Tag Archives: toronto

Nostalgic Rambling: Hostage Life – “Walking Papers”

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

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

*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

You Handsome Devil will take you straight to hell

So I’m walking to class today and there’s these two little kids walking in front of me. For whatever reason, one of the kids turns and makes eye contact with me. I pull out a headphone.

“Hey, are you listening to dubstep?”

“Don’t listen to dubstep kids, it’s bad for you.” And proceed on my way.

Where was all that going? Nowhere really.

So, You Handsome Devil most definitely don’t play dubstep. They play a razor edged combination of metal, punk and groove ‘n’ roll. A rather infectious combination I might add. Calling Toronto home (or the 41-666, as it may be), You Handsome Devil do their level best to violate your earholes while simultaneously making you break out into uncontrollable head banging.

The riffs are nice and meaty, the drums have a deep, satanic boom. If you were to imagine what Elvis Presley would have played if he were the antichrist, you’d be getting pretty close. Going so far as to incorporate elements of sludge and even doom metal, You Handsome Devil cover the gamut of awesome riffage and then some. I really can’t pick a favorite song, each one is rad in it’s own right. It’s music like this that makes getting up in the morning worthwhile.

I’d also like to comment on the excellent use of samples, with the album opening with a quote from the infamous GG Allin:

“Well first of all, for me, rock and roll to me has always been about real rebellion and non-conformity. And my mission has been to put danger back into rock and roll, something that’s been missing for a real long time. And I use my rock and roll as a weapon against society the government and the industry itself who’s trying to confine this type of music and they’re trying to preach to you. Rock and roll is not about what you look like, who you hang out with, how much money you make, what kind of car you drive. Rock and roll is the fury from within you. Rock and roll is revenge. Rock and roll is your enemy, and I am your enemy.” – GG Allin

Their self titled album was released in July of last year and is available on Bandcamp for a name your price option. Download it and put it to 11, cause that’s the only way to properly enjoy shred this good.

You Handsome Devil Bandcamp

You Handsome Devil Facebook

Bella Clava and feeding the cannibals

Let’s get some things out of the way. Bella Clava aren’t metal, I know that. I am also aware that the above picture should be centered around that truly awe inspiring piece of mustache.

Sticking firmly in the feel good, classic style of the riff, they keep you entertained with foot tapping rhythms, infectious grooves and choruses that will be stuck in your head all day long. Combining that with the highly underused asset of a female vocalist you have a very refreshing breed of riffage. It may not be ball swinging but it’ll sure get your head nodding.

Originally from Thunder Bay, Bella Clava now call Toronto their home and can be seen at many local venues. They’ll be opening for Barn Burner on February 17th at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Currently unsigned with one full length album to their name, titled Holy Crow, you can listen to their music below as well as watch their video for “Food for Cannibals”.

Bella Clava Facebook