Tag Archives: Toronto Bands

Sarah + 1, A Tribute To Sarah Vaughan: A Trip Through Time By Toronto’s Delilah

10 Apr


Contrary to most Cultures, Canada is vocally proud of its multicultural roots and global identity. Despite the fact that most of us (Canadians) are generally in agreement with this statement, even the residents of Residents of Toronto frequently refer to their city as a “cultural melting pot”. While this isn’t an inherently mean spirited statement, it is uttered with far more frequency when its context is something akin to any pair of historic European arch-enemy factions, who share a community during FIFA.

Too many people seem emphasize “melting”, when the important part’s “cultural”. Visionary artists, such as Delilah, have an innate understanding that the aforementioned melting pot metaphor works both ways.


The promising Toronto Jazz songstress lay’s down such a performance on her 4 tack EP,  “Sarah + 1, A Tribute To Sarah Vaughan” that it is easy to miss the subtext behind her personal life and personal inspirations. Delilah began her singing career when she was 10, and continued to purse her songstress ambitions after she moved to Canada when she was 19.

Regardless of how versed one may be with Steve Tyrell or Tony Bennett, there is something captivating about Delilah’s particular style of singing, which reflects likes a mirror off of the underlying, smooth, background piano and saxophone support.  For example: “September Rain” is as refreshing as a summer morning jog, where Delilah’s siren singing chimes in as sweet as a pure spoon of sugar.


“Just Friends” follows up with a slower, sober sounding melody. The bleak lyrics of this song may appear as if they were written in a teenager’s journal, which may mislead some tough guy listeners (such as myself, obviously) to scoff under their breath during the initial play through. After a few repeat, attentive listening, however, Delilah’s crestfallen brand of bitter-sweet chiming narration  begins to make one reach whatever poison they use to keep their emotional stitching numb and tightly done up.


The next track, “Whatever Lola Wants” is the titular cover of the Grammy award winning jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. While this 1955 classic has much iteration, Sarah Vaughn’s version was immortalized by her trade mark sassy stylization matter-of-fact-pace that soars over the supporting back up brass and drums. What makes Delilah’s modern adaptation of Vaughn’s culturally engrained style seems to be more of a theatrical statement. Instead of recreating Vaughn’s almost minimalistic approach, this track goes for a grander approach, with livelier percussions and brass backdrops over a particularly sultry and sensuous re-definition of “Whatever Lola Wants…. Lola gets… You’re no exception to the rule… I’m irresistible you fool…”

“Smile” is may or may not be Delilah’s most immediately representative song on this record, but is inarguably the track with the lengthiest amount of relevance to western art’s history. While the timelessly positive lyrics and titular subject matter were originally authored and added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954, the original musical composition was written in 1936, by none other than Charlie Chaplin. This intimidating history is definitely well handled and adapted by Delilah to be in context with her style, on-stage persona and the intended message. The backing harmony of piano chimes, blasé strings and enduring percussions really personify the bitter-sweet atmosphere of the song. But when Delilah’s slow, soothing voice enters the mix, it really turns into something powerful, like an antidote for avenoir, exulansis, altschmerz and all of the other obscure sorrows.


It really pays to consider the songstresses’ aforementioned personal origin story, as makes both the context and authority in “Smile” personal and knowledgeable. Both of those truly artistic agencies that force the listeners to even temporarily re-frame or question the self a not only a reflection to Delilah’s craft, but a testament to the “cultural” melting pot that permits such depth and vigour, even from music that was composed half a century ago.

As a youth culture that is broadly defined by the trends it pursues, few artists incentive or interest to explore the truly remarkable chapters of own history, let alone attempt to interpret their significance for others. Delilah’s “Sarah + 1, A Tribute To Sarah Vaughan” is not only a perfect representation of the musician, but of how a dedicated perspective of the seminal individuals and genres can be written to raise new interest from those outside of the modern niche.

Check out more of Delilah’s music:

Return For Refund – Return For Refund EP: The Titillating & Talented Toronto Trio That Totally Tear It Up…Live

17 Mar

      In 2015 it takes much more than boldness for 3 adult men to set everything aside, in order to pursue their musical ambitions as 3 piece rock band. Rock is genre so full of dated tropes and worked to the proverbial bone, that mainstream media turned that harlot haggard at least 20 years ago. Since then, keen observers will have likely noticed that it exhausted so many styles and trends that it is the equivalent of an originality & relevance minefield for revivalist hopefuls.

      Where comically high amounts of such hopefuls fail annually, Toronto’s Return For Refund really set a standard for their peers take notes from their 2014, self titled debut EP.  It takes an original vision, fluid, multi-genre influences and musicianship, conductive group chemistry, and some goddamn gusto.

      What Drew Clementino (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Sasha Molotkow (Backing Vocals, Guitar) and Karlis Hawkins (Backing Vocals, Drums) seem to have internalized that rock is broad in it’s subgenres and ambiguous in its expected role. The 6 rock tracks on this EP are all built on Drew Clementino’s foundational guitar and vocal styling’s, which I can only describe as sleazy (in a good way). Sasha Molotkow, the second guitarist, really compliments this unique style, with uncanny ability to jam a catchy harmony into anywhere or crevice where it may fit and Karlis’ lively, groovy drumming, really tops the band’s vibe to project a boyish, tongue-in-cheek-sort-of-anarchism-and-fun.

      For example, “The Fields” is homage to that particular hard rock sweet spot, which involves motorcycles, distorted power chords and showboating guitar solos dished out so fast that the pedal effects sound like they are blowing a digital raspberry.

      Don’t take that at face value however, as this is simply the band’s way of joking around, not breathing new shock value into tough guy-hard rock. Everybody knows that became irrelevant 30 metal subgenres ago. On its own “The Fields” actually a surprisingly complicated composition when you focus on Sasha Molotkow’s guitar, which clinically injects a compelling, technical layers of riffs to what would be an otherwise an intentionally by the numbers track.

      Return For Refund’s personality really starts to shine in, “TV Light”, where Drew (singer) decides to verbally beat himself up in his own lyrics, whilst ripping a pretty sweet Iron Maiden riff duet, with Sasha Molotkow’s, which an humorous reframing of rock star’s reputation for smashing things. By the third song, “Between The Sheets in the album, it is clear that the band has a great sense chemistry and ridiculousness, which has the subtle effect of the listener rooting for their recorded shenanigans. For context: “Between The Sheets” is an epic ode to System of a Down’s more ambiguous songs (the ones with the catchy guitar riffs, psychopathic ballads and inclusive crowd chants that must’ve came out of an Irish pub in movie. The rambunctious attitude aside, Return For Refunds strongest merits lie with their last 3 tracks, “Yolo”,” Some Is Better Than None” and “Those Bombs”. While “Yolo” sounds like a Nirvana track criticizing the 2013 disambiguation, “Some Is Better Than None” not only borders on being lyrically profound, but really channels the sound of early-day Offspring. It is on these grungy tracks, clearly influenced by the 90’s that the vocalist, (Drew) manages to funnel his delivery into an intriguing direction. My personal favourite is the closing track, a real upbeat, finger-wager titled “Those Bombs”, This major key-Rockabilly throwback is a metaphorical celebration of life, by its virtue of possibly being the one of the cheery, catchy pleas to not die in a fire, in all of music. Drew Cleminto completely breaks pace, to transition from desperate, malnourished rocker delivery, to a level of masculine wholesomeness in the realms of greats such as Sinatra. This track stands out because it directly contrasts every on the EP, but in the best way possible. It provides a context for Return For Refund’s ability to create music more technically and thematically stimulating than this fun but ultimate pulpy release.

      Return For Refund’s debut EP definitely hints at a promising potential within the band, particularly the chemistry the trio has now. On its own terms however, the self titled isn’t significantly above average. It is well produced, sure, but the band needs to refine their style and direction to avoid being known as a talented novelty. I’m sure that they will figure that stuff out by their debut album’s release. That aside, it’s definitely to worth it to see Return For Refund live, as their energy is likely as charming as it is ridiculous.

Review by Alex Slakva
3.5/5 Stars

Learn more about Return For Refund at http://returnforrefund.com/, or check out their music video for “The Fields”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMT9308L70A