Album Review: Brodie Dakin – An Audience w/ The Winter Wolves

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By: Shannon Bryan December 6, 2013

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Toronto singer/songwriter Brodie Dakin offers his first solo full length album, An Audience w/ The Winter Wolves, a unique project that brings together a number of musicians to fill each track. Jazz bass, guitar, keys and trumpet all make appearances, lending a variety of different styles to the 10-song album.

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Album Review: Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow


By: Hilary Johnston October 11, 2013

Basia Bulat’s third record, Tall Tall Shadow, had big big shoes to fill after the release of her gems Oh, My Darling and Heart of My Own in 2007 and 2010 respectively. She gathered the big guns to produce this record – Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury and The Suburbs producer Mark Lawson – ultimately breathing new life into her old soul. 
Bulat’s chops have never been more obvious – delving into complex time signatures and bright melodies. “Promise Not to Think About Love” features happy percussive handclaps in contrast with heartbreak-laden lyrics, the nod at the ’60s girl group aesthetic balanced out by some of the more tender moments of the record. “It Can’t Be You” beautifully pairs Basia’s trembling vibrato with the pretty chirp of a plucked charango (a small stringed instrument in the lute family) while “Paris or Amsterdam” comes across as perfectly simplistic. At times distracting from the rustic bones of her songs, Bulat’s addition of electronic parts, particularly synth lines and the odd growling guitar, distance Tall Tall Shadow from the gentle strength of her earlier work. In the case of “The Wire,” for instance, I think less would have been more.
Tall Tall Shadow is perhaps Bulat’s most full-realized work and is likely to capture the ears of the unfamiliar while satisfying her veteran fans. She somehow managed to boldly step forward while remaining in her shadowy comfort zone.
Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

Album Review: Rose Brokenshire – Seeds You Grow


By: Myles Herod October 3rd, 2013

As summer fades to fall, the sounds of Rose Brokenshire‘s 4-track EP, Seeds You Grow, compliment the seasonal transition fittingly, unfurling into a warm blanket of pop for the imminent frost to come.
At the core of each track, Brokenshire’s honey-sweet voice drips without any saccharine residue, peaking through a cloud of sadness as she searches for comfort and reflection. Despite the delicate arrangements and her natural, sleepy-eyed croon, Seeds You Grow never feels downtrodden – in fact, it’s quite the contrary. 
Take for instance “Back Around”, a send-off to a presumed past love that sees her assured, yet simple lyrics countered with a flicker of handclaps and spry guitar work, culminating nicely as she proclaims, “And I wish you well, and out of town!”  
Clocking in at under 15 minutes, the Toronto native has crafted a collection of charming vignettes, seemingly home-spun in size, but affecting in conviction and sunny musicianship. Neither overtly serious or sentimental, Seeds You Grow may very well leave a smile on your face, and Rose Brokenshire as an artist to watch out for.  
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Myles Herod @MylesHerod

Album Review: The Heavyset Quartet – Keep Pushin’


By: Sean Carsley October 1st, 2013

The debut album from The Heavyset Quartet, Keep Pushin, is mature, consistent and well worth the listen. 
What is quickly apparent is the rich horn section which consists of the alto sax/trombone work of Lauren Barnett and Tom Richards, respectively. Guest tenor sax Paul Metcalfe rounds out the trio. The solid sound of THQ are complemented with bassist Gram Whitty and drummer Simon Dennis.
Barnett is a treasure because of her voice. She can be subtle to brash in a heartbeat. But the key ingredient to Keep Pushin‘s magic may very well be Demetri Petsalakis. He’s not only the guitarist, but the producer for Keep Pushin’. They are a funk band which switches gears to reggae or rock as required. In the wrong hands, this album could have been a mess, but THQ and guest players bring together all right ingredients, blasting through the speakers.  
The first four songs are a nice build up to the meat of the album. “Rude Boy” is a restrained, hypnotic story. “Just To Get By” is a hot, bluesy number dripping with horns. Who doesn’t love horns? Then Barnett et al absolutely kill it on the scorching “Sell Your Soul”.
Sometimes the weaker songs get pushed to the end because that’s the graveyard of album mediocrity. But it’s a nice surprise to find “Chained”, “Drive Me Mad” and “I Don’t Know And I Don’t Care” carrying true listening worthiness. 
It’s not hard to pinpoint why Keep Pushin’ is such a solid work. The Heavyset Quartet are invested in each song from start to finish with no ‘throwaway’ numbers to be found. They put their foot on your throat and never step off. 
The Heavyset Quartet – Rude Boy
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Sean Carsley @carsley92

Album Review: Sarah Neufeld – Hero Brother


By: Hilary Johnston September 20th, 2013

Sarah Neufeld, perhaps best known for her membership in Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, released Hero Brother on August 20th and the record is a breathtaking mix of worldly and otherworldly.
Neufeld plays with shifting atmospheres and listeners’ expectations, her sonic luster swelling and shrinking to the poles of her instrument’s range. The violin squeals and bellows while toying with restraint and ambiance. Neufeld counts Bela Bartok, Steve Reich and Iva Pittova as her influences, all of whom audible in this work. The circular motives and harmonic rhythms nod at the minimalist movement while Neufeld dips her bow into indie rock and contemporary electro-acoustic styles as well.  The album was recorded in Berlin with Nils Frahm, who used slightly unorthodox recording settings. In addition to the Studio P4 orchestral recording hall, an abandoned geodesic dome and an underground parking garage are among the spaces used to create songs of esoteric cacophony. 
Highlights of the record include the cogent rhythms in the folky tune “Right Thought”, the wistful mix of double stops and pizzicato in “They Live On” and “Below” from beginning to end – absolutely stunning.  Praise aside momentarily, it should be noted that Neufeld’s work is not exactly accessible. The average radio listener may find the snippets of melody a tad strident and may struggle to find beauty in the subtlety of the minimalist style. Listening to it a second time is a quick cure for the aversion. Once the appreciation for Hero Brother inevitably sets in, you will be at risk of being swept away into an escapable swirling dreamland. Enjoy.
Sarah Neufeld – Hero Brother
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

Album Review: Sun Stone Revolvers – Spaceship X

By: Shelby Monita September 19, 2013
Toronto’s newly named Sun Stone Revolvers (formerly Revolvers) held their album release this past weekend at the infamous El Mocombo for their second full-length, Spaceship X
A bit of a stray from their debut release, Apocolypse Surfin’, which could be seen as their Exile on Main St, more honky tonk, southern soul and harmonica. On Spaceship X, Sun Stone focus heavily on blues riffs and translucent vocals, both of which were apparent on the first album then amplified for their second time around. Title track “Spaceship X” combines the hypnotic effects of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at their best with Ziggy Stardust’s imagination and psychedelic behaviors. Lyrics that describe being on a one-way train into outer space make a person wonder who their Major Tom will be on this journey. Paired perfectly with the haphazard anthem “On the Run” is a song raging twenty-something’s can relate to in this bad economy that has so many lost that we now have a psychological description for it, the “Quartet Life Crisis.” Being on the run, running away is a concept more of us are either dreaming or planning. Follow this with the two songs “Liberation” and “America”, with some steam this album could be the voice of a young and lost Canadian generation of kids who want more and want out. 
Spaceship X is the ideal album to deal with frustrations and plan your escape, well having a beer or sparking up. Sun Stone Revolver help bring psychedelic blues into the 2010’s for a generation of people who are begging for their liberation and some revolutionary tunes to accompany it. 
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site  

Album Review: The Bats Pajamas – Just Ripe


By: Josh Parsons Septmber 18th, 2013


The Bats Pajamas have recently served up Just Ripe, a raucous and fuzzed-out appetizer of an EPIt’s a brief, brash and fun offering of contemporary garage-rock that would fit comfortably into the stereo of anyone expecting just that. The opening track, “You Get By”, sets the bristly tone of the EP within the first few bars and wastes no time drowning your ears in fuzz. The downbeat and surprisingly infectious tune was also the quartet’s choice for its latest video release and features a curious pastiche of Bollywood cut-ups.

Musical and lyrical themes are echoed throughout each track from the beginning of the EP, most notably on the albums churning closer, “Mass Telegrams”. It sounds comfortable, although some ideas occasionally wear thin past the two-minute mark. Another pitfall is a general oversaturation of distortion throughout.  Although Just Ripe is packed with offbeat hooks and catchy choruses, it is unfortunate that too often they are submerged in echo and, at times, come off as muddled. Simplicity and repetition seem to be the mantra, as if The Bats Pajamas have burrowed into a cozy musical niche and decided to camp for the winter.






Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Josh Parsons @ParsonsAles

Album Review: The Auras – The Auras EP2

By: Shelby Monita September 15, 2013

The Auras, a six-piece band that hail from Brampton and Toronto, have released their second EP, The Auras EP2. Five songs fit for a love-in or a bed-in, showcasing a band whose destiny is to be documented in Dig, the sequel. Dreams of promiscuity and the rebirth of the summer of love our generation desperately needs is given life with rainbow coloured sonic waves and a voice that floats through time. The track, “Punching Grandma in the Face,” drifts in and out of you, waves of surreal beauty with a punch of lightening as the lyrics take a screaming risk at heightened moments, which later become accompanied by stellar feedback and massive drums and bass. Another notable song, “Love Just Spirals On,” encourages young love under the hot sun with no cares, just living. With many “Ohs” and “Ahs,” this track relaxes the mind as girls are left to twirl around through the fresh grass in summer dresses. 
A psychedelic freedom trip, The Auras EP2 brings back the 90s take on the 60s state of mind. With three guitars, one bass, a keyboard and some drums, these Greater Toronto Area bandits shower listeners with love and peace in the same respect as Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhol’s. Any fan of hippie nostalgia and 90s love-rock should grab a copy and float away. 


Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site