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. 

April 21, 2014

Billy Moon, Young Adult

If you have ever read some of my posts, you've already known of my obsession with the Georgia native singer songwriter/producer (of Fall Out Boys, Pink, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry, just to name a few.), Butch Walker. In his biography, Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons from a Teenage Bullet Belt, Walker quotes “Your youth is the most important thing you will ever have. It's when you will connect to music like a primal urge, and the memories attached to the songs will never leave you. Please hold on to everything. Keep every note, mix tape, concert ticket stub, and memory you have of music from your youth. It'll be the one thing that might keep you young, even if you aren't anymore.” 

The reason that I am citing the quote is while listening to the new EP, Young Adult, by the Hamilton based garbage rock duo, Billy Moon, it reminded me of the bitter sweetness of adolescence. Formed in the first year of university,  the members of Billy Moon have now graduated and and are all 'grown-up as Young Adult.'  

The duo deployed the stories of youths in their early 20's, stories that we can all relate to. One of my favourite songs, Kalashnikov, is about the freedom and the frustration that comes with the unforeseeable future throughout the fetching surf rock tune. 

Regardless, you can find a mirror to your youth within these songs, I promise you that their raw and alluring tunes will catch your heart in a song like their single, Video Girls. You can listen to their EP for free from Bandcamp. Give a listen from the below link. 

April 2, 2014

Foxy Shazm Announced a New North American Tour and a New Album, GONZO

Cincinnati based rock n' rock band, Foxy Shazam, broke their long-lasting silence today and announced the new release of their fifth record, GONZO and the following North American Tour from May 27th. It has been the most exciting news of the week for me as I have adored their jaw-dropping acrobatic performances since my first encounter with them in 2010 when they opened up for Toronto pop rock band, Hollerado. (Click here to read my review of the show)

After previously releasing a few albums with various record labels, including the smash hit self-titled album in 2010 and The Church of Rock and Roll in 2012,  the Ohio native sextet has decided to release the new album, GONZO, independently via Bandcamp and offer fans the first dip of the record for free. (Click here or the below player to give a listen of the album or download it for free.) After opening for the Darkness and Slash in the last few years, Foxy Shazam has established a fan base across the continent and I am very happy to see a band of their scale transform into more independent act as it benefits both the band and listeners. 

This is me and Foxy Shazam from SXSW in 2011!
I am so excited! 

They also released tickets for their shows with an affordable service fee through their official website. There is an option for fans to purchase a VIP ticket with a meet-and-greet session with the band and a custom silkscreened poster. The Toronto show date is June 24that Lee's Palace. It is the very first headlining show in town for a long time. ( like years!!!) Grab your tickets while it is available! 

April 1, 2014

EP Review: Luke Bill

A few months ago when I went to see Toronto’s beloved super cover band, Dwayne Gretzky during their residency at the Horseshoe Tavern, I discussed the importance of hooks in a song with my friend, Ian McDonnell over a few pints. I strongly agreed with him that regardless of the technicality of musical composition, if there is a snaring verse to grab the listeners' attention, the song flourishes its sound to the fullest without a ninja like guitar trick.

McDonnell is a singer/guitarist for a Toronto based alt-country/pop rock outlet, Luke Bill. The band newest self-titled EP, epitomizes this theory. The initial tune from the EP, Wonders, kicks off with raw guitar strolls and resonant vocals, which dance cohesively with the guitar jam. It keeps the sounds simplicity, which highlights the expansion of its musical hook. The soft touch of McDonnall and Becky Johnson's vocal waltz has an opportunity to be deployed in the following tune, One Trick Machine Gun, which is my favorite song from the EP.  The harmony is complemented by adulcet melody line which gives me a nostalgic feel of good oldies from the 60's. It's very simple and easy, but cultivating at the same time. The last tune, Every Time You Love, You Die, builds its momentum through guitar jam and lamenting vocals and brings the climax of orchestratic harmonies, which I picture a sing- along session with the audience at their show. 

I just missed their EP release party at Cameron House on March 22nd. However, I'm sure they will play another show in town shortly. Meanwhile enjoy their new EP from here!