Punk Rocksteady – Mad Caddies Album Review

Mad CaddiesPunk Rocksteady is here!

We’ve been waiting, patiently since the release of the lead single She. An epic Green Day cover, which takes the original and turns it on its head. I love it, and I’m not alone.

The album which is a cover album features 12 tracks from some of our favourite bands, and it may surprise you.

When we talked to Chuck, just before Canadian Music Week we spoke about Punk Rocksteady and he told us how much fun they’d had working with Fat Mike and putting together something they could all be proud of.

Related: CMW 2018 Preview – Mad Caddies Interview

As a fan of the originals, I was worried that it wouldn’t work. I worried for nothing. The band has tapped into something special with Punk Rocksteady. Every song is a gem. You can play this one through without skipping a tune. I’m finding it very hard to pick a favourite, but if you pressed me pick my favourites the list might go something like this…

1. She, maybe because I’ve been listening to it the longest or maybe just because it’s great.

2. She’s Gone, which really suits the sweet, slow style that Mad Caddies have applied.

3. Sleep Long, and now that I’ve heard this version, I have to say, the horns make it better. There it is, I said it.

4. The interpretation of AM is close to the original but with a Mad Caddies twist, and I love it.

5. Take Me Home (Piss Off). When you hear it you’ll find it difficult to believe it wasn’t written for the Caddies.

The difference that the production and styling make is profound on this album. It’s a lesson to everyone, that great music, is great music. Turn it, twist it, it’s still great.

We’re going to list them side by side and let you listen for yourself. Enjoy. And when you’re done go buy some music!

You can get Punk Rocksteady here:

Fat Wreck Chords
Apple Music
Google Play Music

And anywhere else you buy music!

Mad Caddies Punk Rocksteady Tracks With Originals

Sorrow (Bad Religion)

Sleep Long (Operation Ivy)

She (Green Day)

 …and We Thought That Nation-States Were a Bad Idea (Propagandhi)

She’s Gone (NOFX)

AM (Tony Sly)

Alien 8 (Lagwagon)

Some Kinda Hate (Misfits)

2RAK005 (Bracket)

Sink, Florida, Sink (Against Me!)

Jean Is Dead (Descendents)

Take Me Home (Piss Off) (SNUFF)

Excuses Excuses – Catch Me If You Can Exclusive EP Premiere

Catch Me If You Can is the guitar-heavy sophomore EP from Toronto-based punk rock band Excuses Excuses. The EP is full of attitude and demands your attention like punk rock should.

The guys have released a few of these songs from Catch Me If You Can as singles, but the official release of the full six-song EP comes on Friday, June 1, 2018.

Together since 2016, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Wilton, drummer Jason Nicoll, and bassist Trevor Bowman have that hellacious angsty sound that we’re looking for in 21st-century punk rock, and they’ve captured it on the album.

Excuses Excuses – Catch Me If You Can Tracklist

1) Pizza And Cigarettes
2) Catch Me If You Can
3) Face The Fear
4) Jimmy Show
5) Stoned In The Sun
6) Rebel Without A Clue

Excuses Excuses Press PhotoThe album was recorded at one of Ontario’s recording gems, Chalet Recording Studio in Uxbridge, by producer Justin Meli and with the assistance of drum consultant Jordan Gaultier.

Related: Recording “Rise Over Run”: Crown Lands Episode 4 Premiere

Don’t wait until June 1st to listen to Catch Me If You Can. We’ve got an exclusive first listen stream right here all week!

So, turn up the volume, and get ready to release that energy/aggression/angst that you’ve been holding onto!

Enjoy and don’t miss Excuses Excuses live at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto on June 2, 2018!

Excuses Excuses Catch Me If You Can Stream

BONUS: Check out the video for Pizza and Cigarettes!

Excuses Excuses graffiti wall

The Used with Red Sun Rising and The Fever 333 at CMW 2018

Canadian Music Week 2018 continued on Tuesday night at The Phoenix Concert Theatre with loud music and a loud crowd ready for action.

The Used came to Toronto as they continue to tour their latest album, The Canyon, and for me, it brought a chance to relive some of my early-20s while watching the band show everyone that they’ve never stopped moving forward. 

As fans, we talk about the ability music has to take us to a different time and place, or even just remove us from our lives at any given moment. That happened on Tuesday night for me. As a 36-year-old dude with grey in his beard and a newborn at home, I was able to slip back into some younger days when The Used were releasing their 2002 self-titled debut and their 2004 follow-up, In Love And Death. It was loud, it was familiar, it was a trip back to some really great times with great people. 

It was what we love best about live music.

The Used Toronto CMW 2018

The show started with The Fever 333 playing their very first Toronto show. The trio out of Inglewood, California came north with the intent to spread their music and message. And it worked.

With a balls-to-the-wall, punch in the face, heavy, loud, all-in effort that held up through their set, vocalist Jason Aalon Butler introduced The Fever 333 to Toronto in a big way. And it wasn’t just on stage. Early in the set Butler jumped down into the photo pit, hopped the barrier, and started his own mosh pit on the floor of The Phoenix. Fans joined him, and with his mic still in hand, he pushed his way through bodies and the song.

Later, when the thought of his first trip to the floor seemed like the wildest thing he’d do, Butler came down again. But this time, the powerhouse frontman went all the way to the back of the room and up the stairs to the balcony of the club. It was intense and awesome.

Hearing The Fever 333 live, listening to them sing and play with a blend of punk rock and hip-hop reminded me of hearing Rage Against The Machine for the first time as a young teenager. And that’s not a bad thing to be reminded of.

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The middle slot in the Tuesday night show went to Akron, Ohio’s Red Sun Rising. And they nailed it.

The five-piece rockers filled the stage, and from the start of their set to the end they were on their game.

Playing the second Toronto show of their career, the band provided a more straight-ahead rock and roll vibe, rolling with two and sometimes three guitars, to go with a tight rhythm section that kept the groove. As the night went on and the crowd grew, they kept right on going, giving every single person on the floor a reason to move their bodies, clap their hands and rock right along with them.

With a new album, The Thread (March 30, 2018) available now, Red Sun Rising has a busy tour schedule ahead of them this summer. And if the crowds in Bristow, Atlanta, Syracuse and more get the kind of show that Toronto got – everyone is going to keep going home happy.

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The Used headlined Tuesday night in every sense of the word. They came on last, they drew the crowd, their t-shirts could be seen all over the club, and the buzz in the room was theirs.

It was easy to see that The Used brought fans that have been there since 2002 out to The Phoenix for this show. But what was just as cool was the younger generation of fans that have clearly found the band in more recent years, and love them just as much.

Bert, Jepha, and Dan were ready for Toronto, and with a mix of tracks from The Canyon and the rest of their library, the party was on.

Things picked up early when The Bird And The Worm came second in the setlist and the nostalgia got hot. The singing along was loud, the dancing and bouncing in the crowd increased, and there was a sense that things were really kicking off now. It wasn’t long after that the crowd surfers starting flowing overhead, and for the rest of the night, the vibe was set.

Those feelings kept coming as the boys rolled through their set. And moments like I Caught Fire and Buried Myself Alive were everything I wanted and needed in the night to take me where I wanted to go.

It has been 16 years since The Used burst onto the scene, and while a lot has changed in that time, they’re still here, doing what they do, what they love, and rocking out with their fans.

The Used at The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Canadian Music Week 2018

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Mad Caddies with MUDIE and Slamboni at The Mod Club for CMW 2018

Canadian Music Week, night two, and the Mad Caddies turned up and showed us how to make a Tuesday night feel like a Friday night!

By the time the Mad Caddies hit the stage, The Mod Club was packed and the floor was a giant mosh pit of energy.

Opening the show was Repentigny, Quebec’s MUDIE. A fun note for you, Hugo Mudie is credited as the inventor of the Pouzza. It’s a combination of pizza and poutine and this dish was the inspiration for the Montreal Pouzza Festival. The music was loud and fast, and it was well received. MUDIE was also slated to DJ the afterparty at The Bovine.

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Tear down and setup was super quick and filling the middle slot for the night were Toronto’s Slamboni. I had seen the band before and liked what I heard. They brought a nice contingent of fans and put on a great set. Our favourite moment during the set was a cover of Lionel Richie’s Stuck on You. Gold! A fun set and we can’t help it, we like the light up shoes.

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There was a bit of break while we waited for Mad Caddies. The reggae music kept the crowd chill and content but when the lights went down and the band hit the stage, the energy exploded.

From the opening note of Lay Your Head Down to the last note of set, the spirit of the fans never wavered. There was great interaction with the crowd and everyone was having a good time. The movement of the floor changed based on the speed and intensity of the songs being played on the stage, but there was constant motion. It was spectacular.

Highlights included an amazing sing-along of their most recent release, a cover of Green Day’s She. It was beautiful and the smile on Chuck’s face said it all. Chuck chatted with the audience about our great city and about our country’s upcoming cannabis laws and later on in the set there may or may not have been some lighting of a joint. There were tears for No Hope and another full out audience sing-along for Drinking for 11. 

I hope they come back very, very soon and I can hardly wait for the release of the new album.

Mad Caddies are just starting their tour and you can see them tonight in Montreal. For tour dates check out the Mad Caddies website.

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CMW 2018 Preview – Slow Interview

Slow are a Canadian punk legend.

And it’s a name I hadn’t heard in what seems like forever. In truth, it’s been 31 years since Slow stopped being a thing. The Vancouver-based 80’s punk band made quite a name for themselves and then in true punk fashion, they imploded.

They hit a peak and then they ran into some trouble. Their notorious show at Expo ’86, which ended with the band being temporarily held by police, had some far far-reaching implications for more than just the band.

Slow has been credited with influencing the grunge wave in Seattle, especially the fashion. Think flannel shirts, boots and ripped jeans and you’re right on track.

After plans to re-release their catalogue came to light, the guys were convinced to get the band back together. The long-awaited return of Slow comes with some additions. The current line up is: on lead vocals is Tom Anselmi, on guitar is Christian Thorvaldsen, also on guitar, Ziggy Sigmund, and on bass we have Stephen Hamm, on drums is Terry Russell, on keys and sax Kurt Dahle of The New Pornographers, also on vocals are Vanessa Dandurand of The Ballantynes and Jody Glenham of The Dreamers. The welcome additions bring a fuller, richer sound and fill in the spaces, making their live performances that much better.

Slow at Expo

The thing that they couldn’t have known going in to the reunion was that the magic was still there, waiting to be exposed. And after playing a slew of shows on the West Coast, Slow are back to wow the rest of us. With an upcoming show at Toronto’s Canadian Music Week, we’re thrilled that we’ll be able to see the band play live.

We caught up with singer Thomas Anselmi and asked the questions we’ve all been wondering.


Q1) Can you tell us about how Slow came together?

Thomas Anselmi) Slow really came about through two pairs of two best friends jamming in the basement of one of their parent’s house. Christian and I had been working on putting a band together and he had an idea that this rhythm section he’d gone to elementary school with would work. That was Terry and Hamm and the first time we jammed it seemed like it had potential.

Q2) Can you tell us what pulled you apart?

Thomas Anselmi) I was getting drained, the whole band was getting drained. I mean it seems strange to think about now, but we were in the major newspapers in Canada often even before Expo. Usually, those articles were in some way critical or inflammatory. People were much easier to upset back then and we were coming from a school of rock and roll that was confrontational by nature. But having that attention at that age was stressful and especially combined with the real grind of touring with no money. Sometimes we were playing sold-out venues and sometimes we were playing some shitty arcade in Saskatoon to no people. It made the whole enterprise seem hopeless.

Q3) What have you been up to?

Thomas Anselmi) A little of this and a little of that. Singing, writing, doing artistic stuff of various sorts. Living in Los Angeles.

Q4) Why now? What things happened to make this the time to return?

Thomas Anselmi) The record was getting re-issued and offers were made. I had no interest in doing it, it was the promise of money that lured me. But once we were all in a room together I didn’t give a fuck about money anymore. The music took over.

Q5) Can you tell us how it feels to be re-releasing the original EP?

Thomas Anselmi) It’s interesting, I mean how many people would enjoy looking through their diary from when they were 17. But you know, the songs have a life of their own and some of them really stand up. At the end of the day, it’s the people that listen to the music, not the people that make it that decide it’s importance.

Q6) What can you tell us about the new music?

Thomas Anselmi) The new music picks up where we left off. We are going deep into everything we love about rock ‘n’ roll and presenting it as a revue in the 60s sense. Kurt Dahle is playing with us now, keyboards, saxophone etc. And we have some great singers working with us now, so it’s a punk rock extravaganza and I really think it’s better than it’s ever been. Have not been the same was such a drag to play live before because no one could cover the backing parts. It’s sure a joy for me to hear those vocals live.

Q7) “…the band has consistently been called one of the most influential punk rock bands in Canada and forerunners of the Seattle grunge scene.” Those are some pretty serious words, is that something that impacts you?

Thomas Anselmi) I don’t give a fuck about labels but I will say that the music seems to have stood up and there’s not a lot of records from that era that I’m putting on. In a way, we were behind the times a lot more than ahead. We were playing in a loose way that predated punk and applying what we’d learned from punk to that.

Q8) Is there any chance that you’ll add more shows?

Thomas Anselmi) Sure.

Thanks to Thomas for taking the time to answer our questions. We’re looking forward to seeing Slow live during Canadian Music Week.

SLOW photo credit Sean Starke

Slow’s Upcoming Show Dates

Wednesday, May 9   Toronto at Phoenix (with The Dirty Nil) Tickets | $20

Thursday, May 10      Hamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood (with Dearly Beloved + Flesh Rag) Tickets  | $25

Friday, May 11             London at Call The Office (with Dearly Beloved + Midnight Terrors) Tickets | $20

Saturday, May 12       Montreal at Casa Del Popolo (with Dearly Beloved + Public Display)Tickets | $22

And one date in Western Canada:

Friday, June 22          Calgary at Dickens/Sled Island Music + Arts Festival Tickets $20

’77 Montreal 2018 Festival Lineup and Ticket Info

Last year marked 40 years of punk rock and the first year for Montreal’s punk festival ’77.

This year ’77 returns to Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 27th with Rise Against, Suicidal Tendencies, AFI, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Planet Smashers, D.O.A., and so many more bands!

Let’s talk tickets. General admission passes are $70, and there’s an option to pair your pass with a Heavy Montreal pass. You can get all the ticket and travel info here. Not sure how you’re going to get there? There’s a bus! Bus info here.

In addition to the music programming, there’s a record fair, a poster expo and movie/documentary screening area.

You can find ’77 at these fine internet locations: Web / Facebook / Instagram

'77 Montreal 2018 poster

Pouzza 2018 Festival Lineup and Ticket Info

We’re looking for a summer festival and Pouzza is on our list. With headliners like Reel Big Fish, Anti-Flag, face to face, and Cancer Bats, (who we’ve heard will be playing Hail Destroyer in its entirety) we’re thinking seriously about the drive to Montreal.

Heading into their eighth year, Pouzza is a great way to kick off the festival season early. Running from May 18th to the 20th tickets for the three-day festival are available for $101.75 plus tax.  They’ll get you into access to every venue including secret shows. If you’re not ready to commit to the full three-day experience, there are single day tickets available for $51.76. But if you can’t commit to that either, there are free shows available during the festival at the outdoor site. Located at Parterre du Quartier des spectacles (the corner of Maisonneuve and Clark) it’s going to be hopping. There’s something for everyone! You can get your tickets here!

The list of artists is so long that we can’t possibly mention them all here but Pouzza is known as one of Montreal’s biggest punk festivals and if you read the full list below, you’ll see Toronto’s The Anti-Queens will be there too! You can check out the full schedule here.

Pouzza 2018 Full Lineup

CMW 2018 Preview – Mad Caddies Interview

The Mad Caddies have been making music together since high school. They’ve been playing together for over 20 years, and they’re showing no sign of stopping, and I for one am glad.

I had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with lead singer, Chuck Robertson earlier this week to talk about new music, who we should be listening to, Canadian Music Week, and more.

Chuck joked about having trouble getting his land legs back after being out on the water with The Caddies on the Flogging Molly Cruise, a four-day musical cruise with some of the best punk/ska bands around. They warn you about sea legs, but they don’t warn you about getting back your land legs.

I have to be honest and tell you that I had no idea that Punk Rocksteady was coming when I put together my list of questions. I was expecting something entirely different. Specifically, the much talked about 4 EP series. The day before my interview, the new music announcement showed up on their Facebook page. I had time to listen to the first single She, a Green Day cover, and fall in love with it before the call.

Punk Rocksteady is a cover album. It’s the brainchild of Fat Mike of NOFX, and all of the songs are played in ska/reggae/dancehall/so cal fashion by Mad Caddies. Included on the album are songs from NOFX, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Against Me!, Misfits, the Descendents, and of course, Green Day’s She. It’s very different, and it’s amazing. I wondered out loud about how diehard Green Day fans might feel about the cover, and Chuck said that since the track had been released, he’d read 500 comments, and there were only two negative comments. It’s a great track, and I can hardly wait to hear the rest. All of the songs are Fat Mike approved but She and She’s Gone were Mad Caddies picks.

I asked if we’d be getting any more tracks before the June 15th album release and while he didn’t say yes, he did make it sound like we may get at least one, maybe two.

You can pre-order the Mad Caddies album Punk Rocksteady here. It will be available as a digital download, on cd and on vinyl. Chuck talked about being a big fan of vinyl. He mentioned that he and bass player Graham Palmer spin vinyl in the studio and even if people never play their vinyl, it’s a great piece of art complete with liner notes. All vinyl purchases come with a digital download.

I had to ask about the concept album, the 5-song, 4-EP release, which would then be released as a double album. Chuck admitted that was the album they were planning to work on, but the timing was right for the long talked about cover album with Fat Mike. It was supposed to come out last summer but got delayed. They’ve finished the first EP, but it still needs to be mixed. The songs are all written for the second and third EP, and some are written for the fourth, but then the reggae album started to come together. Given the fact that they’re getting ready to head out on the Punk in Drublic tour with NOFX and Fat Mike, they figured they could get Punk Rocksteady recorded and get it out. It’s a great way to let everyone know that Mad Caddies are still around, and we can all look forward to new music in the fall.

Mad Caddies CMW promo photo

5 Quick Questions with Mad Caddies

Q1) Does Mad Caddies have a soft spot for Toronto?

Chuck Robertson) Oh for sure. Toronto is our Canadian home. Well and Montreal. We have so many great friendships in Canada. Friendships that were started over 20 years ago. So many musicians, industry people, friends. It’s like a second home.

Q2) Do you have a favourite place to play in Toronto.

Chuck Robertson) My favourite place to play in Toronto was always the Opera House. I love the Opera House. A great mid-sized theatre. Our first show in Toronto ever was at the El Mocambo. We played there in 1997. My favourite is definitely The Opera House.

Q3) Can you remember the first time an audience sang lyrics back to you?

Chuck Robertson) Oh gosh, it must have been our first concert in Santa Barbara at a real venue when we were still in high school when our band as called The Ivy League and we’d released our first demo on cassette tape and it was recorded on 8-track, it was a high-quality recording by a cool guy, and we’d spent 2 days and recorded 6 songs or 8 songs. We sold it to our high school friends for like a couple of bucks. They were people coming out our shows anyways, we were playing parties and lunchtime at school and house parties, and that was our first real gig. So by the time, we were playing that all of our friends knew all of the words to all of our songs and they were all singing along. It was fucking amazing. There were only about 60 or 70 of them, but it was pretty cool.

That’s when we knew that’s what we wanted to do.

Q4) How does the lyric drinking for a living, become the title Drinking for 11.

Chuck Robertson) It was a play on words done by a really good friend, Timmy D at the time. He was like, dude it sounds like your saying drinking for 11, like drinking for 11 people. And I was like, that’s really cool. Let’s make it Drinking for 11.

Q5) Is there an artist/band that you think we should be paying more attention to?

Chuck Robertson) Yes if you haven’t heard of them, they’re called Milky Chance, and they’re from Germany. My new favourite band. They are so incredible.

Thanks so much to Chuck Robertson from the Mad Caddies for the chat. I’ll be checking out their show during Canadian Music Week at The Mod Club with MUDIE and Slamboni on May 8th. Ticket and wristband info here!

Punk Rocksteady Track List

🎷 Sorrow (Bad Religion)
🎷 Sleep Long (Operation Ivy)
🎷 She (Green Day)
🎷 …And We Thought That Nation-States Were a Bad Idea (Propagandhi)
🎷 She’s Gone (NOFX)
🎷 AM (Tony Sly)
🎷 Alien 8 (Lagwagon)
🎷 2RAK005 (Bracket)
🎷 Some Kinda Hate (Misfits)
🎷 Sink, Florida, Sink (Against Me!)
🎷 Jean Is Dead (Descendents)
🎷 Take Me Home (Piss Off) (SNUFF)

New Music Spotlight with Imagine Dragons and More

New Music from Imagine Dragons, Dru Cutler, The Lay Awakes, Jimmie Allen, Mute Choir, and Towers and Trees

In this installment of the New Music Spotlight, we’re featuring music from North America. From Vegas to Fergus we bring you country, rock, pop, with hints of R&B, post-electronic, with some singer-songwriter thrown in for good measure.

The goal here is to expose you to what’s new, what’s out there but maybe not on your radar, and maybe find you a brand new favourite band.

Let’s do this!

Artist: Imagine Dragons
Hometown: Las Vegas
Genre: Rock
Related Artists: X Ambassadors, Walk the Moon, AWOLNATION
Song: Next to Me
Notes: With their ever-present drums, this is a love song. Rhythmic lyrics feature heavily in this song and the brand new video is beautiful and heartbreaking. We’ve come to expect a lot from Imagine Dragons videos and the video for Next to Me lives up to our expectations.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Dru Cutler
Hometown: Tampa (currently living in Brooklyn)
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Indie Rock
Related Artists: Sam Roberts, The Airborne Toxic Event
Song: Oceanside
Notes: In the music world these days, EPs are more common than full albums, and this two-song EP harkens back to single releases. With an A-Side and a B-Side, Oceanside is gentle and nostalgic. Cutler comes across as vulnerable, and this song leaves me feeling longing. Longing for the ocean and past loves.

I find it difficult to say, because The Hip stands alone, but there are hints here. Listen for them.

I’ve thrown in a bonus song, check out the second track. It’s a Leonard Cohen cover, and it’s a modern take on the classic and it’s a great balancing track for this EP. The opening violins suck you in immediately. Dru’s voice is perfect for this song.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: The Lay Awakes
Hometowns: Edmonton by way of Fergus, ON and Brooklyn, NY
Genre: Pop
Related Artists:
Song: Press Play
Notes: The Lay Awakes have got a new album dropping very soon, and we were surprised by a brand new release on Friday, Press Play. Athletes and musicians, Anna Paddock and Patrick Anderson, deliver a haunting song with Anna taking the lead on vocals. I love the piano on this track, and I love the way their voices sound when they sing harmony.

Patrick and Anna are partners in life as well as in this musical partnership. I’m looking forward to more music from this pair.

Watch for a new video coming out March 22nd, followed by the release of their first full-length album on May 4th.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Jimmie Allen
Hometown: Southern Delaware
Genre: Country
Related Artists: Morgan Allen, Charles Kelly, Chris Young
Song: Best Shot
Notes: Best Shot is Jimmie Allen’s debut Canadian single, and it’s a fun mix of country, rock, R&B, and pop. It’s a love song, inspired by advice from Jimmie’s grandmother. It’s a pretty personal song, and we appreciate the peek into Jimmie’s world.

Jimmie Allen is making waves and hitting lots of “artist to watch” lists. Jimmie is playing The Opry for the first time on May 4th, and he’s slated to play Boots and Hearts this summer.

Jimmie’s self-titled EP is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Deezer, Napster and Tidal.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Mute Choir
Hometown: Newmarket (Toronto)
Genre: Post-Electronic, Indie, Alternative
Related Artists: Darcys, Oasis, Cold Play
Song: Behind the Bars
Notes: Sam Arion brings us something new. A new sound with hits of soul and great storytelling. Behind the Bars is the second single, and it looks at fears and introspection.

Influenced by many genres including hip hop, heavy rock, and electronic music, he’s infused pieces of many genres into his sound, and I’m a fan.

Musically, “Behind the Bars” gives me the feeling of being alone on Christmas – sadness, regret, nostalgia, and even spite. In this case, spite is a particularly interesting emotion because it often masks feelings of sadness and isolation, making them easier to bear.  Most of the songs on this forthcoming record deal with ideas of both freedom and entrapment, and “Behind the Bars” definitely embodies the latter.

Links: Soundcloud / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Towers and Trees
Hometown: Victoria
Genre: Indie Rock/Pop
Related: Poor Young Things, Arkells, Band of Rascals
Song: Head Down / Heart Up
Notes: A last minute addition to this Spotlight, this one arrived in my inbox on Friday, and I had to include it. I love the message and the delivery. Head Down / Heart Up is upbeat and fresh and feels like Spring to me.

Turn your head down heart up is an inspiring mantra, and one most of us could use. With the amount of information coming at us every day, the noise of the world sometimes overpowers the feelings inside. Head Down / Heart Up is the perfect tune for starting your day and setting a tone.

I for one, am happy the indefinite hiatus ended and that Towers and Trees are creating new music.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

R U S T O W L : Premiere of Crooked Teeth

Last November I “met” Jory Strachan via email when he sent me a pretty special track, Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario), from his previous band 1971. Fast forward three months and I’m thrilled to be premiering a brand new track from a new band called R U S T O W L.

R U S T O W L has been playing together for about a year, and Garrett Iverson and Jory of 1971 have come together with Robert Reimer of Mmeats and Jensen Fridfinnson of Eldur to form this new project.

The band is based out of Winnipeg, and they’ve been releasing a track a week on Bandcamp. This week’s song is Crooked Teeth, and I have to admit, the guitar part is stuck in my head. Deep in my brain. In addition to super catchy guitar, there’s an awesome bassline, great drums, and the vocals pull everything together. Jensen’s voice is new to me, and I want more of it.

Crooked Teeth Cover RustOwl The four-piece blends a punk sound with Americana, reminding me of early 2000’s music. Think Attack in Black, Weakerthans and Constantines. So if that’s anywhere up your alley, check it out.

The release date for R U S T O W L’s self-titled debut EP is March 23rd, and they’re working with Transistor 66 Recording Co. and Birthday Tapes to make this happen. The EP was mixed and engineered at Winnipeg’s Collector Studio by J Riley Hill and mastered by Jamie Sitar of Out Of Town Sound.

We’ve got some more exciting news! The band has just released their tour schedule!

R U S T O W L ‘s Tour Dates

23 Winnipeg – X-Cues *Co-Release show with housepanther‘s album release
28 Regina – Cloud 9
29 Saskatoon – Witch Mansion
30 Edmonton – The Aviary
31 Calgary – Sloth Records
1 Lethbridge – The Farm
4 Abbotsford – Carport Manor
6 Victoria – Wheelies Motorcycles
7 Vancouver – Toast Collective

Before you ask, Ontario fans, I’ve asked, and there are no planned Ontario dates. But Jory did say, they’re hoping to make it to Toronto, soon.

Stay tuned to their socials for the release of the next song!

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R U S T O W L EP // R U S T O W L RecRoom Session // R U S T O W L on Mom’s House 
Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

Canadian Music Week Announces Lineup for 2018

This week Canadian Music Week gave us a sneak peek into the lineup for 2018. The festival, which runs May 7- 13 this year, is a great way to welcome spring in Toronto.

There’s a focus on local music, followed closely by Canadian content, after all, it is “Canadian” Music week. One of the many things CMW does a fabulous job of is bringing music from multiple genres to the festival for our listening pleasure. After a quick glance at the list of artists, we see R&B, indie/folk, rock, emo, alternative, punk, rap, country, pop, Americana, hip-hop, electropop, singer-songwriter and so much more! There’s something for everyone.

Joining Lindi Ortega and Keys’n’ Krates, who were announced with the initial lineup in December are some of our favourites including Ben Hudson, Birds of Bellwoods, Crown Lands, FXRRVST, Goodnight, Sunrise, Mad Caddies, and The Dirty Nil. If you’re wondering if your favourite band is appearing, you can check out the current, full artist listing here.


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This year, Toronto’s longest running multi-venue discovery festival includes a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square featuring Sloan on Saturday, May 12th.

In addition to the music festival, there’s the music conference, the comedy fest and the film festival also running over the week. These events feature authors, guest speakers, panels and more. If you haven’t checked them out before we highly recommend you have a look at what they’ve got going on.

Wristbands are currently on sale at early bird prices, but they won’t last for long. Still wondering what to get that special someone for Valentine’s Day, give the gift of music, you can find out all about tickets here.

Keep an eye open for our upcoming CMW coverage as the festival gets closer. We’ll have previews, interviews and our must-see lists!


Happy 70th Birthday Horseshoe Tavern!

Photos by Trish Cassling

As Toronto’s historic and legendary Horseshoe Tavern celebrates its 70th birthday with a series of concerts this December, we’re looking back at some of our favourite shows over the last few years.

We’ve been fortunate to see big names and up-and-comers take the stage at Queen Street West’s most iconic music venue, and we’re proud to have captured and shared the memories of those days and nights.

Look back with us at some of our favourite photos from The Horseshoe Tavern, and stay tuned for more coverage in the future as artists and fans continue to visit those checkerboard floors.

Whitney Rose

Whitney Rose Horseshoe CD Release

The Lazys

The Lazys Toronto Horseshoe Tavern The Lazys Toronto Horseshoe Tavern

The Dead Love

The Dead Love CMW 2016 HorseshoeThe Dead Love CMW 2016 Horseshoe

Silver Love Club/ Mabel

Mabel at The Horseshoe Aussie BBQ CMW 2016

One Bad Son

One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Johnson Crook

Johnson Crook The Horseshoe 2016

Tommy Stinson

Tommy Stinson The Horseshoe CMW 2016

Kiefer Sutherland

Jessica Mitchell

Jessica MItchell at The Horseshoe Tavern

Birds of Bellwoods

Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Midnight Shine

The Julian Taylor Band

Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

The Dead South

The Dead South Toronto Horseshoe Tavern

The Anti-Queens

The Anti-Queens - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern

Crown Lands

Crown Lands - Cody Bowles - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern Crown Lands - Kevin Comeau - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are: 1971 Interview

A little over a week ago I received an email from 1971. Or to be more exact, it was from “whatwas1971”. I started to read the email, but I had to stop. I was in public and I was starting to cry. Not so cool. Later that night, when I was alone, I pulled up the email again and slowly read the first paragraph again.

“In February 2017 our bassist, founding member, and friend Cameron Glen Cranston suddenly passed away in Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. He was 25 years old.” (whatwas1971)

After I finished reading the email I clicked on the link for their newly released video Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario) and fell in love with it. The music is haunting, dark and moody, and the video footage which was put together from their last tour spins a wonderful story of friendship and camaraderie. I’m sad that there won’t be more of this music.

I needed to share their story with you. 1971 were Garrett Iverson, Jory Strachan, Cameron Cranston and Tanner Neil.

Cameron left behind a lot of people who loved him. He was close to attaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Winnipeg and he was an organ donor.

Music was his passion and he loved the time he spent playing with his band, 1971. They travelled to both coasts on several occasions, playing small clubs and private parties. It truly was the time of their lives! They made so many special memories that will live on forever. (yourlifemoments)

I’ll let the surviving members tell you their story. Thanks to Garrett, Jory and Tanner for answering my questions, I know it wasn’t easy.

1971 Anxiety video driving down a foggy roadQuestions and Answers with 1971

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about the history of the band, how you met and came together and anything else you think our readers might like to know?

1971 GI: We all grew up with an interest in punk rock and music in general. Cam and Tanner went to the same school and were best friends. They had a band called The Tossing Frogs. I remember seeing them play at the high school Jory and I went to. They were very much a garage/grunge band and no one was doing that kind of stuff at our age in our town that I knew of at that time. I was blown away! Jory played in a few bands before him and I started playing music. But we knew each other beforehand.

I remember running into Jory at a party and we talked about how much we were really into Attack In Black at the time and we’ve been playing music together pretty much ever since. Jory and I played music with Cam at separate times. Cam and I both worked at Safeway before we ever really did jam. I would run into him in the hallways at school and we would always talk about jamming. But we never would end up actually setting up a date or time! Eventually, one day we got off work at the same exact time and I saw him in his car. He popped his head out of the window shouting “Garrett get in!” “let’s go get your amp!”. Eventually, Cam, Jory and I got together to start this band called 1971. Tanner didn’t come in and play until later on. But he hung out with us since the start of the band and we always felt that he was a part of it. We always talked about how one day he would come on the road with us and eventually that’s exactly what happened!

Q: Facebook lists your hometown as Kenora but also says that you’re currently in Winnipeg, what are you doing in Winnipeg?

1971 JS: We moved to Winnipeg in 2012. Kenora is a small town and we wanted to have the opportunity to play more and move on from our hometown, try something new, live in a city. I started studying at the University of Winnipeg. Garrett went to Winnipeg Tech to study carpentry and Cran eventually started studying at the U of W as well. I’m the only one living in Winnipeg currently.

1971 Garrett Iverson, Jory Strachan, Cameron Cranston, Tanner Neil by the waterQ: Please tell us about Cameron and your decision not to go on without him?

1971 JS: There wasn’t really a question of whether we could continue without him or not. He was our best friend, our mentor. We just knew it wouldn’t be right.

Q: Please talk us through the process of putting together the EP and the vinyl release?

1971 JS: We got back from a month or so tour of Eastern Canada in September of 2016 with plans of recording a full-length that fall/winter. We applied for some grants and recorded demos of Anxiety and The Manipulator for em. We took a little break after that. We found out we actually received a decent chunk of funding late November but didn’t get back to work on the stuff until January. We already had all the songs written before that tour so we were doing some pre-production.

After Cran passed it took a week or so before we even thought about what we were going to do, other than break up. Cran always wanted us to release some vinyl (which was the plan for that album) so we thought we should put out the last material we had and do some vinyl. Honor a dying wish.

A huge group of us (the three of us and other close friends) drove in, flew in, etc. and lived at Cran and Janine’s house in Kenora and hid from the world the month immediately after his death. Closer to the end of that period and after his funeral we spent a little bit of time in Winnipeg and finished the songs.

Our engineer J Riley Hill of Mortfell Recording really helped out in mixing the songs and taking them from demos to recordings we were really happy with.

Cran had recorded a short video of a guitar song he was working on, only weeks before his death, called Etinohah, we put on the EP as well.

When we brought the idea back to Manitoba Film and Music, who were one of the funders of the proposed album, they agreed to continue honouring the grant despite the drastic changes to the project. We’re very grateful for that.

We ended up releasing the vinyl ourselves but our friends at Art of the Uncarved Block were interested in releasing a cassette of the project.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster but we’re really appreciative of the support and the interest we’ve been receiving in anticipation of the release.

Q: How can people get their hands on these?

1971: You can order the vinyl from our website www.1971canada.com, www.1971canada.bandcamp.com and cassettes from www.artoftheuncarvedblock.com.

Shot from the 1971 Anxiety video guy bent down in the parking lotQ: Can you tell us about the video for Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario)?

1971 TN: Something I’m really thankful for is the amount of the footage we managed to capture on tour. The video for Anxiety is made up entirely of video from the last tour, mainly from the time between shows – the endless hours on the Trans-Canada, the wonderful people we met along the way, the gorgeous and sometimes hostile Canadian landscape – beautifully edited by Ryan Steel and Jory. The response to the video in the lead-up to the vinyl release has been really nice, if bittersweet. If nothing else, I think of it as a memento of the best time of my life. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Q: What are you all doing now?

1971 JS: Tanner currently lives in Vancouver with his partner Emily, and Garrett moved back to Kenora and is living with Janine, Cran’s partner of 9, plus, years. I live in Winnipeg still. We have fairly busy lives. I run a small local booking company with my friend George called Yes Wave and are working on some stuff for this coming summer, and I’m currently playing in a few bands.

Garrett and I started a new band called Rust Owl that’s also, in a way, a dedication to Cran, and I play in the Lucas Roger Band.

Garrett and Janine started a band called Twig and Garrett’s currently recording some more solo stuff.

Tanner has some really nice guitar music up on his Bandcamp and “tunediggler” on SoundCloud and is doing screen printing.

Q: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

1971 TN: These final releases and shows I think will be a fitting tribute to our best friend. I want to acknowledge all of the work that Jory and Garrett put into this, and I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with them again.

1971 JS: Likewise. It’ll be bittersweet. Thanks for sharing this time with us.

You can find 1971 here – Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are – 1971

1971’s final installment No Matter Where You Go, There You Are featuring the last recordings before Cam Cranston’s passing will be available on 7” vinyl, cassette and digital download December 1, 2017. The EP includes the tracks Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario), The Manipulator and Etinohah.

Pre-Order from Bandcamp or Art of the Uncarved Block. (1971canada)

We’re All In This Together: Stopping Bad Concert Behaviour

Last week, shitty behaviour at two concerts, half a world apart, turned into internet stories featuring two Canadian musicians with a lesson that needs to be learned by music fans of all genres in all cities.

On Tuesday, November 14, Dallas Smith’s Side Effects Tour took over the Encana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, BC – and in Smith’s words, here’s what happened.

Tonight I got to watch girls and guys punching, pulling hair, groping girls ect ect. Disgusting Dawson Creek. Most fans were great. Others ruined it. Grow the f**k up.

And on Wednesday, November 15, at Sydney’s Marquee nightclub a similar incident was recorded by a fan at Drake’s show in Australia. From the stage Drake called out a male fan for groping women in the crowd.

That’s two incidents, on opposite sides of the globe, 24 hours apart. This isn’t about Dawson Creek, it isn’t about Sydney, it’s about shitty behaviour and assault at concerts.

What followed for Smith was a Twitter storm that was picked up by news outlets, radio station websites and more. And, in my eyes, most problematically, there was push back and defensiveness where there should have been support and action. People with voices, big and small, were more interested in defending themselves and a city than dealing with the problem.

One of those responses, defensive in nature and ignoring the problem, came from Dawson Creek Mayor, Dale Bumstead who posted these words on Facebook…

My heart, my stomach, my body hurts when someone makes a discouraging comment about our city. It hurts even more when people in our community feel the opportunity to join in and share in the statement. You cannot underestimate the importance of your reputation. An event that impacts the Cities reputation can have long lasting effects. Maybe a significant economic opportunity is lost because a business leader reads the media reports and says “shouldn’t go near that city” Maybe another major event like U17 says better stay away from there. Maybe a new Doctor says, not there I heard they …….
These can all have a direct and significant impact on each and everyone of us.
Reputation IS everything.
We work hard day in and day out to build our communities reputation as a community that has a great quality of life.
Very sad day for me right now [crying face emoji]

I get it. We can all understand defensiveness and standing up our city. Hell, that’s his job. But where was the acceptance that something bad happened in his city? Where was the support for the victims of the reported hair pulling, fighting, and sexual assault? Where was the community when some of its members needed it most?

Now, I’m not here to put the Mayor on blast. And I’m not even here to call out Dawson Creek – because this isn’t about Dawson Creek, and it’s not about country music. Just like it isn’t about Sydney and hip-hop. It’s about understanding that, as communities, we need to care about each other. We need to look out for each other. And when someone does something shitty at a show, or in any setting, we need to hold them accountable, not circle the wagons to defend ourselves and make ourselves feel better and look innocent.

I’m a straight cis white male, so I’m trying to stay in my lane here. And I can tell you, from personal experience, that there are times when I see a post online that generalizes the behaviours of straight white men and my instinct is to think or say “not me, not all men”. Defensiveness: I get it. But then I realize that those posts are rooted in deeply personal experiences by the people that write and share them – and I know that someone who looks a lot like me was the reason that the post exists. So it may not have anything to do with me directly, but in a way, it does.

Let’s throw an example together.

After the concerts in Dawson Creek and Sydney, at least one woman went home and told her friends or family, or herself in the mirror that she had been assaulted. And when she describes who assaulted her, it’s going to be a male country music or hip-hop fan in Dawson Creek or Sydney. She’s not saying that all male country music fans in Dawson Creek or all male hip-hop fans in Sydney assaulted her. She’s not vilifying all males, country music fans, hip-hop fans or people in those communities – but the truth remains that someone that fits that description assaulted her.

Here’s where you come in. Do you…

A) Say, “Don’t blame all men because one guy acted shitty”
B) Say, “Don’t blame all country music and hip-hop fans because one of them acted shitty”
C) Say, “Don’t blame all of Dawson Creek and Sydney because one concert goer acted shitty”
D) Say, “That’s terrible, I hate that it happened, we need to be better and do our best to make sure it never happens again in Dawson Creek or Sydney or anywhere else.”

If your gut answer is A, B, or C, you’re not a bad person. But if you don’t ever get to D because you’re so busy digging your heels in on any or all of the other answers, you’re ignoring the actual problem, you’re ignoring the assault that happened, and you’re excusing the actions of the shitty male country music fan in Dawson Creek and the shitty male hip-hop fan in Sydney.

You can change male to female. You can change country music and hip-hop to rock or pop. You can change Dawson Creek and Sydney to Toronto or Melbourne. The example holds up.

Assault at concerts and festivals happens. If you’ve been to enough shows you may have witnessed it. Sometimes it’s a fight in the crowd between two guys who run into each other and a drink gets spilled. Sometimes it’s a fight between two women for the same reason. Sometimes it’s a guy groping a woman and thinking that he can get away with it. Sometimes it’s worse. The sad truth is, the incidents in Dawson Creek and Sydney weren’t isolated.

And if it’s ever going to get better, we need to start taking responsibility for these actions and each other, not deflecting to make ourselves feel innocent or persecuted for someone else’s shitty actions.

Unless you are a person who has acted shitty and assaulted someone at a concert, you shouldn’t feel attacked by anyone calling out that kind of behaviour. If you are against shitty behaviour but feeling defensive, you should probably ask yourself why you’re more concerned with yourself right now instead of a person that was assaulted. And if you care about people who are assaulted but are still feeling defensive, you should care more about them then the reputation of your community – especially in the immediate aftermath.

We are all really good at worrying about ourselves. We are all really good at not wanting to look bad. We are all really good at distancing ourselves from problematic issues that happen in our communities. What we need to be better at is not running away from a problem so we can feel good about ourselves, or hide from a problem to avoid feeling bad about ourselves. We all need to be better at identifying problematic behaviour in our communities and working to eradicate that behaviour.

As music fans, we all belong to communities. In Toronto I can identify faces at country shows, rock shows, pop shows, hip-hop shows… we see the same people at different venues for different artists, there to watch music because they love music. And when a country fan or a rock and roll fan does something shady or shitty at one of those shows, it falls on the Toronto community of that fandom to stand with each other, protect each other, and support each other. The moment one of those communities throws its hands in the air and says “it’s not our problem that one fan did a bad thing” – it’s all gone to shit and the word community means nothing.

We are all stronger as a community. We are all better as a community. We are all together as a community. But if we don’t act like it… it doesn’t matter.

Music fans across all genres need to know that this kind of thing happens, and that it’s not okay. We need to know that the people who carry out these reprehensible acts of violence and assault should be punished and held accountable by law. We need to stand together and ensure that we don’t shrug our shoulders and say “there’s nothing we can do”.

It shouldn’t be on entertainers to call this behaviour out from the stage or on Twitter. And while it can be helpful, and certainly respectable when they do, it should be on us.

If you ever witness someone physically or verbally assaulting a fan at a concert or festival, take action. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the assault, go get security. If you do feel comfortable confronting the assault, be careful – and have someone else go get security. If you witness an assault and the person who committed the act has left the area, be there to support the victim – and have someone get security. And if you’re at a concert with someone committing any kind of assault – call them on it, make them stop, don’t turn a blind eye.

We know it’s not all concert goers. But one is too many. And we all need to stick together and do the right thing to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

When we stand together, we are strong. When we turn our backs on the people in our communities in their times of need, we are weak.

We need to be strong.

New Music Spotlight: The Faceplants, Guide Dog, Knifey, Rökkva, and Slamboni!

Welcome to the first New Music Spotlight. We get lots of music sent to us, which we love.  We’ve been trying to come up with a way to share bands and artists we think you should check out. After great consideration, we’ve come up with the “New Music Spotlight” a place where you’ll find new music to watch and listen to. The music will cross genres and will be from around the world, far and wide.

This time around is going to be a quick hits post – we’re going to give you the basics and let you decide who you should check out further.

Let’s do this!

Artist: The Faceplants
Hometown: Vancouver, Canada
Genre: Rock/Pop
Related Artists: Marianas Trench, Hedley
Single: Who I Am Inside
The Faceplants - Who I Am Inside - Cover Art
Notes: “…a retro vibe with modern production, creating a memorable, sing-out- loud pop song.” They’ve got a new video up on their YouTube channel where they talk about the songwriting process which features beautiful shots of  Vancouver.
Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / iTunes

Artist: Guide Dog
Hometown: Bridgend, Wales
Genre: Synth Grunge
Related Artists: ? You tell us
Single: I Am The Daddy

Notes: The album, Lovely Domestic Bliss is out July 7th and in case you didn’t know it, grunge is back.
Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

Artist: Knifey
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Genre: Alternative/Indie/Punk
Related Artists: Blink-182, The Offspring
Single: Tanlines
Knifey Tanlines
Notes: In person, expect moshing and foolishness
Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

Artist: Rökkva
Hometown: Selfoss, Iceland
Genre: Pop
Related Artists: Alec Joseph, Björk
Album: By Your Tree
Rokkva By Your Tree
Notes: Quiet, gentle soothing
Links: Web / Facebook / Spotify 

Artist: Slamboni
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Genre: ska, punk, rock, reggae
Related Artists: Pennywise, The Planet Smashers
Album: Motorboatin’
Slamboni Motorboatin'
Notes: So much fun live!
Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

Thanks for reading. We’d love to hear what you think so leave us a comment and let us know if you any of these bands spoke to you. And if you like the bands, hit up their links. Until next time!

1 year ago
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