Mini Show Reviews: June 2016

The Summer Set – May 31

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I’VE MISSED THE SUMMER SET SO MUCH. It had been nearly two years since they were last in Toronto, and they didn’t hold back when it came to putting on the best show they could. I missed the first opening band, but the other two were good: Royal Teeth was like a hybrid of Echosmith and The Summer Set (see “Mais La“), while Handsome Ghost had a The Ready Set-meets-Nick Santino vibe (check out “Graduate“).

When TSS came on, though, I (along with most of the crowd) lost my mind. They played a lot of songs from their most recent album, the addictive Stories for Monday, but also included some of their older stuff, including their first major hit, “Chelsea“, and one of my favourites, “Boomerang“. From the gorgeous opening chords of “Figure Me Out” to the last lines of “Lightning in a Bottle“, they were fantastic – full of energy and genuinely excited to be back on stage. It was the first show in a while where I left the venue, sweaty and voiceless but completely exhilarated.


PVRIS – June 5

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For a band that’s doing their first headlining tour, it’s impressive that PVRIS has managed to sell out almost every city, including Toronto! .

Openers Polyenso, CRUISR, and Lydia were all enjoyable. CRUISR’s sound doesn’t really match their physical appearance, but I kinda liked them (I actually saw them open for The 1975 a couple of years ago, which I did not remember, but “All Over” is really fun). And I’ve seen/heard Lydia before – a lot of their songs are pretty mellow, but they’re quite upbeat during a live show (including a single from Run Wild, their most recent album, “Past Life“).

Because PVRIS only has one album, they pretty much played all of White Noise, plus a new song (“You and I“), and one of their very first songs (“Only Love“). They had a lot of energy and, of course, are super talented, so their set was basically flawless and their growing popularity is much deserved. Plus their lighting and set design was visually appealing, and I loved that Lynn forced everyone to put down their phones for “Holy“, even calling out someone during one of the verses. If you haven’t checked out PVRIS yet, you definitely should!


twenty one pilots – June 7

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It’s hard to believe that the last time I saw twenty one pilots (in September, last year), they played to 3000 people and this time, they stood in front of a crowd of (probably) 15000. I’ve never seen the amphitheatre that packed (I was expecting the seats to be sold out, but holy smokes, even the lawns were crowded!!), but I don’t think anyone left disappointed. TOP was energetic as always, barely pausing in between songs as they played a mix of old and new, including a medley of really old songs (for the die-hard fans) on a mini stage somewhere in the 400 levels and a couple of covers (you haven’t lived till you’ve shouted the words to “My Heart Will Go On” with thousands of other people). We left before their last two songs to make our train on time, but I could hear “Trees” from the parking lot, and it was still incredible. TOP is one of those bands that I started out casually liking and ended up being (borderline) obsessed with – their live shows are phenomenal (the staging/backdrops/lighting alone are worth the price of admission), and I can only imagine that they’ll get bigger and more popular in the next couple of years.

I missed the first opening band, Chef’s Special, but the other band, Mutemath, was decent. Not really my type of music, but I appreciated that Tyler and Josh are fans and were able to tour with a band they really admire. Isn’t that the dream of any musician?

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(Un)Covered Round-Up: March-May 2016

I may have mentioned that I write a column for idobi about song covers. Here are the ones that have been posted since March!

AND, even though I wrote a review of V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows here, I also wrote a review for idobi, which you can check out here!

 

End-of-the-Year Survey – 2015

I enjoy filling out surveys, and I (obviously) love books, so this end-of-the-year survey hosted by Jamie (Perpetual Page Turner) is right up my alley! Read on for my answers :)

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Number Of Books You Read: 111 + about 10 manuscripts during my internship (Jan-April)
Number of Re-Reads: 18
Genre You Read The Most From: probably urban fantasy (YA is NOT a category!)

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1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
It’s a cross between Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertali) and Every Word (Ellie Marney).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Bane Chronicles. I mean, I wasn’t really surprised because I haven’t liked the last four Cassandra Clare books I’ve read, but Magnus was always my favourite character.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Raziel Reid) – it got a lot of buzz when it was chosen as one of the finalists for Canada Reads, and that in itself was surprising (in a good way!).

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I’m going to say Every Breath a) because I recommend it on pretty much a monthly basis (technically I read it in 2014, but it was literally the last book I read – I finished it on December 31!) and b) my sister read it and become just as obsessed!

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Best series started: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
Best sequel: Every Word (Ellie Marney)
Best series ender: The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Susin Nielsen. I read literally all her books (including one that’s not even published yet!) this year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Unbearable Lightness – Portia de Rossi

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Every Move (Ellie Marney). I could not move while reading it.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Cinder (Marissa Meyer) because I haven’t picked up the rest of the series yet, and I’ll probably have to re-read it before I continue.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath – Ishbelle Bee

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Book Thief (Markus Zusack) is gorgeous, but it was a re-read. “New” book that was beautifully written: Magonia (Maria Dahvana Headley)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Soulless – Gail Carriger. It has so many things I love in it!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I have seen the aftermath of death, the incredible mechanism of the body laid bare, and I know now that each person is a kind of miracle. A spark nestles like a bird inside our chests, so deep that we can’t find where it lives, but it is everything. It’s what makes us dream and think and feel and laugh and sing. And it is a mystery, and it is mundane, and, above all, it is fragile. Any moment could be our last. – Rachel Watts, Every Word

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
The shortest (not including picture books or comics) was The Little Prince with 98 pages and the longest was the Complete Blooming Goddess Trilogy (Tallulah Darling) with 1080 pages total (it was all one ebook, so if I was counting individual books, it would be Outlander with 850 pages).

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud. THAT ENDING. I NEED THE NEXT ONE LIKE NOW.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Wattscroft forever!!! Ellie Marney is in charge of writing all the kissing scenes forever.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Flavia and Dogger from Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket!)

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
My sister told me repeatedly to read a Gail Carriger novel and I’m SO GLAD I read Soulless (and the sequel, Changeless!).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Technically he’s from the end of 2014, but who doesn’t love James Mycroft??

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I flat out sobbed at the end of The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan).

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not published in 2015, but I really enjoyed Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
In terms of being sad, I’d say Why We Broke Up, but if you’re talking about one that beat me down until I finished it, I’d say Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius. I had such high hopes for it because it had such a great concept, but the characters infuriated me.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
This year was the first year I really paid attention to book blogs and really worked on my own reviews. Some of my favourite blogs include: Pop! Goes the Reader, The Broke and the Bookish, A Reader of FictionsSnuggly Oranges, Cuddlebuggery, and, of course Perpetual Page Turner, plus a whole lot more! I also have to shout out to all the blogs I follow/who follow me here :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
Probably my Simon vs review or my extensive review for Every Breath/Every Word.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
The post with the most comments was my Top Ten Books of 2015 from a few weeks ago.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I helped out at OLA which was a really interesting experience, but I also got to meet Alan Bradley at Random House which was really cool (he’s such an adorable old man!).

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Interning at Tundra was definitely a highlight and I got to work on their blog, which was lots of fun!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Finding time to write the reviews in between writing for Mind the Gap/idobi!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Every Word blog tour (most views on one particular day); overall, it was my Blurryface track-by-track review (in terms of views) and top 10 books of 2015 (in terms of comments).

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I’m quite proud of my UK in YA TTT!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Apart from all the blogs I mentioned earlier, I’ve also really enjoyed Book Riot and the read-iculously cheap Book Outlet.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I set 100 books as my Goodreads challenge and surpassed that goal!

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) is going to be the first book I read in 2016.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
I don’t even know if it will come out in 2016, but I’m salivating for the next Lockwood and Co (Jonathan Stroud) book.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Love That Split The World – Emily Henry. It’s been getting a lot of hype and it was the first book to come to mind.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I’m really hoping that Every Move will be published in North America next year so I can complete my collection!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
I’m setting a goal for 120 books, plus one of my resolutions is to read more classics. And my sister and I (and possibly our nine year old niece) are going to do a full Harry Potter re-read which is really exciting.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
The two 2016 books I’ve read so far have been The Serpent King (Jeff Zentner) and Vikki VanSickle’s If I Had a Gryphon (illustrated by Cale Atkinson), both of which I recommend (and will have reviews up in the next couple of months!).

Top Ten Albums of 2015 [+ link to Mind the Gap]

As usual, I’ve made my list of the best albums of the year, including links to any reviews I wrote on them. You can click here for a playlist featuring two of my favourite songs from each release!

top ten of 2015

1) That’s the Spirit – Bring Me the Horizon
2) American Candy – The Maine
3) American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
4) Future Hearts – All Time Low
5) Life’s Not Out to Get You – Neck Deep
6) Blurryface – twenty one pilots
7) Life in Real Time – Paradise Fears
8) Automatic – Don Broco
9) Sounds Good, Feels Good – 5 Seconds of Summer
10) Vikings – New Politics

There was lots of other good albums this year, including Knuckle Puck’s Copacetic, The Wonder Years’ No Closer to Heaven, Young Guns’ Ones and Zeros, Muse’s Drones, We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut, and Nate Ruess’s solo release, Grand Romantic.

What made your list of best albums?

My taste in music is your face

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Sunday night concerts are a little odd, but nonetheless enjoyable. Yesterday, we saw twenty one pilots at their biggest headlining show in Toronto (it was sold out!).

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Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph aka twenty one pilots

I constantly forget that I’ve actually seen TOP before, two years ago when they opened for Fall Out Boy, but since I spent most of their set standing in the Panic! at the Disco merch line, I only heard them. It’s a different experience actually seeing them.

Because the line to get into the venue stretched literally around the corner (the longest line I’ve ever stood in to get into the Sound Academy, and we purposely showed up 15 minutes after doors opened!), we missed the very first band. I think it was a local band, but I feel sorry for them because there was probably only a handful of people in the crowd (seriously, we stood in line for almost an hour!).

We made it inside in time to see Echosmith. I like Echosmith – I saw them headline in March – and while they are a fun, poppy band, they seemed like such an odd choice to open for TOP. They still put on a great show, and played quite a long set for an opening band (about 40 minutes or so).

TOP came out just after 9pm and the venue exploded. Not literally, of course, but from where I was standing (in the barricade 19+ area), all I could see were flailing hands as the crowd pushed and danced and screamed for these two dudes from Ohio.

They opened with “Heavydirtysoul”, which is also the opening track on their latest album, Blurryface. Just as it did with the album, the song set the pace for the rest of the night.

The show was energetic and well produced (I sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I really don’t). The lights were amazing, the smoke effects were cool, and I’m still trying to figure out if Josh Dun actually drummed while being held up by the crowd or if there was a mini catwalk that I couldn’t see.

I haven’t been a TOP fan long enough to know all the words to all the songs; I know most of Blurryface, but there are certain songs from 2013’s Vessel that I only kind of know. One such song is “Migraine”: I know the chorus, but I was unable to keep up with the crowd as they screamed the first verse while Tyler Joseph held the mic out. Next time, you guys.

My favourite part of the set, music-wise, was right at the beginning when they segued from “Stressed Out” in “Guns for Hands”, my two favourite TOP songs. I also really enjoyed the medley of songs they played in the middle of the set; I recognized most of the songs, but I couldn’t tell you what they’re called.

I also found it really interesting that, while they played most of Blurryface, they didn’t play their first single from it, “Fairly Local”. I had been looking forward to hearing it, and it was surprising that they left it off the setlist.

Their mini encore was excellent: while “Goner” is a slower song, it has a final burst of energy that brings everything together, and “Trees” was fantastic – the drum-off, the confetti, the rollicking crowd…it was all very well done.

If you want to feel like you’re at a rave without actually being at a rave (not that I know what being at a rave is like), I recommend seeing twenty one pilots live.

My name is Blurryface and I care what you think

AND THE YEAR OF GOOD MUSIC CONTINUES!

Twenty One Pilots released their new album, “Blurryface”, a couple of weeks ago and it debuted at number one on the Billboards – which is a very big deal in this music scene. It was well deserved too: I can’t stop listening to it.

Even though I saw them two years ago opening for Fall Out Boy, I didn’t really start listening to TOP until last year, and now, I have to admit, I’m a bit addicted. Blurryface_album_cover

1) “Heavydirtysoul”

Favourite lyric: This doesn’t mean I lost my dream, it’s just right now I got a really crazy mind to clean

As far as album openers go, I think this was a good choice. TOP doesn’t really fit into one genre, and, even if you weren’t that big a fan to begin with, this first track gives you a vague idea of how experimental they are.

2) “Stressed Out”

Favourite lyric: I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink, but now I’m insecure and I care what people think

I loved this song from the time it came out. From the Eminem-esque opening (I’m impartial to Eminem), to Blurryface’s verse at the end, I love every second of it. I think it speaks to a lot of people, and, since it came out about a week after I found out I’d have to look for a new job, it became pretty relevant to my life.

3) “Ride”

Favourite lyric: …who would you ever live for? who would you die for? and would you ever kill?

This super reggae-flavoured song isn’t my favourite. It’s cute, and it grew on me, but it’s not my favourite. It does tend to get stuck in my head, though.

4) “Fairly Local”

Favourite lyric: Tomorrow I’ll switch the beat to avoid yesterday’s dance

This was the first single released for this album and I liked it right away. There’s a great dichotomy in this: the first verse is very negative, while the second verse is more positive and is about trying to be better, but the second verse is followed by Blurryface’s part, which represents insecurity. I can explain this better out loud, but the second half of the song almost seems to contradict itself.

It’s really interesting being a casual fan when a band is releasing new music because people were losing their minds over how dark this sounded, and I honestly didn’t even register that Tyler was singing in a deeper voice (i.e. the “Blurryface” voice) until I read the comments (I just figured that’s how he sang).

5) “Tear in My Heart”

Favourite lyric: The songs on the radio are okay, but my taste in music is your face

How flipping cute is that lyric? It sounds like something I would say. And I love that his wife is the one who shows up to “save” him at the end.

Another case of how interesting it is to compare the reactions of hardcore fans vs casual fans. The comment section was full of theories and explanations for basically every aspect of this video, and it was fascinating.

6) “Lane Boy”

Favourite lyric: Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless

That’s a great line, but again, not my favourite song. I like the vaguely EDM-esque breakdown at the end, but the song as a whole is less than impressive.

7) “The Judge”

Favourite lyric: I’m a pro at imperfections and I’m best friends with my doubt

At first, I thought this was the most radio friendly song they had (until I heard “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” – more on that in a minute), because it has such a mellow vibe compared to “Lane Boy” or “Fairly Local” and I can imagine it being played on certain indie stations. The drums are on point, and there’s that stuttering moment about 2 minutes in that never fails to make me look up, worried that my CD is skipping (yeah, I still buy CDs).

8) “Doubt”

Favourite lyric: Shaking hands with the dark parts of my thoughts, you are all that I’ve got

This reminds me of something, but I can’t figure out what – sort of like something you’d hear in a club (I’ve been clubbing all of once, so I’m not exactly an expert…). If you can figure out what it sounds like, please let me know!

9) “Polarize”

Favourite lyric: These stairs is where I’ll be hiding all my problems

This is such a crazy blend of genres, I don’t even know what to call it. It’s like reggae meets EDM meets…I don’t know what. And yet, it works. I also really like bopping around to the “dah dah dah’s” (or are they “la la la’s”?).

10) “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV”

Favourite lyric: I need to know that when I fail you’ll still be here

This sounds like it could be a Walk the Moon or Vance Joy song or something (I only know that one Vance Joy song, so I could be completely off with that comparison). It’s super catchy and is probably the most radio friendly song on the album.

11) “Message Man”

Favourite lyric: These lyrics aren’t for everyone, only few understand

This song makes me want to break it down with the fast-paced staccato verses and the bopping synths.

12) “Hometown”

Favourite lyric: My shadow tilts its head at me

This could be a Killers song or something. It definitely has an alternative/dance vibe to it (especially the chorus), and it’s proof that TOP are something special because this album continues to flow, even though most of the tracks sound nothing alike.

13) “Not Today”

Favourite lyric: …I know this one’s a contradiction because of how happy it sounds, but the lyrics are so down

This one is cute and reminds me of fun. or even The Format. I can definitely imagine this song before a Panic! at the Disco set.

14) “Goner”

Favourite lyric: I’ve got two faces, blurry’s the one I’m not

And now for a complete shift for the previous track. While “Not Today” was boppy and fun, this one is definitely darker – both sonically and lyrically. It makes a lot of sense as a closer because it ties together the album’s themes of trying to get over your insecurities (i.e. defeating Blurryface) and how sometimes you need help from other people.