Nicholas Szczepanik – Please Stop Loving Me album review

When I was adding this “album” to my iTunes, I realized it was one single song. I thought the other tracks had gone mysteriously missing for a second, until I saw the length of single track on Nicholas Szczepanik’s “album” entitled “Please Stop Loving Me.” Coming in at forty-seven and a half minutes, it makes me wonder why this drone/ambient musician didn’t round up for a full forty-eight minutes of the purest boredom I’ve ever encountered in music.

I suppose the name of the genre explains it all, but the singular track “drones” on for what seems like an eternity. I can’t really touch on much in this song, as there’s nothing but an organ-like sound throughout that builds ever so slowly, remains stable for half an hour, and then dies down. To me, it sounds as if Szczepanik held down a note on his keyboard for five minutes, then transitions into another note. Overall, you basically have nine different notes – if you listen closely. Otherwise, it really sounds like one continuous note. One note. Singular. Not notes. Have I said “note” enough yet?

Did I give this song an honest chance? I’d consider not skipping forward through the song till the half hour mark more than enough time. Up until that point, it really did sound like the artist was holding down a single key. Spoiler alert: when I skipped towards the end, it was a more high-pitched sound! It really  threw me for a loop. Crazy. [/end sarcasm]

I guess this genre isn’t for me, but if you’re spaced out to the point that you can enjoy music that is so linear and one-dimensional, then perhaps you can consider Nicholas Szczepanik your new favorite artist. I hope you come to your senses soon though…

tour dates

Foo Fighters’ Next Leg of Tour Dates

In support of their new album “Wasting Light,” Foo Fighters are back on the road starting today with their headlining set at Lollapalooza (which, by the way, you can watch live on YouTube at 9PM EST). Dave Grohl and his alt rock crew show no sign of slowing down with a slew of tour dates going till the end of 2011. I’ve secured my ticket to the Montreal date in a couple of days and will be covering it. Tour dates are below and a list of who is supporting which date is available at Foo Fighters’ website:

08/07 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
08/09 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Center
08/10 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Center
08/18 – Kiewet, BE @ Pukkelpop
08/20 – St Polten, AT @ Frequency Festival
08/21 – Erfurt, DE @ Highfield Festival
08/23 – Cologne, DE @ Laxness Arena
08/24 – Ubersee, DE @ Chiemsee Festival
08/26 – Paris, FR @ Rock En Seine
09/14 – St. Paul, MN @ Excel Center
09/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
09/17 – St. Louis, MO @ Scottrade Center
09/19 – Auburn Hills, MI @ Palace of Auburn Hills
09/20 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
09/22 – Columbus, OH @ Nationwide Arena
09/23 – Pittsburgh, PA @ CONSOL Energy Center
09/25 – Buffalo, NY @ HSBC Center
09/26 – E. Rutherford, NJ @ IZod Center
10/10 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
10/11 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Maverik Center
10/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum
10/16 – Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Center
10/17 – San Diego, CA @ Valley View Casino Center
10/19 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena
10/20 – Sacramento, CA @ Power Balance Pavilion
10/25 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
10/27 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
10/28 – Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place
11/07 – Duluth, GA @ Gwinnett Center
11/08 – Charlotte, NC @ Time Warner Center
11/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
11/14 – Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
11/16 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden
11/28 – Perth @ NIB Stadium
12/02 – Melbourne @ AAMI Park
12/05 – Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
12/08 – Sydney @ Sydney Football Stadium
12/10 – Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
12/13 – Auckland @ Western Springs Stadium

tour dates

Blink-182 Tour Dates with My Chemical Romance

After postponing their European festival tour this summer to focus on their new album, blink-182 decided they should hit the road and at please their North American fans with some music towards the end of the summer. The tour will be the annual “Honda Civic Tour” in the United States, while Canadian tour dates seem to not have Honda’s sponsorship. Bands like My Chemical Romance, Manchester Orchestra, Matt & Kim, Against Me!, and Rancid. I’ll be covering the Montreal tour date. I went to their reunion tour back in 2009, and I highly recommend catching this tour. The boys will be playing some of their new songs for the first time. Remaining dates are below, and tickets are available at

August 9 Boston, MA Comcast Center *
August 11 Buffalo, NY Darien Lake Performing Arts Center *
August 12 Washington, DC Jiffy Lube Live *
August 13 Hershey, PA Hershey Park Pavilion *
August 14 Hartford, CT The Comcast Theatre *
August 16 Montreal, QC Bell Centre *
August 17 Toronto, ON Molson Canadian Ampitheatre *
August 19 St. Louis, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre *
August 20 Chicago, IL First Midwest Bank Pavilion *
August 21 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center *
August 23 Milwaukee, WI Marcus Amphitheater *
August 25 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre %
August 26 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre %
August 27 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place %
August 28 Calgary, AB Saddledome %
August 30 Victoria, BC Save-On Foods Memorial Centre %
August 31 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena %
September 1 Seattle, WA White River Amphitheater +
September 3 Salt Lake City, UT USANA Amphitheater +
September 4 Denver, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheater +
September 7 Minneapolis, MN Xcel Center ^
September 8 Des Moines, IA Wells Fargo Arena (Support TBA)
September 9 Kansas City, MO Sandstone Amphitheater ^
September 10 Indianapolis, IN Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre ^
September 11 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Centre ^
September 13 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center ^
September 15 Pittsburgh, PA First Niagara Pavilion ^
September 16 Saratoga, NY SPAC ^
September 17 Philadelphia, PA Susquehanna Bank Center ^
September 18 Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre ^
September 20 Charlotte, NC Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheater ^
September 21 Atlanta, GA Lakewood Amphitheater ^
September 23 Miami, FL Cruzan Amphitheater ^
September 24 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre ^
September 26 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion ^
September 27 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion ^
September 29 Albuquerque, NM Journal Pavilion ^
September 30 Phoenix, AZ Tempe Beach Park Amphitheatre ^x
October 1 Anaheim, CA Honda Center ^
October 2 Sacramento, CA Sleep Train Amphitheatre ^
October 4 Concord, CA Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord ^
October 5 San Francisco, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre ^
October 6 San Diego, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre ^
October 7 Las Vegas, NV Red Rock Resort, Spa & Casino ^
October 8 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl ^

* with Manchester Orchestra
+ with Rancid
^ with Matt & Kim
x no My Chemical Romance
% with Against Me! and Rancid, no My Chemical Romance


Show Review: The Airborne Toxic Event at Higher Ground (South Burlington, VT)

What do you get when you cross a two-hour drive, an intimate venue in Vermont, and an indie rock band? You get one awesome show that I haven’t seen the likes of since I attended Green Day’s three-hour marathon of a concert last year! The Airborne Toxic Event (TATE), hailing from Los Angeles, CA, is a band who isn’t going to be playing small venues for much longer. Due to my constant need for a concert, just coming off the high that was the Osheaga Music Festival, and my adoration for alt/indie rock – I grabbed a friend, secured a photo pass, hopped in a car and cruised down to Vermont.

TATE hit the stage in their typical black outfits and opened with “All I Ever Wanted,” violin, guitars, and drums playing together in perfect harmony. “Numb” hit the audience hard, and lacking a sense of feeling was the last thing anyone in the crowd wanted. Anna Bulbrook (violin, keys) was a marvel to watch as she swayed this way and that while jamming the keys and providing backup vocals, dressed in her usual leather shorts. Mikel (vocals, guitar, keys) belted out the deep and sultry lyrics of “All For A Woman,” but not before giving a short explanation about the song:

“We had this song on our first record that got really popular.” He said, “And it was about seeing my ex-girlfriend in a bar late at night – ” while cheers erupted somewhere in the hall, “- We’ll be playing it later [“Sometime Around Midnight”] – don’t worry! But we went on tour and did 350 shows all over the world… and what sucked was that I had to sing about my ex-girlfriend every night. So I wrote this song about that.”
TATE - Anna Bulbrook & Noah Harmon
All the members of The Airborne Toxic Event seemed to be multi-talented, as instruments switched throughout the night. Steven (guitarist) became a bassist, and at times, a keyboardist. Mikel was on the keyboards at times, and Noah even stole Anna’s violin bow to use with his bass. They looked to be having a ton of fun up on stage. While it may have been their “first time in Vermont” as Mikel mentioned, fan favorite “Changing” had the entire hall screaming the chorus. They were definitely no strangers to this part of the world. The real highlight was during “Gasoline,” when Anna descended into the crowd, violin perched on her shoulder, and went crazy for her solo. She danced, and basically backed up right into my friend and proceeded to push him halfway across the club’s floor. Needless to say, he didn’t mind – but regardless, she can play a mean violin. Mikel also came into the crowd a couple times, inciting a jumping pit of concert-goers, even grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me.
TATE - Anna Bulbrook
More bands should really take note that crowd interaction is an essential part to a show. Whether it’s pulling someone up on stage, stage-diving, or going into the crowd – this is the factor that brought TATE’s show to the next level, and made it one of the top shows on my list.
TATE - Mikel Jollett
Their faithful fans summoned them back out for an encore… an encore of five songs. The band rocked through The Clash’s “I Fought the Law” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” while also playing their hearts out for “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?,” “Missy,” and “All at Once.” Mikel broke a string on his guitar just as the song was ending. He let it go, no need for his backup, and sang the last note of a beautiful song, on such a beautiful night.




Osheaga Music Festival Roundup

There are very few things that I look forward to all year. One of them is Christmas, because it’s the only day I get to play Rock Band as a full band of family members. The other thing I look forward to is the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival that has been going on for six years here in Montreal. The festival is easily the highlight of my summer, and many other Montrealers, as well as out-of-towners. With Eminem headlining one of the three days this year (which I wrote a longer review on over here), it was sure to be a great one – and Osheaga did not disappoint.

Day 1: The Eminem Show


The Midway State – Paris or India album review

Good ol’ Toronto bands. While I’m a Montrealer, who loathes the Toronto Maple Leafs, and will forever say that Toronto has terrible concert crowds (at least at Aerosmith) – I will admit that many good things have come out of Ontario such as Sum 41, and Avril Lavigne’s first album (because “Complicated” is still stuck in my head after all these years, and I commend her for that). So let’s see if Toronto’s The Midway State’s second album, “Paris or India” will improve my opinion about Toronto and the province it resides in.

The opener, entitled “Alive,” opens the album with a big synthy backtrack. The title describes it perfectly, as it really just oozes liveliness, and makes you feel all good inside, and that everything before your eyes should be happening in super slow motion, and you should be moving at full speed, and pardon the run-on sentence, but this is a really enjoyable track. The next few tracks rely heavily on key-based instruments, with a little guitar flair thrown in here or there. In fact, it’s hard to spot the guitar in some tracks. For example, the scales in “All Anew” that synthist/vocalist Nathan Ferraro hits are wild, and I can really only notice Mike Wise’s guitar work in the chorus. That, or I’m musically inept.

Do the overload of keys make the album any less enjoyable? I don’t think so – even if I’m a sucker for keyboards, I know when too much is too much. The problem is that there’s not always enough differentiation between tracks. “Fire!” and “Atlantic” feel like the exact same song. It’s not like they’re expected to switch to a different genre between tracks, but there’s nothing to distinguish one track from the other. There are also a few tracks that fall flat, but they can be overlooked or deleted from your iTunes library if need be.

“Lightning” is another choice track, which seems to be a lamenting love song about a girl who got away. From beginning to end, the feeling of the song is just right. You feel for the songwriter – and that’s not something I often don’t relate to. The album finally closes with a couple really fun tracks, highlighted by “Litebrite,” with a wild attitude and grand mixture of happiness emanating from the repetitive background noise of the keyboards, and the smooth guitars. It makes you happy. It makes me want to dance. And I don’t dance.

Basically, this album surprised me. And I’m glad it did. I only knew one of their songs from their debut album, which was their single called “Never Again.” Even though no song matched the catchiness of its great piano work, and eerie-yet-bright mood, I can definitely say that these Torontonians have not handed us a sophomore  slump.

PS – If any of you are heading to Osheaga this weekend, The Midway State will be playing on Saturday at 1:30PM.


Vondelpark – NYC Stuff and NYC Bags EP review

Vondelpark, the geographical place, is a public park in Amsterdam – that place where prostitution and weed are legal. At one time, it was about to be legal to have sex in this public park, so long as these consenting adults partook in the act away from the playgrounds and in the evening hours. Then the police spoiled their fun and didn’t allow any coitus to occur in public without consequences. On the bright side, you can still find some enjoyment in the electronic musical talents of the band named Vondelpark. This Brit group’s latest EP is surprisingly splendid.

Synthy goodness will meet you upon the first track of five, “TV,” along with some ghostly vocals, and really slick guitars. The voices, which really do sound like they’re coming from beyond the grave, distract from the song only slightly, and just enough to make this a really chill track. It’s not exactly upbeat, but it’s got a sort of happy undertone despite its vocals. It’s definitely my favorite from the EP.

“Camels” is a laid-back tune, that I didn’t like on the first listen, but it sort of grew on me. The whole album really started to grow on me, and I didn’t think it’d have the power to do so. The songs have the same basic formula, with a drum machine backing a mix of smooth synths, a bit of vocals, bass and guitar. Some are more interesting than others, as “Hipbone” doesn’t seem to have much going on – yet after a few listens, it just works. Everything clicks, and you start to really experience a nice melodic set of sound waves (which is pleasant to write a review to, if I may add).

Why? It seems as though you gotta settle into the groove of Vondelpark’s music. It’s an acquired taste of sorts that I don’t think everyone will enjoy, and those who do, may not enjoy it all the time. Like Jägermeister. Or whatever alcoholic drink you decide to delve into. In the end, the important thing is that you won’t suffer from a bad headache when listening to the lovely electronic Vondelpark, unlike a hangover from a night of Jägerbombs.

press releases reviews

Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa album Review

I’ll admit that mellowed-out indie rock is not a preferred genre of mine. It’s great for those times when you’re down, your girlfriend’s left you for a guy who outperforms you in more ways than one, and the rain gods have sent an onslaught of downpour upon your neighborhood. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of indie rock, even outside of those situations. But sometimes, indie rock is just way too lethargic – or perhaps I’m not enough of a hipster to understand the sheer amazingness within the lethargic self-titled release by Gardens & Villa.

Let’s give this band some credit right from the start: the opener entitled “Black Hills,” is a solid song I could see myself playing while cruising around town. Its synthy-beat is catchy and the vocals are actually pretty good despite the vocalist, Chris Lynch, reaching a pitch most couldn’t without their voice cracking. The following tracks, “Cruise Ship” and “Thorn Castles,” sound pretty solid as well, with the same mix of synths and vocals, with the latter having some audible guitar chords in there. Alright, great – three good songs. That’s about all this album is useful for. Just stop listening from this point forward.

“Orange Blossom” is just… ugh. It’s spaced out, and the lyrics seemed to be referring to some sexual odyssey, alluding to “pheromones” and “pollination.” Then there’s an interlude with a flute. It’s like the band is screaming, “Look at how indie we are! Look! We used a flute! How often do you see that?”

I could go track by track reviewing the atrociousness that follows, but let’s just pick a few choice cuts. “Chemtrails” is a five and a half minute song that I had to down a Red Bull to stay awake for. It’s plain boring, featuring mellow pianos and the same old vocals you hear throughout the record. “Sunday Morning” has more flutes to open with, so you can tell it’s going to be a disaster. The mix of high-pitched vocals and depressing backtrack doesn’t work here.

It is indeed downhill once the first three tracks conclude. There are definitely a few tracks that show some promise, but then they fall completely flat. On the upside, it may be a nice album to fall asleep to, but Lynch’s vocals could just as well give you nightmares. If you must listen to this album, start from the end of the album and make your way to the beginning – it’s probably what I should’ve done.


The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – The Golden Age EP album review

You know that one band that had that one song that was in that one commercial at one time? We all know that commercial where we’re dying to know, “What song is that?” And maybe you’ve searched up the lyrics you’ve remembered on Google. And then, sadly, you realized you liked the snippet in the background of the commercial more than the whole song itself. That’s how I feel about The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s “The Golden Age EP,” whose songs have been the subject of those very commercials.

This space-rock, jazz-infused and synth-loving Danish band’s latest EP sounds great from the title track, which was featured in a Heineken commercial this past year (yet “The Golden Age” was initially released in 2009). The song was popular over in Europe, and garnered minimal success here in North America. It’s a smooth poppy-jazz tune accompanied by Mette Lindberg’s squeaky Danish voice. Admittedly, it’s a pretty solid single, but it seems as though this is as good as it gets for this five-track disc.

The next three tracks are nothing special, noisy, and terribly convoluted – respectively. It’s like they repackaged their single from their 2009 album, “Fruit,” and then threw in some songs that couldn’t even be considered so-so b-sides. Stay clear of  “One Giant Freak for Mankind,” because you’ll be met by Lindberg’s voice at her worst. She sounds like she’s at a karaoke bar, up on stage, drunkenly singing one of her own songs like a washed up has-been of a vocalist. If that’s not enough, the mess of horns and synths backing her will give you a substantial migraine.

Quite frankly, the remix of the title track by Prince Vince is better than any of the new jingles the band put on this mini-album, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it in some DJ’s dance mix at your local nightclub. Perhaps The Asteroids Galaxy Tour should stick to writing tracks for commercials. They did quite well with “Around the Bend” which was picked up by Apple for an iPod Touch commercial a few years ago. “The Golden Age” got stuck in my head, but I can’t wait to get the rest of this EP out of it.


Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors album review

When the majority of my friends hear the word “metal,” pertaining to the musical genre, they tend to think it all sounds like the purest of white noise, with screeching vocals, incredibly heavy bass and distorted guitars. They stay far, far, far away from the genre. Don’t even think of bringing progressive metal to the table – but this is where Fair to Midland’s latest album, “Arrows & Anchors” comes in, and gives listeners something from a plethora of genres.

Now, this doesn’t mean it’s “light” metal by any means, as “Whiskey & Ritalin” gives you more than enough heavy guitar chords and sporadic drumming in its opening to satisfy your thirst for metal. Matched with Darroh Sudderth’s melodic vocals, the more prog-rock-metal tracks like their single “Musical Chairs,” and “Golden Parachutes” make Fair to Midland sound like a much more coherent version of Dream Theater.

Then, this Texan band shows you they can play a banjo – oh, and a mandolin. Yes, they mix bluegrass and metal with their standout “Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow,” with Sudderth’s voice becoming more like a hard rock/country hybrid. The lyrics remain progressive here and throughout the album, with nonsense about “neanderthals” in one line, and then “lottery tickets” in the next. What’s crazy about it all is that it actually somehow works.

These guys will throw you for another loop with others too, with “Short Haired Tornado” sounding more like a pop song before breaking into its progressive metal attack at the chorus, and “Rikki Tikki Tavi” presenting the only screaming vocals on the record. The latter track is incredibly reminiscent of a System of a Down-esque format, with melodic vocals meeting those screams in between the mosh pit-worthy chords.

Most of the album is your typical prog metal – the melodic vocals, heavy guitars and tons of drums and bass – but it’s the unique tracks in between that make this album worth a listen. It may be that your friends who are scared of venturing outside their preferred genres will remain cozy in their fortresses of solitude, and if that’s the case – let them be. Besides, it means more Texan-prog-alt-rock-country-metal for you to savor.