The Mood Makers: Young Empireshttp://www.myspace.com/youngempires Must Hear Track: Glory of the NightPhoto courtesy of Myspace
Here’s a band that is so grippingly appealing it’s bloody awesome. Their cloud of mystic powerpop and electro ambiance is catchy, soothing and romantic. In the past year the band has been all over the place, from the U.S. to the U.K and back to our home and native land. Recently playing alongside EMI’s newest hot-boys, Sweet Thing, with a striking follow-up performance at Toronto’s Steamwhistle Brewery—Young Empires move around a lot, spreading their dynamic music not just with us Canucks.
With a New Years Eve gig in Houston, and an upcoming pairing with Chromeo—potentially the “new kings of Canadian music”, as stated by E.T. Canada, are a hot commodity that are well-deserving of the praise. ET Canada is just the latest, Young Empires have received notable affirmation from sources such as NME, Aux TV and I Heart Music.
Their live shows are energetic and rhythmic, compiling songs that blast fun-clutching electro while building an erotic warp of indiepop. Having their sexy song “Glory of the Night” played on primetime’s hit, Cougartown (yes the Courtney Cox one), is another testament of the mainstream lure these Toronto boys lead with.
If you haven’t caught them live, you really outta. They come back to Toronto on January 22nd, alongside Chromeo at The Opera House. Do it.
Check out the new demo, The Earth Plates Are Shifting, on The Indie Machine
The Beat Hooker: J-Lahhttp://j-lah.com/ Must Hear Remix: Black Eyed Peas (Hey Mama)Photo courtesy of Myspace
Cheeky spins on modern hits is a big part of J-Lah’s way. Keeping continuous roars of party pulse with nodding tracks is part of the show; the other is watching him dance. Politely partying, often squinting, Justin Lah has planted his playlists in-and around Toronto, continuously, diligently, and quite noticeably in 2010.
Playing from Andy Poolhall to the Mod Club, pushing Wasaga to London, doesn’t matter where you place him; he works small and large crowds with the same piercing mixes.
Quite commonly known for his remix of Madonna’s Hollywood (with a premium video to match), you can typically find a bunch of his mainstream tweaks bringing a new style of bump blaze. Some are bang on, some have bang peaks.
In a day when people just need a solid beat to release with, anything away from the serious is what you can expect. Hey, come join those 20-something chicks, obviously they’re already all over this.
The Soul-Abiding MC: Kae Sunhttp://www.kaesunmusic.com/Must Hear Track: A Day Goes ByPhoto courtesy of Myspace
The Canadian surge in talent stemming from the Hip Hop/R&B scene is hard not to notice. Acts like Drake and change-summoning troubadours like K’Naan and K-OS have initiated a breakout and Kae Sun should soon be lumped with such premium bacon. The Ghanaian singer-songwriter has a quiet reggae style with folk-tuned ballads drawing on an old school groove vibe that gets into your heart.
His slow-breathing vocals are full of positivism evoking a ‘peace poet’ style to music. At times there seems to be a trickle of smooth surfer pop that is rendered with lo-fi funk, think “Black Candles.”
His LP, Lion On A Leash was released just over a year ago, with Kae Sun also receiving a 2010 INDIE award nomination for Urban Album of the Year. Humbly releasing tracks, the Multimedia and Philosophy grad from McMaster University has a spiritual prose that speaks rather than invades.
The Brothers: The FranDiscoshttp://soundcloud.com/thefrandiscos Must Hear Track: listen to their live show: http://dubplate.fm
Mondays 7-10pm Photo courtesy of Myspace
Two is better than one, simple. Better even is when two swagger-rich conductors release pockets of gritty disco and audacious funk with full-on electro anthems. Catching them around Toronto is quite simple, just go out. Everyone needs a duo like this to filter the shit boredom breaks with the insertion of a fresh mixer. Andrew and Jonathan FranDisco notably are dubbed as vinyl-authenticators, but aren’t shying from the CDJs.
So for the owners that are strong-bulled in the “no internal” mindset, and the one’s who look for pull, not necessarily the most authenticity, this is a good go-to duo.
But, let’s face it; having such strength in vinyl is a bleeding joy. Hands down.
Having played with the likes of DJ Sega, d.a.v.e. the drummer and soon to share the pool-hall with another LiveMusicTO fav’, DJ Barletta, the hometown boys are party residents all over the city. Possibly you’ve checked their Pop with Brains mainstay at the Rivoli, or heard their bass boom on dubplate.fm, or even done a double take at some of the crafty poster art— still working the dance floor is what they do.
Some acts are able to keep the rhythm and presence for a quick minute, others for a mind-shitting set, and some can keep it going hours upon hours, without losing that charging grip. Back in studio for more sexy releases, you can expect to be hearing more of these brothers in 2011.
The Pop Fuser: Diamond Ringshttp://www.myspace.com/diamondrings Must Hear Track: Something ElsePhoto courtesy of Myspace
Perhaps by now this eye striker has caught your fancy. A cover piece in Exclaim and Eye Weekly, a ‘Best New Music’ shout out from Pitchfork, airplay on top charting stations—people have been talking about this kid. They haven’t really stopped.
Comfortably situated among a circle of talented acts all on Secret City Records, Diamond Rings is on the roster with others such as Plants and Animals, Patrick Watson and Basia Bulat. Sure John O’Regan was awed about in the Guardian back in the summer months, but it’s the fall drop of his full-length debut “Special Affections” that should be noticed. Did we mention the B-side is all about power duo O’Regan and Toronto-based artist Owen Pallett? Who doesn’t want to hear a 90’s cover of Milla Jovovich?
Being compared to David Bowie, this man is quirk-twist interesting and addictive. He has an easily loveable sound. Both soothing and mischievous Diamond Rings is mixing mellow down-temp vocals alongside upbeat love-making sexy solace tunes—whatever it is, it works.
As MGMT did for us in terms of breakout and signature transitions in music, with their outlandish and peaked-out pop sounds, Diamond Rings does again but in a quieter and bubbly fusion kind-of-way.by Kathryn Kyte
Ring in the New Year with us in style at an industry-only all-you-can-drink party with The Midway State, The Envy and STEREOS! Following that, January is shaping up to be the busiest and most exciting month in LiveMusicTO history - come make history with us at these amazing shows - seriously, don't miss a single one if you can because we're going ALL OUT!
Billy Gavel takes a minute to catch up with Amely after their set at our December 2010 showcase, check out the interview and their christmas single below!
I’ve always had a great interest in the side projects of good musicians because it allows me to see their creative dimensions at work. One such project getting ready to explode onto the Canadian music scene, is the collaboration of vocalist Jasmine Ming-Wai Ma and Ten Second Epic guitarist Daniel Carriere, called DreamFace
I recently spoke with Dan and Jasmine via Skype about their new material, their creative process, and their plans to launch DreamFace into the live music scene with tentative dates planned in Toronto for the spring.
by Billy Gavel
The Devil Wears Prada, Silverstein and more take the stage in Toronto at Koolhaus!
Saturday December 11, 2010. Photos below.
by Jon Pignataro
The Power Choir: The Resthttp://therestmusic.tumblr.com/ Must Hear Track: Over The HillPhoto courtesy of Myspace
The Rest combine atmospheric power-pop with orchestrated rock acoustics; allowing fear and refinement to peak with straight up fun.
Their latest track John Huston
has a well-versed, well-compressed, whimsical rock sound that resembles the Florida act; Surfer Blood (specifically the track Anchorage
Their latest album SEESAW
is set to release in 2011 and was recorded at producer/long-time friend Dan Achen’s church studio (Catherine North). Achen passed away earlier this year, yet the band stresses his influence remained sound on this record.
The Rest have this ability to mesh their workings of instrumentals and tweaked talent in an unpredictable fashion.
With past tracks like the contagious Walk on Water (auspicious beginnings)
, their sultry rock inevitably brags to be that proper night time soundtrack.
Download John Huston
for FREE here: http://therest.bandcamp.com/
Check out the video with Southern Souls here: http://www.southernsouls.ca/therest2.html
The Nova Rockers: Teenage Kickshttp://myspace.com/teenagekicksteenagekicks Must Hear Track: Shook Our BonesPhoto courtesy of Myspace
When first hearing the debut Shook Our Bones
months back, it was evident that a rock revival was taking place. Sure there were only two tracks released, but two solid tracks at that.
Pounding out a rock anthem that’s gutsy and still catchy, it’s not a surprise the Toronto quartet deem rock legends like Cheap Trick, The Who and Credence Clearwater Revival as strong influences.
As part of the plethora of talent working with Toronto’s Audio Blood Media, Teenage Kicks big time sound and classic sensibilities are worthy of arena attention.
Not seeming to take themselves too seriously, their dedication is in the craft, making music that is bold enough to get praise from those Sixties’ era friends of yours.
A band that speaks to the modern indie-rocker with deep-rooted twang, audacious hooks, and golden age throwbacks—these guys are anything but boring.
With confirmed plans of a new EP set to drop by the end of January 2011, and a feature spot on Audio Blood’s Holiday 2 Night Stand (December 11th) at The Rivoli
, Teenage Kicks are that emerging act that will surely make your heart tickle.
Check out the I Get What You Give
The Infectious Rappers: Times Neue Romanhttp://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/Times-Neue-Roman Must Hear Track: Hands No HandsPhoto courtesy of alexfelipephotography/Myspace
Think 3OH!3 meets Candy Coated Killahz with elements of Rusko. Think layers of basement freestyle and hip hop. Think clever lyrics, Nintendo electronica, gritty funk. Think visual prophecies with poetic stories.
Now listen to Times Neue Roman.
Remember how we used to listen to story prose like Dead Prez’s Mind Sex
or Eminem’s staple track, Stan
Now, listen to Dear Lucile, Talk Soon Aiden
and tell me you don’t feel hints of comforting rap nostalgia.
“You see darling, I’m not the worst kind of asshole, I might wear my baseball cap indoors, I only wear my white tees once…shades at night, of course, but I would never drive a drop top in the winter with the heat on, shit, I don’t even litter.”
What’s hot about this act is not just the sexy blasts of electronica enriched with old school hip hop, but it’s the continual flow of style, one that transitions with heart. This skill doesn’t just come to all acts, Arowbe (Robert Bolden) is an award-winning poet, and the salacious and rebellious sounds of composer Alexander Punzalan Junior are definitely grin worthy. TNR’s tribal bounce is not something to snub without seeing live, you hear.
The YYZ Records act has received continual praise by both mainstream and indie publications and with a new album being mixed, expect some good noise real soon.
“If you don’t like it you are boring.” (from the track To Die
The Heartbreakers: Future History
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Future-History/110679908946665?ref=ts Must Hear Track: For You To ForgetPhoto courtesy of Myspace
A radio-friendly band that attracts more and more as each song plays on is not as common as we’d all hope. Sure we scuff about radio overplay, but sometimes with repetition comes true connections and such a connection can be heard on Future History’s self-titled EP.
Recently taking to The Central’s stage, as part of the Toronto Independent Music Awards sound series showcase, Kevin Kerr’s emotive vulnerability and gripping range was full of stunning awe. It’s hard not to notice the guitar work and full-thrown harmonies like seen in ‘For You To Forget.’
Future History’s sound is comfortably sombre with subtle stabs of realism that make the music so honest; more like gut-tugging honest. Their sweet mixes of synth-pop and catchy ballads along with the noticeable clarity and well-produced tracks make for a front-to-end album of affluent personality that plays both to audiences and individuals in a memorable fashion.
Emotional songs like “A Fall Ahead” and “Closing End,” piled with highway driving musts like “Several Days”, Future History are mixing up compilations and making their own clamours.
Deemed “psychedelic love noise,” these lads create hype-worthy music that connects strangers with crafted truths and sheer sincerity. The band is currently in the writing stages of a new album so hang tight.
The Euphoria Trigger: Electroluminescenthttp://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/ElectroluminescentMust Hear Track: Rattle Around The CornerPhoto courtesy of Myspace
Hamilton’s Ryan Ferguson creates music through puzzles of mood-shifts, conjuring a Mogwai meets Air style to production. A trippy psychedelic tone with breathless hypnotic warps is a start when distinguishing the feeling that brews while listening.
Tracks like clb
are quintessential in the classification, as the mystic blazes of ambient sounds remain to be those reoccurring hints that make Ferguson’s craft so enticing.
It’s not to suggest that all the music is very low-tempo and meant for the introspective sessions, but this splurge of provocative and compelling mixes will surely inspire thought.
Special to note is the reworked layers of synth and guitar styles, which continue to be the solace of sound fans have come to know over the past ten years.
Nowadays, it seems genre is better not distinguished, and listeners who can handle long sequences of electro-solemnise will need not to classify, but instead, simply absorb.
Electroluminescent plugs a drone-like percussion with an underbelly of melodic notes, allowing the sounds to be the stand alones. Having done shows with the likes of Holy Fuck, Woodhands and Chromeo—mesmerising and unnerving at times, Electroluminescent takes the reclusive and makes it beautiful.
For fans of instrumentals as words, make sure to check this steel-town export. by Kathryn Kyte
The thing about rock & roll is its ability to connect– to take the nouns of the world, draw them in, and push them up against each other until friction causes us to feel something. The thing about a rock & roll band, a great one anyways, is its ability to honestly verbalize the human condition. To find the words for everything from that sickness that hides in the corridors of our minds and bubbles up with anxiety from deep inside our bellies, to the absolute pinnacle of rapture, the body’s highest high. Rock & roll is the most natural sound a body can make, and yet, it seems like no one’s making any noise these days.
I’m not about to shit on the music industry or the quality of music today, its all very necessary, but it has been a really long time since we’ve been hit in the chest by a significant wave in popular music- music powerful enough to ignite change and define a generation. We need that, now more than ever. History has proven that music is capable of fostering hope and challenging norms, that when society fucks up we may find solace in a song, and that the art that moves us most has a little fire at its core. So what’s the problem? Music today has no cause, it’s lacking the essence- the emotion, passion, the sweat, sex and soul that comes from the human body and makes it real.
We have become so caught up in this idea of perfection as progress, that we have let the animal qualities, the rawness, the scratch, the noise, and the “mistakes” of the music fall to the waste side. Music is stuck in a whirl wind of monkey see monkey do behaviors, and most kids today can’t even recognize the repetition because they have nothing else to compare it to. Yes, change is a scary thing, but it’s also the only constant that popular music has ever known. It takes some sort of change in the way the world functions to light the fuse for a musical movement and in today’s world that change is the Internet.
When Shawn Fanning released NAPSTER as a college student at Northeastern University in Boston in 99’, the music industry shit its proverbial pants. Although the company was only in operation for three short years before it was shut down over copyright violations (we all know that story), Fanning’s creation forced music industry big wigs to reconsider all traditional methods of music distribution, serving as the catalyst for what would eventually become a ‘restructuralization’ of the industry as a whole. In its wake, the industry reacted, it learned how to cope, and it kept on going, but it suffices to say that the music has suffered. Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments and there have been artists who have shined on, but overall we (and that includes both the industry and society as a whole) don’t value the creative mind the way we should anymore. We don’t take the time to nurture potential because we care more about making fast cash than fostering longevity. These things are not inductive of the ability of art to change people who intern change the world. We need a change in perspective, a fresh approach, someone or something to show us how to jump into this headfirst and just feel it out a little. There is nothing to be afraid of here, so instead of coping and floating along as we have been for quite some time now,we can start to feel something again.
This is such an exciting time to be alive because there is a whole new generation of musicians, artists, poets and people coming up right now who are capable of pushing the boundaries of this new technology to its limits and breaking out on the other side of it all. This is a completely new way of living we are talking about here, and for the first time in history, popular music has the potential to reflect that way of life. What we need right now is a group of like-minded people who understand how to draw out that potential and who are committed to the adventure that is figuring out how to shape it accordingly. They call us Generation Y and we are rock & roll’s new musical messiahs.
We are a generation hungry and driven by our own ability to imagine, and we are willing to sweat passionately over the attainment of our desires. We do not take a passive attitude towards the music, media and the cultures we both construct and participate in because we are eager to succeed. We are over this 15 minutes of fame bullshit, because we don’t want to just be good enough at what it is we do, we want to be the best there is. Yes we do want to wipe our asses with dollar bills, and we won’t apologize for it either because while some believe that smells like “entitlement,” we call that equal opportunity. We believe that we deserve nothing less than the next guy and we are willing to work just as hard if not harder to have whatever it is he’s got. But, what we’re really after here is bringing a little fire back to rock & roll- taking what we know (the technology) and putting it up against what we’ve learned (the music of the past) and then pushing.
The time is ripe for change, and just as the 60’s belonged to the Baby Boomers, what is happening today will never belong to another generation the way it will to ours. We are the “middle ground” between the Baby Boomers and Generation Z (those born roughly between 1994-2004), and while the Baby Boomers had the disadvantage of having to learn a completely new way of living in light of the impact of new technology, we had the advantage of developing along side it. This is the natural progression of things. One group has past its prime and a new group must rise up in its place. Along with it will come new ideas, fresh attitudes, and altered approaches. This is not a blame game; this is about a need for a broadened sense of creativity.
Moving forward, the only limitations we have are those that we place upon our own imaginations. Rock & roll itself is such a young and fertile entity and the technology is still so new that the potential of being the first to do something unique, interesting, and creative with it is huge. And that’s what this is really all about – exploring both our own capabilities and the capabilities of this new technology to music making, and waiting to see what we all come up with in the future. This generation’s got heart and that’s why we’ll do it. Rock & roll is raw and it comes from your guts– your heart isn’t a geometric shape it’s a bleeding organ. Rock & roll comes from the heart, your heart pumps blood to your brain, your brain makes you feel shit, and feeling shit makes you real. End of story.
Article courtesy of: Juliette Jagger
About a month ago I was looking for a good show and I was turned on to the Horseshoe tavern to check out a fairly new project called Treble Warriors. I recognized the band members from other groups (Keepin’6, Heavy Chevy, and Illscarlett) and was looking forward to hearing their live set.
What this band blasts you with is a fusion of reggae, ska, jazz, and enough progressive rock to give it quite the raw edge. Members Jason Wilford (Lead), Bryan Hotchkiss (Rhythm), Andy Joseph (Drums,Vocals), and Dan Krolikowski (Bass) share the stage evenly and provide an infectiously fun atmosphere you can’t help but enjoy.
I was happy to catch these guys again last week at the Red Rooster in Burlington and caught up with them a few days later to hang out and talk about what’s happening with Treble Warriors.
by Billy Gavel