Christian Bridges is a young songwriter and performer in Toronto who played a show at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern on July 20th.  Included on a bill with many talented groups, Bridges and his band played an energetic set of songs mainly off his recently released debut EP album From Within.  His song “Caribbean Girl” was recently selected as CBC’s song of the week.  Bridges’s music is uplifting and socially aware.  It’s also fun to watch him play live; he’s a strong performer and very emotive.  His band is made up of great players as well, many of whom were students of Humber College’s illustrious music program.

In addition to playing under his own name, Bridges is part of Toronto band Down By Riverside.  The band has connected with charities, women’s shelters and the Occupy Toronto movement because of their vibrant songs about rising above challenges and being strong.

Bridges also co-wrote a song with Justin Nozuka, titled “Heartless,” which won them a Number 1 SOCAN award and was a chart-topping hit in France.

Bridges’s album From Within was produced live off the floor, a rare occurrence these days, by Thomas McKay (of Joydrop).  Watch “Caribbean Girl” performed live at the Supermarket in Toronto here, with special guest performers in tow to enhance the Caribbean flavour and check out the steel drum dude’s hat (wouldn’t want to mess with those dreads)!

Shotgun Jimmie merrily travelled from Brandon, Manitoba to blast out a set of feel-good tunes for the ALLCAPS Island Festival crowd last weekend. Playing as a three piece, the band cranked out good old-fashioned rock tunes.

Jimmie’s songs and fun, light-hearted and often comical, making him something of a musician for the working class. Clever rhymes add to the enjoyable vibe of the music, and a raw rock sound reminiscent of Joel Plaskett is Jimmie’s signature style. Also like Plaskett, Jimmie is a real do-it-yourselfer, playing most of the instruments on his albums himself.

shotgun jimmie 2

What you probably don’t know is that this playful fellow’s 2011 album Transistor Sister was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize (yet another commonality with Plaskett). He’s currently touring around Canada to support his 2013 release, Everything, Everything.

The music video for his song “North!” off this record was directed by Colin Medley, and I really enjoy the implied rhyming he uses in it, the cunning little charmer

If you like Harlan Pepper, and obviously Joel Plaskett, you’ll dig Shotgun Jimmie.

Hooded Fang are a Toronto rock band that incorporate a punk aesthetic both musically and in their approach to writing and performing. What’s most charming about them is their genuine spirit and their priority of vibe over sheer musical perfection.

They have fun and the audience has fun right along with them.  They played a set of upbeat songs to a hungry crowd as part of the final ALL CAPS Festival on Toronto Island last weekend that led to the formation of a mosh pit that broke out at the front of the small stage at Artscape’s Gibraltar Point.

They use a standard band set up with guitars, bass and drums, but what sets Hooded Fang apart are their heavy use of the chorus pedal in the guitar parts. Singer and guitarist Daniel Lee in particular uses the pedal to the point where the parts he plays sound almost electronic at times. This idealistic group of young musicians also includes Lane Halley on guitar and occasionally trumpet, April Aliermo on bass and D. Alex Meeks on drums.

Hooded Fang

 

They comment about things like their distaste of misogyny and sometimes the intensity of their messages seems at odds with the chill personality of Lee in particular, both onstage and off. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Perhaps that’s why they keep their fans coming.

They have achieved a comfortable blend of creating music with meaning that’s also great to dance to, without being overly intense all the time.

Check out their music at hoodedfang.bandcamp.com after you get a taste below:

I realized from the moment they walked on stage with white marks like war paint on their faces that seeing Phèdre perform is not just a show, it’s an experience. An oftentimes psychedelic experience; it was almost like a rave on stage. There were coloured lights, costumes, a DJ who was working the electronic backbone of the songs while songwriters Daniel Lee and April Aliermo sang and danced around up front. Founded by Hooded Fang‘s frontman Lee and bassist Aliermo, the estranged cousins also call on friends to help enhance live shows, as they did at Wrongbar in Toronto last weekend.

Dancer Phedre

For this show, the band also featured (for the first time) a conga player who added some tribal beats to the hip hop rhythmic foundation. Add in the electronic element I mentioned and you have an eclectic and interesting blend of genres influencing the music made. What also added to the impact of the performance were the two dancers, in matching colourful tops, who were like dolls that came to life on stage for many of the songs. When they weren’t dancing their choreographed, yet seemingly improvised, dances they were frozen in position as if waiting for some unseen cue to spring to life once again.

Phèdre are releasing their next album Golden Age on October 1st. The album was recorded this past winter in Berlin. I was able to sit down with the creative pair after their show at Wrongbar to find out why and pick their brain about their music a little.

phc3a8dre-golden-age-cover

FTB: Your music is very visual and very colourful. This is reflected with the number of music videos you have featured on your website and on YouTube. How much do you rely on the visual aspect during your live performance?

April Aliermo: I don’t think it’s about relying on it but I think we’re kind of like ADD and we’re into putting all kinds of media together.  We write music, we make videos, we also draw and we like to dance.  We’re into mixing them all together.  We’re also super into having community work together so we’ll get people that spend most of their time on a particular art to contribute.  We see it as a big art project.

Daniel Lee:  We have a lot of respect for visual artists out there and it’s good to incorporate that into projects.  Not every one, but we like to explore it, especially with this one.  It’s the same headspace we put into our music.

Tell me about your writing process.

DL: We try and work really quickly on this stuff. We’ll try anything and then just add more on top of it, and try to finish a song right away.

AA: I think more than anything we try to be super open to possibilities and ideas instead of getting stuck into some pattern or routine. It’s like, “this is the feeling of the song,” or what we want to write about. We go with the feeling without any restraints. Our new record, Daniel plays some bongos on it. Which is not the first thing you’d think of to put on a record like ours, I think, but bongos were around and we were like, “let’s try it!” The great thing about us working together is that we are comfortable and can just try anything and experiment. One of our songs on the new record has a metal cylinder filled with forks and knives. We recorded that sound. It sounds great.

So it is very experimental.

AA: Spontaneous and open is our thing and whatever sounds good. If it doesn’t, we’ll try something else.

Daniel

I understand you recorded Golden Age in Berlin. What were the reasons behind that decision? 

DL: We just happened to be there, actually. We were on tour with another band (Hooded Fang, another project of theirs) and my sister lives there so we wanted to hang out with her and her babies, and we also wanted to record a record.

AA: We were locked in an apartment for two and a half months so it didn’t really matter where we were. But being in Berlin definitely inspired us in a certain way, the way any place we would have ended up in would inspire us. It’s dark and drab in the winter. I feel like anywhere you’re at would work its way into the music, for sure. We were in a Turkish neighbourhood and I’m sure that worked its way in.

The name Phèdre is inspired by Greek mythology, but what are some of your musical or artistic influences?

AA: I feel like we should just name bands and artists that we love to answer that question. Kent Monkman, Wu-Tang Clan… A lot of hip hop and 90s R&B for sure. Like TLC. Daniel listened to a lot of alternative rock. Nirvana was alternative rock when we were growing up. I wasn’t into it.

DL: It’s got a hip hop bass on the bottom. As far as the beats go, how the songs start, it’s there but then we pull in whatever. A lot of different stuff. If you’re a music fan, you’re into a wide variety of things and we try and bring all our favourite things into it.

AA: Naughty by Nature. We’re into artists like Patrick Kyle.

How much do you rely on social media?  What do you find is the most effective way for you to get your music out there?

DL: We don’t have a record label. Well, we have our own record label, it’s a small independent label. DAPS Records. The internet is great because you can have people in Russia be like “Hey, what up? We love you. Your band, your music.” It’s great. Connection. You can do it today lots of ways, but for independent bands, it’s a great way to connect with people all over the world.

AL: In this day and age most bands rely on social media a lot. Beyond putting your shit up on Facebook, twitter and blogs or whatever, you kind of have to rely on major blogs that people turn to to see what’s up. How do you find out about the bands you think are awesome? You go to blogs to see what’s happening. Or your friends are putting your shit up.

DL: It’s the difference between being local and being able to reach a global audience.

What’s next for Phèdre?  What are your plans after your upcoming European tour?

DL: We’re just playing more shows.

AA: On top of putting our record out here, we’re putting it out with Discos Tormento in Mexico and South America which we’re super excited about because we can play Mexico. We’re working out the dates, but maybe some time in the late fall or winter.

DL: We love writing and recording so we’ll be doing that as well. We have some stuff in mind with live instruments. Bass and drums and stuff.

Any last thoughts?

DL:  Check out Toronto music. It’s fucking great. Check out Buzz Records.

Until Golden Age comes out, you can check out a video from their 2012 self-titled debut album:

Photos by Stephanie Beatson. 

Jadea Kelly recently released her second full-length album Clover.  The album is a wonderful collection of tunes that range from very personal sentiments such as “Mary Don’t Go,” a song about her grandmother, to songs inspired by an intense storm, or her desire to move up north of Toronto.

The vocals are the most prominent feature on the album which is so satisfying because her lyrics are lovely and evocative and her voice is smooth as silk.  Kelly has a delicate grace about her which is very much reflected in the melodies she sings and her gentle yet precise tone.  Certain songs, however, reveal a more powerful side of the chanteuse, most evident in the choruses of tracks like “Powell River” and “I’ll Be.”  “I’ll Be” is a noteworthy tune because of how the production of the song captures the contrast between feelings of weakness and power.  The vocals start out soft as Kelly sings of vulnerability and hope, but grow stronger in the chorus as she reveals inner strength.

Jadea

What highlights Kelly’s strong songwriting in addition to her polished vocals and interesting lyrics is her wonderful band of excellent musicians who add tasteful accompaniment to each song.  The electric guitar parts in particular are strikingly atmospheric and suit the music and production perfectly.

Lead guitarist Tom Juhas is clearly an accomplished player. More importantly, he has a knack for adding oftentimes subtle fills and parts that don’t overpower Kelly’s vocal melodies or other goings on and yet contribute an incredible amount to the vibe of the songs.  The guitar parts are not generally placed in the foreground, which adds to their mystique and reveals the strength of the producer/engineer who kept a flow and feel going for the entirety of the album.  It’s just lovely from start to end.

My favourite moments on the album are the vocal melody in the chorus of the title track, “Wild West Rain,” the way “Saintly Stare” is musically staged, and the lyrics and melody in the chorus of “Lone Wolf”:

“All traces of your shadows,
will find their way back home.
I found you through the gallows
alone.
When the night falls, when the moon crawls
I’ll find you still.
All traces of your shadows
will find the day on your way back home.”

This is an album to be proud of and a strong next step in a blossoming career.

Check out the studio session for “Lone Wolf”:

 

Alligator Baby closed out the Southern Ontario leg of their album launch tour with a show at Hamilton venue The Pearl Company. The Montreal-based band recently released The Cool Side of the Pillow, their debut full-length album, and have been promoting it locally as well as on the road.

The band played well received shows in Toronto at the Cameron House and the Tranzac prior to traveling to Hamilton, bringing their pop-melody infused rock sound to the GTA. Playing alongside local bands such as The Fox and the Moon, Erika Werry and the Alphabet, Blood of the Fallen, The Real, Whiskey Epiphany and Amber, Alligator Baby entertained audiences with their catchy tunes like Sweet n’ Sour Slant, my personal favourite off the record.

Alligator-Baby

Lead singer and songwriter/guitarist Olivia Balanga-Santos has a vocal range and quality that allows her to sing softly and gracefully in songs like Jon and the Mysterious Cloud and also turn up the voltage and belt out melodies in songs like Calling Confidence. The strong vocal lines and song structures are backed by Gary Sifoni, Joe Lamantia and Marc Vachon on drums.

They are currently filming a new music video. Until its completion, check out Sweet n’ Sour Slant and listen to the groovy ska vibe in the middle:

Three part harmonies? No problem! Nailed it!

The Fox and the Moon stepped in last minute to play a show at the Cameron House earlier this month after the scheduled act had to pull out due to illness. The trio, made up of two acoustic guitars (Chris Blachford and Kim Wexler), a mandolin (Stella Green) and wonderful harmonies mesmerized the audience from their first song and held them captive until the end of their set.

fox and moon 2The music has a beautiful simplicity and yet the harmonies, one of the most delightful aspects of this group, take the music to a different level. The cozy vibe of the Cameron House suits their sound so well and added to the ambiance of the set.

If you like groups like Trent Severn and Chic Gamine, you’ll love The Fox and the Moon. Only after their set did we learn it was only their third show together as a band; this was amazing to me.  You would have thought they’ve been playing together for years, both because of their seeming ease of performance of their original material, but also their stage presence and camaraderie.

Since the band is still very new, they don’t have much published online yet, but if you get a chance to see them live, do it!  They will enchant and entertain you from the first note to the last.

 

Last weekend, I had the chance to sit down and pick the articulate and artistic brain of Sebastian Shinwell, mastermind behind the Toronto indie band Crhymes. Here’s what he had to say.

FTB: Tell me about the conception of Crhymes.  You write all the music.  Did you begin by yourself and then bring other musicians in to play the music for live shows?

Sebastian Shinwell: It was originally for the master’s thesis at York, for the composition thesis which I’m no longer in. I sat down with my supervisor and told him what kind of music I write on my own and what kind of music I write academically, and he’s like, “why not make them the same.”  My head exploded and I said, “Oh, you can do that?” So I wrote all the music for the thesis and I didn’t have the players in mind. A month or two before the performance, I got musicians together and kind of got it done with eight people. We were offered a show the following month, but most of those band members were there only for that show, so I had to scramble and get a set together for the following month. I just whittled it down to the five piece. After that show, we got offered another show, and after that one we got offered another one.  So then it was like, “OK, this is Crhymes, let’s go forward with this.” The thesis was last August, and we’ve played a show each month since then. The band’s been around for eleven months.

Do you continue to write all the songs now that you’re playing with a band?  How much do they contribute to the final version of the songs we hear?

I still write all the music. I write the skeleton of the song and then put the parts in [music development software] Reason just to hear what I’m doing. Then I get scores and hand it off to people in the band. Sometimes when we get together we realize something didn’t work in real life, or did, and then we finalize the parts. But I’m writing the guitar lines, about eighty percent of it. Then the other twenty percent is based on if it works live. Can the saxophone breathe? I’m a guitar player, I didn’t know breathing was a thing. Ha! I didn’t take that into consideration.

Tell me about your writing/composition process.

It starts as a skeleton, me playing and chords and singing. That becomes the base of a song. I think for most singer-songwriters, that’s the foundation. After that, I put stuff into Reason and write lead lines to it, put a drum track to it, and pile it as I go. The writing process seems like I write really intensely for three or four months, and then I don’t write for three or four or five months. All I do is listen to music in that time.  It’s kind of like swinging back and forth between writing and listening to music. When I’m writing, I’m not really listening to music, and when I’m not writing I’m only listening. So I’m letting myself be influenced and then going and writing. I never put my guitar away in its case, because if I don’t look at it, then I won’t be compelled to play it. It’s always lying on a couch or on the kitchen counter. Then I can pick it up and play one of the songs I was working on, or noodle, and it kind of builds on itself.

Seb guitar

Are you trying to achieve anything specific with each song you write?

The music that I get into the most is the music that borders the idea of accessibility and experimentation. A good example would be Radiohead, although Crhymes doesn’t sound much like Radiohead. This idea of playing with expectation and experimentation. So when I write a song with just guitar and vocals, the lead lines and some of the harmonies and stuff, I want to be a little bit more out there. I don’t want to say that I’m trying new things. Anyone can say that I’m not doing that. But maybe less generic. I’m trying to write something that people can get into on a more intuitive level. Like, “there’s music happening and I just want to dance and I just want to get into it in a visceral way.” But if people want to sit back and get into it that way, by listening, there’s that option as well. So sort of playing with these two ideas. I’m not sure if I’m succeeding with that, but based on feedback I’ve gotten, people do say they like the balance of these two things.

I was actually thinking that during your show.  I was very intensely listening and I felt there was an intellectual level to the music that I appreciated as a musician, but at the same time I thought it would be really wicked music to put on if you were high.

Ha! I think drugs are a big part of rock music. How could you deny that? I think that there’s that intellectual level that I’m trying to speak to, but at the same time I hope it’s music that you can get drunk and dance to, or get high and trip out to. I’m trying to hover around that line.

I think you’re successful in that for sure.  Tell me, what are your influences?

A lot of things I guess. Musically speaking, I’ve always been a huge fan of Arcade Fire. I’m not sure how directly these things influence me.  The Dirty Projectors always influenced me a lot. I really appreciate the main singer, or the writer or band leader. He always hovers around that line as well. His vocal lines are fucking wild but he still has this pop sensibility. He’s almost getting poppier and poppier, but his music is still wild and experimental which is really nice to see. tUnE yArDs is a band I’m really into. The leader of that band is an incredible musician.

What do you find your biggest challenges are with getting your music to audiences?

One of the hardest challenges IS getting your music out there. The internet is your friend, so I guess that’s the way you have to get your music out there. But how do you do it in a way that people aren’t like, “that guy’s just trying to sell his music”?  How do you do it in a way that’s honest and genuine? I feel like people are aware of whether the person selling the music is honest or not, and whether the music is honest or not, and I don’t know how to navigate that and still be honest. It’s a tough thing to do. The last thing you want to do is be that band where they’re just sleazy and trying to sell their music, ‘cause then people aren’t interested.

How much do you rely on social media, or find that it affects what you do to promote and market your music?

It’s a big part for sure. I don’t know what bands did before social media. Then again, record deals and producers played a bigger role before social media existed. They would do the PR. Independent music seems like a result of the globalization, or the social media boom. It’s everyone for themselves. Which makes it harder, but easier at the same time. But you’re fighting a lot more people. There’s a lot of competition in music.  You have to play those shows where you’re playing to one person, or where people aren’t even paying attention.

Any plans to play some shows in Montreal in the future?

Actually something I wanted to do in September is do a southern Ontario tour, from London to Montreal, and hit up universities along the way. Maybe during frosh week. That’s when the new album will be coming out, so it would be nice to release it and tour then.

What are you hoping to achieve over the next little while with your music?

There’s a new album coming out that I’m working on. I have to record vocals and mix it, but it will be out in the fall. I want to connect to more people. Get more people into it, get more people listening to Crhymes. It’s tough, with marketing, there’s definitely an intention to get more people into it. But I’m a very conflicted person when it comes to this. Am I playing for myself or am I playing for people? It’s both. If I’m not happy doing it, then fuck it. If I’m only playing for other people then I’m not happy doing it. It’s a tough thing to negotiate. I just want people to have fun. I want people to go to shows, dance or sit in the back and get into it.

What’s your target demographic?

It’s been kind of a curse of mine because I seem to write music that appeals to my own demographic, and my demographic doesn’t spend money on music. I’m not really thinking about it too much. Maybe I should. I’m writing music that I want to write with a thought of if the music will be enjoyed in a live environment.

Alligator Baby are an unabashedly brazen foursome whose debut album The Cool Side of the Pillow has several notable traits that combine to make an interesting collage of sounds and ideas. In some ways it harkens back to retro days while also offering a refreshingly modern flare.

The album features sparse musical textures reminiscent of Led Zeppelin or the Who back in the 70s, yet the vocal melodies have a modern power-pop quality to them that gives the songs great energy.The group often sticks to the basic band set-up: vocals, guitars, bass and drums, but some tracks like Invitation to Treat feature auxiliary instruments like the glockenspiel and triangle which add a lovely flare to the album as a whole.

Singer/songwriter Olivia is a master of enunciation, which seems like a simple thing but I’ve heard very few singers who pronounce their words as clearly as Olivia. This is really important in storytelling songs like Jon & the Mysterious Cloud where there are a lot of words in a little time. You’ve never left guessing what she’s saying, and that’s nice.

My personal favourite is Sweet n Sour Slant which breaks into a jumpin’ ska section in the middle of the song which features a great saxophone part (is this the sour in the sweet n sour?  For me it’s the sweet!).  What’s your favourite track?

Alligator Baby is made up of Olivia Balanga-Santos (vocals, guitar), Joe Lamantia (guitar), Gary Sifoni (bass) and Marc Vachon (drums).

Alligator Baby will be performing in Toronto Thursday July 11th at The Cameron House (408 Queen Street) at 6pm and Friday at The Tranzac Bar (292 Brunswick Ave) at 8pm and as part of the Hamilton Jamboree on Saturday July 13th at 8pm (for more info). 

You can stream the Thursday and Saturday shows live @ numubu.com/live

Kalle Mattson

Kalle Mattson fronts a tight rock band from Ottawa, though he himself hails from Sault Ste Marie. They played Wednesday night at the Cameron House for NXNE. They sound a little like Wintersleep at times, and yet at other times like the Mexican-style songs off the Kill Bill soundtrack.  Kalle Mattson, at their heaviest, could be compared to England’s Frank Turner, albeit with less vocal intensity. Mattson’s finger picking guitar style is at times reminiscent of Keaton Henson, though it sounds like he’s influenced by east coast playing styles.

The music is enhanced by the band which includes electric guitars, bass, drums and beautiful trumpet fills. Mattson writes interestingly morbid songs, referencing death, that seem less macabre because of the tempo chosen and the upbeat nature of the songs. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Check out “Thick as Thieves”

Toronto-based folk rock band with a punky ska edge, Crhymes, played a high-energy set at the Cameron House for NXNE.  Spirits were high onstage and off even though their set started at 1 a.m. on Wednesday night.  It was sweaty and intense and magical; the small back room was packed to the brim and the band was rockin’!  Crhymes is the brainchild of Sebastian Shinwell who acts as the band’s singer/guitarist for live shows, but who plays the majority of the instruments on his EP Our Surprises.  Live shows are complimented by extra guitars, bass and drums and a tenor saxophone which adds kickass fills and helps support the bass lines throughout.  They aim to have a new album out by the end of September, but in the interim you can check out Our Surprises on Bandcamp.  If you like art rock, you’ll really enjoy this trippy, energetic band.

Jadea Kelly held a CD release event at The Pearl Company in Hamilton, Ontario on June 22.  The word I’d most readily use to describe the Toronto-based singer-songwriter is enchanting.  The lovely miss Kelly sings emotively and in such a way that you feel it right down in your gut; at several points during the two hour show I felt a rush of shivers through my body.

Jadea is a true talent. The range of subject matter on her recently released album Clover is quite impressive. “Mary Don’t Go” is a wonderfully touching song about her grandmother, “Saintly Stare” was written after an intense lighting storm that reminds her to be strong through tough decisions, and “Count On” was written for her sweetheart to describe her feelings when he’s away from home touring.

The songs are brought to life not only through Jadea’s songwriting skills, but through her band of talented musicians. The drums and bass ground the tunes and add to the rhythmic structure, the keyboards add to the ambiance and the solo guitar parts add tasteful fills. The heavier second set at The Pearl Company show truly allowed Tom Juhas, the solo guitarist, to showcase his masterful command of the instrument.  The guitar acts as an extension of his body and he seems to find the perfect tone to compliment each song.  He is an extremely atmospheric player and his playing really enhances Jadea’s already strong songwriting both on the album and in live performance.

The level of attentiveness from the audience was a reflection of Jadea’s mesmerizing stage presence, the tightness of the band and the magic of the venue itself. The Pearl Company is located in an old, converted warehouse. During intermission, they served tea and baked goods, and there was local art and jewelry for sale. The charming venue is a true representation of the thriving arts culture in Hamilton.

See the video for her single “Wild West Rain” here: http://youtu.be/9-5AFjfqrBw

Photo by Stephanie Beatson

Odonis Odonis @ M for Montreal Boat Cruise
Adonis Adonis on NXNE M for Montreal boat cruiseBoys who look like they need a babysitter should not be playing music this good. Seriously. Odonis Odonis played in the early afternoon on the M for Montreal boat cruise during NXNE. (Which, by the way, has been one of their best boat cruises yet; the people on it were awesome this year.) If you closed your eyes during the Odonis Odonis set you’d think they had been playing for over ten years in dark venues in the underground bars of Williamsburg. But they haven’t. Who knows if they’ve even ever been there. Again, this is all said with love.

Anyway, let’s jump back to the part when your eyes are closed. When you open your eyes, your mouth drops. These Montreal boys are so young (I am saying this with love boys, I think you’re great) with such good vibes…you can’t stop but stare. I was in awe of their sound. And my gut says their sound is part of a scene that’s currently missing and evolving. It’s not moustache indie dance, it’s not sit-down-at-your-table folk, it’s not bleed down your face hardcore punk. It’s a dark, sweeping, surf rock. And the turnout, plus mosh pit, for their set on the boat cruise filled the room with a sober energy (not saying we were sober) that echoed off the walls and spilled down your bones.random art project thanks

Check out these kids next time they hit up your town and try the eye trick. I promise it won’t disappoint.

P.S. I made this while trying to write this review while listening to Odonis Odonis. They are the inspiration.

 

Joey Bada$$ @ Wrongbar

First thing’s first, let’s clear the air here: I am not a huge fan of hip hop. I never really have been, and I wasn’t thinking I’d change my mind anytime soon. Then I saw Joey Bada$$ at Wrongbar on Saturday night. You know one of those nights when everything has just gone to shit, and you just need to get to a good place…yeah, Joey Bada$$ and the crowd did that for me.

NXNE 13-512We walked into a packed-to-the-walls Wrongbar to this crew on stage. I had no idea what I was walking into. (Side note: these are the times when you truly love NXNE or other festivals – the surprises). Being the little chipmunk I am, I make my way to the top left side where you could see everything. This guy was nuts. The crowd was losing it. At some point I looked around and everyone had their hands in the air. It was so hot and sweaty you finished the show 10 pounds lighter. His beats made your skin melt.

During his final set, when he was saying his goodbyes, the crowd started heading outside for air…when all of a sudden someone screamed, “Joey Bada$$!!” and everyone swarmed like a bunch of drunk bees around him. You got lost. I got trampled. We made it out alive.

Not sure what his touring deal is, but baby, you’ve got to feel the way that felt.

Cool, well, that’s all I got this year. Big thanks to NXNE and all the bands. You always rock my world.

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram (doublecass) for new/old/lovable music and stuff.

Top photo courtesy M for Montreal. 

Whiskey Epiphany’s debut NXNE gig at Rancho Relaxo on Thursday night was a great success.

This folk rock group sounds like Mumford and Sons mixed with a rural southern influence. With guitar, bass and drums as the foundation, they add violin and strong vocal harmonies to round out the sound.

They played with enthusiasm and got the crowd moving along.  The subject matter in the lyrics is pretty vast, from socially conscious tunes, to sad love songs, to tales about loss and lies. Let’s not forget the token song Something About Whiskey, that talks of the dangers of overindulging in whiskey and the troubles that trusting the drink can bring to you.

But, if a whiskey-induced epiphany is what it took to get this group together then it can’t be all bad!  The band is fun and entertaining.  They play regular shows in the GTA and surrounding area so you have a chance to see them perform this summer, be it in a festival or a bar.

Check out their song Together:

 

Moon King @ Wrongbar
Nothing makes me feel more like a tool than realizing I completely misinterpreted the gender of a singer (this said with love). I love surprises. For one thing, I thought Moon King’s lead singer was a female from listening to the audio online. (I didn’t Google Image them beforehand). This surprise made me like them even more. Plus, they’ve got a Mother Mother vibe about them. Which rocks my world.

MoonKing-4

Good thing: Their live music sounds pretty damn close to their Soundcloud audio. Their show was fucking lively as they jumped around, dancing and everyone mirroring their physical energy. Crowd was midsize diner-like with a unique twist of people who looked like regulars and semi-hip. Semi-hip are the best kind because they aren’t too cool for school that they still dance.

Definitely a show and band worth checking out next time they’re in your hood.

Foxtrott @ Silver Dollar
By the time I got to the Silver Dollar I had already been to The Drake, Monarch Tavern and Wrongbar. (This says something about the state I was in as I piece together this show). The good news is it was one of the best I saw that night. Usually if you’re over the edge you either hate it or love it, right? I was beaming.

Foxtrott is Marie-Hélène L. Delorme’s solo project. The actual sound quality—which can be hit or miss at Silver Dollar—sounded almost identical to her audio on Bandcamp. It’s for sure the type of music you want to move to when you’re half in the bag and looking to feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s outdoor festival camping at 2 a.m. in a tent with glowing balloons, and one friend plus randoms – all moving like they’ve been hypnotized with a light buzz. Or if you’re from Montreal and you remember the second life of Silverdoor, she’d be there in the corner playing for us until 9 a.m.

Take a listen for yourself. Does it make you feel like 2 a.m. in a dark bar or loft? Yup.

*Photos by Celia Moase. See our NXNE 2013 album on Facebook for more photos. 

 

The lovely Béatrice Martin played a solo show at the Great Hall on Thursday night as part of NXNE.  In this stripped-down version of what you hear on Blonde, her latest album, the young songstress played piano and sang her beautifully woven melodies for a large and appreciative crowd. Performed in a manner reminiscent of her debut album that featured minimal musical additions, she focused instead on the voice and piano.  Pretty impressive turnout for a French-Canadian girl who sings mostly in French!

CoeurDePirate

Her songs range from love songs to storytelling numbers to a lullaby that her father used to sing to her as a small child.  The chanteuse has helped to bring francophone music to the younger generation.  She has been nominated for, and won, several awards already in her career including Junos, Félix Awards, Victoires de la Musique and Canadian Independent Music Awards.  It’s no surprise why.  Her talent radiates both in her recorded work and on stage.

Watch “Adieu” as a piano-only version here:

*Photos by Celia Moase. See our NXNE 2013 album on Facebook for more photos.