New Music: So Down Low by The Elwins

The dear darling gentlemen of The Elwins just released their first single off of their sophomore Album “Play For Keeps”  (Out in the spring of 2015). The Newmarket, Ontario group has been making waves in the music scene for a few years now. Their hella catchy tunes are at the top of my list when I need an instant pick me up.

So Down Low is just a slight departure from what audiences are used to, the hooks are tighter; the subject matter is edgier and darker.  Having toured extensively across Europe and North America, the maturity of a well-toured band is evident in this first single. So Down Low has been playing on repeat in a loop for hours.

If this song is any indication, The Elwins have primed themselves to ascent to the
top of the world (charts).

Check it out yourself below.

 

An Ode to Topper’s Pizza

Topper's Pizza

For those who know me they know that I don’t care much for pizza. However, I wanted to take a quick moment to pay tribute to the greatest pizza place in the world Ontario.

Topper’s Pizza can be found in 38 towns throughout Ontario. Mostly in parts unknown to those of us raised and living in the Greater Toronto Area.

This humble pizza shop has a very limited menu, all for good reason. They do one thing very well; pizza. They have the requisite salad and wings but when the pizza is as good as I’m swearing it is why bother ordering anything else.

From their large variety of toppings to their pledge to serve only the best ingredients this pizza is the stuff dreams are made of. Truthfully, the secret lies in their crust.

This gem of a pizza joint has been around since the early 1980’s and it baffles me that more people don’t know about it. Their tag line “Amazingly Delicious” truly says it all. If you ever find yourself in small town Ontario do yourself a favour and seek out Topper’s. Treat yo self to a whole pie as they don’t sell individual slices because trust me you’ll want more than one slice.

(This is a completely unsolicited endorsement)

Cooking Burgers With Beer At The Works

The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro has been making headway into their planned nationwide expansion, with more than 20 restaurants throughout Ontario and one in Newfoundland so far. Yet the fast-growing full service restaurant chain has been experimenting with what they can put in between burger buns since they first opened their doors in Ottawa. With more than 50 burger options on their menu today, they show no signs of stopping their domination and innovation on the gourmet burger scene.

I recently had the chance to preview their newest burgers, which will be sold from Oct. 20 to Jan. 4. The new theme, Cooking With Beer, was highlighted by thoughtful beer pairings and beer-based ingredients in every dish.

Root for Mah Piggy
Root For Mah Piggy– Jones root beer BBQ glazed pulled pork, crunchy onion strings, beef patty, topped with housemade root beer BBQ sauce, lettuce and tomato, on a toasted pretzel twist.

Barking at My Cow

Barking at My Cow – Smoked brisket, Barking Squirrel beer-braised onions, Jack cheese, bacon, beef patty, topped with Barking Squirrel beer BBQ sauce.

Beer Goggles Burg

Beer Goggles Burg– Beer battered and deep-fried beef patty, topped with creamy Moosehead beer cheddar sauce, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles.

All of this was capped off with a beer nut milkshake which was the perfect blend of sweet, salty and crunchy.

Beernut milkshake

There were also awesome sides, like the Tower O’ Rings, which came with a variety of sauce options, and fresh baked pretzels, with a cheesy dipping sauce made from beer.

IMG_6808

IMG_6807

The clear winner of the day was the Root For Mah Piggy. The housemade BBQ sauce was so delicious I wanted to take a jar or two of it home with me and I can’t wait to head back to the St. Lawrence Market location, to give each of these burgs another try.

This post also appears on Fat Girl Food Squad

Women don’t forget about your health too! #getthepap

Cue the wave of complaints and compliments for those growing moustaches this November. While this month is definitely off to a hairy start and lots of us have balls on the mind I thought I would take a quick second to talk about something us ladies rarely do. Last week was Cervical Cancer Awareness week, and the Canadian Cancer Society wants us ladies to know that pap tests save lives. I make sure to get checked annually but as extra motivation:

 

CCS

This is Shannon’s story.

Shannon Pethick was just 32-years-old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She hadn’t had a Pap test in six to seven years, which finds changes in cervical cells that could lead to cancer. Once found, these changes can be treated before they become cancer. Shannon is now cancer-free but sadly the radiation treatments she underwent put her into menopause at 32 and she’s unable to have children.

Shannon wants to prevent other women from going through the same thing, and as a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer she’s educating women about the importance of Pap tests. If you’d like to chat with Shannon she’s available by Skype, on Twitter, Facebook or even to chat over a cup of coffee.

I really encourage everyone to keep this conversation going, because at the end of the day the more people talk about this, the more people will feel comfortable getting themselves checked. Please share and follow the conversation on Twitter, or check out the Canadian Cancer Society website for more information.

CMW 2012 Recap

I saw a lot of bands play last weekend as part of the festival portion of 2012′s Canadian Music Week. If you were living under a rock between March 21-25th hundreds of bands across the city played to audiences of all sizes.  I believe I saw close to twenty bands in those four days, some of them twice. Most of them were wonderful, and it was tough to come up with just a few that blew me away. Nevertheless, here are some highlights for my 2012 Canadian Music Week.

Grey Kingdom at El Mocambo

Grey-Kingdom-CMW-2012-Toronto-March-2012

Label mates with some of the best and brightest musicians in North America, Spencer Burton’s – formerly of Attack in Black Grey Kingdom is a showcase for his tender vocals and heartfelt lyrics. The upstairs room at The El Mocambo was pin drop silent as Grey Kingdom took the stage.  Playing with a full band including a standup bassist and violinist, the true star was Burton’s vocals. Complete with lovely storytelling about some of his newer songs, Grey Kingdom was a surprise highlight during my CMW show going.

Army Girls at Parts and Labour

Army-Girls-Parts-and-Labour-CMW-2012

If the size of the crowd for the Thursday night show was any indication, I knew I was going to be in for a treat when Army Girls took the stage.  There have been comparisons between them and early Land of Talk recordings, however, the ferocity of Army Girls’ live presence is unmatched to many bands of the same size. Guitarist and vocalist Carmen Elle is well known for her other projects, as is drummer Andy Smith, who was surprisingly tight that night. The short set proved that they definitely have the power to tackle larger stages and are set to tour this spring with PS I Love You.

The Elwins at Rancho Relaxo

The-Elwins-Rancho-Relaxo-CMW-2012

The Elwins seem to be everywhere these days. Coming off a very successful US tour with a stop over in Austin for South By South West, and the last night of Canadian Music Week was a huge welcome home for them. These hardworking boys recently put out a self released album, which has been receiving rave reviews. The wall of photographers and the eager crowd made this homecoming an extra special night and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen audience members sing along to every single song. This and their absolutely adorable poppy sound made the closing night of the fest one for the record books. Add in audience participation for “Fox Tale”, and you cannot help but leave an Elwins show with a perma-smile, much like I did.

Great Bloomers At Sonic Boom In Store & El Mocambo

Great-Bloomers-Sonic-Boom-CMW-2012

This five piece has been a staple in the Toronto music scene for a few years now. They recently joined Dine Alone Records and to celebrate they released a 7-inch, which is being sold in limited quantities at their shows and are set to drop their highly anticipated sophomore album later this year. I had the pleasure of seeing them play twice during the festival. Lowell Sostomi’s voice is one of the most unique and brilliant out there, and it’s no secret that I am a huge fan, but their new material is leaps and bounds better than their already excellent debut album Speak of Trouble. The energy and power of their set is unmatched by many of the bands out there, by adding in a solid roster of songs it makes every live show an absolute treat to be there.

Coincidentally all of the bands that I have highlighted have new music out now or will be releasing new music in 2012. Believe me when I say that all of these albums will be on the best of 2012 lists before the year is out.

This post also appears on Sidewalk Hustle

 

I have a very special place in my heart for Couchsurfing. As an active (not as much recently) member since 2007 I have had the opportunity to meet and experience some incredible people, places and, things. Janice is the primary reason I got involved in the project in the first place.

Janice Wong- CouchSurfing Project

Janice’s CouchSurfing Project Final Presentation

She was (and still is) this really rad girl who I would always be in the front row with at shows right through the early and mid 2000’s in Toronto. I never remember how we officially met but I just know that I’m glad to have her in my life. We have both surfed at eachother’s places in different cities, and at one point might have contemplated becoming roommates.

Janice is someone I model my approach to communities both online and off upon. She is open-minded and respectful of people. She is constantly wanting to learn from others in any way possible. She is a ridiculously talented designer currently living in The Windy City, working on a dual Masters of Design and MBA.

Take a second to check out her work and also Couchsurfing. Feel free to ask me any questions you have about Couchsurfing, including how to get involved. It’s a such a unique experience that I hope more people I know get involved with.

Kittens! Dolphins!

Here’s a video of a kitten and a dolphin, it makes me love the internet more because things like this exist: