Music Quickspins

Quickspins: Olivia Rodrigo — GUTS

On her sophomore album, the pop princess rocks out and reflects.

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR was accompanied by one of the speediest, meteoric rises to pop superstardom in recent memory. Her breakup ballad “drivers license” blew up on arrival, debuting and remaining at #1 on the Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks. She earned a second chart-topper with the pop-punk hit “good 4 u,” and would go on to win three Grammy awards for the album. 

Her sophomore record GUTS takes cues from the winning formula on SOUR, bringing its style and writing to new heights. With an increased rock flair and equally captivating songs, GUTS is poised for as much success as its predecessor, if not more. The writing on GUTS shines as it successfully explores its overarching theme of relationships and breakups from different avenues, while also differing in tone from one track to another. 

“bad idea right?” and “get him back!” are tongue-in-cheek tracks where the popstar contemplates getting back with her ex. On the latter, she playfully sings about wanting “to meet his mom, and tell her her son sucks,” playing off the song’s double meaning of revenge and reconciliation. “pretty isn’t pretty” is a standout that describes the incessant insecurity that results from chasing unrealistic beauty standards and the sinking feeling of realizing that they cannot be reached. “lacy” reads like a love-hate letter from the singer to a figurative woman where she blurs the line between complimenting and envying Lacy’s character. 

Other tracks include select lyrics that perfectly capture their song’s essence. “It takes strength to forgive, but I don’t feel strong” is a poignant lyric on “the grudge” that perfectly embodies the exhaustion that results from manipulation in a relationship. 

GUTS leans into the pop-rock and pop-punk sound far more than SOUR, and its tracks are all filled with driving, groovy basslines, and roaring electric guitars. The pop-punk groove, drums, and guitar licks on “bad idea right?” are addictive, and “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “get him back!” are high-energy pop-rock jams. 

On the other hand, less is more for some of the album’s ballads. Softer tracks like “lacy” and “logical” feature minimalist production consisting almost solely of soft guitars or somber pianos. The album also has great pacing, with songs like “all-american bitch” and “vampire” starting off slow and building towards explosive rock passages, including both styles within the same song—the latter even being a continuous crescendo across its nearly four-minute runtime.

Rodrigo’s vocal performances are commendable on the album. Her rock performances are shouted, energetic, and in-your-face, whereas her balladry is soft-spoken and passionate. “get him back!” features a standout, anthemic hook that is reminiscent of Joan Jett. The outro “teenage dream” also excels at both: Rodrigo’s falsetto repetitions of “it gets better” feel like a warm hug of reassurance, before the track collapses into a rock release as she cathartically ponders “what if it don’t?”  She also often layers soft, angel-like vocal lines and “ahhh’s” behind her lyrics, harmonies that add lots of colour to the verses they lie beneath (as best done on “bad idea right?” and “vampire”). 

This combination of varied writing, vocal performances and styles, and production is what makes GUTS such an enjoyable record. No matter how brazen or blissful the songs are, Rodrigo’s writing is raw and relatable, her performances are passionate, and the production is the perfect palette to soundtrack it all. GUTS is filled with energetic hits and captivating ballads, and many of its tracks showcase the potential to reach the same chart-topping heights that “vampire” already has.

Trial track: vampire 

Score: 8/10

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: I and II – John Frusciante

 RHCP guitarist delivers an album out of left field

If you like ambient noise or are a synth nerd that likes fiddling around with drones and beep-boop chatter, then you’ve come to the right place. John Frusciante, most known for his role as guitarist in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, just released his 13th studio album.

While this album might give people like my girlfriend anxiety, I can safely say that it helped me zone in on tasks that I had to accomplish (for instance, this review). 

Frusciante is known for his creative prowess in writing music, namely on guitar. However, this album takes it one step further in the realm of ambient synth music.

While Frusciante isn’t wading in uncharted waters with synthesis, vinyl-only I and digital/CD release II take the cake for his approaching a different method of songwriting. In his words, he “listened to and made music where things generally happen gradually rather than suddenly.” He used two analog synthesizers or groove-boxes from the company Elektron to make this ambient album. 

The album starts off with a harsh cicada-like synth on “Golpin.” The “trees are screaming” sound slowly evolves, allowing a sub-octave oscillator to fit in the mix. Five minutes into the 12-minute track, the wave takes an eerie turn with a slowly descending plucked sound, giving me the feeling that I’m being watched and followed.  

“Blesdub Dot” first starts off with what sounds like a two-oscillator waveform that has a smooth low-frequency output. What that means is that the sound rhythmically switches to a lower frequency at a set interval. Throughout the song, Frusciante implements a high-frequency wave with high-pass treble glitch noises. They sound like white noise chatter. 

This album is a bit weird for me to have a favourite track on. I would rather choose the songs that were busier than others. The first one being “Pyn,” for its ’90s-style chatter that tickled my brain the same way that “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball [Chosen by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett]” does with its rounded percussive notes. My next recommended song is “Clank” because it would fit right into the official soundtrack of a thriller or eerie movie.  

Honestly, I can say I enjoyed listening to this album. It’s not an easy listen for sure. In an age where music has to have a lot of shock value (trap stars I’m looking at you), and has multiple sharp twists and turns per song, this LP takes time to introduce new ideas to you. Best for working on programming, writing Stephen King-esque novels and cramming for exams with forbidden white noise.

P.S. Don’t listen to “Glavation” if you get easily overwhelmed.  

Trial track: Pyn 

Rating: 8/10 (for ambient drones’ sake!)


Mercury Messiah is Starbound with their new single

The Laval band has released their third single, “Starbound”

Mercury Messiah has just released their latest single “Starbound” on Friday, Jan. 7. The release kicks off 2022 for the group and is their third overall song released. Originating from Chomedey, Laval, the band released two singles: ”Sunlight Surfing” and “Mercury Messiah” last year. 

The track “Starbound” starts off with a punchy four-chord riff delivered by Mano Diles, the lead guitarist and backup singer of the band. Diles wrote the riff when he was just fifteen years old so he felt an immense sense of accomplishment when the band finished writing the song in 2019. Johnny Dims, lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and tambourine player wrote the lyrics and cites his mother as a major influence.  

“My mom is a writer and ever since I was a young kid, I was always surrounded by books and words and developed an affinity for it, and that’s where I developed a love for the arts,” said the Concordia graduate.

Corrado Johnston, the bassist, laid down two layers for the bass guitar section of the song, one for the low end and the other to cut through the mix. This is reminiscent of classic rock groups, who often used similar techniques to maximize space in their songs to make them sound more full. Bands like The Who with “Eminence Front,” or Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” both showcase double-tracking of the bass. The majority of the mixing and mastering comes not only from Johnston but Alex Brunel as well, the band’s drummer.  

Mercury Messiah’s main influences are Rush, a progressive Canadian national treasure, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, but they’re not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. “We don’t want to box ourselves in,” said Johnston. They will write songs that are rock, sing-along, and anthem-poppy, like “Sunlight Surfing” and “Starbound,” but then write very prog-induced psychedelia and heavier singles like “Mercury Messiah.” “I’m gonna throw myself under the bus dude, my number one played artist of 2021 was Dua Lipa,” said Diles.

The last verse of “Starbound” includes the lyrics “It’s clear that her life is starbound, the simple life’s now got her down, my baby’s stuck in her hometown,” with the last line repeating for five more times. This line took an ironic turn when the Omicron variant made everyone stuck in their hometown.

“The timing was kind of perfect but in a bad way, all of the shows got cancelled again and we literally released the song as we were stuck in our hometowns so it was appropriate,” said Brunel.  

For now, they are currently working on releasing their upcoming EP and LP. The band is set to perform on the third of June at Petit Campus! See you then? 


Photograph by Peter Tsoraidis             


[spotifyplaybutton play=”″]





A gateway to classic rock: how Guitar Hero and Rock Band kept rock alive

I can still remember my first time playing a Guitar Hero game pretty well. I couldn’t have been more than 11 years old; I was at my childhood best friend’s house and after days of him talking about how fun it was, he finally booted up Guitar Hero II on his PlayStation 2. Little did I know that that one time playing would have had such a long-lasting impact on my life.

From the moment that I saw the stylized animated intro that featured the likes of in-game playable characters and rock stars Axel Steel and Judy Nails, I was completely immersed. As we scrolled through the menu, with a guitar strum indicating every confirmed selection we made, we got to the list of songs, and it’s a list that greatly impacted the music that we consumed through the years following.

A lot of people probably can’t confidently tell you where they first heard Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” or classics like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” or even Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In The Name,” but I can — sitting on that couch, next to my best friend. We played and played, becoming acquainted with some phenomenal music as we tried our hardest to hit every note (well, as someone who hadn’t played yet and didn’t have the guitar peripheral, my “medium”-est).

Guitar Hero II and its successors, as well as the Rock Band series, may not have introduced me to classic rock, but they were definitely the catalyst in pushing my interest in the genre further. I think this is a pretty common feeling among people who are in my age group.

Obviously, a lot of the songs included in these games were staples in CHOM’s rotation, and as a kid in Montreal, that was a station I was familiar with through the adults in my life. But what made me really take interest in these songs, was the repeated listens that came with repeated attempts at perfecting them in these games. 

What started as a single gaming session with a friend soon turned into me being an avid player of the games that followed, which kept me diving into decades of some of the greatest music ever produced. As a kid who grew up primarily being a fan of hip hop as well as listening to a lot of the popular alternative, punk and emo acts of the time, these games were game-changers. I don’t know if I ever would’ve taken the plunge into the hundreds of albums I’ve listened to since that first time playing.

These two series are what piqued my interest in several of my favourite artists of all-time. From Black Sabbath to Nirvana to David Bowie, and many more, all of these artists have had a tremendous impact on me and the way I view and consume music. I mean, they’ve even impacted the way I dress, considering that I wear shirts that display some of these bands literally all the time.

This was the real beauty that these games held. Sure, they were polished and fun games, but beyond that, they opened the eyes of many kids/teens like myself to the fantastic music that came before us. They were a way of bridging a generational gap that existed within music, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.

It’s not unusual for a video game to leave an impact on someone who plays it, but the lasting impact that the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games have had in my life, and many others’, shouldn’t be overlooked. The games may have come and gone pretty quickly, peaking and tinkering off within a few years, but their impact outside of gaming can’t be understated, and can still be felt today.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


The Madcap Laughs: a glimpse of Syd Barrett’s potential

Syd Barrett’s post-Pink Floyd career is too wild to be ignored.

Syd Barrett’s legacy is often spoken about as the tragedy of a man who lost his mind, and later serving as the muse of various works by Pink Floyd years after he had left. Rarely is he remembered for bringing together the initial members of Pink Floyd or even giving them their band name. In his brief time with Pink Floyd, he wrote eight of out 11 tracks on Pink Floyd’s debut studio album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and a handful of other songs before his infamous departure from the band in 1968 as a result of deterioration due to psychedelic abuse.

As a solo artist having been outcast from Floyd, Barrett began recording his debut solo album, The Madcap Laughs. Recording began in 1968 but was postponed due to a brief psychiatric stint. A year later in 1969, Barrett returned to finish recording of the project at Abbey Road Studios with production of the album handled mostly by Malcolm Jones. Additional production help and instrumental assistance came from Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

The 1970 album itself is a self-contained thirteen track composition. Opening track “Terrapin” sets the tone for the album with simple acoustic guitar chord progressions while Barrett narrates what seems to be a love story: “‘Cause we’re the fishes and all we do / The move about is all we do.” Coincidentally, on Pink Floyd’s 1975 eponymous album, Gilmour sings “We’re just two lost souls / Swimming in a fish bowl,” on “Wish You Were Here.” While it is known that “Wish You Were Here” was recorded as a tribute to Barrett, this lyric in particular sees a 29-year-old David Gilmour appearing to wink at Barrett’s solo work.

As the album progresses, tracks “Love You” and “Here I Go” solidify the album with a variety of stream-of-consciousness lyrics and simple drum beats. There is a child-like musical quality provided by a combination of acoustic and electric guitars with a subtle level of distortion. Though this album has less of a distinctive sound compared to Barrett’s other works, it still finds a way to build and morph into a simpler outlet of psychedelic pop fused with folk-like guitar lines. “Octopus” is the album’s most telling song of Barrett’s self narrated descent into insanity, with the song telling a tale of an LSD trip and becoming stuck in a state of madness, “Trip, trip to a dream dragon / Hide your wings in a ghost tower / Sails cackling at every plate we break.”

While the lyrics are sometimes disorganized, hard to fathom and sometimes pose a puzzle for listeners, that’s part of his greatness as a lyricist. As seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a lot of Barrett’s lyrics seemed to be pulled out of unlikely sources of inspiration. This makes a lot of his songs head-scratchers when taken literally, but his breaking of rhyme schemes and playing with simple and complex words tossed around with irregular syntax create a unique blend of spoken word poetry and happily upbeat songs. In an interview with Rolling Stone, when talking about Barrett’s solo work Gilmour said “Some of [Barrett’s lyrics], quite often it felt like he was making them up as he went along … they all definitely mean something to him, but there’s a sort of barrier between him and me and anyone else that prevents us from being able to hear it.”

Barrett further shows his mental depth on the release by quoting two 19th century poets throughout the album’s tracklist. The first being “Golden Hair,” which sees Barrett reciting a poem titled “Lean Out Of The Window” by James Joyce over an acoustic guitar. The latter is part of the first verse in “Octopus,” where he uses part of a poem by Sir Henry Newbolt’s “Rilloby-Rill.”

If Syd Barrett’s musical potential were a house, The Madcap Laughs is only a room. While the album is not a top-tier polished work of art that has stood the test of time such as other albums by his Pink Floyd counterparts, it does have a variety of moments that are telling of Barrett’s promise as a musician. As the album draws to a close with its funhouse lyrics and punchy sounds, Barrett answers questions about his potential, yet leaves new ones for listeners who wondered “What if? about the late musician. 


The day Led Zeppelin cemented themselves in history

50 Years Later, Led Zeppelin III is still a massive shift and it paid off massively

From the moment drummer John Bonham and guitarist Jimmy Page connected on “Good Times, Bad Times” and introduced the world to Led Zeppelin, very few could claim to have had as influential or successful a run. Twelve years and eight albums later, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones — along with Bonham and Page — have one of the most impressive discographies in the history of music.

One of the most pivotal moments was the release of their third record — Led Zeppelin III — which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year on Oct. 5. Following the successes of Led Zeppelin I and II, Plant and Page took refuge from the incessant touring in a small cottage in Wales. Once there, they fully embraced the folky, psychedelic, and — most notably — acoustic sounds they had been toying with over the past few months.

The 18th-century cottage in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales was where the majority of the album was written. The result was a collection of songs that were a sharp turn away from what came to be expected of Led Zeppelin.

The shock following one of the biggest hard rock bands releasing acoustic material was not unlike the reaction to Bob Dylan going electric just five years earlier. It was vitriolic, with many people accusing the band of selling out or “going soft,” when in reality the signs were already there. They had already experimented with some of the sounds found on their third record and it should come as no surprise that they built on it.

Their previous record, which was appropriately named Led Zeppelin II, had a much more blues-based sound, so they were willing to experiment with other sounds and techniques. The writing was on the wall for a massive shift in style.

Plant — along with the rest of the band—went from high-flying, rock-n-roll sex gods to hippie farmers and they seemed perfectly at home in those roles. While “Immigrant Song” was all you would expect from the hottest band in the world at the time, the record’s opening track was the only hard rock song in the album.

Even though songs like “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Out on the Tiles” have electric instruments, the same sound that runs through the entire album is still incredibly present. While the entirety of the project wasn’t written during Page and Plant’s Welsh vacations, it’s impossible to deny its influence.

This record was a massive commercial risk. From an artistic standpoint, however, it seemed almost inevitable. In more than one interview Page and Plant explained how the band had been experimenting with similar sounds for some time and a full-length project seemed more and more like a natural evolution of “Zep’s” style and aesthetic.

One could write a series of novels on Led Zeppelin III. It’s a groundbreaking album that both stunned and divided fans in a way that only cemented their legacy as one of the most technically proficient and versatile bands of all time.


Tyla Yaweh celebrates rock contemporaries opening for the “Runaway Tour”

The “Runaway Tour” opener discussed Billie Joe Armstrong, travelling the world, and his upcoming album.

Tyla Yaweh is a name you may have heard recently, especially if you were one of the thousands that filled the Bell Centre in mid-February to see Post Malone’s arena debut in Montreal. The Florida sensation has been following Post Malone around the world for over a year, opening the show to packed stadiums on the “Runaway Tour” all across North America and Europe, and just about anywhere else you’d expect a Post Malone fan to reside these days.

The opportunity has allowed Tyla to gain new fans while continuing to build his discography. His first project, Heart Full of Rage, was released in February 2019, and the 24-year-old artist continues to release singles to ride on his momentum and prepare fans for his upcoming sophomore album. The tour has also allowed him to make new friends, including two of his childhood idols who appeared in the video for his most recent single, “High Right Now Remix”—Wiz Khalifa and Billie Joe Armstrong.

“I got really cool with Billie from this Oakland show we did,” said Tyla of the Green Day frontman. “He pulled up there and like, it’s crazy—that’s Green Day. My sister used to give me all the Green Day albums. And then I met Billie Joe, we finally talked, and then just became real good friends. [We] started texting and hanging out and going to parties and getting drunk together.”

Tyla describes the Wiz Khalifa collaboration coming to fruition over their mutual love of weed and Tyla’s desire to put one of his inspirations on one of his tracks. Tyla featured Billie Joe in the video after he asked for sample clearance for Khalifa, who sang his verse in the melody of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

While the pairing may seem odd at first, Tyla Yaweh credits rock for his love of music just as much as he does rap, citing early influences such as Worldview, The Used, The Strokes, and Kings of Leon.

“That’s the stuff that I love hearing,” he said. “Like discovering the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, the CBGB era from like David Bowie, Madonna, all those people who came up out of that era. It made me really search it up and be like ‘Oh man, this stuff is interesting.’ It just reminded me of what the music industry still is. There are rock stars in this game that are still crazy as fuck, outspoken, artistic as hell, and just starting trends, you know.”

Tyla Yaweh sits with Jacob Carey before his opening performance on the “Runaway Tour” – Photo by Louis Pavlakos

His touring buddy, beer pong rival (to whom he lost $50,000 USD), and recently matching-tattoo partner is no different.

“[Post Malone] broke the barriers for a lot of people, just by coming out with ‘White Iverson’ and ‘I Fall Apart,’” Tyla said. “His range is so wide and it gives a lot of other people opportunities who just want to discover new sounds and not be inside a box.”

Tyla categorizes himself within that group of people, fusing hip hop and rock influences to create sounds that he one day hopes to be synonymous with his stage name. The artist says that one of his main goals is to continue to deliver music that offers listeners newer and more relatable stories, rather than rehashing the same old tales onto new beats. Tyla also prides himself on his music being timeless, hinting at all his songs that he stows away that can be released at any opportune time.

“I think all my music is important to me,” he said. “I’m making it, and I’m not going to just make a song that isn’t important. There’s a lot of songs we do that just won’t come out, but I still cherish all my music because one day, in three years, I can drop that song and it’ll still mean something to the world. People won’t even realize that I did that three, four years ago.”

Tyla is currently in the process of recording his Heart Full of Rage follow-up. A release date has not yet been announced.

“Right now we’re still working on my album,” he said. “It’s called Rager Boy. We got a lot of dope artists on there. I’m excited for it. We almost done. We’re just structuring it, still mixing things down, still putting certain songs that we want to hear on it. It’s gonna be a surprise for everybody.”

Later that evening on stage, Tyla is humble and does not strut with a god complex found in most artists. While performing his set, Tyla hops off stage on more than one occasion to mingle with the crowd below him. During “Wraith Skating,” the rapper is found wilding out with fans all the way in the stands to the left of the stage before going back on stage to play the Wiz Khalifa-assisted remix “High Right Now” as the music video played on screens behind him. As Tyla Yaweh exits the stage, he enters the crowd one final time to give out high fives to those closest to the stage, demonstrating that he is both genuine and personable, on-stage and off.

Feature photo by Louis Pavlakos


Rap fans: where’s your loyalty?

In 2015, a Spotify employee released statistics related to genre consumption and fan loyalty. Of the 1,300 genres that were analyzed, metal heads were found to be the most faithful to their genre.

Spotify’s measurement of loyalty was the number of streams divided by the number of listeners, and under this criteria, the streaming platform is telling us that metal fans mostly listen to metal music. While this comes as no surprise to me, I had a question of my own: which fanbase is most loyal to their favourite artists?

As an avid hip hop head and rock ‘n’ roll fanatic, I ask myself this question because I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum.

Although I love rock ‘n’ roll, I’m a man who tends to revisit the classics instead of trying to dig through the crowd of ‘meh’ artists that we label as rock stars these days, to find something worth listening to. That being said, there’s no shortage of classics, as the golden age of rock that was the 60s and 70s have left us with an infinite amount of lifelong jams. The best part of it all is that these rock stars remain legends to this day, despite the material they may have released in their later years, which gained no significant traction in the music industry.

Paul McCartney. The Rolling Stones. Bob Dylan. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Elton John. KISS. Ozzy Osbourne. The list goes on and on.

While some of these artists have released newer material in the past decade, the large majority continue to tour and sell out stadiums while playing through the same recycled songs that they wrote decades ago; some as far back as half a century. These men are legends and can do no wrong. Even if any were to hypothetically release an album in 2020 that completely flopped, their legacy would not be tarnished. They’d continue to sell out arenas fast, and would be absolved of all their sins, courtesy of their loyal fan base.

I don’t think the same can be said about the rap industry…

As an avid hip hop head, I’ve seen how quickly the tides can change and bring a hero to zero in mere months. Chance the Rapper’s most recent album, The Big Day, may be one of the best examples of a praised artist who developed a cult following after a string of successful albums, only to make one mistake and be persecuted in the hip hop community. Chance’s decision to dedicate an entire album to his newlywed didn’t sit well with most fans and he went on to say that he believed they wanted him to kill himself for releasing it.

While this is the most recent example that comes to mind, this lack of loyalty that comes along with the unwillingness to let rappers experiment in their works is not new. Kid Cudi, the “lonely stoner” who opened up doors for hip hop artists to address the struggles of mental health, and who connected with millions of youth on a personal level, gradually faded from the spotlight with the release of his experimental works Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven and Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon. T-Pain, the pioneer of autotune, announced last week that he would be cancelling his upcoming tour due to low ticket sales. Last year, Nicki Minaj cancelled her joint tour with Future for similar reasons despite reigning as the queen of hip hop for quite some time.

Rock stars seem to be free to experiment with their works and make below-par projects once they have reached legendary status – no one seems to mind. The same cannot be said for rappers. Unfortunately, it seems like they’re only ever as good as their last release and there is little room for mistakes. Tough crowd, to say the least.

While rock fans treat their favourite artists as best friends in good times and in bad, hip hop heads seem to treat them as mere acquaintances no matter how close they once were.

Is it possible that this change in loyalty is due to the accessibility of music in the streaming era where artists are easily disposable and replaced by one of their peers? Does this accessibility create a generational gap that takes away from the attachment older generations once had with artists after waiting for their vinyl, physically going to the store to purchase it, and finally spending hours in awe as the record was spinning? Both are possible.

There seems to be only one definite solution to maintaining a lifelong legend status in the rap world. Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur remain the game’s most respected rappers of all time, but both of their legacies were cut short by their untimely deaths. Biggie only ever released two albums, while Tupac had time to drop five. Their careers were not long, but maybe that was for the best. Who knows the hit their legacy could have taken had they released a less than spectacular album.

Maybe the only solution to guaranteeing eternal legend status in the rap game is to die on top.


GIF by @sundaeghost



Two albums post-Tom Delonge, Blink-182 sounds self-aware, embracing angsty past

Don’t be mistaken. NINE is nothing like turn-of-the-millenia Blink. The band’s latest album revives their old sound, owning up to their angsty punk-rock origins and facing Mark Hoppus’ ongoing battle with depression. It’s safe to say that the band has successfully found their footing after co-lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Delonge, left the band in 2015. Delonge, who co-founded the band with Hoppus while they were in college, gave the band their reputation for being immature prankster heartthrobs.

Their evolved sound lies somewhere between electronic and alt-rock, using contemporary production techniques to put forward anthems and quick bangers for new and old fans alike, such as “I Really Wish I Hated You” and” Pin the Grenade”. If you haven’t listened to these legends before, I really recommend diving into their old youtube videos before listening to the new tracks to really get a grasp of how much Delonge’s replacement, Matt Skiba (from Alkaline Trio), has helped their musical growth.


Trial Track: “Darkside”

Star Bar:

Photographs of you are still haunting my halls/

Still framed in blue, saying nothing at all/

Sacrifice myself, leave me dead in the sun/

Put it on a shelf, leave it there for everyone to see (“No Heart To Speak Of”)


Uncle Acid in the Graveyard

The Deadbeats and Graveyard flood Corona with smoke

Long hair. Leather. A fascination with the occult. House lights dim as a smokey haze rises.

Someone spills beer on your shoe. Riff-driven sonic psychedelia bounces from wall to wall, very noticeably travelling through your ear canals on its supersonic yet sluggish coma-inducing journey. Welcome to the stoner rock concert.

Local consumers of all stoner-related sounds converged at the Corona Theatre this past

Friday for an evening of European psychedelic madness. Gothenburg hard-rock outfit Graveyard delivered an eclectic show, assisted by British act Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats and English alternative-rock openers Demob Happy.

The timing was nothing short of perfect. With Trudeau’s recent green legalization still fresh to the city, its effect on the stoner rock culture could be seen in full force that night. From the sea of synchronized bobbing heads to the venue’s questionable air quality, this concert was very much a celebration of Canadian freedom and local drug culture. While the signs said to keep it nine meters from the door, I’m not sure people understood that didn’t mean towards the venue’s interior.

While Demob Happy’s daunting flavour of alternative rock served as a worthy competitor to Graveyard and Uncle Acid’s massive sounds, unfortunately they served only as an enjoyable prelude. It wasn’t a fair competition though, as with stoner rock, volume often triumphs over quality, and we all know that the sound guys turn the volume up a notch on the soundboard each time another band takes the stage.

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats conquered with their grooving southern/desert rock sound. Despite sounding fairly similar to contemporary acts such as Kyuss and Orange Goblin, with Black Sabbath influence oozing out of their performance, Uncle Acid’s constantly-rumbling tone was used to full effect during this show. All of their songs seem to be built around these groovy riffs that could entertain on repeat. Unfortunately, the keyboardist in charge of delivering the band’s ominous vibe could not be heard over the incessant guitar riffs and percussion hits, rendering him fairly useless. It’s a shame too, as it looks like they brought in a session keyboardist for this tour.

While Uncle Acid and his rag-tag gang of long-haired bandits engaged in ceremoniously worshipping the riff for a little over an hour, Graveyard succeeded with longer song compositions, all ultimately detonating at their well-teased conclusions. Starting at a mellow pace, building up through song progression, and finally leading to an intense sonic culmination seems to be Graveyard’s bread and butter formula.

The general rule is that live performances usually sound better than songs in-studio, especially with how loud these bands get. Graveyard was no exception. It was one of those incrementally-surprising evenings. I haven’t been to a show in a few months, so the familiar air and concert atmosphere got me pumped up during Demob Happy’s performance. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats followed suit; most people seemed to be enthralled in the group’s incessant riffing. I thought that was the night topper, but of course Graveyard stole the show in momentous fashion. This is not a tour to miss, and I don’t even smoke. Imagine what a stoner would say.


Fans of all ages come out for Teenage Fanclub

When you are a band that Kurt Cobain consistently cited as one of his favourites, your reputation can tend to precede you.

Yet, Teenage Fanclub’s near 30-year career of being “musicians’ musicians”—Noel Gallagher also referred to them as “the second best band in the world” at the height of Oasis’s popularity—doesn’t seem to have created any inflated egos among them.

“If someone told us when we first wrote these songs when we were 20, that we’d still be playing them now,” said singer and guitarist Norman Blake to the crowd two songs into the band’s set at Petit Campus on March 9, trailing off before finishing the thought.

The gratitude they feel to still be playing sold-out rooms (albeit not the theatre-sized rooms they used to play) was clear from the first song, as Blake’s faced beamed with an uncontrollable smile, locking eyes with the other members as they found their timing together.

The band’s cult status has helped them maintain a solid fan base through ups and downs of popularity. However, the music itself, with timeless lyricism and a preternatural ear for melody, is arguably what has kept them consistently accumulating new fans over the years. That fact was present among the delighted onlookers: while there were plenty of older indie-rockers with touches of grey in their hair, there were also many who couldn’t have been far out of their teenage years.

The band elected to start their set with the opening tracks from their two most successful albums, 1995’s Grand Prix and 1997’s Songs from Northern Britain.

Both songs (“About You” and “Start Again”) were written by Blake, and unfortunately the crowd would be denied other classic singles such as “Sparky’s Dream” and “Ain’t that Enough,” written by recently-departed bassist Gerard Love. He retired from touring last fall after the band performed their first five albums in chronological order across three nights in Glasgow.

Emerging from a British independent music scene in late 80s that hadn’t quite figured out what was going to come after New Wave and synth-pop, Teenage Fanclub fused howling, massively distorted guitars with a penchant for the power pop of 70s bands like Big Star and Cheap Trick and harmonies of 60s pop-rock of bands like the Byrds. In doing so, they somehow anticipated both the Grunge movement in the United States and the Britpop movement of their home country. While never quite gaining the mainstream success of other 90s alternative acts, their career always seemed to hew close to the most important things happening in alternative music.

Their 1990 independent debut album, A Catholic Education, was released in North America on the then-newly founded Matador Records, and was the first release to attract considerable attention to a label that would go on to help make the careers of bands like Pavement, Sleater-Kinney and Modest Mouse.

Their breakthrough single, “The Concept,” released ahead of their 1991 major-label debut Bandwagonesque, seemed ahead of the curve, perfectly capturing the sarcastic aloofness that would define 90s alternative rock, with lyrics like “she says she don’t do drugs, but she does the pill.” That album famously beat out Nirvana’s Nevermind to be named album of the year by Spin magazine.

As the night progressed, the band would jump from brand new material in “Everything is Falling Apart,” a single released in February and penned by lead guitarist Raymond McGinley, to songs only for the hardcore fans such as “Only With You” from 2005’s Man-Made and “My Uptight Life” from 2000’s Howdy!, interspersing it all with other highlights from their more popular albums, such as “Alcoholiday,” “Your Love Is the Place Where I Come From” and “Verisimilitude.”

At this point, the crowd seemed to be getting a bit antsy as “The Concept” had yet to make an appearance. The consummate showmen they are, Teenage Fanclub saved the best for last, playing it to close out their set before returning for a short encore that included a cover of The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” and their first ever single release “Everything Flows.”

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Technicolor Dreamers – Aperitivo

The Italian word for appetizer, Aperitivo is a 5-track debut EP from Montreal rock band Technicolor Dreamers. The length of the EP, clocking in at 20 minutes, forces the group to put their best work forward with high-quality production, dance-worthy instrumentals and catchy vocals from lead singer Alex Sciola. At times, their tracks sound as if they took inspiration from the Smiths or early Kings of Leon–high compliments for the first project of any up-and-coming group. The opening song, “What If We Could Dance?,” sets the precedent for the rest of the EP, although the latter tracks evolve from softer, slower vibes to heavier rock ‘n’ roll. The heaviest is “No Time For Trouble (Live Version),” which mimics a live recording without taking a hit to sound quality.

If Aperitivo is supposed to be an appetizer for what is to come, we look forward to seeing what Technicolor Dreamers have prepared for the piate principale.

Rating: 8.5/10

Trial Track: The Lizard

Star Bar: “What if we could dance until our feet fell from the ceiling? What if I could say three words that didn’t have a meaning?” — Technicolor Dreamers on “What If We Could Dance?”

Exit mobile version