Monday, March 18th, 2013
Telling The Hour
An incredibly selective guide to Canadian Musicfest 2013, featuring Mount Moriah
Andrew SynowiezKnow what week it is? It’s Canadian Music Week, which means it’s also Canadian Musicfest, which means it’s the week where all the Toronto clubs filled up with acts from near and far and folks who would normally be out and about with a fistful of tickets guaranteeing admission were now brandishing wristbands that they hoped would get them into the clubs and prove to be the mathematically superior value that they hoped.
And if those equations included trying to get into the shows of advertised headliners Rihanna or Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, that’s unfortunate – only a handful of VIP passes are being allowed into those, so basically no average punters – but for those willing to do the club-hopping and take a flyer on some unknown quantities, they can still pay off handsomely. So to that end, here’s some suggestions of things to see over the next week; some will be familiar, others not, hailing from near and far.
It’s kind of a shame that in 2013, being described as “rootsy” means your wardrobe could belong to an “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” cosplayer because while the sounds North Carolina’s Mount Moriah make are deeply steeped in folk and country traditions, their just-released full-length debut Miracle Temple is unapologetically modern-sounding. Lead singer Heather McEntire’s voice can twang like Dolly or sigh like Emmylou, but you can also hear her punk-rock bonafides from her time in Bellafea, and the twistingly melodic guitar lines put down by Jenks Miller make no effort to hide his tenure in psych-metalers Horseback. Hurtin’ songs that can still kick like a mule.
Wednesday, March 20, 11PM @ The Drake Underground
Cincinnati trio The Seedy Seeds were a fun time at NXNE 2012 and clearly, they enjoyed the Toronto festival circuit as well as they’re bringing their fun and danceable (but not dance) indie-pop back to town.
Tuesday, March 19, 9:30PM @ The El Mocambo (upstairs)
Wednesday, March 20, 10PM @ Annex Live
Before you get too excited, this is NOT the local debut of the Nick McCabe/Simon Jones project that rose from the ashes of the last Verve reunion… but The Black Ships, who hail from just outside of Albany, New York, do a pretty convincing job with their ’80s UK post-punk-influenced sound.
Tuesday, March 19, 1AM @ Rancho Relaxo
Stream: The Black Ships – “Bangalor”
The Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES has been getting more than its share of buzz – including here – but their set merits re-mentioning if just to remind you to get to the Mod Club early because it’s-a gonna fill up.
Wednesday, March 20, 10PM @ The Mod Club
Dancey, metal-distorted, keyboard-driven, Krautrock from Reykjavik, with a sense of humour – with an elevator pitch like that, how could you now want to catch Apparat Organ Quartet? Their 2012 album Pólýfónía just got a domestic release last week – do let them cave your head in with sound as a hello.
Wednesday, March 20, 12AM @ The Garrison
Saturday, March 23, 6:45PM @ The Hoxton
Montreal’s Breezes put on a solid set of harmony-laden guitar-pop at last year’s CMF, and now they’re back with their self-titled debut finished and out so if you’re planning on camping out at the Horseshoe all night as many often do, why not show up early enough to hear some of it.
Thursday, March 21, 8:39PM @ The Horseshoe
Yeah, another Irish-German art-rock duo formed in Paris, but Kool Thing’s blend of beats, guitars, and sexy Euro attitude stands out from the pack. They’ve got enough shows this week that you’d probably have to make the effort to miss them and you really probably shouldn’t.
Thursday, March 21, 8:45PM @ The Drake Underground
Saturday, March 23, TBA @ The Great Hall
Sunday, March 24, 8PM @ The Garrison
I by no means endorse random Twitter messages as a way to get peoples’ ears, but Amanda Merdzan gets a rare pass because the tune she linked – which I listened to in a rare moment of indulgence – was quite lovely. So see her if you can – she’s coming all the way from Australia to play for you! – but if you’re a band, don’t start @-ing me. The odds of this happening again are minuscule.
Thursday, March 21, 9:45PM @ The Church Of The Holy Trinity
Friday, March 23, 11PM @ The Central
Video: Amanda Merdzan – “Afraid”
Prince Edward Islanders Two Hours Traffic are hardly an unknown quantity, but their latest Foolish Blood is proof that lineup shuffles haven’t affected their ability to write classically-styled jangle-pop, but they may be getting even better and more sophisticated at it.
Thursday, March 21, 12AM @ Lee’s Palace
Sóley Stefánsdóttir – Sóley for short, purveyor of haunting electro-folk, and also a member of Seabear – is part of the miniature Icelandic invasion taking place this CMW and possibly part of the advance team, having opened up for Of Monsters & Men at the Kool Haus last November.
Thursday, March 21, 6:30-8PM @ Moog Audio
Friday, March 22, 10PM @ The Drake Underground
Saturday, March 23, 8:15PM @ The Hoxton
Video: Sóley – “Pretty Face”
One of the up-and-coming voices of the London folk scene, Lucy Rose will draw the honour of being the sole international act on the sure-to-be-jammed, Besnard Lakes-headlined Friday night Lee’s Palace lineup. Her debut Like I Used To came out last Fall.
Friday, March 22, 10:30PM @ Lee’s Palace
Video: Lucy Rose – “Shiver”
If memory serves, Sweden’s This Is Head were supposed to play Canadian Musicfest last year, but were one of the many acts to cancel at the last minute. Unlike many of those no-shows, however, they’ve made the effort to come back and share their danceable electro-sonic ideas with you before releasing their new record The Album ID later this Spring.
Thursday, March 21, 6:30-8PM @ Moog Audio
Friday, March 22, 11PM @ The Garrison
Saturday, March 23, 10PM @ Annex Live
Video: This Is Head – “A-B Version”
London quartet Savages entered 2013 as one of the most talked-about new acts thanks to their razor-wire post-punk sound and ferocious live shows, and if you’re the sort to want bragging rights about having seen big bands when they’re still playing small rooms, either of their CMF showcases should be circled in your calendar.
Friday, March 22, 11:10PM @ The Horseshoe
Saturday, March 23, 12AM @ Lee’s Palace
Stream: Savages – “Flying To Berlin”
Rising Toronto-based New Wave revivalists Decades caught my ear out of nowhere earlier this year, so maybe check them out and see if I’m onto something or not before their self-titled debut arrives on April 30.
Saturday, March 23, 9PM @ Lee’s Palace
Video: Decades – “Tonight Again”
Beams are a shiny-new, Toronto-based outfit who are still so green, they’ve but a couple of songs by which to judge them but considering their multi-part harmonies and country-rock instrumentation are as potent on their original compositions as on a Portishead cover, there’s no reason to not believe they’ve got plenty more goodness up their sleeves.
Saturday, March 23, 9PM @ The Silver Dollar
Stream: Beams – “Be My Brother”
Gotta say, after writing a lot of blurbs about artists who work in various subgenres of rock, it’s kind of nice to be able to describe Toronto’s Lost Babies as simply “rock” – dirty guitars, sexy/snarly vocals, and a goodly dollop of attitude.
Saturday, March 23, 11:30PM @ The Shop Under Parts & Labour
Stream: The Lost Babies – “Wasps”
You might think that dance-pop from Germany would be of the stoic, metronomic, Kraftwerk-ian variety but Hamburg duo BOY – who are in fact two girls OH MY GOD I GET IT – are as hand-clappy, swingingly fun as… Germans? Like an Icona Pop you wouldn’t be afraid to take home to the parents or get locked in a room with.
Saturday, March 23, 11PM @ The El Mocambo (upstairs)
Sunday, March 24, 10PM @ The Dakota Tavern
Video: BOY – “Little Numbers”
Have done duty in Shapes & Sizes and Think About Life, Montreal’s Caila Thompson-Hannant is now getting her synth-pop/R&B-funk on as Mozart’s Sister. Comparisons to Grimes are entirely justified, but that doesn’t make it any less catchy – and this comes from someone who really didn’t like Shapes & Sizes.
Saturday, March 23, 1AM @ The Comfort Zone
And if you want to know who’s playing Sonic Boom for their annual CMF in-store fest, check out the Facebook page. I can’t be bothered to type anymore.