September 2, 2014

Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World Review

100 out of 5 stars - this album will easily be remembered as one of the best releases of the last decade. At least for this listener, it’s quality, complexity, grace, and ferocity has already pushed them beyond where they left off with their first full length “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine”. The album clocks in at just over 35 minutes of sheer glory.

This is Bryan checking in for your track-by-track review.

Cheap Talk: This album starts off just right – cowbell, synths, crunch, and that signature Death from Above 1979 riffage. Get ready to mosh kids!

Right On, Frankenstein!: Glory days that we are glad never actually ended. This song brings me right back to “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine”. Interesting that they use the Lyric “Same old song, just a different tune”. I feel similarly to that lyric about this – just, you know, in a good way.

Virgins: Heavy, might even
be the heaviest they have tried to be together. Deep chugging thunder – paired with social questions they are known for sneaking into their catchy as hell dance-punk with an equally catchy refrain of “Don’t ever change, Bad is Good Enough.”

Always On: Knowing that Jesse F. Keeler almost joined Queens of the Stone Age as a bassist, its no surprise to hear a track that could easily be on a Queens/Kyuss record.

Crystal Ball: This song is pure Death From Above ferocity – refined and polished into sharp piecing steel. Having their time apart to find themselves and find what that means for Death From Above 1979 helped them to truly pinpoint what dto do in the band together and they do it so well.

White Is Red: The ballad to end all ballads. When I heard this live during their tours, I wondered what it would sound like on record and if it would translate – and it works even better on record. This might have a chance of eclipsing Back History Month as everyone’s favorite down-tempo DFA1979 song. It certainly has for me.

Trainwreck 1979: The first single released from The Physical World was not one that easily resonated with me at first. It took many listens before I “got it”. I thought it was too pop – and it is definitely the most mass-market accessible song on the album – but then again Sexy Results is a lot of folk’s favorites and that song is insanely pop. Just heavy as hell – which is the same here. Not gonna lie – listening to it now, its definitely going to be stuck in my head again for the next 24 hours.

Nothin’ Left: Aside from the updated production vales that comes with experience in the studio - this one sounds like it could have been pulled right off of “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine”. Sure to please old school fans and new alike, the feel is very Little Girls

Government Trash: Second Single caught me and kept me listening a thousand times in a row. Straight-ahead DFA1979 Punk. They left their dancing shoes at home for this one. Pure aggression and I love it!

Gemini: Tight fills, tight fills, and tight fills! Chugging rhythms, chugging rhythms, and chugging rhythms! Everything you expected it to sound like until they have the big huge wide-open chorus! These boys get better and better with composition. My only issue with this track is its length! I wish it was way longer!

The Physical World: Oh, did I say that Virgins was the heaviest track? I lied. Pure doom metal on this track – paired with house synths with auto-arpeggiators, chugging lines and synth stabs, with vocoder verses. An almost “Mr. Crowley”-eqsue Randy Rhoads style solo on bass to finish the album off too. Damn. This may be both the most Death From Above 1979 sounding song and the Least Death From Above 1979 sounding song ever. It doesn’t have to make sense to be DFA – it just has to be awesome.

And it IS.


The link to stream via iTunes can be found in the link below:

April 30, 2014

Live show review: Band of Skulls, April 24th, 2014 at Phoenix Concert Theatre

Southampton, UK based rock trio, Band of Skulls axed the Toronto audience with their classic rock inspired act on April 24th, 2014 at Phoenix Concert Theatre during their North American tour to support their latest release, Himalayan. I heard such positive reviews from my friends about their opening act for Soundgarden at iTune Festival during this year's SXSW, so I was all hyped up like a little girl when they showed up on the stage.

Opening up the show with the first single off the new record,  Asleep at the Wheel, British rockers showcased their simple, yet reminiscent classic style of 70's rock n' roll. The unison of monotone guitar jamming and consistent drum rat-a-tats flourished the dynamic chorus during the song. The guitarist, Russel Marsden and the bassist, Emma Richardson, shared the lead vocal duty interchangeably. Instead of layering different vocal pitches, Marsden and Richardson collided their vigorous voices, which cohesively complimented each other. 

The groovy guitar riffs invited the audience to the swaying party with the following tune,  Himalayan. In the middle of the song, the repeated harmonies of "Himalayan" slowed down the tune and then it  jumped into a jaw- dropping guitar solo and again, slaughtered the audience with such a beguiling chorus. The set consisted heavily on the new release but they continued to entertain the audience with fan favourite tunes from previous releases, such as You Aren't Pretty But You Got it Going OnI Know What I Am, and Patterns.

My highlight of the performance was from the encore, where they played Light of the Morning. Marseden commenced the song slowly by himself and was in the limelight of the entire venue, while he hauled his guitar and voice fiercely, which caused and audience eargasm, including myself, which they shouted at the stage with excitement. The feel of the moment was so warm and raw, which is what makes live shows so special. 

Band of Skulls is a band that you like songs on their records, but attending their show makes the listeners love them even more. These songs are spiced up with their tenacious and vibrant performance that you can only experience it in the moment. It is so nice to see a three piece classic band who can show us what real rock and roll is in today's digital age. A band like them will always have a big space in my soul. 

April 22, 2014

Liveshow Review: The National at Massey Hall on April 11th, 2014

I was very fortunate to get a ticket to see the last night of a three-night residency of Brooklyn based rock band, the National, at the legendary Massey Hall on Friday April 11th, 2014. One of my friends scored me and fellow the National lovers some seats front and centre and I knew it was going to be hell of a show, a show that I would remember for the rest of my life.

The concert was beautifully opened by British indie rock trio, Daughter. Depsite the technical difficulties that the guitarist Igor Haefeli was having, (His guitar pedals broke down and guitar strings also snapped during their set. Haefeli wasn't clearly having the best day and I could see his frustration on his face and through sound. (Yes, I was THAT close to the stage.)) Their aesthetic melodies and most noticeably, the graceful voice of Elena Tonra struck me hard from the first listen, and I could hear from the audience that it wasn't only my heart that Daughter won over that night.

Patiently waiting by the stage, the show was lit on fire by the fans the moment that members of the National walked on the stage and they commenced their show with  Sea of Love, the uplifting tune from the latest album, Trouble Will Find Me.  Followed by the National's signature mellow delight, I Shall Live In Salt and my favourite song from the previous album, High Violet, Anyone's Ghost, their shows were filled with the sing-slong session one after another. 

The lead singer, Matt Berninger, paced back and forth on the stage, while leaving the audience in awe with his notable baritone voice. He closed his eyes while planting his profound vocal on the lyrical notes. When songs like Afraid of Everyone, Mistaken for Strangers and Graceless arose their climaxBernnger shouted his heart out as he shook the entire venue like a tsunami wave. Berninger also smashed his beer glass on the stage as he burst with energy on stage. 

It was such a treat to be standing right in front of the rhythm guitarist, Aaron Dessner as I enjoyed every single dulcet guitar riff he crafted from his guitar.  The set list was composed with fan favourites from their break-through album, Boxer, High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me. My highlight of the night was when they played Green Gloves and Pink Rabbits back to back, the sorrow ballads that took my breath away and brought tears to my heart. 

For their encore, the quintet started off with peaceful melodic jam, Lean and shifted the atmosphere rapidly with the vigorous verse of Mr. November, where Berninger jumped off from the stage and walked through the crowd ferociously. Then they invited our beloved Toronto based singer songwriter, Hayden on the stage and completed their send off with Terrible Love and an unplugged session of Vanderlyle Crybaby Greek. I engraved every moments of the show on my heart. A band like the National keeps the quality of live music so high. Oh man, I love them so much.