May 31, 2014

Dear Sister at Lee's Palace

Local band Dear Sister opened up the second night of July Talk's sold out weekend run at Lee's Palace in Toronto. I thought it was pretty cool that July Talk came out to cheer them on, enjoy the set and talk to some fans. Later in the night they received the high praise from the headliners that Dear Sister are July Talk's new favourite Toronto band. Good job!
Dear Sister's soothing melodies were enthusiastically received by the sold out crowd that showed up early to stake out good spots to see July Talk and to enjoy Dear Sister. They cranked up the intensity as the set progressed, doing a great job of warming up the crowd. I'm looking forward to hearing more from this southern-inflected Toronto band.
You can check out my coverage of Army Girls, who were next up on the bill, and of course headliners July Talk.

Check out some Dear Sister tunes:

"Be My Husband/Rooster"

May 30, 2014

Crystal Fighters sound like summer

This tune, "Love Natural" by Crystal Fighters, sounds like fun summer times. When will summer come to Toronto?

Cave Rave is available now.

Photo from Facebook.

May 29, 2014

New music from Paws

Paws have a new album called Youth Culture Forever that just came out May 6. I posted the tune "Tongues" back in March. Now we have a video for "Owls Talons Clenching My Heart". That title is quite evocative, isn't it?

Photo from Facebook.

May 28, 2014

Steel Panther bring 80s metal back to Toronto

I can see through time.

It's 1988 in here.

Mullets abound, even though they're almost all wigs. Devil horns. Metal t-shirts. Hairspray. Zebra stripe pants. Leather miniskirts. High, high heels. Headbands. Eye make-up on the boys and the girls. Big hair. And everyone with a high tolerance for dirty-minded lyrics and in a mood for fun.
Outside The Sound Academy, a bride and groom are posing for photos with the Toronto skyline in the background. Back inside it's an 80s heavy metal Halloween. There's even a dude dressed as the shocker.
Between bands they're playing tunes including Quiet Riot's "Metal Health", Whitesnake's "Slide It In", AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill", Cinderella's "Shake Me" and finally Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" is cranked up to signify the coming of the band we've all been waiting for, Steel Panther.
One thing is clear - these guys can play. They came to entertain and that's what they did. Their songs walk a line between tribute and parody of the best of the 80s metal scene. They even play up bands like Slayer. Between songs they lead us through some fascinating stories and general banter, as well as regaling us with the opening riffs to famous 80s metal tunes. And we all knew the night wouldn't be right without a full on Van Halen style heavy metal guitar god solo. Was I the only one left wondering, "Where's the drum solo?"
And they're funny. Their R- to X-Rated lyrics poke fun at the machismo of 80s metal and make the whole Steel Panther package unique and brilliant. Glad I got to catch the show. Glad I got to photograph them. These guys know how to pose it up for the camera. I think I know what it was like to photograph bands back in the days of the classics like Van Halen and Mötley Crüe only with the glory of digital. In short, fun show and I'd definitely see them again.

May 27, 2014

John Grant at The Danforth Music Hall

I caught John Grant's show a few years back when he opened for Midlake at The Mod Club. I was instantly taken in by his lyrical counterpoint of misery and humour, and the counterpoint of his instrumental and vocal delivery with that sense of humour.

He opened for Elbow at their fantastic show at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. He played tunes from 2010's Queen of Denmark and last year's Pale Green Ghosts with a guitar player and accompanying himself on keyboards. It was great to see him again, and I look forward to the next time I get to see this unique and powerful songwriter.
Highlights for me were "Sigourney Weaver" and "Where Dreams Go To Die" from Queen of Denmark and "Glacier" and "GMF" from Pale Green Ghosts. I loved his intro for "GMF" where he advised us all that if you're with someone who doesn't think that you are the greatest mother fucker in the world, then you should ditch them immediately. My only wish would have been for him to play "Chicken Bones".
And now, on to the tunes:

"GMF" from his newest album Pale Green Ghosts

This is quite the incredible version of "Glacier" from Pale Green Ghosts

"Sigourney Weaver" from Queen of Denmark

"Where Dreams Go To Die" from Queen of Denmark

"Chicken Bones" from Queen of Denmark

May 26, 2014

Reuben and the Dark

I almost saw Reuben and the Dark when they opened for The Darcy's at Lee's Palace a while back. Alas, I did not make it to the show. But I did check out Reuben and the Dark's music.

Their début album Funeral Sky comes out May 27 on Arts & Crafts. Check out some cool tunes.

"Rolling Stone"

"Black Water"

"Devil's Time"

If you like what you hear, you can catch Reuben and the Dark live at Field Trip in Toronto on June 7. I know I'm looking forward to the show.

Photo from Facebook.

May 25, 2014

Army Girls at Lee's Palace

Army Girls were the second band to play at Lee's Palace opening for the second night of the sold out weekend of July Talk shows. They're based in T.O. and are a fun guitar-drums duo. They're recording an album right now (or right then, anyway) so hopefully we'll have lots of new music to feature on the site and that I'll make it out to see / shoot them again.
I enjoyed their sound, their energy, their tunes and their lyrics like "if you must be cruel then at least be brief". It's emotional power pop at its best. Check out some tunes:

"My Kin"



"Over Me" Wow, what a powerful tune. In spite of the fact that it's a song-in-process video.

May 24, 2014

No the band. From LA.

A few months back, I was interested in seeing The Darcys at Lee's Palace. Well, it was not to be, but I decided to check out the bands that were opening for The Darcys that night. One of the bands is called No, which has to be one of the worst names for a band as far as finding them on the web goes. They're really doing themselves a disservice.

They're from Los Angeles and they're signed to Arts & Crafts. Their début album El Prado came out in February of this year.

Here's the video for "Leave the Door Wide Open".

And if you like the sound of that tune, you can listen to the whole album here:

They're back in Toronto June 4 at The Opera House.

Photo from Facebook.

May 23, 2014

New Pup video for Guilt Trip

Pup have released a video for the track "Guilt Trip" from last year's self-titled début. It starts off as a simple band origin story and then it takes a dark turn. Cool track.

And just cuz I never posted it, here's their clip for "Lionheart". Another cool track.

Photo from Facebook.

May 22, 2014

New Jack White tunes from forthcoming album Lazaretto

Jack White no longer needs to contest James Brown for the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business" title. He's freaking everywhere, all the time. He's got a new album called Lazaretto coming out June 10. Let's listen to some tracks:

Album track "High Ball Stepper"

Title track "Lazaretto" and

Recently unveiled stomper "Just One Drink".

Photo from Facebook.

May 21, 2014

Ablebody at The Horseshoe

I caught Ablebody opening for bandmates The Pains of Pure at Heart and tourmates Fear of Men at The Horseshoe Tavern back on April 26. You can check out my pics and thoughts on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Fear of Men, too.
Ablebody are from Los Angeles. They comprise 3/5 of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They mix up their power trio format with backing tracks, clean and sometimes flanging guitar sounds and cool songs to warm up the crowd.

Check out their latest single "After Hours" and their All My Everybody EP below.

May 20, 2014

Check out new Frightened Rabbit project Owl John

Owl John is both the name of the new project and new album coming from the fine folks in Frightened Rabbit. Check out the tune "Hate Music". Pretty damn cool!

Pic from Facebook.

May 19, 2014

Elbow at The Danforth Music Hall

Elbow are an interesting act for me. I like lots of their stuff. But as one can see from a quick trip around this site or through the list of tags on the side, I tend to go for bands on the less mellow side of life. But when I heard they were playing Toronto, I had to go see them. When their show at The Danforth Music Hall quickly sold out, I just knew I was in for a treat.
I suspected that Elbow would be a band that would excel in the live environment. While their quiet songs can sometimes fade into the background on the subway or in the home, the volume and attention commanded by the music in the concert environment paid off in an understanding of just how incredible the songs are. Guy Garvey is the kind of singer who holds his fans in the palm of his hand with his presence, lyrics and immaculately emotive melodies. There was something about the sombre beauty of the stone angel looking down on the band and the crowd that fit the mood of the show perfectly.
Another wonderful thing I discovered is that we've got a talented audience in Toronto. Two key highlights for me were "Grounds for Divorce", probably my favourite Elbow song, and the last song of the night,"One Day Like This", both because of their incredible sing-alongs. "One Day Like This" was especially beautiful because of the extended sing-along, but also because of the quality of the crowd's singing. When Guy instructed them to harmonize, it happened! The audience at The Danforth Music Hall turned into a choir singing the rousing chorus of "Throw those curtains wide / One day like this a year would see me right". Absolute perfection.
Check out some highlights from the set below:
"Charge" from their newest, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

"The Bones of You" from 2008's The Seldom Seen Kid

"New York Morning" from The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

"Grounds for Divorce" from The Seldom Seen Kid

Set closer "My Sad Captains" from The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

Encore tunes "Lippy Kids" from 2011's Build a Rocket Boys! and

"One Day Like This" from The Seldom Seen Kid. Just imagine around 1,400 people harmonizing on this tune.

May 18, 2014

Blood Red Shoes stop in Canada and rock out at The Garrison

I'm glad that I don't pretend to have any objectivity or lack of bias in what I write about - I write about the music I like. Or love. And I love the music of Blood Red Shoes. A quick look at my best of lists from 2012 and 2010-2011 clearly demonstrate this.
The last time they were in town they appeared at the relatively tiny Drake Underground. It was one of the first shows that I decided to take a few pictures at. A quick look at what I captured with my blackberry and then decided to post to the blog should give you a chuckle. But it set me on a path.

On Friday night, May 16, Blood Red Shoes played Toronto again. This time at The Garrison in support of their recently released self-titled album. This marks the only Canadian stop on their current tour and they noted that this is a shame. Hopefully they'll swing back soon with more Canadian dates. As the night progressed and many shots were consumed by both band and audience, they stated that they were having a lot of fun. Of course they were. Toronto rocks.
Over the relatively short time that I've been covering the Toronto concert scene, I've been surprised a few times. I've walked into clubs expecting a small audience to find the place sold out and packed with enthusiastic fans. I've walked into clubs expecting that I needed to get there early to get a spot up front and found the place more than half empty. It's always staggered me that this band doesn't fill venues five times the size of The Garrison. The songs are incredible, their show is fun, and their energy is perfection.
Check out some of my personal highlights of their set below and if you like what you hear, go see them live. You won't be disappointed. And if you do, bring them some poutine and mousse. They'll know why.

"I Wish I Was Someone Better" from Box of Secrets

"Don't Ask" from Fire Like This

"The Perfect Mess" from Blood Red Shoes

"An Animal" from Blood Red Shoes

"Cold" from In Time To Voices

"Lost Kids" from In Time To Voices

"This is Not for You" from Box of Secrets

"Say Something, Say Anything" from Box of Secrets

"Speech Coma" from Blood Red Shoes

"Heartsink" from Fire Like This

"Red River" from the Water EP

"Light it Up" from Fire Like This

"Colours Fade" from Fire Like This

May 17, 2014

New music from Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars, from New York, have a new album called Lose coming out August 26. For now, we get the tune "Jackson" to whet our appetites. It's a powerful, emotive tune.

Pic from Facebook.

May 16, 2014

No Sinner have blues rock soul, and Canadian thighs

From the moment she starts to sing, I knew I loved No Sinner's singer Colleen Rennison's sultry, soulful voice. They're a blues-rock band from Vancouver. Great stuff.

Check out "Runnin'" from their Boo Hoo Hoo EP.

Pic from Facebook.

May 15, 2014

New video from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Days of Abandon: Until the Sun Explodes

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart just released their new album Days of Abandon. They recently stopped in at The Horseshoe Tavern on their tour and I shot them. They've now released a video for the track "Until The Sun Explodes" from the new album.

Check it.