24 Days of Music- Day 7: The Menzingers

I feel like a lot of people are still discovering The Menzingers, though they’ve been active in the music scene as a band since at least 2006.  They offer a brand of punk rock that hits hard but with heart; music and melodies that even people who claim to not be fans of punk or heavier rock can enjoy.

The Menzingers are releasing a new album, “After The Party” due out February 3rd and I’m excited to hear what they’ve come up with as I loved their 2014 release “Rented World”.  They’ve released two strong singles in support of “After The Party, which are linked below, and I think they’re fantastic.  “Lookers” in particular has become a favourite, and was something I listened to a lot as I was traveling this summer.

If you like what you hear, you can preorder “After the Party” via iTunes, or by visiting the official Menzingers website at http://www.themenzingers.com

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24 Days of Music- Day 6: Miranda Lambert

Some people might be surprised by today’s choice, although I do tend to listen to a pretty wide variety of music.  I’ve always been a fan of country, though I’ve found that I’ve strayed away in recent years.  However, Miranda Lambert is one of my favourite artists, and her new double album “The Weight of These Wings” is absolutely fantastic.

She’s admitted that her divorce from Blake Shelton has influenced the tone of the album, and it is definitely deeper and darker than her previous efforts, but the result is 24 beautiful songs that still showcase her signature sass.  In particular, “Pushin’ Time” is one of the best ballads she’s recorded (in my opinion), and I think it shows the healing process that she’s undergone as she moves forward.

Check out “Vice” from “The Weight of This Wings” below, and be sure to listen to the album via Spotify or download it on iTunes.

24 Days of Music- Day 5: Brian Fallon

I’m sure anyone who follows this blog won’t be surprised by today’s choice of artists.  I’ve seen Brian Fallon live more than a few times this year, as he’s been out promoting his debut solo album, “Painkillers”.  I won’t lie, I took a break from the album for a while, and sometimes I think that’s a good thing to do to avoid the possibility of over playing it.  It’s recently found its way back into my car stereo, as something I’ve been listening to before heading in to work.  The lead single from the album, “A Wonderful Life” was released earlier this year, and is still a song that puts me in the right mood to tackle the day with a smile on my face.

“Painkillers” is definitely one of my albums of 2016, and one of my favourite albums in my collection.  Brian’s style of writing has always attracted me to his music, whether he was writing for The Gaslight Anthem or as a solo artist.  I think that as he finds his ground as a solo act, he is becoming more comfortable with his audiences, and with himself, and it’s nice as a long time fan to be along for the ride with him.

Check out “A Wonderful Life” and “Nobody Wins” (have Kleenex ready!) from the album “Painkillers” below.  You can listen to the full album on Spotify, or it is available for purchase through iTunes.

24 Days of Music- Day 4: Keaton Henson

Ok so this is a very new favourite, but bears a mention because it’s so good.

As I was winding down last night, I put on Keaton Henson’s newest album, “Kindly Now”.  I’m not sure what made me think of that album, as I had only given it a cursory listen and then never really went back to it.  This was a mistake on my part, because I absolutely LOVE this album.

The song “Comfortable Love” is really what caught my attention first.  It’s dark and moody, one of the heavier songs on an album that focuses a lot on piano as the lead instrument.  As he is also an artist and a poet, his lyrics convey a sense of emotion that is arresting; I’ll be frank that this isn’t a cheerful album by any means, but one that you’ll commiserate with when things just aren’t going your way.  I’m always a fan of sad songs anyways, but Keaton has such a way of writing, combined with his wavering vocal style, that you get lost in these songs.

Watch the video for “Alright” off of “Kindly Now” below.   You can purchase “Kindly Now” on iTunes, or listen on Spotify.

24 Days of Music- Day 3: Matthew Ryan

Having stayed up a little too late last night after drinking just a little too much (ok, a lot too much), today’s selection of music is going to be on the quieter, more introspective end of the spectrum.

Matthew Ryan has the kind of voice that manages to hang in the air like a wisp of smoke, subtly powerful and yet still soft.  His 2012 album “In The Dusk of Everything” is beautifully warm and soothing, and I play it so often that I’m surprised I haven’t worn it out yet.  My first choice for a day where I’m not at my best, and relish being able to just relax and take it easy.

He’s an excellent lyricist, and his talents are showcased across each of his albums.  Make sure to check out his entire catalogue of music;  they’re all wonderful though my personal favourites are the aforementioned “In The Dusk of Everything”, as well as 2014’s “Boxers.

This is also fitting as I saw him opening for Brian Fallon a year ago on this day at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ- watch over the next couple days as I’ll be mentioning the artists on that bill again!

Check out “And It’s Such a Drag” from “In The Dusk of Everything” and the title track from “Boxers” below.  Music from Matthew Ryan is available via iTunes, or his Bandcamp page.

24 Days of Music- Day 2: Two Cow Garage

I saw Two Cow Garage opening for Frank Turner on his spring tour earlier this year, and I was immediately struck by how good they were live.  With three accomplished vocalists in the band, the sound and harmonies were tight.  Obviously I went back through their catalogue of albums and I loved each of them, but when “Brand New Flag” came out this past October, I was blown away.

As Todd Farrell had yet to join the band on their previous bands, his addition really helped to round out the band on “Brand New Flag”, and the album seems more refined and focused.  With Todd, Shane Sweeney and Micah Schnabel switching lead vocal duties throughout the album, each song is fresh and exciting, rooted in politics but not preachy.  Definitely one of my albums of the year.

Check out the title track from “Brand New Flag” from Two Cow Garage below.  “Brand New Flag” is available for purchase on iTunes or via their Bandcamp page.

24 Days of Music- Day 1: Owls By Nature

Hi everyone,

I realize that I’ve been slacking over the last little bit, and since we’re heading into the Christmas season beginning today, I figured I’d do something different this month!

I’d like to give you a new artist or album to listen to every day, in a pseudo- 24 days of music type of scenario.  These are artists that I’ve been listening to and have really connected with, and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy them just the same.  Also, hopefully this will hold me accountable for keeping this space up to date and full of new music!

Kicking things off is one of the bands that has been a more recent find, but one that has really struck a chord and become a quick favourite.

Owls By Nature is a folk-rock band based out of Edmonton, Alberta, and it was the song “Heartbreaking Ways” from their 2013 release “Everything is Hunted” that first caught my attention.  It’s a foot-stomping, energetic rocker, with a unique sound that makes it unable to pigeonhole as just one genre.

“The Great Divide”, their fourth album, was released just last month on November 4th, and it’s equally as good as each of their previous releases, if not a little more focused and sophisticated.  The sound on this record is a little more rock centered, calling to mind fellow Canadian artists The Trews.  I think this is a band to keep an eye on for sure.

You can listen to their music using Spotify, and purchase these albums via their Bandcamp page or on iTunes.

Listen to “Heartbreaking Ways” and “Across the Sea” from “The Great Divide” below:

October Playlist

Well better late than never!

Here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last month.  There were a lot of really great new releases, including but not limited to: Two Cow Garage, Jimmy Eat World, Almost People, Leonard Cohen, John K. Samson and so many more.  I would highly recommend you dig further into these albums, beyond just what I’ve included here.  They’ve already become some of my favourites of this year, and in a very short amount of time.

Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Ashleigh and I made up a playlist for tonight’s celebrations!  It’s a little more on the non-conventional side but still appropriately Halloween-y, so have a listen while you’re getting ready to go out, or even if you’re just staying in to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters tonight.

Be safe and have fun!

Oh Canada!: Tours Heading Your Way This Month

Get ready Canada, we’re about to be graced with some excellent artists coming through select cities in the next few weeks, and for those of you lucky enough to be in these areas, you’ll want to get in on the action.  Thunder Bay in particular: you’re getting two of these tours and I’m side-eyeing you so hard right now (for those that don’t know, I lived there for around 8 years and I obviously took for granted that their promoters consistently work overtime to book great musical acts like the ones below).


First up, Koo Koo Kanga Roo is doing their first Canadian headline tour this month.  They’re fun, quirky, always entertaining…and completely family friendly!  Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll definitely want to check them out if they’re heading to a town near you- relive your youth, jump around and sing like the big kid you are.  If you do have kids…well then you have no excuse to miss out.  If you’re a fan of Frank Turner, note that he’s mentioned in previous interviews that this is one of his favourite live acts, and he’s featured on “Spread Your Wings and Soar” from their latest album, “The Triangle of Success”.  Just to give the adults out there a little reassurance that this is not solely a ‘kids’ show.

Canadian dates are below:

October 15, 2016 Toronto, ON The Garrison Tickets
October 17, 2016 Ottawa, ON House of Targ Tickets
October 19, 2016 Halifax, NS Halifax Central Library Free Show!
October 22, 2016 Thunder Bay, ON Mapletops Activity Centre Tickets
October 23, 2016 Winnipeg, MB Upper Hall at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church Tickets
October 24, 2016 Saskatoon, SK Louis’ Loft Tickets
October 25, 2016 Edmonton, AB The Mercury Room Tickets
October 26, 2016 Lacombe, AB Lacombe Memorial Centre Free Show!
October 29, 2016 Vancouver, BC The Wise Tickets

 


The Homeless Gospel Choir/Derek Zanetti (who I was lucky to see on Frank Turner’s spring US tour) is heading through a few Quebec and Southern Ontario cities this month!  He’ll be on tour with Listener this time around, and I definitely recommend getting there early- his is not a set to miss.  The Homeless Gospel Choir combines acoustic music rooted in old school punk rock; music with a message.  This isn’t your parent’s politics, but instead, THG delivers a fresh, tongue-in cheek perspective that is sure to appeal to those people who understand the deficiencies in our current political system.  Check out The Homeless Gospel Choir in these cities:

October 20, 2016 Laval, QC Turbo Haus Tickets
October 21, 2016 Gatineau, QC Le Temporarie
October 22, 2016 Toronto, ON The Garrison Tickets
October 23, 2016 Hamilton, ON The Casbah Tickets

 

 


Finally, I’m sure most people have figured out I have an affinity for New Jersey based musicians.  Sammy Kay is one of those artists, and he is heading through select cities in Canada beginning at the end of October and heading into November.  He’s got a little bit of something for every music fan, combining genres uniquely and effortlessly, rooted in Jersey blues.  If you’re a fan of The Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause and Chuck Ragan, you’ll really enjoy these shows!  He’s been working with Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls on his latest album, so maybe you’ll get a sneak peek of the new material 😉

October 29, 2016 Quebec City, QC La Source de la Martiniere Tickets
October 30, 2016 Montreal, QC Quai des Brumes
November 1, 2016 Oshawa, ON The Atria
November 3, 2016 Thunder Bay, ON The Apollo
November 4, 2016 Winnipeg, MB The Pyramid
November 8, 2016 Edmonton, AB The Buckingham Tickets
November 10, 2016 Calgary, AB The Palomino
November 11, 2016 Vancouver, BC The Cobalt

I was unable to come up with online ticket links for a lot of the shows; I’m certain if you contact the venues, they’ll be happy to help you out in purchasing tickets in advance.  For more dates, including the US, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/sammykaynj/?fref=ts

And here’s a teaser trailer for the new LP:


Make sure to head out to a gig if you’re able, show these guys some Canadian hospitality, and support what they’re doing.  Show some love at the merch tables.  Most of all, have fun!  If you want to share your show experiences, please contact me.  I’d love to hear about them, and I’m sure others would too!