April Monthly Music

So, you haven’t had your Monthly Music fill in what, two months now! How does it feel? Did anyone go to Canadian Music Week?

This month I’ve worked up a list for you that is perfect for your spring cleaning. From psychedelic rock to funk and pop, you’ll be moving and grooving straight into May. While some of us are cramming work and exams in to the last moments of the school year, others might be looking forlornly out of their window at the rain, waiting for something new to come along. Another great thing about this time of year is that concert season is kicking into high gear – bands are stretching their hibernated legs out and running to and from Toronto, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears close to the soundboard (not really)!

Three Toronto bands you should know:

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Zeus – This band has been all over the place lately, and not just as songs stuck in my head. They used to be Jason Collett’s backing band, but they’ve since gone their own way. Every guy in Zeus (except for the drummer) takes turns singing. Though they are actually currently supporting Collett on the Bonfire Ball tour across Canada (I saw it during Canadian Music Week – watch a video of everyone plus Bahamas covering the Kylie Minogue song “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”) the material off of their first album, Say Us, shows that they can survive on their own. At first listen, the most obvious comparison is The Beatles. Even I can’t get away from that one. But they’re still fresh, groovy and uniquely talented.

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Julie Fader – Julie’s been around for a while, heck, even her album, Outside In, has been out since last year. But it still has that fresh charm for whenever you find it. She’s played with many of the Canadian indie kings as of late – Chad VanGaalen, Postdata, as part of Great Lake Swimmers, etc, and now they play with her. I believe that Julie is a visual artist in her spare time; you can almost feel her art in her music, it’s one of those great chameleon-like albums. Outside In is soothing and haunting – everything builds up from a simple guitar line or two. You can hear the similarities of her work to what she’s done in the past, but this is ultimately a new venture.

Born Ruffians – This trio will be releasing their sophomore album in early May, but the buzz is already running back to them. They headlined the biggest show of the last night of CMW, they’ve given away two songs for download/listen already and they’ve been working on a new video. They’re known as these three free-spirited guys who make music that sounds chunky and unusual. Born Ruffians still have that charm, but they’ve grown up; there is a distinct mature sense of funk to them now. I don’t think this will set them back, though, it’s more refreshing.

Three up-and-coming Toronto bands:

Private Life – Katie Stelmanis has been playing solo for a while now, but she’s decided to form a band and give it a name. Stelmanis is now joined by Maya Postepski (Princess Century), Carmen Elle (solo) and Dorian Wolf (Spiral Beach). They’re rising incredibly fast – they played SXSW before they even announced the new band name. Private Life’s album debut will not be until the fall, but keep an eye out for any small city appearances. Here’s one: They will open for tUnE-yArDs at the Horseshoe on June 13.

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The Elwins – These guys make Toronto feel like Halifax – sunny pop/rock with jaunty guitar chords and cute choruses. It’s perfect for this strange springtime we’re having. This band is very chill but in a playful way. They’ve recently released an EP and will start to work on a full-length soon. They’re playing the Silver Dollar with another Monthly Music featured artist, Whale Tooth, this coming Saturday.

Maylee Todd & Pegwee Power – If you’ve taken the TTC at all in the last month, you’ve seen those Virgin Mobile ads with all the hipsters having a party for phones. One of those partygoers is Maylee Todd, probably best known for her singing on a couple Woodhands singles. But Todd is really starting to shine on her own. Maylee played CMW and a show or two after around the city. She has at least three set up in the coming weeks – April 8 at the Tattoo Rock Parlour, April 10 at Bread & Circus and April 15 at the Great Hall. She blends jazz, pop and funk into a colourful array – it’s clear that she has a love for the 70’s, but it’s when you feel that aliens are starting to descend upon you that you know she’s onto something.

Three Toronto concerts that you shouldn’t miss:

The Runaway Catholics at the Horseshoe on April 10 – This previously Monthly Music-featured band is finally back on stage and this show is kind of like their big comeback. Stop by to hear sunny psychedelic tunes on a small stage, sure to give the venue an even more relaxed feel.

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Phoenix on April 11 – Time to rally the troops and head bang! These guys (and now gal as well) rocked the same venue the other day, so I’m excited to be seeing them on the second date. Their new album isn’t as good as the others, but I’m hoping they will spend a lot of time on the older classics.

Plants & Animals at the Horseshoe on April 20 – This Montreal trio will be using the Horseshoe as their album release party for La La Land, a great psychedelic rock release of this year. The new album blends the good things going they had in the past, but there are a lot of new things going on. They tested out the new sounds here during CMW and the audience reaction was great.

Other noteworthy Toronto concerts worth checking out:

Gogol Bordello at Sound Academy on April 20

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Dan Mangan and Aidan Knight at the Horseshoe on April 22

OK Go at the Mod Club on April 23

As always, you can read more of my musical musings at RoundLetters.

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