This one goes out to my closest friends

Welp, The Maine have done it again!

the maine ac

As you may (or may not) recall, one of my very favourite bands, The Maine, put out an excellent album earlier this year called American Candy. It grew on me to an almost obsessive degree, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since seeing The Maine in early May. Not ones to sit idly by when they can be playing live music, The Maine recently embarked on their second North American tour of the year, only this time, their tour dates were split in half: the Free For All Tour and the American Candy Tour.

the maine

The Free For All, as you would suspect, means that the concert is literally free for anyone – they are quite possibly the first band to attempt such a crazy notion and, so far, it seems to be working in their favour. Unfortunately, the Free For All tour did not extend to Toronto – instead, they played their latest album in full, which I think is actually the better deal.

This was amazing for two reasons: one, because it gives us a chance to hear songs live that they wouldn’t normally play (non-singles like one of my favourites, “Am I Pretty?” or slow songs like “24 Floors”); and two, because one of my best concert memories is seeing The Maine play their third album, Pioneer, in full (December 2011).

They could have just played the album – all 40-something minutes of it – then dropped their instruments and walked away, but, being the extraordinary performers they are, they played the first nine songs in album order then played another six older songs before ending the night with the album closer, “Another Night on Mars”. The club was packed – they played the Mod Club which is the smallest venue I’ve seen them in – and it was sweaty and hot, but man, was it a good time. Despite the people who felt the need to have a drink every ten seconds (which resulted in them walking back and forth to the bar), the crowd was lively and energetic, and the band fed off of it, putting on one heck of a show.

Along for the ride was new band Beach Weather; composed of Nick Santino (formerly of A Rocket to the Moon, he just so happens to be another one of my favourite singer-songwriters), plus dudes from other bands including (possibly) The Technicolors (I honestly don’t remember who the other three guys are).

As I tweeted after their set: I love Nick Santino and I love a sexy bass line and, since Beach Weather has both, I think I might love them too. Check them out for some rock ‘n’ roll vibes!

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Labour Day than with some of the hardest working dudes in the business.

So won’t you play something I know, a little old time rock n roll

Remember when A Rocket to the Moon was a band and then they broke up and their lead singer, Nick Santino, went solo? It was a bittersweet time in my life, but on the upside, I was able to see Nick play acoustic last night.

The Hard Luck Bar is not the  most attractive of venues, nor is it the easiest to get to – in fact, when we first looked it up, Google informed us that it didn’t exist – but it has phenomenal sound, especially for acoustic shows. Also, their security is incredibly efficient, which is so rare!

We missed most of the first band, Bitter Kids, a relatively local band (they’re from St. Catharines), but they did do a decent cover of The Maine’s “Into Your Arms”.

Next was The Technicolors – or, at least, the one guy from The Technicolors. They’re the most recent band to work with 8123 (which is the “label” for The Maine, Nick Santino, and pretty much everyone else who was on this tour except for Brian Marquis, probably).

Austin Gibbs went on and I was reminded of that other time when I saw him open for The Maine. I didn’t love him then, and, unfortunately, I don’t love him now. I think part of his lack of appeal is due to the fact that he looks like a paedophile from the seventies. Also, it felt like his set lasted twice as long as everyone else’s. But a lot of people in the crowd seemed to enjoy him, so there’s that.

I’ve heard of Brian Marquis, but have never actually seen him before. As the very loud girls sitting at our table suggested, he has a bit of Seth Rogen vibe, but has a decent voice – a bit of Patrick Stump pre-Save Rock and Roll, in that “I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying, but I kinda like it” way.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the first few opening bands, I was stoked to see This Century again. They’re a lot of fun, even though only half the band was present. They also had what I can only assume is a magical microphone: Joel (the singer) would lay down some sick beats (by which I mean he’d “beatbox”), and I guess it was somehow recorded because then he could play it on loop for the rest of the song. I don’t know, I couldn’t see what the mic was attached to, but presumably it was some sort of recording device. Either way, they’re quite dance-y, even while acoustic.

Finally, it was time for Nick Santino. I love him, he has a soothing voice and is a great lyricist, but, since most of his songs are very slow, it can be difficult to keep your eyes open. I’m pretty sure Ro fell asleep at one point (not surprising). In between his slow jams, however, he would interact with the crowd and he is surprisingly funny. My favourite part was a cross between when he pointed out that he was wearing a Slipknot shirt (pretty sure Nick Santino’s solo album is the polar opposite to anything Slipknot), and when he decided he would create a rap for This Century’s “Slow Dance Night”. The best lines were the beginning: it’s a slow dance night in Hollywood, I’m with my friends and I’m feelin’ good. It’s probably funnier if you could hear him, but it was definitely entertaining at the time.

An excellent end to the show was when all of the opening bands joined Nick onstage for “Long Way Home”. The guy from The Technicolors had a guitar solo, Brian Marquis briefly led the crowd in the “la la la’s”, Austin Gibbs scatted, and Joel from This Century sang backup. It basically looked like they were having a party onstage, and you could really see how much they all love making music.

Is it because of my long hair, tattoos and the fact that I don’t care…

I don’t remember how to write regular Music Monday posts since I’ve written concert reviews for the past 5 weeks, so bear with me.

Last weekend, when I saw The Maine, I mentioned seeing Nick Santino. Before Nick went solo, he was the lead singer of the relatively short-lived but still great band, A Rocket to the Moon.

Eric, Nick, Andrew, and Justin. 

During their five official years as a band (2008-2013), they released two full-length studio albums (starting in 2006, Nick released a couple of EPs under the ARTTM banner): 2009’s On Your Side and 2013’s Wild & Free (which was on my top 10 list in December).

It’s hard to classify ARTTM – they’re a little rock & roll, a bit country, a tad alternative, a dash of indie, and – if you listen hard enough – a pinch of pop punk. They were also capable of writing really sad songs, for example, one of my personal favourites, “Like We Used To”:

Will he love you like I loved you? Will he tell you every day? Will he make you feel like you’re invincible with every word he’ll say?

I’ve seen them twice: in 2011 for the On Your Side headlining tour, and then again when they opened for The Maine last June. They put on a fun show – not all their songs are as sad as “Like We Used To” or “Ever Enough” (which is at the bottom of this post). One of the first songs I listened to was “Life of the Party”, which, like the title suggests, is in fact a good party song. Or “Give A Damn” (which is where the post’s title comes from), or – if you’re looking for a lullaby – “Baby Blue Eyes” which I like singing to my nieces even though none of them have blue eyes.

I’m not entirely sure why ARTTM broke up. I think I was too busy flailing around screaming “WHY?” to fully comprehend their break-up statement (actually, I just re-read it and it still doesn’t give a solid reason). I think it was mostly wanting to branch out, make different music, maybe even take a break. I haven’t really kept up with the other band members, but like I mentioned, Nick has gone solo, I imagine Justin has gone back to focusing on his pre-ARTTM band, Brighten, Andrew’s probably drumming for someone else, and Eric seems to spend a lot of time on Twitter, but hasn’t mentioned anything about new music.

It’s always sad when a band breaks up, but at least ARTTM released a great final album and tried to tour as much as possible before calling it quits.

How could we know without searching? Is it ever enough?

*single tear*

Top 10 (but actually 15) of 2013

For my last Music Monday of 2013, I thought I’d do something different. Lots of music publications have been sharing their “End Of The Year” lists over the past couple of weeks, so I put together my own top 10 albums, limiting myself to albums I actually (physically) own.

Thus, in no particular order, here are my top 10 releases of 2013 (including my favourite song from each – sorry that I’ve used some of these songs in past Music Monday posts):

1) Save Rock & Roll – Fall Out Boy

When FOB announced their return after a 4 year hiatus, my heart (and Twitter feed) exploded with excitement. Save Rock & Roll is a fantastic album that combines classic FOB with their newer, somewhat more mature outlook on life and music in general.

2) Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die – Panic! at the Disco

P!ATD can do no wrong in my book, and their 4th album continues their trend of always surprising their fans by never sticking to one sole genre and experimenting with different musical elements. They’re still as charming as ever, though!

3) Forever Halloween – The Maine

A little more mature, a little more rock & roll than their previous efforts, The Maine never fails to delight me. Plus the amount of time and effort they spend on making new music for their fans is incredible: 2013 also saw the release of their “Imaginary Numbers” EP, approximately 6 months after their full length album dropped.

4) Sempiternal – Bring Me The Horizon

One of the more recent bands for me (I’ve been listening to them for about a year and a half, maybe less), this album allowed singer/screamer Oli Sykes a chance to use clean vocals (whereas before it was all screaming all the time), and it made them more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily metal fans.

5) Battle Scars – Paradise Fears

I love these guys and they consistently put out great songs, whether it’s a cover of a current pop hit, or something as deep and meaningful as this album’s title track, “Battle Scars”.

6) Legendary – The Summer Set

This third album from the Arizona quintet features songs that combine fun danceable jams with slightly more serious undertones – for example, the title track, “Legendary”, which touches on the idea of growing up and also references “How I Met Your Mother”.

7) Burnout – Anarbor

Seeing Anarbor at Warped this past summer made me realize that a) their singer, Slade, got a lot better looking and b) (on a less superficial note) they may have disappeared for a while between albums, but they’re still as fun and refreshing as ever.

8) Old Souls – Deaf Havana

Though it technically won’t be released in North America until mid-January (I picked up a copy in London at the beginning of December), this album continues Deaf Havana’s shift from semi-screamy to alternative-but-still-catchy-as-heck.

9) Genuine & Counterfeit – William Beckett

I love anything WB touches and his first full length solo album is no exception.

10) Wild & Free – A Rocket to the Moon

As sad as it was to see ARTTM split up shortly after the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, they went out with a bang!

HonourROble mentions (aka albums that my sister Ro owns):

1) Opposites – Biffy Clyro

Their SIXTH album helped solidify them as a certifiable rock band and one that everyone needs to see at some point because their live shows are crazy-energetic.

2) Bad Blood – Bastille

So catchy, so fun, so good to see live. These guys are talented and I hope we see more of them in 2014 and beyond.

3) The 1975 – The 1975

Ditto. (though for some reason, these guys get more recognition than Bastille, even though they probably fall into the same genre).


EP: The Pop Underground – Andrew McMahon

Remember when I said I love everything William Beckett touches? The same goes for Andrew McMahon, including his first solo EP. I’m pretty sure I listened to “Synesthesia” on repeat for over an hour when it first came out.

Re-Release: Don’t Panic, It’s Longer Now – All Time Low

Just when I thought 2012’s “Don’t Panic” couldn’t get any better, ATL re-released it and included 4 new songs, as well as 4 acoustic tracks. I had a hard time picking between “A Love Like War” and “Canals” as my favourite new song, but I absolutely adore this video (if I was making a list of favourite videos, this would probably be numero uno).

Plus, I didn’t even consider Mayday Parade’s Monsters in the Closet because I’ve only listened to a handful of songs. And just this past weekend, I bought Pierce the Veil’s Collide With the Sky and The Wonder Years’ The Greatest Generation, but they both need another 2-3 listens before I can pass judgement.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings even more fantastic albums!