New Music Round-Up: February 2016

There’s still another week left of the month, but I figured I’d round up some of the standout songs that have been released recently!

Figure It Out – The Summer Set

A classic-sounding TSS song, I can relate to the lyrics about getting back to the basics and trying to figure out what’s most important, not to mention that fantastic first line: “I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids”. Mostly, I’m just happy they didn’t break up and are releasing an album/touring this spring.

They also released another song, “Missin’ You”, a couple of weeks ago which is worth a listen:

Good Enough – The Ready Set

Slower than what I expected when I found out TRS was also releasing an album, but it’s still catchy and fun, just like most of their songs.

Colourblind – Hands Like Houses

This video came out right before I started working on a review of their third album for idobi, so I’ve been listening/watching it quite a bit. The singer looks like David Beckham, but that’s not the (only) reason I like these guys.

Opinion Overload – Simple Plan

I haven’t really listened to Simple Plan in a while, but I really like what I’ve heard from their new album so far. Maybe it’s time for me to get back into them, because this is pure pop-punk gold from one of the scene’s “veterans” (they’ve been around for a while).

What have you been listening to lately?

Gimme a break

If there’s one thing cooler than new music from a favourite band, it’s when two bands I like collaborate and release something completely new.

Meet Nekokat, a band comprised of Jess Bowen (drummer from The Summer Set), Jordan Witzigreuter (aka The Ready Set), and Cameron Walker (who used to be a touring guitarist for The Ready Set).


So far, they’ve released a 4-song EP, the first single being “Gimme a Break”.

This is a super fun song. It may be short, but it’s certainly sweet, and I’ve already named this one of my songs of the summer. Just try to get it out of your head after you listen to it once.

Best concerts of 2014

This year, Ro and I hit 30 concerts. 30!!!! This was a personal best for us, and it was our goal for 2014 (we were unbelievably excited when we bought tickets for that last show). There were a couple of duplicates – some favourite bands that came to town on more than one tour – but we also saw a few bands we’ve never seen live before.

This list is pretty much in order, but the lines sort of blur once you get past the top ten. Yay live music!

1) Bring Me the Horizon – December 5 (Wembley Arena)

2) Panic! at the Disco – February 1 (Sound Academy)

3) You Me At Six – October 13 (Phoenix)

4) Fall Out Boy – June 25 (Molson Amphitheatre)

5) The Maine – March 1 (Hard Luck Bar)

6) Paradise Fears – August 12 (Mod Club)

7) Twin Atlantic – December 10 (Rivoli)

8) Taking Back Sunday – April 8 (Kool Haus)

9) Andrew McMahon – November 5 (Opera House)

10) The Ready Set – October 30 (El Mocambo)

11) The 1975 – May 6 (Kool Haus)

12) Nick Santino – November 10 (Hard Luck Bar)

13) Bastille – October 15 (ACC)

14) Deaf Havana – February 15 (Rivoli)


Riot Fest – September 6-7 (Downsview Park)

I’m so ready for the 2015 concert season. I can’t wait to see what our total will be this year!

Best albums of 2014

This year, for my “Best of” lists, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of listing 10 albums, I went with 14 (because it’s 2014, obviously…); and, instead of just making a list, I put them into completely made-up categories, that sort of hint at why I consider them the best of this year, along with my favourite song.

Without further ado:

A favourite band’s new album that took a while to grow on me:

Cavalier Youth – You Me At Six

Latest incarnation of a talented singer:

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Andrew McMahon (in the Wilderness)

Concept album/sequel to another concept album:

The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways – Crown the Empire

“Sing-alongs and headbanging are unavoidable”:

Happiness Is… – Taking Back Sunday

Scottish album that took forever to come out, but it was worth it:

The Great Divide – Twin Atlantic

Country-style old school rock ‘n’ roll:

Big Skies – Nick Santino

“Finally new music from these guys!”:

Losers & Kings – The Downtown Fiction

Dance all night:

The Bad & the Better – The Ready Set

If all female-fronted bands sounded like this, I would listen to female-fronted bands more often:

White Noise – PVRIS

Unapologetic pop-punk (from a Welsh band, no less!):

Wishful Thinking – Neck Deep

Final album from a band that’s been around for over a decade:

Lowborn – Anberlin

Solo music from a guy in a popular (fun.) band:

Strange Desire – Bleachers

Pure pop-rock:

Oh, What a Life – American Authors

Guilty pleasure:

5 Seconds of Summer – 5 Seconds of Summer


Most magnificent/unexpected single:

Centuries – Fall Out Boy

This list doesn’t even include those albums released in 2014 that I haven’t listened to in full yet, such as This Wild Life’s Clouded, not to mention any re-releases (The Maine’s deluxe edition of Forever Halloween), or albums by bands that I love(d) that left me feeling a little “meh” (Breathe Carolina’s Savages).

Now we’re swinging from the stars we were reaching for

Our last concert of October was last night: The Ready Set with support from Metro Station, Against the Current, and The Downtown Fiction.

For some unfathomable reason, the show was moved from The Phoenix (approx. 1100 people capacity) to El Mocambo (According to Google, it can hold 400 people, but I wouldn’t want to be there when it’s sold out ). On the one hand, El Mocambo is not my favourite venue (I don’t care if The Rolling Stones used to play there back in the day, it’s still tiny and sketchy!), but I ended up about 6 rows from the stage, so that was a bonus.

The first band to go on was The Downtown Fiction.

Wes, David, Cameron, and Kyle.

I’m surprised I haven’t done a “Music Monday” on them yet, but I will one day.  Because the line to get in moved incredibly slow, I was worried we’d miss them. By the time we got inside the doors (but not yet into the venue), they came out, so I was happily able to see (or at least hear) their full set.

TDF are catchy and fun with a hint of old school rock & roll, and I was really looking forward to seeing them. I last saw them in 2011 (also opening for The Ready Set, oddly enough); since then, they’ve released an EP and an album, this years’s Losers & Kings. They played a lot of songs off the new album, but they also included “I Just Wanna Run”, one of their first singles off of 2011’s Let’s Be Animals, as well as the song that first turned me into a fan, “Thanks for Nothing”.

Sidenote: I also managed to meet Cameron Leahy, the singer (or “Ol’ Blue Eyes”, as I like to call him…obviously not to his face) who was super nice and unexpectedly huggy, thus crossing him off my list of “musicians I would love to meet”.

Next up was Against the Current who I saw in August when they opened for Paradise Fears. I still haven’t looked them up, and I still don’t love their cover of The 1975’s “Chocolate” (I’m just biased though, they do a passable job), but they continue to be boppy.

Metro Station came out around 8pm. I actually blamed them for the venue change because very few people eagerly admit to being MS fans, but there was a surprising amount of people there who were stoked to see Trace Cyrus and what’s-his-face prance around on stage. I’ve never loved Metro Station – I saw them open for Fall Out Boy in 2009 and spent most of their set cringing and wincing, though it did give me a chance to rest my throat after almost losing my voice during Cobra Starship and All Time Low’s back-to-back performances. The only song I ever liked was “Shake It”, and that’s what they predictably closed with.

Finally, it was time for The Ready Set aka Jordan Witzigreuter.


I’ve talked about him before. He’s fantastic. This was the fifth time I’ve seen him live, and I was very excited to hear more from this year’s release, The Bad & the Better, particularly my favourite song off the album, “Carry Me Home”.

I also absolutely love “Fangz”, which was the highlight of his Warped set for me this summer – the bass in that song works its way into your soul and it’s hard not to throw yourself around, flailing like a maniac.

By the time he was done, I was sweaty and my legs kinda hurt, and my voice was almost gone, but it was so so good. The Ready Set is one of my favourite acts to see live because of how energetic and amazing his live shows always are.

I couldn’t wait for the summer and the WARPED TOUR

It’s the most glorious time of the year – Vans Warped Tour is in full swing!


I’ve attended the Toronto date since 2010 – it’s my second favourite day of summer (the first being Ro’s birthday, of course).

In the months leading to Warped, I carefully make a list of bands: which ones I desperately want to see, and which ones I wouldn’t mind seeing if I happen to have time. Because that is Warped’s biggest downfall: timing. Inevitably, a band you want to see will be on one stage and another band you want to see will be playing all the way on the other side of the grounds and you have to make the decision of which one is more important to you. It’s heartbreaking, but sacrifices must be made.

This year was a little more disorganized than the past few years (and that’s saying something!) For one, I hate the venue (the Flats at the Amphitheatre are a pain in the butt on a normal day – throw in a few thousand sweaty music fans, and you get chaos!), plus a lot of the bands were late crossing the border from Indiana, so the schedule wasn’t released until over an hour after doors opened.

I could dwell on the bands I (regrettably) missed (don’t even get me started on Crown the Empire because I might cry), but, after a rocky morning, the day got better.

On Friday, we had the best possible weather – the past two years, rain bursts delayed performances and basically just made a mess (Warped ’12 stands out in particular, as the tour was actually put on hold for almost an hour and everyone was crammed into the amphitheatre because of the storm) – but it was all clear skies and brisk windy periods.

These are the bands we saw (in order) and my favourite song of their set:

We the Kings

The Maine

The Ready Set

Neck Deep

The Summer Set

Breathe Carolina

We also saw parts of RealFriends (they were on right before The Maine) and The Color Morale (we could have seen more but they took forever to set up and we had to walk all the way across the grounds to see Breathe Carolina). Plus I met Rob Dyer from Skate4Cancer (who is one of the sweetest people in the WORLD), and Eric Halvorson and Nick Santino from A Rocket to the Moon (Nick was playing acoustic – stupidly enough at the same time as The Maine – and Halvo was their secondary merch/tech guy).

I was disappointed that there were bands that I missed (*sniff CROWN THE EMPIRE sniff*) (also, if Anberlin doesn’t play a final show here, I might riot), but at the end of the day, I was sweaty, sticky, smelly, and sore…and satisfied. I can’t pick a “best” Warped experience because each year has been so different (in terms of bands playing vs bands we actually saw, weather, etc), but it was still an excellent day of music, merch, and meeting band members – three of my favourite things.

Everything is second to your dreams

On Friday, as I waited for Ro to come home, I wandered around the house, trying to find something to listen to, something I hadn’t heard in a while. Eventually, I settled on The Ready Set.

Jordan Witzigreuter aka The Ready Set.

Technically there are other members of the band, but they are more touring members as opposed to actual members. Also I don’t know their names, despite being a fan for the past 3-4 years, so, um, you could Wikipedia it if you really want to know.

I started listened to TRS because I thought he was cute (I’m not proud of my superficial side). Telling you how Ro and I discovered TRS is too complicated, but basically, she showed me a picture of him, I said “AW, HE’S ADORABLE”, and next thing you know, I was listening to all his songs and eagerly standing in line to meet him at Warped ’11. 

Make sure you watch the rest of this story in the next video: 

I don’t wanna slow, slow, slow, slow down, down.

Great tunes to listen to when it’s nice outside. Or when you wanna dance. Or both! Very poppy, very summer-y. And, you wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but he puts on a really fun live show. Lots of dancing and jumping involved, so make sure you’re ready to move and shake if you’re going to see him.

I will admit that I’ve only listened to his first few albums once or twice (2008’s Syntax and Bright Lights and 2009’s Tantrum Castle). They’re decent, but I think he really hit his stride/found his sound with his first studio-release, 2010’s I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming, a sound which he continued to expand on 2011’s EP, Feel Good Now. I’m stoked that he’s finally releasing a new album, The Bad and The Better, which comes out at the end of May. He’s also going to be at Warped again, so that’s very exciting!

In the meantime, I’m going to continue putting “Give Me Your Hand” into all my dancing playlists, and I suggest you do the same: