I was fortunate enough to snap up some excellent seats for Nickelback's Feed the Machine tour when it arrived in Toronto this summer. I am not prepared to debate the merits of Nickelback with anyone until they actually attend one of their shows. Opening for the concert (which also included a solid set from Daughtry) was my "find" for 2017, Shaman's Harvest.
I am almost embarrassed that it took me so long to "find" this band, and their incredible country-heavy rock laced sound. This band from Jefferson City, Missouri, has been releasing albums since 1999. Fortunately, even though I was late to the party, I have made every effort to educate myself on their back catalogue. They are straight forward no-holds barred rock, and Nathan Hunt's voice gives the band a unique and powerful sound. This is the type of music that is missing off radio for the last five years. There is no auto-tuning here :)
To give you an idea of what Shaman's Harvest brings to a concert, I have selected my favourite track off of their 2014 album "Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns". "Dangerous" does have a few swear words in it (so you are forewarned), but like all good rock songs, you'll be banging your head and playing air guitar by the time the song is over ;)
The Pogues are an Irish folk-punk rock band that had a lot of success on the alternative circuit in the late 1980s. Fronted by talented singer Shane MacGowan, the band played politically-tinged punk music supported by traditional Irish instrumentation.
The band's greatest commercial success came with their 1987 album "If I Should Fall from Grace with God". "Fairytale of New York" was the largest hit off the album, and has been voted the best rock Christmas song of all time by many trade publications and blogs. My favourite Pogues' song, "Dirty Old Town" off of the 1985 "Rum, Sodomy & the Lash" album gives you a glimpse of the unique flavour and instrumentation of this very talented, but troubled band.
The Violent Femmes were my first introduction to protest music (thank you President Reagan), and they, much like the bands I listed below, played a large role in my exploration of alternative music in my senior high school years.Their music was an innovative combination of American folk, gospel, blues, and punk rock, which became known as "folk punk". The group quickly gained a following that never veered into mainstream commercialism. A few songs that gained recognition include "Add It Up", "Blister in the Sun" and "Kiss Off". Always popular on college radio, their self-titled debut album went platinum 8 years after its release.
"Blister in the Sun" has been posted below to give you a sample of the unique sound that is the Violent Femmes.
I have always enjoyed fun-punk/pop music, and Bowling for Soup is one of my favourites. While most of the lyrics are sophomoric in nature, there is something in everything that they write that demonstrates an underlying intelligence and sarcasm that I can relate to in my life. Many of the bands videos, such as the one for the immensely popular song "1985", demonstrate this excellent sense of humour. They also cover songs from artists such as Britney Spears, Flock of Seagulls and Bryan Adams, and their unique punk spin on these "standards" is quite refreshing. The cover of Modern English's "Melt With You" is my favourite.
Several of the band's lesser known songs, such as "Girl All the Bad Guys Want" and "High School Never Ends" are on heavy rotation on my car's MP3 player. One of their more poignant releases, "99 Biker Friends" off of their album "Great Burrito Extortion Case ", is a good example of how the band handles a relevant and troubling problem (in this case that of male violence towards women) with thoughtful humour (and a tune I can't stop humming for days after I hear it...)
I have always had an affinity for lyrical and harmonic Punk Music, such as Green Day, Sum 41, and a slightly lesser known band, Rise Against.
Rise Against appeals to both my musical and political sensibilities. The band actively promotes animal rights, are straight edge, PETA supporters and vegetarians . The band also supports most progressive causes, such as being anti-sweatshop, and they also appeared on the Rock Against Bush albums that sprung up as punk-based push back against the repressive and socially-backward policies of the Bush Presidency.
Rise Against have had a lot of critical and commercial success on both sides of the border. I have included their interesting cover of the Journey song, "Any Way You Want It" off of their Revolutions Per Minute album.
An exploration of the music that holds meaning in my life.