Gig Review: The Diviners


The Diviners take post-Roots oriented songs and update the genre with melodic pop vocal harmonies and deeper rhythms.

At the recent 2016 IPO Festival in Vancouver, Donald Delano and Janis McKenzie brought the full band along and delivered one of those clear, crisp sets of songs that sets the evening right and has audiences smiling and singing along by the 2nd chorus.

It’s the blend of their voices that sets The Diviners apart. Donald and Janis sing together as one, and very well. The band backs this beautifully, starting with bassist and music promoter Gord Badanic. Gord lays down very fine bass that leverages vocal harmonies into melodic bass runs. He doesn’t just support the guitar riffs, he helps propel them.

Drums then need dynamically augment, which is something veteran stick handler Tony Lee does comfortably, barely breaking a sweat while adding energy on stage to keep the show moving along.

Blending three guitars in a live setting takes a careful ear and deft tonal control, which is precisely what Gary Economy excels at. Where Donald strums on acoustic and Janis supports with her electric Gibson, Gary instead chooses to add textural colors with his Gretsch and amps he custom builds.

Together, The Diviners produce a fine and glorious sound in support of uplifting melodies singing bittersweet lyrics.

Just the kind of music needed as summer transitions to fall.

Gig Review: Carton Lizard (solo) at IPO 2016


Cartoon Lizard generate pop music instantly connecting fun with audiences by way of disarming summer-bright melodies and autumn-colored lyrics over strong, compelling rhythms.

Astute musicologists might hear for example, blissful traces of Jellyfish and Big Star  (among countless other past and modern influences) that this band fuses seamlessly into diamond-brilliant, fresh and fun songs.

They indeed cite their work as “Music for the pop archaeologist” on their facebook page , but there is much more going on than mere homage. There is a reinvention going on, of pop arrangements owing more to rap production than traditional pop/rock recording techniques.

Playing live at the recent 2016 IPO, Trevor Lang performed solo and with backing tracks on a few songs. The song power was still there in stripped down form, but hearing the entire band would be something magical.

Trevor in solo form has a natural stage presence and song delivery that comes from a different angle than merely standing and singing. Surrounding himself with similarly talented musicians will make for a powerful live entity.

A tour is in the works for later this year and this is a band to watch.

Gig Review: 2 Days & Counting at IPO 2016


New Westminster has been compared to ‘the Brooklyn of Vancouver.’ Something in the air of places like Brooklyn and New West produces evocative music coming from a different, but inviting perspective.

Among the suburban Bohemia of such New West artists, actors, musicians and bands are 2 Days & Counting.

Drummer Don Smith is someone you know, someone that shares a beer with you before walking on stage to play drums, loudly. He makes it look easy and keeps that smile on his face while drumming up a storm to widen the song narrative. His keen sense of dynamics ensures the band remains driven to the very last note.

Justin Lewis takes a more studious, intense approach while attacking songs from the bass. There is still a smile there, but it’s much more about hitting the notes in a way echoing what’s happening in the vocal – underlining lyrical cadence of words and story as they are sung.

Over the thundering bass and drums, David Charan unleashes ferocious guitar work to fill in the corners of the room with magic just shy of mayhem. Rock’n’Roll is like that, unflinching and uncompromising. Taking it down to almost nothing helps to frame the rocking riffs and full-on power chords.

All that thunder & lighting can leave a singer little in the way of space or sonic territory. Fortunately, George Montebruno holds more than his own and shines above the riffs with his strong tenor voice and heartfelt lyrics. There are stories to be told and George tells them in a way the audience gets right away.

Together, the band casts a pretty wide net over pop and hard rock. The result is always melodic and pursues recurring quiet passages to frame the louder rock-outs.

Each member sings, and they sing very well together.

Audiences respond to this tight and powerful live band from New West. Go check them out at gigs around Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.


Gig Review: Elle-Ectric at IPO


Elle-Ectric energized the IPO Vancouver audience at The Fairview Pub, with their wonderfully woven vocals over evocative, churning soundscapes that called to mind No Doubt and Kate Bush occasionally – but the band definitely forge their own blossoming, modern, driving sound.

The quintet brings a distinctive take to a diverse array of songs that conjures up magical atmosphere, groove and dynamics. With touches of cinematic storytelling along the way.

Vocals is where this band shines and both Stephanie Walker and Robin Wilson blend so well live that they sound like one singer. Lyrics are of a darker tone overall, which works well over the more pop-sounding major-key songs.

Bobby Graham, Clayton Giles and drummer Ben Hemera shine as a tight-knit band grooving solidly under twin angelic voices – their music sparkling like glowing dragonflies in the night. Audience legs move to the dance floor and the night brightens.

Their albums only tell half the story as this is a band best experienced live – where their collective, contagious energy bursts off the stage in radiant waves. They are an engaging band with a variety of grooves to their tunes.

Follow them on social media and make a pilgrimage to  one of their shows.


Gig Review: Laurie Biagini at the International Pop Overthrow in Vancouver

As Mike Birbiglia puts it, CLEVERNESS IS OVERRATED, AND HEART IS UNDERRATED and music is always better when heart prevails over head.


Our hearts sometime just want songs sung by a soothing voice singing us a story.

Laurie Biagini writes and sings such songs and has only been doing so for a little over ten years. During that time she has recorded 4 full albums, from which she played a selection last Wednesday for the start of the 11th annual International Pop Overthrow (Vancouver) hosted by David Bash.

A friendly, positive vibe emanates from Laurie’s music, even when the lyrics get a bit dark. This bittersweet quality is evocative of Southern California circa 1969-1973 when things were not always as they appeared. A golden era of pop music, particularly so from AM radio.

Touching on a Carol King or Carpenters style of writing through a Beach Boys filter, she performs  live while playing piano with backing tracks that fill out her sound. She tells stories in between each song that elaborate on the time, places and people of each song.

There is a vibe to Laurie’s music both familiar and haunting, and strangely alluring – taking you back to a time of golden summer sun and carefree dreams.