Big Rock Finish… reviews of independent music

November 9th, 2008

Tupelo Honey – Machines & Robots

Posted by Angela Poon in Alternative, General, Rock
Tupelo Honey - Machines & Robots

Tupelo Honey - Machines & Robots

Name: Tupelo Honey
Album: Machines and Robots
Released: ???
Matt Landry – vocals
Tyler Dianocky – Guitars
Greg Williamson – drums & percussion
Steve Vincent – bass guitar & backing vocals
Dan Davidson – guitars & backing vocals

Favourite Song: All These Things (track 2)

Tupelo Honey is one of those band names I not only don’t understand, I can’t even figure out how to pronounce. Thankfully the album name I know how to sound out. But the name of the band really gave me no clue into the inner-workings of what the music would be, so this got me very excited.

iTunes is telling me Tupelo Honey is a rock band. And rock they do. Lots of “straight ahead rock”… I don’t know where that line comes from. Anyways, Tupelo Honey sounds like a lot of bands I’ve heard, in that rock songs, after a while, all sort of meld together. But the vocals in this band somehow stand out beyond much others. I don’t know how to describe it. But the vocals. Definitely the vocals, to me, are what make Tupelo Honey stand out.

I like the energy. Not one single song on here I could find boring, or even potentially boring. Awesome songs, fast, slow, slow-ish rather, but not so heavy-handed? Am I still even talking in music terms here??? Anyways. What I mean is, I like all the songs on the album because they intrueige me.

Considering I’ve found a new job that’s a very short drive from my house, I am now open to shorter length CD’s being in my car. And I’m certain that Tupelo Honeyy will be making my rotation as I hit up the suburb side-streets to my 8 to 5 office job! Nothing better to wake me up in the morning, or keep me awake in the evenings.

November 4th, 2008

D.O.A. – Punk Rock Singles

Posted by Angela Poon in General, Punk, Rock
D.O.A. - Punk Rock Singles

D.O.A. - Punk Rock Singles

Name: D.O.A.
Album: Punk Rock Singles 1978-1999
Released: 1999?
Members: ??? Seriously, I can’t figure out the liner notes to save my life.

Record Label: Sudden Death Records (
Favourite Song: Whatcha gonna do? (Track 8)

Okay… this wasn’t exactly my ideal album to be reviewing. It’s somewhat of a Greatest Hits or a Best Of album, so obviously all the songs on here are going to be the best of the best (with just one best being anything worthy of going into studio to be recorded anyways) and the idea of reviewing this is just a little strange, but here we go!

These guys are punk. Punk rock if you need more than one word. But punk. End of story.

It’s a collection of singles. A big-assed collection at that. 28 tracks I’m sitting here listening to while I try and figure out which song I might actually enjoy. Simple punk songs are the best because they work on so many levels. You have to be a great musician to pull off something that can sometimes sound like you’re a terrible musician.

D.O.A. are a punk rock band. You listen to this kind of music at a punk rock show. Especially the loud and hard and fast songs. Because you can’t have a pit with a bunch of ballads.

October 29th, 2008

Nathan Down at Tattoo Rock Parlour

Posted by Angela Poon in Acoustic, Alternative, General, Live Shows, Rock
Nathan Down at Tattoo Rock Parlour

Nathan Down at Tattoo Rock Parlour

October 16, 2008

Alright! I’ve been stalking Mikey S for a long time now. First time I saw him, he was in State of Worth, dancing in a chair after his set. Then he got picked up by Strap-On Tools. He played one show with Paul Burke. He found his way into Harlot. And after hooked up with Fuscia. Then next I hear, he’s playing with some dude called Nathan Down. (Are musicians allowed to be sluts?)

Anyways, the first time I went to see Nathan Down play, I was hoping for the full band, but due to alcoholic cut-backs and the last-minute-ness of the show (I believe they were added to the bill two or three hours before they were to hit the stage) no one had any gear, and Nathan went at it solo. And sober. So months later, this was my first time seeing Mikey on stage in a pretty long time actually, and I was really excited to see Nathan Down’s music with a full band, rather than just the one guy (topless guy, but still) on stage.

Definitely wasn’t disappointed, as with a full band Nathan Down is definitely full of energy. There was a big crowd, which was awesome to see, and since I don’t get out much, was quite surprising considering it was a Thursday night. But no one really seemed to care that it was a school night. Oh… those were the days…

Anyways, for some reason it didn’t occur to me that there would be a lot of people on the stage, since I’d never seen the full band before. And I was definitely not expecting it to be as packed as it was. But there they all were, drummer, bassist, guitarist, guitarist, guitar + vocalist. And it sounded great and not over-played at all.

The one thing about Nathan Down is I never really expect acoustic guitar and sort of… that hard-rock forceful type singing to really be on the same stage. And it surprises me every time I see him or listen to the myspace. But seeing the state of his guitar, and how hard he must play on it… you see he definitely rocks out on that thing.

Back to the show. It was fun. Whoever wasn’t flirting with the audience, the band was like… flirting with each other, or something. And I just love when a band interacts with each other, instead of ignoring each other like other bands that I’ve seen. Being in your zone and playing in your element is one thing, but having fun on stage and just being a bunch of guys, is totally another.

And it seems that the cover of “Pony” is really popular with all the ladies, since the build-up to it seemed endless, with as much girlish screaming as anyone could possibly expect from a crowd for an indie rock show. I don’t blame them. It’s a great rendition of the song. And I’m sure it’d get just about anyone into a frenzy.

I giggled a little inside when the sound guy put on the house music and turned up the lights after Pony, because everyone was expecting one more song. With the language only bands and sound-guys understand, the audience finally got their last song before the band packed up. And it was just as awesome as the other… I lost count, of songs.

Well, I don’t have a clue when Nathan Down is playing next, but definitely I’m going to try to get out to see it!

October 26th, 2008

Ivory Tree Observatory at Tattoo Rock Parlour

Posted by Angela Poon in Alternative, Indie, Live Shows, Rock
Ivory Tree Observatory at Tattoo Rock Parlour

Ivory Tree Observatory at Tattoo Rock Parlour

October 16, 2008

Alright, so I’ve owed Ivory Tree Observatory an album review for… probably many many months by now. They’re on my growing “to-do” list and I’m sure that I’ll be getting to it before… the end of the year? I’ve been staring at this list of albums to review for a while now, so I’m pretty familiar with all the names on there.

So what’s my surprise that when I walk into a bar because I’m there to see Nathan Down, that I’m staring down the business … end of a shrimp fork. I’ve been watching too much Futurama during my unemployment, that’s for sure. Anyways, I meant to say I’m at the ticket booth and seeing “Ivory Tree Observatory” having their own guest-list, and they are already on stage.

My first impression? (Before even knowing who was on stage) Good god these guys are loud. Good. But loud. My earplugs went into my ears before I even walked into the venue. Grabbing my standard coke (I must learn to carry change with me, because no bartender wants to make change for a $20 when ordering a coke, and I feel embarassed as hell not having any money to tip with) But parking myself at a ledge like thing I got to really get into the band.

Ivory Tree Observatory are CUTE. They even mentioned a few times between songs that they were pretty boys. And I don’t blame them for saying it, because at least it’s true. And a lot of the songs were real fun & rocking and made for great “I don’t care that I’m standing alone in a club full of people” type of music, and not all music can do that. I didn’t feel self conscious at all listening to these guys by myself, which when I realized it, shocked me. So, entertaining is a word I would have no problem using. Seeing a guy play a guitar and a keyboard, practically at the same time was awesome.

The one strange part of the show was the very last song if I recall correctly. It just started like a complete mismash of instruments and not very song-like at all. Suddenly it goes from what I would have deemed utter chaos, to a really catchy tune.

So I have to say, Ivory Tree Observatory are a band worth going out to see, whether you’re there with a pack of friends hogging the big tables in the middle of the floor, or you’re all by your lonesome trying desperately to not be socially ackward of not just being alone, but being sober. I’m sorry guys for taking so long to review your album, and you’ll definitely see it up soon! (And not soon enough, since their next one is due to release Spring 2009!)

Oh, and Ivory Tree Observatory will be playing at Rilleys on November 7th, definitely go check them out!

October 19th, 2008

Broken Sons at Johnny B’s

Posted by Angela Poon in Alternative, Crunk, General, Live Shows, Rock

October 3, 2008

The second band to hit the bill at Johnny B’s in Whitby was Broken Sons. Whitby. Sometimes I think it’s crazy enough that there are Toronto bands willing to travel that far, because, quite honestly, it doesn’t seem the fans want to follow. But maybe this was due to the set up of the room.

See, this particular night was deemed an all-ages night. So the all-ages area was the first 15 feet in front of the stage, with the roped off 19+ section to be behind it. The theory being that anyone who is 19+ can enter the all-ages area (close to the stage) but the underage can’t go further away from the stage.

The problem with this setup was likely the fact that everyone who showed up was of-age, and the visual barrier kept the entire all-ages area void of people. And I’d probably feel quite dejected playing to what would have felt like an empty room. Anyways, even barring the empty-room feel due to a very empty all-ages area seeing as how everyone in the building couldn’t put down their drinks to join me, I had a great time with unobstructed access to every available visual point of the stage!

As for the music, Broken Sons are very into what they do. And it shows, every member of the band had a good balance of showmanship, as well as “being into the music” that was nice to see. I’m sure as the lead singer of Broken Sons, Jay was the biggest “show-off” of the band, but it makes sense. No one wants a show-boating drummer when everyone else is all mellow.

The music was just really good. It’s hard to describe other than being an overall great alternative rock band. From what I can tell, unless you’re really good, you won’t even get to keep a band together when you’re from Toronto. Then again, there’s just a lot of talent out there that needs to be discovered. Broken Sons falls into the “needs to be discovered” category I’m sure. I’m not sure what else to write. I liked their fast-paced songs, their slow-ish songs, the in-between songs.

Broken Sons are a great band. There’s nothing left to really say! Oh, except that Wednesday October 22nd they’re having a CD release party at Tattoo Rock Parlour! It’s an awesome venue so definitely check them out! (I’ll try my damndest… but I mean… it’s a school night and I have to be up early the next day!)

October 14th, 2008

The Stormalongs at Rancho Relaxo

Posted by Angela Poon in Alternative, General, Indie, Live Shows, Rock

(Photo from The Stormalong’s Myspace page)

September 24, 2008

Third and last band of the night. The Stormalongs took to the stage at Rancho Relaxo to a very energetic grouping of people. And some not-so energetic people who really should have been in bed long ago (i.e. ME) I always want to watch as many bands as possible, seeing as how I write about these bands, but unfortunately there was not much I could do to keep myself awake.

I stayed for as long as I could, which was probably, I’m guessing, about 2/3 of The Stormalongs set. And the music was very pumping, and very rock. Somewhat surprising, considering both previous bands had a very electronic and “programmed” feel, that such a straight-ahead rock band would be chosen to close out the night. But I’m not the promotor, I’m sure it makes sense to someone else!

What I remember about the songs? They were rock songs. Plain and simple. Somewhat simple in how I describe all rock songs are put together, but well played and I can’t complain. Grabbing their myspace page and giving their studio recordings a listen, I can agree that The Stormalongs are a great band with talented musicians. My apologies for the half-hearted review, I seriously was VERY tired by the end of the night!

In… very… short, I did like what I heard. The Stormalongs are a very “together” band who sounded great even when the decor of the venue causes one to laugh quite loudly because it really just didn’t fit a “rock venue” But, you can’t blame the band for the venue, and you can’t blame The Stormalongs for being true rockers.

October 3rd, 2008

Sonya Kahn – New Beginning (USA)

Posted by Angela Poon in Alternative, General, Pop, Rock

Name: Sonya Kahn
Album: New Beginning
Released: 2007

Favourite Song: Party Song (Track 7)

So, while listening to the album that really is beginning to remind me of the hollywood starlets who are gracing the music scene as I type, I am only imagining that as long as Miss Sonya has a good publicist, it doesn’t matter WHAT the album sounds like, as long as she looks the part. But I’d be selling the artist short, which isn’t fair. For one thing, the first website I go to to read up on what everyone else thinks of her? Sonya is a concert pianist. You don’t see that a lot with pop stars. Someone who I can very honestly vouch for that will be able to read music. This makes it exciting.

CD Baby (I get tired of Myspace every so often) is listing alternative, rock/pop and “created by a concert pianist.” The photos in the liner notes don’t disagree, as there is a photo of Sonya sitting at a piano. Two songs in, however, reveal little of the classical piano I had grown to… tolerate in the eight years I had played in my younger years. The more the album plays, the more I hear piano/keyboards and the more I believe that Sonya Kahn is definitely a musician in it’s truest definition.

The diversity in New Beginning is… astounding. Everything sort of sounds like something I would hear on the radio, which would prove Sonya’s commericial pull. The pretty shocking thing is each song I could think of a different radio station to play it. Some would play on the rock & roll stations. Some on the adult contemporary. And most of them will fit the top 40 playlist requirements.

I’m off on a road trip soon. And this is one album that will be making the trip with me. Considering my car doesn’t have the spiffy feature of being an mp3 player, nor does it play mp3 cd’s (my mom’s car does though) I do enjoy the fact that New Beginning is also 13 full tracks, as opposed to some 6 track albums. Not that there’s anything WRONG with it, but 13 songs makes for less cd changes to be necessary, and while driving at 140km/h down a highway, it’s best to not attempt it.

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