Saturday, 31 December 2011

And the 10 best albums of 2011 are...

10 -Blink- 182 -  Neighborhoods
9 - Memphis - Here Comes a City

8 - Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

7 - The Strokes - Angles

6 - Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune

5 - AWOLNATION - Megalithic Symphony

4 - Adele - 21

3 - City and Colour - Little Hell

2 - Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials

1 - Foster the People - Torches

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ceremonials - Florence is elegant!

This record has a great vibe to it. The songs are a mixture of Lungs and something that we haven’t heard yet. My favourite song on this record is What the Water Gave Me:

Ceremonials is definitely up to par with Lungs and I am excited to see what she’ll do on her next album. I just love her voice, I can't get enough of it. This is one of those records that you can’t get tired of listening to. The songs own grandiosity. You can simply say they are big. And if you're familiar with Florence, you know this is something she does magnificently well. I love how she uses lots of harp in her tunes, something of a trademark, a recognizable feature that totally works. I think that is why she is so unique. Florence is elegant!  Definitely buy this album! I did :)

Monday, 7 November 2011

V is the real deal!

I mentioned them before. 5th Projekt is probably Toronto's best kept secret. If you like depth in music, then you MUST listen to this band. They are, no doubt, the true definition of flawless.

Their new album V is a fantastic collection of tunes. It's a radical break from their former projects and you can taste the heavy edge they were hiding up until now. Each song presents a new energy and combined they are absolutely epic. This is an album you must listen to from beginning to the end. Then again and again. And each time you will discover something else hidden between the notes.
And when you think you have it all figured out, Tara surprises with an amazing interpretation of the classic White Rabbit. It's seriously too awesome to put in words, so I suggest you go and have a listen.

I saw them live in Guelph in August. Tara had a cold, but you honestly couldn't tell. Her voice was as amazing as usual and they had everyone stunned with their super professional performance.Here's a clip I recorded:

Friday, 16 September 2011

Foster the People - Get Addicted!

 It's no secret I love this band. I mentioned them a while ago and was totally looking forward to their new album TORCHES. I honestly can't get enough of it. These guys redefined the concept of greatness. They are absolutelly brilliant! So here's my take on their new release.

Helena Beat
This song has been playing CONSTANTLY on the radio. It’s solid, definitely. I love the chord progression. It really brings the song together, and there’s a little lead part in the verses that you might not have noticed, but it also completes the verse. The chorus is simply amazing, and still follows the main chord progression, but then comes the bridge. It breaks down to a simple drum, bass and synth part. The song continues to the chorus again, and makes the song even better by repeating the lick that goes ‘wooooooo, woooo’ you know what I mean. Awesome.

Pumped Up Kicks
The acclaimed best song in the album, not in my opinion, but one of the best. Definitely pumps me up in the morning! I’ve heard this song enough that I can tell you that I sing the chorus VERY loud in the car. The verses are for listening only, because the production in them is just astounding. It makes me wonder how long it took to put this song together because there are just so many different layers of sound. The solo is cool because I’m pretty sure it was all sung into a microphone with a cool effect over it. With mainly the same structure as Helena Beat, it attaches the two songs into one. I love it.

Call It What You Want
The intro is so unique and the progression is just so simple but fascinating at the same time. Vocals start with the song title, call it what you want. For the first time on the album, we get to hear Mark’s voice without an effect. The raw quality of Foster the People. This song has a funkier quality than the electronic Helena Beat and Pumped Up Kicks. Here, you get to here Mark’s ear-pleasing piano skills. Once again with a cool vocal lick, it differs from the strong electronic characteristic of Foster the People. I simply love how they can add raw piano to synths and electric drums. It’s amazing.

Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)
Here, we hear the acoustic guitar. This song differs from all the other songs on the album, with acoustic drums, and not too many synths in the beginning. We just hear synths mainly following the vocal progression and doing lead things. This brings us back to the beginning, to the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, 3 man band typical. It actually reminds me of a Queens of the Stone Age-type thing. The bridge is AMAZING. One word, and that’s all you need to know. You’ll get it once you hear the song for yourself, if you haven’t already heard it. It just makes me happy!

Another one I’ve heard a lot, completely opposite from track 4. I like how they put the album together, some similar, some contrasting. Anyway, I like the lyrics in the chorus, saying mainly that you shouldn’t be wasting time doing other things, and you should just go hang out with Mark Foster. I like that. It really makes you think that you should get out and seize the day, not just waste it away. (Hey! That rhymes!) The bridge makes a huge statement with the chords, makes you complete your thoughts, but then brings them back with another chorus. It ends that way, and it should.

I Would Do Anything for You

Now THIS is my favourite song on the album. The chorus really makes the song with the ‘ooh la la’ part, and more of Mark’s epic piano skills. The verses are amazing but the choruses are amazing-er (Is that a word? Now it is.) They continue the song with the bridge, but the bridge continues with some very eerie chord changes for such a happy song. They go back to the chorus, and I continue to be speechless, and overwhelmed with happiness. Listen to this one. It will complete you.

I’ve heard this one. A lot. So much that I love it even more now. It’s not a song that will make you bored after 5 times in a row. The synth lick in the choruses completes the song, without even hearing the song completely. It’s already stuck an A++. Seriously, this song should be huger than it is, grabbing an audience from kids to adults, and anything in between. Mark shows his amazing voice in this song. I love the group harmonies in this song, because it depicts their teamwork and friendship. That’s cool.

Life on the Nickel
This song has so many layers it’s hard to describe. It sounds like they had fun recording this song. You don’t find out until later that the chorus is basically the intro all over again. The verse is really cool, and actually reminds me of Florence + the Machine’s ‘Drumming Song.’ The bridge reminds me of playing a arcade video game, because of the synths they chose to use during this song. It’s amazing what you can do these days.

Miss You
This song reminds me of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ because of the drum beats and synths in the chorus. You’ll find out later. The part after the verse breaks down, and into Party Rock they go. They obviously Foster it up a bit, but that makes it the whole bunch better. They pretty much go over the verse, breakdown, chorus thing again, but this time the breakdown is longer. They then build up into the chorus. You would think that this song would communicate to a large audience like I said with Houdini, but Houdini fits the bill. I love how the song ends, just like that. Just like that.

The last song on the album. Not if you got it on iTunes or at Best Buy! But I’m just reviewing the CD. So :(    This song has the best beat out of all 10 songs. It concludes the whole album, and would be an amazing show-ender, calming the audience down, before they realize that the concert is over. It’s a sad song, but the chorus makes it happy, even though the lyrics are still a bit depressing. The synth lick in this song is really cool. It follows the bass in the verses, but adds on to it. The verses almost make me want to cry because I know that the album is already over. They should’ve made a double record or something. Darn! Then comes Mark with the megaphone, and kills everybody listening to the song with his amazing skills. What you don’t know when you’re listening to the song, is that it’s actually 5 minutes long. But, they go buy so fast when you’re listening to the song, that they’re gone in a heartbeat.

 Overall this gets a rating of 6 out of 5. I’m being completely honest, and please take my word for it and buy this record, if you don’t already have it. The singles you hear on the radio are just a little glimpse of their talents. I bought the album on iTunes, where you receive one bonus track, but I’m heading down to Best Buy to get the other two. Get addicted!

Monday, 15 August 2011

About awesome people

Have you ever thought of doing something meaningful, something that would make a difference? I think all of us often think about it, but to actually do it, it's a different story.

Steve Gaul (shown above) set the world record for marathon drumming just a few days ago, in my hometown! The record was 120 hours, and he beat it by 1 hour. It was so cool to be able to watch him drumming whenever I wanted to, and it was only a 10 minute drive from my house! I could also watch him via an online stream, so that made it really easy to know if he was still drumming.

I went down to the music centre on the first day of his marathon. My producer’s band, Freedom Train, was one of many guests Steve had throughout the drumathon. He had been playing for 9 hours when we went there, and he wasn’t tired at all. I would have already been tired after drumming for that long. But Steve was remarkable and to think he did it for 121 hours is amazing!

Day 1

Guinness’ rules for marathon drumming records are:
Only 1 drummer can attempt the record
It must be played to recognizable songs
Each song must be more than two minutes long
There can be no more than 30 seconds between songs
The songs must be played to a recognizable standard
You get 5 minutes break for every hour completed, and can bank unused.

Day 3

Steve Gaul tried to break the record last year, and only got to 78 hours. He was doing it to help his sister who was battling cancer. Toni had Para-nasal Cancer, and lost her hip, eye and shoulder. She passed away last December. Steve had previously battled and overcame Testicular Cancer himself, so he wanted to break the world record for the cancer society.

So this year, Steve broke the record in honour of Toni. He was constantly surrounded by friends, family and complete strangers who were cheering him on. In the evenings, he was accompanied by local bands.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and went straight to the online stream to watch him drum to his last song, ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen. After he finished, he was raided by media crews trying to interview him before he went to bed. His crew had a bed in the music centre for him so he could fall asleep immediately after he finished. Imagine how tired you would be after drumming for 121 hours!

His goal is to raise $100,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, and you can still donate at

Thursday, 28 July 2011

About Addiction

One of my favorite treats ever is a Brazilian sweet called "brigadeiro".

 It's basically condensed milk mixed with cocoa and butter and cooked until it's nice and gooey. And you just roll it in a ball with chocolate sprinkles or whatever you want (shredded coconut, ground nuts, just use your imagination). It's really to die for!

I learned how to make a vegan version and it's pretty awesome. I use soy milk powder and earth balance instead of the regular ingredients and it's really good. I made some a while ago and gave it to my grandma to try and she said it tasted funny. So, that got stuck in my mind. How could it taste awesome to me and "funny" to someone else? And it hit me that my taste buds changed or better yet, adapted to the vegan flavours. My friend Dani helped me put the pieces together when she commented how fast people can adapt to almost anything in life.
It's so true! We can adapt to lack of light, change of temperature, so many things really! So why is it that it is so hard to get used to good things for our body? Like sugar addiction and the totally nasty stuff, like drugs? I know, it's all about chemistry and I won't get into that. But when I see people poisoning themselves and being unable to get out of that situation, I just do not understand the motivation to even start in that lifestyle.
I was on twitter when I found out about Amy Winehouse's sudden death and I was really sad. When you see someone so talented with so much potential just end up like that is very disturbing. I think life is something we should be grateful for and that we should embrace the good stuff and bad stuff. And learn everyday a bit more about it. I myself use songwriting as an outlet. I know some people paint or play sports. And it's cool that people can vent that way. I just wish it was as easy to adapt to doing positive things than getting into trouble.
Gonna miss you, Amy...

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Food Revolution

faux "meat" loaf

Some may think that being vegan equals eating boring and untasty food. I just want to share some of the awesome stuff I've been eating lately.
First of all, it does take a bit of planning to eat healthy. So it's not like I eat veggie dogs and burgers everyday. And as much as I really like french fries, I don't eat them often either. I usually eat beans, rice, couscous, quinoa and loads of vegetables everyday. And lots of cool salads too - raw kale is amazing and so is raw collard green. Mix them with beets, carrots, whatever you have in your fridge and you got a great meal. I help my mom in the kitchen all the time and it's fun to be part of our cooking adventure.
What I discovered since I switched to a plant-based diet is that food can actually taste amazing just raw, the way nature gave it to us. It's so cool to re-discover all these incredible new flavours!
Here are some pictures that are going to make you very hungry:

Arugula salad with edamame

Lots of yummy stuff from the buffet at Commensal

I eat nuts all day, so there you have it ;)

Salads are easy and great!

Mom's Brazilian beans. So good and so good for you!

Noodles. Hot and delicious!

Another easy salad!

I love arugula!


Seared dumplings: Vegetarian Haven 

Moroccan Pad Thai (Vegetarian Haven)

Raw Kale Salad (Vegetarian Haven)

Chocolate Fudge Cake (VH)

Add caption

Spicy Coconut Curry "Seafood" Bowl (VH)

Miso Dumpling Souper Bowl (VH)

My dad ordered this and it was so good! (VH)

One of my favorite things is caesar salad and I was totally stoked to get a great recipe in Alicia Silverstone's book.
It's a great read and she's really inspiring. So I won't post the recipe here, but I did find this video. Check it out:
Places I've been and loved: Vegetarian Haven (Toronto), KindFood (Burlington), The Naked Sprout (Burlington), Baldwin Natural-Organics Food Market (Toronto), Whole Foods (Oakville). 

Monday, 4 July 2011

All that and a bag of chips!

I love Grand Bend! Every summer I look forward to getting there. Lake Huron is super inviting and the beach is awesome. My dad used to live in Sarnia when he was about my age and I'm kinda jealous he got to spend the whole summer by the lake. Guess he probably wishes he were somewhere else at the time. But trust me, Grand Bend is great! It's about 3 hours from Burlington, so not too far.

I was so inspired a couple of years ago, that I composed one of my songs there.

And I wasn't the only one that got inspired. Local musician Brian Dale also wrote a really cool song about Grand Bend.

The first time I saw Brian was at the Oakwood Inn where he gigs regularly all through the summer. 

summer 2009

He's a really nice guy. And can play anything that he's requested. For real, he has this amazing memory for lyrics and can sing whatever people want to hear. I never saw anything like this! No wonder he's known as the "human iPod". He's incredible!

On one occasion, he told the story of a girl he was dating and that she always used the expression "all that and a bag of chips". So, he wrote a song for her (how totally cute is that!). They ended up breaking up. But the song is great and you gotta listen to it!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Nina Folino IS the voice!

Nina Folino is a Canadian singer/songwriter from my city, Burlington. I saw Nina for the first time at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival in 2009. Her music producer, Steve McPhail was hosting the open jam at the festival and I was getting ready to play with my cover band at the time. Nina took the stage before we did and I saw her from "backstage". My first impression was she was young and pretty. I also thought she was a great singer.
I liked her songs, so I bought her EP. And the more I listened, the more I loved it.

I think her songs have an unique originality. She's grounded without having lost the artistic sensibility.
Nina's writing and sense of emotion probably come from having travelled a lot when she was young. It's hard to have friends when you're always moving around. Nina told me she was a very imaginative kid. Music and singing became part of who she was and when her parents decided to live in Burlington, Nina joined the drama club and chorus at school. When she was in college, she wrote her first EP (the awesome one I was talking about) .

Nina's writing is honest and clear. And she has a fantastic voice!
She told me she's taking acting classes and playing with a few bands as a featured guest recently. I think any band should be lucky to have her singing with them :)
If you'd like to find out more about her, I suggest you go to her youtube channel and "like" her on facebook cause she's awesome!

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Boxer Rebellion - BRILLIANT new album!

The first time I saw them was when I watched Going The Distance. I was intrigued and decided to find out more about this band. Who were the faces behind this catchy song?

I found out they had already released a couple of albums. So, thanks Hollywood, good job introducing them to me :)

I have recently been listening to their latest release, The Cold Still. The Boxer Rebellion is one of my favourite bands right now and their songs never get tiring. I’ve listened to the album a few times now, and every time there's something new for me to discover. You know what I'm talking about, right?

The Boxer Rebellion consists of Tennessee’s Nathan Nicholson (vox, guitar, keyboard), Australia’s Todd Howe (guitar), and England’s Adam Harrison (bass) and Piers Hewitt (drums). They have released 3 records, and I highly recommend you check them out.   If you enjoy bands like The Cinematics, Editors, The Airborne Toxic Event, and The Dears, buy The Boxer Rebellion’s new album.

No Harm (4:02) - The opening track to the album, maybe not the strongest song of the album, but gives a good build-up to the rest of the album. A  pretty slow song, it starts off with some nice acoustic-sounding drums. Sounds exactly like their old stuff.  The lyrics are simple, and the choruses get kind of repetitive after a while. But still a good song to just listen to with your eyes closed, and make your own story around the lyrics.

Step Out of the Car (3:07) - Starting with bass and drums, this song has a very strong start to it. This song doesn’t have the simple 4-chord progression like the first track, and that gives this song a bit more depth. The chorus is really catchy, and makes you want to sing along. Check the live performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. They nailed it!

Locked in the Basement (3:42) - With more of an acoustic and folk feel, this song is also very strong, with your typical folk pattern, but with a little rock feel to it as well. It uses a simple progression, but the vocal melodies make it sound like it changes, even though it doesn’t. This song is for sure one of my favourite songs on the record. The video above, an acoustic performance. What can I say? These guys SO know what they're doing!

Cause For Alarm (3:34) - A very acoustic, soft rock-sounding song. I like it. It sounds simple, but is very complex in its own ways. A slow jam, this song showcases the band’s musical knowledge and talent. The drummer shows this by making a complicated, but strong rhythm. The guitars mainly follow the vocal melody, which I like, but can sometimes take away depth from the song. This is probably the most meaningful track on this album to me, and I give this song a 5 out of 5.

Caught by the Light (4:51) - With a shuffle feel, this song brings a lot to the table. I like it because of its simplicity, and the power it has to make the simplicity sound AMAZING. This track reminds me of winter, and I would consider this song the title track because of that (hence ‘The Cold Still’). Although everybody would have a different opinion of which song best suits the name of the record, I’m pretty sure that this song would get a lot of votes. The piano in this song is so defining, and the heavy drums closer to the end make this song just even better, and its a nice little surprise to hear heaviness in this soft and quiet song. I like that about the song.

Organ Song (3:28) - A happier song, I think the placement of this song in the record is incorrect. I think this should be the last track, with an uplifting feel to it, after a few ballads. I could see this song in a movie a few years from now. I wouldn’t be surprised. This song just makes me happy, and it’s a good change from the past few songs on the track. It has a different feel than the rest of the songs, and shows us that the band doesn’t just have one system that they use to write their songs.

Memo (3:05) - This song is a mixture of Organ Song, and the others. It brings the album together, makes it a whole. It has that deep and mellow feel of Locked in the Basement, but brings that happy and light feel of Organ Song along with it. A great track, it tells you just how talented the band is, and all of the music they have yet to write.

Both Sides Are Even (5:05) - Again, sounding like Locked in the Basement, but a little bit different, I like this one. For some reason it reminds me of Metric’s ‘Empty’, but I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why. The ‘orchestra’ in the background sounds like a computer or keyboard generated tone, which I could’ve lived without. This is a nice buildup to the end of the record, but this song is kind of lengthy. I would’ve liked to see it shortened up a bit, but it’s such a good song that it doesn’t matter that much.

The Runner (3:39) - This song has a completely different feel than the other songs on this album in my opinion. It’s a bit heavier, faster and brings out another quality of the band. This is one of my favourite songs of this album. I just think that the guitar could’ve harmonized with the vocal melodies instead of just copying the vocal melodies, but I’ll live. Overall, a defining track of the record.

Doubt (4:57) - To be honest, this isn’t my favourite song of the record, and it shouldn’t have been placed as the last song of the record, because it doesn’t leave you amazed or end with a bang. It’s just there, if you know what I mean. It’s a good song though, a simple, slow, progression, using just keyboards, and a little bit of guitars. I like the buildup to the end, leaving you with a bit of sadness that the album is over. What I think they’re trying to get at is that the record is over, and you should want to listen to it again. I will.

As a whole, this album is truly wonderful. If I were you, I would buy The Cold Still, and listen to it 70,000 times. Or until I knew every little part of every song :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Burlington Sound of Music 2011

What I love the most about this festival is the always great selection of bands. Not sure what goes on, but for some reason, Canada has a lot of good bands!

The festival began on Thursday, June 16 and the first band I saw was Yukon Blonde from Vancouver.
They are super talented and really nice. I bought their CD (amazing) and got their autograph at the merch table.

I think it's ultra cool that you get to meet some of the bands after they play. AND get their t-shirts and CDs :)

Toronto's Bedouin Soundclash played right after and it was CROWDED!!!!

Friday I watched one of the best concerts ever by The Reason. They are another great band from Hamilton, Ontario. I don't know how to describe with words, but I'll try.  Have you ever been to a concert that was absolutely round with no rough edges. These guys work so well together that when they play, they create an amazing sense of musical depth. You get lost within their sound. It's not usual to see this kind of unison live. And they achieve this effortlessly. Check their Sloan cover and tell me if they're not awesome!

Crash Karma was next. It's a pretty high profile band since their members come from I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party and Zygote. So they were obviously very good.

I arrived early at the park around lunch time on Saturday and went straight to this great vegan cafe on John Street (yes, the street was closed for the festival - so cool). It was my first time at Kind Food and I liked it so much that I went back for dinner. It's a very cute place, really hip and nicely decorated and what's most important: the food is awesome. I totally recommend this restaurant, so if you're from Burlington, you should check their hours and go. Best cupcakes EVER!

 Back at the festival, I watched Toronto's The Wooden Sky. Another talented group of musicians. One thing I've been enjoying seeing is that a lot of these guys play more than one instrument. It's like finding lost siblings, so there are many of my kind haha.
Funny thing about this video. If you look on the right side, you can see me right at the front with my mom and dad. Cool.

Edmonton's Stereos was another really packed concert. It was hard to get close, so I didn't really try ;)

P.E.I.'s Paper Lions  were great! I enjoyed seeing them and bought their CD.

Hollerado was everything I expected and probably a little bit more. If you don't know them, you don't know what you're missing. Seriously. Click on the link and go. Yes do it! Go! I'll wait.

See, I told you so. They are good, aren't they?
It was hard to get their autograph, but I did it.

Tokyo Police Club closed the day. And it was packed!

It was a great day, but I was so tired I don't even remember falling asleep...

I had to miss Sunday at the festival. My friend got us some VIP tickets for the Hamilton Air Show and unfortunately I couldn't be at 2 places at the same time.
But here are some highlights:

The Salads:


Meanwhile that's what I was doing...

Happy Summer to you all!!!!