“Energy.” “Conviction.” These are the first (and second) words that entered my mind while listening to Sonic Scene Kids’ debut album, Live, Laugh, Toaster Bath.
Hailing from Toronto, the members of Sonic Scene Kids were individual veterans of the local music scene for nearly 20 years before teaming up to create this impressive rock offering that, according to them, took inspiration from ska, punk, indie, metal, rock, and a significant helping of emo-rock from the early 2000s. And yes, I do hear a bit of Blink 182, Sum 41, and that brand of popular post-punk, but there’s something more powerful here – something truly genuine. The aforementioned bands seemed to have a style, sure, but the emotion was lacking. With the Sonic Scene Kids, it absolutely isn’t.
Live, Laugh, Toaster Bath has its musical touch points (as mentioned above), but I’ve never connected to those inspirations. The Sonic Scene Kids, however, simultaneously create a modern but nostalgic sound that rises above those emo guardrails to create urgent, soul-affecting rock. Let’s break it down:
Album opener “Less Than Human” starts with phasing guitars, takes off, and man, it never relents. Remember that first word – “energy” – because it’s positively stuffed with it. The vocals touch higher registers, reminding me of an 80s Geddy Lee – not screech-soaring like earlier Rush releases, but able to sit above the track’s fuzzy, punchy midrange. The chorus, in a way, and especially due to a lower octave accompaniment, reminds me of 80s rock superstars, the Hooters. And yes, I know that comparison shouldn’t exist, but I hear it, and it’s awwwwwesome.
Track #2, “Snake bit,” kicks off with four clean chords, and then ignites. This is ska meets The Police, meets reggae, meets the aforementioned emo-rock that usually welcomed teenage shoppers at burgeoning Hot Topics. And the chorus? Uplifting with higher vocals and a more gravelly vocal response. Also worth noting – the little bass arpeggios that remind me of Rush’s Geddy Lee. If bass player Chris Hadzipetros is doing this on purpose? Well, then – I salute you, sir!
“Hideaways’” incorporates some strumming, more percussive acoustic guitar, some walking bass, and an intro by the second vocalist with his character-filled lower register. And the chorus reminds me of…well, I hate to say it, but I hear the Hooters. And please, PLEASE take that as a complement, fellas!
Before continuing, I just have to mention how tight this band is. Everyone is absolutely connected and utterly supportive throughout every quick, angular change with pulsating picking (courtesy of guitarists Kyle Mallouk and Peter Ward, and bass player Hadzipetros), and absolutely electric, in-the-pocket drumming (courtesy of Austin Davidson). And every note chosen and performed is permeated with that incredible, previously mentioned energy. Seriously, these guys ROCK.
Now, moving onto my favorite track – “Heaven.” The drums are propulsive, and higher vocals enter a dialog with a lower, diabolical voice, which escalates to a near argument before delivering the chorus – an AMAZING chorus that pleads for help, and receives answers in the form of a higher voice saturated in a from-the-clouds reverb. Gooooood stuff.
In the final song, “Hold Your Tongue,” I hear more of that percussive acoustic guitar and some backing synth-strings. With driving verses and a calming, glistening chorus, “Hold Your Tongue” departs from that early-2000s post-punk and truly embraces the melody. And when it ends, it does so quickly, but the final chord allows the emotion to permeate long after the final, audible note.
My summation: Holy crap, I really liked this album. And holy crap, I really shouldn’t have. I was never a fan of the early-2000s ska/emo/very-long-shorts-with-wallet-chains movement, but these guys sprinkle it in a blender with raw, passionate, unrelenting rock. With powerful vocals and pristine playing, I think we just stumbled upon your new favorite band. HIGHLY recommended.
BELOW: Listen to Sonic Scene Kids and check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook. Please support Sonic Scene Kids by visiting them on their website, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.
Check out our interview with SONIC SCENE KIDS:
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Listen to LIVE, LAUGH, TOASTER BATH by SONIC SCENE KIDS:
Booking & contact information for SONIC SCENE KIDS:
Contact: Kyle Mallouk