Act Your Age.... 20 Pound Shovel

Up until now I can't say I've ever felt a need to visit Manitoba, but that all changed when I listened to a pop punk band straight out of the prairies. They are 20 Pound Shovel, and if you haven't heard of them here in Ontario yet you will soon. Destined to be the next Alkaline Trio, the threesome comes at you with sexy riffs and eargasmic vocals, proving that Manitoba has a lot more to offer than giant bodies of water.

Their sound can be compared to a poppier Set Your Goals' (the latest album Mutiny... sans the hardcore) or earlier Ten Foot Pole or All Time Low (in a good way!) with the catchy harmonies, toe tappin' beats and lyrics that tell a story well enough to draw you deep into the heart of the songs. In Regret (track one) and Where is the Love (track three) particularly the verses are so well written that you feel every emotion the singer is portraying; from anger to uncertainty to heartache, comparable to the cutting lyrics of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Every track on this EP could be a single, each one standing out against the next. This is the kind of band you listen to on repeat for hours straight, desperate to get to know the songs well enough to sing along.

Through high energy songs and ear pleasing vocals that sound slightly unique to the genre, the boys sidestep the cheesiness that usually clings to a lot of pop punk bands and straight up rock the prairies dry. Since 2003 they've already put out one full length, one EP and shared a stage with the legendary Gob on more than one occasion. Currently in the recording studio laying down more soon to be hits, 20 Pound Shovel is about to be a name known all across Canada, putting the Manitoba music scene back on the map for 2008.

http://www.myspace.com/20poundshovel





I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

Gainsville City Limit

After 16 years together Less Than Jake is back with their 7th full length studio release. Following up the experimental In With The Out Crowd where LTJ canned most of the horns and rocked out mainstream (a minor accomplishment at best), they bring back the gritty ska punk again full force in GNV Fla.
The first song starts the album off soft, smooth and summery and if you close your eyes you'll probably envision lounging on a sunny patio with a cold beer... which is fitting considering the song is all about getting shitty in a small town. The horns are a sound for sore ears as they (finally) come in strong in the chorus.
Just when you're beginning to mellow out during the first track you explode into the second without pause, an encouraging punk rock song that only lacks a slight raw appeal of their older stuff, and the horns.
Don't dismay, they're are back with the single, Does The Lion City Still Roar. Again without hesitation, the horns blast their way through instantly to make up for the previous. Another dirty punk rawk song, this time with a mesmerizing bass line that acts like a magnet drawing your ear to the speaker.
Perfectly in tune to life in suburbia comes Summon Monsters, a song to all the parents of small town kids. Forget self-deprecation this time around, drinking, drugs, and a lack of money is all they have to complain about in this album.
If you weren't convinced already, the next few tracks serve as proof that LTJ is back and better than ever. Now with full control and their own label, Sleep It Off Records, the band gives pop-Nazi's Warner a big "fuck you" and the horn with these punk rock masterpieces.
The album isn't lacking all catch appeal though, in Golden Age of my Negative Ways they bring it back down with a song you can clap your hands to, full of fun horn lines and a beat not to be reckoned with.
Next comes Space They Can't Touch, a darker but still dancey song with a thrilling build up of horns paired with grimy guitar that all comes together in the chorus.
The rest of the album is no disappointment, with Buddy and JR making announcing their presence loud and clear on top of Chris and Roger splitting the vocals almost 50/50 for the first time, working together to create killer harmonies and perfect choruses.
The boys have shown that it's not hard to write pop songs and get played on the radio when they have to, and at the same time to evolve their own sound and return right back where they should always be: nitty, gritty ska punk at it's finest.





I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

America's Greatest Superstar

Adam Green’s fifth solo release is just about as far as he could go from his first. As opposed to acoustic-based folksy songs, Sixes&Sevens is twenty tracks of full, Vegas crooner-style sound. There is nothing is cooler than Adam’s baritone on this record.
The song-writing is the strongest from Adam so far. His previous albums are all triumphs of creativity; concepts, words, and sounds put together to form something completely unique. But Sixes&Sevens has that special quality of perfection about it. It’s sophisticated in the way the rhythms and melodies are layered on top of one another to build that big sound.
A diverse array of instruments and influences are used to create fully realized, well-formed songs. Gorgeous string and horn arrangements back the legendary Space Kamp throughout the album. Adam shows off his xylophone skills to mimic the sound of steel drums on “Tropical Island.” “Cannot Get Sicker” is a slick, soul influenced song with an addictive riff picked out on an acoustic. “That Sounds Like A Pony” feels more like a performance poem than a song as Adam recites it to changing beats hammered out on drums, bongos, and a cowbell. The disco-infused orchestration on “Twee Twee Dee” is grounded by a steady, galloping drumbeat, and works surprisingly well. “Leaky Flask” uses distortion on the guitars; a sharp contrast to the crystal-clear sound of the rest of the album.
But the highlight of the album is the fifth track, “Morning After Midnight.” “Morning” is a radio hit from another time. This song has the same “let’s just be happy and dance” feeling to it as two other Adam Green favourites, “Dance With Me” and “Emily.”
This is the best $14 you will spend this year, unless you caught Adam at the Horseshoe on June 7. That was a pretty good $14, too. But this record is required listening, nonetheless.





Sent to us by Lindsey Cull

Introducing...... The New Cities

Ever had one of those wet dreams in which punk, electro and pop all met up for a fantastic
menage a trois without it being super uncomfortable? Well those dreams are about to come true as I introduce you to 6 young men from Quebec who call themselves The New Cities.
A mere 3 years after the band's formation these boys have perfected this new super genre that many failed to pull off, and they know it. You can feel the confidence through the music, and it works with them to create one of the best stage performances I've seen in a long time, especially coming from an opening band. Paving the way for the Johnstones back in May 2008, the New Cities came on strong with a shit load of energy. There was never a dull moment in the direction of the stage as the killer upbeat songs made it absolutely impossible not to dance. Normally The Johnstones have no competition when it comes to their stage presence, but The New Cities definitely kept up and gave them a run for their money.
These guys bring it all to the table in just the right amounts, which is exactly what the music scene today needs. Appealing to fans of all types of genres, NC are so diverse that they could play with almost any band and have the crowd fall head over heels for them. A mix between The Faint and The Audition, the music sounds as if the boys took cues from all the (shitty) pop punk bands of the 90's and added a futuristic spin on it, somehow pulling it off and making it work...well. You try combining Taking Back Sunday with the electro clash of Men Women and Children without being cheesy and you'll understand just how difficult it is! With more hooks than a tackle box, these beats will reel you in faster than you can say "go fish". It's dancy with a twist of darkness, and the softer accented vocals compliment the hell out of the music.
The New Cities are going to be huge.
Keep an eye out for their new cd coming soon, there are a few songs on their myspace that show a lot of promise for an amazing album!





Sarah/Chris.

Here They Fall...err I mean, Here We Stand by the Fratellis

The Fratelli's recently released their second album titled Here We Stand, a follow up to the ever-so amazing Costello Music. The 2006 debut cd left me psyched to hear more, yet here I am listening to the latest and wishing I had never removed Costello Music from my player. Not to say that their softmore attempt isn't good, but it definitely cannot be compared to it's big brother. Nothing seems to stick out, it's not really a "singles" album like the previous. The tone of the album is a soft, semi-summertime feeling, which works considering it's about time to get out the Hawaiian shirts and sit on a patio pounding beer... but honestly, if I wanted a summertime album along these lines to relax to I would immediately trade this album in for anything from the Beach Boys to Vampire Weekend or even Jimmy Buffet.
I was expecting something a little more catchy from the Fratelli boys. Their signature (judging by the first album anyway) seems to be really upbeat music that you can dance like a fool to (or for the more conservative listener something you can clap your hands to) on top of gritty vocals that makes even the most tone deaf person sound good when they sing along. But with this album the boys missed their mark. I love the brit/pop rock with a passion and sadly this album upset me. I'm still listening to it and waiting for the hooks, something I can act a fool to, and I'm coming up empty handed each time through. What more can I say but lame dick!?! A good attempt, but that's all that it was. If I stop comparing it to the last album or other off da hook brit bands like bloc party or the cribs then I'd probably appreciate it more, but unfortunately for them that's not going to happen after such an amazing debut... whomp whomp!!!





It's Chris James Bitch. S my D.

Kathleen Turner Overdrive... Marauders! Wolves! Scavengers! Party!

On first listen to the debut ep from KTO the casual listener could categorize them as another southern-hardcore band and brush them off with all the rest. Unfortunately all you would be doing is kicking yourself in the teeth. This isn’t the average breakdown chugging hardcore we have all come to expect of local hardcore bands. This is one of the most impressive debuts I have heard in years, and if you had any doubts you will be convinced by the end of track 2. I would compare this record to the feeling you get when someone throws “back in black” on the record player at a house party, look the fuck out because things are gunna get outta hand, the exact same feeling overwhelms me during this record.
In a short amount of time these boys have conquered what most bands hope to accomplish in there existence. In just over a year they have recorded and distributed there own e.p. (re-released through Underground Operations with 2 new tracks) got a spot on this summers Wakestock as well as getting Richard Minino (www.horsebitesdesigns) to do there album art, That is pretty impressive onto itself.

Recommended for fans of: Botch/Daughters/ACDC/Gorgeous





Ryan “might not be perfect but sure is gorgeous” Dudnick.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly!!!

Some of you might have been wondering what all the commotion at the Molson Amphitheatre was the other night...
No, god didn’t throw up rainbow coloured poster paint and glitter. It was the annual True Colours concert EXTRAVAGANZA. For those of you (straight people) who are not sure what "true colours" is about let me break it down for you. It's a concert event that is presented by non other than the girl who just wants to have fun, Miss Cindy fucking Lauper! She gathers some of the finest and not so finest acts of the gay-friendly community, hops on a bus and travels North America promoting equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT).
This year some of the acts included, of course, the always beautiful Cindy Lauper, as well as the B-52’s, Rosie O’Donnell, Indigo Girls, the Cliks, and hosted by the ultra flaming Carson Kressley. Yeah, I know, the line up was kinda weak. Kinda really weak! I think Toronto got shafted when it came to performers, when artist listed to play on other tour dates included Tegan & MF’in Sara, Margaret Cho, Regina Spektor and Deborah Cox. The fact that most of the good acts didn't want to venture across the border (not even the Canadian ones **cough cough** T & S **cough cough**) didn't get me down though, I still had the Cliks, and miss Lauper.
The show began with an amazing, testosterone filled performance by the Cliks. “Oh Yeah Oh Yeah” the transgender lead pop punk group started on a high note and kept the energy up. Resembling the sound of The Distillers, the Cliks are able to combine angst ridden poetry with a pop punk melody that makes their music super fucking catchy and easy to relate/sing along to. As always, appealing to the queens in the crowd, they mash up covers of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” with Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”, which I have to say is fucking brilliant!!! Thanks ladies... I mean gentlemen.... I mean ladies and gentleman... well you know what I mean...
Moving on, the next to perform were the timeless Indigo Girls. A staple in the lezzie community, the girls brought their Birkenstocks, plaid and of course another love filled performance. Not much to say here but it was the Indigo Girls.
Following them were The B-52’s. Yeah, they are still around. And you may ask yourself “didn’t they only have one hit?”... Yes, remember the Love Shack??? The even sadder thing is that the band with only one hit under their belt was on the stage the longest!!! Yes, people, I am serious. What should have been a 20ish minute set went on for what seems like forever. Not to mention that every song played seemed to be a variation the that solid gold hit about a shack that we all love so much. Whomp whomp.. If it’s any consolation the B’s look good for about 60. Teehee!
Finally, what all you queens have been waiting for, the incomparable Miss Cindy Lauper. Of course, I cannot say a bad word about her or her performance. It was fantastic!! From the stage set up and props, to her outfits and her band, even the mediocre backup vocals from Rosie O'Donnell. Cindy’s vocals were a little off, but she made up for it when she covered Celine Dion’s “I Drove All Night”. At the end of the concert Cindy had all the performers come on stage join hands and voices to sing “True Colours”. This was, hands down, the best part of the night as well as the gayest!! Yes I said it.. cuz I can!!!
All in all I had an amazing time, despite the line up. I would recommend that anyone, gay or straight, young or old, should check out what us gay’s have to offer. You might be surprised that it’s not all rainbow flags, bad wigs and leather!





It's Chris James Bitch! S my D.

Chinese Democracy (You Snooze You Lose) aka Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace... new album from The Offspring (June 17th, 2008)

I almost crapped my pants when I foolishly believed rumours in April of the Offspring calling their latest album Chinese Democracy (You Snooze, You Lose).
Opting instead for the title Rise and Fall With Rage and Grace, the Offspring's follow up to Splinter is their 8th studio album, and is set for release on June 17th.
To be fair to the Offspring I'm not going to compare this to any former albums. According to a quote from the band on punknews.org "all our albums are relevant to punk when they were created, and this one will be no different..."
So, in comparison to punk today, I found this album weak. The intent to incorporate music of today is obvious, but I find it hard to believe that they were focused on "punk". It sounds more like Simple Plan meets 3 Doors Down for an Offspring cover album... or as if the Offspring collaborated with those bands and this is the aborted fetus from the sweaty romp.
Clearly designated to be top 40, it seems like the band is trying to appeal to the younger mainstream “punk” kids. At the same there are still some original Offspring harmonies and driving bass lines that soften the blow of the Daughtry-like rock songs.
While some songs threaten to take it back to Americana at best, the album has enough complete misses that I started to frantically search for something large and sharp to jam in my ear in order to end the torture. Fix You and A Lot Like You sound like they were written by Coldplay, sped up slightly and thrown onto this album in order to hide the similarities between all the rest of the tracks.
Maybe there's just no pleasing me lately, but so far this summer some of my timeless favourite bands have been letting me down with their 2008 releases (with the exception of No Use For a Name).
Especially now with the influences of Face to Face members Pete Parada and Scott Shiflett I was hoping for a little bit more from this album. (Side note: Who do I have to blow around here to get Face to Face back together for a new CD anyway?)

Here's a full album stream, listen for yourself:







Chris/Sarah.

Goodbye Wallflowers, Hello Jakob Dylan!

Before I even pressed play on this album I already had it in mind to write an amazing review on it... I have to admit, I'm completely bias as soon as I see the name "DYLAN" on anything.
However, I just looked at Jakob Dylan's tour schedule and there's no mother f'ing Toronto date... SHIT. PUSSY.
I'm furious.
Luckily for you this review might be a little bit more realistic now that I'm angry...


That's a lie.
I'm sorry, there just isn't anything negative to say about Jakob Dylan.
After the fifth time going through the album looking for any constructive critism so that I can have at least a bit of legitimasy in my review, I've come to the conclusion that there just isn't any.
Listen for yourself at www.myspace.com/jakobdylan and feel free to tell me what YOU think in the comments spot.

Forget the rock and roll that was the Wallflowers, this album has Jakob stripped down to beautiful, soft, acoustic folk songs. His underlying tones still remind me a bit of the Wallflowers, but only because of Jakob's signature style and raspy, hotsexx vocals. The rest is pure folk, deeper and darker than you've ever heard Jakob before.
The last name brings him a lot of pressure when it comes to writing music, especially as he enters the folk world his father dominated for so long.
Jakob does not disappoint.
Not surprisingly, J shares the more modern day political views of his father, and you can definitely pick out the strong influence he's had over Jakob's writing. It's nothing short of brilliant.
The album itself doesn't sound much like a Dylan record, but could compare to a gentler Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty.
While Bob Dylan has the voice of god, Jakob has the voice of Jesus. There is even one point in the song I Told You I Couldn't Stop, where his voice really resembles daddy's, and to be honest it almost made me cream my pants.
Each track is a masterpiece all in it's own, bringing you deep into every emotion Jakob puts out through his writing. The mood goes from sombre and subdued to cheerful and merry as you ride each note of his guitar, and by the end of the album he leaves you feeling perfectly satisfied.
Jakob describes his own album best in Up On The Mountains when he sings "You go down, you go deep, but you won't surrender a masterpiece."
All hail the Dylans.





I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

If you don't like it, you can shove it. But you don't like it, you love it.

Weezer's Back! With another self titled album (nicknamed the Red Album) Weezer enters the 2008 scene following up Make Believe with what I hoped would bring back the brilliance of the other self titled albums or Pinkerton....
I have to say I am pretty disappointed.
It starts out strong with the first two tracks incorporating fierce, grimy beats and the classic Weezer simplicity but quickly goes downhill from there once you hit Pork and Beans, the first single. This song is a hot mess, and not in a good way. After the first chorus I'm already bored to tears, reliving the horror of their last album *there were a few good songs, but nothing special*. This track definitely belongs on Make Believe. I know they wrote it as an answer to all their label bullshit, but it feels like it was too rushed and could have been a lot better. Sort of a last ditch effort to say "fuck you" to the label but ending up being a really shitty single which might have done more to prove their label right.
The rest of the album is nothing special, I could take it or leave it.
Interestingly enough River's doesn't sing on every track, and the ones where his vocals are absent barely resemble Weezer at all. Thought I Knew is an amazing track, and the vocals are fantastic, but when you keep in mind that it IS still Weezer it's a little discouraging.
All in all this album just seemed too long to me (even with just 10 tracks), and too repetitive even for Weezer. It's still an improvement from Make Believe though, cutting out the crap "I'm so broken hearted and alone" emo bullshit and incorporating more traditional humoured lyrics.
Despite the shit, the songs I enjoyed (The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Troublemaker, Thought I Knew...) are good enough that I'm not regretting this purchase. I just feel that if it was less filler and more Pinkerton-Esq then everybody would be a lot happier.





I'm Sarah. I do what I want.

Who says ska is dead...

The 19+ crowd, that's who.

At least lately, in my experience, it seems that way. Why is it that I feel like I'm the one spending a night away from the nursing home when I go to a ska show, and last time I checked I'm only barely legal to drink in the states, and I don't have any grey hair showing yet.

Ska music was born in never never land, it always stays within the 12 to 19 age range, never reaching adulthood, never growing up.

Don't get me wrong, that's the beauty of it. Those of us who still are kids at heart will never grow out of it, but at the same time I find myself picking up that Mad Caddies cd less and less these days, and who's even heard Catch 22 since we left behind our lockers in high school?

I was beginning to think it was inevitable that those cd's would eventually end their days collecting dust on my shelf, but at last I found hope in one local Ajax/Toronto ska band. They made me realize that you're never too old to go back to never never land.

The Johnstones are known for their wacky stage shows, the insane costumes, and their hilarious rhymes, but what stands out about their new release, titled SEX, is the fact that throughout the years they have always stayed true to their sound, but at the same time have matured with the audience members who have been there from the start, while still appealing to the younger newcomers.
While the songs are filled with wicked horn lines that remind you that the boys are still very much a ska band, the music has developed intensely over the last couple of years into something just short of amazing. Scratch that. It surpasses amazing.
The first time I heard it I was sold. I haven't taken it out of my cd player since, I listen to it for hours straight every day, over and over, and it just isn't enough. I want more!
It feeds every hunger inside of me... The joking undertones they have seeping through each track, especially the infamous raps, make me laugh every time. There is enough of a pop influence that it's catchy and you can sing along, but at the same time they completely rock out with guitar solo's and siq (with a 'q') bass lines. And the horns! Oh the horns, what would ska be without them?
With a good amount of mainstream appeal, it's relieving to realize that these boys have different kind of girl problems than we're so used to (and very tired of) hearing about lately! No sob stories here, it almost feels as if this could have been Hot Hot Heat's B-sides if they started off as a ska band.
Bottom line, this band fucking rocks.
Buy the album. SEX.
It'll even inspire you to revisit that old Mighty Mighty Bosstones cd that's hidden underneath a thick coat of dust over there... no, right there.... see that dust? That's it... see it? Good.



Rating:


I'm Sarah. I do what I want.