Song Of The Day: Chris Hillman – Wildflowers

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During his time in The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and several other bands, Chris Hillman pretty much invented the folk rock and country rock sounds, thus cementing his place in music history.

That history continues with his latest release Bidin’ My Time, out on Rounder Records. Produced by the late Tom Petty, the album finds Hillman revisiting some old Byrds tracks (“Bells Of Rhymney” and “She Don’t Care About Time”) as well as contributing his own version of Petty’s “Wildflowers” which naturally adds a touch of bluegrass to the arrangement. Check it out below:

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Concert Review: Dream Theater, November 12, Sony Centre

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You know you’re at a bona fide prog show when the singer disappears from the stage for extended periods of time while the band does it’s thing. This is not to say that Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie is any less vital than any other member of the band, just that he knows when to get out of the way and let the band rip out some extended solos and show off their instrumental prowess. And the band did just that over the course of pretty much three hours, much to the delight of their dedicated fanbase.

Dream Theater are currently on the Images, Words & Beyond Tour, celebrating 25 years since the release of probably their best known album, Images and Words. Along with playing that album in its entirety, the band also played a few selections that were written around the same time as the songs off that album and closed the show off with an encore of “A Change Of Seasons,” which was recorded at the same time as Images and Words.

Following the first part of their set, the band took a short break and returned to the stage to showcase the album they were touring behind, with the opening trifecta of tunes from that album – “Pull Me Under,” “Another Day” and “Take The Time” – standing out as the highlights. But before they took to the stage, a short medley of hits from 1992 played over the speakers and it really highlighted how Dream Theater stood out from the music of that era. Sir Mix-a-Lot, Billy Ray Cyrus, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, En Vogue – some of the biggest hit makers of the day and none of them really had much in common with Dream Theater. Sure, “Pull Me Under” did manage to make it into the Top 10 on the rock charts back then so I guess it was also a bit of a hit, but you couldn’t exactly say that Dream Theater were peers with any of these other artists and they certainly weren’t among the most popular acts at the time. Then again, the kind of progressive metal that Dream Theater trades in has never really been considered all that cool, which is probably why it still holds up today.

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Concert Review: Bully, Aye Nako, November 9, Lee’s Palace

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Before offering up any sort of greeting to the crowd, the first thing spoken into the mic at Bully’s Thursday night show was a request from Alicia Bognanno for the stage lights to be turned down if possible. This could have been because the lights were a bit too bright for her comfort (likely) or it could have been a sign that the band didn’t really want to be seen. Luckily this wasn’t the case and soon enough the band was sufficiently amped up and rocking out for a fairly packed house at Lee’s Palace. Crisis averted.

Bognanno, who proved herself to be an engaging frontwoman, also shared with the crowd that she’d been to Tim Horton’s earlier and gave a shout out to Tim’s pretzel bagels. There’s loads of better places she could have eaten before the show, but hey, when in Canada, I guess you’ve gotta go for some Timmies.

Aye Nako opened the show with a set focusing on numbers from their latest Silver Haze. The band has described their music as “Sad punk songs about being queer, trans and black” and definitely seems to mine its songwriters’ pasts for subject material, with Jade Payne offering up that one song was about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, while Mars Dixon introduced another as “a sad song about my childhood” before adding, “I’m happy now.” The band’s personal lyrics and ’90s-referencing guitar riffs made for a potent mix and an impressive live show, despite the fact that they played to a significantly smaller crowd than the headliners.

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Concert Review: Luna, Nov 8, Great Hall

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Meeting up with Luna at the Great Hall on a chilly Wednesday night is like meeting an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time.

You are all a bit older, so the meeting takes place in a well lit and moderately classy environment (Great Hall) instead of an old dirty bar.

You meet a little earlier (start time at 9:30 pm) then you would in your roaring twenties, when you would pre-drink and meet before the stroke of midnight.

It’s been awhile, so you exchange updates on what’s been happening (Luna released a cover album this year)

But really, you are there to relive old times and the days of glory (classic Luna material)

While it may seem a bit formulaic, it’s a proven formula that works and Wednesday night was another successful application of this formula. In town for their first time in two years, Luna once again put on an enjoyable show. Performing in an extremely well lit Great Hall, the band played a set list that mixed up new and old, with the new mostly coming in the form of the covers that are on their new record. In between songs, they (mostly Sean) traded banter with the appreciative crowd about the venue, the neighborhood and the previous city they were in – Detroit. As for the new material, of course I had no idea that some of the new songs were covers, since Dean Wareham has a tendency to pick pretty obscure songs to cover. Still, the covers flowed into that Luna sound that has carried them successfully for the better part of the past twenty five years.

Obviously the hits portion of the set had the crowd going and after playing hits like 23 Minutes in Brussels and Chinatown, the enthusiastic crowd forced the band to do not one but two encores, with the track Indian Summer ending off the night. A bit ironic given that Toronto was plunged into a deep freeze for Wednesday night, I guess it was just a little something to warm our hearts.

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Song of the Day: Pale Waves – New Years Eve

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Manchester 4-piece Pale Waves are back with another single, and you know what, I’m shocked they didn’t make the soundtrack of Stranger Things. Both of them evoke this nostalgic innocent feeling in your heart that just warms you up. Heather Baron-Gracie and one of the characters on Stranger Things also both seem to favor psuedo-goth makeup. It’s a match made in heaven.

Having released three solid catchy as hell singles this summer, it seems like Pale Waves are on their way to some success. Check them out! They are touring for the first time in North America tomorrow.

Pale Waves 2017 North American Winter Tour

11/12 – Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA
11/13 – Songbyrd – Washington, DC
11/14 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
11/16 – Baby G – Toronto, ON
11/17 – Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA
11/18 – Rumba Cafe – Columbus, OH
11/19 – Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL
11/20 – Record Bar – Kansas City, MO
11/22 – Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO
11/24 – Kilby Court – Salt Lake City, UT
11/26 – Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA
11/27 – Fox Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
11/29 – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
12/01 – House of Blues Voodoo Room – San Diego, CA
12/02 – The Moroccan – Los Angeles, CA
12/03 – Valley Bar – Phoenix, AZ
12/04 – The Perch – El Paso, TX
12/06 – Three Links – Dallas, TX
12/07 – Stubbs Jr – Austin, TX
12/08 – Rudyard’s – Houston, TX
12/09 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, LA

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Concert Review: Shout Out Louds, Mod Club, November 6

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One of the more well known lines of lyrics from the Shout Out Louds is from one of their most famous singles

“Let’s call this a come back!”

As I stood there, revisiting a band I’ve seen three previous times, I was wondering..is this a comeback?

The Swedish pop band recently released their fifth record, and their first in four years. In indie-music timeline that’s like 12 years. The buzz hasn’t been large even though the album is solid. This was reflected Monday night as a half packed mod club greeted the band. Comparing it to their last show, which was a rather packed Opera House, you had to be just slightly disappointed at the turnout. Time, however, is unforgiving.

Despite what I assumed was a disappointing crowd, the group took the stage and enthusiastically introduced the group to their new stuff with the track Paola. For the uninformed, this was like meeting an old friend. Warm tones, pleasant arrangements and also a dash of that undeniable Swedish pop touch. The new stuff, just like the old, is full of hooks that make you go hmm, this is good.

Obviously the older tracks were the ones that got the crowd going, with the undeniable beeps and boops of The Comeback signalling the start of the “hits” phase of the show. Man that track is fucking good. Tonight I Have to Leave it was the epic point of the night, with lead singer Adam Olenius venturing into the crowd, urging people to “give love”. It might seem a bit pre-meditated (he did the same thing at the Opera House) but in times like these, a positive message is always appreciated. I was particularly pleased that they played (closed) with the track Impossible, which has got to be one of my favorite tracks of the 00’s. Say what you want, ending the show with your best song is NEVER a bad idea.

For better or worse, Shout Out Louds have never really left the warm space they have created since 2007’s amazing record Our Ill Wills. While some can see it as a self imposed limitation, I think their music fills a particularly nice indie-pop niche. There’s always a space for nicely arranged hook filled pop music and on Monday night, the Shout Out Louds was a great example of that.

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Concert Review: Black Kids, October 30, The Garrison

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“We are glad to be back in Toronto! It’s been … a minute”

I almost detected a note of disappointment or resentment when Black Kids front man Reggie Youngblood said this during their comeback show at the Garrison on Monday night. That quote made me think of Flight of the Navigator, an 80’s movie with this amazing poster:

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In this movie, a little kid falls into a creek, wakes up a few minutes later and realizes it’s actually 8 years later. The reason? He actually went on board a space ship for a few minutes but because of the space-time continuum, those minutes actually played out to years in Earth time. It’s also mentioned in Interstellar but why reference that when you can reference an obscure ’80s movie? Anyways the kid finds that everything has changed around him and has difficulty adjusting.

The quote reminded me of that movie because, in a way, it’s only been a minute since Black Kids released their debut album Partie Traumatic to much acclaim and popularity, yet the world has changed so much since. Let’s take a trip back down memory lane. Black Kids exploded onto the scene about ten years ago with a bevy of fun pop singles that were perfectly tailored to indie dance floors. People loved indie music. People loved gang vocals. They sold out the Phoenix if I recall. The world was theirs.

Only it wasn’t.

No idea what happened, but the group faded from the scene and so it was to much surprise that they released a new album this year. Rookie is their sophomore effort and it’s a solid album, full of a lot of the fun elements that made everyone like them so much a full decade ago. Yet the band only played to half capacity at the Garrison. No longer the fresh face on the block, the world that Black Kids came back to is rather different. Yet it’s only been a minute.

Now that I’ve got my wide reaching and probably incorrectly written theory out of the way, the show itself was very enjoyable. The group excels at danceable songs and the new record fully supports that. The show was heavy on new material as one would expect, and the small but enthusiastic crowd had a fun time dancing and jumping around to the tunes. One girl actually spelled out IFFY (a song on their new record) like one would do when the Village People sing YMCA. It was rather charming. One of the great things about seeing a band that time might have forgotten is the act of rediscovery and it made me realize how good some of the songs from Partie Traumatic are. It speaks volumes that I still knew the lyrics to “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”. For their part, the band seemed to have a great time. Maybe this is a new beginning. I’m sure the fans at the show would hope so.

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Concert Review: Yoko and the Oh No’s, Jukebox the Ghost, October 29, Lincoln Hall

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HalloQueen. What is it? How do we celebrate? Is it recurring? Will there be costumes? Candy? Dancing? Ghosts?

In order: Jukebox the Ghost’s made up holiday. By watching Ben Thornewill channel Freddie Mercury onstage and rock a sweet ‘stache. Yes. Yes. No (unfortunately). Yes. Yes.

For the third year in a row, Jukebox the Ghost celebrated their very own holiday – HalloQueen. The night started with Yoko and the Oh No’s, a perennial Chicago favorite. Lead singer Max Goldstein was sporting a red mullet and some thick, thick blue eyeshadow. The svelte David Bowie look-alike crooned his way through Bowie favorites “Starman” and “Space Oddity.” Love.

Next up was Jukebox. The trio crooned, cavorted, and capered their way through “Hollywood”, “Good Day”, “Schizophrenic”, and a new song about growing old and getting boring (not that I would know anything about that. #yolotilten.) Jukebox explained that they would be finishing up their set, stepping aside for a costume contest, and then Queen would take the stage. The trio talked about what an honor and a dream come true it was to be opening for the Mr. Freddie Mercury himself. A great guy, but apparently pretty hard to understand with the accent and all.

Mr. Bowie was back for the Halloween costume contest. While Buddy the Elf made a good show, the prize eventually went to Ms. Amelia Earhart.

And then Queen took the stage! Starting things off with “We Will Rock You”, Mr. Mercury and his thick, luxurious mustache dominated the stage (although at one point he couldn’t quite remember the lyrics to his own song. Weird.) Hitting so many high notes (literally and metaphorically) including “Bicycle Race” and “Under Pressure”, Queen hit all their highlights. Happy Halloween to us.

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Record Buying – A Descent into Madness Part 1: Suede, Slowdive, Jamie XX

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As a somewhat big music fan, you would imagine that I would have had a record player for ages. So it comes as surprising to many that I did not. It wasn’t because I didn’t want one, more so what would happen if I did buy one.

As a kid, I collected too many hockey cards and then eventually comics. Then it was dvd’s and cd’s for awhile, then a digital mp3 collection. You get the point, I like to accumulate shit. So in my mind, I knew if I got a record player, it would start all over again and frankly, records are not cheap. The logical thing to do was to enjoy the music as it was (mostly free) and not bother with it. However, it did feel like a part of the music world was missing.

I always knew eventually I would get a record player. In March of 2012, Suede released a box set of their albums. Naturally as a massive Suede fan, I bought it. Mostly because I figured it would be annoying to try to find all these Suede records should I buy a record player. Yet I didn’t buy one to listen to these records.

Until August of this year. Somehow a Friday night conversation about how “every day you don’t have a record player is a day you aren’t enjoying your records” came to make sense. Two days later I bought a record player – the Project Debut Carbon (which has dropped 100$ in price since I bought it, much to my annoyance)

Anyways, since then I’ve been buying a lot of records (and enjoying the process). I figure I will write about the records I buy since this is a music blog or something.

1. Suede – The Vinyl Collection
Price Paid: 250$ ??

I actually don’t remember the price I paid, but a box set of your favorite band is priceless. This box set is great and comes with a nice book that talks about each record and the record making process for that record. I still don’t have the heart to put on their record A New Morning and I doubt I ever will. Dog Man Star was the first record I played (after I played a test record to make sure I didn’t fuck up anything) and it was totally glorious. Not sure how my roommate felt about me cranking it up but she seemed cool with it.

2. Slowdive – Slowdive
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Price paid: 17.99 (Dead Dog Records)

I was just hankering to buy another record. The collection must be awesome! It must be curated. In my head, I was already mentally building a collection of records that would populate my household. However, my first foray into record stores highly suggested it would be a very expensive venture. Records were even more expensive then I thought. 30 bucks for new records? WTF?

Anyways, I was getting pissed off that all the records I wanted were thirty or more dollars and then I saw Slowdive, sitting in the new release section, at a nice price point of 17.99. While some of my friends are obsessed with this band, I was only neutral towards them. However, I really enjoyed this album when it was released earlier this year, so I thought, this is a good price point and also, an album album, not a bunch of singles with shit tracks in between. It’s also good for late night listening because it’s pretty mellow. I enjoy this record.

3. Jamie XX – In Colour
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Price paid: 23.99 (Rotate This)

I loved loved loved the XX concert earlier this year (and all the XX albums) but one of the highlights of that show was Romy singing Loud Places, one of the many highlights from Jamie XX’s album. Perhaps it was the vivid recollection of that moment that spurred me to buy this record as i looked through rotate this’s vast collection, or perhaps it was the fact that this record is pretty awesome. Anyways, In Colour has a great collection of songs that you can pretty much put on at any time. I don’t know what juice that kid was drinking growing up but the dude can produce some poppin tracks.

When I opened this record, a little card dropped out and it was like a download code. I was like…do I type this into..my bit torrent site? I guess some people just legit download music. Good on them.

So it’s been 9 weeks and I’ve bought 20 records. I’ve decided to write about each one, to chronicle my journey. (Maybe)

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The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Buck Owens – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971, Capitol Records)

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Liner notes. They were all the rage back in the day. Sometimes they were a little weird and sometimes a little too enthusiastic about their subject. Sometimes though, they were pretty straightforward, like the notes for Bridge Over Troubled Water, a 1971 collection of songs from Bakersfield country legend Buck Owens. Buck’s just giving you the straight goods on what his album is all about, while also using some creative comma placement in his spelling of “kinda.” While the title track is the main attraction, the real gem is his cover of Donovan’s “Catch The Wind,” seen here in the form of a performance on Owens’ old TV series. Keep an eye on the keyboard/harmonica guy poorly miming his way through the song. And now, Buck would like a minute of your time:

I want to take just a minute of your time to tell you why we’re presenting the songs you’ll hear on this album. Most of them are familiar as what you’d call pop/folk/rock songs. Three were written by Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel), there’s one by Donovan and one by Bob Dylan. And although The Buckaroos and I have been known as Country entertainers, we’ve always liked these particular songs and taken a whole lot of comfort and meaning from them. recently I discovered just why they appealed to me so much – they’re all really Country songs in disguise!

Take Bridge Over Troubled Water. It’s got real nice, simple, meaningful words. And like the other songs here, it’s got a certain longing to it. The same kind of longing that makes a good Country song great. if you take some time to really listen to them, you’ll find a lot of songs in the pop/rock class have that longing, but you really got to sit down and listen to them before you discover that Country heart. As far as that goes, any music, any song that has the right ingredients of simple everydayness can be a Country song – even classical things.

I sure do hope you’re going to like what me and The Buckaroos have done here. The five of us sat down in our studio and gave real, honest Country arrangements to the music. When you hear it presented this way, I think you’re going to agree that these area whole lot of actual Country songs that have been kind’a neglected for too long – just because of their disguises.

Your friend,

Buck Owens

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