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    Music Monday March 7th- A Safari Playlist

    Music Monday March &


    This week’s Music Monday playlist comes with several things: a view of a mother and baby elephant, a couple Jack Garratt songs (because his debut album FINALLY came out and no surprise, it’s incredible) some weird glitchy pop perfection by a few new discoveries of mine, Kilara & Tove Stryke and a bit of nostalgia from Bloc Party & Shakey Graves to round it out.

    I also threw some Paul Simon on there to bookend this playlist because I wrote it while on Safari and what else do you listen to other than Simon’s ‘Graceland’ while you’re on a safari?!


    Music Monday December 21st- Harriet

    ‘American Appetite’ by Harriet is one of the best executed lyric videos I have ever seen. It’s simple and flawlessly done and I can’t get enough of this band this year. This song will definitely be on my year-end favorites list (which I’m currently pulling my hair out over because so much good music came out this year), but I thought I’d give you a little preview of the geniuses that comprise Harriet. If you dig, your next steps should be ‘Burbank’ (oh man Burbank is just SO GOOD!) and ‘Ten Steps’. I fell in love with the former late last year and I’ve been essentially stalking these guys since. I mean, that voice! Those meditative melodies! All of their songs are perfect for cruising through dark streets with your friends; they’re the type of songs you listen to in silence and zone out to before catching yourself and breaking out into a big goofy grin. They’re meaningful without being cheesy and I’m just so excited for their new album that my little butt shakes like an excited puppy when I think about it. 
    Enjoy, see y’all next week with my top 15 songs of 2015!

    Music Monday December 14th- A Dominican Playlist


    The Dominican Republic is the Clifton hill of the Caribbean. The resort I stayed at for a wedding was massive and crazy busy so on my last morning there I got up at 6am to watch the sunrise and enjoy a few moments of peace and seclusion. My beautiful goddaughter even dragged herself out of bed to join me, here she is with this weeks ‪#‎MusicMonday‬ playlist, which includes the beautiful choice of Crimson & Clover that my friends used for their first dance and a Snakehips song featuring a genius verse from Chance the Rapper.



    Music Monday October 19th- Florence & The Machine covers Diplo

    There are singers that are technical and always on their game, they hit every note and don’t attempt the ones they can’t. Then there are singers that just sing with their whole heart, they are raw & full of emotion and they may not always perfectly hit every note but no one really cares. You can tell when someone truly loves to sing, they reverberate a joy that can’t be faked.

    There are very few singers out there right now who have the emotional singing game down like Florence Welch. I don’t think that fact has ever been disputed, but I was reminded of it last week when I heard her cover of ‘Where are you now’ on Studio 1. Skrillex & Diplo aren’t exactly my most favorite hit makers, but Florence took this pop song and turned into something new and glittery and full of heart.

    Check it out below!




    Music Monday October 12th- Miguel

    Here are some unbelievable facts that sound like they should be untrue:

    -One out of every 200 people alive today is a descendant of Genghis Khan

    -1 out of 10 photographs taken in human history were taken in the past 12 months

    – I have never written a Music Monday about Miguel

    That last fact is by far the most ridiculous one, considering that Miguel is one of my favorite artists in today’s musical landscape. He is sweet and provocative and my god, probably the sexiest singer out there right now. The main song I’ve chosen for today’s #MusicMonday is ‘Leaves’, which is off his most recent album ‘Wild Heart’. It’s the perfect fall song, it’s written from the point of view of a man who didn’t know his summer fling was over because the leaves don’t change in California. It’s the ideal song for long drives on crisp fall days and romping through all those pumpkin patches you people seem to be obsessed with.

    For those of you wanting to further your Miguel musical education, you should check out the follwing songs, ordered by importance: Adorn, Hollywood Dreams, Use Me, Damned, Sure Thing, Simple Things, Face The Sun, & Where’s the Fun in Forever.

    His trademark sexiness and unique vocal quips remind me of a late-eighties Michael Jackson; all of his songs are sung with the implication that this man wants to love and possess every inch of you and do you right, but tenderly.

    Check him out if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it.


    Music Monday October 5th- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

    There’s thousands of pictures of my face in existence. Between family photo albums, tagged photos from friends and my own personal collection, there’s a photo of me doing just about everything. But out of all the photos out there in the world, there’s not one of the face that I make when I hear a song I love for the first time. Like really love it. It’s usually accompanied by a ‘Yo what is this?’ or ‘turn this up!’ and an awkward fumbling of my phone so I can shazam it immediately. It happened to me the other day, when I was alone in my car and I took a quick glance in the mirror to see my face and I laughed out loud. My upper lip was cocked in the corner like Elvis and I had this stupid, cheshire cat grin spread across my whole face.

    The song that made me make this face was ‘SOB’ by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats. It’s a perfect throwback to the hand clappin’, foot stoppin’ songs of my childhood and Mr. Rateliff sings the whole thing like a boisterous preacher delivering his Sunday sermon. Somehow he manages to communicate all the frustration and absurdity of life into each time he says ‘Sonofabitch!’ and sings it with such gusto that it makes me laugh every time. My second favorite track after this single is ‘Wasting Time’, a love song reminiscent of The Band’s endearing simplicity.

    Check out this album, I guarantee it’ll leave a big goofy smile on your face, too. And hey, if anyone happens to see me make the aforementioned face in the future, please snap a pic for me.


    Music Monday September 21st- Ryan Adams

    Don’t you love waiting for an album to drop? I mean, yes, in theory it would cool if I never had to wait for new music, if all my favorite artists were just churning out songs at my request. But the anticipation of a new album, the countdown once a release date is publicized, it’s all so much fun. Last night I sat on my computer at 9pm and thought over and over: Only 3 more hours till the new Ryan Adams album comes out (miraculously it somehow ended up on iTunes almost 2 hours early). A few months ago he announced he was doing an album of Taylor Swift covers from her recent pop perfection album, 1989. I’ve been salivating for it since. I loved the Taylor album, it was reminiscent of old Blondie and I couldn’t wait to hear his take on it.

    The only better feeling than when you finally get your hands on an album is when you realize that the album is everything you wanted it to be and more. We’ve all been disappointed by an artist; it sucks when you love someone’s music and it just doesn’t live up to your hopes. Luckily, Mr. Adams did not do that, he far exceeded my expectations. He took that gold album and spun it into, um, something better than gold. I spent hours last night listening to it over and over, just geeking out by myself in my room.

    My favorite songs are the same on both albums: I wish you would, Out of the Woods, Wildest Dreams & This Love. Check em out, fall in love, praise Ryan Adams, for he could sing the phone book and we would all be better for it.

    Music Monday May 18th- The Bros Landreth

    I have a confession to make: I rarely enjoy entire albums. Yeah, yeah I know that’s probably grounds for dismissal from the music industry. I do have favorite albums that I enjoy listening to from start to finish, they’re just a rare occurrence. There’s a ton of records in my collection that are 90% perfect, there’s just one or two songs on them that I skip past because they screw up the flow of the album or I just plain don’t care for them. As a result, my iTunes is a salad bar, a hodge-podge of songs and singles that struck my fancy.

    (Sidenote: This infuriated my ex, a man whose music collection was meticulously organized with only complete albums, labelled with artwork, genre, year and composer credits. We fought about it constantly until one day he admitted that he thought that The Beatles were ‘overrated’, which made me realize he was a crazyperson and I promptly ended things with him.)

    Here’s how I find music: Once every two weeks or so, I decide to wade through all the songs people have sent me, all the little notes in my phone, all the songs I’ve shazaam’d. During my most recent little ritual at 2am, there was a line scribbled in the margin of the tiny notebook I carry around that said ‘Check out The Bros Landreth album, Brian says so’. I should also let you know that when my friend Brian told me to check this album out, he placed his hand on his chest as he talked about it, the way you do when you just love something so much.

    So sometime last week on a hot and sticky night, I downloaded The Bros Landreth album around 3am and HOLY HELL GUYS. What a beautiful body of work. At first I was kind of tapping my toe to ‘Let it Lie’, and then I was dying to go on a backroad drive when I heard the incredible beat of ‘Tappin’ on the Glass’, then I wanted to head to Texas the second I heard ‘I am the fool’.  ‘Firecracker’ made me long for a small town summer love and ‘Greenhouse’ made me cry REAL TEARS,  like big fat, nostalgia tears. During the end verse when the narrator says ‘there’s new memories that you need to make, it’s time for me to fade away’, I immediately understood why Brian told me I had to listen to these dudes.  In the 42 minutes it took me to listen to the entire album, I cried, smiled really big and stupidly in my room, alone in the middle of the night, started planning a road trip and then changed some of my room around.  

    That’s what this album does, it makes you feel all kinds of shit: it makes you sad but it brings you right back up and energizes you and makes you want to run into the desert and fall in love.  All of these amazing songs and I still haven’t even mentioned the crown jewel of the album, ‘Our Love’. I don’t know how a bunch of boys from Manitoba managed to positively nail bluesey- Americana, but they did. They wrapped it up with some beautiful harmonies, sprinkle in some insanely honest and relatable lyrics about heartbreak, and voila!  The first complete album of this year that I’ve listened to from start to finish over and over.  Yeah, that’s right, they’re Canadian too. And they’re like 75% long haired and bearded! What else could you want from a band? Why are you still reading this? Go get your hands on what is sure to be one of my favorite albums this summer, and a long time after that. 


    Music Monday February 16th- The Lone Bellow

    I’m actually so happy it’s Monday today. I’ve been sitting on this album for 10 days and couldn’t have possibly pushed back showing you last week’s Leon Bridges but now the day is finally here where you can lend your ears to the phenomenon that is The Lone Bellow.

    Let’s talk about this video, which is both a feast for the eyes and ears. This song is sublime. It swells and builds right from the beginning, dramatic dips and leaps that keep it both interesting and fresh. And all those instruments! The string section, the lap steel, the mandolin, the upright bass, the flautist, the french horn, those incredible harmonies, WHERE DO I LOOK GUYS?

    They’re all perfectly complemented by the beautiful lead vocals of Zach Williams, who rocks and rolls like an inspired preacher at the pulpit during a boisterous Sunday sermon. I’m so fortunate to be attending Eaux Claires this summer, a festival curated by Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon in Wisconsin. This incredible band will be playing and I can’t wait to check them out live for the first time. Take a listen and let me know if anyone wants to come along, there’s still a couple spots in the car and we’ll be stopping at (yet another) beef jerky outlet.


    Music Monday February 9th- Leon Bridges

    Analgesics, birth control, air travel and dentistry are all modern conveniences that I am very grateful for. I love being able to order whatever I want and have it arrive at my door in days. I love being able to power up this little machine of mine and connect with friends and strangers all over the world, peek into their lives and plan trips to corners of this planet I have never seen. But not all the modern amenities in this world can make me give up my love and affinity for a musically simpler time.

    We can’t deny that some of the best music ever created came well before we had auto-tune and fancy electronics and wild stagecraft to distract us. Even in this time of flash and show pony grandeur, there are still artists who come along and transport us to another decade, oftentimes one they haven’t even lived through.

    Leon Bridges is a 25 year old kid from Fort Worth Texas and he has released two songs that have propelled the former college dance major from coffeehouses to a major-label record deal in less than six months. Courted by 40 labels before his signing to Columbia, he has managed to encapsulate the sound of an entire decade in two songs. A sound that brings me back to a place filled with cardigans and lemonade and shiny shoes, where artists were welcomed by people who bought tickets and stood in line because they wanted nothing more than to slow dance in a hot crowd with their date.

    Recorded live at Niles City Sound studio, using only vintage equipment, these two songs are an absolute treat, a refreshing take on an old sound that still manages to sound dynamic and exciting.



    Music Monday October 20th- That Sexy Sexy Saxophone

    From the first time I heard Billy Ocean’s ‘Get Out of my Dreams’ to my infatuation with former president Bill Clinton, I’ve had a huge crush on the saxophone my whole life. I love the sheer exuberance it adds to any song, the way it invokes the spirit of old men in Louisiana swamps and Chicago jazz clubs. Lately there’s been an infusion of songs in my life containing this wonderful instrument and I thought they’d be perfect to share with you for the first long-form Music Monday in a month.

    The first is the title track off Timber Timbre’s latest album, Hot Dreams. They’re a Canadian band from Bobcaygeon that’s been burning up a lot of interest in the past couple years. A somber love letter that makes you think of smoky supper clubs and red lights, it also has a truly genius saxophone solo at the end. The drum and sax combo that builds in its repetition is incredible, a beat that makes you want to slow dance with a stranger in New York.

    The second is a much more upbeat track from Klingande,  a french deep house producer that frequently features classical instruments like piano and sax in his songs. ‘Jubel’, which literally means ‘jubilation’ in German is just that. A breezy dance song with a fantastic sax solo woven throughout it, this is the track that’s been warming me up this past week as the weather starts to turn.

    An honourable mention has to go to the current king of sax, Colin Stetson. He’s a multireedist and saxophonist that I’ve seen on tour with Bon Iver, Arcade Fire and play solo. He’s usually playing the contrabass sax, a huge upright instrument that’s usually over 6 feet tall, it requires an incredible amount of lung power. My asthmatic lungs hurt just from watching him play the first time I saw him. I’m including a small snippet of one of his shows. If you like it, his diverse body of work is worth seeking out.


    Music Monday October 6th- New York Playlist #5

    This week’s New York playlist is chock full of excellent commuting music, the perfect songs to drown out the bad subway performances, the men who horribly freestyle rap to themselves and the people who don’t know anything about acceptable headphone volume. Use it the next time you need to cover up the unwanted noise of your surroundings. Enjoy.

    Music Monday August 18th- LP

    I love this point in August when everyone finally gets into their summer groove. For Canadians, this usually happens just before summer is over. The novelty of warm days has worn off and you’ve attended all the jam packed bbq’s of July and other summery engagements that seem crammed into the first 6 weeks of the season. Nowadays, I have a lot of impromptu leisurely dinners in the park or in the backyards of friends until the sun goes down. I rarely turn on my oven. My feet seem to always be dirty and I obnoxiously say ‘corn salsa’ in conversation at least once a day.

    I also spend an inordinate amount of time in two places: in my hammock or in my car. My car is a bit of an acquired taste. I call it ‘Wolverine’ because it’s self- healing. Frequently small things break, a light will go out, the stereo will stop working, etc. But within an hour or two, it will work again. It’s remarkable and has happened a good 10 times. Every superhero has its achilles heel, and my magical little car is no exception. The AC has never worked. On mild days it’s not so bad. On hot days, it’s like driving a windy oven. My usual tactic to combat this sweltering apparatus on wheels is to just drive really fast. All four windows down, the right song and a bit of a heavy foot are the recipe to enduring the heat.

    This week I’ve been listening to a lot of LP as a means of cooling down. LP, born Laura Pergolizzi is a singer-songwriter from NYC that’s written for pretty much everyone on the pop scene today, including the legendary Cher. She’s the first female martin guitar ambassador ever, and for very good reason. This woman seriously makes love to all stringed instruments; I have never seen anyone play the ukelele with such baddasery. This single ‘Into the Wild’ is perfect. It’s sunshine and summertime and full of roar and makes you feel powerful when you’re singing it. Whether you’re driving a beat up car like my little wolverine or your ride is luxurious and smells like new car, I know this song will make your drive a little better.


    Music Monday July 28th- Tycho

    Some people do their best work sitting at a desk, crumbling under the pressure of a deadline. Others do it best in the early morning, bright eyed and bushy-tailed after a cup of french press coffee. I’ve met people who prefer to work in the middle of the night, in the afternoon or only whenever inspiration strikes them. Some people are comforted by the familiar, they prefer to work in their home office or at their local starbucks, surrounded by beards, $6 dollar coffees and baristas with neck tattoos.

    As for me, I do my best work when I’m in motion. I mean , I do good work late at night when I’m anywhere, but the very best things I’ve ever created have always been when I’m moving: When I’m sitting on a plane headed somewhere new or looking out the window on a train headed home. The perpetual movement strikes something open inside me that makes me want to pull all the magic out of this moment I’m in and create something new with it. Predictably, I also have music that goes along with being creative. Whether I’m writing, painting or just making some sort of DIY craft at home, there is always music playing. I guess I should say there is a very specific type of music playing, because I have music on about 80% of the time I’m home (the other 20% I’m watching Seinfeld). The songs I’m usually playing when I’m writing on an airport shuttle or in the passenger seat of a car are ambient, often wordless pieces of music. Simple, clean beats that I can get lost in without getting distracted by lyrics.

    Recently I’ve been obsessed with Tycho, an artist that makes just this type of unique sound. He’s equally well-known for his design endeavours and I can’t really decide which I like better, they’re both incredible. He’s released a beautiful body of work over the last decade but all of his songs share one common thread: gorgeously constructed instrumentals that invoke a sense of wonder and movement. These songs just sound like sitting in a train car while a new world whizzes past you. The first song is the title track off his album ‘Awake’ and it’s tinged with a U2-esque opening that builds up to the perfect tune for traveling down back roads with the windows down. The second ‘Dye’ is like a laid-back journey through time, one that makes my thoughts relax and slow down every time I listen to it. I’m in motion right now, zig-zagging all over the southwest in planes and trains and automobiles. For me, songs like this are the same sense of familiarity that some people get from their house or hometown; I use them like a security blanket that I drag everywhere. It brings me a lot of comfort to know that no matter where I am in the world, I can just put on these songs and feel inspired to create.


    Music Monday July 21st- Stretching & Sigur Ros

    Last week I turned another year older, getting precariously close to my third decade. There was no monumental shift in my world, no immediate wrinkles cropped up on my face and the white hair I’ve had in my hairline for the last 4 years didn’t seem to multiply. My body did not seem to get the memo that another year of aging has taken place, with one exception. The biggest sign of aging that seems to be rapidly advancing is my joint and muscle mobility. Y’all know what I’m talking about, my back hurts a lot and I don’t recover from things like cramped airline seats as quickly. Every day when I wake up, my whole body is stiff and in need of a good cracking. So on the morning of my birthday I added something new to my morning routine; I crawl directly from my bed onto my yoga mat on the floor and streeeeetttttttch.

    I roll out my legs and back with a hard foam roller, I do a few simple poses and I lay on the floor and think about my day. I’m pretty limber and excel at most aspects of yoga and pilates, but I have a really hard time with the breathing and meditation part of it. I just can’t get into it. My mind has always went a mile a minute and I hate the ‘yoga tone’ that most teachers have, that breathy, condescending way they talk to their students and the shangri-la elevator music playing in the background. I remember my first yoga class, the teacher said ‘now we are opening the left ventricle of our heart’ and I thought to myself  ‘uh, it’s always open you dummy. We would be dead if it was closed’. I’m too skeptical, too sarcastic, too something to fully get into it.

    Then one day in the Arizona desert, I went to a drop in class in Sedona that changed everything for me. There was no department store melody lulling me into a false sense of flexibility and the teacher talked to me like a normal person. She also played amazing music, an eclectic mix of icelandic bands that truly made my mind shut off and relax. I took her playlist home with me and now the first song I hear every day is from the Iceland powerhouse that managed to make it mainstream: Sigur Ros. This incredible song is the first song I play every morning. It’s ethereal sound paired with Sigur Ros’ trademark falsetto vocals that lightly wakes me up and I have time to flex each one of my toes and fingers before it’s finished. The second is ‘King & Cross’ by the amazing Asgier and it’s a bit more energizing. This song makes me move a bit quicker and get ready for the day ahead of me.

    I’m not going to say anything silly like ‘setting my intention for the day has changed my life’, but I do notice a huge improvement in how much my hips don’t hurt every day and the amount of clarity I have to get through the day. Just that simple few minutes of laying there and thinking of what needs to get done while these beautiful songs play has made a little difference in my life. I hope that by passing them onto you, they will maybe inspire you to improve your own morning routine. Get up, think of me and stretch, stretch, stretch. Think of me when you’re in your fifties and running marathons on your flexible and ageless knees.




    Music Monday July 7th- Anger, it’s a gift

    I should have known today was not going to be the greatest day. On my to-list was dealing with 3 separate government call centres, getting my sticker renewed for my car and booking a few flights. It was a bit of a recipe for disaster;  I just got home late last night, had to deal with a rowdy neighbour in the middle of the night and spent the night tossing and turning to a thunderstorm. I wasn’t prepared for today. Fast forward to 3pm:  I’d spent a collective 67 minutes on hold, my car won’t pass its e-test for the dumbest reason (on a redundant test to begin with) and the only flight available to get me to my destination on time includes a 17 hour layover in OHIO. I started the day exhausted, and now I was livid. It was quickly shaping up to be one of those days where it seems everything is against you, where no one is returning your calls and you’re certain there was a memo to everyone around you that it was ‘Piss off Teresa Day’. I’m all for believing in the power of positive thoughts, but sometimes you just have a brutal day. At 4pm, I realized I had to do something, if I saw one more garbage inspirational quote on facebook or poster of kittens telling me to ‘hang in there’, I was going to snap.

    I was hot and sweaty and hungry and mad. I needed a release. I needed to channel Fred Durst and break stuff. I needed the right song. Angry songs have a long and varied history; there are artists who make their entire careers off being angry and that’s exactly what I needed today. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been listening to some pretty easy rock lately but today I wanted nothing but pure, unadulterated hatred. I started out with the classics : I played ‘Walk’ by Pantera for a solid 3 repetitions before I felt a bit calmer. I then immediately switched to the anger ridden boys of my youth: Rage Against the Machine. I started off with ‘Killing the Name of’, played loud enough to irritate my neighbours if they were home. I finished it off with a full play through of the Battle of Los Angeles, easily one of the most defining albums of my adolescence. I spent a large portion of my fourteenth year making out on the couch while the RATM’s tour video played in the background.

    When the final riff of ‘No shelter’ finished, I felt better. All music is designed for the listener to relate to it, to be able to listen to it and know that someone else is going through the same thing, even for an emotion as simple as anger. RATM’s frontman Zach De la Rocha famously said ‘Your anger, it’s a gift’ and today those words and all his others were the ones that got me through it all. I know in the grand scope of things, all my problems are miniscule. I’ll figure out the car stuff, probably go on a grand adventure in Ohio and unfollow all those annoying people on facebook. If you too find yourself in a similar angry position, come on back here, press play and just rage out. Anger is a gift, but it luckily doesn’t last forever. Tomorrow is another day. 

    Music Monday June 23rd- You sound like a song I used to know

    There comes a point in every hardcore music fans life where they find themselves wide awake at 2am, unable to sleep because they can’t remember the name of a song or artist. They were out at some arbitrary party and heard a new song playing in the background and thought to themselves ‘This really sounds like…….’ But sometimes they can’t think of who this sounds like and they begin agonizing over it immediately, much to the dismay of anyone around them. They’ll say to the person next to him ‘Hey, who does this sound like to you?’ and their friend will shrug and answer ‘I don’t know’. It will become evident almost immediately that most people don’t care or pay that much attention to the musical details of life until this poor person is walking around asking anyone who will listen ‘Hey guys, who does this song remind you of, does it make you think of anyone particular?’. They will all shrug and walk away, obviously not caring or willing to lose sleep over it. This happens to me every once in a while. Luckily my musical knowledge is vast enough that I usually know the answer to my own questions, but I still occasionally find myself being tortured by the sound of a band that I know is on the tip of my tongue. Recently, a song that did this to me is ‘Under Pressure’ by The War on Drugs. I loved it from the first moment I heard it; the synth pop opening, vague lyrics and the way it sort of hummed all the way to its climax made me put it on frequent rotation this past week. But I couldn’t get past who I thought they sounded like. I lamented to my boyfriend several times that I just couldn’t finally put my finger on it until I had a eureka moment in the middle of the night. ‘It’s Don Henley!’ I thought. Raspy, Boys of Summer era Don Henley. So pleased to have solved the conundrum, I started asking other people who they thought it would sound like, certain they would agree with me. My boyfriend was not in agreeance when I shared my findings, he guessed Paul Simon. His father was certain it was Bryan Adams or Bob Dylan. My friend Zach said Kim Carnes and yet another friend guessed Rod Stewart. While I concede that these artists all share the occasional common thread (Stewart and Henley are throaty, gruff singers, Dylan and Simon can be a bit rambling in their delivery and Adams and Carnes were huge parts of the synth revival in the eighties) they are widely different. That’s probably why I love this song so much now, it takes all the best parts of so many legends, added a splash of their own brand and made us a new and wonderful cocktail. So I’m passing it on to you, maybe you’ll agree with one of the aforementioned guesses or think of a new one. Either way, if you’re one of those rare folk that gets into the musical details and you find yourself up at 2am, stuck on something you can’t think of, feel free to send me a message or tweet at me and I’ll try my best to help you out. Maybe the little things in music don’t matter to most people, but it will always matter to me. Enjoy. 

    Music Monday June 9th, The girls are back in town

    Mondays are always my writing days. In the winter, this means that I procrastinate for a couple hours, cook and do meal prep for the week and then buckle down and do several hours of writing. In the summer, this means that I go lay on a blanket in exhibition park or in my hammock for a few hours, read some really bad/really good trashy chick lit, have a 2 hour nap and then wake up in a panic and try and get my writing down while I call my boyfriend and ask if he’ll bring me dinner cause I can’t write if I’m hungry. I can’t help it, I try and remind myself that Mondays are supposed to be a priority for writing, but when the weather is nice I can’t make myself relish the idea of sitting at a computer. But today I dragged myself inside because I know you’re in need of some new summer songs and it’s my job to find them for you.

    If you’ve ever read Music Monday before, you know I am very unimpressed by anything flashy. I’m down for performing others songs and I even like a certain percentage of pop divas in my summer playlists. But there are so many things that can’t be faked and this always leaves me with a really small pool to pick from. Luckily, today I’ve got not just one, but two lovely ladies that have already improved my summer : Meghan Trainor and Chloe Howl.

    Meghan Trainor is a 20 year old singer from Massachusetts with a pretty eclectic roster of producers and performers attached to her name. Her first major single that I’ve heard: ‘All about that bass’ is incredible. It’s the perfect summer walking song for putting a little more pep in your step. It’s tinged with a retro vibe and a clap beat behind it, which is one of the easiest ways to my heart. Reminiscent of the sassy and smart vocals of Kimbra on ‘Settle Down’, this song will likely not get retired from my collection even when the weather cools off.

    Chloe Howl is a 19 year old British singer that reminded me that age has absolutely nothing to do with talent. So often I hear artists that make me think ‘they’ll be great in 5 years’. Some people need to grow into their voice, learn to control it and some people just know what they’re doing from day one. Chloe Howl is one of the latter. The first time I heard her smash single ‘No strings’ I said out loud ‘Yes, yes, yes’. It’s a killer anthem about the futility of one night stands with a great synth beat behind it, one that has been played for the past few weeks at my place at a near constant rate.

    Both of these wonderful girls have something to say, they’re not the dead-eyed pre-packaged garbage we’ve all come to expect from popular summer songs. Give them both a listen and think of me when you’re walking down the street with your shades on, looking real cool and shaking your butt a little bit or when you’re driving in your car with all your windows down or getting ready to drink beers on the patio. I’ll make sure I keep thinking of you guys when I’m trying to force myself out of a hammock or a pretty park and get my butt inside to write about music.


    Music Monday May 24th, Let me make you a mixtape

    In an age when everyone has their whole musical collection at their fingertips, the mixtape is a lost art, one that I greatly mourn. I come from the era of kids who would hold a tape deck up to the radio after waiting for 3 hours for that perfect song to come on to complete my mix. While the quality of musical gifts has so greatly improved that I guarantee that there is no kid shushing 5 of her friends in the background of a song, there is no gift more personal than a mixtape. 

    A mixtape can send several messages: They can just be a grouping of songs that someone thinks you’ll like, or a look into a new genre of music. They can be a glimpse into how someone really feels about you or they can tell a story, they can have narrative, tonal and emotional arcs. No matter what the message of a mixtape is, they all have one common, simple message, which is that someone cares enough to craft and lovingly curate a personal selection just for you. By carefully selecting and ordering their choices, often times something is created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs.

    I personally miss the mixtape culture all the time and still frequently make mixes for friends. I still remember some of my best mixes. Every time I hear ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman I’m always waiting for ‘Here’s to the Night’ by Eve 6 to immediately follow it because that was its order on one of my most favorite CD’s, a silver maxell disc with white-out writing on the front, declaring that this was ‘Teresa’s Ultimate Summer Mix’. That’s just one example, so many mixes are burned into my brain that they have permanently altered the order of my songs. I always found it so much easier to use mixtapes to express my feelings, I embarrassingly gave away so many custom CD’s to guys in high school that I had a crush on. Recently I found a cassette mix from high school that a guy made me and was immediately flooded with so much love for every song on it (once I found a cassette deck to play it in, that is).

    Today, I’m making mixtapes for a few friends. I make them for my best friends truck, he has a long commute to work and isn’t online much so he’s not exposed to a lot of new music. I’m making one called ‘Baby Making Music’ for a friend and her husband who have decided they’re ready for kids (Are y’all crazy?) and another for a friend going through some rough changes. I’ll probably never give up this dying art. The first song I’ll be putting on several of these mixes today is Airwaves by Ray LaMontagne, from his latest album ‘Supernova’. It’s the perfect sexy, breezy summer song that’s complete with Ray’s smoky voice, it makes me want to lay on a beach, have a nap with my boyfriend and drive down a hot highway, all at the same time. Here’s your homework, dear readers: Thank your lucky stars that you get to have millions of songs at your fingertips (without having to wait for some annoying DJ to play the one you want), put together a great selection of songs that tell your story and make somebody a mixtape today.


    Music Monday May 5th- The aging blues and Weezer

    There are a few signs I’ve noticed lately that signal that I’m aging at an alarming rate:

    1. I watched Pacific Rim with my friend Claude a little while ago. It’s a meathead action movie about these large transformer looking aliens that come along and destroy entire cities effortlessly and the machines we as humans build to fight them. After watching a scene where one of these things obliterates a large major city, I turned to my friend and said ‘What do you think it’s like to get property insurance in a world like that?’. He didn’t miss a beat, just replied ‘Ugh, I would not want to see their premiums’.

    2. Last week I bought a high-waisted pair of jeans and I LOVE THEM. Y’all can keep wearing your low-riding, half up the butt jeans all summer long, ladies. I’m happy being the old lady thats comfortable.

    3. I realized that  Weezer’s Blue Album is TWENTY YEARS OLD this month.


    Jesus. That last one was a clear indication that I was rapidly on the way to a cardigan twinset and a nice pair of slacks. I never thought I would even live long enough to say that an album that essentially defined an entire generation (one that I was alive for) is 20 years old. Because there’s ‘classic albums’ and then there’s the Blue Album. It still to this day operates on a totally different plane. From the way that the opening riff on ‘Holiday’ bursts with excitement to the unashamed insecurity of all the lyrics, The Blue Album is a body of work that can guarantee a sing along with an entire two decades of people, no matter where you are in the world.

    I could write forever about the Blue Album and how it changed my life and my hometown. About how it seemingly played in the background of every house party I ever attended. About how it gave guys I grew up with so much inspiration in their own music that it set the tone for all their musical projects for the rest of their life. About how much hope it gave everyone that a bunch of nerdy kids could be themselves and still get the girl and the record deal. About how it dealt with topics so ahead of its time, like the misogyny in ‘No One Else’ or social isolation of being in a room filled with people you don’t like in the ‘Sweater Song’. About how I drove through Rome in the middle of the night once and to stay awake we put on the Blue Album and sang the whole thing at the top of our lungs. About how the lyrics to ‘Jamie’ pretty much influenced every relationship I’ve ever had.

    I listened to the whole album today again, hoping to pick out a song that was my clear favorite for you, but I couldn’t. That album is such a collective piece of work to me, so I’m posting the whole thing. I realized though today that I seem to gravitate more to the lonely songs, which is quite statement considering the whole album is incredibly lonely. ‘The world has turned and left me here’ is about a breakup, ‘Say it ain’t so’ is self explanatory and ‘In the garage’ is about hiding out. Many rock albums allude to scars and insecurities, but most also hide behind ‘look at me now’ choruses. I think a huge part of The Blue Albums success was its authenticity; we could tell that the struggle was genuine for them, that their words came from a place that was real and we all wanted to step forward with them. There was no shiny glossy website to distract us from who they were as people: Just lonely, vulnerable flawed humans, just like the rest of us. The Blue Album might be incredibly lonely at first glance but when you look back at it and dig a little deeper, it’s actually about shedding your old skin and stepping forward. It’s a coming out of the closet of nervousness, with a guitar strapped around your chest sort of album and it has, and will always be, amazing.

    Music Monday March 24th, Break ups and break downs

    “Man, I was thinking about unrequited love. I figure it’s best to just walk that shit off. Find someone else to be excited about. It’s like if you love ice cream but your ice cream man friend won’t give you any. Maybe he’s got a good reason. It cuts into profits. Who knows? So don’t hang out with him. What, you ONLY like ice cream? It’s ice cream or nothing? Don’t be an asshole. Learn to love donuts”

    Every time I have a friend going through a breakup, I remind them of these words. A few years ago as everyone around me inevitably began to get married, I felt old. Now I’m at the age where people around me are beginning to get divorced, and that makes me feel really old. A divorce is like a breakup x10, with a bunch of extra garbage thrown in; three weeks ago I quietly backed out a room while watching a friend and his soon-to-be-ex fight over a kitchen strainer. My usual form of advice comes in the form of music, so I’m taking this weeks Music Monday as an opportunity to share with you my most favorite breakup songs.

    These tunes are not for the faint of heart, these aren’t salve for the deep cuts. These are for the rough seas, the time when you need to know that someone else made it out the other side. Songs are only as sad as the listener, but consider yourself warned if you’re currently going through a separation. Everyone knows the classic breakup songs, the ‘With or Without you by U2 or ‘I’ll never get over you’ by The Smiths, but these here are the lesser-known songs to put on when you’re going through that terrible heartbreak we’ve all had a taste of. Breaking up is hard to do, but I hope that these songs make it a little easier on you. Without further adieu:

    Your Winter- Sister Hazel

    I once put this song on a breakup mix for a friend and he called me and said ‘This CD is amazing, but after hearing track 10 I changed the title to ‘Songs to slit your wrists in a motel bathroom to’. (Disclaimer, don’t do that)

    Won’t come back- Donovan Woods

    I love Donovans music for so many reasons, but his raw honesty is the main one. He says things that people just don’t ever say, like my favorite line in this song ‘F*ck you too, I deserved you more‘.

    Lovin’s for Fools-Sarah Siskind

    No explanation needed on this one. There’s a million covers of this song, but I’m gonna hit you with the original. Go forth and seek others when you realize the lyrics are perfect.

    Day is Gone- Noah Gundersen

    Easily the saddest song on the list, this one is best for the ‘I’m going to be mean to myself and blame this entire situation on me cause I am the ugliest, smelliest, stupidest person in the world‘ day of a breakup.

    Fail for you- Luke Sital-Singh

    The lullaby of breakup songs, it has one of the simplest, prettiest videos to accompany its sad song.

    Song for Zula- Phosphorescent

    “I will not open myself up this way again………” Such a beautiful, haunting tune for aimlessly cruising around while you’re out driving past your former lovers house. (Disclaimer, don’t do that either)

    I can’t make you love me (cover)- Justin Vernon

    I just love the idea of JV jammin’ out in his house to Bonnie Riatt and deciding to cover these songs. This is my favorite cover of this classic breakup song, the title itself is such a simple truth we’ve all grappled with. He ends this incredible performance with a snippet of ‘Nick of Time’, another Riatt classic that is more uplifting, and that’s how I’m going to end this list. Enjoy it, use it when you need it and for my dear friend M, if you’re reading this: Hold on, darling, brighter days will be here in the nick of time. 

    Music Monday March 17th, Kongos

    A few years ago I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of loud partying in the street. I was currently living in Guelph in a part of the south end that at the time had a low student population; I was actually pretty sure that the homeowners association was going to kick me out soon if I didn’t get 2.3 kids and a golden retriever. When I finally made my way to the window I was surprised to find a large group of naked, drinking men, festooned with green accessories. They were having a fine time streaking for St Patricks Day and had stopped for a quick party on my lawn. After waiting for a bit for them to clear out, they began to seat themselves on my vehicle and explore the property. As I didn’t think it wise for a single female to confront a huge group of intoxicated men, I called the cops to corral them off my driveway.  When the dispatcher asked what they were wearing, I said ‘uh, a few of them have green hats and ties, but as I said, they are naked‘. The dispatcher asked if there was anymore identifying features to help the officers she was sending find them, I tried to stifle my laughter and replied  ‘No, they are the sadly the only group of naked men on my lawn at the address I gave you’.

    I’m not a huge St. Patricks Day fan. I used to be, I went to St. Pats elementary here in Guelph and we were a fiercely patriotic school. My love of the irish has been well documented, but alas the day all their western counterparts vomit green beer on my sidewalk is not something I have much appreciation for. Besides, I don’t look very good in green. One of my very favorite qualities of music will always be its transportive qualities. I’m not just talking about being brought back to a moment associated with the previous listening of a song. No matter where you are, you can put on a particular band or song and be right where they are, especially if you know where they wrote or recorded the music. You can hear the sounds of their location and influences and be right there with them.

    Today, I spent the day in South Africa. I spent it with 4 brothers, Dylan, Daniel, Jesse and Johnny, who make up the band Kongos. The sons of popular 70s south african singer, John Kongos, they have been making music together under their moniker since 2007, but somehow I only managed to find them a few weeks ago. They’ve made huge waves in their native Johannesburg, the UK and in their adopted home of Arizona. Their eclectic, unusual sound blends African beats, Eastern European influences, and pure unbridled driving rock.

    The first song I’ll be sharing with you is their popular single “Come with me now”. Half frat-party anthem, half perfect summer song, it alternates addictive, repetitive lyrics with a storytelling voice, all laced over a strangely played accordion. It’s sounds a little weird, and it is, but done really well. The second is ‘Escape’ is certainly my favorite of their songs, it’s full of airy drums and lyrics that make me want to run away tomorrow. The third is ‘Hey, I don’t know’ and while the song is great, it’s the video that makes it truly stand out from the pack. Filmed entirely on GoPro cameras attached to instruments, it might make you a little a dizzy to watch, but gives a really unique view of their on stage show and a look into their huge fanbase. So go pour that leftover green beer down the drain (it’s gross, guys), hit play and leave that St. Patricks Day hangover behind, come away to South Africa with me.


    Music Monday March 10th, Can we talk about auto-tune?

    Someone once wrote that the creator of Auto-tune must ‘hate music’. In reality,  Dr. Andy Hildebrand, AKA Dr. Andy, is a classically trained flautist who spent most of his youth playing professionally in orchestras. When he’s asked in interviews if auto-tune is evil, he replies “I make the car, I don’t drive it down the wrong side of the road.” Auto-tune, if you don’t know, is an audio processor designed to measure and correct pitch, giving just about anybody singing off-key a way to fix it without actually ever singing it. It’s most easily recognized in current pop hits; it frequently gives todays pop tarts that synthesized, robotic sound. On one end of the spectrum are people who dial up Auto-Tune to the max, like Cher or T-Pain. On the other end are people who use it occasionally and sparingly. You can use Auto-Tune not only to pitch correct vocals, but other instruments too, and light users can inconspicuously tweak a note here and there.

    So where’s the line? How does an artist take advantage of an advancement in technology without relying on it to create something that isn’t there? Personally, some of my favorite recordings contain huge recording ‘blunders’. There’s the live version I have of ‘Get Me’ by Everything but the Girl where the lead singer gets so emotional on the last chorus that her voice cracks as she begins to cry. Or the studio version of an old acoustic song lurking on my hard drive where a singer gives it just a bit too hard and you can hear the strain in his voice. These are all incredibly human elements that are lost when we begin to strive for processed perfection.

    We can all admit that auto-tune has essentially conquered popular music. Do we really need it? I think we can all agree that the art of music has significantly declined in the past 40 years, do we really need to buy into something that the great musicians of our time never had available to them? The auto-tune revolution is almost as big as it’s backlash. There are ‘F*uck AutoTune’ shirts available everywhere, artists will frequently and publicly shame people who use it and even Jay-Z wrote ‘D.O.A, Death of Autotune’ to shed his opinion on the issue. When I went looking for more info and opinions of the prevalent abuse of auto-tune, I came across this interesting blurb:

    “Another way you could answer the question: recorded music is, by definition, artificial. The band is not singing live in your living room. Microphones project sound. Mixing, overdubbing, and multi-tracking allow instruments and voices to be recorded, edited, and manipulated separately. There are multitudes of effects, like compression, which brings down loud sounds and amplifies quiet ones, so you can hear an artist taking a breath in between words. Reverb and delay create echo effects, which can make vocals sound fuller and rounder. When recording went from tape to digital, there were even more opportunities for effects and manipulation, and Auto-Tune is just one of many of the new tools available.”

    I don’t know if I fully buy that. There is an obvious difference between mixing, enhancing and altering. Maybe it’s one of those ‘too much of anything is never a good thing’ sort of instances; I’m sure it’s helpful when used rarely to help carry over a near perfect take that the artist loves. However, there are a couple songs in my collection that are Auto-tuned and don’t suck. I do think there is a way to occasionally use it as a way to bring something new to your sound. Everyones favorite musical genius to hate, Kanye West, did almost an entire album of auto-tuned songs. Same goes for Daft Punk, Snoop and Sufjan Stevens; they all are well known, respected artists that decided to radically alter their vocals to create something new and compelling. And my main man, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has a well-documented, multi-faceted vocal range. But in his song ‘Woods’, he chooses a very unconventional sound for himself that curiously and perfectly captures the ambiance of his setting.

    That song, along with a new tune I’ve been rocking all week is your Music Monday this week. ‘Your new beloved’ by LoveLife. An english quartet with an unabashed affection for vocal processing, they recently released this catchy song with a simple, strong stomping drum in the back that has had me tapping my fingers. So hit play, give these songs a listen and feel free to let me know your thoughts on Auto-tune (just don’t bash Justin Vernon, I don’t tolerate that sort of blasphemous sass in my house).


    Music Monday March 3rd, Jordan Catalano Forever

    Do you ever watch an episode of a TV show from the 90s, see a cameo by a now-famous musician or actor and instantly feel very, very old? This happens to me frequently, I’ll see a fresh prince rerun and feel 100 years old. Thanks to the inception of Netflix and TvLinks in my life, I’m able to revisit any old show my little heart desires. Recently I watched the whole first and only season of the cult-classic ‘My So-Called Life’. It starred the ‘Homeland’ famous Claire Danes as the protagonist, an angst-filled teenager trying to find her way through life and the object of her affection, Jordan Catalano. He was played by Jared Leto, the recent oscar winner of ‘Fight Club’ fame and front man of the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars.

    He was a perfect long-haired mystery man of the nineties: He wore plaid almost exclusively, listened to good music and said very little. Seriously, I read an article once that compiled every single word he said in the show and it was comprised of like 17 lines total. He was an enigma and most teenaged girls fell promptly in love with him the minute that the title character uttered ‘I don’t know, I like the way he leans against stuff‘. Not exactly a man of substance to lust after, and you probably have to watch the show, but I swear the way he changed the tapes in his car and looked into the camera would give me chills.

    Fast forward twenty years (!!) and Jared Leto is everywhere. He played several strange, critically acclaimed roles and then dropped out of Hollywood to make music with his brother. They started 30 Seconds to Mars and built an impressive following: They’ve sold over 10 million albums worldwide and have a obscenely enthusiastic fan base (I know this from the first hand experience of having bruises on my chest for a week after being in the front row of their Toronto stadium show).

    As is evident by his recent return to acting (And an incredible job in the role that won him an oscar the other night, go watch the Dallas Buyers Club, right now), he’s managed to somehow excel within both roles. So few people out there are able to act and make music well, but he has managed to do it in spades. He chooses interesting, challenging roles and plays personal, well-written music, all without compromising his integrity. As someone who struggles to be creative in just one way, I can’t even comprehend it.

    As incredible as his acting is, and how beautiful he is to look at (Did you guys see that man bun?! Just when I thought he couldn’t get any more attractive), I’ve always thought his voice was his best asset. From the way he used to softly talk to Angela in My So-Called Life to the way I first heard him belt it out on his debut album, his voice has always been an absolute powerhouse capable of making you feel whatever it is he’s thinking.

    My favorite most recent performance by him is a cover of ‘Stay’, a song made famous by a silly pop tart that I personally can’t stand. Just like everything he touches though, he transforms it. He takes it from the anthem of desperation and turns it into a proper, aching ballad. I remember the first time I heard him belt out the opening line I felt the hair on my arm stand up and whispered ‘yikes’ to myself. The second song I’d like to share with you today is one of my favorites from his band, ‘From Yesterday’ off of their sophomore album. It too, showcases his voice and the creativity they put into every detail of their music and videos. And finally, their huge single with an accompanying huge video that displays their worldwide fan base and several teenagers talking about how music has changed them. I would never put myself into a sweaty mosh pit with a bunch of rambunctious kids nowadays, but  I can relate to the last girl when she says ‘Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio’. I was at the show the Toronto crowd segment was filmed at, right up front, though I haven’t managed to spot myself in the video just yet.

    So please find those 3 performances below, just in case you haven’t seen enough of Jared’s handsome mug all over the TV and interweb the past few days. It’s strange, seeing him act on a TV show from that long ago does make me feel old, but there is something comforting in the fact that 20 years later, the same man can still  give me the chills.


    Music Monday February 24th, What’s in a name?

    I recently read a book about the power of names, specifically the ones we give our children. It explained all the ways your name can give away your socio-economic background and upbringing before you walk into a room and the trends that follow certain geographic regions and how they can partially predict the level of success someone would have.  It got me thinking a lot about band names and how much the success of a band can be predicted by a name. You ever hear a band name and think ‘Oooo, that’s a good one. That’s a name people want to talk about and wear on a shirt’? I have. I’ve been witness to the creation of several bands and one of the worst parts always seems to be naming the band. It’s this complicated process of finding something unique that isn’t too weird or unpronounceable, something that’s personal and representative of the band without seeming like an inside joke that no one gets.  Then of course there’s the legalities of it: It can’t be anyone else’s band name either. I’ve heard many a horror story of a google search gone wrong that leads to a lawsuit over who gets to keep a name that someone has been building on for years.

    I’ve seen some weird names born out of this process, names that are so strange that they can even turn me off of listening to a band. There’s some sounds that just don’t feel good coming out of my mouth, I avoid talking about them just so I don’t have to say them or think of the imagery the word invokes (You hear me, Hoobastank & Butthole Surfers? I’ve never wanted to talk about you) One band that I used to think was a bit oddly named was a 5 piece indie rock outfit out of Selkirk, Scotland called Frightened Rabbit. I’ve been having quite the love affair with them this past week, so I went digging a little deeper to find out more about the origin of their name. I was pleasantly surprised to read a most adorable story about the lead singer:

    “Scott Hutchison was a shy boy. Left in a room with other kids, he would go quiet, and for this, the story goes, his mother called him “her frightened rabbit.” Years later, less shy, he began to write songs and sing them live, then along the way he added friends to the act– two guitarists, a bassist, his brother on the drums– and with them made albums on which he howled and drank and f*cked and fought, every chord seeming to push the memory of his skittish namesake further and further away”

    After reading it and thinking of the above listed criteria, I realized that their name isn’t strange, it’s actually kind of perfect. Which is fitting, because so is their last album, Pedestrian Verse.  Full of meaningful lyrics that anyone can interpret as their own in front of full, bright rock that immediately makes me think of a really good party where the drinks are plentiful and free, no one is too drunk and everyone just wants to dance and hug each other. In every interview I’ve seen, they seem like genuinely down to earth guys that I would actually want to hang out with (or at minimum we could shop in each others closets, there is just so much plaid going on) and that really translates to the music.

    My favorite song of theirs can be found below, it’s titled ‘The Woodpile’. I suggest checking out ‘Nitrous gas’ and ‘Swim until you can’t see land’ if you’re looking to dive in a little deeper (and I’m quite confident you’ll want to). Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, and even though I clearly have a lot of thoughts on how to name something,  I’m quite certain that even if Frightened Rabbit had a different name, they would still sound amazing. Enjoy.

    “Come find me now, where I hide and we will speak in our secret tongues……..”

    Music Monday February 10th, The Joy Formidable

    Here’s a fun fact about me: I am missing a small piece of the top of my right ear. I didn’t have a run in with Mike Tyson, it happened due to frost bite. During one particularly raucous house party in the dead of winter in my hometown, the cops showed up. They kicked everyone out of the house without letting us call rides or cabs (this was in the days before widespread cell phone use), so all of us had to walk back to town in -43 weather. I was wearing a very trendy full-length jean skirt with a kangaroo pocket, my winter jacket, some mittens and no hat. After an almost 2k walk in the freezing cold, I had terrible frostbite on the tops of my ears and the backs of my knees. A few days later, a small piece of my ear turned black and fell off, leaving me with a permanent reminder of two things: 1) Don’t forget your hat or wear full length denim skirts to parties (or at any point in life) and 2) Don’t live places that make parts of your body fall off. 

    I’m very far away from the town that took a tiny part of my ear as a seasonal sacrifice, but I still get deep into a winter funk when this time of year rolls around. It’s that time when it seems like winter has been around forever, 85% of conversations are based around people bitching about the weather and you can really start to feel like a vampire cause you never properly see the sun. Other than the gym or groceries, I haven’t really been leaving the house. ‘It’s too cold’ becomes a catch-all excuse for everything. And the sleep! Oh man I could easily sleep 11 hours a day and still be pleased to add in a 2 hour afternoon nap. Wintertime makes me so damn tired, so much so that even after a full nights rest I’m still hitting my snooze button several times.

    The idea of getting out of a warm, cozy bed and getting ready to go outside into this arctic tundra, brush off my cold car and shiver while I wait for it to warm up is so unappealing. In the past little while, I’ve needed a little something extra to get me up and at ’em so I went looking for the musical equivalent of coffee to get me moving in the morning and put a little extra pep in my step. Which brings me to the 2-song playlist that I’ve been getting ready to every morning this past week. The first is ‘Whirring’ by The Joy Formidable, a fantastic welsh rock band. This song is the perfect ‘get up and go’ beat, my feet instantly start tapping along with the drums as soon as they hit the floor. The second is one by my favorite boys, The 1975. I know, I’ve mentioned them so much this past year and maybe one day I’ll stop, but today is not that day. The track ‘Girls’ is one of the best ones off their most recent album, it’s got great funky guitar work and a really fun 80s tinged vibe that has me dancing around my kitchen every day.

    I once read this collection of letters sent from a pioneer woman in the midwest back home to Europe. The funniest one was where she wrote to her sister about her first impressions about Americans and said ‘Can you believe there are actually people here who expect all the parts of their body to be warm at the same time!’. I always think of that when I’m particularly sick of this climate, I guess we’ve got it pretty good up here at the north pole. I’ve got a fridge full of snacks, a hot bath, netflix and some good music to get me out of bed when I can’t seem to do it myself. So next time you don’t want to get going, make yourself some hot tea, thank the stars that you have heat in your house, hit play and let these songs warm you up and wake you up. 



    Music Monday January 27th, Drinking, Dancing & Robyn

    On January 27th, 2005, I quit drinking. I decided to take 6 months off,  poured the liquor I had in the house down the kitchen sink and told myself I would learn to go out and have fun socially without the aid of alcohol. That was 7 years ago, and I haven’t picked it up since. This fact about me is pretty baffling to most people I meet, especially if I meet them out at a show or on a dance floor.  I get a lot of terrible reactions, they look at me like I’m an alien, and I can’t even tell you how many men have become immediately uninterested in me when they realize I likely won’t be making any drunken decisions in the near future. I get that being a non-drinker in my late twenties usually spells out a recovering alcoholic, a muslim or a buzzkill, none of which are true. It must look strange to some people that a girl can bounce around a bar, dance for hours and interact with anyone and everyone without the aid of booze, but I promise you that it’s not only possible, but damn right enjoyable. Make no mistake, I may not drink, but I likely party harder than YOU. I travel the world, meet exotic strangers, do wild and crazy things and dance all night long, all without a drop of alcohol. My entire life is one big party, and I’m happier being present for every moment of it. It’s a pretty wonderful feeling to wake up after a night of dancing and not feel like death, but it did take me a while to learn how to do it without being loaded again. We all get pretty used to the obligatory glass of liquid courage in our hands when we go out looking for a good time. In order to re-learn how to go out, I tried to emulate the girl I used to be, moving around those terrible teen dances with nothing but pure curiosity and silliness running through her veins (and maybe a bit of pot). It got me thinking of the first artist of the late 90s that really got me into dancing before I was every introduced to being drunk, Robyn.

    I first fell in love with my favorite little swedish pop tart in grade 8. You probably remember her from her ‘Show me Love’ days, her over-processed, ‘americanized’ album that had her reigning the summer charts for most of 1997. I spent a good part of that year choreographing elaborate dances to her songs with my friends that we would use to make boys notice us at dances at the Moose hall. Right after her explosion into north american culture, Robyn disappeared from my life. She didn’t put out anything I heard for almost a decade, until ‘Be Mine’ in 2005. It was catchy, but not in the bubble-gum pop way her earlier stuff was. It sounded a little more like her, like she was finally singing the lines she wrote instead of what someone put in front of her. 

    Over the years she slowly released more and more material. Every song was full of  quirky, strange beats with clever, fun lyrics laced over them, produced by people with Swedish names so long and full of vowels that I couldn’t pronounce them. I loved them all. Finally, in 2010, she released a 3 part album, ‘Body Talk’ that blew everyone out of the water and finally everyone understood why I had been slipping her songs into dance mixes for the last 5 years.

    When she hit the road and toured,  I showed up at ticketmaster 10 minutes before they went on sale, and luckily secured a ticket to the show that I knew would sell out quickly. The night of the show my roommate and I strapped on our dancing shoes and walked into one of the best concerts of my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of an audience as genuinely thrilled and transported as the crowd at that show. I’ve rarely seen a singer with no expensive set or wild stagecraft connect everyone and bring down the house so hard, dance around like a scene in flashdance all while somehow managing to nail every note in her set. I took a short video of several moments in the show that I’ve added to the end of this post; it shows only a small fraction of the ambience of everyone dancing together, so in love with this woman and her music. When she finally broke into her single, and my favorite song on the album ‘Dancing on my own’, the only word to describe what happened in that room would be ‘frenzy.’ 

    For a long time now I’ve thought Robyn is the most underrated woman on the pop scene today. There’s something so great about watching someone be totally authentic to themselves in their performance, and to move along with her and everyone in that room who loved her was easily the the most memorable place I have ever danced. There are so many bigger, richer, shinier pop stars out there today and I’ve never seen any of them almost cave in a dance floor like she did that night. She’s going on tour again in the near future (I stalk her website every day for dates), and I highly recommend getting yourself a ticket to a show that I can promise will be amazing. It doesn’t matter if you go completely bombed, completely sober or somewhere in between, she will bring you a place that can’t be replicated with a substance. As for me, you know where I’ll be when she comes to town:  right there on that dance floor, sober and loving it,  just dancing on my own. 

    Music Monday December 30th, One of those lists

    The end of the year always brings so many ‘Best of the year’ lists to my daily internet experience, and I usually hate them. So I of course, decided to make my own so there would at least be one out there in the world that I agreed with. One of my main problems with these lists is that they’re often much too long. I understand why, it’s hard to condense an entire year of musical experiences into one post. Even before I began to write today I made a list of the songs I’d like to include and I got to 27 before I stopped myself. In an effort to share my favorites of this past calendar year with you while also preventing you from glazing over with boredom, I’ve decided to share my 13 favorite songs that I’ve been listening to. Some of them were released in 2012, or maybe I didn’t find them until now, but whatever, I’m not about to start following the rules now. In no particular order, here are 13 songs from 2013 that I’ve really loved:

    The 1975- Sex

    I really can’t say enough good things about this band, but they were by far my biggest new musical obsession this year. They’re all the best parts of catchy old Jimmy Eat World with the ambiance of Explosions in the sky, all wrapped up in one adorable british bow. It took me an hour to even choose which song to share with you today, but I’m going with the popular single, Sex. It’ll have you bopping around singing ‘she’s got a boyfriend anyways..‘ all day long.  After you’re done with that, I want you to check out ‘Girls’ and ‘Me’. And maybe a couple acoustic versions of ‘Chocolate’. Look, I could (and have) write you an entire post on why you should be listening to these guys, but the bottom line is that every time you choose to not listen to The 1975, a kitten dies. 



    If you’re regular reader of MM, then you’re aware that I like any song that makes me feel like I could be walking through west hollywood in 1987. This years breakout sister band did just that and in the process became one of the best selling albums of the year, thus proving that sometimes we can have nice things. 


    The Coppertone- Young Blood

    This song  was such an amazing find for me this year. Y’all know I’m big into driving songs and I took this song all over the pacific northwest, through tiny one lane roads in Italy and France and down highways in England, Iceland and Canada. Just listening to this song makes me feel strong and hopeful and also a little proud of her for reaching her crowd-funding goal and successfully reinventing herself.


    Foy Vance- Regarding your lover

    Foy Vance was by far the most powerful performer I stumbled upon this year and his discography has taken up a permanent place in my collection. When you’re done being blown away by what happens at 2:12, make sure you go find yourself ‘You and I’, ‘Feel for me’ and ‘Guiding Light’.


    Miguel ft Mariah Carey- Beautiful

    I am such a sucker for a good summer song, one of those light breezy tunes that isn’t too deep. While Mariah Carey probably isn’t everyones cup of tea (and she unnecessarily over-sings at 1:37 in a way that makes me cringe for a second) this song is on this list for the memory it made for me. Remember how winter wouldn’t go away this year? I went out west at the end of May and it was still wet and slushy and gross. I flew into Seattle and picked up my rental car and headed out on my 4 hour drive to my destination. It was so damn hot there compared to here and I was just peeling off layers as I drove until I was finally in a tank top, with all 4 windows down. This song came on the radio and I cranked it up and for the first time it felt like summer was here and everything was going to be okay. Every time I’ve heard it since it takes me back to that moment, and that’s what music is about, right? Also, Miguel is hands down one of the best things to happen to my iPod in a while. If you’re not regularly jamming to ‘Adore’ and ‘Use Me’, then you need to take a day off work and become acquainted.


    I will, I swear- Long Days

    Speaking of moments, this song also is indelible in my 2013 memories. In august of this year I was waiting for my boyfriend in a ghetto train station in southern italy. His train was late and I hadn’t seen him for a while. I was just sitting there listening to music, waiting and waiting for someone I missed so much. This song was on when the train finally flew into the station and a million people seemed to come onto the platform. I’m short, so I immediately became engulfed in the din. My eyes searched around frantically for this person I wanted to see so much and I had just about become convinced that he didn’t make it when I finally saw him. I ran and we had a lovely little movie reunion moment and this beautiful, simple song was the perfect backdrop.


    Kings of Leon- Wait for me

    This album blew me away. I feel like everything KOL releases gets compared to their monster success of ‘Only by the Night’, but this album was just such a more complete body of work. They’ve matured so well yet let their rough Tennessee roots show through and it resulted in one of my favorite albums this year. Honorable mentions worth checking out: Beautiful War, Comeback story and Temple.


    The Wild Feathers- The Ceiling

    Some women dream of a ‘Man Ikea’ where they can build a perfect dude that’s strong and sensitive, one who reads poetry and fixes your truck and kills bears and then makes you a stew out of it. I dream of songs that will satisfy so many of my needs at once, and the Wild Feathers were my best find this year that managed to do that. Americana rock, country twang, gang vocals, thoughtful lyrics, on stage chemistry, pretty much every need I threw out there was met by these adorable boys. Get your hands on their album if you’re into it, and focus your energy on Backwoods Company, How, If you don’t love me, and Left my woman.

    Willy Moon- I wanna be your man

    I gave Mr. Moon a full Music Monday earlier this year, and since then this is still one of my favorite songs to bop around my apartment to, it also works wonders when cleaning the floor. ‘Shakin’ and ‘Yeah yeah’ are two other cuts worth checking out.


    Nneka- The uncomfortable truth

    Thought-provoking, inspiring lyrics combined with one of my favorite voice of this year made Nneka an easy choice for this list. Her Music Monday is here and contains my other choice songs by this snappy performer.


    CHVRCHES- The mother we share

    I love when music transcends between kids and adults. Remember when a Vampire Weekend song was featured in a popular pixar movie and suddenly kids everywhere were requesting ‘A-punk’? I have a lot of friends with children, many of whom I regularly babysit. I am so not down with listening to 3 hours of ‘Dora sings with friends’ or whatever kids are into these days. CHVRCHES were my savior this year on that front, provided you got your hands on the clean versions. Every kid I had over seemed to love the beat of this album and my goddaughter has even begun singing  the lyrics of ‘the mother we share’ to her sister.


    Rhye- Open

    Whoo, this song is by far the sexiest thing I found this year. If you’re looking for something sensual to get you hot under the collar, this is it.


    Lianne La Havas- Is your love big enough

    I first saw Lianne when she opened for Bon Iver a couple years ago, she graced the stage with a single electric guitar and blew the crowd away with her huge voice. She only had a 4 song EP out at the time and I was so pleased to find her debut album this year. ‘No room for doubt’ and ‘Forget’ are the other tracks you want to get your paws on.


    The only other mention that I struggled to not include in this list is Beyonce’s new album that secretly dropped this month. Leave it to the reigning Queen B to jump in at the last minute and steal 2013’s thunder. Most people who read my columns aren’t hugely into power pop, but if you’re into dancing and performance art, her ‘visual album’ is perfection. There are very few performers out there who operate on that scale, who are adored the world over and mark my words, that album is her ‘Thriller’. But as I promised, I’m keeping it to 13. So that’s all, folks. Happy New Years and thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your musical lives this year.

    Music Monday Decemeber 23rd, A Very DMX Christmas

    Trip home log, 3:38 pm. My grandmother sees my nap on the couch as an opportunity to de-fuzz my favorite sweater. Earlier, she told me very subtly that she didn’t care for its appearance when she asked if I stole it from a homeless person. She has a little buzzing machine that apparently cures this hobo look by eating the fuzzballs and decided to use it while I slept off the 13 cookies she fed me for breakfast cause I’m too skinny. While endless cookies and a skilled laundress at my disposal are an absolute treat, I would like to point out that I was also wearing the sweater when she decided to run this vibrating mass along my spine, causing me to awaken in a panic.

    Ah the holidays, full of so much cheer and wonder and alcoholism and lectures about your life choices. When I was a kid I won a radio contest by writing an essay on all the things I loved about Christmas. I don’t love any of those things anymore. Christmas for adults can really suck, all the running around and trying to be cheery when the weather just makes you want to lay on the couch and bingewatch The Inbetweeners on Netflix all day long. So you get in your car 5 times a day and head towards places you don’t want to go to see people you don’t really like and what do you have to hear everywhere you go? Really crappy christmas carols. Whether on the radio in the car, on the overhead in the grocery stores or in the elevator at work, they are everywhere. 

    The first time you hear them they’re actually not terrible. You might tap your toe a little and sing a long and maybe even get the teensiest bit excited because you know their existence means that Christmas is coming. But if you’re like me, by the time December 10th rolls around, I am ready to snap if I hear another cheesy rendition of frosty the snowman. I adore Mariah Carey, and I especially like her ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ cover, but I friggin hate that song after I’ve heard it for the 43rd time this week. I really do love Christmas, I love volunteering around that time and seeing something as simple as a date on a calendar remind people to be kinder to one another. But holy hell do I hate the over saturation of christmas music during the holidays.

    So today I’m going to share with you my two favorite non-traditional Christmas carols. These are usually the only 2 I can stand by the time Christmas actually rolls around. The first is a cover of ‘Fairytale of New York’ by No Use for A Name and it’s my favorite because who doesn’t love a carol that has lyrics like ‘you’re an old slut on junk’ in them? The second is only a short youtube video, but one that makes me laugh out loud whenever I watch it. It’s a beautiful performance of ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ by the very classical singer/rapper known by small children everywhere as DMX. Please make sure you’re not drinking any hot beverages when viewing this, the hilarity in his ‘Unnnnnn!’ will make you spit whatever you’re drinking out.

    Tonight I came downstairs before I went out, having carefully selected my most inoffensive outfit to wear. I had inspected it for threads, missing buttons, tears and swear words written anywhere on it and was confident it would be well received. My grandmother sat in her chair, eyed me like a cat and said ‘You still look like a scrup’. She has a thick Italian accent, so I said ‘Are you trying to call me a scrub or a screwup?’ She eyed me up again for another 10 seconds, grabbed my face, kissed me on the cheek and loudly declared ‘Both!’

    Haha,Merry Christmas, y’all, from my family to yours.

    Music Monday December 16th, For the Brits

    After spending the last 10 days in the UK, I have learned some things about the british. My maiden voyage to the head of our commonwealth has taught me the following things:

    1. They have some weird ass rules about driving. Like you’re not allowed to pass someone in the middle or slow lane if they’re driving slow in the fast lane. Can you imagine that being illegal on the 401 during morning rush?

    2. Englanders are way reserved with their emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always think the north american egotistical way of living is the best thing, but I do wish the great people of the UK would show affection to something other than dogs and horses.

    3. The men. Oh god, the men. Women of London: How do y’all get a damn thing done in that city? There are so many good looking men, all walking around in these three piece suits and being so charming with their adorable british slang. And who the hell started this stereotype that the brits have bad teeth? Maybe they took it to heart or something, but every dude I saw had a gleaming mouth of white chiclets, I half expected to hear a little toothpaste commercial ‘ping’ when they smiled at me.

    4. The food is so incredible that I took on the hobbit way of eating 11 times a day. The scones! The (grossly named, but delicious) clotted cream! The fish! I had a religious experience with a falafel in Camden market and I made some pretty inappropriate sexual noises when I ate mexican street food at Jamie Oliver’s.

    5. I had heard that british rock was dead, but I assure you the music scene is alive and well in the UK. Everywhere I went, people were deeply into their musical choices. I think London gets a bad rep for being self absorbed: everyone always has their headphones in and it seems people don’t interact with others in places like on the subway or in stores. But if you look closely, they’re all tapping their feet and drumming on the side of their legs.  

    If you really sit back and think about it, the amount of outstanding music that tiny little country has contributed to our world is nothing short of incredible. The big ones are obvious: The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, The Who, Oasis, Queen, Floyd. But the British invasion isn’t quite over yet. There is a host of lesser-known bands coming out of this small country that has captured my heart and my ears and I’d like to share two of them with you today.

    The first is a song by the band Theme Park. They’re a trio from London and this great tune is called ‘Wax’ and it reminds me of those perfect nights out. The ones where you’re in a bar and everyone knows the words to the song  playing and you’re all dancing and singing and laughing and your heart feels so full and you love everyone. Everything just slows down and you’re so happy that you’re right there. I had one of those serendipitous nights on my last night  in the UK and the only thing missing was this song. The vocals are so haunting and stretched out and full of love that it makes me feel fortunate about where I am every time I listen to it. The second is from the little more well-known Gomez, a well established 5 piece from Southport. It’s a lovely introspective piece, with a unique stop-and-start throughout the song that I really adore. It’s one for rainy days with thick books and hot tea.

    Whatever your british fancy is, I hope you’ll find something new in one of these songs. As for the UK, this here is my love letter to you, dear Brits. I’ve been so many places in this world that I dreamt of and so many of them didn’t live up to my fantasy. Your fine country lived up to every idea I had in mind, and exceeded them. Thank you so much for wonderful time, I’ll be back soon darlings.

    Music Monday December 9th, Advice from The Beatles

    When I was 8 years old, I asked my father what a condom was. I heard the word on the playground and wanted some clarification. Rather than try to explain it with minimal embarrassment, he pretended I asked something else and said  ‘it’s an apartment that you buy’ and I spent the next few years thinking that a condo was what you bought to have sex in, which lead to some very distorted, albeit temporary, views on who exactly could afford to have sex.

    He wasn’t so good at the speech and advice thing. In all honesty, he kind of sucked. There is only one piece of advice I can recall that stuck with me. I had come home from school very upset because a kid named Tyrone told me the poem I had written for class was dumb and he didn’t like me. I was distraught as I had stayed up late to write it, and you know that sh*t rhymed like nobodies business. He listened to me carry on for about 10 minutes and finally cut off my hysterical tears with a sigh of exasperation. He rubbed his eyes and said the words that I remind myself of all the time:

    ‘For God’s sakes Teresa, don’t worry if there are people who don’t like you or what you’re doing. There are people who don’t even like THE BEATLES

    Leave it to him to make his only good life lesson into a musical metaphor. There were 3 deities we prayed to in my house : God, Elvis and The Beatles. Right about where most people fame their wedding picture, there was a framed LP of his favorite Beatles album walking across the famed Abbey Road. I saw that picture every day when I left the house and my father once told me that we would walk across it one day to feel the magic of that place and as a result I spent my whole life dreaming of strutting across that little crosswalk.

    My father never got his wish, he only left Canada a couple of times and none of them were to the UK, but the other day I got to make that dream come true for myself. I’d like to tell you that I did it with the same grace and style as those 4 boys, but that would be a lie. I of course got super emotional and kept up my bad habit of crying in memorable music spots. I all but danced across the road, my yellow scarf flying behind me and waltzed up to the gates of the studio like I was a believer returning to church. It’s as magical as I thought it would be, from the original sign that still hangs over the door, to the hoards of signatures scrawled all over the walls surrounding it. Thousands of people still come every day to leave their mark to show how much of an impact those four british boys had on the world.

    Today I’d like to share one of my favorite Beatles songs with you, in hopes that it reminds you of the legendary power they still hold over the music scene today. It’s the song I most often turn to when I need clarity and advice; this song has fathered me my whole life with simple wisdom.  In one of the best speeches ever, Mary Schmich said ‘Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than its worth’. The Beatles gave a lot of great advice: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be undone”, or ‘don’t be afraid, you were made to go out and get her’ or the iconic simplicity of ‘All you need is love’.  Words that told us to hope and love and make a better world, words to draw strength from in hard times. My father never gave me any of that, but  it turns out that it’s okay cause he gave me the Beatles and the only life lesson that I’ve ever really needed.


    Music Monday November 25th Dead bodies and Dancing

    True story: My best friend Amber and I once found a dead body in the middle of the desert in New Mexico. We had driven to a dusty little town to finally see the awe-inspiring rock formation called Shiprock. It’s got a ton of cultural and religious legends surrounding it; the souls of the dead are said to live at the top of the rock. Armed with letters for lost loved ones to burn at the base of the rock and some fancy cameras we set out down a dirt road that appeared to run right into it. We stopped the car when we got close and as I was getting my camera out of the bag at my feet my best friend slammed her car door shut and started screaming ‘lock your doors!!’. I looked all around frantically while hitting my door lock until my eyes finally found a pair of legs sticking out onto the road behind us. ‘Is that a dead guy?’ I asked her? She yelled ‘I think so!!’ at me and turned the car around. I peered out the window as we passed him, holding a pillow in front of her face so she could concentrate on driving, and saw the poor guy in full view. I’ve worked in hospitals for a long time and seen plenty of corpses, but nothing prepared me for the sight of a young man so obviously murdered.

    It’s a crazy story to tell now, and we’ve managed to re-tell it with a humorous spin, but at the time it was pretty traumatic. Amber had dropped her CD case out of the car in panic when she saw him and we had seen too many episodes of CSI to be leaving something of ours next to a murder scene, so we drove straight to the police station. The reporting process was awful, the police were awful, the whole damn thing was awful. We left as soon as we could, stopping only on the side of the highway to light the candle we had brought with us for the man we found, with Shiprock looming in the distance.

    As selfish as it sounds, we were both really devastated at the effect it had on our trip. We felt cheated out of the experience of this place we had dreamt of visiting for so long. For the first time in our travels, we felt unsafe. After an uneasy night in a sketchy motel where we rechecked the locks about 50 times, we hopped back in the car and headed for the next bucket list item on our trip: The Grand Canyon. We were still excited to see it, but the tension in the car was palpable. We were both upset and a little sad and not any of the emotions you want to be experiencing as you finally go somewhere thrilling for the first time. After an hour or two of us staring out our respective windows, I pulled the car over. When she asked me what I was doing I ordered her out of the car. I opened all the doors, put on ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ by Whitney Houston and cranked it. I got out and said ‘Listen, I know this sh*tty thing happened to us, but we’re about to do something we’ve always dreamed of, we gotta shake it off. So we’re gonna dance it out’. So there on the side of an Arizona highway, two girls danced around like maniacs while passing motorists honked and stared at us.

    I won’t say that we never thought about that awful experience again after that, but we both got back into that car feeling a little better. Dancing is cathartic and sometimes it’s exactly what you need to get through something. I’m in need of a little dancing lately. I had a bit of a telltale sign that I was stressed and due for a dance came when I cried in my dentists office the other day (and not from pain). So today I’ll be sharing my favorite songs to have a purifying dance with. The first is my new obsession, a song called ‘Dance a little closer’ by synthpop duo Holy Ghost. The bass line is so damn catchy that my shoulders and hips involuntarily start moving the second it starts. The second is a given in the theme of cleansing songs, Florence + The Machines ‘Shake it off’. I listen to that song all the time, but especially when I need reminding that things are only as big as I make them.

    The third is the aforementioned ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ by Whitney. I love hearing it now and thinking of those two brave girls dancing on the side of a desert highway, not letting anything ruin their trip. Not just because of its legendary singer or great beat, but because it reminds me of the power of music. That dancing to the right song can fix just about anything. Next time you’re having a bad day, I want you to come back right here and press play. Grab your best dancing partner, or a broom or nothing at all and dance it on out. 

    Music Monday November 11th, Rudimental and Choices

    When you’re somebody who likes to show people music, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to choose the version of a song that you like best. Sometimes I really like the acoustic, original and remix version of a song, but I’m probably not going to be able to hold an audience in my car for 3 separate songs while I annoyingly point out small difference between them all. There are songs among my collection that have 8 different versions: the B-side, the cover by 3 other artists, the ‘in studio’ sneak peek, the ‘unreleased’ cut. I love them all for different reasons and sometimes when I’m picking my Music Monday song it takes me an entire day of playing them all before I can make my choice.


    That’s a word we use all the time without really thinking of the meaning behind it. We make hundreds of them every day. What to wear, what route to drive to work, what to eat for lunch, what show to binge watch on netflix this week, what time to go to bed, what music to listen to. So many tiny little decisions that make up our days are made without ever stopping to think of how lucky we are to get to make them. It’s Remembrance Day today, and it got me thinking that when my grandfather was my age, he was in a post-war Europe after spending 4 years as a gunner for the army artillery. He had 4 pieces of buckshot permanently lodged in his butt from someone being shot in the head next to him and was spending the last few years of his service driving around Europe from country to country, returning stolen goods like cars, art and jewelry to their owners that had been taken by the germans. In contrast, today I spent a few hours playing with cute 4 year old kids, made some killer mexican food, went to the gym and then lamented for 30 minutes over which version of a song to write about for a blog.

    I’m not trying to sound obtuse by pointing out the huge gap in the parallel between the life of my grandfather and myself. My point today is that he did all that stuff because he wanted to make the world a better place. Because even though he never agreed with war, he saw some way he thought he could help with and make a difference. He did this so that maybe one day people wouldn’t have to think about war in their daily life, and people like his own granddaughter could spend her Monday eating and writing whatever she wanted to instead of trying to not get killed.

    It’s easy to forget how incredible fortunate we are every day to be able to go about our days in whatever way we want to. I’m so lucky to do what I love every day, and to be able to share it with others. This week I want to share 3 versions of a song that fit perfectly with this theme. The song is called ‘Free’ and it’s by a group called Rudimental. They’re a british quartet that usually produce music in the electronic dance category, but they particularly shine with this song. The first version is the original and its vocals are performed by the lovely Emeli Sande featured in an incredible video to go along with it that seriously reminded me what an amazing place we live in. The second version is the in-studio stripped down version and it features a singer called Anna Marie performing alongside. While the original is powerful and danceable, this version showcases the raw message of the song. And finally, the 3rd version is also a live version that features something pretty special, and her name is Becky Hill. She’s got a crazy sandpaper voice that really makes the song her own, which I love.

    In todays complaint-driven society it’s easy to fall victim to constantly bitching about your life, your friends, your country. But today is a fine day to step back from that and be thankful that you’re alive and you live in a place where your friends aren’t getting their heads blown off everyday. So hit play and listen to this song tell you remind you how lucky you are too when they sing ‘trying to find my way someway, but at least I am free, oh I am free’. Give all 3 a listen. But no matter which one you decide you like best, I hope you feel lucky today to have that choice at all. 

     “Maybe something’s wrong with me, but whoa, at least I am free, oh, oh, I am free…….”



    Music Monday November 4th, Foy Vance

    Ernest Hemmingway said ‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit at a typewriter and bleed’. My creative process isn’t hard enough to invoke such heavy imagery, but there are days (like today) where I sit at a blank screen for an hour trying to figure out the best way to present a new artist to you. I always wished I could be one of those writers that seems to churn out a book every year, the ones sitting at coffee shops with their fingers flying over the keys with so many thoughts they barely have the time to get them all down. In hopes that it would stir up an introduction, I thought of a bunch of words that can describe Mr. Foy Vance and why you should check him out today, but I’ve already written this year about being a passionate performer, about sexy songs, about not having the words to describe someone and even about my love of the Irish.

    Then I realized that the reason I love writing Music Monday for a company as great as Music Lives is because they let me write the exact same way I would talk to you in a bar. I’m never gonna say sh*t to you like ‘the syncopated fizz of the second verse really dramatically shifts the aesthetic of the chorus’. Ack, I hate that sort of music writing, the kind that makes me think someone just sat around with a thesaurus so they could write a snotty article where they call a band ‘somber’ in 7 different words, no less. When it comes to writing and music I have a real appreciation for people who just keep it simple. I always want my recommendations to you to feel like I just slipped a CD into your purse when you weren’t looking with a post-it on it that says ‘I think you’ll like this’ or a random YouTube video in your inbox in the middle of the night.

    So in an effort to keep it uncomplicated, I’d like to introduce you to someone that has keeping things simple in spades. Foy Vance is an incredible performer from Bangor, Ireland that I found last week. In a world where everyone seems to be bringing their most complex show pony game to the table, he’s still practising the gold standard of musicianship: Playing his instrument beautifully, real lyrics and passionate performing. I’m not kidding about that last part, the first time I heard him sing the line ‘That’s the way I held you’ around 2:12 in his song ‘Regarding your Lover’, so much emotion flooded the room I was in that I said ‘Jesus H Christ’ under my breath. It affected me so strongly because he sang that line in such a way that it makes you think of someone you’ve held. That’s what real music is about. You don’t have to play anything intricate, you don’t have to take off your clothes or try and be controversial. You just need to write real lyrics about things that matter to you and perform them vibrantly and intimately. That’s what people connect to. 

    I’ve went over his entire discography in the past few days to pick out the best songs to show you his range today and found nothing to complain about (Okay, maybe one complaint today: I just discovered he’s playing in Toronto on Wednesday and it’s been sold out for weeks. Are you reading this, Mr. Vance? Release more tickets!).  Through and through, every song is special, well-written and wonderfully performed. The first song is the aforementioned ‘Regarding your Lover’ and it’s raw and powerful. The second song is called ‘Feel for me’ and it’s tinged with a folk-soul sound like old Ray LaMontagne but with a sexy twist that has been making me wish for a slow dance all weekend. If you like what you hear (and I’m pretty sure you will), I recommend checking out ‘You and I’, ‘Janey’ and ‘Closed Hands, Full of Friends’ as well. So hit play, take a listen and let Mr. Vance show you why it’s always best to keep it real and keep it simple. 

    Music Monday October 28th, I put a spell on you

    I haven’t been trick or treating in at least 15 years and I can still remember all the ‘best’ houses that were in my neighbourhood. There was the house 5 doors down that had the full on sound effects, the shrieking back track that terrified you all the way up to the door where a zombie would jump up from the hedges and scare the beejesus out of me. I remember walking out of the way so that we could hit the townhouses on Victoria & Woodlawn because less walking in between houses meant maximizing the amount of candy we could get in our limited time. When I spent a Halloween up north I recall being irritated that I had to wear a snowsuit under my costume but quickly got over my anger when I reached the top of Hillcrest drive. The owner of the house owned the magazine distribution company in town and he would fill his entrance with stacks of Archie comics and a note that said ‘help yourself’. For this voracious reader, it was a eye-widening heaven that I have never forgotten. As a true testament to my geekdom, I even dumped out a quantity of candy so I would have room for more books. 

    Out of all the houses I remember, there is always one that stands out in my mind. It had no elaborate decor, no gravestones or even carved pumpkins. Just a light on, some halloween music playing from inside the door and a suburban family on the other side of the glass. But they will always be the greatest house of all in my mind because they gave out FULL SIZE CANDY BARS. Not weird off-brand stuff either. Legit, brand name whole packs of smarties, butterfingers galore and entire coffee crisps that I swear were as big as my arm. It was the coolest house ever and they became legendary in my neighbourhood as the house you just had to get to. 

    I miss that childlike wonder of Halloween. Last week I was in the Boston area and went up to Salem for the day to check out the scene there and was pleasantly surprised at how much even adults still embraced the Halloween spirit. It’s always such a bummer to grow out of childhood activities; I still remember the awkward year when you know you’re too old to go out trick or treating but go anyways because even though you’re emotionally immature you know that this is what people call growing up and you can’t bear to say goodbye to all this fun. So in an attempt to get myself into the Halloween frame of mind, I’ve been listening to my favorite Halloween-appropriate music. The first song I’ll be sharing with you today is the best version of the classic ‘I put a spell on you’. Joss Stone puts a sultry, sexy spin on the ballad and her sandpaper voice gives it a fresh sound that makes it seem applicable for a Halloween party or even a striptease. The second is the timeless ‘Ballroom Blitz’ by Sweet that will probably make you think of Wayne’s World a little, but should also make you realize that now that we’re adults Halloween can actually be better because we’re old enough to party in our costumes. If you  lost the Halloween spirit a little this year too, let me offer you some advice. Don’t worry about your decorations or even your costume. Put these songs on your stereo, get off your wallet, spend a couple extra bucks and buy the king-size candy bars this year and kids will remember it for the rest of their lives. 

    Happy Halloween!

    Music Monday October 7th, The Wild Feathers

    Between interviews, online submissions and press packages, this tour manager has filled out a couple band biographies in her day. They usually consist of the same stagnant questions asking you to sum up the entire band on a line that has room for about 11 words. Somewhere towards the bottom there is always, always the dreaded question ‘Who are your musical influences?’. It’s  a tough question to answer because whatever  you put down will automatically be compared to your current sound and categorize you. Saying you’re influenced by a certain someone can be a tough thing. You want to the world to know that this person made something that helped you be who you are today, but never that you’re trying to emulate them.

    So how do you allow yourself to recognize your influence?  Where does paying homage to a group or genre stop and how do you emerge from it and bring something new to the game? It’s a tough balance, one that I’m sure you could recognize if someone is doing it wrong. It’s probably not fully on purpose, sometimes people just love a band so much that they end up sounding a little like them. But anyone who frequents live shows can tell you about a time when they caught a new act and found themselves asking ‘these guys sound a lot like_______. Wait, is this a cover band?’. It happens all the time, and I think learning the balance between influence and tribute is an true art, especially since most of my favorite music comes from the eras of long ago.

    So today I’d like to introduce you to my favorite new da vincis of this difficult art form, The Wild Feathers. In every piece of press I have read about these guys they seem to be compared to someone else. Petty, The Band, The Eagles, Neil Young, basically any great american rocker of the 60s or 70s has been listed on every article they’ve been mentioned in, or the fact that they’ve opened for Bob Dylan. It’s like one big name-dropping party out there when it comes to writing about these guys. They are certainly part of this great revival of Americana spirit rock that I am just in love with, but there’s so much that sets them apart from their predecessors.

    I got their album late last week and was so happily surprised to love the whole thing. Full-bodied, rich harmonies are the star of it, each of its 4 vocalists have a different variance of raw, powerful voices. From start to finish, I have no complaints (Okay, the writer in me has one complaint regarding the lack of biography info available on the interweb about these guys. If TWF are reading this, call me, I’ll write it for you, I know the important questions to answer. For instance, who is that darling blond bearded fellow that comes in at 4:30, aka the best part of the song, on ‘The Ceiling’? What’s his name? More importantly, can he come sing to me at my house?). The Ceiling is the first song I’ll be giving you today, it’s their single and for good reason. It’s the song I’ve been getting ready with in the morning, it’s just enough to pep me up without feeling like a bad alarm clock. The second is ‘Hard Wind’ and it’s the type of song that makes me want to put on my beat up cowboy boots and go kick some ass. The third is only a trailer for their album, but features my other favorite song from the album ‘How’, which is a perfect showcase for the softer, soulful side of these boys.

    We all owe a debt and gratitude to the people who came before us, the ones who took the road less traveled and paved the roads we stand on. It’s important to not forget that. But it’s more important to realize that the best way to say thank you is to go out in the world and create something new, to take that road even farther. I think that’s what these boys have done perfectly and I’m betting that one day in the not-so-distant future, some new band is going to get asked ‘Who are your musical influences?’ and they will answer ‘The Wild Feathers’.


    Music Monday September 23rd, Let’s talk about sex, baby

    I remember being fascinated by the transition of taboo in music when I was growing up. I remember the first time hearing ‘sh*t’ on the radio. I remember the subtle, gradual descent of so called ‘naughty’ language in lyrics. I remember how rocked the world was when Madonna got up on stage and sang and danced about sex in an explicit manner; it was so unheard of at the time that the whole world talked about it for weeks (we still do!).  When I was young, talking about sex in a song was usually implied, but never implicitly stated.

    Back then, if you wanted to tell a story about something sexy, you might say something vague like ‘I wanna lay you down’ or ‘Can I get next to you’. Now, people just write songs about being in backseats with lyrics like ‘her body got that ass that a ruler couldn’t measure’. I’m not hating on Kendrick or anyone who has subscribed to the in-your-face style of writing songs about something we all relate to and experience. But I will say that I miss the ambiguous nature of talking about this subject in music. In a world where very few things are private and taboo anymore, a world where shock value can have more merit than a sacred art form; leaving something to be desired can be a good thing. It’s the difference between a girl dressed provocatively for all to see and a girl in well dressed clothes that compliment and cover her curves; one is immediately gratifying to look at, but the other leaves you wanting more and wondering what’s under there.

    So below, please find a collection of my very favorite so called ‘sexy songs’. I don’t call them that because you have to ahem, be sexy while listening to them (though they all would be more adequate for that), but because they’re all so sensuous . Sometimes I listen to this playlist when getting ready for date night, or my boyfriend and I will throw it on when we’re cooking dinner together. All these songs are suggestive and intimate, but not in a straight forward ‘this is baby-making music‘ sort of way.

    The first song ‘Open’ by a duo called Rhye is one of my favorite songs by 2013. It’s light and inviting and full of lyrics I adore like ‘I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs, stay open, stay open’. Song 2 is one that may have graced your ears already, Miguel has been tearing up charts and winning awards all year long. Written on a plane ride home to see his wife after a long trip, ‘Adorn’ is one of my favorite new sexy beats, it’s perfect for flirting and dancing and I love the little Michael Jackson-esque ‘Wah’ sounds throughout. Song 3 is by Fink, the acoustic maven I gave a Music Monday to a while back. It’s called ‘Perfect Darkness’ and it’s dark and rich and intense. I can’t make a list like this without a mention of  Al Green. ‘I can’t get next to you’ is one of my favorite songs of his and a true example of why he is one of the original kings of sexual subtlety. And my final treat for you is from local Toronto boy, The Weeknd. His voice could make anything sound sensual, but this one here is my favorite to have playing in the background. So hit play, go find yourself someone to listen to these songs with, and have yourself a sexy day.

    Music Monday September 2, 2013, First Albums

    I started working at my first ‘real’ job when I was 13; I delivered meal trays and did dishes at the local hospital. I still remember getting my first paycheque, it was $112.00 and I remember feeling like I could buy the whole world if I wanted to, I had never had so much money that was completely mine to spend on whatever I chose without any parental or peer input. After spending $7 on some candy (Hey, I was 13) I headed straight for the place that spawned my reason for getting a job in the first place: the local music store.

    I remember spending a lot of time in musty music stores growing up. My father was forever looking for a rare LP, or a box set or something else obscure that would have me wandering around these places, having been given the monumental task of being allowed to select just one thing for myself. I had a yellow maxell tape deck that I lugged around and while he leafed through hundreds of vintage vinyls, I was always in the corner trying to decide between a Janet Jackson or TLC tape (hard decision, but TLC ultimately won out). I miss that tactile connection with music. I miss the search, the release date of a new album, the hours spent using your fingertips to find something you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it. The first tape I ever purchased, Michael Jacksons ‘Bad’ was $2, my father gave me $1.50 to wash his car and I took the other fifty cents from my piggy bank. He was always generous with the purchase of music for me, evident by a rather well stocked tape collection that even had its own special carrying case.

    That is, until I grew up and inevitably began to grow into my own person and select my own music. There were just some things we could not agree on, and my affection of several genres was not reciprocated . Thus, I got a job so I could buy my own damn music. So armed with approximately 700 pieces of penny candy, I walked into the store and purchased my very first album, Blink 182′s ‘Dude Ranch’. I was in love with its infectious ‘Damnit’ and already two feet deep into the pop-punk scene, as small as it was during the time.

    Blink 182 were real pioneers in that scene, they made california punk hyper-relevant again. What is it about listening to an old Blink 182 song that seems to make an entire generation of  people feel young again? If your first album was purchased in any other decade than the 90s, you’re probably not going to relate very well to that sentiment, but on behalf of my generation I think I can safely speak for most of my peers and say that Dude Ranch was an absolute modern punk classic album. That album, and the subsequent ones that follow can invoke a level of nostalgia that is very rarely paralleled by any other band. There are so few bands out there that I listened to when I was young that are still churning out quality material that I still seek out and  buy now that I’m older.

    I am feeling a little old today, the summer feels like it’s fading and instead of laying out my flyest fall outfit for the first day of school, I’m now doing adult things, like cleaning my closet and making soup stock. So I’ve been listening to Blink all day, and I don’t really know why. I’ve got tons of music that makes me yearn for the past, but Blink is different. I suppose bopping around my apartment singing along to ‘What’s my age again?’ or songs with ‘I guess this is growing up’ as the chorus might have something to do with it, and I’ve always thought that if you can listen to ‘Adam’s song’ in its entirety without getting emotional about getting older than you probably have no soul, but I think it’s just that I don’t ever want to get so old that I don’t allow myself to be moved by a Blink 182 song. Who knows, maybe it’s my aging, or the change of seasons, or nostalgia, or maybe it’s just cause a lady never forgets her first. 


    Below, please find my very favorite Blink songs, in chronological order of when I first fell in love with them.

    Music Monday August 26th, Bowling for Soup and Best friends

    In his book ‘Killing yourself to Live’, one of my very favorite music writers of all time, Chuck Klosterman wrote:

    “Whenever I find myself in an argument about the greatest rock bands of all time, I always place Zeppelin third, behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This sentiment is incredibly common; if we polled everyone in North America who likes rock music, those three bands would almost certainly be the consensus selections (and in that order). But Zeppelin is far and away the most popular rock band of all time, and they’re popular in a way the Beatles and Stones cannot possibly compete with; this is because every straight man born after the year 1958 has at least one transitionary period in his life when he believes Led Zeppelin is the only good band that ever existed. And there is no other rock group that generates that experience. You simply think, ‘Wow. I just realized something: This sh*t is perfect. In fact, this record is vastly superior to all other forms of music on the entire planet, so this is all I will ever listen to, all the time.’ And you do for six days or six weeks or six years. This is your Zeppelin phase, and it has as much to do with your own personal psychology as it does with the way John Paul Jones played the organ on ‘Trampled Under Foot.”

    We all go through phases, musically and otherwise. There are years we define ourselves by a particular set of friends, by the clothes we wear and the music we listen to. I had a brief two-week phase into the gothic realm (quite unintentionally, I dyed my hair black and then got freakishly pale from mono the following week) and countless other genres that had specific sounds, looks and peers. But through all my experimentation of different realms, there are a few things that have remained constant. My love of old melancholy punk lyrics, my preference for ripped jeans and one of my very dear friends, he loved me no matter what colour my hair was or what I listened to.

    I grew up an only child and therefore spent my childhood wishing for a boisterous family full of siblings. I fantasized about a big brother that would protect me from men with grabby hands and commitment problems, one that would swoop in and keep me safe. When I was 14, life gave me the brother I asked for, in the form of a gangly kid with a big heart that gave the best bear hugs in the world. We spent my formative years driving around our hometown in a beat up white pickup truck, chain-smoking cigarettes, talking about life and singing pop punk songs. And since that time, he has been that person I needed.  He has rescued me and watched me cry and yell and babble on and on about the same things year after year. And in my greatest time of need, he always knows what song to play me to make me feel okay again.

    I think that when it comes to music and to friendship, things only end if you want them to. If you don’t want to forget about a song, or about who you were when you listened to it, then you gotta keep those songs in rotation. If you want to remember a band, you play their music. If you want someone in your life, then you stay in theirs. People DO grow apart, but it’s because they let it happen. They make plans and then one cancels and the other one doesn’t reschedule and then one forgets the others birthday and the other is too busy with their new significant other to come their party or some crap like that and then they never talk again. That’s usually how friendships end in my experience. I think people in their twenties and thirties have such a hard time with this because when you’re young friendships are so effortless. They’re decided by geography and interests and who someone is dating or what they’re wearing or listening to. They don’t usually require a lot of effort to maintain until you get older and have all these time-eaters in your life you have to work into the equation.

    So I’d like to take this weeks Music Monday to thank the man who has always made the effort to remain a constant in my life for the last 15 years. Someone who is the most decent, big-hearted person I know, who always blows me away with his complex and kind thoughts. Someone who will call me on my bullshit and who always has my back. Someone who is an incredible father, son and friend. He’s the toughest dude I know; by day he’s a rough miner and by night a doting father that keeps extra backups of his daughters favorite toy so she never has to be without it if she loses one. This song right here was one of our favorite songs to sing when we were younger. We would rush down back country roads and sing to each other ‘You’re a bitch, but I love you anyway. You make me sick, but don’t ever go away‘ and laugh at how clever and funny we were. I’m so lucky, it’s such a comfort to know that I can always jump in a truck with my friend, put this song on, and sing to my hearts content with the knowledge that no matter how many phases I go through or who I become, I’ll always have him in my life to sing along with me.

    Happy Birthday C, I love you. (Even when you’re a bitch)


    Music Monday August 12th, Nneka

    There are some albums that become so popular and well-accepted that they define entire time periods. I’m not talking about the over-played songs on the radio that dominate entire summers, leaving us wishing that certain songs would be shot into space so that we never hear them again. I’m talking about the albums that transcend genres: the rock album that ends up being played on the hip-hop lovers car stereo, the rap disc that somehow finds its way onto top 40 charts and the country song that gets played at frat parties. There’s a collective sigh every time one of these game-changers comes along, like everyone is relieved there is still something out there that we can all agree on.

    One of my very favorite albums that defines the above is ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill‘. Do you remember how much everyone loved that album when it came out? It was on every TV show, in everyones CD player, on every airwave, and nobody was wishing for it to get shot into space.  I don’t think I can know one person who didn’t like some aspect of that album, it was one of those rare gems that was both critically acclaimed and adored by the public. But the public and Lauryn didn’t live in harmony for long. Soon after she dropped out of the music scene and public eye, save for a few sporadic & erratic songs and appearances.

    The way that album popped into my life and settled into a permanent spot in my collection and then abruptly departed left a hole in my musical life for smart, well produced, soulful female hip hop. Not that there haven’t been the occasional good song and artist out there whose lyrics transcend beyond gratuitous drug use and being called someones ‘main girl’, but I haven’t found one that can pull out all the stops consistently like Lauryn did.

    Until now.

    Enter Nneka. She’s a Nigerian/German hip-hop and R&B singer and she is masterful in a way that reminds me of a young Lauryn. Her lyrics are empowering, not degrading and just listening to her sandpaper voice wax poetic over snappy beats makes me feel stronger. A great mix between soulful singing and speaking a message of truth about tough subjects like poverty and morality, this girl right here has quenched all my cravings for a smart and sassy girl. I don’t know if you’ve had the same void in your musical collection as I have, but I promise that no matter what you’re looking for today, Nneka will make you feel better about it.


    Music Monday August 5th, Music videos and Roadtrips

    Do you remember how music videos used to dominate television? A huge part of my adolescent television activity was spent flipping between the 2 music channels; I regularly got ready to go out on Friday nights while watching the top 20 countdown on Much Music. I remember staying up late to watch the premiere of a music video, or recording a series of them onto a VHS tape to play over and over without those dreaded commercials.  It’s strange to think of now with the constant exposure an artist has over social media, magazines and press, but those 3 minute snippets were often the only peek into an artists life that a fan had. Those mini-movies have the power to completely transform the impression of a song. While music videos are still made and virally shared and watched on You Tube, it’s becoming increasingly rare for people to say ‘Yeah, it’s a good song, but did you see that video!’. It’s an art form that seems to be on the decline since the inception of the mass-sharing of mp3s.

    One music video that changed my life was the Aerosmith video for the song ‘Crazy’. My best friend and I, a blond and brunette, sang that song at the top of our lungs and fantasized about escaping from the clutches of our small town just like Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler did in the movie. While getting stuck in a small town and having to strip for money to get home wasn’t a part of our fantasy, we did eventually get our music video moment. Four years ago we hopped in a car and headed to the Grand Canyon, Thelma & Louise/Alicia & Liv style. We cruised through red mountain terrain, finally living our young dream and singing loudly to the desert skies ‘Say you’re leaving on a 7:30 train and that you’re heading out to hollywoooooooooood’. 

    Our dream of course, wasn’t just to head out down dirt roads, dress cheaply and stay in fleabag motels. It was to be best friends and have adventures just like the girls in the video. I find people are often disappointed by how their life compares to their fantasy because of their ideas of what the people around them should be like. I personally am the luckiest person in the world when it comes to friends. You know that friend that everyone fantasizes about, the one that is always behind you and would stick up for you even if you’re wrong? Well, I’ve got her. I’ve had my share of fair-weather friends, but their indifference to staying in my life doesn’t bother me very much because I’ve got quality over quantity. She’s the most admirable, bravest person in my life and the only girl who is crazy enough to jump into a car with me with only an atlas and an idea planted in our heads by an Aerosmith song. 

    So this here timeless video is for you and your enjoyment today, but it’s also for my best girl Amber. You’re the Meredith to my Cristina, the Maria to my Liz, the Alicia to my Liv and you’ll always be my very favourite person to have adventures with. 

    Music Monday July 8th, Iron & Wine

    My hometown is a small mining community in northern Ontario. Long before my careers in the nutrition and music world, my main job description was ‘Hating My Hometown’. I spent a good deal of my youth being angry at its small town short-sightedness and bitching about its oppressive values to anyone who would listen that there was a bigger and better world out there. I rarely paint such a derogatory picture of it now, my hometown has the same problems every small place does: annoying gossip, substance abuse frequently stemming from boredom and rampant xenophobia. For someone like me who craved anonymity and vibrant diversity, it was just not a good fit.  I spent years planning my escape route, when I could finally leave for some magical city that valued art, music and progression, somewhere where I could have conversations with interesting people that didn’t revolve around who was dating who or who recently shot a good sized moose. 

    The irony of course, is that whenever I need to talk to someone, I mean really talk, I usually call one of my friends from home. Small town claustrophobia and perspective aside, some of my greatest, wisest friends are still there. In an article by Mary Smitch that was later turned into the infamous ‘Everybody’s Free’ song by Baz Lurhmann, she said ‘The older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young’. I never realized how true that line was until I found myself in my hometown last week, listening to one of my favorite songs called The Trapeze Swinger.

    It’s a song by a great folk artist that goes by the moniker Iron & Wine, and it’s so elegant and lovely that it hasn’t left my top 25 most played on my iTunes for at least  5 years. Lyrically, it has no traditional verse/chorus/break layout, but instead starts every stanza with ‘Please, remember me’, and goes on to use ‘happily, fondly, at halloween, mistakenly, as in the dream, my misery, seldomly and finally’ to finish the sentence in its many gorgeous verses.

    Just off the highway, about 5 minutes from my old house, there’s a place called Gull Lake. It’s a pull-off picnic spot popular with families in the day and teenagers looking for a place to make out at night. A few years ago I found myself parked there in the middle of the night with one of those old hometown friends. I was going through a rough time and he had found out that night that the girl he was with was not who he thought she was and was beyond devastated. We laid out by that lake and I held his head in my lap and stroked his hair as we told each other how unhappy we were with the current state of our lives. When this song came on my stereo, I put my lips near his ear and whispered the entire song to him, eventually singing along with ‘please, remember me, my misery, and how it lost me all I wanted….’ Neither of us said it out loud, but I remember us exhaling audibly when I sang that part; we both knew those foreboding lyrics were our heed to not be miserable for long.

    The sun was starting to wake up by the time the album had finished, and we left that lake a little healed by that song. And when I drove by that exact spot last week I put that song on and was brought back to that night. A night where two small-town kids that used to be close helped each other through a rough time. Beyond making an indelible mark on a specific place or time, one of the very best things about music is that it knows no prejudice. Music doesn’t care where you’re from. It doesn’t give a sh*t if you live in a small town or a big city or what you look like or who you love. Brave people put it out into the world and then it finds you when you need it the most, sometimes on radio airwaves or in movie soundtracks and sometimes on the stereo in the back of a beat-up SUV parked in front of a lake.

    So please find below my magical song, and another by the same great artist if you like what you hear. I hope you love them, and I hope that no matter how far you are from where you started, that you too have a song that will always help you, heal you and bring you back home.

    Music Monday July 1st, 2013

    When I was a kid, I used to dream about different countries. I would dream about running through the desert, swimming in exotic oceans, and falling in love with new cities. I’ve managed to do all these things, most often with our neighbour, the good ol USA. I’ve been to 45 states, driven over 100,000 miles of their highways and could probably write a guidebook about American road travel. I’m known among my group of friends as ‘the traveler’. But I do have a confession to make: With all the galavanting around the globe I’ve done, I’ve never managed to really include my home country.

    Sometimes I feel like a terrible Canadian. I’ve barely left Ontario, and I spent my childhood dreaming of going places that seemed so much more exciting than Canada. But every time I leave, I discover one universal truth: Everyone I meet is in envy of my birthplace. They all tell me how lucky I should feel to be from this fine land, and it’s high time I was as vocal about it as they are.

    Canada, I’m so sorry I’ve treated you like the ex-boyfriend I know will always take me back when I decide to settle down, you deserve better. I’m so sorry I keep trying to leave you, because I know deep down you will always be my home. I’m so proud to be from a place that is synonymous with peace and cleanliness, where my manners enter the room before I do. I’m so proud to be from a country whose flag I can proudly display on my backpack when I go away, one that tries to take care of its citizens. I’m so sorry I’ve neglected you in the past. I’m so sorry I’ve had the dreaded ‘Canadian Music Shame Syndrome’, because you have spawned some great sounds that I fill my life with.

    So today, along with my love letter to my home, I’m sharing one of my favorite songs by a Canadian band. The Constantines are not only canucks, they’re also from my city, Guelph.  This is one of my favorite road trip songs, it sounds best on a windy day with your arm out of the window. So hit play, listen to a great Canadian song, and remember to thank your country today.

    Happy Birthday Canada, I love you. No matter how far I stray from you, I will always come home.

    “Soon enough, work and love will make a man out of you……..”

    Music Monday June 24th, 2013

    In the never ending search for new music, I often become drained at the thought of all the new songs out there that are waiting for me to hear them. I’m one of those people who routinely loses 3 hours to the ‘listeners also bought’ feature on iTunes. Just yesterday I went to find a particular song on youtube and found myself looking up from my screen an hour or so later. I have total fear of missing out when it comes to music; I know my next favorite song is just around the corner if I can only find it.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr said’ “What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?”. I feel like that about music sometimes (books too, as evidenced by my overflowing nightstand), like I’ll never get enough time to hear all the songs I want to hear. It’s an exhausting way to think!

    Luckily, there’s a reserve of music that I always come back to when I’m feeling overwhelmed. The songs that never leave my ‘top 100 most played’ in iTunes. These songs are like old friends that you can call when you need and pick up where you left off, seamlessly and without effort or explanation. Today I’m going to be sharing a song that’s consistently played in my life, whether I’m getting ready to go out or longue on the couch with a good book. It’s one of my very favorite versatile beats, it’s sexy and sweaty and perfect for todays sweltering heat. I’m not going to pepper you with a long paragraph about Queens of The Stone Age, you probably already know who they are and I’m in the middle of kitchen renos with no time to spare if I want to eat dinner tonight. So just trust me here: grab your coldest beverage and hit play. I hope that this one of my favorites becomes one of your favorites. Enjoy.


    Music Monday June 17th, 2013

    “I play songs in endless loops. When a song is new to me, and there’s something about it that kills me, I’ll listen to it in an auto-repeat delirium for days on end. When they invented the repeat button on the CD player, my life was changed irrevocably (as were the lives of every roommate I’ve had since).” -Dave Eggers

    While I’m no longer activating the repeat button on my panasonic discman (with anti-shock!), this quote sums up my listening experience when I get ahold of a new song that I adore. I can listen to it 20 times a day and not get sick of it, I play it over and over until I know all the words and it’s finally a part of me; I don’t stop until I feel like it’s fully imprinted in my brain forever. Usually when I try and tell someone about the new sound I’m into, my writing articulation never translates to real life. I’m so excited that I end up sounding like a valley girl and say something very eloquent like ‘OH MY GOD GUYS, HAVE YOU HEARD THIS NEW SONG?! IT’S LIKE, SO GOOD’

    It’s kind of embarrassing, but that’s what a new band does to me. It’s nothing short of magical that someone I’ve never heard of can come out along and start making sounds that I will deem necessary to my life in a short time. My general rule is that I usually have a full week with an album before I write about it for music monday, and during this honeymoon phase only those closest to me will be privy to my mania and have to listen to me gush on and on before I share my new find with everyone.

    With all that being said, I’d like you to finally meet the newest band I’ve worked myself into a fever about, the 1975. A british 4 piece that’s been making waves opening a tour for the Neighbourhood, they have been working their way up to headline status very quickly. They’ve released 4 EPs :Facedown, Sex, Music for Cars and IV. 75% of their sound seems to be derived from the pop-rock vein, but it’s the other 25% that I’m enthralled with. On every album, they have an airy song or two that feels like being in a dream. 

    ‘Me’ is the track I first fell in love with, it’s clean and light and makes me want to watch a sleepy sunrise. ‘You’ is the next track on your playlist today, I’m hard pressed to tell you whether I like the original or remix of it better. One is more stripped down, and the other is percussively interesting, but both of them start with the line ‘You’re a liar’ that’s delivered so raw and honestly that I had to include both of them for you today. I’ve also included their number one single for you at the bottom, it’s a catchy driving song called ‘chocolate’ that has brought them a long way. So check em out, maybe you too will join me in my frenzy. But no matter which side of their diverse sound you prefer, I hope you’ll find something you’ll like in the 1975. Because guys, they are just LIKE, SO GOOD. 



    Music Monday June 10th, 2013

    One of my very favorite recent shifts in the music industry is the use of crowd-funding projects. If you don’t know what that is: Anyone can use a website like or to ask for financial support for an upcoming project. Their fans can collectively pool their money together to fund the project, and they can receive perks and prizes based on their contribution amount. In the music world, this takes power away from big time record labels (who are not exactly always known for their integrity) and puts into the hands of the artist, and ultimately, the fans. If your favorite band leaves their label and can’t afford to tour or make a new album, you can help them in a way that makes sure your money and support directly goes to them.

    It sounds perfect, but there has been a lot of controversy surrounding them. Many popular celebrities and artists have had successful crowd funding campaigns, which a lot of people aren’t okay with. Crowd funding was started in a grass-roots way, to help the little guy and there’s been a lot of backlash over mega-popular people using crowd funding instead of their own money, or using their connections to gain support. I’ve seen the Zach Braff and Amanda Palmer campaigns get debated to death, and even though I researched both thoroughly, I still don’t really know how I feel about it.

    Enter The Coppertone. She’s a Toronto artist that is currently asking for 20k to buy out her record contract and the rights to her music. Long story short, she left her record company and until she pays them this money they own her songs and she can’t put out any new material. When I first read her story, a part of me became instantly judgemental. Because it’s easy to think that someone in her position should be lucky to have any contract, and part of me wanted to spout some platitude about finishing what you started. Its always easy to criticize people before thinking of what it would be like to be in their shoes. So instead, I tried to do just that. As a writer, I know that the most direct extension of who I am is the work I do. I know I would feel incredibly helpless if someone told me that I didn’t own what I made with my heart and soul. I’ve dealt twice now with work of mine being published under someone elses name, and it was such a violation of who I am and what I stand for, so I can imagine how horrible what she is going through must feel.

    All of this thought process occurred before I hit the play button to hear her songs, which I should have done in the first place. Listen here, this girl is great, and she deserves another shot. She’s got a sexy, smoky voice that makes me long for an old Dusty Springfield LP and the open road. This song is begging to be played at top volume down some back road, and that’s exactly what I did with it this weekend. I haven’t loved a song like this in a while. The lyrics point to someone starting over, and beyond this song, she has created a whole movement called ‘Claim Yourself‘ that hopes to inspire people to live authentically within their own lives.

    That is something I can get behind, and it’s why The Coppertone is getting this weeks column, my support, and my money.  It’s easy to sugarcoat and take the lazy way out, but it takes guts to admit you made a mistake, to stand up for your music and yourself.  May Sarton said “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”  The Coppertone’s campaign and song personifies that and that’s something we should try and emulate in our own livesnot judge. So here’s what I want you to do: Throw a couple bucks her way and get your copy of this amazing single  called ‘Young Blood’. Take that song to your car, roll those windows down, sing your heart out and remember to always, always live authentic. 


    Music Monday April 29th, 2013

    When I first started being paid to write, someone told me ‘Writers block is self-indulgent, don’t buy into it, it’s a luxury. Having to put food on the table is the cure for writers block’. I’ve always lived by this code and tried my best to write through any impasse, through illness and spotty internet connections and broken computers and plain ol ‘I don’t wanna write today‘. So the fact that I haven’t written Music Monday for almost 2 months does deserve some sort of an explanation.

    5 weeks ago one of the most important people in my life died. He helped raise me into the brutally honest woman you all know. He lived his life the way he wanted, and only that way. This was a man so badass that if he wanted something from the table, he didn’t even ask. He just looked at you, and then looked at the potatoes or whatever and you got up and got it. I mean, check out that pinky ring for chrissakes. He is single handedly responsible for bringing my family to Canadian soil and taught me everything I know about staying true to who you are. Musically, this was the very first man to ask me to dance; it was his feet I danced on to old Dean Martin and Sinatra around kitchens. It is his fault that I automatically like any song with a harmonica, as I spent most childhood summers on his lap eating fruit from the garden while he played his twangy instrument in my ear all day under the sun. To this day, whenever someone of the opposite sex asks my advice on fail-proof ways to get girls, I always respond with ‘Dude, just learn to play the harmonica’. 

    When he died, something happened that has temporarily taken away my ability to pleasurably write. I heavily debated even writing about this, but it’s just the truth: I have a bit of a broken heart right now. Charles Bukowski said ‘Writing about writers block is better than not writing at all‘, and that’s what I’m trying to do I guess. I don’t have it in me right now to happily describe a song a new song I’ve found to share with you; I don’t even have any, I’ve been hiding in my apartment for a month watching very bad tv. Next week I promise to do better at getting rid of the melancholy, after all this is a music blog, not a damn diary. 

    But today, today you’re heading down the harmonica trail with me. My grandfathers love of the harmonica was strictly old-school European, but it was through his adoration of this little instrument that I came to appreciate it in every genre. From classic rock to folk songs, I’ve followed that tiny twang from old Italian men to arrive at todays sharing of a Black Sabbath song with you (and a little wop treat right below that). Growing up, ‘Wizard’ was the first rock song I heard that renewed my love for such a dated instrument. Maybe most people don’t think of grandfathers when they hear Black Sabbath, but I do when I think of mine. If you had the pleasure of knowing my grandfather Vincenzo, then the lyrics of this song are especially poignant and fitting to who he was. That’s the beauty of music, right? It brings you to places you never thought it would. Like a brain making new pathways, it makes bridges over time and space and the people in your life. It can bring you away from where you are, or bring you home, and sometimes, if you’re really lucky, it can bring you back to the best memories of your life, and make sure that you never forget them. 

    “He has passed by, giving his sign, left all the people feeling so fine. Never talking, just keeps walking, spreading his magic……….”





    Music Monday February 25th, 2013

    I have a confession to make: I cry somewhere very embarrassing. No, not any place it’s even mildly acceptable to cry. I don’t cry in movie theaters or at the dog pound. But without fail, I cry at every music museum I attend. That’s right, this girls tears have been wept all over the rock and roll hall of fame in Ohio, in the piano room at the Motown museum in Detroit and I sputtered my way through Graceland in Memphis.  I was taken aback by the grandeur of Elvis’ home, the way that people still made their pilgrimage to see the residence of this legend. Yet when I got in front of his grave I cried for a solid 5 minutes, realizing that the legend was just a regular man. When I left, I signed my name on the famous wall that enclosed his estate, scrawling ‘Jack J’s daughter was here’ in permanent marker.

    Jack J was my fathers radio name. He did the oldies Sunday when I was growing up on the air and made my childhood full of music I never would have otherwise been exposed to. My birthday parties were filled with old classics and Motown hits instead of current pop top 40. He practised music like it was his religion and was positively obsessed with good ol rock and roll. I’m the only kid I know who has seen just about every Roy Orbison impersonator on the eastern seaboard. It was through him that I learned to love Memphis Rock. Roy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cal Perkins, Elvis and my favorite, Johnny Cash.

    So given my crying history, when I found myself in front of Sun Studios in Memphis, I thought I would hyperventilate. There I was about to tour the building where all those legends had recorded, had all got their start. Rock legends were still recording in the humble one room recording studio today, convinced there was still some good luck in its walls. I didn’t feel worthy to be in it. We sang into Elvis’ mic, played Jerry’s piano and even got on the ground and kissed the very spot where Elvis stood when he came to ask to record a song for his mothers birthday. I began sweating when we got the opportunity to touch Johnny’s guitar, and almost fainted when I got to strum it.

    You see, to me, Johnny Cash has always been the epitome of timeless music. From his dark, mysterious personality to his drawl on certain words, I’ve always been fascinated with him and his life. His gloomy take on all his songs always made me feel the opposite of morose. He always gave me hope. Growing up, Johnny was who I listened to during the rough times. His insistence on singing without sugarcoating always made me feel that if Johnny could get through whatever he was going through, that I could too.

    I don’t fully know why I cry at music museums. I think I just get caught up in the nostalgia of a time long gone, of my childhood, of my father. Of the impermanence of it all, I guess. All of these legends were as much a part of my growing up as extended family, and they’re not here anymore. Chuck Palahniuk said ‘We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will’. I guess that’s true for these men, who are more timeless in a way that no one has been since. It’s Johnny’s birthday today. He would have been 81 and this is my favorite song he ever recorded. He succeed in making himself into the best reincarnation I can think of. What he created will carry on forever, on radio airwaves, on car stereos, and in fathers showing their favorite music to their little girls.

    Happy Birthday, Johnny.


    Music Monday February 11th, 2013

    Ah, the day of commercial love is upon us. This Thursday, people of the western world will run themselves ragged buying flowers that cost twice their normal price. They will try and find the perfect gift for their significant other and then sit through an assembly line dinner at a packed restaurant, all in the name of love.

    That is all fine and dandy for those people. In fact, if you’re one of those people who fully immerse themselves in the participation of Valentines Day, I’m still cool with you.  I’m not gonna hop up on my soapbox and proclaim you insane if you’re one of those people who like to deck out their houses and open their wallets this week for something pink and fluffy. I’m just not one of them. These aren’t the bitter ramblings of a single, bitter lady trying to wade through the public display of affection either: I have a wonderful boyfriend. We will probably have dinner together as usual, and I’ve already requested he get me some chocolates this week; right after valentines day when they’re deeply discounted and therefore can get me twice as many for the same price, cause I’m cheap and just love chocolate. But that’s about it.

    All these crimson displays in the grocery store today did get me thinking about love. Specifically, love songs. Most songs have some element of love in them. We can all relate to its common themes: happiness, longing, wanting, heartbreak and first loves.We’ve all been through it, we’ve all tasted it in some way, and days like this Thursday seem to bring it to the forefront for some people. Don’t feel bad for yourself if you’re one of those people or if you’re lonely this week. Don’t feel bad for single people on Valentines Day. Feel bad for that couple sitting at a restaurant not saying anything to each other. You know, the ones that you know are just hanging on by a thread & it’s so obvious they’ll drag this on forever just have someone, anyone.

    As for me, I will be with my greatest love. The one who has been with me since I was a little girl. I’ll be with the one that always calls, always says what I need to hear. The one that has been there in my deepest, darkest times, the one whose hand is always there when I reach for it.  The one that always knows just the right words to dry up all my tears.  The one who is always along when I need a quiet drive, when I need to get something done, or I need someone to sing at the top of my lungs with. The one who is always there in strange cities, on late night drives and random adventures, the one that brings me back home no matter how far away I am.  The one who has been with me in every happy, glittering moment, during first kisses and reunions, and in quiet corners with cups of tea. The only one will hold my heart till the day I die, the one that will always endure. Music, you will always be my first love, I will never have enough words to thank you for always being there for me and I wouldn’t want to spend the day with anyone else.

    So below, please find 3 of my very favorite love songs. The first two are both light and soft, full of the sweetest lyrics I’ve ever heard and ones I never seem to get sick of. The third is a huge ballad we all know, but one I can never leave off my ‘top love songs’ list when I’m asked. I’ve been wishing that I magically wake up tomorrow with the female vocalists voice for the past 20 years. Hasn’t happened yet. No matter what kind of love song you’re into, I think you’ll find something here you’ll like. Either way, according to all these ads for overpriced chocolate, Valentines Day is supposed to be spent with ‘the one you love’. I hope you all do, and whether you’re in a relationship or not, I hope the person you always love the most is yourself.

    “Cause when your here there’s nothing wrong, you’re as far as i can see. I would make this whole world spin around, just to see you again…….”

    “And when the wind does blow against the grain, You must follow your heart……..”

    “Will you cater to every fantasy I got? Will you hose me down with holy water, if I get too hot, hot? Will you take me places I’ve never known?………..

    Music Monday January 28th, 2013

    Most people who show me new music are quite close to me, physically. They’re showing me songs in their cars when we’re driving around, they’re handing me a CD at a concert, they’re playing their favorite new song on repeat at their party while I’m sitting on the couch. But there’s also a couple people in my life who are physically very far away, but who remain close to me through sharing music.

    One of my very favorite people in the world is on the other side of it, in dreary Dublin, Ireland. I love the Irish. I love their greenery, I love their filthy curse words, I love their humor and I love my friend. He is crass and lovely and has absolutely amazing taste in music. So many of my beloved songs have come from him, and I am so grateful that he shares his music with me.

    So today you’re getting a song from an Irish band, dedicated to my dear Irish friend. Two Door Cinema Club are certainly not new on his side of the pond, they’ve been around for years and have only recently been getting the attention they deserve. I even spied their name on the coachella line-up this year. They’re an adorable trio; they look a bit more like coffee baristas than rockstars. Their unique blend of jumpy pop is restless, awkward and totally danceable.  So hit play, Put some whiskey in your afternoon coffee, dance around to this song if you want. Either way, enjoy it, and put a little Irish in your day. 

    Music Monday January 21st, 2013

    If people who read a lot of good books are considered ‘well-read‘, then I consider myself to be ‘well-listened’ (I also consider myself to be well-read, but let’s leave it to just the one compliment for myself today). Regardless, I consider myself to usually be quite up-to-date on most music, both popular and on the smaller scale.

    So whenever a band or popular song manages to completely bypass me, I’m always shocked. People will show me/send me/tell me about a song and I’ll go look up the song on youtube, and most of the time they’re in the low counts, a couple thousand or so. But whenever I hear a great song like this and it has just under 14 million views, I wonder where the hell I’ve been.

    It happens rarely, but it did happen to me recently. On my way to a Christmas party, my friend Alexey decided to show me some music he had been listening to lately.  My ears didn’t fully perk up until he got to this song, and it’s not because he prefaced it by telling me he liked to get ready to this song, preferably while drinking a beer in the shower before going out. It was catchy and full of light, and made me want to drink a beer in the shower too, and I don’t drink. 

    The band, Empire of the Sun, has been around since 2008. They’re an Australian electronic duo whose debut album went platinum in their homeland and gold over here on colder grounds. I have no idea how they managed to pass me by, but I’m quite glad they’re finally on my radar.  They’re quite eclectic, and this song will certainly make you want to go to a strange party immediately. So hit play, put this song on the next time you’re getting ready to go out, maybe grab a beer and get in the shower. Lather up, dance around a little (carefully) and rest assured that if something great passes you by, you can always just go on back and find it. 

    Music Monday January 14th, 2013

    Do you ever have one of those days when you look around and feel like you’re playing house? Like you can’t seem to figure out how you grew up into this supposed adult with this job and bills and dentist appointments. I can’t be the only person who sometimes feels like a big kid playing dress up, can I?

    I hope not, but either way, today I don’t want to be a grown-up. I have this column to write, I have to confirm a flight reservation, I have a ton of packing and sorting to do before I move at the end of this month and I really should eat something green and leafy today. I don’t want to do any of it. I want to stay in my pajamas on the couch, eat things with no inherent nutritional value and watch some bad made for tv movies.

    So when I came upon this adorable video today that seemed to show exactly how I was feeling, I knew I had to share it with you. You’ve probably heard of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, they had a huge hit a few years ago with ‘Home’. This song has a lot of the same elements: twangy instruments and quirky duet vocals with sweet lyrics about love. But I prefer this song to their smash hit; I like the end hand clap sequence, and I had a smile on my face for the entire video.

    I miss being a kid. I miss not having the capacity to worry, I miss good weather being the only criteria to be met for it to be a ‘good day’. Today when I stumbled on this video I became a kid again for just a second. I was smiling and clapping along, and when you smile when no one is around, you know you really mean it. So check it out, clap along if you like. But no matter what you listen to today, remember that at some level there’s still a kid in all of us. Enjoy.

    “You be the book, I’ll be the binding; Come with me, you’ve got my love to lean on darlin, that’s what’s up………..”

    Music Monday January 7th, 2013

    There’s nothing more annoying to me than when someone I don’t like does something great. You know, that moment when you have to put your personal feelings aside and say ‘yeah, that was a pretty cool thing you did there‘. Nothing worse. And I feel the exact same way when a band I don’t care for suddenly comes out with a song that I adore. It’s like I’m mad that I have all this time invested in openly disliking them, and now I have to be the hypocrite and love just one song, or worse, privately enjoy it.

    But I’m supposed to be this person that thrives off of sharing music with others, so it would be mighty terrible of me to keep it myself. Music is an incredibly personal choice, and while I’ve always been very respectful of others choices, there is just some bands that I cannot get into. No matter how hard I try, something between my ears and brain rejects what I hear. It’s strange, I can even appreciate the theory component of a song ( ie, that is some excellent drum playing, they have great melodies, ect) but I still won’t like it. It’s a mystery to me, that something magic tangled into music that is beyond technical understanding; there’s no telling what I will or won’t like based on some formula. The heart wants what the heart wants and same goes for the ears I guess.

    But I can tell you who I have not liked up until this very moment. Muse. Yes, yes, I know they’ve been around forever,  loads of people do adore them. I’m just not one of them, I’ve listened to all their albums, endured them at every trendy party and given the occasional video that litters my newsfeed another try. Just doesn’t happen for me. The vocals sound tired to me, and something about their songs make me feel like I have the flu.

    But then, out of nowhere, comes this great song. ‘Madness’, the single off their latest album is masterful. It’s one of those beats that come along once or twice a year; it smacks of Nine Inch Nails ‘Closer’, that slow, creepy stop-and-start.  Add in a fantastic guitar solo at the end, give that lead singer an energy drink and you’ve got yourself a song you can listen to anywhere.

    The reason why music is so versatile and can apply to everyone is because it’s always evolving. Just like life and all those people who write your favorite songs, it changes. Sometimes for the worse, but in this case, to me, it changed for the better. And the best thing about music, hell, the best thing about all things related to matters of the heart, to your life and to your music is this: If you suddenly find yourself down a road you don’t like, or liking something you didn’t expect to, you can always just change your mind.



    Music Monday December 10th, 2012

    Everyone always complains when things go wrong, but no one ever acknowledges when things work out well. When serendipity is finally on your side and by some happy accident your night gets a little better than planned. That’s what happened to me last night. I had tickets to see Cold Specks play in Hamilton, and tried to time my arrival to purposely miss the openers; it was a Sunday night and I thought I had better things to do. I was displeased when I showed up almost 2 hours after door to find that there was still another act to go on before the headliner I was there to see.

    May I just acknowledge that as being a terrible state of mind? Openers have it rough. I mean, they know that you’re not here to see them. They know you’re getting antsy and want them to hurry up and finish so you can see who you came here for. And yet, they get up there, knowing full well that they’ll at best be in second place tonight, and play their little hearts out for you. The openers are like that kind of like that person who flirts with you knowing full well that you have a boyfriend. But they do it anyways. They’re all out there looking for that right person to hear them, to love them.

    So there I was, in a cramped Hamilton bar and I’m kind of grumpy and my feet are not happy at the thought of standing through some band I’ve never heard. But by some great coincidence, the opener ends up being Dan Griffin, whose album I’d been listening to for the last week on repeat. He’s formerly of the band The Arkells, but in my opinion he’s doing much better on a stage solo. Dan is a great folk artist, a kind of brilliant lyricist that rarely comes along.  His simple finger picking gives way to display truly great, melancholy lyrics. A kind of young Nick Drake, he was charming and soothing all at once. It goes without saying that suddenly my feet didn’t care and I didn’t have to pretend to like him.

    The weather is getting a little darker, it’s looking a little grey out there. I think it’s the perfect time of year for a light, uncluttered album like this one and I’m so happy I got to see it in its entirety last night. I guess it was high time to remind myself that all my favorite bands were at one time someone elses opener, right? Everyone has got to start somewhere. A good place for you to start would be to head on over to iTunes, where my favorite song on his album ‘Stars and Satellites’ is the free single of the week. So curl on up, go get your free song and the next time you’re at a show, please remember to give that opener a chance. 

    “It won’t be long before I’m gone, it’s true, but i’m hoping that the stars and the satellites will bring me home to you…..”

    Music Monday December 3rd, 2012

    We all have a few special people in our lives that shape our tastes with music. I had two major ones that are mainly responsible for it: My father and my aunt. Most people who know me would probably say my father would be the obvious choice; he had an oldies show on our local radio station, but that’s a whole other post. Today, I want to tell you about the more subtle, but just as important influence on my musical upbringing.

    When I was growing up, my aunt Marianna was the epitome of cool. She was single, she drove a red little sports car with a sunroof and sent me letters on whimsical stationary detailing her exciting life. Her life always seemed full of adventure, and I wanted to be just like like her. She always had the good treats in her purse, always went where she wanted and laughed with her whole heart.

    I lived in a house where oldies rock and motown was the religion, and new music was sometimes blasphemy. My father had great, eclectic taste, but like a wine connoisseur, he preferred his music to be of a certain age before he could really enjoy it. Being a very nostalgic man, it was like a band had to withstand the test of time before he could give it an honest listen. My aunt Marianna was hip, she knew what the good party music was and she introduced me to some of the grungiest and greatest music of my life. She would take me on road trips, blaring Soul Asylum and Concrete Blonde, and I would sing along to lyrics about men I hadn’t yet begun to dream about. 

    Years ago, we were driving along my hometown and this song came on. She said nostalgically ‘Oh, I love this song, does anyone have a joint?’ I laughed and said ‘you smoke pot now?’, to which she joked ‘Only to this song’.  This version of the  song is raw, you can hear the anguish in her voice. And as my aunt explained to me when she first showed me it ‘Everyone has got a Joey’. It’s one of my favorite songs for that reason: It’s full of passion and truth.  And that’s who my aunt is, even if she doesn’t always see it. My aunt has taken care of me in ways that go above and beyond the aunt status, she has taken care of everyone. And throughout all that, she can still make me laugh like no one else. She still smiles with her whole heart.

    Aunts are special, and mine has a birthday this week. Sometimes I’m not  good with showing emotion, so I’m gonna use this weeks blog to say : Anna, without you there were many occassions I would have missed, things I could not have achieved and I don’t think I would have grown into the person I am without your influence; musically and otherwise. Thank you so much for introducing me to these songs and helping me along into the person I’m becoming. I still want to be just like you.

    So readers, this week you have homework.  Press play on this song, light a joint if you’ve got one and think of all the people who had a hand in influencing your musical upbringing. If you have an awesome aunt or uncle, I want you to call them and say thank you; they seem to get left behind in the thanks department. Sometimes it’s not the greatest hit that ends up helping you along, sometimes it’s the second-to-last song on an obscure album. And because sometimes it’s the people who are seemingly on the outskirts of your life that end up having the biggest impact.

    Happy Birthday to my sweet Aunt, I love you.


    Music Monday November 12th, 2012

    The breakup of a band can be one of the most devastating things in a music lovers life. I’ve seen so many people talk with such a sparkle in their eye about a group and then scratch their head awkwardly and sadly say ‘man, they broke up and it broke my heart, I wish so much they’d make another album’. It’s like they’re telling me their parents got divorced.

    I’m a writer, so I’m quite solitary in my creative process. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to collaborate as a group in such a sensitive, intimate way with multiple other people, and throw the possible clash of personalities into it as well. Being in a band seems to be such a precarious balancing act that has led so many stellar groups to disband from one another.

    My most recent band broken heart comes from a duet I’ve been obsessed with all year. I can’t really confirm they’ve broken up, but they did release a statement recently that stated they had to cancel their tour right in the middle of it ‘due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences in ambition’. I’m still crossing my fingers over here that they’ll be fine, but that doesn’t sound good to me.

    The Civil Wars are comprised of two singer songwriters who met at a songwriting session in Nashville, Joy Williams and John Paul White. They’re not a couple, but watching them sing will make you question it; I was shocked to find out they were both married, to other people. They remind me of new-age Johnny and June Carter Cash. Seeing them perform for the first time was a voyeuristic experience, they’re very intimate performers and I felt like I walked in on a couple singing to each other at home.

    They exploded onto the singer-songwriter scene last year,  and it’s not hard to see why. Their album is masterful: every song has a different flavor to it, but they all have bare-bones arrangements with gorgeous back-and-forth vocals. And speaking of beauty, try not to get too lost in the stunning beauty of these two; I know I did. When I told my boyfriend I had chosen The Civil Wars for music monday, he said ‘don’t go writing a whole column about how good looking you think that dude is’ (doesn’t he look like a sexy Jonny Depp, the kind that writes songs about fireflies on back porches?!?!)

    Physical beauty aside , these two are natural together in a way that doesn’t happen often. Anyone who has ever been single can tell you: Chemistry is tough. It’s hard to find someone you click with, and I imagine it’s the same with playing music. So this column is doubling as a public prayer that these two will be fine. Sometimes it’s not worth making a relationship work that just isn’t; No matter how much you want it to, you can’t force it. But I hope after hearing the magic of these two play, you’ll join me in wishing these two work it on out. 


    Music Monday October 29th, 2012

    There’s always been a huge divide among music fans about what the digital age of music has done. But whether you’re buying vinyl or downloading mp3s, you can’t deny that the last 10 years have monumentally changed how people interact with music. The internet and platforms like iTunes and Youtube have done something legendary: they’ve given artists a chance to self promote. They’re able to get out there without a label or PR person, able to put their art into the world and truly allow the fans to decide to keep listening or not.

    As someone who scours the world every day for new music, I take advantage of many outlets. I have friends who e-mail me songs they think I’d like, I use iTunes suggestions, read great music blogs and sometimes just surf around Youtube looking for a gem. Occasionally, the internet gods conspire together to make my sidebar suggest something truly great; this week you’re getting my most recent shiny needle in a haystack. 

    I found Mree a few weeks ago, and have been selfishly keeping her to myself for a bit. She’s a girl out of New Jersey who got her start by amassing a great online following. Her covers and original songs have garnered attention of grammy winning artists and fans alike. Her voice is ethereal; light and meditative. I fell in love with her covers first, but after listening to her whole album, I’m even more impressed. Her lyrics and arrangements are well beyond her young years and I’m so excited to see what she does next. The single off her second self produced album, Monsters, is available on iTunes and Amazon now, and trust me: it’s worth the dollar. 

    I normally would link you a video of something original, but today you’re going to fall in love with her the same way I did: through this song. It’s a perfect cover for the upcoming rainy week. But I urge you to check out her album and keep your eye on her. Sometimes the greatest songs come into my life by pure chance like this, and they’re in my playlists forever. It’s what I hope I bring to some of you every once in a while, something new that you maybe wouldn’t have found on your own. So hit play, and give this girl a shot at your playlist, too.

    Music Monday October 22nd, 2012

    I realized today that in my tenure here at Music Lives I’ve discussed how music relates to movies, to time periods, to seasons and to feelings. But I left out one very important facet in popular culture that we all seem to have a very personal opinion about: television shows. Winter is coming, and for me, that means staying home to save money for summer travels and finding new shows to curl up on the couch with.

    I’ve always said that my dream job would be a music director for television or movies; I love the power that music has to take a scene to another level. It can influence the way a show feels in a way that pure dialogue can’t. As someone who has always been able to get lost in music and film, I think the mergence of the two is an art form. Most people have a television show they swear allegiance to. My teenaged self would pledge her heart to an old sci-fi show called Roswell that my best friend and I devoured; we even road tripped to New Mexico together to see the town our beloved show was based on and attend the legendary UFO parade. But if Roswell was my first love , Sons of Anarchy is my husband. 

    Some people are passionate about their favorite tv show. Hell, I’m passionate about everything. So bear with me here if SOA isn’t your cup of tea, let me try and sway you a little to my side as to why I think Sons of Anarchy is the best show on television today. A show about a motorcycle gang isn’t something new, nor is a show about relatively good looking men doing bad things, but SOA is different in that it makes you root for the anti-hero. Kurt Sutter, the creator and writer of the show is damn genius. He makes you somehow feel bad for the man you would normally want to feel punished. The show explores extreme themes of family, loyalty and legacy, all while absolutely challenging your capacity for gruesome violence. It has made me cry, made me mad, and made me laugh till my cheeks hurt, all in one episode. But more than anything else, it makes me feel and think about things that I never would on my own, and that is a remarkable feat. 

    Outside of it’s fantastic writing and acting, it has a killer soundtrack. Filled with blues-y, gritty american rock, I usually spend the 10 minutes following an episode googling my way around the internet trying to find the song they just played.  The two songs you’re getting today will give you a taste of theme I’m talking about here. The first is a blindingly good cover of John the Revelator. As you may know, that song is a traditional gospel call and response song thats based on the book of revelations and has been performed since the 1930s. But Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers tinge it with a perfect sound for these outlaws. I’m also adding in another cover by the same band of ‘House of the Rising Sun’, which is haunting and has a video montage of my favorite boys in it for you.

    So if you’re not a fan already, check the show out if you want something to become enthralled with this winter. Try not to watch all 4 seasons inside of 2 weeks (which I may or may not have done last winter). Either way, hit play and let these songs make you feel like maybe you’re a bit of a pariah. Cause let’s be honest here: Whether it’s our personality, in our daily lives or vicariously through a something like a tv show, there’s a little bit of an outlaw in all of us. 

    Music Monday October 15th, 2012

    One of my favorite authors gave a TED talk where she spoke about the pressure to deliver on expectations after her freakish success of a best seller. She said ‘So check it out, I’m reasonably young, I have another 30 or 40 years of work in me, and it’s possible that I’ve already written my greatest work. Everything I write now will be judged as the work that came after the huge success. It’s increasingly likely that my best work is already behind me, and that kind of thought is the  sort of thing that can lead to a person drinking gin at 9 o’clock in the morning’ 

    It’s a funny statement, but brings up a very relevant point that is constantly on my mind in relation to the music industry. There’s bands that come out every once in a while that blow everyone away. They often have a different sound to what’s currently being overplayed, or they may just re-inventing something that people want to hear. But somehow, they fill a niche, some void everyone seems to have had that maybe we weren’t aware of. They usually seem to come out of nowhere, branding a new scene all on their own and paving the way for a thousand other bands in the same vein to come bursting onto the airwaves.

    You know who I’m talking about. A few years ago it was Kings of Leon, then The Black Keys. After that wave, Mumford and Sons picked it up, and hundreds of amazing folk-rock bands like Of Monsters and Men and The Lumineers followed. I loved all these bands, loved their simple yet poignant lyrics and rich acoustics; loved their use of fiddles and suspenders. I personally favored Mumford and Sons, and didn’t even mind when everyone and their mother was overplaying their freak success of an album ‘Sigh No More’.

    I did however, feel instantly bad for them when their last album skyrocketed up the charts. I mean, how do you live up to that? How do you write a new album or book knowing that it may not be as well received as your last? I’ve written before about staying true to a sound and growing as an artist, but that second album that directly follows a huge accomplishment has to be the worst. The pressure to please everyone is astronomical even in my daily life sometimes, I can’t even imagine commercial success that left thousands judging my work. So I was kind of holding my breath for their next album, I was worried. Could it live up to my hopes for it?

    I got it the day it came out, of course. Picked a stretch of highway through New Mexico to preview it. Listened to it all the way through and finally let out that breath. It was good. Really good. It wasn’t as lyrically pleasing to me as the last one, but it didn’t stray from their sound, from their honesty. My favorite song, the one you’re getting today, is probably the simplest on the album. It’s something we can all relate to: wondering about someone we don’t talk to anymore. Do you have someone like that? Don’t you lie to me, you do. I know I do. Someone who I know would appreciate this song, even though I can’t show it to them. So hit play, have yourself a second helping of Mumford and Sons today. Maybe think of someone you wish you maybe still had around in your life. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe they’re somewhere, listening to this song and thinking of you, too.


    “I hear of your coming and your going in the town, I hear stories of your smile, I hear stories of your frown…Where are you now? Do you ever think of me, in the quiet, in a crowd?”

    Music Monday October 8th, 2012

    Hey y’all, I’m back, and I’d like to start this Music Monday by apologizing for three things:

    1)For leaving you all alone on Monday for the past 5 weeks

    2)For the annoying amount of times I will say ‘y’all’ in the near future. I just spent a month in the southwest US, but I’m told this side effect will eventually wear off.

    3)For keeping this gem of a band all to myself for the past month.

    Yeah, sorry about that last one. I found these boys the night before I left on this tour, but didn’t have stable enough wi-fi anywhere to sit down and tell you about them. So consider this the first of many trip souvenirs I smuggled back in my suitcase across the border.

    I love bands who have a sound that encompasses an entire time period. While we all personally have albums that can take us back to a specific point in our lives, having a distinct sound of an entire decade is something else entirely. Without making comparisons to other bands, I think it’s pretty cool when you can hear a band full of young kids and say ‘they sound like the 70s’. Certain instruments, arrangements and vocal style are completely intertwined with entire sections of the past. In the 60s, psychedelic and folk rock arrived , the 70s had a huge amount of experimental and r&b suddenly flood the market, and you’d be hard pressed to find an 80s pop song without a synthesizer somewhere in the background.

    I’ve written about my love of the 80s before, but it isn’t just the music that keeps a part of my heart in my birth decade. The culture, the styles, and the movies were all pretty amazing to me growing up. Maybe it’s because so much of that culture was made for the coming-of-age target audience, but either way they always were the things that hit closest to home. I know I’m not alone here, I have many a female friend that can quote most John Hughes movies and likes a little acid wash jean in her life now and again. And I know (I hope) I’m not the only girl who still dreams of John Cusak (anyone) holding a boom box playing some Peter Gabriel (any song) outside my window at night. 

    These boys sound like those movies to me. PK is a band out of San Luis Obispo. They’ve opened for Aerosmith and they definitely aren’t old enough to have grown up in the 80s. But they must have been watching some movies and taking some notes, because they got it down to a science. A little punk, a little rock and a whole lot of fun equals some of the catchiest songs I’ve seen come out of this vein in a while. If you’re a Robert Smith or Killers fan, these boys are for you. Even their videos perfectly encompass being young; if you dig this, please check out their video for ‘London’ as well, that song almost got them on the cover of Rolling Stone last year.

    So turn it on up, readers. Gel that hair, put on your favorite jeans (acid wash optional), and get transported back to a time when seeing your crush or you next night out was the only thing that mattered. Put a little strut in your step while you’re at it, and rest assured that I will not let you face another Monday alone, music-less. I’m back, ya’ll (sorry). I will not leave you again. Unless I’m dead or in jail. Which unfortunately for someone like me is a real possibility.

    Music Monday August 20th, 2012

    After a 2 week hiatus, I’m back to avail your ears with something particularly grungy today. There’s one genre of 80s music out there that has some die-hard fans that won’t ever give up their love.  The admittance of love of this genre is often met with a groan when trying to explain it to someone who isn’t, and was never a fan. You know what I’m talking about. 80’s hair metal. 

    My love affair with hair metal began with a chance purchase from columbia house mail order CD’s, a package that contained  Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue and Whitesnake albums. My friends older sister had been blaring these artists all summer long, and I was salivating to hear them again.  I loved their acid washed denim, I loved all their broken hearts, I loved the word ‘bitchin’. I played those albums on my maxell deck for months straight, bought a crimping iron and never looked back. I may have been an eighties baby by birth, but I was a eighties rocker at heart now.

    As a result of that fateful purchase, I spent a good part of my formative years wishing I was Tawny Kitaen, sexily posing on a camaro in a sheer white shirt, backcombing my hair and putting a hole in the ozone layer from my hairspray youth. I became obsessed with the band Tesla. To me, they were the perfect blend of metal and pop, the entire decade just emanated from them. I was probably the only person under 40 at their reunion concert 6 years ago in Toronto (and definitely the only one screaming in the front row).  To some, they probably looked a little washed up and rough, but to me, they were still rock gods. I swear, you could hear every backstage, every venue, and every line of coke ever done in that decade coming from his voice.

    You probably know of all these bands I’m mentioning, they were quite popular. You may however, not know of Steel Panther. I only say this because I DIDN’T. Imagine my shock when I was in San Diego last month, discussing live music and hair metal with someone fantastic, and he completely scooped this music maven with his mention of these guys. How I had never heard of a current, touring hair metal/almost parody band? 

    Steel Panther has been around for a while apparently, and I’ve heard that they put on a live show like no other. Their lyrics are laughable, yes. They don’t have the sustenance of the aforementioned bands, no. I had a hard time finding you a video that wasn’t completely and almost solely comprised of profanity. But they’re fun in a way that doesn’t happen as often in music anymore. So hit play, maybe make yourself a nice brush microphone and let your hair down today. 

    *Note: The 2nd video contains some language that may not be appropriate for children, depending on how you parent. Watch the volume levels, FYI*

    Welcome to V2.0!

    Welcome to V2.0 of Music Lives! It’s been almost 16 months (but who’s counting) since this project was started and a lot has changed. What hasn’t changed is the musical talent that comes from and through Guelph on a weekly basis.

    When we started talking about a site refresh we looked at all of our data for the first year to see what people were using. Then decided to put it almost everything right on the home page. We looked at what was the most time consuming part of maintaining the site, so Kelly at Oaktree Media built a custom calendar for the events page. If it takes us less time to list each event, we can post more events. That was our logic anyway. Getting our traffic up, was also a crucial component of the redesign. You might notice every event is it’s own page now, it also stays on the site so you can look up the Bands you might have seen on the weekend. We also added a Bands section, allowing us to link within Music Lives. These few things will cut down on time for us, but add a lot of things Google looks for when you search for something. Also, in the Bands and Events section you’ll find forms to be filled out. We get invited to a lot of Guelph‘s music events through Facebook but some still slip through the cracks. If you’re throwing a show you want up on the site, or you’re a local band that wants that extra bit of exposure, fill those forms out!

    Something else to look at is in the bottom left corner of the Home page. We are starting a weekly newsletter! Sign up and get the low down on the week’s upcoming events, updates from our blog and a quick note or two on how the shows over the weekend went. We always try to keep you as up to date as we are. This will help remind you to check out our site at least a few times a week.

    As for the blog, it will be growing as well. We’ve got a short list of people willing to lend their talents to help keep the blog busier than ever. You’ll still have Teresa supplying you with Music Monday. Teresa is great at exposing fantastic, under-the-radar, bands. A few of us will be tackling more show and album reviews, along with some amateur and professional photographers that could lend us their lens for future posts.

    We’ve got amazing support from Guelph‘s music community, performers and fans alike, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks Guelph! We hope everyone enjoys the changes to the site, and we’re sure you can still easily find the information about Guelph‘s live music scene. With all of these additions to the site we can’t help but be excited about everything to come. Now, to fill the brand new events calendar…

    Music Monday July 30th, 2012

    Does anyone else have ‘music friends’? You know, those friends that live and breathe music the same way you do. The ones that send you that song that ends up being your favorite one. The ones that understand what you love and love to understand you.

    I have a few of these. We may not even be particularly close, maybe I even know their musical taste based solely on their facebook posts, but sometimes I will hear a song and think ‘Oh, so and so will love this‘ and I always want to send it to them. I usually do. I’ve written about sharing music before, but there is no better feeling that knowing someone absolutely loved some piece of music that you showed them.

    Earlier last week, I showed a song to a friend that had recently posted about the band I’m about to show you. I pointed them in the direction of my favorite song on the album and after a few hours they sent me a message that said ‘Thank you so much for that song, that seriously exploded my heart listening to that, I’m obsessed’. What a compliment, right? And I know exactly how he’s feeling. I know that moment of thinking a song was written just for you, that moment of clarity.

    Enter the Lumineers. They’re pretty fresh off the presses, their debut album isn’t even a year old yet, but they are showing up all over the place. They’re part of this great vein of instrumental folk rock like Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men that’s been putting a lot of eclectic instruments back on the mainstream scene;  I’ve never seen so much love for banjos and harmonicas!

    I’m going to give you three good songs to wet your whistle with today, but you must promise if you like this that you will check out their entire stunning debut album. The first is called ‘Ho Hey’. It’s no frills folk, excellent gang vocals and sweet as a piece of pecan pie. A love song and a fun song. The second is called ‘Stubborn Love’ and it’s a violin-tinged, melancholy ballad, this here is the chest exploder. And the third is my personal favorite, Dead Sea. A haunting simple metaphor for being someone’s strength, I can’t seem to stop playing this haunting song.

    So, please hit play. Get ready to fall in love with a song. And do me a favor? When you do, please tell the person how much you loved their song. I live for that. I love the chest exploding moments, it’s the whole reason I do this job and many others. These songs are my thank you for that. For you, all my friends that I know will love this. But also, for someone a little trickier: all my readers that I don’t know. I hope you’ll love it too.


    “I don’t gamble, but if I did I would bet on us. You told me I was like the dead sea, the finest words you ever said to me. You’ll never sink when you’re with me, honey I was born to be your dead sea……….”

    Music Monday July 9th, 2012

    What’s with kids today? Maybe I’m getting too old, but they seem super crude. They dress in far too revealing clothing, seem to demand cell phones and almond milk around age 10 and after taking a quick look at that age demographics most purchased albums, I can only concede that they also don’t have great taste in music.

    I’m not going to rip on any particular musician here. I believe in the respect of music and so much of growing up is about fitting in and I know that a lot of certain artists popularity can be explained by trends and fads. That being said, I usually don’t pay too much attention to what my little cousins or other young teens in my life are listening to. I’ve written a lot before about not judging a genre by it’s people though, so it was high time I got off my hypocritical horse and learned this lesson again.

    Enter Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. I’d heard them briefly last year from a friend, but it wasn’t till a sweet 14 year old girl said ‘hey, you like this? I swear it’s not Beiber‘ to me last week and put on this song. A song so great I whirled right around in my chair. They’re a fantastic rock band from Chicago and this nostalgic song is perfect for your next summer adventure.

    It makes me want to head to the beach immediately, the catchy guitar beat, uptempo and lilting vocals complement each other perfectly. I’m a total sucker for the harmonica, and these boys have used it perfectly. So hit play, bounce around to this addictive song I’ve found you. Sometimes we find the greatest things in unexpected places, and sometimes, I guess those kids are alright.


    Music Monday July 2nd 2012


    As a writer, and an extremely talkative woman, I sometimes find it hard to get into music with no words. I have this theory that if you play say, the bass, you will probably always hear the bass parts of a song more predominantly than others. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of instrumental music, but I still identify the most with words; I’m still absolutely guilty of liking a song that was terrible yet had great lyrics.

    Cue Andhim. Now, I understand that their music does have words in it, but they’re in a language I don’t speak, so it’s kind of the same thing. The thing that stands out about this song is it’s absolutely incredible beat. Ever see someone walking effortlessly through a crowd with headphones on, looking untouchable?  I feel like this is the song they must be listening to. The backbone of this song is so catchy it makes me feel cooler just by listening to it, like I should be having brunch somewhere with some witty people.

    I wish I had more to tell you about these guys. I know they’re making waves all over Europe, but web content about this german duo is limited and indecipherable, and I’m in no mood for sitting behind a computer today during this gorgeous weather. So hit play, sit back and relax. I’m not gonna pepper you with another diary entry or spew a ton of facts about these guys at you. When it comes to how truly unique this video and song is, I just have no words.


    Music Monday, June 25th 2012

    A lot of artists have rituals both on stage and in their creative process. Some like to play barefoot. I’ve seen good luck charms, favorite t-shirts, beloved guitar picks and certain movements that people think will warrant them a good show or album. Hell, even I have to write this column sitting in one of two places. They aren’t necessarily about superstition or guarantees, A ritual is defined as a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value.

    We all have them in some way. Certain songs you always play at certain times, playlists for different places. Music is inherently linked to our patterns and moods so it naturally becomes a part of our regular actions. I have several music routines in my life, but one always sticks out when I’m about to embark on a certain stretch of highway. Going to my hometown always scares me. Along with birds pecking out my eyes, men with small hands and wind turbines, spending more than 3 days in the place is right up there on my list of irrational fears.

    But of course, I miss my family and friends, so twice a year I embark on the 8 hour journey north to my place of birth, somewhere I’ve always felt like a foreigner, even when I lived there. There’s a wind in the broken highway just before the road turns into town and for as long as I can remember, I have played this song as soon as I hit that bend. It’s as much of a  part of my coming home habit as putting gas in my truck; its necessary.

    I got this album, A boy named goo, from a friend in 1995. It was a pretty integral part of my transition to a small town, and this song always stuck out to me. It always perfectly embodied the feeling of nostalgia I associate with my hometown; that feeling of leaving something behind, even when you wanted to.

    Since their inception in 1985, the Goo Goo Dolls have transformed from their angsty rock sound to a little more commercial, but lyrically they have always been brilliant and melancholic. I’m headed home today. I know I’ll be nervous and excited, and I know I’ll be playing this song on the way.  Thomas Wolfe said ‘You can’t go home again’. Maybe you can’t. Maybe once you leave something behind it will never be as it was. But maybe home isn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. Maybe home is wherever the people who love you are and where you always know what song to play.


    “I think about you all the time, but I don’t need the same . If it’s lonely where you are, come back down. And I won’t tell ’em your name……….”

    Music Monday June 18th, 2012

    Some bands are larger than life. They tower over everyone with their seemingly freakish success, yet still make monstrous shows feel intimate. They transcend time and popularity and make those timeless albums, the ones you associate entire years of your life with.

    Radiohead is one of those bands. They have something for everyone, cause a lot of time, Radiohead sounds like being melancholy, and their brand of sadness is universal. They create a level of ambiance that’s very unique, I’ve seen a lot of people cry at their shows. Usually, I can tell a lot by a person by their favorite Radiohead album or song, and people are usually surprised to hear mine. ‘Really‘, they ask, ‘that one?’. I’ve wondered before how a band with as extensive of a catalogue as theirs chooses a setlist, how do they choose a handful out of hundreds to play for their allegiance of fans.

    Those fans do show up.  I was one of 40,000 who had a golden ticket to their sold out show in downsview park this past weekend. Take a minute to truly think of that number, forty thousand people paid 100 bucks of their hand earned cash to see these guys. I arrived just over an hour early to get a good place up front, and the energy in the air was palpable as we skipped from the parking lot to the lines. We got about 40 feet from the car and heard it: a loud crash, something that sounded like fireworks, and then saw the tumble of the metal stage in front of us, like some bad game of kerplunk gone wrong.

    The stage fell. We swore and were stunned, and I immediately started to worry about the people that were undoubtedly on the stage an hour prior to showtime. Sirens and screaming began, and in the end, someone did lose their life. The show was canceled and we were sent away from the wreckage. Radiohead’s drum technician, Scott Johnson was the crew member that died. How sad it is to be just doing your job, living the perceived dream and your life just ends. So many of my friends and family tour for a living, and beyond the perception of it being a rockstars life, there is sacrifice, there is risk, and there is danger.

    It can happen everywhere I guess. A friend of mine, the local Guelph fixture Martin Vryenhoek passed away last week as a result of a work related accident. I didn’t know Scott Johnson, but if he was half the man Martin was then I know how awful this situation is for his loved ones. They were both two men just doing their job, living the best life they could when this senseless act happened.

    The situation is sad, and this song is probably the one of the most depressing songs ever, but it will always be my favorite of theirs. Someone very wise once said ‘Songs are only as sad as the listener‘, and I agree. I’ve played it at every time in my life when things felt inconceivable, when I needed to know someone else did too, and there is beauty in that. I make sense of the senseless through music. I find it best listened to while laying on a floor, during a very heavy thinking conversation with yourself. Be warned: this song will cause you to be brutally honest with yourself and how you’re feeling today. So lay down, press play, let it all out, and be honest, be sad if you want, and be safe.

    Music Monday May 22nd, 2012

    I know, I know. It’s Tuesday. Music Monday was postponed till today because I was out enjoying the long weekend. It was the first May 2-4 that wasn’t plagued with rain, ruining everyone’s grand outdoorsy plans. So alas, you’re getting your fix today.

    Long weekends make your Sunday extend into Monday and skip all the yucky anxiety about the upcoming work week. I’ve always said that Tuesday was just a passive aggressive Monday, masquerading as a mid week day. But a Monday off turns Tuesday into the first day of your short week and all is forgotten. So in spite of the holiday weekend being over, I am still in the vacation mindset today. It’s still nice outside, and I don’t want to be cooped up with my laptop and work. I’m going to keep this short, cause I want to keep my Sunday state of mind.

    Sundays are my favorite day of the week.  Saturday is the great first day of the weekend, sure. You get things done on a Saturday. But Sundays are for lingering in bed. Sundays are for making love and eggs benedict. They’re for reading books in parks and bike rides. And for me, of course, they’re about music. Easy music, playing softly while I cook a long dinner. The kind of songs that make me want to sit lazily with, maybe meet up with a good book until I fall into an afternoon nap.

    This is one of my favorite Sunday songs. The Rascals (or Young Rascals, depending on when you heard of them) and soul music were a huge part of my growing up. The Rascals were part of a sector of soul/R&B called ‘Blue Eyed Soul‘, which was a term used to describe white groups that were performing music predominately made by young black men in the late sixties. Racial segregation had a huge influence on music in that time. When records were released in certain parts of the country, label execs made conscious decisions to not publish photos of the group depending on how well popular music was emerging in that state, and the identity of the Rascals were hidden for a long time. Personally, when it comes to race and music, I agree with founder of Motown records Berry Gordy, who said ‘I don’t see black or white, I only see green. If they were good and could make me money, I was in’

    So here’s your instructions for this song: It’s still hot out, so grab yourself something cold. A drink, a beer, a popsicle, whatever. Put it on the floor and press play. Lean your back against the wall and sliiiiiiiide down to the floor, slow as you can. Maybe even the word shimmy would work here. Can you shimmy? Do that. Relax, drink your drink and let the sounds of a simpler time fill the room. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or work or when you need to change the oil in your car. They can wait, the world will not fall apart if you take the next 5 minutes just for you. Just listen. Breathe. And put a little Sunday in your Tuesday.



    Music Monday, May 14th, 2012

    There are always certain songs we will forever associate with summer. Some of them are not particularly good, and I will always remember them only because they seemed to be incessantly played at top volume at every club or public place I enter. But some are the songs that I will always be able to play on a dreary rainy day and be instantly flying down a highway; singing loudly and letting my hair fly in the wind.

    For a long time, this was the song I associated with freedom and summer. This was a pivotal album of my life that year; Third Eye Blind was my favorite band in that vein of late 90s rock that seemed to embody every breakup and friendship I had. Early last summer, I got a call from Nik Wever of Gain Music, informing me that Third Eye Blind was playing a free show at Echo Beach in Toronto. We decided to head down together, even knowing we would only be able to catch half the set because of work schedules. I searched youtube videos and setlists to get an idea of what they were playing this tour, and sadly discovered they most likely weren’t playing my favorite song; it was on no recent setlist and there were no live videos in the past year of it.

    I usually listen to the band I’m seeing on the way to a concert. I talk about the songs with whoever I’m with, what we’re hoping they play, what each song means, everything about the night to come. I remember Nik and I talking about our favorite songs and when I showed him this one, I recall saying ‘they never play this song, and even if by some miracle they do, we’ll probably miss it’.  It was a free show, so it was a decent crowd, but somehow Nik and I secured a spot in the 4th row and waited through two lukewarm opening bands. Finally, the sun was setting and Third Eye Blind stepped onto the stage.

    I only had to hear the opening 3 notes of the song before I shrieked with glee.  They were playing my favorite song. No, they were opening with my favorite song. The one they never play. On the night I had to miss half their set. I couldn’t believe my luck. I grabbed Nik and shook him ‘DO YOU BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING?!’ I screamed at him, and he laughed at my elation. It was like being in time machine, and I whipped out my camera to start documenting this amazing moment. I recorded this video, in which you can totally hear me singing off key along to the song. The video is only 1:33 long though. I’ve shown it to people and had them ask ‘Uh, you didn’t record the best part of the song?’

    No, I didn’t.

    I didn’t because right around the 1:33 minute mark I realized that I was at a free show, listening to one of the great bands of my youth, while they played one of my favorite songs and what was I doing? Watching it through a 3 inch screen, fiddling with the zoom instead of taking part in the amazing moment that the universe had seemed to conspire to make just for me. So I turned it off. It was revolutionary for me.  I’m the sort of person who goes somewhere nice and says ‘I can’t wait to come back here’, instead of reveling in the moment before me.

    I’m not gonna get all Oprah on you here and start spouting off self help advice about the power of now, but that day changed a lot of how I live my life. As someone once eloquently pointed out to me, my life is extremely well documented. I’m the picture taker, the journal-er, the one who is constantly making sure I have all the tools to remember this moment. But in order to do that, I was missing everything. So I made myself a rule. Just like photographers get told when they get their press passes as shows, I have 2 songs to take pictures during and then I stop. Put the camera away. I’ll never be able to properly document it anyways. I can’t take a picture of the magic in the air, can’t recreate the smell, the excitement in the room.

    How many of you do that? Every time I go to a show now, there’s people who miss entire shows cause they’re busy recording the whole thing. It’s even replaced lighters, people now wave their cell phones in support. This year on Valentines Day, I went and saw Dallas Green of City and Color in Kitchener, and halfway through, he said ‘who here has a cell phone? Okay, can you put it in the air? Okay, now take it and stick it right in your pocket and leave it there’. And we all laughed for being called out on our technological umbilical cord. So everyone put it away for that song, and the whole room changed. We heard the music, and that moment was just ours.

    So next show you go to, try and focus more on the singing, the laughing, the people. You know, the stuff you’re supposed to do at a concert. Think of your favorite summer song (and tell me about it in the comments). Take that song and jump in a car, or crank it up at home. Sing loudly, let that sunshine run through you and dance around. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now. Hear that song, and be here now.


    Music Monday- May 7th, 2012


    Last week I promised to find you a nice boy to listen to, but I’ve only kept half my promise: I found you a boy, but he’s anything but nice. He’s actually pretty spectacular. However, I would be completely unable to appreciate this, or any song within this genre as fully as possible if it wasn’t for my own nice boy.

    Sometime last year I met a guy that had sparkly eyes and was witty enough to hold my attention for more than 5 minutes. Whenever I meet someone new, I’m always terrified to ask the dreaded, very important question:  ‘What kind of music do you listen to?’ I don’t really care about what the answer is per se, as long as they have some band they’re passionate about. As someone who spends a large portion of their personal and professional life with music, it’s crucial that other people in my life get it’s importance. Music is one of the most personal choices someone can make, and I will always respect others and expect the same from everyone in my life.

    I’ve asked the aforementioned big question many times before; one time I got the absolute f*cking craziest answer I have heard to date. Some guy once said  ‘Actually, I’m not really into music’.


    ‘Uh, are you into breathing’? I wanted to ask.

    I had no idea what to say to him. I wanted to poke him, make sure he wasn’t a cyborg. I prodded further, no favorite band, never been to a concert, what CDs are in your car? ‘Nope, nope, nothing’ he said.  ‘I mean, sometimes I’ll turn the radio on in my truck and listen to a song if it comes on that sounds okay, but I don’t like, own any CD’s or anything’.  Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

    Anyways, back to my sparkly eyed boy. He was lovely; well read, funny, smart, and a hip hop kid. I’m a bonafide rock/metal/punk chick through and through, and his genre was one I was familiar with, but not nearly as fully versed in. I was a little scared. But over time, he’s brought me over to his side a little. He’s introduced me to some amazing music that I wouldn’t have otherwise given a chance; and that’s a gift. If you love music, you share it, and the gift he has given me is one I can never fully thank him for.

    One of my favorite gifts the hip hop world has recently brought to my life is this man: Macklemore. He’s an Irish kid from Washington that is easily one of the filthiest rappers I have ever heard. He’s raw, and probably the only person I have ever heard rhyme the word ‘orange’. I originally heard his song ‘Wings‘, an ode/hate poem to his Nike Airs and what they stood for. Upon checking out his impressive discography, I was blown away, and it took me a solid 10 minutes to choose which of his songs to share with you today; there are so many good ones.

    At times, he can be dirty: His song ‘Can’t hold us down’ has one of the most epic beats I have ever heard and it doesn’t matter how bad of a mood I’m in: I put this song and my shoulders start to bounce and before I know it, I’m dancing around like a maniac. He’s sampled Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Otherside‘ for his song of the same name, and paints a picture of his own past addictions that are insightful, not self pitying, and that makes for an inspiring story. If you’re Irish in any way, or just really love St. Patty’s day, make sure you listen to ‘Irish Celebration‘, it’s an ode to his heritage that made me crave a green beer (and I don’t even drink)

    He can be lyrical without standard predictable rhyming: His song ‘My Oh My‘, is a must listen for any sports fan; it’s about his beloved team, but makes you think of how much you love yours. When I heard it, I instantly thought of Joe Carter winning the world series for the second time, running around the field with that ball screaming his head off while I freaked out at home.

    He can be pure poetry: His song ‘The End‘, is spine-tingling, and would win the award for ‘best use of horns’ if there was such a category. It made me nostalgic for every high school dance I ever went to, and when he says ‘you are perfect, forget that prom dress’, I get goosebumps every time.

    I suppose my whole point of this story and about Macklemore, is that I appreciate people that are passionate about something. Whether or not you dig him or this style, he always feels real. He tells a story he feels strongly about, and it translates. I had the privilege of seeing him at his first Toronto show on his last tour (sold out!) and you could just feel every word come from a very true place inside him. He wrote on his blog earlier last year ‘believe it or not, writing as a vulnerable, real person is still a commendable and endearing trait in 2011’, and I really applaud him on admitting that.

    He recently released the song and video for ‘Victory Lap’, which shows his journey from playing dive bars to stadiums. When you watch an artist grow over the years from his first album to major success, you can’t help but feel happy for them and to have been a part of it. It’s catchy, with an unpredictable beat and really shows how hardworking and deserving he is off all his accomplishments.

    In the song I mentioned earlier, ‘The End‘, he says whistfully “Don’t you love music, it’s such a gift and I’ll give it to ya; but you gotta use it‘. I love that line. So thank you, to my sweet hip hop boy who gives me the gift of music all the time. Thank you to Macklemore, who reminded me to be more open minded about my choices. And thank you to all my readers, who make me want to keep sharing my thoughts and words. Do me a favor? If you’re reading this, thank someone today too. Post a song that’s been killing you, been saving you, been making you dance, whatever. You never know what effect it might have. Be real, and Give someone the gift of music today. 




    Music Monday April 30th, 2012

    Okay, bear with me here. I swear, I know it’s been several weeks in a row that I’ve availed your ears with female vocalists, so here’s the deal: I will post about yet another female singer this week and then next week I will find you a nice boy to listen to.


    I stumbled across Cold Specks‘ video for ‘Holland‘ last week in a random blog and have quickly become a superfan. Born and bred in Etobicoke, she’s formerly a bored University of Toronto student who spent far too much time in her dorm room fingering a guitar; she later quit and moved to the UK where she adopted her current moniker, Al Spx (her real name is unknown, such a mystery!)


    The simplistic style and guitar of her songs could be argued in either direction, with some saying it undermines her potential, and others saying it showcases her vocals perfectly. I’m a believer in the latter. She once described her voice as ‘a dark beast I didn’t know what to do with‘. It’s husky, and reminiscent of old gospel singers and rainy days; it resonates through you.  This sandpaper voice, coupled with minimal accompaniment, make these the songs to sit alone with, the ones to play softly in the background and be reflective with. And magically,  instead of sounding like some lonely girl singing about death, she sings something universal that we can all connect with. I’ve only heard a handful of these sedating, stunning songs so far, but I will be the first in line to check out her new album ‘I predict a graceful expulsion’ when it comes out on May 22nd. If you’re like me and prefer your music live, she’ll be playing Guelph’s famed Hillside Festival this year as well.


    Tom Waits said ‘ Nobody ever says ‘that’s enough songs, don’t play me anymore. There’s always room for more songs.‘ I agree, I believe there is a place for all types of music in the world. Every bad day, every happy, glittering moment, every tear and every smile needs a song. Cold Specks is beautiful, gloomy and haunting, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its place in even the cheeriest persons life. Music is about connection, about feeling close to someone you barely know and about believing in something. The video for my other favorite track on the album, ‘Blank Maps’,  was just released, and while I had heard the song before, the video added a new dimension for me. As Cold Specks makes eye contact with you, she proudly declares ‘I am, I am, I am, I am, a goddamn believer‘. In that moment, she made one out of me.


    So press play, lay down and let her transport you somewhere as she plays an amazing version of ‘Lay me Down’ on the Jools Holland show earlier this year. I don’t know what this song will do for you; it may help you, or it may hurt you depending on how you’re doing today. But at minimum, I promise if you give this girl a listen she’ll  make a goddamn believer out of you too.




    Music Monday April 23, 2012

    Hey everyone!

    I know Aaron introduced me last week, but I thought I’d give a proper hello. I’m Teresa and I’ll be hosting my long-running column Music Monday here on Music Lives from now on.  Every Monday I’ll tell you what I’ve been listening to. Whether it’s introducing you to a new up and coming band, revisiting one of my old favorites or reminding you why you love a particular band, Ill be showing you what I think you should be listening to right now. I love suggestions and new music, so send me your comments and let me know what I should be checking out. Enjoy, and thank you all for my warm welcome into the Music Lives family!




    Music Monday April 23, 2012


    If Otis Redding and Janis Joplin had an illegitimate child that was later adopted by Kings of Leon and frequently visited by their weird uncle Jack White, Alabama Shakes would be that kid.


    Alabama Shakes  released their first full-length album last week called ‘boys and girls’ that has been on constant rotation in my playlists. In a matter of months, they’ve went from virtually unknown to playing the Lettermen show this week and being added to MTV’s ’11 artists to watch list’, and for good reason. They sound like a proper southern rock band, but with a unexpected soul; a grittiness that makes me want to be in a bar with sawdust on the floor, dancing hip-to-hip with a stranger to this song. A bluesy sound that makes me nostalgic for 70s rock, I’m pretty sure everyone can find something they like on Alabama Shakes new album.


    If you like this song, check out my other favorite on the album ‘You ain’t alone’, it’s a little slower, but with a little more keys and just as much passion.  When you’re done, search for a live performance of them, I guarantee you’ll be absolutely blown away.


    So click play, close your eyes and turn up the speakers. Don’t fight it, let your fingers snap along (they will), toe tap that floor and get ready to get nostalgic for everything you miss about rock and roll.

    Music Monday April 16th

    (Editors Note: This post was written Monday. We realize it’s Wednesday but I had some technical difficulties. It’s my fault it’s just going up now. Also, since the original post the video has been taken down but I’m sure you saw it. I selected the photos for the post to replace the video. Anyways, Teresa (@thebandiswithme) is a great addition to our blogging team as she has a lot of knowledge on the inner-workings of the music scene. And she loves music. That’s kind of a prerequisite around these parts. Please welcome her with me. – Aaron)

    If you’re a music nerd I’m going to expect your opinion on this….

    When Aaron reads a sentence containing ‘music’ and ‘nerd’ this photo gets posted.

    Music Monday: I know I already posted this video today, and it’s all over the internet everywhere, but I’ve been thinking about it all day and I’d love to hear some other opinions. This past weekend at Coachella, after a killer set with Dre and Eminem, Snoop performed with a life size hologram of Tupac, and it was pretty damn good. As someone heavily involved personally and professionally with live music, I’m intrigued/worried about the ramifications of something like this, not to mention the amount of labels that are probably salivating over the acceptance of such an advance. No actual artist on stage means lower compensation, no crew, minimal tour overhead, and not to mention that very little actual musicianship is needed to make a hologram of someone who sounds and plays better than they do in real life. All that said, it doesn’t change the fact that the performance that stole the show at the renowned festival this weekend was from someone who isn’t even alive.

    I don’t think I need to tell you how much this changes fan interaction with someone after they die; will living on through just music be enough in the future, or will a physical connection always be important? All this has led to me to wonder: Would you go see a hologram concert of your favorite artist? What about ones that were deceased/no longer performing?