Contest: Win two tickets to HotKid, the Cheap Speakers, Dilly Dally & Alex Pulec DJ set

One lucky person and one lucky friend of theirs will win guest list spots to next Friday’s (July 15) killer Two Way Monologues show at Sneaky Dee’s. The wicked lineup is Dilly Dally, the Cheap Speakers, HotKid and a DJ set by the Ruby Spirit’s Alex Pulec.

TO ENTER:
Email roundletters @ gmail . com with “I want to get sweaty at Sneaky’s”
I will compile all the entries and pick a winner from a random draw. I will only contact the winner.

ENTER BY:
12:01AM Thursday July 12

Dilly Dally is a Newmarket-based pile of spunk. Their sound feels like those summer memories years ago that are just a daze but you’re reaching out in front of you trying to get them back just for a taste. It’s woozy but in the kind of way that one eyebrow is raised, always at the ready.

The Cheap Speakers is a Toronto rock band that I forsee will turn the volume and the crowd up on Friday night. They’re polite rabble rousers and it makes for a refreshing attitude. They’ve recently come off of an Eastern Canadian tour and are apparently armed with new material.

HotKid was on tour with Sloan just last week. The guy/gal duo have updated their website with blog posts about it a bazillion times since, so I’ll say there’s not much doubt that their excitement will be gone by next Friday yet, and I’m looking forward to hearing them blow the roof off the venue with their gritty garage rock.

Alex Pulec has been getting into DJ’ing surf rock and rockabilly around town lately and he’s ready to take over the last spot of the night, letting everyone continue to sweat it out to dance moves across the jumpy Sneaky’s floor. He’s been beefing up his vinyl collection, so get ready to Rock Around the Clock (or at least until last call).

Good luck!

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

Watch Nightbox’s new video for “Pyramid”

Nightbox

The lads of Nightbox premiered their official music video for “Pyramid” via this week’s episode of The Wedge on Much Music. Now we have it via YouTube. Just in time for the weekend, as this is that cute dancey party track you’ve been waiting for. Watch the five-piece revel in colour and imagination at an old, abandoned house and in a field (it looks cooler than how I’ve described, honestly).

Pyramid can be heard on the band’s debut EP and as a single, downloaded for free.

The band will open for the Radio Dept at the Horseshoe on Sunday.

Check out music from The Wilderness, Brazilian Money and Rattail

Today, we’re getting a sparkling dose of new wave, low-fi bedroom experimentation and off-kilter indie pop.

the wildernessThe Wilderness

I’ve been aware of this Toronto band for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to put some verb into the sedentary thought bubble. I’m particularly keen on their single, “Realpolitik,” off their November-released album .272. It is hollow, electric and explosive. “Dancing’s all I can do lately, I’m so tired of everything,” is an easily identifiable line, and yet so blissfully ironic. The Wilderness are part glam, part new wave and part gritty electro rock. There’s definitely a little bit of something in there for numerous different kinds of listeners. Sometimes the instrumentation gets much more action than the vocals, which leaves the vocalist in this state of floating with some upwards static movement. .272 is like those neon lights you see at night through the car window as you blaze down the street, adding detail to a world that can otherwise be drab. You can stream the album on the band’s BandCamp page. Here’s a plus: see them at the Great Hall this Saturday with The Ruby Spirit, Bella Clava and more for the Band of Heroes comic book launch.

brazilian moneyBrazilian Money

While I may only have a certain amount of appreciation for bedroom low-fi pop, that means whatever does break through the barriers is impressive to me. Enter Alberta’s Garrett Johnson, aka Brazilian Money. Johnson actually recorded the album This is Not a Dream while feeling isolated from fun in Kelowna, BC. The product is a bit goofy, what with song titles like “Give Up That Dog” and “Bianca, Make Out With Yr Boyfriend!” Johnson is total funk and soul, from his high-pitched belts to the sassy looped guitar. It’s all covered in glitter and marked with post-its of reminders to go to the beach or pick up some party favours. There’s plenty to take in on this album, from warped noises to wide eyes. It’s quirk that I plan to keep around for the summertime. Stream the album on the BandCamp page.

rattailRattail

Though the name doesn’t really conjure up the best image, Rattail is a promising new sound to my ears. This Toronto band has recently released four songs re-worked, which you can stream on their BandCamp page. Opener “I Swim” is a fluid, tribal electro daze, “George Tronic” is a slow, subtly distorted ballad with some really neat lyrics (“I share my eyes with you in hopes that my hands can be free, cross my bones and hope to die for you”), “ByeBye” takes things a bit more experimental with samples of funny vocal techniques and strings and “The Heat” has some nice melodies. Rattail has this weird underwater pioneer texture to them that I dig, it’s odd and adventurous but it feels smooth and comforting at the same time.

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.

Watch Austra’s new video for “Lose It”

austra

I’ve been listening to the new Austra album Feel it Break a lot lately (out May 17 via Domino/Paper Bag). I find it very hard to turn off somewhere before it actually ends. I’ve even sat and waited through it because it’s so good I don’t want to let it go. The band’s Toronto CD release is May 19 at Lee’s Palace, and tickets should still be on sale. Gotta say, Feel it Break seems to only be on the cusp of breaking out still, and it will, so keep a lookout. Here’s hoping that it makes its way onto the upcoming Polaris Prize long list.

Before your eyes scan down to the wacky new video for their second single, “Lose It,” here’s an article I have with lead singer Katie Stelmanis on queer identity in indie music and her love of Beth Ditto on Spinner. I was really glad I could write this, and there’s more on the band coming soon from me, I believe.

CONTEST: Win 2 tickets + prize pack to see The Darcys, Freedom or Death and Wildlife

steamwhistle unsigned april 29

Well, well, well! The kind folks at Steam Whistle have done a major contest on blogs blast, and RoundLetters is happy to participate.

What you can win:

2 tickets to the Steam Whistle Unsigned show with The Darcys, Freedom or Death and Wildlife at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto on April 29, 2011.

PLUS a ‘swag bag’ of refreshment tickets, 2 passes for a brewery tour, a bottle opener, a t-shirt and an iPhone cover. SWAGGG.

How to enter:

Email roundletters@gmail.com by April 25, 2011 with the subject line “I want to be Steam Whistle’d”

I will do a random draw that morning and contact the winner via email.

You must be able to pick up your winnings at the Brewery before the 29th.

Download My Morning Jacket’s new single, “Circuital”

my morning jacket circuital

Well it’s been a nice morning already! My Morning Jacket have been sending live recorded tracks in e-letters for the last few weeks as a countdown to their new album Circuital, and today we finally get to hear the title song. Our first peek at the album. It’s seven minutes long and at a moderate tempo, with Jim James bringing back his signature high croon. Oh I’ve missed this voice. Even though now I can’t resist thinking about the American Dad episode when I hear the music (great). “Circuital” is more Americana and much lighter in sound than their most recent works. At times I feel it’s a bit safe, but it’s a pleasant song that I’ll be listening to once in a while nonetheless. I think I’ll always like the MMJ with a sharper edge (even with the peanut butter pudding surprise…), but they have a lot of layers that I like to explore. Circuital will be out May 31. The song will be a Record Store Day exclusive too. The band will make a triumphant return to Toronto’s Kool Haus on July 11 and you better believe I will be there rocking out with my dad (hi dad!).

Download the song, read Jim James’ awesome explanation, hear those live tracks & more on NPR.

What do you think?

Concert Review: Foster the People at Lee’s Palace, April 3

foster the people

It’s not often that a band can sell out a city’s medium-sized venue with only three recorded songs. In this case, Los Angeles’ Foster the People have three really catchy songs and the buzz was strong. The single “Pumped Up Kicks” has been in fairly heavy rotation lately in these parts, which has resulted in periods of days when I can’t get it out of my head. It’s the catchiest song I’ve ever heard about gang violence! So based on that song and hearing the other two — “Houdini” might actually be my new favourite and “Helena Beat” proved to be a worthy encore banger — I was excited. The band had even announced their next Toronto show (June 18 – Mod Club) before they played this one.

I enjoyed the show last night, but I know they’ll do even greater when they come back to the Mod Club. Their audience will know the songs better by then, even more arms will be waving in the air, and the sound will be bigger. They’ll even fit better on that bigger stage.

Last night, lead singer and baby face Mark Foster led the five-piece band with his slightly high-pitched voice and funny dance moves (some quirky shoulder shaking with arms just hanging by his sides). Each member had multiple live duties; everyone but the drummer had different synths to tinker with as well as their guitars, other drums and bass, getting them into this fuzzy pop dream land. The emphasis in Foster the People songs comes from the piano though, which brought me and my concert goer and blogger companion Ricky from The Panic Manual to observe live that the band could be the fresh new Maroon 5 or one of those other OC type bands. Not a bad thing, as these songs are clear concise pop rock pushes and you can’t deny getting your attention caught by the charm. All the other songs they played from their upcoming album — with the set just under an hour — followed that suit. I noticed a lot of songs simply hook onto a lot of  “oos” or “las,” and they all will get your feet tapping.

Like mentioned above, since they do have a lot of buzz on those three songs, the audience didn’t really seem to know what to do with themselves for the rest of it, so the usual energy that should bounce between wasn’t there the whole time. It will be there next time, I see these guys getting pretty big. You might not even have to look out for them, their hooks might just find their way to you first. The show last night was fun and I’m glad I saw them now.

Their album, Torches, will be out May 24.

Listen to the EP here.