Friday, March 24, 2017

Toronto : Sprawling on the fringes of the city

                                                 Toronto, the Liverpool of Canada!
As a Swede, my first relation to this town, was the legendary Swedish hockey player Börje Salming who played in the NHL team Toronto Maple Leafs during the 70´s and 80´s.
But that didn´t stop me from being a Boston Bruins fan, however I have deep respect for Toronto Maple Leafs because it´s one of the original six league members along with Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.
When it comes to music, my first contact with the most populous city in Canada, was the introduction of the 1976 live album "All the world´s a stage" with the classic phrase -Hello and please welcome home, Rush!
The live album was recorded at Massey Hall in Toronto and it was the start for me being a long-time fan of this beloved trio that has fans all over the world. (Other famous artists that has recorded their live albums at Massey Hall are Neil Young, Matthew Good, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie).
By listening to Rush, it also got me more interested in rock music from Canada because up to 1976, I was mainly listening to bands from England and the U.S.
Rush might be the biggest band from Toronto but this city has a lot to offer for music lovers, whether you´re a  heavy metal fan and love Anvil, Lee Aaron or rather prefer melodic rock like Coney Hatch, Wrabit and Triumph. They are all top quality bands from the big city by the Lake Ontario.

This is also the hometown for ultimate progrock music with names like Max Webster, Klaatu, Alpha Galates and I Mother Earth, not to mention the famous producer Bob Ezrin who´s CV is mighty impressive with classic albums like Pink Floyd´s The Wall, Kiss´ Destroyer, Alice Cooper´s Welcome To My Nightmare and Peter Gabriel´s first solo album.
Ok, then, those albums and bands aren´t exactly new so you might wonder if the music scene in Toronto is pretty dead these days. Well, it´s not! I still discover new talents all the time so the climate for modern rock is alive and kicking with artists such as Thornley, Manic Drive, Crash Karma, Sky Terminal and Saint Asonia.
If I sit down with a few of my closest friends and talk about bands from Toronto, I know they would holler classic rock and blues artists like Neil Young, Jeff Healey, Steppenwolf and Moxy. And speaking of Moxy, I have a great story to share about some of my best friends who went down to Sweden Rock Festival in 2001 where the line-up was Angel, W.A.S.P, Gary Moore, Dokken, Helloween, Uli Jon Roth, Moxy and many more.
It was a hot and sunny day in the beginning of June and my friends Eddie and Tonnie had just put up a tent and were listening to a mixtape on a portable cassette player not far from the stage area. They were drinking beer and talking about the bands they were excited to see, and between two of the songs on the mixtape that happened to be Moxy. They noticed that they heard the same music coming from the stage, -shit, Moxy is on stage! So they ran like crazy because they had forgotten about the time Moxy would perform. I laughed a lot when I heard about this.

10 Essential albums made by artists from the city of the maple leafs
Rush-Moving Pictures (1981)
Max Webster-Universal Juveniles (1980)
Neil Young and Crazy Horse-Rust never sleeps (1979)
Anvil-Forged in fire (1983)
Dalbello-She (1987)
Harem Scarem-Mood Swings (1993)
Alias-Alias (1990)
Frozen Ghost-Frozen Ghost (1983)
Pat Travers Band-Live! Go For What You Know (1979)
Red Rider-Neruda (1983)

Rik Emmett was a relatively unknown singer/songwriter/guitarist on the local Toronto scene in September of ’75 when he joined a newly-formed hard rock trio called Triumph. By ’79 three albums had gone platinum in Canada and two charted in the States, receiving serious radio airplay. By ’81 Triumph was firmly established as one of the premier touring rock acts in North America, with generous FM radio airplay support and heavy rotation on the fledgling MTV cable channel. In the next seven years, the band released ten gold albums, with four turning platinum in Canada. In the U.S., two went gold.

What musicians from Toronto inspired you to work with music?
Rik Emmett-Domenic Troiano was a guitarist locally of high reputation.  From the jazz area, my teacher at college was Peter Harris, who was very much a Lenny Breau kind of fingerstyle guy.  A local guitarist from the jazz field who was extremely influential on many guitarists was Ed Bickert.

But as far as 'rock' goes, there weren't a lot of local guys that managed to rise above the huge influence of the Yardbirds guys, Beck, Page & Clapton.  No one locally played like Hendrix.  (Well - no one anywhere played like Hendrix, did they?)  When the wave of British Invasion stuff hit, and in its wake, there were no local guys who had the impact on Toronto Canada's pop scene like the idols of my teenage years:  Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Jan Akkerman ...   And even if one set one's sights a bit lower, and only looked to the States, there would be blues guys like Mike Bloomfield, and Buddy Guy ... It was more of a blues rock influence in Toronto, coming up out of Chicago, and Detroit. 



Dream Aria is a Toronto band who offers a blend of traditional progressive rock music with new prog, world music, goth, ambient & classical to their fans.

The band is fronted by Ann Burstyn and with a new album coming out on May 1st called On The Other Side, the Palace of Rock felt we needed to ask the question :

What is your opinion about the music scene in Toronto?
Ann Burstyn - The Toronto music scene is not what it used to be but really, that’s to be expected. We’re not in the 80’s any longer.  The nostalgic lot of us wishes it was perhaps but yet, here we are. The bad news is that so many of our beloved clubs have closed due to many reasons (mostly financial and younger demographics) but the good news is music is definitely alive and well, even here in the  TO! 
There is room for many successful cover/tribute acts in various remaining venues around the city. For those aforementioned “nostalgic” folks, you can still hear some of your fave bands from the past but in tribute fashion, such as Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Dio, Pat Benatar, Heart etc.  Although it’s not the same as the real acts, the experience can still be much the same. If you’re into new music, the Indie Scene is a great place to look! Indie Music Week is an excellent place to find new treasures! There are bands of every genre and even bands that blend many genres together to create their own unique sound. Most TO residents will always think of RUSH as THE Toronto band. Yes, they are still around making great music but likely will be touring less and with a new drummer.  But some of the newer acts such as Big Wreck, Drake, Harem Scarem, Metric, Bruno Mars, Broken Social Circle Scene, The Weekend, along with others, are here to carry the torch. I personally give them all much respect and wish them the best of success today and into the future.  

Toronto has always been very diverse in culture and that shines through in the variety of artists/music genres these acts provide.  If one is looking for the BIG concert feel, the ACC, Roger’s Centre, Massey Hall, Molson Ampitheatre, Budweiser Stage, Sony Centre For Performing Arts, Sound Academy, and the Danforth Music Hall are the perfect venues to check out. Some acts on their rosters for 2017 are Bon Jovi, John Mayer, U2, Kings Of Leon, One Republic, Bruno Mars, Bob Dylan, and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill, to name just a few.  We can’t forget live Musical Theatre! Musicals are very much still a Toronto highlight. Some of the shows on that front are The BodyGuard, The Book Of Morman, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, Pokemon, and many more. 
We still have quite  number of great clubs to satisfy your live band music thirst are: College Street Bar, Lee’s Palace, The Phoenix, The Mod Club, The Drake, The Rockpile, Horseshoe Tavern, Groove Bar & Grill, The Resevoir Lounge, The Silver Dollar, The Rex, Sneaky Dee’s, and Velvet Underground.
So there you have it! If you ask me, yes, the Toronto Music scene has changed but it still thriving BUT to keep it that way here’s a favorite and important quote we often say and hear around these parts: “Support Your Live Music Scene!” I cannot stress that enough. See you out there


The big ones that put Toronto on the map of rock and roll
Anvil (heavy metal)
Barenaked Ladies (rock)
Bob Ezrin (producer) 
Coney Hatch (melodic rock)
Dalbello (pop / rock)
Danko Jones (rock)
Harem Scarem (melodic rock) 
I Mother Earth (progressive metal) 
Jeff Healey (blues)
Kim Mitchell (classic rock)
Klaatu (progressive rock)
Lee Aaron (heavy metal) 
Max Webster (progressive rock)
Metric (pop / rock)
Moxy (classic rock)
Neil Young (classic rock)
Our Lady Peace (post grunge)
Pat Travers (hard rock)
Phil X (guitarist of Bon Jovi)
Red Rider (melodic rock)
Rush (progressive rock)
Santers (melodic rock)
Sheriff (melodic rock)
Steppenwolf (classic rock)
Three Days Grace (modern rock)
Tom Cochrane (melodic rock)
Triumph (hard rock)
Wrabit (melodic rock)

Underrated artists from Toronto that should be / or should´ve been bigger
Abandon All Ships (electronica / metal)
Alias (melodic rock)
Alpha Galates (progressive rock)
Big Wreck (hard rock)
Crash Karma (modern rock)
Dream Aria (progressive rock) 
Edwin (pop / rock)
Eugene Ripper (folk rock) 
Evans Blue (alternative metal)
Frozen Ghost (melodic rock)
Justin Rutledge (singer / songwriter) 
Leh-Lo (pop / soul)
Manic Drive (modern rock)
Saint Asonia (rock / metal)
Thornley (modern rock)
Toronto (melodic rock)


Rising acts from Toronto to have on the radar
Affinity (hard rock) 
All But Over (rock / metal) 
Before The Curtain (rock / metal)
Betty Moon (rock / pop) 
Bleeker (alternative rock)
Blind Race (heavy metal)
Bolus (progressive rock)
Broken Sons (rock)
Cooper (hard rock)
Curses (alternative rock)
Dani Rosenour (modern rock)
Days Like Today (pop / punk) 
Dear Love (alternative rock)
Down With Webster (rock / hip hop)
Fast Romantics (rock)
Final Thought (pop / rock)
Fire X Fire (power pop)
Jesse Labelle (alternative pop)
July (pop / punk)
Justin Nozuka (pop / soul)
Kai Exos (rock / soul)
Liferuiner (post hardcore)
MadMachines (alternative pop) 
Menage (pop / rock)
Never Say Die (alternative rock) 
Red Handed Denial (rock / metal)
Romes (alternative rock)
Rosedale (pop / punk)
Six Side Die (rock)
Sky Terminal (modern rock)
Smashing Satellites (electro pop)
Sumo Cyco (hard rock)
The Android Meme (progressive metal) 
The Fullblasts ( pop / punk)
The Heights (pop / rock)
The Lipstick Junkies (indie rock)
The Rabid Whole (electro rock)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review : Momb - Hard care


Momb - Hard care (2016) Alliance Records
Produced by Momb
POWER POP / WEST COAST
Tracks : 1.Tough enough 2.Nobody else 3.All you are made of 4.Believing in yourself 5.Hard care 6.Coke nut 7.Coke nut epilogue 8.Richest touch 9.Sexercise 10.Silence of your heart 11.Way of the water
www.facebook.com/mombmusic
4 out of 5

Now talk about a totally unexpected release, the second album "Hard care" from Danish band Momb.
Their brilliant self titled album was released in 1997 so I never thought there would be another album from these guys.
Where have they been all this time? on Mars? hiding underground for a science fair project? living like monks in Tibet? Who knows, but last year they came out of the silence and dropped a fantastic follow-up with "Hard care".
Soundwise, it´s like time stood still and we´re back to 1997, Momb continue to deliver lovely harmonies and excellent vocals in a blend of power pop and west coast sounds.
If Nik Kershaw and Gregg Alexander (New Radicals) wrote a song together and had Mew as backing band, the result could very well be the awesome song "Coke nut".
The track "All you are made of" bring thoughts to Mr Mister´s album "Go on" (1987) so I´m definitely in musical heaven here.
Highly recommendable!
Highlights : Sexercise, All you are made of, Hard care, Coke nut

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review : As We Ascend - Farewell to midnight


As We Ascend - Farewell to midnight (2017) Vital Records
Produced by As We Ascend
ROCK / METAL
Tracks : 1.Hatchet 2.My ghost 3.Expendable 4.Tell me 5.When the gun goes 6.Insulate 7.End of me 8.Watch the world burn 9.We fight 10.Wash away 11.At my door
www.facebook.com/AWAaudio
3,5 out of 5

As We Ascend is a new hard rock band from Nashville, formed in 2016 by singer / songwriters and guitarists Jake Jones and Justin Forshaw (formerly of We As Human) and drummer Robert Venable.
Their debut album "Farewell to midnight" is climbing like a rocket on Billboard´s album and single charts, many thanks to the kick ass single "Wash away" that completely knocked me down.
As We Ascend´s sound bring thoughts to bands like Disciple, Decyfer Down and Saliva so this album is hardly groundbreaking but it doesn´t matter that much because the riffs have enough impact to make a crater and the songs are damn good.
My favorites at the moment are "My ghost", "Hatchet", "Wash away" and "When the gun goes". I bet we´re gonna hear a lot more from this band in the future.

Rumours in the air

Christian metal band The Letter Black has signed with EMP Label Group and will release their 3rd studio album Pain on May 26th, the previous album Rebuild was released on Tooth and Nail records in 2013.

The alternative metal band Eighteen Visions parted ways in 2007 but the members James Hart - Lead Vocals, Keith Barney - Gutiars and Trevor Friedrich - Drums, have reunited and are currently in the studio recording their first album since the self titled album from 2006.

Boston based hard rock band Extreme is wrapping up their follow-up album to Saudades de Rock (2008), their 6th studio album is expected to be released later this year.

Modern rockers Hoobastank has finished recording their 6th studio album with producer Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Train), it´s their first album since Fight or Flight (2012).

Former Survivor singer Dave Bickler is finishing up his first solo album Darklight for a release in 2017. Bickler will perform at Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, U.K in October.

The British progressive / alternative metal band Amplifier are set to return with their 6th studio album Trippin´ With Dr.Faustus in mid-2017. It´s the follow-up to Mystoria (2014).