We’re kicking off this music month mid-way this time, as I’ve unfortunately been sick with a cold. Sorry readers! But, it’s here now, and we will celebrate by taking these recommendations in stride and soaking them all up before June kicks some new ones your way (in fact, North by Northeast is coming up next month, an even bigger festival than Canadian Music Week). The picks I’ve chosen for your mid-month are heavy on the big bands or big sounds – from the famous hometown collective Broken Social Scene to the party attitude of LCD Soundsystem. Check it out, and as always, you can read more of my musical musings on RoundLetters.
Three Toronto bands you should know:
Broken Social Scene – Well, let’s be honest. Even my friends who don’t pay attention to music know who Broken Social Scene are. Though this Toronto indie rock collective has been around for a while now, they’ve just released their first album in five years. Forgiveness Rock Record is out, and fans of the group have been rejoicing for weeks. The sound hasn’t really changed much, and I don’t think there are any immediate catchy singles like “7/4 Shoreline” or “Anthems For a 17-Year-Old Girl.”
The Most Serene Republic – Like BSS, this band is also a staple of the Arts & Crafts label. They released the album …And the Ever Expanding Universe this year and it was much better than what they’ve done in the past. Think along the lines of the kind of harmonies you’d hear from Stars but with a full orchestra and thought out band behind it rather than the same guitar-based melodies.
Tokyo Police Club – These guys struck gold a couple years ago before even releasing a full-length album. Once they did, they were successful for a while, but they’ve kind of disappeared since then. Fans will be pleased to know that they’re back with their second album, Champ, due out June 8. Their jaunty pop rock is refreshed and much cleaner. Not that I want to make them sound like laundry detergent or anything…
Three up-and-coming Toronto bands:
Wilderness of Manitoba – Craving some harmonious folk music? Well, you’ll find it in this band. Though they may love Manitoba enough to put it in their band name, they are in fact based in Toronto. Their 2009 EP Hymns of Love and Spirits is out, but pretty hard to find. They’re currently touring around the UK, which is pretty impressive, and when they come back, they’ll open for Julie Doiron and Basia Bulat at the Phoenix on June 4. They’ve just announced that their next album, When You Left the Fire, is finished and awaiting a release date.
The Darcys – This indie-rock quartet is rising slowly, but I have a feeling they’ll see more attention (for good reason) once their album comes out in the fall. It was produced by Murray Lightburn, the singer from The Dears, and features members of Broken Social Scene, Stars and Islands. They have a free 7” available to download, so I suggest you grab those two cool guitar-driven songs as teasers before the album comes out.
Heartbeat Hotel – Though this young band started out in Peterborough as Mariposa, they’re now what we can proudly call a Toronto band. They bring us blissful psychedelic tunes to lay our heads on. That sentence may sound a little awkward once you hear the title of their debut album, Fetus Dreams (which came out in March), but give it a listen and you’ll understand, believe me. You can download the entire album for free here. Keep an eye out, they tend to play quite a few shows around the city.
Three Toronto concerts that you shouldn’t miss:
Tim Fite at the Drake Hotel on May 20 – Tim is a very strange character. You’ve got to be the right mindset to get into his music (and have a huge sense of humour) but it’s well worth it. He’s really entertaining in concert as he adopts a persona that might drive you crazy or might make you laugh. Last time I saw him, he had a chorus of three Tims singing backup, filmed beforehand to play off a projector. There’s oh so much more, but I think you should see it for yourself. Download his newest album on May 18, Under the Table Tennis, for free.
LCD Soundsystem at the Kool Haus on May 25 – Electronic dance, electronic rock, electronic whatever you want to call it, James Murphy is back as LCD Soundsystem and he’s bringing the party to Toronto, and there will be a live band presumably. This is bound to be another tripped-out colourful crazy hipster show, and therefore a pretty interesting experience. Though it might be a good idea to see it before Murphy finally loses it on his fans and quits music.
Wintersleep at the Mod Club on May 26 – One of my favourite East Coast Canadian bands, Wintersleep is coming to celebrate the release of their latest album, New Inheritors. It’s a bit of a change for them, a step backwards to their older sound after the more up-beat album Welcome to the Night Sky, but it’s still well done. They put on a powerful show, and expect some jam tangents to make it even better.