Any seasoned festival goer knows as much as you love to pour over a schedule pre-festival, your best experiences during the festival itself are almost always those random unexpected things you only discover during the madness. After an amazing Friday that left me completely sleep deprived, I found myself on Saturday afternoon at a Pledge Music event sponsored by the lovely folks at Audio Blood. Hosted by Ben Caplan, the event was a chance for movers and shakers to network, enjoy free whiskey and sliders and of course listen to great music.

The secret guest at the end of this delightful, sweaty loft party was Acres of Lions, a band out of Victoria, BC. I saw a lot of bands during Canadian Music Week and after awhile it’s not hard to spot those that perform solely because they’re desperate for rock star glory and those who put their heart and soul into every performance because they just don’t know any other way to play. Acres of Lions is definitely one of the latter bands.

cmw Acres-of-Lions-001

An upbeat pop-punk band, Acres of Lions has a diverse range of influences from Tom Petty to Jimmy Eat World. At indie parties like this very often you can find yourself leaning against a wall and focused more on the drinking then the music.

Acres of Lions easily inspires immediate attention from their audience. Without even realizing it, you’ve started shaking your hips and clapping your hands. Having recently signed with labels in the UK and Japan I think it won’t be too long before a whole lot more people are paying attention to them as well.

*photos by Chris Zacchia, for more, check out FTB on Facebook

My last stop of Canadian Music Week brought along a pleasant surprise as I was introduced for the first time to Sean Rowe.

While my financial situation dictates that I have to rely on the generosity of friends or cheap hostels when I come to Toronto, I still always try to stop by the Gladstone Hotel for their music venue. After a couple of days of high intensity rock and punk bands, I was looking forward to capping off my 2013 Canadian Music Week with a low key acoustic folk show.

Sean Rowe

I had originally intended to stop by the Gladstone to profile another artist on the bill, but my favourite performer of the night was upstate New-Yorker Sean Rowe. With his electrifying baritone voice and powerful lyrics, Rowe is a mix of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits with a dirty down south kind of sound.

As I watched the show I remember thinking screw those young, moody emo bands that littered Queen street on Saturday night! It’s a nice to see a performer who is clearly loving life. After declaring that he had a nightmare where he had to shave off his beard (see my Ben Caplan article for my thoughts on bearded men), one of the sweetest moments of my CMW experience this year was Sean Rowe gushing about his young son and then dedicating a song to him. It sent me off to sleep with a smile on my face. If only all our Saturday nights could end this happily.

 

Harlan Pepper, a young foursome from Hamilton, Ontario, are a shining example of why Hamilton bands are just so good. Dan Edmonds (vocals, guitar, banjo, keys), Jimmy Hayes (guitar, pedal steel, harmonica), Thompson Wilson (bass, vocals) and Marlon Nicolle (drums, vocals) make up this versatile group formed in 2008. They incorporate hard rock, blues, alt-country and folk elements into their sound and they are tight!

Recently having toured with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the band opened for LeE HARVeY OsMOND on Friday night at the Great Hall, playing to a sold-out crowd. They were well paired to LHO in that they played a selection of upbeat, groove along tunes that set the mood and pace for the LHO set that followed.

Their lyrics and songs overall, as well as their skill levels on their respective instruments, are really quite impressive for young men barely out of high school, a testament to the high level of musicianship that exists in Hamilton. And, they’re fun! They ended their set with a tune where Dan and Jimmy played each other’s guitars mid-song.  Looks easy enough, but it’s not.

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If you didn’t know what they looked like, you’d think they were a band that had been around for years and years. Seasoned performers already, Harlan Pepper have shared the stage with the Sadies, Born Ruffians, Two Hours Traffic, the Arkells and Feist.  Keep your eye on these ones!

Check out this video for their song “Great Lakes,” and listen to their cleverly woven lyrics:

Here’s a clip from a show at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern:

Photos by Stephanie Beatson, for more Canadian Music Week Photos check out ForgetTheBox on Facebook

 

Colin James came and tore it up at Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night.  Playing to an extremely excited sold-out crowd who demanded two encores from the Canadian icon, James delivered an incredible performance that showcased his talent in both the blues and rock genres that his music touches on. Women were screaming in a way somewhat reminiscent of Beatlemania years ago. James, always a crowd pleaser, came down off the stage and into the audience at one point which heightened the already charged atmosphere.

It was a highly entertaining show.  It’s easy to see why James has done so well for himself over his career, already having been nominated for fifteen Juno awards and winning six. He hit every note, ripped it up during every guitar solo (and there were many) and played with the energy and enthusiasm of a young go-getter.

Colin James Lees Palace 2

The band, made up of Chris Caddell (guitar), Maury LaFoy (bass), Al Webster (drums) and cutie Jesse O’Brien (piano/organ) played some of James’s older hits including a wonderful cover of Into the Mystic some tunes from FIFTEEN, his aptly titled fifteenth studio release that came out last year, and also many songs from his live album, TWENTY FIVE LIVE, which marks the twenty-fifth year of his illustrious music career and was released just this month.

James was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame on Thursday night by long-time friends Tom Wilson and Colin Linden of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Whether young or old, there’s something for everyone to appreciate in the music of this exceptional artist.  Check out a live performance of “Keep On Loving Me Baby” here :

Savages

A few years ago a friend who shall remain nameless callously declared that there’s no such thing as a good all girl rock band. Well on Friday night at the Horseshoe Tavern, playing their first ever show in Canada, the talented ladies of the band Savages proved him to be very, very wrong. As I attempted to scribble my notes on the show in the darkened, packed venue, a very sweet but very drunk man screamed in my ear “I hope you’re writing down how much these girls ROCK!” It was easy to tell from the energy in the room that drunk man and I were not the only people who knew that you don’t need a penis to put on a kick ass rock show.

Hailing from London, Savages are a post punk band whose psychedelic moody sound are reminiscent of  Sixoisie and the Banshees and Joy Division. Indeed, hearing lead singer Jehnny Beth perform often made me feel during the night that I was watching the reincarnated version of Ian Curtis in the form of a short, feisty lady. Her intense wail on the single “Husbands” convinced me that night if this lady does not become a giant superstar there is something horribly wrong in this world.

I believe the whole band is destined for greatness; although their first record isn’t out until May, their performances have caused a great stir in the UK blogosphere. And if Friday’s show is anything to go by, these Savages are most definitely going to be getting lots more love soon from this side of the pond as well.

Photos by Chris Zacchia for more Canadian Music Week Photos check out ForgetTheBox on Facebook

 

 

 

Trent Severn played to an enthusiastic crowd at the Dakota Tavern on Wednesday night.  The group, made up of Dayna Manning (vocals, guitar, banjo), Emm Gryner (vocals, bass, guitar) and Laura C. Bates (vocals, violin), paint stunning visual portraits in their folk/roots based songs fueled by Canadian landscapes and folklore.  With references to the Bluenose on our dime, getting stuck on highway 400 going up to cottage country, wearing comfy NHL sweaters and Brian Mulroney quotes, what’s not to love, dear Canadians? Especially when sung by a trio of  babes with killer three-part harmonies? Recently, at one of their shows, Chris Hadfield called them from outer space. Though they’re a relatively new band with only one album released to date, Trent Severn are already making headlines.

Listen to these stunning sirens croon their song “Freedom”

http://youtu.be/vu4736ukbR8

Hey guess what? It’s Canadian Music Week in the Tdot! For those of you who don’t know, CMW is a massive festival held in Toronto every year that boasts a buttload (around 1000) of incredible musicians playing shows at 60 venues around the city. There’s also a conference, a comedy fest and film fest. Sound overwhelming? Well, it can be, so we’ve compiled a list of shows we think are not to be missed. And kids, don’t forget to buy a wristband (they’re only $60), try to alternate beers and water so you don’t fall down and piss your pants and miss out on stuff, and check out the website for show times, locations and availability. Mostly though, just have a kickass time. This is the kind of shit we Canucks live for, right?

Tuesday

jeremy fischerThe opening day of the festival is somewhat sparse, however, that just means there is no reason not to check out the showcase at the Dakota Tavern. Trent Severn and Jeremy Fisher will make a killer combination beginning at 7:30pm. Trent Severn is made up of Emm Gryner, Dayna Manning and Laura C. Bates, each of whom have had exciting music careers prior to joining forces in this folky group. Their wonderfully melodic songs paint a portrait of the Canadian landscape sung with beautiful three part harmonies, and accompanied by acoustic guitar, bass and violin.

trent severnJeremy Fisher is celebrating the recent release of his fifth album, Mint Juleps, an acoustic-driven album that highlights the strong songwriting of this two-time Juno nominee. The album has the spirit of his live shows; in fact it was recorded live off the studio floor, a refreshing and brave idea in the world of digital technology. Mint Juleps contains original songs and covers that Fisher plays live, and you can expect a mix of upbeat dance along numbers and slower, finger-picked soulful songs at the show. His set begins at 8:30pm. If you can’t make it out Tuesday, fear not! The showcase will be repeated on Wednesday night.

Wednesday

starsStars (with Yukon Blonde)
Montreal band Stars are an exciting indie pop band who use electronic layers under soft, wonderfully nuanced vocals sung by Torquil Campbell (also of Memphis and Broken Social Scene) and Amy Millan (also of Broken Social Scene). They are something of a hidden gem in the Canadian indie music scene, but have steadily been gaining popularity. To promote their recent album The North, they toured with Metric in late 2012. Check them out at the Danforth with Yukon Blonde, another must-see act. Doors open at 8:00pm. They also play on Thursday with opening act Said the Whale.

colin jamesColin James
This six-time Juno award winner, hailing from Regina, has done it again with his fifteenth studio album, aptly named FIFTEEN. The album, featuring rock, blues, gospel and pop infused songs has been nominated for a Juno. On this record, James collaborated with industry greats including Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar, Grady), Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, LeE HARVeY OsMOND) and Thomas “Tawgs” Salter (Lights, Josh Groban). Hear the latest and greatest from Colin James at Lee’s Palace, 10:00pm.

Thursday

mo kenedyMo Kenney
This newcomer into the Canadian music scene is just 22 years old, but writes with wisdom well beyond her years. Her self-titled debut album, produced by Joel Plaskett, is a fantastic collection of original tunes which feature her strong vocals and solid guitar skills. From Waverly, NS, she recently announced she will be playing with symphony Nova Scotia next season, alongside Plaskett. Her showcase is at the Great Hall at 9:00pm. She’s also opening for Ron Sexsmith on Friday at 9:15 at the Randolph Theatre. Don’t miss Mo Kenney; you will not leave disappointed!

Two Hours Traffictwo hours traffic
This award-winning alternative band base their songs on pop melodies, built from the bass and drums up. Another east coast act, from PEI, they also collaborated with Joel Plaskett on many of their albums, but in trying to evolve their sound have teamed up with Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case, the Sadies, the New Pornographers) for their most recent release, Magic. Their collection of mostly love songs are filled with catchy hooks and emotional and lyric depth that will keep the songs lingering in your head and heart long after the show is over. Catch them at Lee’s Palace at 12:00am.

Friday

lee harvey osmondLeE HARVeY OsMOND
Former Junkhouse frontman Tom Wilson (also with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) has taken on a psychedelic acid folk solo project. His debut album as LeE HaRVEY OsMOND, A Quiet Evil, was critically acclaimed and added to the Polaris Music Prize long list. His follow-up album, Folk Sinner, features Tom’s signature grit and subject matter revolving around growing up in the sixties and experiencing the political unrest that plagued North America at the time. Tom is featured on guitar and vocals, and has an array of guest artists including Margo Timmins, Hawksley Workman, Colin Linden, Oh Susanna, Andy Maize, Colin Cripps and Paul Reddick. Andy Maize, Oh Susanna and Colin Linden are also featured at his showcase at The Great Hall. This show will be raw, and it will rock! Doors open at 8:00pm.

Yukon Blondeyukon blonde
Formed in 2005 in Kelowna, BC, under the name Alphababy, the indie rock band changed their name to Yukon Blonde in 2008 and changed from a moody style to a more raw, guitar-driven rock sound. They were later named one of the 10 Canadian bands destined to break by 2010. They certainly have done well for themselves since, receiving critical acclaim from CHARTattack and Exclaim! Magazine. Their song “My Girl” off their 2012 album Tiger Talk reached number 30 on the Canadian alternative chart. Don’t miss this band! They play at 9:40pm at the Kool Haus. They are also opening for Stars at the Danforth on Wednesday.

Saturday and Sunday

ninique royerNinique Royer
Ninique Royer’s vocal style has been compared to Ray LaMontagne. There’s a soulful rasp to it, which combined with his expressive lyrics and soft acoustic guitar strumming, make for truly moving music. For a quiet, eloquent evening, catch Ninique’s set which begins at 9:00pm at the Central on Saturday.

The Maladies of Adam Stokesthe maladies of Adam stokes
Toronto based band The Maladies of Adam Stokes were formed in 2009 and in a short time went from playing small clubs to sold-out shoes at the Horseshoe Tavern. This six member group were recently featured on CBC’s Searchlight contest, and in 2012, released their first full-length album City of Trees which they are currently promoting. Their songs feature beautiful and thought-invoking melodies, backed by a band including the foundational bass and drums, with guitars, piano, violin, trumpet and glockenspiel, resulting in a powerful collage of indie folk wonder. It’ll be worth staying up to catch their late Saturday night set at the Free Time’s Cafe at 1:00am.

in my comaIn My Coma
Toronto based alternative rock band In My Coma is made up of a trio of strong players who put on a great live show. Their music is influenced by Brit-pop of the 1980s. They tell unusual stories and use unexpected chord changes, yet it works and the result is a collection of interesting and melodic songs that will get you grooving along. They are about to embark on a cross-Canada tour, but before that see In My Coma play a showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern at 9:00pm on Sunday, or you can catch them earlier in the week at Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret at 10:00pm on Thursday.

Adam and the Am

There are a few things that I learned about myself at Canadian Music Week: 1) I wish I was a Muppet 2) Spanish rockabilly is officially my new favourite kind of music. 3) Life would be way cooler if I could use a press pass to breeze through any tough situation or long line ups in life. Sigh…

The Triple Gangers set that had capped off my night on Friday evolved into a full blown 3am after-hours dance party. I kept dancing along to MGMT and Timberlake knowing full well I had another full day of CMW activities ahead of me anyways. As I’ve learned over several years of festival going, sleep is something you can worry about when its all said and done. When Saturday morning did finally rear its ugly head a coffee, egg McMuffin and hour of trashy reality TV got me ready to start my day.

Being a film geek at heart, I wanted to watch at least one movie at the film festival portion of CMW. The moment I perused the CMW film fest line-up I knew immediately which one it was going to be: A screening of the 1979 The Muppet Movie. While I loved the new muppet movie that came out last year and A Muppet Christmas Carol has become a holiday staple for me, until Saturday I had never seen this movie. I was thrilled to spend the afternoon indulging in childish delights and clearly I wasn’t alone; there wasn’t a single person under twenty in the entire audience. I also can’t believe that I’ve gone this long in life without ever having hearing the theme song to the movie, The Rainbow Connection. Simple, yet beautiful.

Speaking of the music from the movie, after the screening the audience was treated to a Q & A from one of the music composers Paul Williams. Williams is charming in that very Hollywood kinda way; worlds apart from the quiet and humble Q & A I saw last year with indie filmmaker Panos Cosmatos. Williams talked about what inspires Muppet stories and amused the audience with stories of how when the cameras weren’t rolling Frank Oz would make sure Miss Piggy would insult him with some of “the filthiest language you’ve ever heard”.

After stopping for dinner with some Toronto friends, I was ready to go listen to some music. Carefully planning out my route so that I could end the evening in Parkdale where I was crashing, I decided to work my way down Queen street. When I lived in Toronto this fall I had often walked past The Drake Hotel on my way home and thought to myself it would be fun to stop in and check out what all the hype was about. That combined with the fact that the Drake is where Pop Montreal was having their showcase cemented where I started out.

When I first arrived at The Drake, I wandered around the venue waiting for my fellow Forget the Box CMWers to join me. My honest first impression was that I was shocked that Pop Montreal would want to put on a showcase in such a yuppie kinda place. I admit it was more then a little satisfying to show my press pass and breeze past the long line up of club kids with their expensive high heels and suits, but this was not the kind of dirty hole reeking of beer and sweat (or as we joke here at FTB, “eau de partaye”) that I was used to seeing at indie rock shows.

But then FTB photographer Chris Zacchia arrived and showed me where we were headed, The Drake Underground was at the back of the venue down a winding staircase. Standing amongst dudes in converse sneakers and plaid shirts and girls with high buns and oversized glasses, I sighed and knew I was where I belonged.

Adam and the Amethysts

The show I caught was Adam and the Amethysts. A duo for the night (the website is vague on how many people are officially in the band) I didn’t realize until I caught the set that I’d actually known about this band for awhile; the song “Bumblebee” is on an old Pop Montreal CD I have from 2008. “Prophecy” and “Flickering Flashlight” are two other really great tracks I recommend you check out from them as well.

Unlike SnowBlink the night before, Adam and the Amethysts managed to make low-key folk rock chill yet completely engaging. The intimate lighting that accompanied the set may have made Zacchia’s job of capturing good photos a bitch, but I was absolutely caught up in the moment. Seeing the Pop Montreal showcase washed the lacklustre taste of the Arts and Crafts showcase the night before right out of my mouth. Could it be a matter of feeling more connected to my own kind? Who knows.

guadalupe Plata

While the boys then ran off to catch a bunch more shows, I wanted to go check out another full set before calling it a night. Making an effort to pick a show that wasn’t the same Parkdale/Plateau/Brooklyn indie bands I usually see, I thought the Sounds from Spain showcase (whose logo looks suspiciously like that of Pop Montreal’s) at the Gladstone hotel might be worth checking out. And what would you know the band that I saw, Guadalupe Plata, ended up being my favourite show of CMW 2012. Even without understanding Spanish it’s impossible not to love the fun rockabilly/blue punk sounds these guys produce. Go check out their bandcamp page and I dare you not to bob your head along to “Pollo Podrio” or “Boogie de la Muerte”.

Immediately after arriving at The Gladstone I was dancing the night away for the second time in a row; and thank goodness for that. If only we could end everyday dancing!

After the show I managed to chat with the band outside along with members of Bigott, another band that had played earlier that evening. While we couldn’t exactly conduct a full blown interview due to language issues, it was fun to chat up the boys. I could tell how excited they were to be in Toronto, and that they looked forward to doing the tourist thing for a few days before returning home.

Crazy to think that another CMW has come and gone. Hopefully next year I can find a way to make it out for the full five days, but then again who knows if my ear drums, liver and bank account could possibly handle it.

gold & youth

As I made my way into the packed Horseshoe tavern on Friday night, a giant smile was plastered across my face. Not only do some of my favorite people live here, but after reporting on the film fest portion of Canadian Music Week last year I’ve been eagerly looking forward to returning to Toronto to covering the main attraction: music! glorious music! While my FTB colleagues ran frantically around town like chickens with their heads cut off, I headed down to the Horseshoe Tavern to check out the Arts and Crafts CMW showcase. It was a mixed bag musically; but thankfully it’s impossible not to have a good time when you have good friends, beer, and your favorite dancing shoes.

The first act was Snowblink from California. The lead singer was a lovely, pleasant young woman but I felt her kind of music was better suited to a quiet evening in a coffee shop as oppose to a opening act at a rock club. Snowblink would be a perfect soundtrack to those rainy Sunday afternoons when you want to clean your apartment. But I have to admit that after spending 6 hours on a train to get here I was ready to rock out, so I was a little disappointed.

 gold & youth
Gold & Youth at CMF 2012 - Photo by Chris Zacchia

The next act, Gold and Youth, was more promising; as the boys did their sound check, the area in front of the stage began to grow significantly; people were definitely interested in seeing what they had to offer. And so we waited. And waited. I admit while being caught up in the frenzy I quickly lost interest the longer this band took to set up their set. When they did come on the boys did a perfectly good yet sadly perfectly generic set. My friend Alex described the band perfectly when he quipped “It’s like if Sam Roberts made dance music” It was by no means bad, but it was the same kind of rock songs you’ve heard a million times before.

After getting lost in conversation catching up with my Toronto International Film Festival co-workers for awhile, I decided that it the Arts and Crafts showcase had failed to win me over and it was time to move on. (I learned later on that evening that I should have stayed a little while longer because several people told me that Zeus gave a kick ass set).

The Triple Gangers

I said goodbye to my TIFF friends and headed off to catch the latest performance from The Triple Gangers. I have no shame in declaring my undying love for this band and have to admit while I was sad afterwards to miss Zeus, you never regret going to a Triple Gangers show. The vibes were delightful in the tiny, sweaty venue (I would offer the name of the venue if it hadn’t been 2 am and many drinks in before I arrived) and immediately upon arrival I found myself shedding my layers and gleefully dancing along to the high energy beats. While it all may have started out kinda lackluster as soon as I saw Aurora, Ghislian and Ida (aka the Triple Gangers) start to paint each other with war paint during their set, I laughed aloud and declared the evening a roaring success.

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Marysia Florczyk

Yardlets

The last night of Canadian Music Fest, after having gone to bed at 11am that morning, one can say I was not in the best of shape. So with almost no sleep it was any wonder I found myself dozing off to some folk music band. I had to go take an emergency disco nap to keep going. It was 10pm and none of my Forget The Box colleagues believed I’d wake up from that nap.

I gladly proved them wrong, when to everybody’s surprise that I showed up right on time at The Garrison to catch the Yardlets’ set. It was the first time I got to see this, now four-piece, band from Montreal. They play a very raw, in-your-face garage rock; the type of music that would fit well in a dive bar like Barfly or  but wasn’t as suited to the Toronto venue.

My only criticism was that they could use a bit more energy on the stage; if they’d been jumping all over the place they could have communicated with the crowd better. But they’re still a new band and they’re still learning how to interact with their screaming fans. The bassist, Marysia Florczyk is a recent addition to the group and we’ll see how she helps their sound evolve.

Recently they were joined by Sebastien Grainger formerly from Death from Above 1979 in studio, which will probably be help get them on the hyped band map.
Montreal people, you’ll be able to catch them live @Divan Orange on April 21st. They’ll be playing with Aunty Panty! and Man Legs (Calgary).

Yardlets Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk

Yardlets

Yardlets

Yardlets

Photos by Chris Zacchia
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It’s official! The Forget the box team is at CMW and there’s no way back. Personally, it’s my first year attending this event and the least I can say is that I wasn’t prepared for such an intense weekend.

The whole city is turned upside down. Bars are closing at 4am, people from everywhere are gathering together, every single venue in the city has at least four bands playing every night and, of course, everybody is on a beer diet. Here’s the report of my first Canadian Music Week night…

First of all, Toronto is a wide city. So wide, that you can easily walk for an hour to go from one venue to another. It can be tiring on your feet (especially if you have the “good” idea of wearing high heels) but it’s also an opportunity to walk by many venues and randomly discover your new favourite band.

While stepping out in search of food, we noticed a venue right in front of our hostel. We put the food search on hold and entered Cherry Cola. This tiny red bar decorated in a rococo style was the perfect way to start our adventures. The Dirty Nils were on stage and impressed us all (Jerry already wrote about them so go see his review if you want to know more about this grungy band).

We headed out to catch Chinatown at Lula Lounge. Unfortunately, it was a bad scene, as the Montreal band was the last one to play this big, empty venue. I’ve seen them before and the least I can say is that they had the worst conditions for their Toronto debut. For some strange reason they weren’t allowed to play with their own gear, the venue was way too big for a francophone band doing their first show in this city, and they were playing their new songs for the first time live. A show to forget, but they still a bright future, since their new drummer Maxime Hébert (formerly of the High Dials and Final Flash) will brings a great dynamic to the band.

After half an hour of walking and a couple of PBRs, we arrived at Wrongbar, a hip Toronto bar that I’ve wanted to check out for a while. We were right on time to catch the beginning of The Lava & Ash’s set. They’re a blues, surf, garage rock-infused band who describe their latest release as “Wynonna Ryder’s favorite album to just put on and weep, just 100 hard copies, up there with dance mix 94, hotter than a pepper sprout.” I strongly suggest you visit their Bandcamp , as you can grab their music for free. (Venue note: minus point for Jäggermeister’s half naked promo girls that were giving out caps and boxers…excuse me ladies, but all we want is free shots.)

Next stop was Parts and Labour, where Rituals and Little Girls were playing.  We got in a little early so we had to entertain ourselves. That’s pretty much where we lost control.

The venue was in the basement but the restaurant upstairs was hosting a Belvedere Vodka private party. I tried to sneak in, but the girls at the door, not seeing my name on their V.I.P list, wouldn’t let me past them. Little did I know that all I needed was a charming personality, but mostly a camera around my neck. That’s how our FTB photographer got us in.

With complimentary shooters and delicious mixed vodka drinks, we headed back downstairs to catch the end of Rituals who were good but the following band, Little Girls, really stole the show. What started as Josh McIntyre’s solo project rapidly became an underground post-punk sensation. The four piece band released an EP last fall and is currently working on their second LP.

That’s about it for our first day. Well, there’s more but it would be inappropriate to write about the end of the night, wouldn’t it? There are plenty of bands I’m looking forward to seeing today, but it’s mostly going to be a Nicolas Jaar kind of day. I’ll finish with these words of wisdom: when the Indian pizza guy tells you to taste the spicy sauce before putting it all over your slice, one must listen or end up crying.

* photos by Chris Zacchia

Dirty Nil at Cherry Cola

So begins another crazy year at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and I have to wonder: Will the first night deteriorate into a booze filled nightmarish dream leading to liver damage and a splitting hangover? Or will the music prevail and carry this evening out to the elation of national pride?

Dirty Nil at Cherry Cola

The Dirty Nil @ The Cherry Cola Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret

The night began innocently enough at The Cherry Cola Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret. I decided when I started off on this Toronto musical journey that I wouldn’t get lost trying to find The Great Hall like last year. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed on my first night, and with the intention of settling in I decided that I would intentionally get lost,  in the music. What bands would I see? and would they be any good? It could have been a disastrous evening, however luck was on my side as most of the bands had great, if not, triumphant stage performances.

Settling into Canadian Music Week, I went to the venue closest to to my hostel to see The Dirty Nil. The band was rocking high strung shinny nineties tunes. They made me feel dirty with their raw grungy guitar licks that kept the crowd bopping on this very warm March evening.

They’re a three piece that liked to scream and howl and belt out fuzzy distorted grunge, but with catchy songs that power through pop rhythms. It was one grungy experience in the very cool, red-themed Cherry Cola venue. Give a listen to their track Fucking Up Young. Grab your old Weezer T-shirt and mosh around your room.

Galaxie Adam bunch CMW
Galaxie photo by Adam Bunch of The Little Red Umbrella

Galaxie and Half Moon Run @ El Mocambo

Afterward, I went to El Mocambo on Spadina to check out the Belle Province Showcase. The event sponsored by Sirius and CBC radio 3 brought out a full contingent of bands from Quebec. The featured headliners were The Dears and Martha Wainwright, big names that pop up on local radio stations from time to time.

But there were two bands that really stood out:

Galaxie put on a very impressive show, starting off with some ambient noise before breaking into some wicked poppy riffs. This trippy Quebecois garage troupe brought on some new singers that really helped the band capture the audience.

The highlight of the Quebec show was Half Moon Run which knocked me in my corner beside the wall, where I usually like to hide and take notes. Their textured riffs along with impressive guitar playing kept the audience on their feet and moving around. Cerebral at times, rocking at others, this band created emotional states and moved the audience through them all. Listen to Full Circle, a great song from this up and coming band.

teenage kicks cmw

Teenage Kicks and Tim Chaisson and the Morning Fold @ The Hideout

One thing I noticed throughout the evening was the resurgence of nineties rock. It seemed that grunge and early nineties hard rock never died here in Toronto to the ecstasy of  this music critic’s ear. Dirty Nil, brought the grunge but Teenage Kicks brought the hard rock sound of the nineties to a packed crowd at The Hideout.

The venue was packed tighter than a can of spam. The crowd got to see a rock star performance from a band that played the nineties riffs while the signer’s distinct singing style made the music come alive. Those boys just looked like they were having fun on stage and the pleasure of playing came out. Please feel free to rock out to Setting Son.

The last act of the evening was Tim Chaisson and the Morning Fold, hailing from PEI. They made me remember all my east coast friends. Tim’s gentle Maritime sound seemed to bring many east-coasters to the show and he’ll be playing at the East Coast Showcase. Checkout their tune Would You Go So Far.

Everything seemed to be going so well. The randomness was working. I was buzzing around from venue to venue. And I almost made it through the weekend without a “shit show”. That was until 3 a.m.

Let’s just say the end of the night deteriorated into a boozy concoction of madness and elation. I won’t get into the details but imagine the room-service scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the room-service.

Now that I’m recovering, expect to see more from me on Day 2.

This is Jerry signing off from Canadian Music Week.

Galaxie photo by Adam Bunch of The Little Red Umbrella

Other photos by Chris Zacchia

For the rest of our CMW coverage.

BearHands

BearHands
Bear Hands

It’s already March and you know what that means? That means at the end of the month Forget The Box will be venturing to Toronto for an overdose of music, film and very little sleep. For the past week, I’ve been listening to a lot of the artists that will be playing at CMW. Some of them are very talented but let’s be honest, there’s only so much time and you can’t catch everything. So, here’s a little introduction and my opinions on what’s not to be missed!

Indie

Alex the Great: Four boys coming from Brighton, Uk who make beautiful indie-folk music. It could hardly fail. Track to check out: The Saint pt. III.

Gold & Youth: I totally fell in love with their new single Time to Kill, that appears on their first full length to be released on the label Arts and Crafts. Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Wire, Interpol) is in charge of mixing the album. Something about them reminds me of TV on the Radio at their best. Track to check: Time to kill.

Bare Wires: Tight jeans, leather jacket and rock music written under the Californian sun? The perfect mix to have hipster chicks clap in their hands and throw their panties on the stage. Track to check: Don’t ever change

http://youtu.be/XGC4Kv53J8w

Bear Hands: After having spent the past years opening for bands like the XX, Vampire Weekend, and MGMT we can say 2012 should be their breakthough year. Track to check: Crime pays.

Electronic music/hip-hop

Ali Shaheed Muhammad: When one guy from A Tribe Called Quest is doing a DJ set, one must attend.

Housse de Racket: fresh sensation discovered by Kitsuné records. They’re not re-inventing the wheel but they should show you a good time. Track to check: Roman

Kon (fron kon & amir): heading from Brooklyn, this guy can teach you a lot about disco, funk and soul. For those who like to spent their whole week-ends in record stores in search of rarities. Here’s a video to get to know the guy.

Nicolas Jaar: Let’s put it that way: if there’s one act not to be missed during CMW it’s Nicolas Jaar. This guy has a special sensibility and can mix electronic music with jazz and soul. If you haven’t discovered him yet I urge to get his record Space is Only Noise. Track to check out: Keep me there

That’s about it for my “serious” suggestions. One last thing though. On the first day of the festival, CMW will feature a special Korean night with K-pop wave. I’ve looked at some videos from the artists featured and OMG! Justin Timberlake gone Korean? Menga Spice Girls? I say yes! To this!

Forget the Box takes you through what indie rock events are not to be missed at this years’s Canadian Music Week Festival in Toronto.

The Apache Relay
Hard to believe it’s already that time of year again, but in less than two months, another Canadian Music Week will be upon us! What is Canadian Music Week, you ask? It’s when, for five days, people from all over the world gather in Toronto for an orgy of high profile music and comedy stars, come discover the next under the radar indie band, or enjoy kick ass music inspired film at the CMW Film Fest (and just maybe if you’re lucky, sit down the aisle from Sammy Hagar).

We here at Forget the Box had an amazing, sleep deprived experience at the 2011 CMW. So in early January, when we began to sketch out ideas of what festivals and events we wanted to cover over 2012, going back to Toronto for another CMW was an obvious choice. Now without further ado, here’s a preview of some of the acts Forget the Box is excited to catch at this year’s festival:

Ben Caplan and the Occasional Smokers An Indie folk group from Halifax, lead singer Ben Caplan is not only a strong lyricist  but has one of those great raspy Tom Waits-style voices that sucks you in immediately. Track to check out:  Down to the River

The Balconies is a sibling indie rock band from Toronto, and I am ashamed to admit I’ve never seen them perform live. With CMW 2012 I aim to change that. Track to check out: Kill Count

The Balconies (photo Chris Zacchia)

Acres of Lions This pop rock band from Victoria, BC has been voted one of the top 20 bands in the province two years in a row by Music BC. Track to check out: December

Avalanche City is sweet lo fi pop music from New Zeland, and darn it if they don’t make some of the cutest music videos you’ve ever seen. I dare you not to fall in love with this band. Track to check out: Love, Love, Love  

French Wives  This band from Glasgow is the only group I saw when perusing the CMW website that didn’t have a long flowery description of themselves. In fact, they didn’t have any description at all. It’s a good reflection of the simple yet throughly enjoyable indie rock they produce. Track to check out: Covered in Grace

Lovely Killbots is a Grindcore group from Toronto, and they’re destined to become your new favorite band to dance drunkenly to. Track to check out: Hello my dear

The Apache Relay is a indie rock band from Nashville that toured with Mumford and Sons this past year. As I went through the long list of bands this week, I was giving them each a ten second chance to impress me with their songs. Yet when I reached this band, I realized I’d spent the past half hour searching through their song list. Track to check out: Home is not Places

Over the next six weeks, make sure you check back at Forget the Box to see more CMW previews of this year’s film fest and other interesting concerts and events happening during the festival. Check out the entire CMW 2012 schedule for yourself.

http://youtu.be/tMjXZlUOWSE

 

One thing I remember about last year in Toronto was all the amazing metal and punk shows I randomly came across during Canadian Music Week. Here’s is guide to this year’s CMW for those of you who like it loud, fast and distorted:

Arkam Awaits
Besides having a really cool name, these Guelph natives really know how to rip metal chords in your eardrum. Awaits represent the best of Southern Ontario metal. Expect to see large, familiar crowds begging for more!

Bathurst
These guys are the sound of growing up, without all that growing up nonsense! Punk is alive and well in Toronto, as Bathurst brings a unique perspective to T-dot punk.

Careers in Science
Another fun, fast punk band from Toronto with Influences from mainstream punk to American hardcore and 80s underground. If you like sweet, catchy new wave-influenced riffs with your punk, be sure to listen to these boys.

Crutch
Hailing from Niagra, Ontario, Crutch have a deafeningly unique style of loudness. Having played in venues like The Opera House, Rockford’s House of Rock and the famed Lee’s Palace, they are becoming widely known for putting on one awesome live performance!

The Dirty Mags
Loud and ferocious, the Dirty Mags are punk on a bender. Signed to Toronto’s local White Girl Records after forming in 2010, their sound is fast, high octane and fun, but don’t ask these boys to borrow money because most of their songs are about being broke.

Eikostate
Let me ask you a simple question: do you like electroshock therapy in the form of music? What you see is what you get with these Barcelona men. Get ready for the biblical tribulation in your ear!

Endast
Endast will make you taste the blood running down your nose from moshing too long. I know because that’s what happen to me the last time I saw their show! After a few hours after seeing these Montreal metal kings, you will still be hearing them in your head. Prepare for internal metal recordings.

Endless Dark
Imagine the sounds of volcanoes erupting, shattered glaciers and melting fjords. That’s the only way to describe this youthful metal band from Iceland. These boys are on the cutting edge of metal and with their soon to be released COLD, HARD DECEMBER they hope to take the Canadian Metal Scene by storm!

Fade
Do you like to listen to metal while chowing down on sushi? If so, then japaneese 80s hair metal band Fade is the band for you. They are looking forward to making their first splash in Canada. Fade have had sucess in the Japaneese scene and so we wish them well as they tour the Artic Tundra, also known as Canada.

Forever Came Calling
From California, Forever Came Calling are an irreverent group of punk kids who just want to ding a few ballads for an audience. Known for their fast and highly enjoyable ditties, this is one band you might want to check out.

Goddamn Robots
Goddamn Robots are four guys from different bands (Seconds to Go, The Junction, Crash Parallel) who still find a way to disappoint their parents by playing punk music for no money, but their overdrive sound does impress.

Greater Than Giants
These Edmonton dudes are just out to have a great time. Looking forward to bouncing my head around to their catchy new punk tunes.

I Call Fives
These New Jersy punks were formed in 2006, but now after touring and partying their hearts out, they’re ready to settle down… nah, just kidding!

Impeding Doom
Are Impending Doom the harbingers of the apocalypse? Maybe. They are indeed bringers of pure metal light. There’s not a lot of Christian metal bands, but they are certainly one of the best Christian metal bands to see and are also definitely one of the most sucessfull bands at this year’s CMW, selling over 70 000 records worldwide.

Job For a Cowboy
Job For A Cowboy are a heavy powerhouse metal band who have had great success over the past few years. Their EP Doom reached the top 100 of the Billboard charts and they are one of the leading metal bands at CMW.

Phat Jesus
With members coming from Montreal and Nova Scotia, this group of guys like to blast out fat rhythms and employ only the most honest of beats, mixing punk, psychedelic and funk elements.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been” sang the The Grateful Dead. Little did they know that the iconic song Truckin’ would perfectly described my trip to Toronto for Canadian Music Week. There were some disappointments, and there were some eventful surprises, and then, there were the not so “eventful” things that happened–shameful, very shameful drunken shirtless, pants-less things, that I’ve decided to keep in the vault.

Now to rock out the way I did, you will need a mix of a few items; shaken not stirred. Please use the following ingredients to make rock n’ roll happened:

guitars,

sex,

drugs,

cigarettes,

and rubbing alcohol…

Okay, well, maybe not the rubbing alcohol!– I swear, your honour, I only used one, maybe two, of these substances at a time!

Now, I’m ready to self-destruct faster than a whiskey bottle in a shattered hotel room. So here is my overview from Canadian Music Week before I burn out faster than a rock star!

Instead of focusing on the negative―and there were a few negatives, i.e. the”Indie awards” (the event where the word “indie” went to die–what’s so “indie” about indie music at the Indies when the Indies are sponsored by major corporations? Can I say indie one more time? Indie!)―I will instead try to focus on the successes of the week.

Best venue

In the last day I was more reckless that usual. I went randomly searching for the right venue, but by the end of the night I was usually picking venues and shows out of a hat. I consider myself, a very, very unlucky person. And that is why I think I ended up at Hard Luck. Hard Luck is a “dive” bar- but you will find Pabst there at least. And for that reason and for resembling the very narrow and homey Barfly of Montreal I give them the Venue of the week award! Congratulations!

And now it’s time of the big prizes. Drum roll please! It’s time for the top 5 performances from Canadian Music Week:

5) Lunic. Yes, this luscious Manhattan duet are extremely pleasing on the eye. There performance was very electrorock oriented but sounded pretty distinct. I couldn’t help swaying my head back and forth to their beats. Beautiful and dark, there songs offered a lot of promise especially the song hypnotized- I kept playing it over and over again on myspace. The experience reminded me of finding a   great article of clothing at at thrift. You know if you look hard enough you will find something special.

 

4) Cuff the Duke.There was so much to expect. I anticipated and I really wasn’t let down. The show went on great although the venue was hot and humid with human sweat. The boys played an excellent set. Plus, I got to hoe down. Need I say more?

3) Bachman Turner. The shock and surprise of seeing Sammy Hagar play with these guys was truly aorta straining. Watching them jam out was an exultingly early 80’s experience. I wish I wore my spandex pants!

2) The Barr Brothers. They were a pick out of a hat. But what   n delightful evening, my first evening seem to go negative, this group of harpist seraphic angels that came in to save the day! The harp made me believe in a   heaven. Thank you guys! Please check out their music they ill bring positivity to your day.

1) Kurt Vile and the Violators. This show was not a surprise. You can feel something special while I was there, like it was only a matter of time before Kurt Vile was making it big―kind of the way I felt when I saw Wilco many years ago. The event itself was cerebral and touching. The audience reaction was kind of like my own reaction–in a state of trance. The Great Hall, the venue he played at, was also was very cool. and memorable. Overall, it was one of the best shows I saw that week.

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