Archive for toronto

Half-assed Show Reports: Spectral Voice & Primitive Man @ Lee’s Palace

Posted in Random Riffage with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by Ben

After a frigid walk that felt more like December than spring, my companion and I arrived at the venue just as the nights opener, Minors, were about halfway through their set. There were a decent amount of bodies in attendance already, which is nice to see after going to so many shows where the opening band has to wail away at an empty room. They played a good set, going through their own hybrid of hardcore and powerviolence with plenty of proficiency. Their most recent album was Atrophy, released last December, you can check that out below.

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Half-assed Show Reports: Seance Sisters, Possum & Wine Lips @ The Bovine

Posted in Random Riffage with tags , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Ben

This is a feature I always have the intention of writing but never bother with due to hangover/apathy/misdirection. Let’s see if I fix that for 2018…

This past Saturday I dragged myself from my rank, but warm, cave and made the cold trek downtown with the promise of a night of entertainment provided by some the best Toronto bands to call garage their home.

After tracking down my comrade for the night and slugging back a couple early-evening beverages, we stumbled over to the location of the nights noisemaking, The Bovine Sex Club.  Easily one of the best venues in the city for intimate and rowdy shows, it consistently yields me a great time and a motherfucker of a hangover.

Seance Sisters were first to the stage, warming up an already crowded venue with their gnarled fuzz and Sabbithian grooves. Distorted and lurching riffs that smash against sickly-sweet melodies, luring your head into the slow-paced nod of the blissful hesher. It’s a dope combination that scrapes some sludge into the cauldron to thicken up the sauce.

Set change. Beers. Look at stage, “Fuck…is that Bowie?”

It was indeed not Bowie but a convincing doppelganger presented by the front-man of Possum. While I was already predisposed to like a band named after my spirit animal, I was further enamoured as these guys were fucking electric. I swear it wasn’t just the beers talking, these guys played a crazy entertaining set, blasting through their blend lofi psych rock with panache and a hint of a glamour. In short, good fucking pancake.

Last up were the night’s headliners, Wine Lips. My recollection of their set is based more on snippets and gut feeling (plus a phone video), as by this point of the night I had gladly jumped into the bag. Inebriation aside, Wine Lips consistently shred and never fail to impress with their frothing concoction of garage punk. A high-energy shot to the hindbrain provided via jangling riffs and effervescent earworms.

It was a killer night that could have been shoved in the face of all who bemoan that “rock is dead”. A packed venue and sweaty dance floor that made even the crippling hangover seem worthwhile.

Corpse Fungus: Tomb Mold – “Cryptic Transmissions”

Posted in Riffs with tags , on January 9, 2018 by Ben

Sometimes there is an itch that can’t just be scratched by traditional methods. The kind of itch that doesn’t require mild skin irritation, but gaping tears in your flesh and a carpet matted with blood. That itch is death metal and I’ve been gouging it out with Toronto’s own Tomb Mold.

Usually I don’t fall head over heels for any death metal band but Cryptic Transmissions has got me stumbling down the steps to my doom. Tomb Mold strike the perfect blend of horrific ambience, technical bravado and neolithic groove. It’s a gnarly, old-school feel that is further enhanced by the generous coating of scuzz on the mix that adds all of the requisite flavour but keeps the equally important fidelity intact.

These two tracks are great examples of how vibrant death metal can be. Songs that stretch out into the 6 or 7 minute run time but still manage to be captivating for the duration and don’t leave you with a headache from the blast beats and drum triggers. Packed full of stunning moments like the breakdown and distorted solo starting at 3:00 in “Blood Mirror” or the entire opening of “Chamber of Sacred Ootheca”.

Ultimately, this is a fucking excellent release from a fucking excellent band. Get it.


Tuesday Twofer: Jean Daddy & BEEF BOYS

Posted in Riffs with tags , , , on January 3, 2018 by Ben

It’s not Tuesday? Fuck off.

I’ve had these two bands slouching in my bookmarks for a while and decided to lump them into the same post based on geographic locations and the fact they both released new albums last November.

Jean Daddy – “Lets Ride, Boys!”

The man, the mystery, the messiah, Jean Daddy has bequeathed us their sophmore release, “Lets Ride, Boys!”. Eight new tracks of wailing guitars and lean grooves, conducted by the screeching charisma of the rock messiah himself.

Oddball punk rock that stutters left when you expect a right, smacking you around with an expired phonebook while taunting you out of reach. The tracks are brawny and mean, with no wasted space and plenty of dirt-nasty riffs, like the juicy midsection on “Bloody Mary”. A tightly-wound cohesive effort that will leave your neck sore by the closing.

$10 on Bandcamp.

You can catch them at The Horseshoe tomorrow night with Red LinesCosmic Death Ray and The Killer Wails.


BEEF BOYS – Melted Like a Witch

The garage/psych/punk revival is alive and well in this Peterborough-based trio’s debut LP, Melted Like a Witch. A collection of sweaty and raw bangers, showcasing a band with an excellent grasp of the illusive party groove.

Equally capable of shredding through the beers with punk rippers like “Motorcycle” or “Evil of Horses” as they are of leaning into the pedals and letting the riffs breathe like on “Golden Arches”, BEEF BOYS have birthed themselves a worthy entry into the growing renaissance of sleaze.

$10 on Bandcamp.

Catch them at Smiling Buddha this Friday with Heart Attack Kids, Not for Function and Substrata.

Nostalgic Rambling: Hostage Life – “Walking Papers”

Posted in Random Riffage with tags , , on April 30, 2017 by Ben

I’d been meaning to write this post for a while, ever since seeing a recent news story about the amount of doctor-assisted suicides provided in Canada since they became legal (More than 1300, with cancer being the main cause). It may seem like a weird transition into talking about a band I grew up listening to but it should mostly make sense.

Hostage Life were a Toronto punk band active from 2002 to 2009. They released 3 albums, “Sing for the Enemy”, “Walking Papers” and “Centre of the Universe”. I started listening to them when they were getting radio play for their newest single at the time, “This Song Was Written By A Committee” on what was then Toronto’s new rock station, 102.1 The Edge.

As a kid halfway through high school, my reasons for digging this band were pretty straightforward; they were loud and they sounded cool. I was quick to purchase “Walking Papers” soon after hearing their single and the album has stuck with me until today.

What I didn’t realise at the time was how brutally human “Walking Papers” was and how they were singing songs about dirt-floor, physical issues that tend to be neglected by most punk bands. Such as the song that spawned the opening ramble about assisted suicide, “How to Die With a Smile”.

When I first heard this song at 16 or so, it flew far over my head. Death was barely a concept to me, yet alone the thought of choosing to end your own life due an incurable illness but as I grew older and kept hearing these songs, they all started to make more sense.

Songs like “The Quietest Mutiny” or “Sons of Hostage Life”, about working for people you hate to pay your bills and keep yourself fed. “Inside this shirt and tie, my pride and debt collide” is not something I was hearing from other punk bands at the time. Sure, striving to overthrow capitalist western society may be a noble goal but I still gotta go to work in the morning.

Even a song I have had the good fortune not to experience, “Fuck, I Hope You’re Not Pregnant”, is the kind of scathingly honest music that kept me listening to these guys year after year. It’s an album I never grew out of but only keep growing in to.

You can find the whole album on Youtube, provided by their old label, Underground Operations.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

Biblical get, well Biblical

Posted in Riffs with tags , , , on March 27, 2012 by Ben

I am so unmotivated with school now, if it was over like yesterday I’d be happy. But no, another month to go.

So in order to keep a semblance of a smile on my face, I’ve got some rockin’ tunes from Toronto’s own Biblical. Firstly I’m happy because they’re from my province. While I do love the constant deluge of excellent euro bands, it’s nice to finally get some riffs from close to home. Secondly, these boys know how to put together one rippin’ good time of an EP.

This self-titled 4 track debut is another great entry in the hallowed halls of straight laced rock ‘n’ roll. With a dedicated organ thrown into the mix, Biblical pump out a foot stomping, head nodding good time, complete with heaps of fuzz. “Nickel & Dime” tosses you straight into the action, with a charging lead riff and solid backbone of groove. It stomps along and ends with one hell of a fun build and exit jam.

The grooves continue onto “Under Duress”, with the classic riffs jammed together with some tasty solos and bluesy licks. Biblical seem to have set out to check off every box on the “how to fucking shred” worksheet, and do so in spectacular fashion. “Eyes of Lies” is a fast-forwarded romp, flirting with elements of garage and punk but still staying with it’s boots firmly planted in rock territory. With a smile on your face and stomp in your step, you can only grin even larger as some timeless solos make their way into the forefront.

“Oubliette” opens up with muted guitar sweeps, some ambient organ and a much softer vocal style. Your reverie is soon broken by the welcoming sound of a big, fuzzed out riff, that crashes together with the previously smooth jam in order to make something entirely new and entirely welcome. As the longest track on the EP, “Oubliette” significantly cranks up the blues, injecting some more soul into the already delicious riffs. The track closes out with the best solo on the album, in my humble opinion. The shrieking guitar builds together with the organs drone, giving a new warmth to the sound.

Biblical aren’t breaking any new ground with this EP, what they are doing is showing that writing great songs and playing great jams will never, ever go out of style.

The EP is up for FREE on Bandcamp, so seriously. Go download it.

Biblical Facebook

Biblical Bandcamp

Some Maximum RNR for your Weekend

Posted in Riffs with tags , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Ben

*Yes I know there was no Free Freaking Friday, but both Stallone and this band are available for “Name Your Price”. So technically I gave you two freebies. Aren’t I nice?*

FRIDAY NIGHT. THANK SATAN. Here’s some musical accompaniment to whatever shenanigans, debauchery or otherwise shit disturbing activities you may have planned.

Maximum RNR have been smashing around the Toronto punk scene for the better part of a decade, with a roster of five 7″s and two CD’s. “The Black and White Years” is a compilation of the majority of those tunes from 2002 to 2010. If you haven’t guessed the RNR stands for rock ‘n’ roll, which is exactly what these boys play. Noisy, belligerent and messy combination of punk speed with rock riffs.

This isn’t exactly going to be a very complicated review, this isn’t complicated music. It’s beer soaked bar floor kinda music, as simple as it is grimy. A three minute song is a rarity among this 26 track collection, just as punk ‘n’ roll should be. There’s no pretense, no scene and no goals other than to make some fun fucking tunes to down your beers too. DIY made and produced, Maximum RNR are playing what they want, how they want to, regardless of how many fucks you may give.

Taking all the best bits from the golden ages of rock ‘n’ roll, catchy riffs, cowbells, choruses to yell along too, and then taking the entire thing on a month long bender of alcohol, anarchy and angry bar owners. The rock is always there, it’s just under a tasty layer of grease, grime and a stained t-shirt. Their influences/sound vary from song to song, as more straight punk songs will give way to a more catchy and slightly less putrid rock song. But not that less putrid.

So if you like the sound of a bar brawl coming through your speakers, your probably going to like this. The album is up for a name your price option on Bandcamp and you can catch these hooligans at one of many Toronto/Southern Ontario venues. Now I’m off to get shitfaced. Have a good one folks!

Maximum RNR Facebook

Maximum RNR Bandcamp