Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Ascot Royals

Its been a while since I've posted on this blog. I can blame a busy last few months at my internship but the truth is I have been lazy and slacking off. That was until this past weekend when I volunteered/attended S.C.E.N.E Fest held in St. Catharines, Ontario.

The annual festival had a line up of over 100 bands throughout the day at various venues in downtown St. Catharines. But despite acts like Down With Webster and Ill Scarlett, I really only wanted to see one band, The Ascot Royals. I admit that I am biased because I know and consider two of the boys who started the band, Ben (keys) and Jimmy Chaveau (vocals), friends. The band is rounded out by Jesse Gilroy on bass, Sam Stark on drums and Tal Vaisman on guitar. Still, after over three years of not seeing these guys play live catching The Ascot Royals' set at The Merchant Ale House was a long overdue treat.

The Ascot Royals provided the festival with something different in a line up overfilled with Screamo and "Alexisonfire-esque" bands as well as poor attempts at Rap-Rock (Sorry D.W.W and their fans but that genre stopped being cool after Limp Bizkit in '96).

In the end, the long day of volunteering was worth it just to see these guys play. The Ascot Royals are a true rock band. They put on an amazing and fun live show with Jimmy making the small stage at The Merchant House his own and Ben standing on a stool while starting a group sing along of "Head, shoulders, knees and toes". The Ascot Royals is exactly what I strive to show people in this blog, their music is carefully crafted with thoughtful lyrics and talented musicians to back them up. I wish them nothing but the best and hope that someone takes notice of this young, hard working band and realize that they are exactly what a stale music industry needs right now.

Take a listen to one of my favourites by The Ascot Royals "Think You're Better"

Check out the band at their official webpage, Facebook and Twitter.

-- And on a side note since this blog is about promoting other people I figured I'd take a second for some shameless self promotion. Check out the blog I started for my work at The Fergie Jenkins Foundation at

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

So when they feel this, they feel me but I can't feel outside these Dre beats

This week I'm taking a different direction. My last posts have all been dedicated to bands that while all can be placed into different genres, can still be lumped into the rock category. I felt that just wasn't fair to the amazing other artists out there, and it really doesn't truly show my taste in music because it is literally all over the place. 
This week's artist is an up and coming artist that some of you may have heard of already but he has been playing over and over on my Itunes for the last few weeks or so. Machine Gun Kelly or as you may have heard of him MGK is an up and coming rapper who is set to release his debut album in the coming months but is already making huge waves in the industry. 
MGK was given his stage name because of his fast firing delivery of lyrics. In 2009 he performed in rap battles at the Apollo Theater where he won twice making him the first white rapper to win at the Apollo. He began gaining exposure and put out four mixtapes between 2008 and 2010. He is currently working on his debut album which will be released through a joint effort between Interscope Records and Sean Combs' label Bad Boy Records. 
Much like the artists I have posted about in this blog MGK differs from other artists in his genre with music that is truly about something important. His lyrics contain substance and deal with real topics. Besides that it is difficult to deny that this young rapper has a lot of talent. 

Take a listen to the first single from his upcoming album, "Invincible" below, the song is also where this post's title comes from. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Hoping for the best just hoping nothing happens. A thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins...

This weeks band is one that a lot of people already know about because of their popularity. Their connection to other bands I have blogged about made it next to impossible to not talk about Taking Back Sunday. Taking Back Sunday band has spawned other bands like Straylight Run, their ongoing feud with Brand New brought both bands into the spotlight, they are cited as one of Cute Is What We Aim For’s influences and have at least toured with the other bands covered in this blog.

Taking Back Sunday was formed in 1999 by Eddie Rayes with a lineup that included Brand New’s Jesse Lacey on bass. Since then they have gone through four major line up changes, the most drastic came in 2002 when John Nolan and Shaun Cooper left the band after the release of their debut album “Tell All Your Friends”. The band would release three more albums between 2003 and 2009. 2004’s “Where You Want to Be” and 2006’s ‘Louder Now” feature new guitarist Fred Maraschino and new bassist Matt Rubano. Maraschino left the band and was replaced by Matt Fazzi who played on New Again which was released in 2009. During this time fans stayed loyal but always hoped for a reunion of the "Tell All Your Friends" line up. In 2010 fans got their wish when the band fired their current guitarist, Matt Fazzi and bassist, Matt Rubano and to everyone's shock John Nolan and Shaun Cooper returned to their home, Taking Back Sunday. The band seemed to have mended the fences that were torn down during the initial split and would release last years self titled album. The album is quite possibly their best, at least lyrically, since Tell All Your Friends.

(Take a listen to " A Decade Under the Influence"  one of the many songs about John Nolan and Shaun Cooper's departure from the band) 

Taking Back Sunday did for their genre of music what little other bands were able to do. They brought emo-punk to a place where it was respected by critics and praised by fans across the world. The band is filled with talented musicians who are able to play their respective intstruments better than many other musicians out there. Adam Lazarra, the lead vocalist of the band, has grown over the years into an insightful lyricist writing songs dealing with his own battles with drug addiction and the fallout with best friend John Nolan. When Nolan returned to the band he brought his mature approach to song writing with him and Taking Back Sunday was able to produce some of their best and most insightful songs of their careers.
(Listen to their first single from their self title album, "This Is All Now") 

I had the pleasure of seeing the band live this summer during their reunion tour. While the band has grown and released a number of albums after many years of being in the business, it was amazing to see how the reaction of the crowd as soon as the words “Your lipstick, his color, don’t bother angel I know exactly what goes on” from their first single "Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From the Team) was heard.  Listen to the song which is also the inspiration for this week's blog title, below. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Hip hip hooray you're our saving grace here's to you and your poker face

            This week’s band Head Automatica is the side project of Daryl Palumbo, the lead singer of a popular underground hardcore band called Glassjaw. In his original band Palumbo does not as much sing as he does scream. Head Automatica is nothing like Glassjaw and started when Palumbo decided that he wanted to do something different from his other band and make music that was influenced by hip hop and pop music.  Since the band first formed in 2003 they have released two albums, 2004’s Decandance and in 2006 they released their second album Popaganda.(Listen to their first single "Beating Heart Baby" below) 

            Head Automatica’s music is much different than the other bands that I have blogged about. While it is rock music it is very much inspire by other genres and is very experimental. Still Head Automatica is a band that stands out because of its substance. While the songs are catchy and easy to dance to the lyrics deal with very real issues from love to god and religion.
(Listen to "Graduation Day" below) 

            According to recent twitter and web page updates Head Automatica has completed work on a third album but it has been delayed due to Palumbo’s work and touring with Glassjaw and his other side projects.
Check out the band at their MySpace and Facebook

Take a listen to one of my favourite Head Automatica songs King Caesar (it is also the inspiration for today's blog title) 

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Are you perspiring from the irony or just sweating to these lyrics?

This week’s band Cute is What we Aim For comes from the same power pop or emo-pop movement in music that launched the careers of such bands as Paramore, Panic at the Dicso and that little know band Fall Out Boy. The band was formed in 2005 by Shaant Hacikyan, Dave Melillo and Jeff Czum and they were signed by Fueled For Ramen while they were still in high school.
From 2005 until 2008 the band would release two albums, “The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch” and “Rotation”.

Once again Cute is What We Aim For offers something that other bands do not. While some may argue that they are simply a boy band with instruments, one only has to listen to their songs to hear that they are very talented music and lyric writers. Their songs cover every topic from love, to sex, to dealing with the music industry but in a very mature and well-crafted way. Their songs and lyrics speak for themselves, just have a listen to their song "The Curse of Curves" (the song that inspired this week's blog title) and you will see for yourself. 

Unfortunately after the release of Rotation the band split up. There has been a great deal of speculation to why this happened but it was recently revealed that it was due to Shaant Hacikyan’s drug problems. Recently, Hacikyan announced he would be continue to release music under the Cute is What We Aim For name while the other members formed Nocturnal Me. A new album is expected in the near future and last year Cute is What We Aim For played at St. Catharines very own S.C.E.N.E Festival. 
Take a listen to one of the songs released after the band's break up "Next to Me" below.

Hear more from and learn more about the band online at MySpace

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sing me something sad, soft and delicate or loud and out of key. Sing me anything.

This weeks band is one of those bands that some may know of mainly because of their connection to a much more popular band, Taking Back Sunday. Straylight Run came about after John Nolan (singer/guitarist) and Shaun Cooper (bassist) left TBS. The band was rounded out by drummer Will Noon, and Nolan’s sister Michelle DeRosa. 
Take a listen to "A Slow Descent" the song many fans feel is about the deterioration of Taking Back Sunday. 

Straylight Run never reached the same level of success as TBS but they gained a great deal of popularity, especially among fans of TBS who felt that the band was not the same without Nolan’s lyrics. Like the other bands I have blogged about Straylight Run is a band that has something to offer musically and lyrically in terms of substance. Their songs cover topics like the stress that comes with fame, the fear of getting older, marriage and love and battling alcoholism and other internal demons.

Take a listen to one of my favourites, "Try" 

The band would release two full length albums and four EP's from 2004 until 2009. Michelle Nolan left the band in 2008 to purse other things. Unfortunately it looks like Straylight Run may not be making any new music in the near future as Nolan and Cooper have returned to Taking Back Sunday. However, you can still hear them play some of the more popular Straylight songs live and they have both never closed the door on the band reuniting in the future. Luckily I was able to see the band when they played one of their last shows a few years back in St. Catharines and had a beer with the Nolans. Unfortunately I did not take a picture, something I regret very much.

Check out Straylight Run's MySpace and Facebook pages to hear more from and learn more about them. 

Here is a video I took at a recent Taking Back Sunday concert with John Nolan and Adam Lazarra performing Straylight Run's most popular song and the inspiration for the title of this week's post, "Existentialism on Prom Night" (I apologize for the sloppy camera work) 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

And I wonder which song they're gonna play when we go...

This week’s band, The Gaslight Anthem has a significantly different sound than the two previous bands I have blogged about. Music critics describe the band’s sound as being influenced by bands from the New Jersey punk scene, from which they come, such as The Misfits and the Bouncing Souls. While some critics suggest a similar sound to one of the band’s idols Bruce Springstein, there is not a whole lot of similarities in terms of sound. The Gaslight Anthem released their first album “Sink or Swim” in 2007. Their follow up “The 59 Sound” was released in 2008 and was followed by the release of “American Slang” in 2010.

So as always the question is, what is it about this band that makes them stand out from other bands?  Again the answer comes down to the purpose of this blog, the search for bands that offer substance and something beyond contemporary pop music. There really isn’t another band to compare The Gaslight Anthem to because their sound is so much different than many of the bands out there. Their songs cover topics such as love, growing up and losing a loved one. One of my favourite songs “The ’59 Sound” (the song that is the inspiration for the title of this post) that you can listen to here, deals with the loss of a childhood friend and the feeling of guilt that comes along with it. 

Check out the bands website, or their Myspace to hear more from the band.