Cruel Young Heart – The Cellar – Review

On Friday night I went to The Cellar to watch Cruel Young Heart, Nixie and Static in the Stars.

When I arrived Nixie was already playing their unique brand of indie pop rock electronica to a mesmerized audience of followers hanging off their every note. Nixie is an all girl band from Kelowna, B.C. comprised of vocalist Shauna Lauren who also plays the synthesizer alongside band-mate Bronwynn Whitely, bassist Kerri Bremner and drummer Sarah Porco. Their deep and mysterious vibrations permeated the crowd while the heavy droning bass-line and deftly played drums had them dancing non-stop.

I was reminded of my new wave pseudo-goth Depeche Mode phase back in the 80’s and of my fondness for British pop electronica sensation Goldfrapp. These four ladies have a real talent for melody that moves you in more ways than one.

Next up was Static in the Stars serving up some good old head-banging indie pop rock so powerful it could almost knock your socks off! It was a veritable blitzkrieg of emphatic drum crashing, guitar thrashing and bass smashing with raucous power chords and blaring solos. All this while vocalist Jordan Carriere, whose charisma was so tangible that it reached out and shook you, belted out memorable rock anthem lyrics at the top of his lungs. They’re a highly enthusiastic bunch who deliver a hyper-sonic sound-blast to the system and a live show chock-full of energy like a kick in the teeth. They clearly had a message that night and it was shouted to the high heavens, “Have F****** Fun!”

Vancouver based indie dance pop crusaders Cruel Young Heart was The Cellar’s own Launch Project Winners. After forming in early 2010, they quickly set out to record their first EP in the legendary Mushroom studios.  Engineered by Chris Michel and expertly mixed by Rob Darch, who is known for working with the likes of Bif Naked, Tom Cochran and Delerium.  Frontman James Blackmon is a very talented songwriter creating catchy and danceable numbers influenced heavily by 80’s pop rock legend’s Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince and U2 among others.

I was impressed with how fast the room filled up with dedicated fans before their set. 80s tunes pumped out of the speakers setting a fun tone for the performance while the room was rife with anticipation by the time they hit the stage. I had listened to their album earlier and was struck by how infectious their youthful exuberance was and how joyously boppy the beats were. The new wave synth played up the melodies and layered nicely in the harmonies and the bass and drum sections kept the rhythms upbeat and gave momentum to the music.

There’s sweetness and innocence to their music and lyrics, which the young set readily ate up.  Upon a quick scan of the room I soon started to feel out of place among the early 20s crowd and longed for something a bit less superficial and fluffy. Cruel Young Heart definitely has a distinct onstage persona, great stage presence and a fun air about them however; it came off as slightly in genuine and contrived to me.

James’ voice started to sound almost amateur to my ears, a little pitchy and off key in the higher ranges but his moxie and boyish good looks somehow allowed him to pull it off.

I enjoyed what he sang in the lower ranges. A sexy edge that I wanted to follow deeper into the songs. Unfortunately, it didn’t lasted.

Cruel Young Heart started to take on a whole new meaning for me. It was way too loud to be enjoyable and in the end, it gave me a headache. I felt as though I was in one of Homer’s bad trips on the Simpson’s and I just wanted to get off the ride.

If you still feel like checking them out.  Here is a link: http://cruelyoungheart.com/