pretty music – layered pop songs that combine soul and classic rock with delicious instrumentation that builds until you really know that you’ve heard something special.  Music Meets Emotion is definitely worth including in any indie music collection.

10: Maria in the Shower

These guys are a band you just have to see live.  They’re versatile, and funny, and their music ranges from bouncy, 30s jazz classics like “The Love Bug” through more traditional country, (they play guitars, of course, but between them they feature trumpet, trombone, accordion and cello, as well as some of the  weirder objects) to the folksy, astonishing “Train of Pounding Hours,” notable for the oddball percussion that the drummer delivers by whacking a pipe with a hammer and dropping a huge length of chain onto the deck. I have to say that they are a band that should be seen live to get the full effect – the album pales to insignificance besides the stuff they get up to on stage, but give it a listen anyway.  They’re just plain fun, and these days you have to take that where you find it.

I’m going to wind up by pointing to a band I spotted on TV the other night, and who blew me away.  They don’t have a recording contract at present, but I bet it’s only a matter of time.  The band I’m referring to is the amazing a capella group, Street Corner Symphony, who were the runners up in the Sing Off, but who stood out as head and shoulders above the rest of the groups for me.  So far there is only a single – Radiohead’s “Creep,” available on iTunes if you’re American, but not if you live in a third world country like Canada.  I love their sound, and I want to buy their CD.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that there will be one very soon.

I hope that you all have a happy New Year, and that between us we can keep music interesting through the coming year.

Media Chick

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Review by Media Chick – Layden Robinson – Music Meets Emotion

Layden Robinson has just released his fourth album. Listening to it, I heard a really good voice singing pretty tunes with excellent production. My one and only reservation were the  lyrics, which were sadly repetitive and, for the most part, unimaginative.

Much of the time, the lyrics didn’t matter that much. The album overall has a soft, acoustic sound laced with all the emotion you could possibly want, and seasoned with occasional bursts of metal that serve as a palate cleanser.


Layden crafts songs that tie their melodies seamlessly to the heroic wall of sound to which each song builds.  His voice is sometimes Bryan Ferry and sometimes Ed Kowalczyk, and, whatever he sings, it does seem to work.  The new album is called “Music Meets Emotion,” and it’s an apt title.  There’s certainly plenty of emotion present, and each song runs the gamut from intimate to anthemic.


My favourite song on the album is “Angel From Above.”  The lyrics were the best on the album, and the song itself had a ton of soul.  It’s the kind of song that allows you to close your eyes and dive into it and wallow.  Other close contenders were “Someday” and “Become Free.”  The delicate piano in “Become Free” begins a slow build towards a beautifully integrated crescendo that made me shiver.


I liked the album.  I’m glad I bought it, but I’m still going to go to MySpace from time to time, because there’s a song on there that really does Layden’s voice true justice.  I’m talking about “Love Rears Its Ugly Head.”  Give it a listen, because it’s incredible.  Just Layden and his guitar, and a jazz-funk vibe that sounds like he’s bleeding for you.  It shows what he’s capable of live, and, damn!  I do wish he’d record it.  I want to be able to play it over and over.


But wait!  I’m not quite finished.  When you’re done listening to that, click on the MySpace page for “Blues Love Undiscovered,” the band for whom he’s the lead singer.  Listen to “Dirty Momma.”  The man’s got soul and then some.


So all in all, I’m giving “Music Meets Emotion” 4 stars out of 5.  If the lyrics were better he’d be getting the full five stars.

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Coming Soon

What happens when a former College Radio DJ and a former Contributor to NME get back in the saddle? Reviews, concert listings, interviews. Snark. Fun.

This will be a place where we talk about the indie artists of all genres of music.

And try and keep music interesting.

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