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Showing posts from 2017

EP Review: Julia Krueger - for(e)go (Independent, 28 October 2017)

EP Review:
Julia Krueger - for(e)go
(Independent, 28 October 2017)
Listen on Spotify

Forget that Julia Krueger is only 15 years old when you listen to the music or take note of her clever and inventive lyrics. for(e)go is the first release for the California-based singer/songwriter with roots in middle America.

Julia began playing the piano at the tender age of five, and starting writing songs shortly afer that. After the move to Cali from Ohio in her early teens, Julia went through a rough patch of debilitating illness that disrupted her daily life, but left her focused on her composition. She wrote and recorded the first track on the EP - Flamethrower - at 14, adding another four new tracks over the next year.

She has an expressive voice with a soft edge, often playing off against a spare keyboard line. The production is clean yet still expressive, adding layers of instrumentation. The lyrics are predominant, observant and poetic. From Pavement,

There's a fracture in the glass
My …

Ann Millikan: Millikan Symphony (Innova Recordings - August 25 2017)

Ann Millikan: Millikan Symphony
For, about, and of Robert Millikan
Composers: Ann Millikan
Performers: Boston Modern Orchestra Project / Gil Rose (conductor) / Jennifer Curtis (violin soloist)
Innova Recordings - August 25, 2017

Buy the CD

Ann and Bob Millikan were siblings who grew up in California. Both had musical ambitions, and they made copious notes of their musical ideas, including a grand magnum opus they would call Millikan's Symphony. Flash forward decades later, and Ann is a respected composer of both chamber and orchestral music. Bob became an epidemiologist and vet, an amateur violinist and rowing enthusiast. Bob passed away at the age of 55, and Ann decided to bring thee project to fruition.

Each of the four movements of the piece reflect Bob's interests:

Millikan Symphony: I. Science
Millikan Symphony: II. Animals
Millikan Symphony: III. Rowing
Millikan Symphony: IV. Violin

The music is expressive, using the full range of the orchestra and a variety of tonal textures…

#Toronto: The Bentway Skate Trail Opens January 6 2018

From a media release:

THE BENTWAY presents
Friday Night Skate Parties with Toronto’s Best DJs
Opens to the public January 6, 2018
Visit The Bentway, Toronto’s newest public space, located under the Gardiner Expressway, and #ReimagineWinter with BEATS AND BENTS Friday Night Skate Parties, featuring the city’s best DJs spinning tunes from 8-11pm every Friday night.

The Bentway Skate Trail, the first section of The Bentway to be developed, will officially open to the public on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 11am with special events all weekend including the Mayor’s Skate Party on Sunday, January 7 from 1-4pm with Mayor Tory and members of Toronto City Council.

Beginning Friday, January 12 and running until mid-March, BEATS AND BENTS Friday Night Skate Parties will present two DJ sets per night, kicking off with Straight Outta Toronto with UforChange alumni DJORK (Trevoy Wiliams) and didicious (Jenniffer Duverge) playing the most influential hip-hop and R&B mu…

Calpurnia - World Premiere January 14 to February 4 2018 at Buddies In Bad Times Toronto

From a media release:

A classic novel turned on its head. A dinner party gone wrong.
A Nightwood Theatre and Sulong Theatre Co-production 
Written and directed by Audrey Dwyer
January 14 – February 4, 2018


(Toronto) Nightwood Theatre is thrilled to partner with Sulong Theatre in the World Premiere of Audrey Dwyer’s Calpurnia, onstage at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre from January 14 – February 4, 2018.
A hilarious and provocative look at class, race, and appropriation, Calpurnia invites us into an outrageous and unexpected evening at the home of a wealthy Jamaican-Canadian family. As Justice Lawrence Gordon (Andrew Moodie) prepares for an important dinner to introduce his son Mark (Matthew G. Brown) to a Senior Partner at a prominent law firm (Don Allison), his daughter Julie (Meghan Swaby) grapples with her new screenplay. Seeking to redress To Kill a Mockingbird through the perspective of Calpurnia – the Finch family maid – Julie, privileged and disconnected from domestic…

Review: Seneko - True Dimension (Independent, Oct 13, 2017)

Seneko - True Dimension
(Independent, Oct 13, 2017)
Stream on Spotify

Buoyed by the success of his first EP, the eponymous Seneko released in September 2016, Stan "Seneko" Olshefski has followed up with this solid collection of bouncy indie pop.

True Dimension, the title track, is reminiscent of the New Wave synth pop of the 1980s, but with a richer texture and better musicianship. His lyrics are observant of life and love, sometimes with a wry sense of humour, as in Pierced Lip Smile. The songs have satisfyingly catchy hooks that you'll find yourself humming along to even on the first listen.

The production by David Dorn and Alex Torrez is solid, with a nicely fat and textured sound that elevates the pop music genre into more than background music. The one quibble might be that the vocals often have an over processed sound - like another synth line, almost.

The EP covers a variety of upbeat pop subgenres, including the Latin-flavoured My Little Curioso, about his…

Review: Have an Inventive Christmas - Janelle Nadeau - Star of Night (Independent, November 30, 2017)

Have an Inventive Christmas
Janelle Nadeau - Star of Night
(Independent, November 30, 2017)
Stream it/Buy it

Janelle Nadeau's Star of Night is a Christmas album for those of us who may not actually want a holiday album...or maybe who already have enough of the traditional stuff. With its spare instrumentation of harp, guitar, and vocals, she manages to breathe brand new life into songs you thought you knew inside out.

The combination of harp and guitar in the arrangement of We Three Kings creates a moody and atmospheric vibe with a strong rhythmic pulse. The beloved carol is barely recognizable in parts when it veers into what sounds like improvisation over the chord structure. It's a very effective way of turning the classic song into a fresh exploration.

In Silent Night, she mines unusual harmonies between the two instruments to create new dimensions to the time honoured Christmas carol. She adds her clear, high vocals to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, with a multi-dime…

Review: Jay Clark Band - Turning It Up (Independent, 17 December 2017)

Jay Clark Band - Turning It Up
(Independent, 17 December 2017)
Buy singles or check in on the release here

Turning It Up follows hot on the heels of Jay Clark's spring 2017 release, Cocked & Loaded. It was a strong album of southern-tinged rock, and he was bent on keeping the momentum going.

"I wanted to show growth both as a writer and creatively. I set out to write songs that had deeper meaning and could keep the listener interested from the first note on Turning It Up to the last note on Hometown. I hope I've done that."

Jay wrote 5 new songs for the release, and went back to Nashville to collaborate with his session band. He's added two new singers, Adam Cunningham and Tania Hancheroff, which adds vocal depth to the whole album.

In the afternoon, I grab a vitamin C
Let's get the party going...

That party starts with the first - and title - track of the release, a Saturday night rocker lit up by his high energy attack on the southern fried genre. …

Boulders Beach, South Africa - One of The World's 50 Best Beaches©

From a media release:

Boulders Beach, South Africa
One of The World's 50 Best Beaches©
Plush white sands. Ancient granite boulders. Small penguins.

Venture to Boulders Beach in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa where a tropical day truly becomes a new adventure. The deepest blue waters stay protected and calm, hidden amongst the granite so that your swim is peaceful and serene.

As a national landmark, Boulders Beach and its penguin inhabitants remain clean and welcoming for their 60,000 annual visitors. Travelers will find themselves tanning in the average 22°C weather and 295 days of sun, splashing in the many rock pools or strolling along the beach’s boardwalk through nature’s beauty. Whatever you find yourself hoping for in a tropical vacation, Boulder Beach has it all.

Getting There
Though this tropical vacation may sound like a far-away dream land, Boulders Beach is easily accessible with a number of different travel options with top Airlines including Delta Airlines, United Ai…

Jazz Pianist/Composer Fred Hersch Nominated for Two 2018 Grammy Awards

From a media release:

Internationally Renowned Jazz Pianist/Composer Fred Hersch Nominated for Two 2018 Grammy Awards for Recent Palmetto CD 'Open Book'
“Best Jazz Instrumental Album” and “Best Improvised Jazz Solo”

Buy it on iTunes

Internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch has received two 2018 Grammy nominations for his recent solo recording Open Book on Palmetto Records. Hersch has been nominated in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not”). The Grammy Awards ceremony will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, January 28, 2018.

Hersch has earned a total of twelve Grammy nominations since 1993 in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Nine of his nominations have come since his recovery from a 2-month coma in 2008.

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively inf…

Ticket Deal: School Girls - The African Mean Girls Play - Extended Thru Dec 31 2017 in New York City

From a media release:

School Girls
or, The African Mean Girls Play
by Jocelyn Bioh
directed by Rebecca Taichman
Use code MCCWTGP and save!
Tickets: $49 and $55 (Reg. $79-$99)

There are three easy ways to purchase tickets:
Online: Click here and enter MCCWTGP.
By Phone: Call 212.352.3101 and mention code MCCWTGP.
In Person: The Lucille Lortel Theatre Box Office, 121 Christopher Street, NYC.

NEW YORK CITY - Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana's most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the mid-year arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter--and Paulina’s hive-minded friends.

Directed by Tony Award® winner Rebecca Taichman, Jocelyn Bioh's buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe.

How far would you go to be queen bee?

Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright) is a Ghanai…

Spirit of York™ heritage-inspired cocktails at the Toronto Christmas Market November 16 to December 23 2017

From a media release:

Cozy up with Spirit of York™ heritage-inspired cocktails at the Toronto Christmas Market
November 16 to December 23, 2017
TORONTO, ON - This year, the annual Toronto Christmas Market welcomes Spirit of York™ Distillery Co. to its world-class festival roster. For its first holiday season in production, Spirit of York is offering a selection of three custom-crafted cocktails, each inspired by a notable theme from Canada’s rich history. Ciders, syrups and teas have been thoughtfully paired with each of the premium Spirit of York liquors to create a warm blend of flavours with notes of nostalgia. Using only the finest locally-sourced ingredients and embodying all things Canadian, each heritage-inspired Christmas cocktail is sure to keep holiday spirits high and market-goers warm.

Spirit of York will also be selling their holiday gift sets during market hours including custom tasting boxes, cocktail kits and curated bitter sets.

Where: Spirit of York Distillery Co. (12 T…

GastroFestival Madrid January 20 to February 4, 2018

From a release:

TravelSpain for the Eats:
GastroFestival Madrid
January 20 to February 4, 2018
Find out more

Eat your way through Madrid as you enjoy the sights, sounds, culture, and fashion early next year for the GastroFestival Madrid. The city of Madrid invites everyone to enjoy first-rate cuisine during the Madrid Fusión International Gastronomy Summit. This is a world-class encounter between professional chefs, but its Gastrofestival also takes some of its creations out into the streets of Madrid.

This wide-ranging programme includes everything from delicious set menus in selected restaurants, culinary workshops, to gastronomy-themed exhibitions in major museums. The section entitled Gastroculture at the Gastrofestival features a number of museums and art galleries offering a "cultural menu" comprising itineraries, lectures, discussions and guided visits.

For fifteen days restaurants, shops, museums and cultural centres in Madrid will be taking part in this fantastic even…

Recently Released: Paul Maged - Light Years Away (Independent - 10 October 2017)

Recently Released:
Paul Maged - Light Years Away
(Independent - 10 October 2017)
Listen on Spotify

"Light Years Away" is the second release by New York City based singer-songwriter Paul Maged. It's a follow up to Diamonds & Demons, an indie release of a few years ago that turned quite a few heads critically. This release is the first in a planned trilogy of EPs.

Let's just get this out of the way from the beginning. I don't usually critique CD covers, but he really does need a better designer - ditto the promo shots. The visuals just don't go with the high bar set by the music. They deserve better.

Paul's got a high tenor that can be clear, sweet and high, or edgy, with an accomplished and nimble style. You could classify the release as a whole as power pop with a sense of urgency and drive. PC Police is a catchy punk-pop tune mocking PC culture, but with a very simplistic take on the issue.

The PC Police are coming after me,
They're coming after me.…

Pop Single: Saycille 'Wish' (Independent: Aug 15, 2017)

Saycille 'Wish'
(Independent: Aug 15, 2017)
You could say that Saycille is a latecomer to the musical party - but she's making up for that now. Born near Amsterdam, Saycille worked at a variety of jobs until the age of 52, when she lost her job. She decided to volunteer at at Tijd voor Meedoen (TvM), a local community centre, where she started a weekly group for people to get together and make new friends.

At TvM, she also joined the amateur TvM-band as a singer, and quickly discovered a desire and talent for songwriting. The only problem was, she didn't play any instruments to be able to add the chords to her words and melody. No problem! After a 15-minute Youtube video called "instant piano genius" she figured out enough to create her first compositions.

Wish is her first single, a buoyant pop song with a sense of momentum. Her vocals sweet and sincere, with a surprising depth for someone who started the way she did. The track is catchy and hummable, with an…

Review Steven Allen Gordon: All Over the Map - Music for Solo Guitar and Solo Viola

Steven Allen Gordon: All Over the Map - Music for Solo Guitar and Solo Viola
(Independent, June 03, 2016)
Listen on Spotify
Buy the CD

This release by Bellingham, WA based Steven Allen Gordon is a collection of pieces from various eras and genres of music, played largely solo by the long time musician. He plays viola (Bach, Ralph Vaughn Williams and William Walton) as well as music for classical guitar (Bach, Villa-Lobos and Tárrega), steel-string acoustic guitar (Laurence Juber), and electric guitar (Bach and Joe Pass). It's an interesting collection of pieces from an accomplished musician.

Electric Bach: Prelude in D Major is the least successful. While technically proficient, Bach loses some of its resonance in such a clean electric guitar version. The intricacy is there, but not the depth. But, that's the only quibble among the tracks.

The Prelude No.1 in E Minor by Heitor Villa-Lobos on classical guitar is engaging. It's virtuosic playing with sensitivity, and …

Alt Rock - Night Herons: Relevant Noise (Independent, June 27, 2017)

Recently released
Night Herons: Relevant Noise
(Independent, June 27, 2017)
Buy the release
Listen on Spotify

Relevant Noise is the second release from Oakland, CA based Night Herons. The core group consists of Dana Berry on vocals, drums and guitar, Mike Assenzio on guitar and Larry Huene on guitar and drums. The group has been together since 2013 and they are easing into a fully developed sound.

It's straight ahead alt rock with a nice ear for hooks and riffs that stick in your head and keep it from getting boring. The first track, Compromise, exemplifies the combination of driving rock and observant lyrics.

I compromise my life 
Doing what I like
Is getting me nowhere

While you could certainly file the release under radio-friendly alt-rock, there are a number of influences throughout the album. Tracks like Fighters & Lovers or Glaciers seem to take their inspiration from heavy metal, but with a more inventive and hook laden treatment.

Dana Barry's vocals are perfect for th…

Latin American Arts in Toronto; Sur Gallery presents Vehemence - Exhibition till December 2 2017

From a media release:
Latin American-Canadian Art Projects
Sur Gallery presents Vehemence
Exhibition continues till December 2, 2017
Vehemence Additional Programming
Performance by Regina José Galindo: Movilización (carguen con sus muertos)/ Mobilization (carry your own dead) Thursday, November 16, 7:30-8:30PM
A Conversation on Canadian Mining Companies’ Impact Friday, November 17, 7-9PM

About the Exhibition:
The exhibition explores the human body as a site of trauma and memory. Artists and designers in Vehemence create an intense vernacular informed by personal and collective narratives that transpire in Central America having a cause and effect in our lives in Canada.

For decades, Central America has been subject to abominable human right violations. Violence pervades social and cultural life with abductions, torture, death squads, and massacres of women, children and the elderly. Indigenous people are subject to the most disruptive forms of repression and fight a long battle against larg…

Malian blues: Boubacar Traoré's new album Dounia Tabolo to be released November 17th 2017

From a media release:

Malian blues:
Boubacar Traoré's new album Dounia Tabolo to be released November 17th 2017
Pre-order/buy the album (worldwide shipping available)

Boubacar Traoré is the last Malian bluesman of his generation. Since the death of Ali Farka Touré, he has been the musical genre’s only West African icon. In the course of an unsettled life, he became the first star of independence at the start of the 1960s and then vanished from the music scene for nearly 20 years before returning to the limelight in the mid-80s. And ‘Karkar’ is still with us today.

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Boubacar Traoré has an inimitable, wholly personal style. Self-taught and inspired by the Kassonké tradition – he was born in Kayes in Northwest Mali in 1942 – like all the young people of his generation, he discovered blues, rock, jazz, soul and Cuban and Congolese music on the radio, and constructed a musical world like no other for himself. Poetic, fluid and stripped down, his guitar wo…

The Recall VR Abduction App: A Multi Format Movie Experience

From a media release:

Groundbreaking Application Offers Immersive Multi-format Content Options for Users All in One Place
• Check out a preview of THE RECALL VR Abduction Application experience 

Toronto, ON/Los Angeles, CA - October 26, 2017: The Recall VR Abduction app is the world's first and only in-app transactional multi format movie experience. The app teleports you to the world of The Recall, staring Wesley Snipes, and welcomes you into the exclusive media lounge where you can immerse yourself in The Recall VR Abduction, enjoy "The Making of The Recall" in a giant home theater screen, and experience the trailers in 360-degrees, Barco Escape, and Standard 2D formats.
The app contains the feature film, trailers in multiple formats, cast stills and extra exclusive behind the scenes video content in 2D format. Capable of streaming or downloading multi-format…

Recently released: Eric Pedigo - Sun & Shade (Independent, July 7, 2017)

Recently released:
Eric Pedigo - Sun & Shade
(Independent, July 7, 2017)
Stream/Download the album on Bandcamp
Listen on Spotify

"This is a collection of songs about searching for love and sometimes finding it. Its about choosing optimism over pessimism. Its about searching for my place in the world among the chaos."

Those are Eric Pedigo's words about his latest CD, the second after his first solo EP, Parachute, released in 2014. It's an engaging collection of bouncy pop tunes with clever lyrics, a jazzy sense of phrasing and rhythmic complexity. From I'm In Love With A Stranger,

I'm in love with a stranger
Because I can't get to you

Inventive instrumentation, including ukelele, and vocals that dance around the rhythmic bones of the songs, elevate this release above the herd. Eric's voice is expressive and fluid, and he's able to achieve a range of emotions and tones that keep it interesting.

Warm-up is a playful take on just that - a vocal war…