Alice Cooper

Fri Feb 26, 2021

This week we spotlight Second Harvest Central Food Bank
1450 Lodestar Road Unit 18 Toronto.
Tel: 416-408-2594

Member agencies have been coping with the new realities of providing emergency food relief during COVID, whether it’s changing their community dining programs to take away meals or offering prepared hampers instead of food bank access. Many agencies have closed their doors, which has put further strain on the food resources of agencies that have remained open. Support your local food bank. The need is dire.

Alice Cooper’s getting back to roots on new album “Detroit Stories,” a heady brew of classic rock, soul and R&B as a tribute to his rocking hometown. Along the way he corralled members of legendary Detroit rock acts including MC5, Grand Funk and the Detroit Wheels. Also featuring the muchly underrated Steve Hunter, architect of not only the Alice Cooper band sound but that of the Lou Reed touring band, and honorary Detroiter Joe Bonamassa.

Some of the faves around here are “Go Man Go” a pedal to the metal high speed car chase of a song about a parolee and his girlfriend who are taking it to the limit,

“I Hate You” featuring members of the original Alice Cooper band trading insults in a song that references new wave as well as punk, and “Detroit City 2021” which name-checks Detroit rock legends Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Iggy Pop, Suzi Quatro, MC5, Grand Funk and the Detroit Wheels. No A.C. song sports a better rock pedigree. Funnest thing dood has put out in years.

Available all over and well worth a buy. Drops Feb.26.

Check this cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Rock’N’Roll’:

The Wanted
The Wanted

With just over a month before the release of their latest album Strange Flight, twitchy Toronto folk/blues practitioners The Wanted have shared the title track as the second single, available today on all digital platforms.

It's another sample of The Wanted's honest and gritty approach to roots music, a sound the Toronto-based group has been honing since releasing its self-titled debut album in Spring 2020. That record has since tallied close to a half-million Spotify streams while earning them appearances at the Mariposa Folk Festival, Folk Alliance International, and the Canadian Country Music Awards.

For Strange Flight, The Wanted chose to raise their game further by enlisting production assistance from Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, whose trademark sonic approach emphasizes live group chemistry. That was indeed the end result after the core trio of Natalie Rogers (vocals, guitar), Jeff Rogers (vocals, guitar) and Richard Henderson (lap steel guitar, vocals), along with bassist Dan Mock and drummer Kyle Sullivan—borrowed from Jerry Leger’s band The Situation— emerged from the Junkies’ recording studio The Hangar with Strange Flight’s 10 tracks.

When asked about what inspired the creation of the title track specifically, Jeff Rogers says it came out of the harrowing abuse experienced by a boy Natalie knew as a child, who ultimately committed suicide. “That song started really as a cry of frustration and anger at things in the past we can't change. It also came at a time when I was listening to a lot of dark, ‘60s spaghetti western-influenced guitar music. I wanted the song to have a kind of a cinematic quality, which I thought suited the song’s emotional content.”

The Wanted have grown by leaps and bounds artistically since forming in 2003 out of informal songwriter gatherings centred on Toronto clubs the Cameron House and the Tranzac. They bonded over a shared love of classic roots artists such as Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt, and that connection continues to guide them nearly 20 years later.

With Strange Flight, The Wanted pay homage to tradition while expanding upon it, with the end result being an album that offers a musical experience appeal to fans across the roots music spectrum.

It’s a ‘Strange Flight’ here

R D Fex
R D Fex

Powerful and timely new rock single and video from Toronto singer/writer/performer R D Fex is Rip It Up, a throwback to the scalding barroom rock of the Eighties. Spoiler alert, it’s not a cover of Little Richard’s ‘Rip It Up.’

 “The song title refers to our desire to “rip up” the 2020 calendar as we all want to forget what we lived through. The Covid-19 pandemic that shook us in early March 2020 changed the world we once knew. Since the lockdown measures have caused lifestyle and living restrictions and for many, major financial ruin and not to mention an innumerable death toll.”

Rip It Up was written by Roger Fex and Denise Fex, a brother and sister team and is performed by R D Fex (vocals), Joshua Aguas (back-up vocal and bass) and Zane Hawley (back-up vocal, drums and guitar).

From the opening guitar chords, and the rattling the rafters vocal lead, "Rip It Up" harkens back the golden age of Canadian hard rock radio and its female stars like Holly Woods, Vancouver’s Darby Mills and metal queen Lee Aaron. It’s a flavour long missing and nice to hear it back.

‘Rip It Up’ here

Adam Ndaro Solomon
Adam Ndaro Solomon

Fresh out of the oven from the vivid and versatile Kenyan singer/songwriter/guitarist Adam Ndaro Solomon is Kuona (To see), which, in the man’s own words is “some Hendrix chops, and pure rebellious reggae against Brutality, Racism, and Systematic racism, that has left most of us like buried alive, and some like empty shells. The secret behind it, it’s like the Dark sand being poured in the grave, "some a buried a live ", some a living in shells they have no life anymore!”

Available at the website.

Solomon remains one of the brighter lights on Toronto’s African music scene with his explorations of African-based blues and the outer limits of rock’n’roll, and has been so since the heady days of Tarig Abubakar & Afronubians and Tikisa,

Check the pastoral Umazi here:

Bryce Thomas
Bryce Thomas

Toronto singer/songwriter Bryce Thomas returns from a five-year recording hiatus with "Perpetual Motion Machines," the first single from his forthcoming album Across The Neuro Seas, set for release on March 26. "Perpetual Motion Machines" is available now on all digital platforms.

Bryce describes his sound as “mariner folk-rock “partly because many of his songs reference bodies of water. However, on Across The Neuro Seas, the title’s play on words reveals a much deeper meaning. Bryce wrote most of the 12 tracks for his fourth full-length album during a month-long span in the spring of 2020, just as pandemic restrictions were taking hold. He credits the creative surge not only to lockdown anxiety, but also to an urge to get back into the music game after tending to his growing family. He made full use of his time, recording the album himself on his laptop, with the tracks later mixed by Josh Bowman and mastered by João Carvalho.

Bryce didn’t hold back, performing all vocals, guitars and keyboard tracks along with a variety of other instruments, except for drums and some bass— performed remotely by Marito Marques and Chris Monster, respectively—a horn section, and additional vocals by wife Lisanne.

The album’s overall labour-of-love aesthetic extends to Bryce’s lyrics as well, from his meditation on the passage of time heard on “Perpetual Motion Machines” to the almost Zen-like ballad “We Shall Be Bound,” which brings things full circle with some fortuitous help from a songbird who managed to get on tape.

He says, “‘Perpetual Motion Machines’ is probably my favourite song on the album because it’s the most autobiographical. Plus, it’s in waltz time, which I always think gives songs a special energy. And I scored the trumpet part for it, which was a lot of fun. For ‘We Shall Be Bound,’ I envisioned it as a closing song along the lines of Jackson Browne’s ‘The Loadout,’ with the lyrics aiming to reflect the cultural changes the entire world has been experiencing over the past few years. Having these songs bookend the album makes it feel sort of like a short story collection to me.”

In between, on songs such as “Young Lovers” and “Summer Nights In Summertime,” Bryce captures the immediacy of a new relationship—in a ragged folk-rock manner on the former, and intimately on the latter. Conversely, he injects the power of experience into “Widow’s Walk” and “Hope And Chance,” two songs that sat on the shelf for 25 years until finding their moment.

An active figure in the Toronto indie scene of the 1990s, Bryce was a regular on Toronto stages and a passionate supporter of numerous Canadian singer/songwriters of that era. Across The Neuro Seas pays tribute to some of them with the song “Up Around The Bend,” incorporating lyrics by Hawksley Workman, Joel Plaskett, Sarah Slean and Danny Michel.

 ‘Perpetual Motion Machines’ here

Taylor Abrahamse
Taylor Abrahamse

Around the world, millions of people are living with Parkinson's Disease, and a throwback rock & roll song from Canadian singer/songwriter Taylor Abrahamse is aimed at creating awareness around the chronic, degenerative neurological disorder and raise funds for its research.

"Out Like A Light," found on Abrahamse's 2020 self-titled debut, sounds as vintage as it does immediate, harkening back to classic rock, while feeling just modern enough to cut through the pop hits of today.

The inspirational and warm music video—in partnership with the Michael J Fox Foundation, Parkinson Canada, and the Davis Phinney Foundation—features Abrahamse and his mother attending a local TKO boxing program, an initiative that helps people with Parkinson's manage their symptoms and improve their mobility. “This video is very special to me, as it features my mother and how she uses boxing to help with her Parkinson’s Disease.”

"I’m glad to be doing something for the Parkinson’s community that has helped my mom out so much, and I’m so proud of her for finding the courage to appear in the video. We took a tough situation and made lemonade, and I’m glad to see the positive impact the video is already having for people with PD & their families."

And while Parkinson's is no cakewalk, the tenacity, determination, and sheer joy of every video participant—who agreed to be filmed at their most vulnerable time—is moving to watch. The music video is touching with its home movie style, and offers a snapshot into the lives of people with Parkinson's - both the trials, and their loving, supportive families. Taylor's mother chimes in near the end of the video with a hopeful message of enduring the disease with help from TKO.

Pair all of that with Abrahamse's energetic guitar work, soaring harmonies, and overall dynamic range as a musician, and "Out Like A Light," shines as a powerful piece of Canadian rock n' roll linked to an important cause.

"Out Like A Light" was produced by the Grammy-award-winning engineer/producer Eddie Kramer, who’s been a huge booster of Taylor’s from the get go. After playing an impromptu song on the Canadian Music Week conference floor, he was called that evening by Kramer, who convinced Abrahamse to record a debut album and the rest is….coming soon.

Out Like A light’ is here:

Frankie Sharp Photo Credit Austin Dean
Frankie Sharp
Photo Credit Austin Dean

Speaking of classic rock, which we weren’t, here’s a voice to the hard rock holler born Frankie Sharp, aka Natalie Franciska Sharp, a Canadian actress, singer and songwriter from Vancouver, BC. When her acting career was temporarily sidelined last year due to the pandemic, Natalie decided it was the perfect time to develop her music career, and that’s when Frankie Sharp was born.

Stuck inside and living with an upright piano in her studio apartment, she started writing music. A chance introduction to Vancouver singer-songwriter/producer, James Faulkner and a music collaboration ensued. The result is Frankie’s first single ‘Wait is Over’ originally written about a potential relationship, exploring that nerve-wracking waiting game you play before you decide to “go for it” and admit your feelings to that person. Filmed at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, the song’s electric 80s inspired video is a collaboration with her director brother Alexander Sharp.

“For the video, my brother and I loved the concept of ‘going down the rabbit hole. In the video, you see me drawn to this mysterious venue where I have this spontaneous performance experience, which ends up showing me what I’ve been longing for - to be a singer and find self-expression. It is totally a parallel to my life, that I am finally tackling my music dream.” 

Frankie Sharp's debut single 'Wait Is Over' is available now on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide.

The ‘Wait Is Over’

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