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Lindi Ortega – Lived and Died Alone

song of the week!

Last night I had the true pleasure of seeing this lovely lady live for the first time. Sad to admit she’s one of those names I had always heard but never paid attention to, placing her in the ‘probably too CanRock for me’ category just by way of associated acts. The Rootstock show I was reviewing¬†last night only reaffirmed that unfair categorization, placing her in between Steven Page, formerly¬†of Barenaked Ladies fame, and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea (someone I would normally avoid ever seeing).

Of course, as soon as she opened her mouth to start singing, I realized how far off I was. I was immediately blown away by the sheer tone and beauty of her voice. The most famous pop stars of today only wish they had a vocal as captivating and original as hers.

Making the night even better was how she described her songwriting process, and how she came to write the beautiful songs she sang. This one particularly struck a chord with me as I tried to hold back tears, making it the perfect choice for song of the week.

Give it a listen:



Nokia Music Now Available In Canada + I No Longer Think The Killers Suck Live

nokia music canada lumia 520 review jbl wireless speakers tech music blog the killers toronto acc annoucement

I recently had the chance to attend a Nokia Canada announcement event at Air Canada Club alongside a handful of other Toronto music + culture bloggers. The invite wasn’t clear on what the event was for – just that they would be making an announcement, Alan Cross was a guest speaker, and we were invited to stay for The Killers show happening a little later in the evening.

I’ll never turn down a free concert – yes, even a free Killers concert.

Surprise, surprise, I am eating my words from last fall where I talked about how horrid The Killers are live. Yes, when I saw them WAY back in 2004 they were indeed horrible. But almost a decade later, they have learned from all that bad press and found their groove. Thank god. Playing to a stadium sounding the way they did in 2004 – charging what they now charge – would be a joke.

There’s something to be said about road experience. They have it now, along with a huge budget to back it up (and maybe ensure the auto-tuning that happens on the album is in place during the show, so Brandon’s vocals actually hold up).

Beyond the fact that vocally, he sounded worlds better than what I remembered, his stage presence was off the charts. No longer was he just singing songs and not looking at the audience, acting too cool for anyone. No, he was the picture of a leading man Рintroducing every song, interacting with the audience, building the energy up, running around the stage, having fun with the band Рhe was in complete control. It was like I was looking at a completely different performer Рthere really is no comparison with the brooding Vegas douche who needed vocal lessons that I witnessed during the Hot Fuss tour.

They also smartly stuck to the hits – meaning it was still a Hot Fuss heavy set, which made it extra nostalgic and enjoyable for me, since I tuned out after that album.

Anyhow – back to my original reason for being there.

As it were, the event was to announce the release of Nokia Music in Canada.

The speakers for the evening were delayed because the Killers decided to soundcheck at the exact same time the event was scheduled – I’ve never seen a band soundcheck a huge empty venue before (or watched a show from the ACC Club box seats), so that was actually kinda neat.

When it did begin, Alan Cross told us about the future of mobile music, and how Nokia Music has done what (in my opinion) Apple should have done a long time ago, and is offering up free access to their massive music collection with the purchase of any of their Windows smartphones.

I wondered what the catch was, because free music services always seem to  have a catch Рbut the only catch is that you have to buy the phone. As it should be.

Of course, they do need to make money to pay the artists, so if you want to avoid the 6 song skip limit I grudgingly endure with Songza on my Android, you can subscribe for unlimited skips. Definitely worth it.

They gave all the bloggers at the event a Nokia Lumia 520 to take home so we could personally try out Nokia Music – along with an amazing wireless speaker from JBL, Monster earbuds, and a one year subscription to Nokia Music.

I have made it no secret that I do not enjoy Windows 8 and its weird unnecessary app start screen in place of the start button – so I was skeptical about a Windows smartphone to say the least – but after playing with it for a couple weeks I can officially say it’s a solid (and very affordable!) smartphone.

For one – it looks 100x prettier than both the Android, iPhone and Blackberry (all of which I have owned at one point). The way it lets you personalize the screen is, for me, the most attractive of all the smartphones by far. The way that Windows 8 fails as a desktop, it wins as a smartphone. It makes perfect sense to have an attractive app home screen on your phone.

Nokia Music is amazing, because not only can you listen to all the music you want – it will take a look at your personal music collection and recommend artists for you to listen to.

You can also make custom mixes from your favourite artists. I made a ‘Broken Social Scene, Elliott Smith, Nirvana’ mix that purely played only songs I love – something that doesn’t happen so much on my other music apps.

The BEST part? You can download mixes right onto your phone so you don’t need a data connection to listen. Do I need to repeat that? The worst part about Songza is that it cuts out in the subway when my data connection cuts off, leaving me music free.

There’s no need to worry about such a situation happening with Nokia Music. This is particularly awesome for me as it means I can listen to my mixes when I take Mr Bojangles on walks, even though I haven’t switched my phone service over.

The Windows phone definitely wins against my Android in terms of music performance, beauty/simplicity of the layout and homescreen, and touchscreen ability (you can use it with GLOVES ON).

But, I am hesitant to switch over until they acquire an Instagram app. That is the whole reason I got an Android in the first place. They already have all the other necessary apps РInstagram is the only one I would legitimately miss out on. But this is the first incarnation of the Windows smartphone so there is a lot of room for improvement on all the apps.

I can’t wait to see where Nokia and Windows go with these new smartphones. I can definitely see myself switching over soon enough. The music alone is ¬†a good enough reason.

Have you tried Nokia Music? Would you consider switching over? 


Giveaway – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Kool Haus

Black Rebel Motorcycle club in toronto win tickets to kool haus show may 9th 2013

Another giveaway! Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is back with their new album Specter At The Feast, and they’ll be playing Kool Haus in Toronto Thursday night in support of it. I couldn’t be happier. They’ve been one of my favourites since they released the absolutely flawless Howl in 2005 – one of the strongest albums of the decade.

Thanks to Live Nation you can win a pair of tickets to see them play by subscribing to TTRO – just enter your email in that little box on the left sidebar and once you click the confirmation email you will be entered. If you’re already a subscriber and you’d like to enter, just comment below using the email you used to subscribe – where it asks for your email (not in the body of the comment!) – so I can confirm.

Contest ends and the winner will be contacted Thursday morning. Watch the video for the gorgeous new track “Returning” below:



Giveaway – Dropkick Murphys at Hamilton Convention Centre

Hamilton, this one’s for you (or those of you in the GTA and surrounding areas willing to make the trip since they’re not playing Toronto for some strange reason!). Courtesy of Live Nation, I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to the Dropkick Murphys show at Hamilton Convention Centre on Saturday, November 17th.

All you have to do to enter is be a fan of TTRO on Facebook and like the status about this contest. Winners will be contacted via Facebook on Thursday November 15th so be sure to check your ‘other’ messages folder on that day.

I gotta say, I’m sad they don’t have a Toronto date, would have loved to see them sing their drunken Irish bar songs in person.

If there were ever a song that should be played at the end of the night at every bar (besides Closing Time, of course) it’s this legendary piece of gold:

I’m a pitiful sight, and I ain’t all that bright¬†
I’m definitely not chiseled from stone¬†
I’m a cheat and a liar, no woman’s desire¬†
I’ll probably die cold and alone¬†

But just give me a chance, ’cause deep down inside¬†
I swear I got a big heart of gold 
I’m a monogamous man, no more one night stands¬†
Come on, honey, let me take you home 



Edgefest 2012 with Yukon Blonde, The Darcys and Indian Handcrafts

edgefest 2012 review video ttro at edgefest the darcys dfa 1979 yukon blonde indian handcrafts sidestage outdoor music festival toronto live music elliot lefko downsview park interviews summer

So, I went to Edgefest¬†this year (my first time back at Downsview Park since 2003 for SARStock) and decided it would be fun to shoot a video documenting the day/highlighting my favourite bands playing the fest – aka those playing the side stage – and I am super proud of how it turned out. BIG HUGE THANKS to the incredibly talented Jake Chirico of the Collective Friction Film Collective for shooting and editing this for me – hire him for all your videography needs! I love the way it turned out, and it’s a nice first attempt at the video format for TTRO. I am the worst at transcribing interviews, so I may stick to video for such things in the future.

The day was hot, sweaty, and filled with great music. Edgefest is an interesting beast, in that the lineup can be quite diverse and therefore include a lot of bands I’m not so into, but the small stage was packed with bands I loved this year, and it was fun to get to hang out with some of them and talk about the day.

The highlights for me were sets from The Darcys, Yukon Blonde, The Coppertone, and Young The Giant, talking to Indian Handcrafts about moshing (they feel the same way about it as I do!), the DFA 1979 guys having a cheer off for their GTA suburb hometowns of Scarborough and Mississauga, climbing up the big hill at the back of Downsview and getting a beautiful view of the whole festival (pro tip – if you don’t care about seeing what’s happening on stage you can hear Downsview shows for free at that spot), and being offered $100 for my backstage wristband from the mom of a tween who was desperate to meet the guys in Billy Talent.

As sweet as that mom was for trying to make her kids dream come true, I know I did the girl a¬†favour¬†by saying I couldn’t. In a few years she will be¬†embarrassed¬†she actually liked this band so obsessively, as I am for running in front of the Backstreet Boys tour bus when I saw them live.¬†Oh, to be a 12 year old girl again (thank god I’ll never be a 12 year old girl again).

The only disappointment was missing out on Hacienda and The Apache Relay’s sets, would have loved to hear them.

If you like it, please spread and share the video – you can grab the embed code at the end.