Canadian trio @NikkisWives return with crunchy rockin’ anthem “Lemonade”

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NIKKI’S WIVES, “Lemonade”

The Toronto-bred trio of Nikki, Dylan and Nate are back with a bigger but more familiar sound that still has lots of edge in “Lemonade”.  It reminds me of a cross between Gwen Stefani’s 2000’s solo work (particularly “Hollaback Girl”) and 80’s hair metal band anthems, and certainly stands out among the plain-ish rock of today.  Nikki’s voice is powerful and engaging, the guitar work is ablaze, and the drums pack a big whomp.  “Lemonade” is a fun song that will definitely be of interest to more than just the alt.rock fans who caught on to Nikki’s Wives with their last release, the EP Motorcourt.

Nikki’s Wives play a free RSVP-only event on Friday, April 5, 2019 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto (I’ll be there! 🙂 ).

Published in: on April 3, 2019 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“I Saw The Devil” is soulful alt.pop from Toronto by Carlaw with vocalists @JamesCollins1 and Stephanie Bleakley

CARLAW and JAMES COLLINS & STEPHANIE BLEAKLEY, “I Saw The Devil”

“I Saw The Devil” is a nifty slice of soulful alt.pop that showcases a number of Toronto performers.  I’ve written about singer/songwriter/actor James Collins a number of times, and his vocal here is smooth and restrained, in contrast to Stephanie Bleakley’s dynamic wallop which recalls other Canadian women like Dalbello or Simone Denny. 

And what of lead artist Carlaw?  Well I may be wrong, but I think it’s likely a pseudonym or new name for those talented guys The Boomtang Boys, who’ve had many Canadian hits of their own from the 90’s through to the 2000’s such as “Squeeze Toy”.  They co-wrote “I Saw The Devil” with James, and someone else also gets a songwriting credit – now’s the time for the interesting back story!  That someone is Canadian actor Jason Priestley, currently in “Private Eyes” but most noted of course for “Beverly Hills 90210”. 

As James tells me, “”I saw the devil… I embraced him, but I pushed him away” was a direct quote Jason had commented to his wife and sister when he came out of a coma, after his tragic car racing accident.  Jason also gave me his blessing in having a song written around that quote… a quote written in his memoir.”

So let that quote be your guide, along with the multitude of talent behind “I Saw The Devil”.

Toronto’s @GoldComplexband returns with the R&B/jazz/pop fusion of their album New Soul featuring “Meant To Dance”

GOLD COMPLEX, “Meant To Dance”

It’s been a while since we heard from Toronto’s Gold Complex, an eight member R&B/jazz/pop collective that released its first EP a few years back.  Since that time, I’ve also written about their lead singer Will Bowes and his solo work.  Gold Complex’s album New Soul – which includes “Backbone” from their EP – is everything that you could like about a fast-paced, effortless record that straddles many genres.  Will can be a powerhouse singer given the song, and we’ve heard his softer but potent solo songs too.  And the band is incredibly tight – these musicians have each other’s backs, hard enough to do with eight personnel.  But if there’s a song to focus on here, to me it’s the lively, diverse “Meant To Dance”, one of the more pop-oriented songs on the album but it’s incredibly radio friendly.  It’s got a delicious pause around the minute mark which can make or break a song, but it shifts wisely into high gear right after, and then unleashes Will’s fierce voice.  The rest is a delightful mix that has a lot of 70’s flavour.  And a dance remix could open up “Meant To Dance” to clubs too.

I was fortunate to see Gold Complex in concert for one of their sets in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, March 9.  They are better live than on record, and this is where Will’s wide vocal range has the opportunity to flourish.  I hope to see them again, perhaps in a more intimate setting, either indoor or outdoor, for full effect!

Published in: on March 13, 2019 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Let It Go” is bright and tasty future bass from Toronto’s @Wildfirebeats

WILDFIRE, “Let It Go”

“Let It Go” is meant to be played from huge speakers at an outdoor club pool party, with enough high-end future bass sounds to resonate around the block.  It’s all brought to you courtesy of Toronto-based producer Wildfire (aka Paul O’Brien) with bright and shiny synths and a crisp female vocal.  The rhythm of “Let It Go” struts along well until a few well placed drops cause you to lose control and let your body flow right along.  I do believe Wildfire has a lot of potential with “Let It Go”, and the producer has already received past support from the likes of The Chainsmokers and Alison Wonderland.

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Published in: on February 14, 2019 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Toronto duo @Isla_Den bring chill, danceable, electronic story-making to your attention with “Navi.6”

ISLA DEN, “Navi.6”

I’m not sure what “Navi.6” is all about, but I think that’s part of the appeal behind the new single from Toronto electronic duo Isla Den (aka Ellie and Michael).  This is indie DIY story-making electronica that throws me back to the early 80’s when folks like The Cocteau Twins were emerging to bring another side to the new wave sounds that became more popular, with a vocal here that recalls late 80’s UK groups like The Sundays or The Heart Throbs.  What I also like about “Navi.6” are the inspired tempo shifts, and the spiritual, other-worldly side to some of its lyrics, particularly later in the song.  “Navi.6” is a fine song to generate interest in what Isla Den are all about after receiving some attention last year with a debut EP.  The duo received subsequent acclaim for bringing their songs to life through visuals in concert, and a follow up EP is coming soon.

Isla Den play The Garrison in Toronto on Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Published in: on February 9, 2019 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Heaven” returns as a bigger bolder dance anthem courtesy of @Dzekomusic & @RiggiandPiros and @beingVeronica

DZEKO and RIGGI & PIROS and VERONICA, “Heaven”

Indeed, the 80’s #1 by Bryan Adams that originally started life as a ballad in a film called “A Night In Heaven” with Christopher Atkins and Lesley-Ann Warren has been reinvented and transformed many times, but none more successfully than DJ Sammy’s Europop version that became a worldwide smash in 2003.  As readers know, I’m particularly selective about what cover versions I enjoy.  And while some may think that 15 years may not have been long enough to welcome a new version to clubland, Toronto’s Dzeko and New Jersey’s Riggi & Piros fire it up and set it ablaze, aided by a winning vocal by another Torontonian, Veronica, who did well in Europe (and particularly Belgium with a #1) last year with “In The Mood”.  So this new version is definitely less pre-fab and more anthemic than the DJ Sammy version, from which it still draws inspiration.  And does it work?  Yep it sure does, for both clubs and radio. I’ll put money on radio stations – particularly in Canada, to support homegrown talent of Dzeko and Veronica – playing it to follow up Dzeko’s collaboration with Tiësto on “Jackie Chan”.  And I’d love to hear some remixers share their new takes on this pop classic to help broaden its appeal to receptive club DJ’s.

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Check out funky and melodic “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore” by Toronto singer/songwriter @DallasRodin

DALLAS, “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore”

Following up “Spaceship” from earlier this year is “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore”, the latest from Toronto singer/songwriter Dallas.  The song offers a memorable melodic hook which makes it ideal for Canadian pop radio in particular.  It’s got a funky anchor which fits like a glove when played side by side by songs by Rihanna or Melanie Fiona.  The singer’s no-nonsense vocal certainly represents young women who need to take a stand with poor relationships and get out before they do them no good.  But with that underlying narrative, “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore” would also still fit well in a club setting and remixes would benefit it in that regard.

Published in: on November 10, 2018 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#Toronto’s @LizLokre delights us with powerful piano ballad “Stop Runnin'” from @LittleItalyfilm

LIZ LOKRE, “Stop Runnin'”

Toronto singer/songwriter Liz Lokre makes the most of a powerful piano ballad called “Stop Runnin'” by having it featured in the recently released and highly acclaimed film “Little Italy” (starring fellow Toronto area native Hayden Christensen, and set on Toronto’s Italian strip on College Street).  The song grabs you from the first few words she sings and doesn’t let you go in its empowering story of self-realization that so many young people can relate to.  The melody and piano playing create a lovely, warm, and inviting cushion.  “Stop Runnin'” could do well, particularly in Canada, at Adult Contemporary radio which would surely welcome such a glowing song with big intentions.  Check out the video for this fine young new talent above.

Published in: on September 27, 2018 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Listen to passionate, powerful “Mad At The World” by #Toronto’s Will Bowes @wilsonbowes

WILL BOWES, “Mad At The World”

Despite its title, “Mad At The World” is a passionate plea to find more love in us all, as written and sung by my fellow Torontonian Will Bowes.  If you recognize his name, it may be from his appearances on TV as a teen in “Naturally, Sadie” and “How To Be Indie”, followed by appearances in films like personal fave “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, “Hunting Season”, and “House At The End Of The Street” opposite Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.  But “Mad At The World” could light the fire for a pop music career for Will, written in response to two recent tragedies in Toronto resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries.  He certainly draws upon classic styles one would associate with Elton John or Billy Joel but that you can also find in recent releases by Harry Styles, James Arthur or Father John Misty.  Will’s gruffer, bluesy tones bathe in the emotion which makes “Mad At The World” a compelling, thoughtful release.

Published in: on September 14, 2018 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Canadian alt.rock trio @NikkisWives return with EP Motor Court… and a splashy, tight live Toronto showcase

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NIKKI’S WIVES, Motor Court (EP)

Hailing from London, Ontario, alt.rock trio Nikki’s Wives is keeping well afloat of the cluttered indie market by making good, if uncharacteristic choices to help support their tight, well-written songs, which you can hear in their new EP Motor Court below.  The band consists of singer Nikki Whitehead, guitarist Dylan Lauzon, and drummer Nate Baylor.

Readers of this blog know the band from their feature on last year’s dance hit by fellow Canadians Loud Luxury called “Show Me”, one of my favourites of 2017.  And although it was outside of their regular genre, it was enough to kick start getting the band noticed, having opened for the likes of Cee-Lo Green and others since that time while touring North America. 

Last night’s splashy, free (but ticketed) showcase in Toronto at the intimate Rivoli – hosted by Edge 102.1’s Alan Cross no less, and co-sponsored by that radio station and Exclaim! magazine among others where there was an abundance of free drinks and food – showed off a hard-working band yielding fine results from all of that touring with a punchy 30 minute + set focusing on songs from Motor Court.  Led by the immense stage presence of singer Nikki – think Gwen Stefani meets Joan Jett meets Lights – it was a memorable evening that will help take Nikki’s Wives to the next level. 

And what of the songs from the EP?  They’re gritty, aggressive and melodic.  There are a lot of harder rock influences at play here, and the oh-so-true “Breaking Up” is the highlight.  You’ll be hearing much more from Nikki’s Wives throughout the rest of 2018!

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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