Ricky’s Favourite Songs of the Year

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Hatchie, March 15, 2018

I feel like this year my list should come up with an asterisk, as I pretty much stopped absorbing new music when I had to take a 2 month work+fun trip in September to various parts of the world.

Still, up until then it was pretty good. Here are some songs I really enjoyed this year in no particular order.

Karen O & Michael Kiwanuka – O My Saint
This track was penned by Karen O for some Kenzo commercial, further cementing Karen O’s marriage of music and fashion. Yet this is clearly not a YYY song, with it’s slow build and the intertwining vocals between Karen and Michael. The results are memorable

Superorganism – Everybody Wants to be Famous
Probably my most listened to song of the year, this song is just catchy and fun. You would think a song peppered with so many sound effects and somewhat gimmicky sounds wouldn’t work, but somehow it all comes together in a fun and enjoyable package.

Lana Del Rey – Mariners Apartment Complex
An argument can be made that all of Lana Del Rey’s songs sound very similar, but I think that’s just her voice and delivery style. This track is her first with producer du jour Jack Antonoff and I’m not a big enough Lana fan to know if it made any real difference. Either way, I really like the first two lines of this song “You took my sadness out of context / At the Mariners Apartment Complex” and generally find myself enjoying this song.

Let’s Eat Grandma – It’s Not Just Me
Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut record was enjoyably weird. Something changed in the past two years and the duo decided to make ear-worm pop anthems with this year’s release of I’m All Ears. I’m not going to complain.

IDLES – Great
Definitely one of the most universally hyped and loved bands this year, IDLES rode the tidal wave of momentum from their SXSW showcases right into the consciousness of all punk rockers in 2018. The album tries it’s best to translate their energetic and exhaustive live show into a digestible format and it does a good job. GREAT is among a handful of GREAT songs that showcase this band’s ferocious energy and penchant for quality song writing. Don’t sleep on these guys

Sundara Karma – One Last Night On This Earth
I think I’m one of five people in North America who likes Sundara Karma. Anyways, these guys seem like the Rifles before them, intent on bringing back Brit pop. Unlike the Rifles, these guys do it with a heavy dose of glam and attitude. I, for one, am ready for a Britpop revival. Maybe these guys will chaperone it in.

Gang of Youths – My Heart is a Muscle
Well, technically this was released in 2017, but only in Australia so it doesn’t really count. I was describing Gang of Youths to someone the other day and they were like ‘oh, so they are posi-core?’. Is that a genre? I don’t even know. Gang of Youths are a happy band that was made to send out positive vibes. Their music reflects that and it’s weird because you don’t hear that many songs today like that. I don’t know why. Anyways, think anthemic rock that you want to jump up and down to while singing along. That’s them. It’s great.

Starcrawler – I Love LA
You listen to this song and you totally know it’s from LA. It’s guitars and just the right amount of detached coolness to it. Also, it has the word LA. I think I like this song more because of their live show, but it’s a good tune.

St. Vincent – Fast Slow Disco
This pop reworking of Slow Disco was released this July and man, it’s a delicious pop song that probably lit up dance floors this summer (I don’t go to these places). It’s a wonderful lesson to all artists – don’t be afraid to review your old tunes (even if it’s just one year ago) and rework them.

Shame – One Rizla
Shame or Idles. Seems like this year saw the rise of two rock bands from the UK of a similar aesthetic. Both have many things to say and quite the rambunctious rock shows. As is typical of the UK press, there is some notion that there is a competition. I say you don’t have to choose between the two. Don’t cling to conflict and just let go, just let go.

Lucy Dacus – Night Shift
This may or may not be my favourite song of the year. I always like songs with a slow build and this breakup song starts off in familiar singer/songwriter territory before exploding into something else and it’s great.

John Prine – Summer’s End
This song could have been in 1959, 1989 or 1999 – it has a timeless sound. I’m new to John Prine but apparently he’s quite popular in the folk world. This song is about the opioid crisis but its message should resonate with anyone.

Ricky’s Shows of the Year

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Here are my favorite show’s of the year. Due to travelling, I was unable to see all the shows, but that’s life I guess.

David Byrne, Sony Centre

My favorite show of the year, with so much creativity and thought put into each piece. There is simply no other show like a David Byrne show – armed with an empty stage, a gang of dancers and musicians and a stellar light show, the show makes you appreciate what a concert can be. It helps that David Byrne utilizes his entire discography, which obviously results in joyous moments when the Talking Head tracks come on. The only sad thing was that this show was at a seated venue because people wanted to dance. Favorite show of the year.

New Order, Molson Amphitheatre

There used to be a notion that New Order was a shitty live band, but I’ve seen them twice and I have been delighted each time. They just play the hits man, and the hits are great. My only downside for this show was that they didn’t play “Ceremony”. I guess that’s just a drawback from a band that has 40 years of hits to draw from.

Meute, SXSW

A German EDM Marching band just blew everyone away at SXSW. The energy that this group generates was amazing and they literally had a real bass drop. One of my favorite surprises at SXSW and one that my friend Derek was so enthralled with he kept on seeing them in Austin

Starcrawler, SXSW

Never before have I been to a show that was equally electrifying and terrifying. Starcrawler’s Arrow De Wilde has a presence on stage is astounding for someone who has barely been in the game and the vibe she creates as she stares wildy at the stage and crowd thinking what to do next is one that I won’t forget.

Young Fathers, SXSW

Thank god for The New York Times. This show was part of a New York Times Music mag party at SXSW that also included free Shake Shack and top shelf liquor. All of this added to the intense show that Young Fathers put on, a show that came one day before their fantastic new record Cocoa Sugar came out.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Field Trip

Good bless Karen O.

Concert Preview: Faust at Jam Factory

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Photo credit: Jan Lankisch

Wavelength prior to this week has always been known to put on shows for eclectic Toronto bands, so it was a surprise to see them book German krautrock band faUSt this summer. Even more surprising was that it was booked at a place called the Jam Factory, which sounds like a place you would go in the ’90s to listen to Chris Shepard or something.

Nevertheless, here we are, one week away from from what should be a pretty interesting show in the east end. Formed in 1971, Faust released four albums in the ’70s full of experimental rock that eventually, along with a few other bands, become labelled as Kraut Rock. They then disappeared for twenty years before re-emerging in the ’90s and have been casually around since then.

They just released their Fresh Air album last year and are touring now in support of that. It’s an opportunity to see a unique band in a unique space, so go check it out!

faUst play Sunday, July 15 at the Jam Factory.

Field Trip Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alvvays, Etc

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It was a dreary rainy Sunday for day 2 of Field Trip but that most certainly did not stop ANYONE from having an amazing time. The lineup for day 2 was stacked. At the top of that lineup was Yeah Yeah Yeahs, returning to Toronto for the first time in a few years. So let’s start with them.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs are awesome live and nothing you say can convince me otherwise. Karen O is a certified rock star that is maybe the most captivating person to watch on the stage to have emerged in the past twenty years. Dressed like a cross between the coolest Doctor Who or the fanciest luchadore, Karen O just put on a fantastic show. She’s got the rock pose down pat, her growls and dancing during the song energizes the crowd and just the way she will put one leg on the monitor, lean forward and urges you. You know you have the right captain. That’s not saying Brian or Nick Zinner didn’t do a terrifc job, they were equally great of course, but just not as mesmerizing.

It’s also great that the songs have aged very well. Not a single song of theirs sounds dated, even “Sacrilege,” a single off the mostly ignored fourth album, sounded strangely in place besides all the hits. “Zero,” “Heads Will Roll” and “Gold Lion” all got people moving. Then there was “Maps.” An absolutely beautiful track that had the entire festival crowd silent and singing along.

Set closers “Cheated Heart” and “Date With the Night” left the crowd all worked up, although if there’s one minor gripe, it’s that the part in “Cheated Hearts” where Karen O goes into the crowd and gets each person in the front to sing got a bit long (she did this the last show too). A minor complaint for what was otherwise an amazing show. Maybe the best headliner ever at Field Trip.

Allan Rayman

Not entirely sure who he is, or how he got the closing slot on the small stage, but apparently Allan Rayman is a mysterious singer from Toronto who looked like a cross between Jared Leto and Father John Misty. Moving around the stage in a half drunken manner (although that’s probably how he moved) Allan Rayman sang some stellar r&b tunes to a crowd that was really into his music. I’m not sure how I feel about his raspy voice but the man’s got a presence on stage and that goes a long way.


Alvvays are a perfectly fine band. They have put out two amazing records and I’ve seen them a few times live now but as of right now, their shows are just okay. I guess it’s a byproduct of their music, which has that soft dreamy pop like sound, but also has a very limited range in terms of tempo. They just don’t do that much on stage and with two albums sounding somewhat similar the music kind of blends together after forty or so minutes. Still, I loved their second album and hearing “Dreams Tonight” live was a treat. I do wish it was sunny and warm outside for their set, as that is the perfect environment to hear them live.


My favorite discovery from Field Trip, Cuco plays this kind of stoner synth experimental slacker rock-rap music that’s hard to describe. Just 19, the band shows a wide range of musical influence in their music. I think if Animal Collective grew up in 2010 in Southern California and had a bunch of diversity, they would make this type of music. Even though they were somewhat all over the place, it all worked magically well. I’m definitely checking them out in the future.

Allie X

One of my favorite underrated pop acts to emerge recently, Allie X gets the award for putting the most effort despite having a early time slot. The singer dressed like a star and played songs new and old to a mostly appreciative crowd. Songs like “Casanova” had people moving and it was a great way to start off the day.

All in all, a fun day in the rain.