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Posts Tagged ‘Heartbeat Hotel’

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Turn A Light On

Kathryn Calder and JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s many great things about the long-running Toronto institution of Nu Music Nites at the Horseshoe – not least of all the fact that they’re free – but the fact that they often feature such random assemblages of acts that each set can feel like its own standalone show and not part of a larger bill is certainly a big part of the fun. Such was the case on Tuesday night when rather than one headline-calibre act, as you’d normally be fortunate to have, they had two – and quite markedly different ones at that.

First you had Kathryn Calder, whom you may remember from her old band Immaculate Machine or know from her current band The New Pornographers but whom you should know for her solo work. Her 2010 debut Are You My Mother? was an unexpected gem displaying a pop acumen that was astonishing, even if she had been apprenticing with some of the country’s finest songwriters for the past half decade and this year’s follow-up Bright & Vivid proved not only that Mother was no fluke, but that Calder was still growing as a songwriter and had even better works in her. Which is to say that it’s as good, if not better, than the first record – and that’s saying quite a lot.

While Calder’s strengths as a singer, songwriter and arranger are self-evident from her records, having missed her solo debut here back in the Summer I still couldn’t comment on her skills as a frontwoman. After all, it’s one thing to do your thing with all eyes on Carl Newman, Neko Case and/or Dan Bejar, quite another to be front and centre yourself. And while she seemed perfectly comfortable in the role, switching off between electric and acoustic guitar and keyboards and offering plenty of low-key charm, you wouldn’t say she’s a riveting performer, at least not yet. But that’s a minor complaint against what she and her band brought to the table.

First off there were the songs, with selections split about evenly between the two albums and well showcasing the range and complexity of her work. It’s no mean feat to fill so many songs with both indelible melodies and emotional depth, but delivering them with her crystalline and dexterous voice – she didn’t miss a move or a note – Calder made it look easy. Points must also go to her band, who were fully equipped with both the tools and talent to recreate the many sonic nuances of the record. They could have easily made it sound good while stripping the arrangements down, but the care they took to make sure all the bits and pieces were there was appreciated.

This show kicked off a three-week North American tour for Calder and company but I almost wish that this was coming at the tail end if just because I’ve no doubt the road-testing would make them sound even better. Make no mistake, they sounded terrific already but if there’s one thing her records have shown, it’s that as good as you think Calder is or can be, she can and will be better.

But wait! There’s more!

It’s probably not fair to expect any kind of funk-soul-rock band to show up and impress when one has just seen Prince a few nights earlier, but for their first visit to Toronto, Chicagoans JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound were sure as spit going to try. Besuited and with Brooks sporting an impressinve Little Richer coif, the five-piece – accompanied by a camera crew – put on a barn-burner of a show. Having just released their second album Want More, they showed off their prowess at classically-styled yet modern-feeling soul – mostly Chicago-flavoured but with forays to Philly to show off Brooks’ ability to slow burn and kill the high notes.

They were at their best when in high gear, though, with the rest of the band being dapper, animated and showing off their impressive chops when called on, all without drawing attention away from their frontman – not that that would have really been possible. Brooks has mastered the fine art of great showmanship without going over the top, engaging the audience without pandering and just basically setting the tone for a wholly impressive show. And while their covers of “Tainted Love” and “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” were set highlights, their original compositions stood tall alongside them – not something you can always say in a genre that’s often more concerned with style and delivery than creation. It’s a shame the audience numbers had thinned from their peak during Calder’s set, but the few dozen that remained got a hell of a show.

Chart and The Calgary Herald have interviews with Kathryn Calder while The Lantern and The Phoenix New Times has features on Brooks.

Photos: JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Kathryn Calder @ The Horseshoe – November 29, 2011
MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”
MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Arrow”
MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Slip Away”
MP3: JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – “Everything Will Be Fine”
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Who Are You”
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Arrow”
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Slip Away”
Video: JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – “Everything Will Be Fine”
Video: JC Brooks Uptown Sound – “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”

Paste talks with Kathleen Edwards about making her latest album Voyageur, out January 17. She plays The Phoenix on February 11.

The Diamond Rings b-side which saw the electro-glammer unexpectedly covering power-pop gods Teenage Fanclub is now available to download courtesy of Spinner.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “Mellow Doubt”

NOW marks Feist’s show at Massey Hall tonight by putting her on this week’s cover; Today Online also has an interview. Meanwhile, Under The Radar reports that she and Mastadon will pair up for a split-7″ single wherein each covers one of the others’ songs as a Record Store Day 2012 release.

Exclaim talks to Bry Webb, who is opening up the aforementioned Feist show tonight.

The Toronto Star, Star-Observer and X-Tra have features on Austra, playing tonight at The Phoenix and have announced that a deluxe edition of Feel It Break, featuring a second CD of covers, remixes and whatnot, will be available in mid-December. One of the new tracks, a cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” which has been kicking around since Katie Stelmanis was still playing as Katie Stelmanis, is available to stream below and the third and final instalment of the unplugged Paper Bag Sessions has gone up at Disco Naivete.

Stream: Austra – “Crying”
Video: Austra – “Believe Me” (Paper Bag Sessions)

Young Galaxy, who are playing with Austra tonight, are also capping their very good year with a deluxe edition of Shapeshifting, though it’ll be an iTunes-only release and feature early versions of four songs before they were sent to producer Dan Lissvik for reinventing. That’ll be available on December 13 but as of right now, a remix album called Versus is available for free.

ZIP: Young Galaxy / Versus

Bruce Peninsula have released a new video from Open Flames.

Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Pull Me Under”

The videos for some studio sessions that Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers performed for Exclaim are now available to download as well as watch.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Keep The Kids Inside” (Rainy Day Version, live at Exclaim)
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Tell Me, Cancer” (live at Exclaim)
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Keep The Kids Inside” (Rainy Day Version, live at Exclaim)
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Tell Me, Cancer” (live at Exclaim)

Weakerthans frontman John K Samson will release his first solo album in Provincial on January 24; details at Anti, who are releasing the record.

Exclaim interviews Beatrice Martin of Coeur de Pirate.

There’s a new Fucked Up song available to download courtesy of Stereogum. They play a charity gig at The Great Hall on December 20.

MP3: Fucked Up – “I Hate Summer”

Toronto psych-poppers Heartbeat Hotel are streaming the whole of their new record Intae Woe, while Mechanical Forest Sound has a recording from their record release show for said record last week available to download.

Stream: Heartbeat Hotel / Inate Woe

Memoryhouse have announced a February 28 release date for their debut full-length, to be entitled The Slideshow Effect. Mechanical Forest Sound also has a recording of a show last week.

The Drake Hotel has announced most of the lineup for this year’s What’s In The Box holiday season music series, wherein they line up five acts for each of the five nights following Christmas with a five dollar cover. Still a few “special guest” spots to be filled but there’s at least a couple nights with some acts that I’ve been meaning to check out (Doldrums, Donlands & Mortimer) so I expect I’ll be there at least once that week. You may as well too – don’t pretend you’ve got better things to do.

And another end-of-year institution – New Year’s Eve at The Tranzac – has announced their live music lineup via Facebook and it features The Elwins, Maylee Todd and more. I went to last year’s, it was fun. Tickets are $13 in advance and believe them when they say it sells out every year.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

CONTEST – Out Of The Box Festival 2011 – July 29 to 31, 2011

image via FacebookFacebookWhat: Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival – a new mini-festival spread out over three days and seven shows and showcasing some of the region’s best up-and-coming acts
Why: Because it’s the August long weekend (even though it’s in July), because each show features art vendors and potentially entertaining themes (3D! Origami!), because there’s all-ages matinee shows and because it’s a lot of music for not a lot of money
Who: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, Heartbeat Hotel, Foxes In Fiction and The Ruby Spirit are just a few of the acts who may well give this weekend a serious “I was there” cachet in a few years.
When: July 29, 30 and 31, 2011
Where: The Great Hall and Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto (all-ages matiness, 19+ evening shows)
How: All shows are $10 at the door or $15 in advance for a festival pass – you don’t need a pocket calculator to figure out which is the best value – and courtesy of the festival, I’ve got five pairs of festival passes to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to be Out Of The Box” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 24.

MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
MP3: Foxes In Fiction – “School Night”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “The Hello Barrel”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Two Matchsticks

The Wooden Birds and Heartbeat Hotel at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangYou might not have guessed it to listen to their records, as laid-back and fuzzy blanket-like as they were, but the American Analog Set were an amazing live act. Not through on-stage antics or pyrotechnics or the like, but by how unbelievably tight they were as a unit. The sound of Andrew Kenny’s soft voice and echoing guitar overtop the bed of vibraphone and Farfisa was the very definition of hypnotic and each of the two Toronto shows I saw prior to their disbanding in 2006 were magical. So given that Kenny’s new outfit The Wooden Birds shares many stylistic attributes with AmAnSet, it wasn’t unreasonable to hope that their first visit in support of their new record Two Matchsticks last night at The Drake would recreate some of that magic.

Support for the evening came from locals Heartbeat Hotel, whose psych-pop-laden Fetus Dreams I’d recommended picking up (for free) and who’d made a decent live impression back in December. They’d played out a fair bit since then, though, and some growth was to be expected. Even so, I didn’t expect that the echoey, slow burn that opened their set would be more the rule than the exception. The freewheeling sonic experimentation that marked Fetus Dreams seems to have been reined in, or the approach of flinging everything against the wall has served its purpose and they’ve now identified what stuck and what works; either way, Heartbeat Hotel circa Summer 2011 is a much more controlled, groove-oriented entity, yet still capable of getting noisy when needed. They’ve learned a lesson in musical economics that some bands take albums to master, if ever, and though it’d be nice if some of the energy of the LP could find its way back into their sound, based on the new material showcased – due for release in EP or album form this Fall – they’ll do well on the exam.

Even before The Wooden Birds played a note, it was pretty clear that this wasn’t going to be American Analog Set unplugged. For starters, Leslie Sisson was handling the acoustic guitar duties I’d assumed were Andrew Kenny’s on record, Kenny had no six-string of any kind, instead holding down the low end with a Thunderbird bass and whereas on the recordings electric guitar was used for texture or the occasional lead, the two electric setup implied that live, it would be decidedly otherwise. And indeed, it didn’t take very long to understand and appreciate that The Wooden Birds were no extension of anyone’s old band, but their own thing entirely; whereas AmAnSet shows were like exercises in hypnosis, this performance was wide-eyed and fully awake.

As the band showcased material from Two Matchsticks and its predecessor Magnolia, I couldn’t help think how someone for whom their first impression of the band was this show might find those decidedly mellower-sounding records. Because the live presentation of The Wooden Birds was definitely a much louder and more sprightly and widescreen-sounding affair. Tempos were stepped up appreciably, and rhythms given an almost country-western shuffle which would prove especially complimentary to the subtle twang of Sisson’s vocals. Those vocals were more than complimentary to Kenny’s voice – they sounded as lovely together as any two voices could – and for an hour or so, they led the band through a set of splendid pop. And for the AmAnSet fans in the audience – which I would assume to be most of them – they did Toronto the pleasure of honouring a request made the last time AmAnSet was in town, which is to say half a decade ago, and offered a reading of “Aaron & Maria” which they segued into a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby”. I went into this show hoping to relive a little AmAnSet magic but The Wooden Birds would have none of that; as stated they’ve got their own thing going on and that thing is simply lovely. If they’re coming through your town on their way back down to Austin, do go see them.

The Fort Worth Weekly and Sloucher have interviews with Andrew Kenny. There’s also a writeup and recording of much of the show over at Hater High.

Photos: The Wooden Birds, Heartbeat Hotel @ The Drake Underground – July 10, 2011
MP3: The Wooden Birds – “Two Matchsticks”
MP3: The Wooden Birds – “False Alarm”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Walls Of Dry Clouds”
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “The Hello Barrel”
Video: The Wooden Birds – “Two Matchsticks”
Video: The Wooden Birds – “Hometown Fantasy”
Video: Heartbeat Hotel – “Windowsill #1”

Though just announced as support for The Vaccines show at The Phoenix on September 27, Young Buffalo will do a little advance work with a free show at The Horseshoe on July 26.

MP3: Young Buffalo – “Only We Can Keep You From Harm”
MP3: Young Buffalo – “Anthems For A 17-Year Old Girl”

On the NXNE schedule in June for like a nanosecond, Massachusetts’ Dom will be in town for real for a show at The Garrison on August 9, the same day their new Family Of Love EP is released.

MP3: Dom – “Living In America”

Marnie Stern and No Joy team up for a show at Wrongbar on September 23. The Riverfront Times has an interview with Ms Stern.

MP3: Marnie Stern – “Transparency Is The New Mystery”
MP3: No Joy – “Hawaii”

Suuns have slated a show at The Garrison for October 2 and there’s a new video session up over at For No One.

MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”

Shonen Knife will be at The Horseshoe on October 20 to kick of a 30th anniversary tour and next week’s release of their new record Osaka Ramones, a Ramones tribute record. Tickets for the show are $14.50 in advance, full dates at Exclaim.

Video: Shonen Knife – “Ramones Forever” (live)

Spinner has the first sample of the first Ivy album in six years, All Hours due out September 20, and it seems that in the time away they’ve discovered their inner discotheque. They wear it well.

MP3: Ivy – “Distant Lights”

USA Today profiles The Head & The Heart.

Spin checks in with Stephen Malkmus about his new solo record Mirror Traffic, due out August 23. He and his Jicks play The Phoenix on September 21.

NBC San Diego, The Georgia Straight and San Diego City Beat chat with The Rosebuds, in town on August 9 at The Sound Academy opening up for Bon Iver.

Stereogum talks to the director of Handsome Furs’ racy new video. They’re at The Horseshoe on August 1 and 2.

Video: Handsome Furs – “What About Us”

Spin gets a guided tour of Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham’s domicile. Their next date is August 9 at the Air Canada Centre with Foo Fighters.

Sax-toting Polaris shortlister Colin Stetson has an interview in The Globe & Mail and a session up at Daytrotter. He plays The Drake Underground on August 26.

Loud & Quiet talks to Timber Timbre.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Jenn Grant.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba are featured in an interview and video session with The Alternate Side.

The documentary film which led to a rather nasty exchange between filmmaker Vincent Moon and Arcade Fire management – Miroir Noir: Neon Bible Archives – will be getting a screening at the TIFF Lightbox on Wednesday evening at 7:30PM as part of Images Festival. Probably safe to say neither filmmaker nor subjects will be in attendance.

Trailer: Miroir Noir: Neon Bible Archives

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

When I Am New Again

Wildlife, The Darcys and Freedom Or Death at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI will be the first to admit I don’t do nearly as good a job of keeping track of worthy up and coming local and/or Canadian bands as I’d like, generally taking an “if they’re worth hearing I’ll hear them eventually” approach and deferring to great local and national sites with a homegrown focus like I Heart Music, The Take, Singing Lamb and Herohill to do the legwork and put worthy new Canuck talent on my radar. Showcasing said talent is the mandate of the Unsigned series which periodically puts on shows at the Steam Whistle brewery and checking out said talent was what I was doing there on Friday night along with a pretty packed roundhouse.

Leading things off were Freedom Or Death, who were marking the release of their debut mini-album Ego earlier in the week. The duo in the studio/quartet on stage craft what would best be described as a sort of synth-rock-soul amalgam, though not nearly as left field-sounding as that might imply. Most of their material is built around frontman Sway C in R&B croon mode overtop keyboard patches lifted from the ’80s and given a ’90s-ish production sheen, but its relative safeness is offset by the fact that a lot of their songs are instantly memorable and expertly crafted. It’s the sort of thing that if alt.rock radio or MuchMusic still held the cultural hegemony they once did, could become huge but as things stand today, would have to settle – for now at least – for impressing a roomful of punters in a brewhouse. Like their music, their performance was a bit slick and calculated but certainly effective; those watching might well have walked away thinking they’d seen one of the city’s next big things and who knows, they might be right.

Goodness knows that’s a title that’s been hanging around The Darcys for years now, and clearly no guarantee of anything. The circumstances around their delayed ascent to greatness were pretty well-documented back in March by The Toronto Star – but with the self-titled sophomore effort that’s really more of a debut hopefully finally ready to see the light of day after being stalled for more than a year, the band may finally be ready to move forwards. For the as yet unacquainted, my best description of The Darcys would a balance of prog and pop somewhere between the tension of mid-era Radiohead and the grand presentation of early Elbow, though I don’t think it’s any slight to add the caveat that they’re not as brilliant as either, at least not right now if ever, but it does give a sense of where they’re pointed creatively as well as their potential. And so while there’s still no definite timetable for when their recorded selves will finally be let loose, though it seems inconceivable that no label in the city will have the good sense to put it out before the year is out, The Darcys are making do venting their energies onstage.

As with the last couple times I’d seen them live, their show was an impressive exercise in musicianship and intensity though as I’ve mentioned in the past – and as also applies to their record – a couple of less-clenched songs would really help the dynamics of the experience. But considering they’ve been sitting on this record and these songs far longer than any band ever should, who knows where they’re actually at right now with respect to their songwriting. And that’s perhaps the biggest reason I hope they get the album out soon; not just so that the rest of the world can be let in on what Toronto’s known for so long, but so that the band can finally get on with it.

Though The Darcys were top billed on the show posters, they weren’t the closing act – that honour went to Wildlife, whose acquaintance I’d made only a day or two earlier via a copy of their debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond which conveniently showed up in my mailbox. And the collection of uptempo rock, faintly Wolf Parade-ish without all the quirkiness and striking a good balance between heart-on-sleeve sensitivity and beer-in-hand boisterousness, made a good impression so though the option of heading home early was on the table, I opted to stick around. That the aforementioned balance wouldn’t be carried over to the stage was made clear pretty early on as frontman Dean Povinsky declared that the evening’s spirit animal would be Andrew WK and the theme would be partying. They did the party thing well, however, and while it didn’t really hold my attention for the duration, it did energize the crowd with the good time vibes. And props for the solid encore of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”.

NOW has a profile on Freedom Or Death and Toro a video session. Their next show is June 9 at The Drake while Wildlife’s next local performance will be May 26 at Sneaky Dee’s.

Photos: Wildlife, The Darcys, Freedom Or Death @ Steam Whistle Brewing – April 29, 2011
MP3: Wildlife – “Stand In The Water”
MP3: The Darcys – “The House Built Around Your Voice”
MP3: Freedom Or Death – “This Crowded Room”
Video: Freedom Or Death – “This Crowded Room”

Heartbeat Hotel, who are one of my personal picks for worthy unsigned bands in the city – as in worthy of being signed, not that they should remain without a label – have released a new video from last year’s free and excellent and free album Fetus Dreams.

Video: Heartbeat Hotel – “Windowsill #1”

Nashville’s Tristen will be in Toronto on July 16 for a show at the Drake in support of her debut album Charlatans At The Gate; a 7″ worth of MP3s is available at their website in exchange for an email.

Video: Tristen – “Baby Drugs”

Liz Phair defends the artistic merits of lat year’s Funstyle to Spinner.

Having just announced that they’ll be reissuing their 2004 EP Cherry Tree in limited edition on June 28, The National are giving away an MP3 of “About Today” from said release at their Bandcamp in exchange for an email. Also available to grab is the song they contributed to the soundtrack of Portal 2, which I’m led to understand is a video game of some kind.

MP3: The National – “Exile Vilify”

The Dallas Observer and Exclaim talk to Will Sheff of Okkervil River, whose new record I Am Very Far comes out next Tuesday, May 10 but is streaming in whole right now at Exclaim. They play The Phoenix on June 10.

Stream: Okkervil River / I Am Very Far

NYC Taper is sharing a recording of Low’s set at the Bowery Ballroom in New York last week. They’re at The Mod Club tonight.

DCist talks to Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom.

The New York Times profiles the people behind the up-and-coming live music resource Songkick.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Sleep Patterns

Canadian Musicfest 2011 suggestions that I won’t be taking

Photo By Samantha CardowSamantha CardowWith festivals come hard choices, and for this year’s edition of Canadian Musicfest, getting underway with a handful of events tonight and in earnest as of tomorrow, I am choosing to eschew the club-hopping-ness that typically comes with these sorts of fest and largely plant myself in one place for each evening. Hard choice or lazy choice? A little of both.

But just because I am staying put doesn’t mean that I recommend others do the same. So by way of festival preview, here’s a list of stuff that I almost certainly won’t be going to but that you should, or at least should investigate. As for what I am going to be seeing over the next few nights, well you can wait for the post-mortem for that.

Wednesday, March 9
Snowblink @ The Painted Lady, 10PM – their release party for the beauteous album Long Live this past weekend apparently a carnivalesque success, the Toronto duo have announced their festival showcase. If you missed the Music Gallery show, as I did, you should make this one, as I will not.
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”

Alcoholic Faith Mission @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – acoustically-inclined pop-rock comprised of Danes who met in Brooklyn will be all over Toronto this week, following this show with a midnight engagement at The Dakota Tavern on Friday night and an 8PM opening slot at The El Mocambo on Saturday night.
MP3: Alcoholic Faith Mission – “Running With Insanity”

Thursday, March 10
Modern Superstitions @ The Horseshoe, 8:30PM – this local quartet delivers scrappy garage rock with a healthy dose of hooks, attitude and not a little sex appeal. Only an EP to their name right now but more and better will come.
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Molly Rankin @ The Horseshoe, 9:20PM – caught a bit of this Nova Scotia native – yes, of those Rankins – during a BBQ at NXNE last year, and her rootsy power-pop made an impression, even over the sound of me eating a tasty burger. She has members of Two Hours Traffic in her band, presumably voluntarily.
MP3: Molly Rankin – “Bombshell”

Heartbeat Hotel @ The Silver Dollar, 10PM – rising locals continue to refine their heady brew of psychedelic pop, and hopefully their live show will be as good as their recorded works – maybe it’ll happen this evening!
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”

Memoryhouse @ The Great Hall, 10:45PM – hey, didja hear? The local dreampop duo has signed to Sub Pop. Not that you need the validation of some big American indie label to know that these guys are great and worth seeing. No, you’re smarter than that.
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”

The High Dials @ Hard Luck, 11PM – this venue is pretty new but I’m reasonably certain it’s not a drug front for the mob. The High Dials, on the other hand, have been around for ages and I am certain they’re still putting out some of the sharpest power-pop around.
MP3: The High Dials – “Chinese Boxes”

The Darcys @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – long one of the city’s most bursting-with-potential as well as sort-of snakebit bands, their new – and first? – second album is done and should finally deliver on their immense promise. Appreciate their ubiquitousness on local stages while you can.
MP3: The Darcys – “The House Built Around Your Voice”

Halves @ The Hideout, 12AM – these Dublliners were playing at Whelan’s Pub in Dublin the very same night I was there in 2008. I didn’t go upstairs to see them, drank a Guinness instead. TRUE STORY. They cultivate a gorgeous, post-rock with vocals vibe reminiscent of Early Day Miners and are also playing Friday at The Comfort Zone at 8PM.
Video: Halves – “Medals”

Austra @ Wrongbar, 1AM – the artist formerly known as Private Life formerly known as Stelmanis formerly known as Katie Stelmanis has finally settled on an identity and a sound – dark electro-pop – and is reaping the benefits and buzz from it. Her debut Feel It Break is out in May.
MP3: Austra – “The Beat & The Pulse”

The Butterfly Explosion @ The Hideout, 2AM – the Irish shoegazers have visited before and broken up and reformed in the interim, and have now drawn an unenviable insomniac/unemployed time slot. If you’re still out and about at that hour and looking for something to see, they won’t disappoint.
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”

Friday, March 11
Rebekah Higgs @ Supermarket, 9PM – Haligonian songwriter constantly trying to reconcile her folkish roots and electronic inclinations with tuneful results. Her Little Voice EP offers a taste of the new full-length coming soon.
MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Asleep All Winter”

Aidan Knight @ The Rivoli, 10PM – BC singer-songwriter whose debut album Versicolour is an understated gem, and whose live show is charmingly goofy. Also playing a day show out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 4:40PM on Saturday.
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Friendly Fires”

The Jezabels @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – Australian rock act here all the way from Australia. Dark, dramatic, crunchy and Australian. Did I mention they’re Australian?
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”

Monogrenade @ The El Mocambo, 10:30PM – we all took French in grade school and high school, so language shouldn’t be a barrier to appreciating these rangy Montrealers, who’ve got the acoustic/orchestral smoulder thing down pat. Yeah, that’s a thing.
Video: Monogrenade – “Ce Soir”

Imaginary Cities @ The Garrison, 11:30PM – if an act as legendary as Pixies saw fit to invite these Winnapeggers along for their North American tour and see/hear them every night, then surely they’re worth an hour of your time? They’re also playing on Thursday night at Lee’s Palace at 10:30PM.
MP3: Imaginary Cities – “Hummingbird”

Bombay Bicycle Club @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM – every year it seems there’s a token buzzy Brit band who makes a festival appearance – this year it’s Bombay Bicycle Club. But if you’re of the Anglophile persuasion, you’ve probably already decided to be at this show.
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Evening/Morning”

The Meligrove Band @ Sneaky Dee’s 1AM – local power-pop veterans will be showcasing songs from their latest album Shimmering Lights; always a spirited and rollicking good time.
MP3: The Meligrove Band – “Halflight”

Saturday, March 12
The Balconies @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – local faves have been holed away writing album number two all Winter – surely there’ll be some new songs in the set? And no you don’t have to stay for Electric Six.
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”

Neon Windbreaker @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – at first they weren’t a real band, then not a serious band, and now they’re a band with a work ethic that shames career bands that’s playing all over the place both here and at SxSW with a penchant for covering ’90s Canadian alt-rock standards. So you may as well.
MP3: Neon Windbreaker – “Furniture”

Nadia von Hahn @ The Library Bar 11:30PM – smooth and sassy retro-pop from the west coast with loungey and doo-wop accents. Also doing a Daytime Living Room session for The Toronto Institute For The Enjoyment Of Music out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 2PM that afternoon.
Video: Nadia von Hahn – “This Holy Night”

Writers’ Strike @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – scrappy and kinda snotty pop-punk from Halifax, not really offering anything new but doing what they do well and with vigor.
MP3: Writers’ Strike – “Bad Time”

The White Wires @ Wrongbar, 2AM – highly regarded new purveyors of old-school garage rock from Ottawa, they may well be worth dealing with Parkdale at 2AM on a Saturday night to see. Seriously.
MP3: White Wires – “Be True To Your School (Until You Get Kicked Out)”

Did you notice the fest is really front-loaded this year? Yeah, me too.

Of course, besides the showcases there’s plenty else going on that doesn’t necessarily require a badge or wristband or even a cover charge – Dorkshelf has rounded some of them up. There’s the three-day in-store mini-fest happening at Sonic Boom, which will feature sets from the likes of The Balconies, The Most Serene Republic, Bombay Bicycle Club, J Mascis, James Vincent McMorrow and Karkwa, among many many others – the full list and schedule is up at the Sonic Boom website.

Criminal Records will also be hosting an in-store with a west coast flavour on Friday night at 7PM, featuring Aidan Knight – complimented above – and We Are The City.

MP3: We Are The City – “Happy New Year”

There’s also a full list of performers and times for the Living Room Sessions noted a couple times above – all performances are free and all-ages.

Memoryhouse discusses their background and aesthetics with Spinner.

The Toronto Star talks to The Darcys about their near-death and rebirth.

Spinner talks to The Wilderness Of Manitoba, who are opening up Thursday night’s bill at Lee’s Palace as well as playing a Living Room Session at 5:20 on Saturday.

She Does The City asks random questions of Young Galaxy’s Stephen Ramsay. They’re the headliner on the Thursday night Lee’s Palace bill, going on at 11:30PM.

Citeeze talks to Laurel Sprengelmeyer, aka Little Scream, whose debut album The Golden Record has been released on iTunes as of this week, well ahead of the physical edition’s April 12 street date. A new MP3 from said record is also available to download. She is opening things up at The Opera House on Thursday night at 8:30, and note that she will no longer be supporting Sharon Van Etten at The Drake on April 12.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

The National Post chats with Karkwa, who are at Wrongbar on Friday night with a set time of 10PM.

J Mascis’ new solo record Several Shades Of Why, which you can expect to hear when he headlines The Great Hall on Friday night, is streaming over at Spin ahead of its March 15 release.

Stream: J Mascis / Several Shades Of Why

The Globe & Mail previews Canadian Music Week by chatting with Jenn Grant, Imaginary Cities and Hollerado.

Chad VanGaalen’s next record Diaper Island will be out May 17; details at Chart.

Mumford & Sons might be getting the headlines for their railroad tour through the southwest this Spring, but a similar excursion – though presumably by good old Via Rail rather than some retro-fied locomotive – is happening across Canada and is bringing Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, Magali Meagher of The Phonemes and Jon Janes of The Mountains & The Trees to 16 station stops from coast to coast. The Toronto date is April 21 at The Tranzac.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”
MP3: The Mountains & The Trees – “More & More & More”

And if this hasn’t been quite enough Canadian music to get you through the day/week/month, head over to The Line Of Best Fit for another Oh! Canada mix to download.

Whew. Effin’ festivals.