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My Final Whisky Soaked Thoughts

sarah-smith-2-photo-by-cheryl-mazak

Here’s my final guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition, in which I say goodbye to the good times!

Just kidding, I’ll save that for later tonight! But really, it was super fun to be a part of this contest. It gave me a chance to discover a bunch of new bands I would have otherwise missed out on, and forced me to really think about just what it is that makes me so passionate about a good song. I wrote some of my favourite posts because of the questions AUX asked us.

One of my choices – Sarah Smith – even made it to the finals, which is great.

Those of you that entered and didn’t make it to the final three should still be proud, you put yourself out there to be judged, and that takes balls and faith in your own talent – two things that will get you far in this industry if you keep up the hard work.  Be sure to stick it out – many bands will break up before they hit their stride, it’s the ones who don’t that eventually get signed.

It was also interesting to read my fellow bloggers opinions on all the topics we covered, and see their favourites. Despite it being an indie rock focused panel, for the most part we had pretty diverse opinions and choices.

The show happens tonight, and I look forward to finding out who takes home the grand prize! Will you be there?

 Lisa

My Other Favourite Whisky Rocks Entry

Here’s my latest guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition, in which I talk about my other favourite entry.

As I was going through the entries, the other song that really stood out to me was Sarah Smith’s “Shine Bright.” While the video is just a simple live one shot on a cell phone, her voice is so strong it immediately pulled me in and I had to listen to it a few times before moving on.

Upon googling, I discovered she is actually the singer from The Joys, a band I’m not super familiar with but had definitely heard of as they’ve been around a long time. This explained the sheer depth of her songwriting skills and ease of performance on stage. Nothing makes up for experience.

The song is catchy, the lyrics are strong and her voice has that smoky quality I absolutely adore and seek out in female musicians. She can sing like no one’s business.

I also love that the song has that slightly alt-country sound, which is something I was looking for in the entries. These performers will be opening for The Trews, so their music needs to mesh genre wise with the headliner, and this definitely does. It feels like something The Trews would have written if they had a female leading the band.

If you like the song as much as I do, go give it a vote!

 

Photo ©Mark Gommer

Lisa

My Favourite Whisky Rocks Submission

Hey guys! Here’s my latest guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition, in which I talk about my favourite entry.

After the entries went live for voting this week I spent some time going through the videos and listening to the different songs submitted, and there was definitely a band that instantly stuck out to me among the rest – ilvekyo.

The strange name immediately made me curious, and from the still alone I could tell this would be a video worth checking out as it looked to be a recording session rather than a live video. After going through countless entries I was getting tired, but as soon as I hit play on this song I was fully awake again and I knew I had found my first choice.

The video is great – love the focus on the strings on their instruments – but most importantly, they are incredibly talented. The song is catchy, I immediately found myself clapping along, and the lyrics and songwriting ability is the strongest I found among the various submissions. I love their vocal tone, the pacing, the verse is as strong as the chorus, and each instrument stands out on its own and adds something unique to the song. I played it at least 10 times more before moving on to the next video.

They remind me of some of my favourite slightly country tinged alternative bands like Wilco, but without being derivative at all. They would fit perfectly up there on stage with The Trews.

I wanted to learn more about them, and after googling, discovered someone else thinks they’re pretty great too.

Watch the video below and then go HERE to give them a vote – they deserve to be up on that stage. And remember you can vote once every 24 hours!

Lisa

On The Importance of Showing Up For The Opening Act

Hey guys! Here’s my latest guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition (bands – this is your LAST CHANCE to enter your song to win a spot opening for The Trews and gear from Gibson and Yamaha!), in which the guest bloggers were asked to talk about a memorable opening act we discovered by showing up early – or in my case, sticking around later.

When I was younger, I only showed up for the opener when it was important that I could actually see the stage (so, standing shows). Being short is easily the worst part of being a live music fan.

But, as I’ve become more interested in the local music community in the past few years, I’ve made it a point to show up earlier than usual – or stick around for the other bands playing that night in the case of some local shows – as it can lead to finding my next favourite band.

The most recent example of this would be during NXNE, when I attended the Horseshoe to see some of my favourite locals – Poor Young Things, CATL, and the special guests for the night – Yukon Blonde. As it was a local festival lineup, it wasn’t like a typical concert where the first bands to play are the lesser known ones, the order was a lot more random, and so Yukon Blonde (who would be considered the headliner) were on at 10pm before most of the bands for the night. After their set was over I decided to stick around for Young Empires and CATL, and this meant staying for The Lumineers set as well.

For some reason, I hadn’t yet heard of the The Lumineers, but the Shoe was abuzz about them – the venue was packed and I couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, so I figured I should stick it out and see what they were about rather than heading to another nearby venue for a different band and then coming back as I tend to do during these festivals.

And I am so glad I did.

It was easily the best set of NXNE for me, by a mile.

There is nothing like that feeling of seeing a random band you’ve never heard of, and being absolutely taken away by their set. I immediately had that “where have these guys been all my life?” feeling that always means I’ve found my next favourite band. I was transfixed by their presence, even though I was at the back of the very packed room and couldn’t see too much – that’s how strong the music was. The room went silent all the way to the bar – which, if you’ve ever been to a Horseshoe show – you’ll know what a rarity that is. It was that exact kind of folky, foot stomping, hand clapping, sing along music that fills me with immense joy, and I felt so grateful to have stumbled upon them. They left me feeling that incredible buzz I talked about in my previous article about what makes for a memorable live experience.

Of course, “Hey Ho” became a massive hit, and their self-titled album became the soundtrack to my summer. It will definitely be making it onto my top 5 albums of the year list.

 

Lisa

If You Could Open For Any Band, Who Would It Be?

Hey guys! Here’s my latest guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition (bands – enter your song to win a spot opening for The Trews and gear from Gibson and Yamaha!), in which the guest bloggers were asked which band we would want to open for if we were in a band.

I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could find a quote from a music journalist about how all music writers are just wannabe musicians without any real musical talent. That would definitely be a fair representation of me.

I was the dork singing with her hairbrush in front of the mirror when I was a tween, sure that I would be like Britney Spears one day (this was before I had taste, don’t judge). Eventually, (after my sister laughed at me enough) I realized that, no, I couldn’t sing to save my life, and I changed directions – but I still rue the day I chose the flute in grade 9 music class instead of the guitar or the drums (after being told we had to bring our instrument home to practice each night I went with the only one I could fit in my backpack). By the time I finally took a guitar class in college, I felt annoyed by the fact that I had to cut all my nails off on my left hand in order to play it, and my baby sized hands made it literally impossible to play an F chord, so as it stands my musical repertoire goes as far as covering three chord Cat Power songs.

That is my long winded way of saying there is no way in hell I could open for anyone, but that doesn’t stop a girl from dreaming.

Now, when I first read the question my immediate thought was – this question needs to be more specific, because I could give a variety of different answers.

Since the question is about bands, not solo artists, opening for Bob Dylan circa 1967 is off the table, but I could still open for The Velvet Underground in that year, and I could still open for The Patti Smith Group at CBGBs because the addition of the word ‘group’ makes her a band, so it counts. I wouldn’t go with anyone like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones as cool as that would be, because oh my god that would be intimidating, and any band I would be in wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to that and we’d get booed off the stage. With Bob, Patti or Lou Reed, my weirdo band would probably fit in.

But, the 60′s and 70′s are long over, so I decided I should probably stick to the band I would open for TODAY, if I could. A band I’ve actually seen live and can without a doubt say they provide the best live experience of any band I’ve ever seen.

And that brings me to Toronto’s own Broken Social Scene. Sure, they broke up, but they come back when we want them to.

The first time I saw BSS was the first time I truly understood the power of live music. I described it to my friend as a “musical orgasm.” It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life, and even though I went in not entirely in love with You Forgot It In People, I left absolutely obsessed with it. I’ve convinced friends in the States to come here just to see their Toronto show, because there is nothing like seeing them here in their hometown, with all their friends joining the party.

And that is a big reason why they would be the ultimate choice. When you open for BSS, they inevitably welcome you into their insane, wonderful extended family and you probably get to join them onstage at some point during the gig. I don’t want to open for them – I want to be a member – and opening would be a step closer to that. Every time I’ve seen them (I’ve more than lost count at this point) I spend most of the time wishing I was onstage singing along, hitting a tambourine with Feist and Amy while four brass instruments play next to five guitars and two drummers. It wouldn’t even matter that I have no musical talent, because my pathetic vocals would get drowned out by the cornucopia of awesome sounds.

They were the reason I started paying attention to indie and local music in the first place, and they’ve been the soundtrack to my entire Toronto existence since I moved here nine years ago. There really is no one else I’d rather share a stage with.

 Lisa