Saturday, January 28, 2012

Off the Dial

Music News, Reviews, Photos _ Podcasts

Pop diva ready to rock the world

Posted by rlatham On January - 27 - 2010

Written by: Rob Latham

Toronto-based Rebecca Stephens is ready to set the world alight with her unique brand of power rock/pop music.

The 20-year-old singer/songwriter, from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, will be wowing the Toronto music scene with the combination of her powerful voice, mature musicality and stunning good looks throughout the new year as she looks to build her musical stock and explore new and exciting sounds.

Rebecca said: “My musical style is very true to 80′s rock diva’s such as Pat Benatar, Blondie and Heart. I love the raw emotion that these artists all express in their music, it’s very real and timeless.

“However, music as a whole has really come such a long way since then and I think it’d be really exciting for me to take my influences from these women and build on it by utilizing modern technology and of course, my own creative expression.”

Rebecca‘s music has a funky, rocky edge to add to her fantastically powerful voice while also retaining a very poppy, upbeat feeling in her songs, as best portrayed in the lively ‘Not Your Girlfriend.’ Add to that her gorgeous, curvaceous good looks and we are well and truly onto a winner.

But her music also has a very delicate side resulting in a flexible creativity as shown off in the delightful, touching ‘Always.’

Her debut EP, released last year, was crafted with the help of veteran Toronto guitarist Peter Mueller to create a sound that effectively portrays Rebecca‘s powerful voice and early classical training and provide an interesting and refreshing sound.

Rebecca explains: “Working with Peter Mueller on the EP was a great experience because he helped me to take all of my musical influences and find my own sound amidst all of them. In the end, he really gave me a direction while doing this which is so important to have as an artist who wishes to achieve longevity in the business.

“It was something that I lacked entirely before I worked with Peter and now that I have a much better idea of where I’d like to go with my music, I’m confident I will be able to really dig into who I am as an artist when I start writing for my first album and, hopefully, people will like me.”

Her influences range from experienced performers like Blondie and Sheryl Crow to more modern day icons Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson, all of whom’s influence is very evident when listening to Rebecca’s music but the singer explains there is a lot more to her brand of music.

She said: “My goal as a performer is to really be able to rock it while still pulling my audience in on an emotional level like I feel more able to do when it’s just me and the piano. I plan on getting a band together once I’m in Toronto and then building on that idea.”

This year sees Rebecca launching an assault on the Toronto music scene, following a succesful tour through southern Ontario last year and the singer is already working on new material for an album.

To check out Rebecca’s music visit her MySpace page.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Small-town girl ready for big city success

Posted by rlatham On November - 25 - 2009


Written by: Rob Latham

Photo by: Sai Sivanesen

The classic story of small-town girl looking to make it big in the bright lights of the city is a dream almost come true for pop singer/songwriter Sara Giguere.

Moving into a new decade sees the Toronto-based singer, who hails from the town of Iroquois Falls near Timmins, Ontario, going it alone in the music world and looking forward to the release of her debut single.

Having given up on the idea of trying to setup a band in Toronto, where she moved to fulfill her dream of being a musician, Giguere is now fully focused on a solo career with a new-found confidence in her undoubted singing talents.

As she explains: “When I moved to Toronto I wanted to get out there so bad and so I tried looking for band mates and people I could write with. I just wanted to perform but at the end of the day I don’t think I was on the same page as everyone else and it became harder to forge that relationship.

“Six months ago I realized I could do this on my own and with the help of some amazing people I was able to get my voice out there and write again, I believe I’m still meant to do this.”

Giguere‘s style is intriguing, with a strong focus and passion for the meanings of lyrics and keeping her songs from the heart and honest.

“I find writing lyrics is so hard, I want what I sing to be honest and I want to believe in all the words,” she said.

“And because of that I write from experience. I write what is true to me. But at the end of the day my inspiration comes from the world around me, it comes from past relationships, losing someone close, finding love.”

Giguere‘s influences are wide-ranging and as a result so is her music, which from song to song can switch from fast-paced tracks to a slow ballad depending on the theme, but the main focus of what drives her to write music are artists whose lyrics appeal to her.

Giguere said: “Most importantly I adored a few artists, like Jason Mraz and Martina Sorbara of Dragonette, for their writing styles, it may not be similar to mine but the way they capture words is amazing.

“But what I listen to is always changing. I listen to what moves me, what makes me feel good or what makes me feel sad, not necessarily what’s big right now.”

Giguere has always had a strong musical background from her upbringing and inherits her writing skills from her mother and performing abilities from her father, who used to play shows on the guitar and harmonica when she was a child.

Giguere explains: “Music was always a big part of my life growing up and my parents did the best they could at involving me in anything musical.

“My family had no idea I could really sing until one year my dad bought a karaoke machine before Christmas when I was 12 and my mom asked me to try it. I remember I sang a Christmas song and that’s when my parents realized: ‘Hey, she can sing.’”

Giguere certainly has a knack for writing a catchy pop song and when you throw her unique sounding voice and good looks into the picture she is certainly onto a winning combination.

To check out Sara Giguere’s music visit her MySpace page.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Exciting Vancouver band lands Olympics gig

Posted by rlatham On November - 21 - 2009


Written by: Rob Latham

Popular Vancouver rockers Venice Queen will be headlining a major Winter Olympics 2010 launch party, a mark of their progression to becoming one of the most exciting bands in the city.

The Richmond four-piece, who started life as a covers band in high school, are enjoying a growing reputation on the Vancouver music scene evolving into one of the city’s best loved bands and ultimately culminating in them landing the headline spot for the Olympics opening night at The O Zone, in Richmond, on Friday, February 12.

Part of the attraction of Venice Queen is their unique blend of music, which sees their style and sound switch abruptly from song to song.

Lead singer Ryan Bloom explains: “The way we do it keeps things interesting, we have a lot of different influences and none of our songs sound the same as the others.

“We try to keep that diversity to keep it interesting and keep us on our toes, to stop us getting bored of doing the same thing over and over.

I also think it makes it more interesting for people listening to us for the first or second time or more – when I go to a show the biggest problem is if they become monotonous.”

The band’s style is certainly difficult to pin down, which makes them intriguing to listen to as you never know what is coming next. From the simple ballad “Best Friends” to the happy-go-lucky “Summertime No Show” contrasted by the darker, heavier “The Fury Within” and the deliciously catchy, rocky “Rehab” Venice Queen is an exciting mix of Alice In Chains meets Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Avenged Sevenfold.

Bloom is adamant this is the way the band will continue to operate, as that is the way their music naturally evolves.

He said: “It may hurt us in the long run because we’re not hitting the same target demograph every time but I figure at the same time people will appreciate it – good songs are good songs right?”

Having grown up in Richmond, Bloom bemoans what he believes is a poorly organized music scene that blunts the progress of up and coming bands in Vancouver.

“It’s fluctuating and ever changing, constantly closing one club and moving the equipment to another,” he said.

“I just think there are some really good bands around here and maybe the promoters should be putting on better bills with a few clubs playing all the best bands.”

The band has plans to tour Eastern Canada and into America, particularly California, through 2010 in order to build their reputation outside of Vancouver and Bloom explains he believes the current music scene requires bands to harness a business-minded approach.

He said: “If you want to do your art form for a living you’ve got to look at it from a business point of view. You’re selling yourself, your music, your image, your t-shirts – not that I want to steal everybody’s money.

“Everyone talks about selling out but its got to the point where you could dress me like a NASCAR and put sponsors all over me if that’s what it’s going to take  to stop me from doing a regular job and allow me to do what I love doing for a living.”

A second album is also in the pipeline as the band has some tracks already on the back burner and they are constantly writing new music for their fans, of whom Bloom is much appreciative.

“A lot of people are looking forward to the new album,” he said. “We have a solid fan base and the best fans in Vancouver and we can sell out any club in Vancouver on that basis.

“On the last album we took our time and we feel we’ve got a product because of that. Many bands’ second album is forced upon them and it’s more rushed but we want to deliver stuff we feel strongly of.”

Venice Queen is constantly improving as a band and their landing the Olympics gig in February is testament to the their evolution as one of the most exciting up and coming bands in Western Canada.

To check out their music and upcoming tour dates, including a gig at the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday, December 8, visit their MySpace page.

Popularity: unranked [?]

White Rabbits Release Free EP on MySpace

Posted by cristóvão On October - 14 - 2009

White RabbitsDubbed MySpace Transmissions, Brooklyn six-piece White Rabbits have just release an new EP for free. It’s part of a series the once hugely popular social networking site has been running where it features live performances from bands. Past Transmission artists include Manchester Orchestra, NOFX, Thrice, City and Colour, Vampire Weekend and many more.

White Rabbits are still riding the success of their sophomore release, It’s Frightening, which came out in May and features the fantastic lead single, “Percussion Gun”.

Here’s a video clip of said song on the live Transmission sessions;

White Rabbits - "Percussion Gun" from Transmissions

MySpace Transmissions | MySpace Videos

You can download the entire EP on their MySpace Transmission site. Hurry though, this appears to not last forever as some of the aforementioned artists no longer have the EP available to download.

Popularity: unranked [?]

Day two of Virgin Festival Alberta takes place today, so here’s a video from tonight’s headliner, Billy Talent;

Rusted From The Rain (Myspace Secret Show)

This video is of the band performing the lead single to Billy Talent III, “Rusted From the Rain” live in Hamburg, Germany for a MySpace secret show.

Popularity: unranked [?]

the Mars Volta Stream Octahedron

Posted by cristóvão On June - 17 - 2009

tmvoctahedronOne week ahead of releasing their fifth studio album, Octahedron, the Mars Volta are allowing fans to give it a full listen on their MySpace page.

Previously, you could only hear lead track “Since We’ve Been Wrong” and “Cotopaxi” but now’s your chance to preview the entire album before picking it up on June 23rd.

Last week, we reported that singer Cedric Bixler Zavala revealed an At the Drive-In reunion is no longer out of the question during an interview on Drowned in Sound.

The Mars Volta will be touring Europe to play many of the summer festivals but also are playing San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music _ Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 29, 2009.

Popularity: 5% [?]

First 2009 Virgin Festival Calgary Rumour Emerges!

Posted by cristóvão On June - 11 - 2009


2008virginfestlogoHopefully this means the long wait will soon be over. Chartattack is reporting today that London, England alt.rock band White Lies will be one of the bands on this year’s Virgin Festival Calgary line-up.

The band are in the midst of a European tour that sees them playing several summer festivals across the pond well into late August. However, among the countless dates listed on their MySpace page, you’ll find a slot on August 9th, 2009 for “V Festival” in Calgary. White Lies are also scheduled to run a short North American tour in September with stops in New York City, Toronto, Austin and Atlanta (among other cities).

Unfortunately, there’s no word on who else will be playing this year’s Virgin Festival Calgary nor any official word of any capacity from Virgin themselves. The date does seem to jive with the already announced Virgin Festivals in Montreal (which takes place next weekend, June 19th/20th), Halifax (July 4th) and Vancouver (July 25th/26th), plus the yet to be announced Toronto show which historically takes place in September.

White Lies just released their debut album To Lose My Life earlier this year to largely positive reviews. You can also read a review of their live show in Vancouver earlier this year by Off the Dial syndicated contributor Sarah Westwood of This Is Live.

Popularity: 10% [?]

Video of the Week: Kings of Leon ~ “Notion”

Posted by cristóvão On June - 8 - 2009

I can’t decide if the fact that one of the much better songs on Kings of Leon‘s smash hit album Only by the Night becoming the potential next single is a good thing or not. On the one hand, people who don’t usually pay attention or buy whole albums will be introduced to music that is much better than the already released singles while on the other hand, it’ll likely get played to shite, thus ruining yet another KoL song for me.

Regardless, here’s the video the band released for “Notion” on MySpace last week. Leave a comment and let us know what you think;

Popularity: 4% [?]

Anti-Flag Stream the People or the Gun

Posted by cristóvão On June - 3 - 2009

af-tpotgPittsburgh punks Anti-Flag are less than a week away from releasing their ninth album, titled the People or the Gun and in what is largely a common practice, are streaming the entire disc for fans to hear ahead of it’s release.

The album hits stores on June 5th in Europe, June 8th in the U.K. and everywhere else on June 9th, 2009. Containing ten tracks, the People or the Gun features songs “Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C. (Sheep in Shepard’s Clothing)”, “The Economy is Suffering, Let it Die” and “No War Without Warriors (How Do You Sleep?)”. A video for “When All the Lights Go Out” was released last month.

The first album on SideOneDummy records since their two-record contract with RCA ended, the band are donating a portion of album pre-sale proceeds to Amnesty International.

Anti-Flag will be presumably streaming the People or the Gun on their MySpace page until it’s been fully released next week.

Popularity: 5% [?]

Hot Little Rocket Announce New Album and Impending Split

Posted by cristóvão On June - 2 - 2009


The news that Calgary’s Hot Little Rocket were going to release a new album wasn’t that big of a surprise. In fact, vocalist Andrew Wedderburn told me as much when he revealed to me they were writing new material at their January show at the Palomino. When they released the official news today though, I was not prepared for the additional announcement.

Hot Little Rocket will be releasing a new album this summer/fall. We recorded 12 new songs with 2 of our favourite people, Lorrie Matheson and Dave Alcock. The tentative release date will more than likely be our 11th anniversary in September because we took way too long to finalize the details,” read the statement released by drummer Joel Nye on the band’s official site, facebook and MySpace pages. “And yes, the plan is for the band to split up, sell the house, disrupt the kid’s lives and move to opposite sides of the island.”

As many fans of the band know, three of the four members have other projects so it’s no surprise that Nye continued saying, “Aaron (Smelski) will continue on with Heat-Ray who have a new record out this summer, Matt (Swann) will release his solo venture this summer as “extra happy ghost!!!” I will continue playing with Key to the City and yes, we also have a new record coming out this summer…. that’s right one band tied to 4 new records and all this summer….FYI, Andrew is also in the process of gathering some crazed individuals to rock some roll (name and lineup not released at press time)… so you really want to know why we are breaking up, because breakups mean much more hard feelings, anger and depression….and anger and depression leads to more creativity, and more creativity leads to more records.”

Sad news indeed. However, one must focus on the good news, being that we will get a brand new album of Hot Little Rocket material (the first since their excellent 2007 release How to Lose Everything) and there will be a few chances to catch them live one last time. They are one of the highlighted bands on this year’s Sled Island festival with a show at Dicken’s Pub on Thursday, June 25th with Fox Opera, Ladyhawk, Yukon Blonde and the Paperbacks. They will also be playing an outdoor show for CJSW’s Olympic Plaza Concert Series this summer and of course, the CD Release party which will also serve as their final show ever.

A band that will be truly missed but revered for a very, very long time.

Popularity: 5% [?]





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