It’s actually a little hard to believe Ctrl – the first full-length from R&B songstress SZA – is finally available. After a trio of releases between 2012 and 2014, See.SZA.Run, S, and Z, her follow-up was consistently delayed. The reason … Continue reading Album Review – “Ctrl” by SZA
I looked around at the people in attendance at Budweiser Stage, née Molson Amphitheatre, and noticed all kinds, men, women, kids, couples, old, and young. The sun was setting, and the night was chilly by the lake. It was the … Continue reading Jack Johnson and Bahamas – 06/04/2017
There’s something a little magical about the unknown quantity. I don’t mean that in an arrogant, hipster, “knew it before it was cool” sort of way. If something is good, then it is still good regardless of how many people know it is good. The magic comes from the not knowing, and the subsequent surprise. If I go to see Kanye at the Air Canada Centre, I know exactly which songs he will perform and how they sound. It’s still a wonderful experience, but it lacks the freshness of the unknown, something everyone should try once in a while. These were my thoughts as I walked down the steps of the Cavern near Church and Adelaide last Friday night.
The show was free, the stage was small, and the lighting was dim. But the energy was bubbling, and the fifty-person capacity had largely been filled. Outside of any friends of the three acts, no one knew what they would sound like. A catchy hook or turn of phrase that had yet to become ubiquitous could very well infect my mind, and I had no idea.
The first was Jake Feeney, an acoustic singer-songwriter from Etobicoke. His songs were intimate, bereft of excess, and even though they dealt in tales of love and romance, they showed an unexpected maturity. He covered the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright” where he was joined by Mark, the congo player for headliners I am the Mountain. It was an utterly unique and unexpected combination that is wholly singular to the Cavern, it is highly unlikely I will ever hear those songs in that context ever again. The former cover had an almost reggae feel to it. Such combos are a theme of both the night itself and these kinds of shows in general.
I am the Mountain was next, comprising the congo, the trumpet, plus the guitar and occasional keys, it was an interesting mix. That same adjective applied to the music itself, a nostalgic blend of soulful vocals and layered performances. Their original songs ran the range and straddled the line between raucous and personal. Going in completely blind like I did was a welcome surprise, especially after their rendition of Drake’s “Jungle.”
A big part of the appeal of these shows is the improvisation that is allowed along with the audience interaction. Both coalesced in their impromptu jazzy song in which they took an audience Q and A. It was a highly entertaining moment, and encapsulated the ethos of the unsigned band: Say yes to everything. Case in point, Mark the congo player. “He jammed with us at some open mics and asked if he could do this with us. It was a rare treat.” Said band member Colton O’Reilly.
Last was the Chats, another act from Etobicoke. A pop-rock band with a bit of Beach Boys, combined with jittery riffs and confident vocals, they were also a great way to end the night. The improvisational nature of the show was once again on display as they were joined by Mark and Keith the trumpet player to join in on their originals and covers. Their covers included Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” while they allowed their guitarist Arthur Podpora to take centre stage for a Howling Wolf-esque original and a cover of Mac DeMarco’s “Viceroy.” Later, their friend Katherine King stepped up for another original and a searing cover of Frank Ocean’s “Sweet Life.” They ended their set with an encore cover of “Scar Tissue,” a song they admittedly did not entirely know, but that only made the performance that much more fun.
“I love those kind of shows where it’s kind of eclectic, its low pressure, low stress, and people are talking but they’re also really intently listening. When it gets quiet in a bar, that’s a rare moment. It was a really special night.” Says Colton. There’s no way to have that banter with the artist in an arena, and the improvisational nature ensures the night is a wholly singular experience. It’s a theme that I now love and will continue to seek out at the Cavern and bars like it, not for my credibility but because of the sheer unexpectedness.
I was born in 1996, which meant I missed the Seattle grunge explosion by a good five years. One of those bands, Soundgarden, would commence what was thought to be a permanent breakup on April 9th, 1997. As happens to … Continue reading Remembering the Dynamism of Chris Cornell and Soundgarden
Frank Ocean released his second studio album Channel Orange all the way back in 2012, an instant classic that dealt in tales of summertime, youth, and falling in love, backed by its textured, lush and mosaic-like production. Since then, the … Continue reading Best Album of 2016: Blonde by Frank Ocean
IV, the appropriately-titled latest release from the Toronto jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD is their finest effort yet. It is a sprawling blend of hip-hop as well as soul, free, and experimental jazz. While it is their first project to feature guest … Continue reading Album Review – IV by BADBADNOTGOOD
Los Angeles rapper ScHoolboy Q hails from a large pantheon of West Coast gangsta rappers, himself a part of TDE’s Black Hippy along with Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. Thus, comparisons to his predecessors and contemporaries can be apt … Continue reading Album Review – Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q
Wildflower, the belated sequel from the Avalanches, is a unique project to say the least. Arriving sixteen years after their landmark 2000 album Since I Left You pioneered the plunderphonics genre – the mass use of sampling to create something … Continue reading Album Review – Wildflower by The Avalanches
While you may not know her name, you definitely know her voice. Jamila Woods is the soul singer providing the heartfelt, biblical choruses to Chance the Rapper’s “Sunday Candy” and “Blessings” off his newly released Coloring Book. Having signed to … Continue reading Album Review – HEAVN by Jamila Woods
Downie, Baker, Fay, Langlois and Sinclair. Together, they have created fourteen studio albums, two live recordings, played the first show at the Air Canada Centre, and transformed themselves into the definitive Canadian rock band. No other act so embodied Canada’s … Continue reading Some Thoughts on the Hip