Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
On Your Doorstep
An introduction to The Elwins and giveaway
Rachel Lee TentcherIt was just a couple nights ago that the cream of the Canadian music crop was honoured (one twenty-eight thousand times more than the others) at the Polaris Music Prize gala, but with those (mostly) veteran acts having gotten their moment in the spotlight, what say we take a look at some local talent that’s a little closer to the grassroots level? In particular, the roots of the grass up in Newmarket, ’round the north end of Toronto around where the 905 begins to give way to the 705. It’s a locale that’s generally unremarkable – apologies to Newmarketers but you know it’s true – but recently put on the indie rock map by the likes of natives Tokyo Police Club. You’d think that mathematically speaking, that would be all the musical success that would emerge from that particular neck of the woods but hey – the suburbs are apparently pretty creatively fertile terrain.
Which brings us to The Elwins, a rather distressingly young quartet whom you may – but probably don’t – recall being mentioned hereabouts back during NXNE. They played a day show at Global Village and despite having to compete with free food and drink for peoples’ attention, did an impressive job of showcasing the goods – and those goods are great. The Elwins seek to make their mark in the field of classically-styled indie pop; a decidedly crowded market to be sure, but there’s an unreal degree of polish and sophistication throughout their songs that acts many years their senior never achieve. Their debut full-length And I Thank You is bright-eyed, effortless and loaded with jangle to spare. They stack melody upon melody behind frontman Matthew Sweeney’s coy and boyish vocals; pop trainspotters could spend hours debating if they’re more twee than power, but every minute spend debating is a minute not spent head-bobbing, toe-tapping, etc. To wit, this is good stuff.
And you can’t buy it. Not because the band don’t want you to have it, but because they haven’t found anyone to help them put it out yet and yes, even in this age of internet wonders, bands often need some support and infrastructure to get their stuff out there effectively. And if you want to play the “hey just give it away for free!” card, they already did that – their 2009 debut five-song EP was and is available for free download (samples and link below) and while it does a good job of expressing what The Elwins are about, know that the album is miles better. And they’ll go one step of the way to proving it next week on September 30 when give away one of the songs and release a video for same – like a hot pop injection for your eyes and ears – and top if off by anchoring a release party at the El Mocambo that evening. They’ll be supported by The Pinecones, Dwayne Gretzky and – back from a three-year hiatus – The Bicycles.
Tickets for the show are $7 in advance and $10 at the door, but courtesy of No Shame, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Elwins” in the subject line and your full name in the body and have that in to me before midnight, September 28.
If you want to hear more, check out their 2010 Southern Souls session and if you like what you hear and like to put out bands’ albums, you know what to do.
Coincidentally and perhaps inspirationally, another Toronto band that had been looking for a home for their record for the longest time – The Darcys – has finally done so and done so in style, inking a deal with Arts & Crafts to put out their self-titled effort on October 25. aux.tv has an interview with drummer Wes Marskell about the long and winding road of this record and with the album announcement comes a couple of show announcements – they’re at Lee’s Palace on October 13 supporting The Besnard Lakes and will headline their own release show at The Horseshoe on November 18. You can stream a new track from the record below or download it in exchange for your email address at their website.
Also up for stream though not out until October 4 is Oh Fortune, the new album from Dan Mangan – you can hear it all at aux.tv and a video session taped at Hillside in the Summer has just gone up at Southern Souls. He plays The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.
Bruce Peninsula are celebrating the October 4 release of Open Flames with a free in-store at Soundscapes that evening starting at 7PM. The Queen’s Journal, Toro and Guelph Mercury have features on the band.
Realizing it’s been a while since they’ve played a proper, non-festival/non-opening show at home – and not since David Comes To Life came out in the Summer I believe, Fucked Up have decided to take care of business at The Mod Club on October 11, tickets $17 in advance.
And to loop back to the Polaris Prize, you can watch the whole of the gala including performances at MuchMusic and take note of this fun backstage interview between Win Butler and Damian Abraham just after the Arcade Fire win wherein they compare the sizes of their… cheques.