Toronto’s music scene never ceases to amaze me. From great acts like Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez – who recently was on a track on Eminem’s Kamikaze – we Torontonians have amazing talent. But what most people may not know is that we specifically have a great punk scene. From my experience of going to a few punk shows, Toronto does not like to play around. From intense moshing to constant crowd surfing, it is a non-stop rollercoaster. And we have good reason to go all-out: Dilly Dally, a Toronto alternative rock and grunge band, gives us all reason to do so. Coming out with their second album, Heaven, on Sept 14, they have everything one would need to in order to tag along on their journey to notoriety.
Releasing their debut album, Sore, in 2015, the band has been pursuing music and constantly touring to release a second album. Katie Monks, the guitarist and vocalist, gives a dominant performance on each track with fierce, shrieking vocals, but can quickly alternate into a soothing sounds. The band gives a very early-to-mid 90’s feel – a bit like The Cranberries but with a little more head banging. I recently had the opportunity to go see them when they opened for FIDLAR, and the juxtaposition of Monks’ calming presence on stage compared to her loud voice was not what I had expected. The loud powerful screams matched with a woman standing still, barely making a face had me leaning over the barrier for more.
“I Feel Free”, the first track off of Heaven, and also their first single, starts with breathy vocals and almost made me think of the band Hole fronted by Courtney Love. I can already picture an alternative music video with the band in a dark room rocking out way too aggressively while staring into the camera – sorry for describing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but it’s what I envision. The emotional vocals quickly match the long, powerful screaming of Monks and then fade to match with the instrumental of Liz Ball, the guitarist, and Jimmy Tony, the bassist, belting out with Benjamin Reinhart’s loud pounding on the drums.
The album’s lyrics display a stronger meaning and allows the listener to look between the lines. Heaven touches upon themes of self-care, relationships, confidence and even sobriety. “Sober Motel” brings a lot of passionate words to accompany a time of struggle. “Wanna tell you/I’ve been waiting so long/ When I’m sober/ My soul comes screeching/Screeching.” The track creates an emotional trip for the listener, and even made me feel like I had been down the same rabbit hole. When you feel enough sentiment for Monks in “Sober Motel”, get ready for “Marijuana”, a love/hate song about something that keeps Monks “still” but with “anxiety” qualities. This track opens up a door to a different tone for Dilly Dally and allows for a softer feel for the band. The song slowly starts to break down towards the end with fast-paced pounding and long, slow howls.
From its release I have listened to this album from top to bottom a good few times. It gives such a throwback vibe but with a modern twist. If the album cover doesn’t give you enough reason to pick it up and give it a whirl, then I hope this review does. Artists like Dilly Dally, I would say, like to evolve their sound and are not afraid of to cater to different audiences. We’ve seen it with bands that have come out in the 80’s and had to re-establish their sounds for the grunge era. It’s not an issue because music is forever changing and evolving, but I do think it is time for another round so that everyone can get back into the teen angst culture.
Dilly Dally’s previous album, Sore, had also given a similar vibe of emotional and angsty vocals, but Heaven allows that to shine through more instrumentally. Although this genre of music may not be widely appreciated on the radio or on most people’s playlists, I say give it a good listen. I feel like the punk music genre and its sub-genres aren’t given a good chance by mainstream listeners because its time has passed, but I still very much stand by the saying “punk is not dead” – it is alive, well, and thriving in Toronto.