Who: Busty and the Bass
When: Thursday, March 12th @7pm
Where: The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street
Nine-piece fuck group Busty and the Bass bring the jams to Halifax this week. This crew is a mix of music students from across North America who met while attending McGill University. They won the 2014 Rock Your Campus competition as Canada’s best university band and the right to open forÂ Arkells in Montreal (as well as some mad duckets). Their music is energetic and groovy as fuck, so if you were planning to see the Mellotones at the Seahorse Thursday night, do yourself a favour and pop in a bit early for Busty.
PS. If you like what you hear, their album is a free download on their website. Its awesome.[youtube id=”hXjT5RlQuAw” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Mark Ronson is stepping into the limelight with his fourth studio album Uptown Special. While the producer has been writing hits for years for the likes of Amy Winehouse (who the album is dedicated to), Adele and even Paul McCartney, he has finally decided to take some more credit.
The album is a little disjointed, and Random Access Memories-esque, but interesting nonetheless. Its opening track “Uptown’s First Finale”, featuring Stevie Wonder, is really more an ambient opener than anything noteworthy. Following it is “Summer Breaking” but as much as I love Tame Impala and Kevin Parker in general, the song sounds like a really well produced Santana track. Unfortunately it does not really go anywhere and stays slightly boring.
“Feel Right” with Mystikal feels like “Get On Up” by James Brown, but with a little less swag. Some of the brass on this track is cool and the drums are great. Mystikals vocal work is pretty slick and his weird rap style is vicious and fast as heck.
Obviously the album hits its high point on “Uptown Funk.” The track is the most catchy on the record and addictive enough to warrant repeat listens the first time you hear it. The instrumentation feels real and the grooves and lyrics work perfectly together to make the best pop song I’ve heard in a long while.
“I Can’t Lose” with Keyone Starr, has a very Janelle Monae vibe, with its electric jazz sound. The bass line is really funky and distorted, and the electro-rock feel is interesting. The guitar licks on this track really keep you listening too and the brass adds a nice real layer to an otherwise more electronic track. Although the lyrics are a little throwaway and compared to a Janelle Monae song the vocals do not really break through.
“Daffodils” is perfect digital funk, the guitar hook is delicious, the bass line is deceptively dark, the effects are entrancing and the keys fill out the sound perfectly. The bass is really heavy but the attack is slow enough to hide this until later in the song. The breaks in the song are dirty and resemble cuts from the latest St. Vincent record in their strange guitar sounds. The second break makes you think you may have hit the end of the song before bringing you to a killer bass drop. This is truly the result of two amazing producers working together, one of them being a guitar effects master.
“Crack In The Pearl” finds Andrew Wyatt trying to emulate Stevie Wonder, on a track that sounds pretty but is once again a little boring. The song also raises the question, why emulate Wonder so closely, when he is already on the record?
But the next track “In Case Of Fire” has Jeff Bhasker emulating Wonder perfectly, but keeping things new with a funky bass and synth-line, sounding like Hall and Oates and “Higher Ground” had a musical lovechild. The guitar lick is divine, and the vocals have such a cheeky 70s falsetto to them that it is impossible to not get hooked. The line “Bad Girl, Good Moves” is one catchy enough to always elicit a sing-a-long.
“Leaving Los Feliz” has Kevin Parker playing some nice licks and singing on a decently groovy track. Ultimately though it doesn’t really pop out and feels like it would’ve been a really good track when Shaggy was putting music out. Even the cool ambient break feels like Parker emulating his Tame Impala work, it is good however to see he’s endlessly creative enough to make these tracks.
“Heavy And Rolling” has more of Andrew Wyatt trying to be Stevie Wonder, making me seriously question why Wonder only bookends this album and does not just replace Wyatt outright. Some of the guitar here is pretty slick though and sounds like it was likely Parker’s work. The key changes and general chord changes are really nice and smooth but the track still feels a little sleepy.
The album ends a little lackluster on “Crack In The Pearl Pt. 2” with Wonder returning on a track just mixing the opening track with “Crack In The Pearl.” This ultimately ends the album a little weak.
While there are some really great tracks and a good nostalgia kick, the album does feel pieced together at times and many songs seem like they have been done before, and better. While it can imitate older sounds correctly at times, it does open itself up to the “already heard it” problem. Also the disconnected nature from song to song can have you really into the album at times and feeling like the wrong band just walked on a track later.
Reviewed by Owen Maxwell
Who:Â Toronto All-Ages Art and Music Community
What:Â A night of free love and hugs for all. Dancing and surfing to independent bands.Â MoshingÂ during intermission. And some art to look at when you’re tired.
Lineup:Â Albeit, Closed Circuit, Cosmic Slug, Brick Kick, Pins & Needles, Professor H & The Bandits, Ghost Daze, ART // The Band
Where:Â The Opera House, Toronto
When:Â Friday DecemberÂ 5th, 2014
Photo galleryÂ here: FB
Johnnyland is a place with zero pretentiousness and a hundred % love. It is a refreshing wave in the Toronto music and arts scene, and lights a flaming torch of hope for the future. It is made up of mostly students, or young entrepreneurs and artists. The community cherishes what they have, is constantly developing and reinventing itself, and has thrived on a care for each other, for expression, without care for what others would think of them. With that, they have created a sort of ‘Johnnyland vibe’ since theÂ first event – Measure – in March 2013.
How would you define Johnnyland in one line?
“I could probably do it in one word, and that’s: art. But that’s a little cliche. In one line: Johnnyland is the realistic outlet for the youth to express themselves within Toronto.”
Stay Tuned For:
A compilation of recorded answers from surveying fans and staff at Johnnyland. Featuring: “Disneyland, or Johnnyland? And Why?”
A video interview with BRICK KICK.
After BRICK KICK’s show, we shot an impromptu interview with the band outside. If you have never heard or seen BRICK KICK, our writer Tyler BrownÂ has something to say:
“BRICK KICK is a combination of everything hard. Their breed of thrash punk, metal, gangster rap and EDM keeps you guessing what the fuck is coming up next. This is what you want toÂ moshÂ to. This is what you want to head bang to. Brick Kick is known for their live show. Shirts off with their war paint on, stage diving and getting into scuffles with each other, this bandÂ projectsÂ live energy. They are up-and-comers with raging hard-ons for dick jokes and drug references. Brick Kick is a show to get sloppy at. Their SoundCloudÂ is home to some of the strangest Photoshop images the internet has ever seen.”
BS101 – Return of the Burn – Album Review
Total Score: 7.6/10[starreviewmulti id=6 tpl=20]
Style:Â Comedy Funk, Rock
Release Date:Â 2013
BS101 are a Toronto-based comedy funk band, where “BS” stands for “Bad Songwriting”. The band has been around for some time now, gaining fans and managing to release 3 full-length albums to date. Return of the Burn is the band’s latest effort, released in 2013 and it provides a whooping 25 gags over the span of 56 minutes for the devoted listener.
The album starts out with “Vaj Chap Infomercial”, an intro that sets the mood for the whole album. BS101 decided to start with their most offensive material right from the get go, so that the listener won’t have any false predicaments. This is comedy and BS101 won’t let you down with something even remotely serious. “The Bad Guys” shows what the band is all about, with fairly straightforward humor and surprisingly heavy riffs at times, mostly staying in the rock genre territory. Some funky tunes are in the mix as well.
“Nikola Tesla” is not only the greatest inventor that ever lived, but also the best song on the album. Catchy beyond any expectations, it shows off BS101’s musical prowess and full lyrical potential. It is also a great tactic to win over the nerds!
Like a lot of the songs on the album, “Crayons Are Forever” is parodying a style or a band, in this case it’s Linkin Park or Incubus or maybe that’s what the early 2000’s sounded like overall. Sadly, this song shows the unpolished side of Dick James’ vocals. “Buttons” marks one of the many intermissions on the album, all set to very simplistic beat-boxing (think dumbed down Bloodhound Gang). All of them are short and funny even after a couple of listens. Sometimes intermissions break the album apart, here they actually work in favour of unity and help support the vision of the album.
Return of the Burn has too many songs to cover all over them in one review, and most of them carry the same message across, poking fun at North American stereotypes. Some of the tunes worth mentioning are “1st World Problems”, “Love Juice (Funkin’ It Up)”, “Witches Burning Bitches” and the closer “Mother Falcon Punch”, which is depicted on the album cover.
Overall, the album holds up well, even if it should have been a little shorter (19 songs out of 25 tracks is a bit overwhelming even for comedy).
Written by: Raya P. Morrison
Charles BradleyÂ – Kool HausÂ — December 12th, 2013 — Photo byÂ Joe Modzelewski
Who:Â Charles Bradley
From:Â Brooklyn, NY
Where:Â Kool Haus
When:Â Thursday, December 12, 2013
Total Score: 9/10[starreviewmulti id=3 tpl=20]
Not too many have lived a life as inspiring as Charles Bradley. Even fewer faced the trials that he has gone through. Growing up in near extreme poverty, hitchhiking homeless across America, and facing other extremities of life with little, if anything, to fall back on, the 65-year old Bradley channeled all of his life’s miseries and joys into music and performance. Not too often do you hear of a 60 year old releasing their debut album, but the age never stopped Bradley. Always pushing to chase his dreams and vision, Bradley is a voice of hope for those who find themselves in troubled times. Bradley now has two full length records released on Daptone Records and in the three years since his debut release, he has garnered himself mass critical acclaim and a near cult-following of devoted, enthusiastic fans. His revivalist approach with soul and funk music of the 60’s is able to avoid the trappings of simple nostalgia, instead offers a contemporary take on a classic sound that is never out of style. The Kool Haus was packed with eager fans from all walks of life. This in itself proved how a seemingly niche genre can connect with so many different people.
Jay Vons kicked off the night with a very fun and easy to dance to set of soul and funk that managed to also avoid any sort of redundant feelings of nostalgia. Their songs were all catchy and easy to pick up and sing along to, even on a first time listen. They had the whole crowd bobbing along. Singing songs of love and the joys of dancing, Jay Vons heated up a venue that was frigid from the weather outside. Jay Vons were a great opener and surely gained some new fans that night with their modest, but effective set.
Charles Bradley and his backing band, The Menahan Street Band, took their time before hitting the stage. The crowd was growing anxious, but eventually the backing band appeared on stage and let out some jazz and funk instrumental pieces. The crowd loved it and the music was getting everyone more and more excited for the main showcase. After the couple of interludes, the keyboardist took the mic to welcome Charles Bradley to the stage in exuberant fashion. The crowd went wild and when Bradley took to the stage with his arms wide open, he seemed to envelope the audience in his presence.
Bradley put on a fantastic, soul-wrenching, gut-twisting, tear-jerking, laughter-inducing performance that was quite unforgettable. He was very genuine and the passion in his voice and body language was so blatantly evident that you could not help but smile and enjoy every second of the show. Bradley put so much emotion and zest into each song and seemed to sing his heart out as he incorporated not only sultry smooth tones but also ravaging screams that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up and bring about goose bumps all over your body. Bradley embodied each and every lyric and note and the awesome moves he pulled off were very impressive. There was just no way he looked and or acted like your average 60 year old.
Decked out in some bedazzled outfits, and I say outfits because he even did a costume change, Bradley was exhibiting a showmanship that many would feel is slowly and unfortunately on the decline. He put so much into the performance that the whole audience was ecstatic, proving that he is an artist you do not want to miss. If anything, seeing him perform just reinforced the overarching notion that there truly is something special about Charles Bradley.
Review and Photos by Joe Modzelewski