(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!

 

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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)

BONUS:

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

BONUS:

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).

Hold on, if you can, be strong

On Wednesday, Ro and I received an early Christmas gift: we won tickets to an exclusive Twin Atlantic show at the Rivoli (so exclusive, you couldn’t even buy tickets, you could only win them).

The Rivoli is teeny – about 200 people capacity maximum – but this worked well for our purposes, since we ended up standing right in front of the stage – so close, Sam McTrusty almost smacked Ro in the head with his guitar (there was still about a foot of space, but he came awfully close at one point).

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Our view of the stage!

There were two opening bands, both “local” (one from Newmarket, the other from St. Catharines). The first, Bordeen, reminded me of some other band, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The nearest I could come up with was Imagine Dragons, but not on the same anthemnic, stadium-playing level.

I liked the next band, Cardinals, a lot more. I dubbed them a clever combination of Fools and Worthless Liars-era Deaf Havana and Wild & Free-era A Rocket to the Moon (super specific, but that was all I could think of during their set). The drummer played on solo on literally every available surface, including climbing off stage and tapping some beer glasses. They were a lot of fun!

Then, of course, the moment we had anxiously been waiting for (we entered the contest in early November and had been holding our breath until we got our confirmation emails on Tuesday): TWIN ATLANTIC.

Craig, Sam, Ross, and Barry.

I’m really surprised I haven’t talked about Twin Atlantic yet. They’re a Scottish band (from Glasgow) who we first discovered in early 2012 when they opened for – wait for it – You Me At Six (I’ve said it before: 90% of what I talk about comes back to YMAS). We loved them immediately – I mean, how can you resist Sam’s Scottish accent?? – and have seen them one other time (Warped ’12) (not including that time we randomly met Sam at the Biffy Clyro show in October last year), but have been waiting for them to come back, especially after they released their latest album this year, The Great Divide.

There were certain songs that we desperately wanted to hear live from the new album – “Heart & Soul”, “Hold On”, “Brothers & Sisters” – and let me tell you, they did not disappoint.

Opening with “I Am An Animal” was a great choice – while it’s not our favourite TA song, it was the perfect song to get the crowd moving and really set the tone for the rest of the set. Because we were so close, as soon as the bass kicked in, we knew we wouldn’t be able to hear once we left (heck, I’m not sure if I’ve even recovered all my hearing now). From there, they went straight into “Hold On” (my favourite off of The Great Divide) and “Fall Into The Party”, and, well, I just wanted to rage.

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Hoooooooooold onnnnnnn

…we can get together and RAGE.

They also played several songs off of 2011’s Free in the middle of the set: “Make a Beast of Myself”, “Edit Me”, “Free”, “Yes I Was Drunk”, even “Crash Land”, which I wasn’t expecting but loved nonetheless. And closing with “Heart & Soul” was an excellent way to bring it all together and left the crowd feeling like they had just witnessed something very special (or that’s how I felt, at least).

One of the great things about the show was how intimate it was. As I mentioned, we were literally front row, right beside the speakers. Because the venue was so small, there was no fun lighting or backdrops or anything: just us and the band and their instruments. As much as I love and admire the usual theatrics, it was sort of nice to attend a bare-bones type of show.

I don’t really know what else to say: Apart from feeling like a short set, there was literally nothing else to improve. Some people might have wanted to hear songs off of 2009’s Vivarium, but honestly I thought the setlist was perfect.

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If you haven’t listened to Twin Atlantic yet, please give them a shot. Standing around shouting “I SET MY BODY ON FIRE SO I COULD BE FREE” (in a Scottish accent, naturally) is one of the best ways to really feel alive.