Bands to See
Because I Said So
Wednesday, May 7
9pm: Mobina Galore @ Cherry Cola’s
11pm: Brody Dalle @ Horseshoe
11pm: Rehan Dalal @ Hideout
1am: The Standstills @ Bovine
Thursday, May 8
8pm: Seas @ Adelaide Hall
12am: Kashka @ Czehoski
1am: The Flatliners @ Sneaky Dee’s
Friday, May 9
8pm: Robyn Dell’Unto @ The Vault
9pm: Fade Chromatic @ Rancho Relaxo
10:15pm: Donovan Woods @ The Vault
12am: The Balconies @ Horseshoe
1:20am: Tupper Ware Remix Party @ Lee’s Palace
Saturday, May 10
4:40pm: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @ Horseshoe
9pm: Mad June @ Bovine
10pm: Organ Thieves @ Lee’s Palace
11pm: Your Favourite Enemies @ Hard Rock Cafe
12am: Wildlife @ Adelaide Hall
12am: The ’92 Blue Jays @ Handlebar
Where is that venue? Find it here.
Sometimes life gets in the way of writing about a great album. Case in point—Wildlife’s …On the Heart. Since releasing this sophomore effort early in 2013, this Toronto band has reached a promising echelon of indie rock stardom; getting to perform in volcanoes and having their songs used in beer commercials. Haven’t heard them yet? You need to change that.
…On the Heart is hard to pinpoint; while marinated in glowing nostalgia, it also manages to be a present-day, youthful rallying cry. It’s the soundtrack to that night many of us have had—when you get into the car just to drive, to think, with nowhere in particular to go.
Staying true to the title, this is a collection of songs for lovers and the heartbroken alike. Contemplative and calculated, it’s an older, wiser version of the reckless teenager that their debut album, Strike Hard Young Diamond was. Hurt for the first time, they’re less eager to wear their heart on their sleeves, replacing blind emotion and angst with a reserved sense of experience. And with this new sense of maturity comes a more refined sound. The layers stripped away, intensity emanates from the brooding melodies, and silence between beats.
While Dwayne Christie’s signature palpitating drums, and the adrenaline-infused gang vocals make a return on this album in some respect; there is nothing formulaic here. Just when you think you know where a song is going, it breaks down, or builds into something wonderfully unexpected.
Refusing to settle into the familiar patterns of their previous work, Wildlife has made conscious and pointed moves in new directions on this effort. ‘One for the Body’ and ‘Dangerous Times’ toy with a blue-collar rock vibe, channeling Springsteen, and The Arkells. A few others teeter dangerously on the edge of becoming ballads. ‘Don’t Fear’ in particular, saves itself with one of lead man Dean Povinsky’s patented tear-your-heart-out vocal wind-ups.
‘Lightning Tent’ may unravel into repetitions of “I will always let you down”, but don’t let that lower your expectations for this album. Polished, smart, and powerful, …On the Heart is a pensive journey through loss and love, and a natural next step for Wildlife as a band.
Top 10 Albums
It’s that time again, when I ask myself “which CDs did I bother to buy this year?” You read that correctly—yes, I still buy CDs, and yes my best-of list is based on personal preference. No album is getting on here because everyone else thought it was cool. And seeing that several of my very favourite bands made a comeback in 2013, it wasn’t difficult to compile this top ten:
1. AFI– Burials
If you know anything about me, this one will be no surprise. AFI would have to release something pretty awful in order for me to leave it off my favourites list. But this album is nowhere close to awful. In fact it marks a return of the old, dark and angsty band that caught my attention over 10 years ago (albeit with hints of their more recent synth-pop style.)
2. Nine Inch Nails– Hesitation Marks
This is another default pick, of sorts. Though I was initially disappointed at how hard this album wasn’t, it has since grown on me. And that’s the main idea here—growth. You’d be pretty bored if Trent released Downward Spiral ten times over, no?
This is undoubtedly the most heartbreaking album of the year. A bit of a departure from their folk-rock roots, Heartthrob is super poppy, heavily 80s-inspired, and will remind you of every breakup, and lost chance you’ve ever had. Get out the tissues.
4. Volbeat– Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies
I stumbled up this Danish band at the beginning of the year, and quickly fell in love. A peculiar hybrid of metal, rockabilly, and country, they’ve been compared to everyone from Metallica to Johnny Cash. While I’m not going to say this is the best release of their stellar 5-album catalogue, it is a great standalone piece, and a good introduction to their discography.
5. Ghost B.C.– Infestissumam
Another excellent discovery this year, Ghost—or Ghost B.C. as they’ve been forcibly named— is a Swedish metal side project. The catch is, no one knows whose side project it is. Following up on their incredible 2010 debut album, these Nameless Ghouls have released a piece that is way too good to be a sophomore effort.
6. Wildlife– On the Heart
The success Wildlife has been receiving with this album has been so great to see, considering how earthshaking (yet, almost unnoticed) their last effort was. A slower, somewhat mellower follow up to Strike Hard, Young Diamond, they show both maturation and musical growth on this release.
7. The Creepshow– Life After Death
The Creepshow changed singers (again), added an additional guitarist, and slightly altered their sound between album releases. The aptly titled, Life After Death may lean more towards punk than the horrorbilly/psychobilly the band is known for, but still boasts some standout tracks. Not to mention, it’s pretty tight for essentially being the debut release for this now-fivesome.
Check Out: Born to Lose, Take it Away
8. The Beaches– The Beaches EP
Want to feel like you’ve wasted your life? Check out this debut effort from a bunch of Torontonian high schoolers. Brash, catchy, sexy, and smart, these girls prove they’re already way cooler than you will ever be.
9. Queens of the Stone Age– Like Clockwork
I won’t lie, I wasn’t super enthused about this album at first. Slower and mellower, it seemed a lot less exciting than QOTSA’s previous efforts. Take a few listens, the multiple gems will begin to unearth themselves.
10. Chvrches– The Bones of What You Believe
Chvrches have achieved the seemingly impossible—putting out a chipper electro-pop album that doesn’t get tiresome halfway through. Seeming to take a page out of the Naked and Famous’ book, they keep things fresh by combining male and female vocals, and alternating between slow and upbeat tracks.
Lions, Tigers and Sharks!(?) Oh My
Wildlife at the Horseshoe
(Photo cred: Shawn Burgess/The Indie Machine)
May 11 2012
It was with much trepidation and excitement that I set foot into the Horseshoe on Friday May 11th to see Wildlife. I bought my ticket months in advance, having fallen in love with Strike Hard, Young Diamond, their debut album. But would they be able to pull off their multipart arrangements and anthemic gang vocals in a live setting? Would I go home disappointed?
Those fears began to subside before the set even began. Stage dressing is not usually bothered with at the ‘Shoe. But there it was, a hanging black drape and Dark Side of the Moon-esque triangle, glowing behind the drum kit. The lights dimmed as the band, their backs to the audience, launched into a drawn-out jam; playing the “what song is this gonna turn into?” game. Then, like a firing squad, every foot stepped forward, mouths to mics for ‘Stand in the Water’. Even drummer Dwayne came upstage to rap his sticks against the walls, the speakers. It was loud, full and spirited. A magnificent start.
The upbeat single ‘When I Get Home’ came next, though they rocked it like an encore. From the amount of sweat emitted by this point, it’s debatable whether they’d be able to play an entire set without burning out or shriveling up. But they did, providing the crowd endless opportunities to sing, pump their arms and dance along.
“This is usually the point of the show where we tell you to move up. But, well…” The band is overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and amount of people that stayed to catch their set (openers Reversing Falls, Topanga and Pkew Pkew Pkew Gunshots also drew crowds). The audience was reduced to kindergarteners with the introduction of two giant shark balloons (with moving tails!) which were piloted around the venue. The downside being that they produced so much childish glee that they distracted from the performance.
While Derek, Tim and Graham often changed up their positions and instruments between songs, lead singer and guitarist Dean remained centre stage. His voice, a curious mix of both Burt McCracken and Geddy Lee has the sensibility of an indie rocker and the passion of a screamo kid; as if he were tearing out his own heart with every uttered sound. And (sigh of relief) it sounds just as authentic in real life as it does on record.
The night seemed over after the emotive single ‘Sea Dreamer’ left everyone both exhausted and satiated. But with one last burst of energy, they riled the crowd one last time with ‘Money From God’. Having nearly played Strike Hard Young Diamond in its entirety, plus two songs from an upcoming record, Wildlife left fans wanting nothing more. Well, almost. The pining masses pulled them back on stage for a one song encore- a brilliant cover of The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley (Teenage Wasteland)’.