Stories: The Ruby Spirit – Born Under a Veil

The Ruby Spirit
Here’s the third installment in my short story album review series, in which I incorporate an album I see as visual and memorable into some imaginative story of my own. This is usually what I see when I listen to this album. There’s no telling if I’m on the dot, but try it out for yourself. I’ve also embedded the songs throughout (and italics are lyrics).

I’ve chosen The Ruby Spirit’s Born Under a Veil for its theatrical personality, gusto and storytelling. The Toronto band released the album in September. I also reviewed the album for Exclaim.

The band plays the Great Hall tonight with The Wilderness, Bella Clava, The Lovely Killbots and more! $10. Band of Heroes comic book launch. For more information, see the Facebook event.

This story is focused on a character named Jody and her quest to break out of her boring lifestyle into something more thrilling by starting an underground theatre with her friends and putting on her first production.

She burned through the hallways, she burned through the liars

Continue reading

Advertisements

Download Lesionread’s album, PUSH

lesionread cover art push

Guys, my brother is in a band. It’s called Lesionread. They put out an album, Push, last month.

Push is a colourful mixture of everything Shawn (my brother) and Jonathan Reed have absorbed musically over the last few years. There’s a little bit of Radiohead/Thom Yorke influence in Shawn’s voice (it can’t be denied, no matter how much nobody wants to admit that sort of thing, but this is knowing how much he listened to them and how he started learning about music, and there’s nothing wrong with that) and then there’s groovy, electronic blending of dotted lines with the occasional riffing guitar or other bombastic instrument. Reed delves into spoken word and soothing soul. Things slow down, get experimental. Auto-tuned for a song, even. And that’s just the first half of the album. There’s acoustic guitar, strings, and more in the second half.

Push is a lot to take in, but it’s interesting to see this exploration of learning and exploration itself. It’s different, it’s hard to categorize, but it’s compelling. And I’m not just saying this because Lesionread is 1/2 Lewis.

If you’re looking for something off-kilter and fresh to your ears, download Push on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Concert Review: Allie Hughes’ Prom Queen Dream at the El Mocambo, May 14

allie hughes

Like you saw in last week’s preview post, Allie Hughes decided to throw a prom themed concert. She isn’t new to the themed bit, she’s performed a wedding at least twice now. But the prom was timely and a step in a new direction.

Allie performed the same sequence of songs as she did for the wedding, although it might have been mixed up a bit, plus there was definitely a great new song or two added in there. I was curious to see how the plot would work with her songs after the wedding seemed to fit so effortlessly into her music. The prom came across just as well. Basically, the gist is that Allie is in love with a man named Chad. Chad does Allie wrong in the thick of the moment. Havoc ensues. Where the wedding had Allie left at the alter, this time around, after she’s crowned Prom Queen, Chad sings a song with her (this time it was Gentleman Reg) and then proceeds to make out with a man in a sailor costume (for what felt like a full minute!). Cue “Oh Chad!” Oh, and by the way, this prom has all been a dream, and thus with a kiss, it has turned into a nightmare.

Allie consistently shows herself off in every way: from her go-get-em approach to the media, her hard work at planning these themed concerts and then her execution of the performance and her music. She’s one of the most unique female musicians coming out of Toronto at this moment, and I hope she’ll reap more benefits for it soon. She’s dedicated to the craft and the creativity besides the normal routine. Watching her on stage is charming. My prom date — a best friend, doing it right this time — who rarely ever goes to music events, was in total awe of Allie. Her theatrical focus, smiles that would peek out throughout the songs and eccentric moments were selling points. Also impressive was that most of the concert goers actually dressed up as if they were going to prom, and even the male attendees were more into it. Some strapping young men and women, you can’t go wrong with that. Allie also surrounded herself with a strong band, such as her back-up singers (two of the ladies from Rouge, as well as in other projects Green Go, Gentleman Reg) and guitarist Thom Gill (who had pictures of Justin Bieber taped all over his guitar).

Sure, themes are not everyone’s cup of tea, even I’ve turned down my roommates requests to have ridiculously themed house parties. But if you can do it well, get that many people into the whole spiel and talking about it days later, you must run with it. And to top it all off, definitely add a cover at the end like Allie does (Britney Spears’ “Toxic”).

For a play by play, read my friend Steve Fischer’s show notes on Torontoist.

Stream four songs and watch tons of videos of Allie performing.

Allie Hughes is asking you to prom this Saturday

There are two types of proms.

1. FREAK OUT OMG IS HE GOING TO ASK ME HOW IS HE GOING TO ASK ME I CARE SO MUCH ABOUT EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW EVERY SINGLE THING HAS TO BE PERFECT I AM SO FAT CAN WE GET A LIMO WILL THEY PLAY THE RIGHT SONGS WILL WE KISS WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER….

(let’s be honest, almost all of us have had this type of prom)

2. I LOOK REAL GOOD IN MY THRIFT STORE DRESS ALL MY FRIENDS DO WE’RE REALLY THE COOL ONES HERE I MEAN FOR REAL BUT CMON WE STILL CARE ABOUT PROM WE STILL CARE WHO WINS KING AND QUEEN WE JUST HOPE ITS ONE OF US BECAUSE WE DESERVE THIS ‘HONOUR’ MORE, EVEN THOUGH SHE WON’T ADMIT IT THIS IS WHAT SHE’S ALWAYS DREAMED OF BUT WAIT….

I’m going to re-live prom this Saturday with Queen shoe-in Allie Hughes (her new theme after conquering weddings). Come dance with me?

ALLIE HUGHES’ PROM QUEEN DREAM
w/ special guests Gentleman Reg and Dwayne Gretzky
Saturday, May 14 at the El Mocambo
$7 at the door (or less with Prom attire)

Watch The Ruby Spirit perform two new songs, “Microhearts” and “Evolution Sickness”

The Ruby Spirit at Mohawk Place Buffalo

I had the absolute pleasure of accompanying my new friends The Ruby Spirit down to their show in Buffalo, NY (my hometown) on Friday. It was a blast of a day, ending with them killing it at Mohawk Place. They’ve recently flipped their set-list backwards, and turns out it made everything for the better. Besides their songs off the Born Under a Veil EP, they included two new hits, “Microhearts” and “Evolution Sickness.”

Watch ::

The Ruby Spirit will play the Band of Heroes comic release party at the Great Hall in Toronto on May 28 with The Wilderness, Bella Clava and the Lovely Killbots. All of the bands will be immortalized in a comic about them conquering Toronto.

Concert Review: Rich Aucoin at Kapisanan Cultural Centre, April 16

gobble gobble kapisanan

Everyone’s favourite party thrower and best pal Rich Aucoin rolled into Toronto yet again this past weekend. The man who must never sleep impressively opened for the Born Ruffians at the Opera House, a large venue, and then for Gobble Gobble at the Kapisanan Cultural Centre, a basement across town, in the matter of a hop, skip and plenty of jumps in the span of two hours.

I arrived at the sauna as Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt finished up his antics. As Rich urged me to check out the last song, I noticed that it was just like Rich’s set as a colourful parachute sheet was swept over everyone’s heads who were huddled in the middle of the room around the singer as he belted out chants. That wasn’t the best first impression for me to get of the artist, but I’ll keep my eyes/ears open for the future.

After everyone pooled out onto street level for air and cell phone service, they crowded up to the ‘front’ of the room once again. Layers of clothing were shed to the sides of the room or tucked between ceiling pipes. Lights were manually turned off as Rich’s multi-coloured flashing rings were turned on. The people who attend Rich Aucoin shows are that of the most dedicated dance partiers: they know where to huddle, waiting for Rich to burst in with his microphone. Rich quickly did a little sound check, introduced himself/band (including brother Paul)/work, and launched into his set full of sweat, YouTube videos and confetti. He introduced each song by getting the audience to chant the lyrics, something that really seems to bring people into the experience besides the whole dancing, jumping, getting down on knees and holding up a parachute sheet general party shebang. Rich’s become a beacon of energy, dedication and fun towards a craft and it’s great watching him in action. I’d recommend seeing him *at least* once, but I must tell you, it’s a completely different experience inside the huddle than out.

I stayed for the first few songs of Gobble Gobble’s set. In all honesty, it wasn’t my night to be inside that many sweaty huddles (yeah, you read that right). But what I saw was this fascinating display of crazy concert antics, what with a guy on stilts as he waved a shovel in the air, another guy with only something wrapped around his hips as he weaved around the basement flogging some sort of scented wooden plank and other guys in the front (and thus I couldn’t see as I retreated). They’re big on the dance parties too, but with less audience participation in the music besides dancing and drumming, with more crunchy beats and singing.

This night’s scene was so colourful and interesting, it reminded me of shows you’d read about on blogs of DIY underground dance parties. The ceiling pipes were dripping, the gallery venue was patched together by hanging sheets, the homeless woman outside was singing, everyone was there to light up their dreary Saturday nights and as they exited into the cool air each time, these party-goers were likely thinking about how quick they would be to do it all over again.

Impromptu Tuesday Dance Party featuring First Rate People, Nightbox, Austra and Kidstreet

I think I can finally say I’m almost all healed after Canadian Music Week. So that means, inevitably, that I want to dance to shake the rest off and get back in high spirits. Here are a few tracks that I’ve been playing a lot lately, I think they’ll significantly up your day, week, hour, whatever. Play em in order and you’re in for some crazy fun.

First Rate People funny games

First Rate People – “Funny Games”

I’ve posted on this before and I’ll probably post on it again. It is just so groovy. With mid-tempo beats but slow and sexy vocals, it provides this mix that works up to a pressure point that you can’t wait to explore. I can turn on the bright lights and turn them back off just to prove that I’m still in your life is such a great chorus line. It has this sombre structure, and ends kind of with a hanging heart, but if you’re going to sing about sadness in these times, sometimes it’s just better to do it with some (white kids – who can do it great) danceable soul.

Nightbox bears

Nightbox – “Bears”

*Stream only, although you can download their even crazier single, “Pyramid,” here.

I could have ignored this song for longer in my haze, but when I saw these guys play it live on Friday, I was hooked. It’s been on repeat ever since. It’s young, fresh and the chorus’ synths are so addicting. This song makes me do really embarrassing dance moves in my room, but you know what, it’s too much fun. At least I have the memory of how these guys danced to it when playing it (mostly computer/synth wiz James Shelly going nuts), which is much better than what I can do gracefully.

austra lose it

Austra – “Lose It”

This is definitely a different kind of dance party than the previous two tracks, but it’s something I wanted to make a note of anyway. “Lose It” embroiders Katie Stelmanis’ opera background with a chorus of extremely high staccato notes, and just in those moments paired with glittery synths that feel so black and white, it’s a solo dance party that will leave you swaying with your head feeling like it’s in the clouds. It’s also of note to say that Austra made a huge splash at CMW and likely will at SXSW. Feel it Break is out in May, and I can’t wait to see it blow up, then people in Toronto talk about how they knew her before it blew up. And on that note, I had a great interview with Katie the other day… 😉

Kidstreet x

Kidstreet – “X”

Alright, this is a seriously catchy song. It’s pretty simple in terms of it has a fast club pattern, breakdown with whistles, distorted vocals and singing about sexual attraction. In that way, it’s clearly an awesome dance party song. They even perform it with a lot of energy, enjoyment and wit (as I witnessed at CMW on Saturday). It’s the fact that it’s a band of three siblings singing about wanting someone so bad that usually distracts me, but I try and get past it. I don’t think I’d ever be in a band with my brother singing about something like that, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Thinking about it though, I can see this song going really far, it’s got all the ingredients. Could so see a video with a couple on a dance floor coming together in sweet moves (DANCE moves) to the ‘I want you so bad’ part. Get on it, Kidstreet!