Said The Whale

Vancouver's Said The Whale has been on a steady upward trajectory for the past six years, as relentless touring and a prolific string of releases have led to successes including a JUNO Award in 2011 for New Group of the Year and nationally charting singles. In 2013, the tireless five-piece — which includes dual songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, drummer Spencer Schoening, keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown and bassist Nathan Shaw — will continue to break down doors by releasing its most adventurous and hook-filled batch of songs yet.

The band formed in early 2007 and, following some early EPs, released the debut-full length Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia in 2008. Said The Whale began to amass a grassroots following through frequent tours, and they scored a string of Canadian radio successes with the albums Islands Disappear (2009) and Little Mountain (2012). These albums earned attention from media outlets like Spin, BBC 6 Music, and Consequence of Sound, and the band was profiled in the nationally televised CBC documentary Winning America. Said The Whale has been nominated for two more JUNO Awards in 2013 for Alternative Album of the Year and Recording Package of the Year (alongside art director Andy Dixon) for Little Mountain.

In keeping with this inexhaustible work ethic, the band is releasing another new collection of songs in the form of the four-song I Love You EP, due out June 18, 2013, on Hidden Pony Records. Once again teaming with longtime studio collaborator Tom Dobrzanski (We Are the City, the Zolas) at his Monarch Studios, the musicians pushed their musical limits and honed their love of fast, punchy pop-rock.

"In the past I've felt pressure to write 'radio' songs, or 'cool' songs or whatever, but this time I went into the writing process with mindset of 'Fuck everything, I'm just going to write what makes me happy,'" says Tyler Bancroft, explaining that the songs were written with a clean slate and no expectations. Ironically, what resulted were some of Said the Whale's catchiest, most accessible songs yet. The singer observes, "It turns out I just like pop music."

This affection for melody shines on I Love You's title track which is led by a surge of post-punk guitars and careens between spiky choruses and a sunny, sock hop-inspired bridge. Elsewhere, the Worcester-sung "Barbara-Ann" is a buoyant blend of heartfelt romance and '60s-style vocal harmonies, while "Mother" is a synth-heavy new wave banger. These upbeat songs were mixed by Canadian studio guru Gus Van Go (Hollerado, the Stills).

"I spend so much time chipping away at my thoughts, trying to get to the core, and right now I'm finding it easy," Worcester says. "I've never felt more creative." He adds that the lovestruck mood of "Barabara-Ann" was inspired by a couple who own a hammock store in Vancouver. "It's a proposition to someone special, suggesting that we too can live together like this this beautiful pair of chilled out lifers," he reveals.

The EP offers a taste of Said The Whale's fourth album, due out this fall. These latest sessions found Bancroft taking on the role of co-producer, and he guided each song in bold new directions without adherence to genre. "Rather than record in one big session, we used the 'hip-hop method' of doing two or three songs at a time," he reflects. "This let us focus all of our energy on each song without getting overwhelmed."

The new material was penned in a surge of creativity that found Bancroft and Worcester letting their guard down and following their instincts. "My songs on this album are the most vulnerable songs I've ever written," notes Bancroft. "Lyrically it's the most honest I've ever been."

I Love You EP is the sound of a band already on the top of its game breaking free from all expectations and boldly reinventing its identity. And with a new full-length close behind, expect to see more new sides to Said The Whale soon.

Royal Teeth

Royal Teeth is a happy accident. On a whim, the New Orleans-based band started incorporating samples and electronics to its indie vibe. Debut album "GLOW" coming August 13th on Dangerbird Records.

Born Cages

For Born Cages, freedom stands paramount. The New York-based alternative rock outfit thrives on creatively seeking that freedom, whether it's in the studio or on stage. There's no rulebook. There's no template. There's simply unhindered art in its purest form when Vlad Holiday [lead vocals/guitar], Amanda Carl [keyboards/backing vocals], Steve Kellner [bass guitar/backing vocals], and Dave Tantao [drums] converge. As a result of that shared boundless mentality, a delicate alchemy of raw guitars and shimmering electronics powers I'm Glad I'm Not Me, their forthcoming full-length debut for Razor & Tie. All boundaries and chains might just be broken in the process.

In 2011, these four musicians were naturally drawn to each other. Each had made his or her own imprint on the fertile New York scene, and their bond proved instantaneous. Within their first year together the band's self-released online demos stirred major buzz. Soon, NYC's most prominent rock radio station Q104.3FM started giving them frequent airtime, New Music Seminar dubbed them an "Artist on the Verge," their in-studio performance at the Gibson showroom was featured in Times Square, and they shared the stage with the legendary Guns N' Roses for two sold out shows.

Signing with Razor & Tie in 2012, the quartet commenced work on I'm Glad I'm Not Me with producer Jon Kaplan at Brooklyn's Mission Sound Studios [Metric, Arctic Monkeys]. They further honed their singular and signature style.

"It's loud, ethereal, and fuzzy," exclaims Holiday. "The perfect balance of electronic and guitar music has yet to be found. We're striving to achieve that balance. The mood and energy of the band are very real. The music is mysterious, exciting, truthful, embellished, vague, specific, dark, and happy. In other words, it's life."

Everything comes alive on tracks like "Don't Look Back." Literally plucked from a dream Holiday had one night, the song teeters from elegantly entrancing keys to an anthemic groove just before erupting into a scorching solo.

"Have you heard a song so fucking great you wished you could go back in time and write it yourself?" he asks. "I had a dream one night about this song. The band playing it was a fictitious, blurry symbol of youth and revolt. I woke up from the dream and still had the melody in my head. I picked up my guitar and recorded the main riff in less than a minute. I guess in a way, I plagiarized my subconscious."

Born Cages exist to capture moments like that. Rather than suppressing any emotions, they embrace them no matter how wild. It's an ethos encapsulated within their very name.

"The band name is a symbol for discontentment," reveals the singer. "It's being unsatisfied with what you're given, but actually doing something about it. Cages aren't meant to be escaped from unless there's extreme passion and motivation. It's a symbol which alone is meaningless, but with enough people can change the world."

There's no shortage of passion or motivation when it comes to the group's songs, and they might just wake up an entire culture in need of revolution. "There's a line in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris that I keep coming back to," says Holiday. "It goes, 'The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.' That's our attempt with this album. I want the listener to get inspired to live without fear. I want people to feel impetuous and free because that's what rock music should be about."


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