August Monthly Music

Since when was summer this close to being over? I guess in the literal mist of this disgusting humidity, time has actually been passing. August will be a bit of a slower month for music here in Toronto, but that’s perfectly fine with me as I’m going to need my rest before the concert madness that will be September. Here are some good musicians who can help you to kick in that last bit of summer relaxation.

And as always, you can find my music writing and pondering as well as (likely) extended thoughts on the bands I mention over at RoundLetters.

Three Toronto bands you should know by now:

Jason Collett – Practically a veteran of Toronto’s indie rock scene by now, Collett has released six albums, been a part of Broken Social Scene and helped raise up the platforms for Zeus and Bahamas (as I’ve mentioned here in the past). I can’t be immune to his charm, especially on his most recent album, Rat a Tat Tat. It’s a great summer album because it not only captures the influence of some ’60s and ’70s sounds (*cough* David Bowie *cough*), but it still keeps up his clear production sound. It’s one of those albums that’s hard to not dance to as you walk down the street with your headphones on.

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Peter Katz – Katz has been making a go at the solo work for quite some time. He started out playing open mics at Ryerson University’s pub the Ram in the Rye, went on to win a CBC Galaxie Rising Star award and has worked up a steady career to be playing alongside the Swell Season. He recently opened for and played with them in Toronto, and put on a fantastic show. He’ll blow you away with how brave he is on stage, even if you can also tell he’s pretty nervous. His lyrics are often about people and their inspiring stories. He’s just released his second album, First of the Last to Know.

Holy Fuck – Basically well-known just because of their name, this four-piece have come to really boast their name proudly, especially as they get better and better with each release. Alongside Collett, they were nominated for this year’s Polaris Music Prize, and both made it onto the Long List. Their album, Latin, is stunning experimental and electronic music. I remember seeing them about three years ago or so in a dingy venue in Buffalo opening for electro-party dudes !!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk), to almost no-one. Now, they’ve solidified their line-up (including Brian Borcherdt, who has also gone on to do solo work and with Fields of Fur), gaining huge crowds and more.

Three up-and-coming Toronto bands:

Mathemagic – Technically from Guelph, this new trio have somehow caught the eyes and ears of plenty of top critics (Pitchfork) with only a small EP release under their belts. Their blend of electro and surf rock is like a really appealing (and not at all gross) summer haze. They used to be a duo of brothers, but since they’ve added a female singer (not related), their sound has expanded, but it’s pushed back the recording of their debut full-length.

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Freedom or Death – This duo makes some really interesting slow grooves that are able to catch you up in a moment and also push you right back into another one. Freedom or Death is Fernandez, a classically trained pianist and veteran DJ and Sway, a singer who’s been making his way through bands for quite some time as well. Together, they are imaginative, dreamy and also ready for battle. Their self titled EP can be streamed on their MySpace.

The Schomberg Fair – I’ll be honest, I was skeptical as I started to listen to this Toronto trio. I mean, speed-gospel? What is that? But boy, I was knocked over by just listening to it on my computer. It is for sure quick, references angels and devils and the like, but it also is hardcore blues, country and everything they’re going for. And if the banjo and train-track like beats aren’t the things to catch your attention, it will be Nathan Sidon’s really really low voice.

Three Toronto concerts you shouldn’t miss:

Interpol at the Kool Haus, August 10 – Their trademark moody rock is back, as the guys will likely be performing songs off their upcoming self-titled album, which comes out September 7.

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METZ at Parts & Labour, August 13 – The loud earphone splitting aura that is METZ plays Toronto’s newest venue. This will be the release party for their latest 7-inch, Negative Space/Automat.

Arcade Fire, Janelle Monae and the Sadies at Olympic Island, August 14 – This epic Toronto Island show is selling tickets like hot cakes, and it’s guaranteed to be that one show this year that people will look at you and ask if you’re crazy if you don’t go (don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll be going, but I wish I could!)

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