Toronto post-hardcore band Lost Cities, who have amassed an impressive following given that they have only released one EP and one LP, are disbanding after many years.

The announcement came as a shock to their many loyal fans and followers, especially since they just released their full-length record in December.  They played an intense farewell show at the Smiling Buddha in Toronto, performing to an over-capacity crowd.


The show was emotional, not only because we’re losing a truly unique and impressive band, but because these guys have been best friends since high school and though the reason for the breakup is simply that their drummer is moving to California, it’s hard to imagine that Lost Cities will exist no longer.  In a touching tribute to the original line-up, the guys invited their original bass player who had left the band last year up for a few songs.

The silver lining that brightens our spirits is that four of the members have already formed a new project and are busy writing new material that’s in a similar vein, but heavier still.  Stay tuned for news on that.

In the meantime, do yourself a favour and head over to Bandcamp where you can download their new record, Still  for only $5 (or, name your price). And, read the lyrics. Wow. We Don’t Get To Choose is an extra track released in January and not found on Still, which seems a heartfelt and difficult goodbye to the band and also their fans.

DSC08832_1We Don’t Get To Choose

There was no right way to let go
But I did the best I could
Telling you the things
I thought that I’d want to hear
And watched as you shook

Everything’s immediate
And all of it to waste
We’ve swallowed up sincerity
To save for the greats

Hold on
The line is so defined
I’ve got too many questions
I’ve got too many words
But not enough time

Hold on
This can’t have been enough for you
But we don’t get to choose

Please don’t forget me

Heavy stuff.  Farewell, Lost Cities.  Can’t wait to see what the new formation brings.

Top two photos by Andrew Schwab and the last by Devon Stewart

Gothic rock/electronic rock band The Birthday Massacre spent a good chunk of last year touring Europe and the US, but put on a stellar show for their loyal and intense fans in their hometown of Toronto last weekend.

Originally formed in London in 1999, The Birthday Massacre has undergone some member changes, but the current line-up consists of Chibi (vocals), Falcore (guitars), Rainbow (guitars), Owen (synthesizers), Nate Manor (bass guitar) and Rhim (drums).  The name The Birthday Massacre was chosen for it’s contrast; light against dark, sweet against sinister.  The music reflects this idea, with it’s distorted guitars and often industrial beats working in tandem with Chibi’s beautiful, melodic, pure vocal lines soaring over top.


Since releasing their last studio album in 2014, Superstition, they’ve been touring heavily while also working on a new album. With six albums under their belt already, there’s plenty to keep you entertained with while you wait!  Check out this gem:

Fellow Toronto band The Nursery opened the show with their glorious synth-pop/psychedelic blend. True ear (and eye) candy with this lot! Definitely worth checking out!


Photos by Devon Stewart

Rarely these days can you sense the location a record was made in the actual recording.  Both of Toronto band Whitebrow‘s albums reveal a strong sense of place.

Their debut self-titled record was recorded in a vacant church and you can hear and feel the church on that record, almost as if it were an additional band member.  It has such a striking presence that it became an intrinsic part of the recording, and cannot now be separated from the music, in my mind.  In fact, singer-songwriter Gabriel DeSantis talks about tapping into the unique vibrations of locations in this video: .

Old Building Sessions Ep.01 Pt.01 – Whitebrow – Thousand Steps from rcfilms on Vimeo.

I wondered if they’d be able to capture the feel in the same powerful manner on their follow-up record, but they’ve done it, by golly! Mono Vodou, recorded in the barn-studio of Grammy-nominated producer Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case, The New Pornographers) in Mono, Ontario, is a wonderful collection of songs.

It’s blues music with splashes of the South thrown in. Perhaps not quite as haunting as their debut LP, it is reverent, compelling, darkly mysterious and catchy as hell.

Whitebrow 1

A natural story-teller, DeSantis’s lyrics paint vivid pictures, and he often delivers his cleverly crafted poetics in short bursts. And, you can feel the vibe of the barn in the music. Hunter’s Moon was written during their time in Mono, and is perhaps the most natural representation of this.

Watching them play live is magical. It’s the power of the songwriting combined with the mix of instruments; there’s an indescribable feeling about it.

The live band consists of DeSantis on vocals, guitar and periodic percussion, Rosalyn Dennett who makes the violin cry in such a beautiful and sad manner, Matt Elwood on banjo and Sam Petite on bass. All proficient musicians in their own right, they blend perfectly together.

Mono Vodou

In short, Mono Vodou is a refreshing take on blues music. If you like music of the South circa the 1950s, you’ll really dig this.

You can purchase the album on iTunes. Whitebrow will be touring Ontario and Quebec in early 2016.

Photos taken during their December 2015 show at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto by Devon Stewart

Folk, country and blues singer-songwriter Oh Susanna put on a hell of a show this week at Toronto’s The Great Hall. It was extra special because she invited some friends along to play, and she has some very spectacular friends indeed!

Andy Maize, Ben Kunder, Sarah Harmer, Jane Siberry, Justin Rutledge and Colleen Brown were among those privileged enough to be called up. Coming up one at a time, these gems performed their songs with Suzie and her band.

Suzie performed many of her own songs as well. What a voice! Such strength and clarity of tone. The show concluded with a melodious group encore, where Suzie re-wrote the lyrics to Go Tell it on the Mountain and we had a good, old-fashioned sing-along.


The event was in keeping with her album Namedropper, a collection of songs written for her by many of her musical friends, including Ron Sexsmith, Jim Cuddy, Amelia Curran, Melissa McClelland, Luke Doucet and several others. What a brilliant idea for a record.

As such, the record boasts variety in subject material and tone, but Suzie made each song her own and is the cohesiveness that keeps this wonderful collection of songs together. My two favourites are Oregon (Jim Bryson) and Mozart For The Cat (Melissa McClelland).

Oregon is magical. It boasts a delicate, childlike innocence. There’s a reverent quality to it, both in the lyrics and in the simplicity of the song, plus the way Suzie sings it. Jim Bryson does such a wonderful job with the lyrics that it paints a vivid picture of lazy afternoons and the simple pleasures in life.

Mozart For The Cat is quite a contrast to Oregon;it’s sassy! It’s fun and punchy and Suzie’s delivery is bang on.

Namedropper was actually in the works in 2012 and almost finished by spring 2013 when Suzie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off for treatment, and released the album in October 2014.

Suzie proved last night that she’s back, sounding and looking stronger and more confident than ever. Hats off to her and her band, and her obviously supportive and caring friends.

Here’s a video for Goodnight, performed last year at The Great Hall:

• 1998 – Genie Award for Best Original Song “River Blue”

• 2003 – Juno Nomination for Best Roots and Traditional Album for Solo Artist For Oh Susanna

• 2007 – Juno Nomination for Best Roots and Traditional Album for Solo Artist for Short Stories
• 2007 – Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Songwriter in English

• 2007 – Canadian Folk Music Award Nomination for Best Album Short Stories
• 2009 – CBC Great Canadian Song Quest winner
• 2011 – Juno Nomination for Best Producer for Soon The Birds
• 2015 – Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year
Photos by Stephanie Beatson

In their annual festival and gala, this year’s Toronto Independent Music Awards (TIMA) were held at Toronto hotspot Revival.  The event featured many of the winners from last year, including an electrifying performance by electro-pop/psychedelic rock band The Nursery,2014’s Best Rock or Indie group.

DSC06568 2

Recently back from their Ontario/Quebec tour with Montreal’s Das Blankout, they’ve just released an impressive new single Hexes and Oh’s  which is available on iTunes. Catch these guys next time they’re in Montreal if you want to see something truly original, fun and unique.  Their newest tunes employ energetic dance beats and synths that throwback to the 80’s – really groovy stuff.

Check out this wickedly creative video for She Speaks the Wave:

Another highlight was uber-talented Jojo Worthington, whose charming voice mixed with effected ukulele and electronics is a refreshing twist on folk music.  No wonder she just announced a new Universal USA publishing deal!

Jojo Worthington

Dani Strong represented the country genre and not only did she capture and keep the attention of the crowd despite the Blue Jays playoff game, but she does some mean Jays players impersonations!  She puts on a fantastic show.

DSC06285 2

Duo OSIYM, Out of Sight, In Your Mind, brought things up a notch with heavy bass, industrial beats and hip hop vocals.  These boys, Charlie Black and Nova, were intense and energetic for their entire set, playing many of the tracks from their July release, Spirits.


The awards portion of the evening was comparatively quite short versus the musical performances.  Congratulations to the winners for 2015, and keep your eyes and ears open for these talented artists:

Best Folk Or Roots:  Birds of Bellwoods

Best Singer-Songwriter:  Chris Rivers

Best Adult Contemporary:  Sarah Smith

Best Country:  Leah Daniels

Best Out-of-Province:  Bud Rice

Best Urban:  Es

Best Rock:  A Primitive Evolution

Best Indie:  The Naked Wild

Best Pop:  Dee Bronte

Best Jazz Vocals:  Ori Dagan

Best Jazz Instrumental:  Brownman Electryc Trio

Best World:  Sultans of String

Best Young-Songwriter:  Lyric Dubee

Best Instrumental or Classical:  Alessandra Paonessa

Best USA:  Christian Lee Hutson

Best International (Tied):  Them&Us and Cherisha Etnel

Best Overall Press Kit:  Dani Strong and Jutes

Best Song (Grand Prize Winner):  Chris Rivers – Calm Waters


Let’s just try to get this out of the way: Jack White, Jack White, Jack White, Jack White. It is impossible to discuss Cincinnati rock-revivalists, the Greenhornes, without mentioning the man in red, white and black.

So, yes, the Greenhornes’ Patrick Keeler (drums) and Jack Lawrence (bass) are better known as Jack White’s go-to rhythm section. They are found on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose (2004), comprise one half of super group, the Raconteurs, and Lawrence plays bass for black-leather-clad rockers, the Dead Weather.

With leadman Craig Fox, however, Patrick Keeler and “Little” Jack Lawrence are the Greenhornes and have been, according to their myspace, “churning out the highest quality rock n’ roll for well over a decade.” On Sunday, April 3, the trio will be at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern accompanied by San Antonio’s own, Hacienda.

The Greenhornes are touted as Brit-rock mimicry with no revisions, according to their myspace biographer. We are urged to draw up bands like the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Animals, et al. In fact, Fox’s vocals are pure Eric Burdon of the Animals whenever he abandons his Iggy Pop croon for a more explosive, rock n’ roll yelp.

Their latest release, ★★★★ (2010), is their first full-length since 2002 and was produced by (surprise, surprise) Jack White and released under his Third Man Records. Albeit more inventive than their earlier releases, ★★★★ leaves me with nothing to grab on to. The songwriting and instrumentation have matured, the production is slick but it seems to lack something. Something important.

At a 2001 show in Houston, the Greenhornes shared a bill with the White Stripes. During the Stripes’ set, Jack stops to berate the audience thusly: “Now, all you people who were sitting down when the Greenhornes were playing have committed a moral sin and may god have mercy on your souls. Especially all you hipsters standing still, who haven’t been to no rock n’ roll show and don’t know how to move your head even.”

Forgive me, Father Jack, for I too have sinned. I caught the latter half of a Greenhornes set a couple years ago in Toronto and remember it as nothing too ground-breaking, just loud (I sound like a lame parent, I know). I recognized their Brit-rock bent and heard a punky, garage rock flavour but again, was somehow left hanging.

Despite all this, the Greenhornes are worth seeing. They are an entertaining live rock show and if you’re in the downtown Toronto area Sunday night, I urge you to check them out for yourself. I truly want to love this band: I want to be blown away, be proven wrong and have to eat these words for Monday breakfast.

Also, if you plan on going, be sure to catch opening band Hacienda. These rocking Texans are gaining serious momentum under the tutelage of Black Keys frontman, Dan Auerbach, and will join the ‘Hornes as they head to Montreal‘s La Sala Rossa two nights later.

Sunday, April 3, @ the Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. West, Toronto
Hacienda @ 9:15, Greenhornes @ 10:30
Tickets are $14.50 in advance, $17 at the door


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