Venue: Sound Academy
Date: February 27, 2013
Photographer: Randall Vasquez
Artists: Imagine Dragons, Atlas Genius, Nico Vega
Venue: Sound Academy
Date: February 27, 2013
Photographer: Randall Vasquez
Upcoming show: AUSTRA with BLOOD CEREMONY, YACHT CLUB & LOWELL
Saturday, March 23, 2013 – 7:00pm @ The Danforth Music Hall.
"I don’t think it’s possible for me to write in a major key,” says Katie Stelmanis, co-founder and lead singer of Toronto trio Austra. “I don’t know why. It doesn’t seem to factor in my brain.”
It’s not like the longtime vocalist and producer makes Anton LaVey references or has an austere demeanor. Quite the opposite. But on Feel it Break (Domino, Release Date), Stelmanis, drummer Maya Postepski and bassist Dorian Wolf have crafted a dark, danceable masterpiece suitable for both ritual incantations and clubs; an album hearkening back to the sleazier side of New Wave but still deeply rooted in Stelmanis’s classical and operatic upbringing.
This confluence of classical and electronic has been at the heart of Stelmanis’s career before there even was a career. At the age of 10, Stelmanis joined the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, where she sang regularly for the prestigious Canadian Opera Company. While simultaneously learning viola and piano, Stelmanis pursued a career in opera, studying privately for four years while making plans to study the genre further in college.
A week before school started, with her calling seemingly mapped out, the singer made a decision that would affect her subsequent musical career. “I wanted to stay in Toronto and didn’t want to live in Montreal,” recalls Stelmanis. “So I decided to just not go to college, get a job, save up for five years and go on my first tour.”
Spurred on by her production work for soundtracks for local plays, Stelmanis began immerging herself in electronic music. “I wanted to be able to write music for orchestras and with MIDI, you could just press ‘Record’ and bring up any instrument you wanted,” says Stelmanis. “It took me years to not think of MIDI as a substitute for real instruments and as an actual electronic instrument.” With new obsessions Bjork, P J Harvey and Nine Inch Nails weaving their influence, Stelmanis’s goal was clear: “I wanted to make classical music with really fucked up, distorted crazy shit on there.”
In 2008, after playing with Galaxy for three years, Stelmanis appeared on Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life and released her debut solo album Join Us. Pinned as goth by everyone in Canada who didn’t entirely know what goth was, the album, written and recorded entirely by Stelmanis, combined dark, yet poppy, synth melodies with the singer’s operatic voice for what Chart Attack called “oddly beautiful and enchanting.”
Through it all, Stelmanis remained fiercely independent, managing every creative, technical and business aspect of her career herself – she embarked on six self-organized tours in the past three years including an opening slot for CocoRosie – all while trying to thrive in a country not exactly receptive to her brand of music. “A lot of people didn’t understand my first album,” she says, laughing. “So I booked my own tour of Europe, where they seemed to be more open. But we were the most DIY you could possibly be. I just figured everything out by myself the whole time. That’s always been my mentality. I was watching bands in Toronto that reached some level of success and they were booking their own tours, so I just thought, obviously I should book my own tours.”
Three years later, Stelmanis’s innate do-it-yourself ethos hasn’t changed, yet with the addition of former Galaxy member Postepski (Princess Century, Trust) on drums and programming and former Spiral Beach bassist Wolf, the singer has created her best work to date. Written primarily by Stelmanis – “Most of the songs are finished in my bedroom,” says the songwriter – and mixed by Damian Taylor (Bjork, The Prodigy, UNKLE), the album rests nicely with your Kate Bush, Bat For Lashes and The Knife albums, but also conjures up the seedier sides of early 1980s British New Wave (think the dirty alleys and after-hours clubs dreamed up by Japan and Soft Cell.) On their first single “Beat and The Pulse,” Austra have created the warmest cold track of the year, a pulsating, synth-driven attack laced by Stelmanis’s gorgeous, towering vocals.
“For me, music should be a release,” says Stelmanis. “I used to write songs with the intention that people would listen to it in their headphones when they needed to escape. Now I keep the same mentality, but also want people to be able to dance and completely lose themselves in a more physical way. If I can emotionally stimulate the mind and the body through music, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something significant.”
GA TICKETS $22.50 Advance (plus s.c.) ·19+ Event · Doors @ 7:00PM
TICKETS ARE ON-SALE NOW VIA TICKETMASTER.CA, Rotate This & Soundscapes
Singer-songwriter, producer, and dedicated activist Erin McKeown has released her seventh studio album, MANIFESTRA, on her own TVP Records. In addition to praise from NPR, American Songwriter, Impose Magazine, MTV Hive and more, the record is the #24 most added record at AAA radio this year.
Check out the “Baghdad To The Bayou” FREE MP3, which premiered today:
MANIFESTRA finds McKeown accompanied by many musical friends, and includes track “Baghdad To The Bayou,” which was co-written via text message with longtime friend Rachel Maddow. A simmering New Orleans cut that addresses injustice from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico, the song features guest vocalists Anais Mitchell, Sean Hayes and David Wax Museum.
Having a passion for social justice and a strong interest in public policy, McKeown treats her music as a multi-dimensional way to convey messages, connect with fans, and become a better person. MANIFESTRA is available for purchase at most digital outlets including iTunes, Amazon and the artist's website. Fans will have a chance to see Erin live on her US tour, which includes a stop at SXSW. Be sure to catch her live, and stay tuned for more news coming soon!
Upcoming Toronto Show: April 13th @ Horseshoe Tavern
The new split 7" from Hostage Calm and Anti-Flag is out today via Run For Cover Records and the newly relaunched A-F Records.
The split features one new song from each band pressed on three beautiful combinations of red, white and blue splatter with an etched b-side. Proceeds from record sales will go to benefit two charities based in each band's hometown.
In 2012 Anti-Flag conquered Europe with Hostage Calm among festival dates with Rancid and the Bouncing Souls, and also released their latest full length The General Strike. This year marks 20 years of Anti-Flag; to celebrate their anniversary the band will be playing a string of west coast tour dates in March. Hostage Calm are coming off their critically acclaimed Please Remain Calm released in October 2012, which was heralded as "a near masterpiece," an "essential album of 2012" and a "9.5 out of 10" by AbsolutePunk.
The bands chose to benefit these two organizations:
Both bands will be on tour this March supporting the split release and their recent full-lengths.
Struggling to figure out the most suitable drink at a show or listening to your favorite record for the millionth time?
Don’t want to listen to music alone? www.Drinkify.org is here to make your music listening experience more enjoyable. Simply type in the artist your listening to and the site will spit out the ideal drink. Depending on the artist you’re listening to drinkify may recommend just a Budweiser, or move to something extreme, like rum mixed with vodka mixed with cough syrup. There’s a nice balance between all drinks, even though at certain points it feels like the creators of the site are secretly trying to get certain fans addicted to drugs, in particular: cocaine.
Some of our favourites include:
“The Imagine Dragons”
“The Jimmy Eat World”
“The Dirty Heads”
Little Boots 'Nocturnes' album artwork
Little Boots aka Victoria Hesketh became one of the most talked about new popstars around when she arrived with her Gold-selling debut Hands in 2009.
Now the dance-pop songstress is preparing to release her highly-anticipated sophomore studio album, Nocturnes, May 6th, on her new On Repeat Records imprint. The album was produced by DFA Records co-founder Tim Goldsworthy, with other key contributions from Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford and Hercules and Love Affair's Andy Butler. Nocturnes is a powerful record of irresistible hooks and stunning songwriting that celebrates 90s house, seventies disco and futuristic electronics while maintaining the magic of classic pop.
“Motorway”, is a symphony of bittersweet brilliance, starting with Victoria singing over a simple percussive rhythm that quickly evolves into a variety of noir narratives, chilly melodies and thundering late-night congas. Echoing layered vocals burst through a pulsing bass line on the soaring “Satellites” (co-written with Ariel Reichstadt). “Broken Record” is a pounding club track set against some of her most hypnotic hook lines yet. “Crescendo” is a theatrically infectious summer-ready anthem, while the old school house rhythms and giddy choruses of “Confusion,” penned in the Hollywood hills with Jeppe Laursen (the man behind Gaga's 'Born This Way'), is simply Boots at her effortless sing-a-long best.
Check out the "Motorway" stream below.
DJing all over the world at many of clubland's most esteemed nights over the past few years and collaborating with an elite roll-call of dance music's most credible class, Victoria named the record Nocturnes because it is “an album indebted to the night." A collection of perfect pop melodies set against faultless beats and synths, it is true long-player, and a sonic experience from beginning to end. Stay tuned for more exciting news + tour plans from Little Boots coming soon!
Something wild and crazy has come over the city tonight, I thought to myself. There was an energetic buzz inside the southbound subway tunnel and union station as I made my way from mid town towards the Rogers Centre. The Skywalk reeked of vodka and energy drinks, empty "water" bottles littered the walkway. Teen girls screamed in unison all through the hallways, security guards peered around corners, clenching their radios at major exits fearing this crowd could get out of hand at any moment.
'Power to the people' seemed to be the motto on this electric evening in downtown Toronto. Swedish House Mafia's One Last Tour was in town and it was as shaping up to be a banger.
Finally, I made my way through the hoards of people and found my way to Section 100 in the lower bowl. I watched in awe as the crowds of fluorescent tanks and leotards--by the thousands--piled into Rogers Centre, filing towards the stage like hungry ants to a sugar cube. Even as the main floor was filling up, the line outside stretched as far as the eye could see.
"This is amazing!" people screamed as they paused on the landings before taking the stairs down to the dance floor. In a room so large with so many electronic music fans gathered together, it was truly a party-goer's dreamscape. It was easy to tell that in such large numbers, you could get away with almost anything in the stadium on this wild night. Leave your morals at the coat check, light up a cigarette in the middle of the crowd... party at own risk. And party they did.
Otto Knows opened up the night and kept the crowd stoked by playing current dance and electro anthems like "Cannonball", "The Veldt (Tommy Trash Mix)", "Years" and original remixes like "Lies (Otto Knows)". The words "Otto Knows" flashed on the screens behind him, and one thing is for sure: he knows how to get a party started.
After about a 30 min pause between sets it was time for Swedish House Mafia to hit the stage in all their glory. A massive quadruple-layered video screen dramatically split into 4 sections revealing dj's/producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. Complete with fog blasts and fireworks, it was apparent from the beginning that this was no regular dj event. Seamlessly mixing classic hits together like "Nothing But Love" and "Leave The World Behind", SHM displayed their electronic music prowess. The crowd went particularly wild for the smash hit single "Calling". Cleverly placed vocal interludes like Ansol & Dyro's "Top Of The World" gave everyone a chance to collect their breath (read: clothing) before the next big drop.
The building was physically shaking from the sheer force of 30,000 people jumping in the air all at once, even the washroom floor at the back of the stadium was rumbling with every beat. People staying in the adjoining hotel behind the stage many stories in the air, were fist-pumping through their windows into the stadium with all their strength as if they were right in the middle of the dance floor. Even the police that were on duty couldn't help but to indulge, snapping photos and sharing them to Instagram and Facebook walls like it was their 19th birthday.
"Hey Toronto. Take a deep breath. Turn off the brains. Turn on the hearts." Axwell told the crowd before dropping "Antidote" cueing full stage production for the rest of the evening. The crowd sang along "In my mind, in my head" to Axwell's "In My Mind".
"You look beautiful tonight..." he responded sincerely to the crowd. "We've been here before but not like this. You know, normally I would find someone in the crowd to identify as the most positive person in the room. I can't do that tonight, Toronto, because you're all one big positive mass. And that's why we love you. It's because of people like you, we stand up here. We see you and it goes straight to here [points to heart]; we will always remember you here."
While playing their acclaimed remix of Coldplay's "Every Teardrop is A Waterfall", the trio raised the Canadian flag upon hearing Chris Martin sing the lyric "raise the flag" and it was truly an amazing show of support from the artists to their fans. Despite this same gesture being repeated in other cities, it felt special on this night to everyone in the room.
Soon after it was time to wrap up their extraordinary set, with the massively popular "Don't You Worry Child" as all 30,000 people sang along without missing a beat. It occurred to me at this particular moment, that the same show would be happening the following night as part of a double-header with just as much enthusiasm and responsiveness from crazed fans. Swedish House Mafia's international success and mass appeal was abundantly obvious and it become clear to me why they were able to command so much respect from thousands of people--in two consecutive nights. This was a group who's been there and remixed that--their music fills popular radio stations, ipods, clubs, wedding halls and tv commercials the world over. If you are not living under a rock, you'll know at least one Swedish House Mafia song off by heart, like it or not. On one hand it is sad to see a talented group part ways to focus on their individual careers, but on a night like this one could only nod farewell and smile knowing the music they've created and the spirit they've instilled in popular music together will live on forever.
- by Matt Vardy
[See More Photos]
Excited concertgoers packed Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on Fri, Feb 22 for a pit stop by none other than Solange Knowles showcasing her new EP, True (2012). The venue may have not been the best fit for Solange, but it held many more fans that came out to witness her new sound in person as opposed to the original choice, The Hoxton at Bathurst and King.
Before I go any further, I should thank the security guard who told me there was no coat check, when in fact there was, making the dance orgy that much sweatier. At least the prelude to Solange was not a move buster, or I would not have lasted the night.
Entering the dark stage just after 9, a half-hour after scheduled, relatively unknown opener, Kelela dished a gravely underrated performance that no one seemed interested in. Much like our anticipated headliner, Kelela built slow boiled vocals atop minimalist production, however hers was set to pre-recorded backbeats. Her tone is more similar to a ‘Mariah’ than a ‘Beyonce,’ but her overall aesthetic reminisces a female version of The Weeknd, with a haunted, more low-key vibe.
What is unfortunate about this performance comes in part from Kelela’s backing, or the general sound system of the hall, which overpowered her at times. Another was the shear disrespect of the crowd, who couldn’t seem to care less, carrying on un-hushed conversations as if the stage was empty while continuing to wait for Solange. Needless to say, this did not help in the matter of audibility. Towards the end, Kelela plugged a mixtape coming out at the end of April/ early May, that would be free (yet another reminder of The Weekend and his strategy for stardom). With this, she encouraged us to click and download, saying, "I don't need you to like it. I just need you to listen." This may have been a jab at the audience’s behavior that undoubtedly went over the head of most. She ended with confidence and strength in spite of the reception, and exited gracefully.
We did not have to wait much longer for everyone’s craving to be satisfied as Solange glided on stage with her band, wearing a silk, Peit Mondrian meets Giacomo Balla-like number. No stranger to the limelight as the less mainstream Knowles sister, Solange brings with her the experience of Destiny’s Child backup dancer, and two previous records. This time however, collaborator/True producer, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Lightspeed Champion shares the credit of Solange’s most success and breakout of her single, “Losing You” while joining her on tour as a guitarist.
With no intro, she gets right into playing deeply personal sass-fest, “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work.” Here she offers us a first taste of her penchant for cross stage jiving during Hynes’, “rap” portion of the song. It also becomes apparent that like Kelela, Solange’s voice, while thick and soulful, is smaller, refusing to rely on power belting as her sister does. For this reason, a more intimate venue would have benefitted her sound in a way that this auditorium could not carry. But what she lost in vocal focus, Solange more than made up for in flare, charm, and enthusiasm; reengaging audiences through her figure popping moves and invigoratingly upbeat tracks.
True marked a change in direction for Knowles, and precedes her full-length album due out later this year on Grizzly Bear front man’s label, Terrible Records. “How many of you have my album?” she asked, looking out to see many holding up their bright red copies of her vinyl. “Oh wow—Shit . Thank you so much!”
With the exception of a few old hits, the set consisted of the new EP in its entirety, with favorite, “Locked In Closets” (cue blasts of praise with every shimmy of her physique), her next-to-be single, “Lovers In The Parking Lot,” and “Bad Girls,” which she used as transition to the late Selena’s “I Could Fall In Love”.
On a whole, the material is a tight, carefully trimmed compilation, the result being a succinct record with no filler. “This song was actually written as a prelude to ‘Bad Girls,’ but we decided to extend it,” she says about the track that comes in just under 2mins, “This one is called ‘Looks Good With Trouble.”
“Okay, now I need you to do something for me besides being your beautiful, wonderful selves” says Solange with a grin as she gears up for her closer, inviting everyone including bartenders at the pop-up lemonade style “bars” on either side of the room to join in and dance. The clattering synths and slinking drop beats of "Losing You" send the crowd into a frenzied silhouette of flailing limbs. This performance was by far the most involved, eliciting a reaction akin to hysteria, which seems odd to imagine crippling lyrics such as these to have such an effect, yet groove we did.
With sweet thanks and a goodbye, Solonge exits stage right, but returned for her encore with a message for her viral video fan, Torontonian and Editor of FAB Magazine, Philip Villeneuve. "I was hoping to see him here tonight" said Solange, inviting the man who filmed himself dancing to her single in the middle of Yorkville’s Bay and Bloor intersection along with some Argos Cheerleaders. He descended from the balcony to join Ms Knowles for an on stage dance to her final performance of the night, "Sandcastle Disco".
Two things are for certain after this show: (1) Solange is on fire, and (2) I have never seen an afro rocked quite so fiercely as Solange, and I doubt I may ever get the chance to again.
- by Michael Natale
Artist: Swedish House Mafia
Date: February 22, 2013
Venue: Rogers Centre
Photographer: Matt Klopot
“We save with violence and lie with eloquence.
We're turning wine into water with abhorrence.
We'll save whoever we want to.”
This is How The Wind Shifts artwork
Silverstein really came alive with this album, showing their true colours and proving that they are a force to be reckoned with in the music scene.
Fans will automatically notice that they have not changed pace from their post-hardcore feel as the first track, Stand Amid The Roar, pumps in with the heavy guitar and screaming vocals. However, it is just as clear that Shane Told has grown vocally, seamlessly transitioning into a beautifully clear spoken word verse--lacking the slightly gruffer feel that was apparent in the fan favourite, Vices.
It seems that Told finally found the voice that he was always destined to have, losing the unrefined emo genre feel and evolving into what could only be compared to the crystal clear vocal range of pop-punk. Nevertheless, it is highly doubtful that fans of their previous albums will have any complaint about this, and if anything Silverstein has guaranteed themselves a set of brand new believers.
A great thing about this album was the fact that tracks 4, 7, and 11 are short and are comprised of entirely clean vocals. This provides a perfect transition, giving the listener an emotionally packed break from the upbeat and heavy tracks, and shows the true emotion that this album will be remembered for. If you take a look at the track listing, every parallel track title goes together in some way and each of those tracks tells a similar story from the opposing perspectives.
According to Alter the Press!, “The point of the album is not to prove the existence of fate, or to disprove it,” Told said. “It’s a discussion of life, of loss, of trial and error, of success within failure, of failure within success, of the struggle between your actions and your feelings, and how those don’t always go together.”
How many bands take the time to write a concept album to this degree? Silverstein may not be the first, but they are definitely among the best.
The album started strong with Stand Amid The Roar, and ends with the perfect slow and emotional lyrics of Departures. Aptly named, it provides a wonderful sign off to the album, slowing everything down. Tack 7, Arrivals, finishes with the lyrics “If this is what happens when you go maybe next time don’t,” and its counterpart in Departures is beautifully done, ending with the lyrics, “If things are going to change when you come home maybe this time don’t.” The two lyrics are far enough apart yet sang so similarly that you know that you’ve heard it before, you are just not quite sure where.
Overall, Silverstein outdid themselves with this album, however that is not to say that it was perfect, as nothing is, but the good far outweighs the bad in this instance.
Check Out These Tracks: “On Brave Mountains We Conquer” “A Better Place” and “With Second Chances”
For fans of: Rise Against, A Day To Remember, illScarlett
- by Jesse Harrison-Kish
Upcoming Toronto Show: March 2nd @ The Opera House