All posts by Taija Anderson

The Best New Singles You Need to Hear

T h e  P a c k  A . D.

The Pack a.d.

Released with their new EP, Meta Animal, two new tracks, Back in a Hole and Nightcrawler, are a fresh take on the bands previous work. Going back to the almost psychedelic gritty rock tones heard in their third album, We Kill Computers (2010), the new track Night Crawler features a more paced guitar, emphasized drums. Back in a hole is something a bit different from what the band has done previous. It’s a slower, romantic confession of self doubt. The slow song shows a new side of the band that hasn’t been touched on previously.

T h e  F r a t e l l i s

The fratellis

Back with their fourth album, Eye Wide, Tongue Tied, to be released later this summer, The Fratellis have captured a new sound. With their last album, We Need Medicine (2013), the band explored more of a campy, mature, and even seductive sound rather than the high energy retro sounds heard in, Costello Music (2006)With their new single, Me & The Devil, the band has kept the slower pace of their last album, but there is a darker undertone heard and even seen in their album artwork.

G i n  W i g m o r e

gin_web_blood_to_boneWith a name like Gin, you can expect a sound as gritty and raw as the drink. With her third studio album, Blood To Bone, on the way for a June release it’s clear the artist has taken a new direction. The new single, New Rush, showcases everything great about the beauty. But the single is a softer and tame approach to what is normally heard from the singer. But the raspy voice, catchy songs, honest lyrics and the overwhelming feeling that you’re drunk listening to the song in a dive bar are sure to be heard throughout the new album.

F I D L A R  

fidlar-tooEven if you’re not into punk rock, there is something likeable about Fidlar. The new single, 40oz On Repeat is high energy as always and was a fan favourite when performed live. The tune is catchy enough to have the appeal of a pop song.

J a c k  &  E l i z a


Their EP, No Wonders, was released over a year ago and this summer their first album will follow. Hold the line, isn’t exactly a new track, but it’s definitely an underrated one. Their sound is a mix surfer rock and modern indie rock cohesively heard throughout each pre-released track. The dreamlike sound Jack and Eliza capture is sure to be heard in their album, Gentle Warnings, to come later this summer.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Little Boxer

Little Boxer @ The Horseshoe Tavern

If you like Toronto’s music scene, chances are you’ve seen, or heard of Little Boxer. What makes the band so intriguing is the husky voice of lead, Zachary Erickson that elevates their alternative rock into a unique territory separating them from other bands. With the mixture of the surprising talent of Juan Udarbe, who makes you appreciate what great bass is, and drummer Dave Silani who rocks the stage from the back with a smirk, Little Boxer has put themselves on the map as the ones to watch. The young performers own the stage like pros and make each show different than the last. With the night scene a buzz about the boys, here are a few things you probably didn’t know about them.

1. They used to play folk-pop.
You wouldn’t have guessed it, but the alt-rock now wasn’t always the band’s primary sound. Beginning in back 2014, the band classified themselves as a folk-pop group due to Erickson’s musical interests at the time.

“As time progressed and we began to grow as a band and get to know each other, everyone’s influences and musical tastes began seeping in, and pretty soon I found myself craving a different sound,” Erickson said. “We still have our roots obviously but I would definitely say we are closer to rock than folk now.”

Though the folk influences of the past can still be heard in their sets with the song, Problems, which shows the bands range and lighter side, the sound heard live is much closer to rock.

2. Exploring music through other musicians is what solidifies their sound.

“In order to be the best musician I believe you need to immerse yourself in music. Not specifically rock music or jazz or whatever kind of style you play but just all kinds of music,” Erickson explained.
Currently signed to Dungus Records, the groupings of musicians are important aids to the bands sound.

“Everyone knows and respects one another and wants nothing more than to see each other succeed and all of these things are especially true in the Dungus family,” Erickson said. “Having this close relationship with other artists grants you this ability to peek into unfamiliar styles, get more acquainted with it and grow as a musician from it.”

Little Boxer @ The Horseshoe 5

3. The Horseshoe is home.

There is no one venue for a musician, but which is the favourite?

“Usually whenever we are performing we’re happy, whether it is in a basement with 2 people watching or at the Horseshoe with over 100,” Erickson said. “If I had to pick a specific venue I’d probably have to say the Horseshoe Tavern right now. We play there the most out of any venue, I believe, and it has always just been such a great experience.”

No matter, it seems wherever the band performs their fans follow, which is why number 4 is so important.

  • Little Boxer @ The Horseshoe Tavern 2
    4. They’d be bored without you.
    What would any musician be without their fans? The boys are so humble and down to earth, you’ll see them before and after their shows sincerely interacting with whoever came to see them play.“The musician could play with complete perfection and skill but it would still be boring,” Erickson said. “What makes live music so great is the energy. That dedicated connection with the audience that makes a night impossible to forget.”And the fans love them. Back in December the band sold out The Cameron House, which for a band in its first year, is overly impressive.“It was, I believe our first big headliner show and we packed the back room of the Cameron House,” Erickson said. “I just remember feeling on top of the world after that night, seeing so many people showing up to watch you play.”5. They’ve got an album on the way.

    If you follow them, you’ll notice the boys disappear for just a little while, but the absence isn’t in vain. The band will be recording their first full-length album. Focusing on the sound they’ve established, the album will feature songs that have been heard live revamped with more of a full band sound.

    “We’ve been working on this grouping of songs for close to a year now and finally we’re ready to take on this huge project and make something we can be really proud of,” Erickson said. “We also want to make this album as big as possible, so we’ll adding in additional parts into a variety of the songs that people haven’t heard live yet,”

    A release date hasn’t been set and the number of tracks is still a secret but Erickson promises, “We’re working on it,”

You Need to Listen To: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT)

GOASTT @ The Horseshoe

“We are going to get fully naked and cover ourselves in Crisco and play the Canadian national anthem,” Kemp Muhl said about the performance at Canadian Music Week. They didn’t fulfill their promise but they did put on an interesting set. Their far from normal sense-of-self leaks into their humour, music videos and music. Interviewing Kemp surely gives an inside look at the charm and whit that can only be described as indescribable.

The harmonic hymns coupled with the poetic lyrics of the two-piece band, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp, are something out of ordinary. Take the haunting tone of My Morning Jacket and mix it with the Beatles psychedelic influence and you’ll get an idea of, the New York bound band’s sound. The hard to distinguish clash of dark inventive outlandishness seems to be a pure representation of their inner selves. The two are truly rare, in more ways than one.

The band’s distinct sound, according to Kemp, can only be described as, “the sound of a crab slowly committing suicide, run[ing] through some audio delay and an old shoe,” she said.

Kemp Muhl of GOASTT @ The Horseshoe

The duo has gained international recognition for their suicidal-sea-critter-inspired albums, Midnight Sun (2014) and The Acoustic Sessions (2010). With the release of their last album it seems Lennon and Kemp are confident in their sound of harmonic, alternative rock with the ‘60s folk vibe. The solidity in their sound clearly comes from the chemistry in their voices in both performance and heard in each track, they are two of the same with different vibes. The connection between the two is possibly one of the bands biggest aid and the biggest challenge.

“Making music with your lover is no moonlit walk on the beach, but that friction is also what leads us to do our best work,” Kemp said.

The couple has been performing since the band’s beginning in 2008 but has recently been making their way across late night talks shows, blogs and even caught a holy recognition from Rolling Stone Magazine which placed, Midnight Sun, at #33 on the best songs of 2014. NPR took notice of the band placing, Too Deep, on the best songs of 2014 mixtape. The band has also made their way through this year’s summer music festival circuit. Playing this year’s Coachella Arts and Music Festival, Kemp described the experience as,”surreal, hectic and, of course, an honor.” CMW, and the upcoming international festivals including side performances with Beck, Santana, and The Flaming Lips. But with all of buzz about the band, the greatest recognition the band has received, according to Muhl, is from the fans. “A homeless guy gave me the knowing nod the other day,” she said.

Sean Lennon

Now the band is bringing their sound that is uniquely dreamlike and a constant comparison and contrast of light and airy tones with heavy guitar, or acoustic with soulful voice to Canadian fans which Kemp describes as,“slightly more educated and cooler than your average human.” GOASTT graced the trendy depths of The Horseshoe Tavern for Canadian Music Week May 8th with a crowd first riled up to see John Lennon’s son, once the band began playing, the focus changed immediately to Kemp as she commanded the stage with her sways and utter confidence. With the band touring the world fans can look forward to an oddball collection of music that creates a world and genre of it’s own, with a simple message to take away from each performance.

“—Robots are going to kill us all one day,” Kemp said

The Alternative Rock Gods Are Back; Hear Metric’s New Track “The Shade”

Since the 90’s Metric has made their name known with their every changing style of indie rock. The band consists of Emily Haines (vocals), James Shaw (guitar), Joshua Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums); the foursome opened the door for mainstream Canadian indie rock with their album, Fantasies ,which most are familiar with. Help I’m Alive and Gimmie Sympathy are the bands most known songs, but dig a little deeper into their past and it’s evident that each album yields a different sound, focus and direction. From the early grunge days of Old World Underground, Where Are You Now, to their newest album, Synthetica the band has explored new ways to broaden themselves beyond the expected. Synthetica, released back in 2012, yielded fans to a softer electric vibe from the band instead of the rocker aspect heard in earlier albums. With the release of their new single, The Shade, it’s clear that this refined smooth rock is to be expected in their upcoming projects. It’s on the pop-ish side, but still yields the same quirky charm the band does best.

The Most Memorable of Canadian Music Week

Canadian Music Week: The 10 day-long event is over and Torontonians have surely filled their iPods with some new finds, washed the beer out of their clothes and have posted their bruises from mosh pits onto Instagram. Some bands were good, some were great and others knocked you flat… (some physically) and left you wondering what you had just seen. However, none were more noteworthy than these bands.

T w i n  P e a k s

Twin Peaks @ Lee's Palace

The best performers, Twin Peaks, had to be the rowdiest group of 20-year-olds from Chicago. The boy scored some of the highest showcases of the week. Performing before the highly anticipated King Tuff at Lee’s Palace and then on Friday before Fat White Family and GOASTT, the boys— (vocals) Cadien Lake James, (guitar) Clay Frankel, (bass) Jack Dolan and (drums) Connor Brodne—made it clear they weren’t anyone’s openers. They’ve been around since 2009 and perform like seasoned pros. Their high-energy sets of punk-rock took over each stage and guaranteed that if you weren’t a fan before the set began, you would be after.

H o w q u a


The Best solo artist—coming from Australia t,o take the stage at Sneaky Dee’s with his soulful voice and acoustic guitar, was Howqua. His well written, powerful songs stunned the venue to silence. The ambient folk possess an honesty rarely seen so truthfully in an artist. The ability to draw attention from an entire room with only a guitar, soulful voice and a poetic set of songs made his set an experience.

T o r a

Tora @ The Horseshoe

The ones to watch: Tora—as the young men walk onto stage, you admire the innocence on their faces. Once they begin, it’s very clear that these are serious musicians that are soon to be the next big thing. The electro-rock of Tora is a genre all of its own. The Australian boys, Tobias Tsounis, Jo Loewenthal, Jai Piccone, Thorne Davis, and Shaun Johnston have created something that is uniquely their own and quite the stir among those who hadn’t heard their music before. With the attention surrounding them, they’re still some of the most modest boys you’ll meet.

B e t t y  &  O s w a l d 

Betty & Oswald@ Jonny Jackson

The perfect duo: Betty & Oswald—these two are stunning to watch live. They can draw unfamiliar audiences from the back of any old bar to the front with a single song. The chemistry between the two and their passion for music makes their stage presence almost hypnotizing. Their style of blues mixed with Mediterranean influence is often mixed with Pete’s (Oswald) stories building up to the chimera of each song. The end of their performance always leaves you wanting more.

Now with hundreds of bands performing, they couldn’t all be stellar superstars in the making. Some bands were amazing on stage but they quickly faded from your memory as the next performers began tuning their gear. Overall, these bands were pretty damn memorable…but not exactly for their music.

T h i s   S h i p 

This Ship

This Ship (left) had great stage presence that sent the photographers into frenzy. Decked out in sequence, and one of the members in drag, the band had an unnatural cohesion that made them something to see. Their sound was good and their odd attire didn’t take away from their actual presence or music.

K i l l e r  W a i l sThe Killer Wails @ Rancho Relaxo

 The Killer Wails weren’t on my list of bands to see, but they won’t be soon forgotten. Between venues, I decided to stop in for a look and see what was on stage at Rancho Relaxo…the last thing expected to be seen was a sweaty man in nothing but socks and his underwear which were wet in some unfortunate places (thankfully because of beer). At my arrival, the lead jumped from the stage and “danced” his way over to the young lady manning the door and gyrated his nearly naked body for her. As I was trapped in the doorway at the time, I could only stand and watch in shock as he trotted away back to the stage where he kept gallivanting around. The show finished as he dived into the entertained audience and thrust himself on the floor. Their music may have been good, but my brain was too busy trying to put together what I had just witnessed to notice.

L e s  M a r i n e l l i sLes Marinellis @ Sneaky Dees

Les Marinellis (right) —the lead, Cedric, took the stage shoeless, shirtless but the sequence jacket and hat made up for it all. The flipping around and the upside down gyration at the end on the stage caught some looks from the crowd. Though their genre of music was lost to me, the little man in sequence was not. —Searching them afterwards, an interesting blend French-psychedelic rock with some punk mixed in made for some decent tunes. Being better prepared and having an overall sense of the bands, let’s say, style? They’d definitely be ones to check out in the future.

So overall, some shocked, some dazzled and some just…were. CMW brought out some impressive, odd and interesting talents to watch and gave a glimpse at some of the upcoming talent sure to be seen more of in future day.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Skye Wallace

Skye Wallace

Two words come to mind when you hear Skye Wallace, haunting and beautiful. The Canadian artist threads the sounds of the prairies into a one of a kind alternative-folk with a country attitude. Smart lyrics juxtaposed with tones, song titles and melody amplify the thought and skill put into each one of her three albums. Her latest album, Living Parts, is the perfect example of the wit embedded into her style.

“The name, Living Parts, is coupled with the skull on the front cover, a decidedly “dead” imagery.  The juxtaposition represents the life in that which seems dead: the stories in history and the lives and experiences of those who are now dead,” Wallace said. “There’s a beauty there and a gruesome, haunting honesty because the story has ended, but the story might remain to be untold.”

The sound is a soft lyrical focused, instrumental focused piece that utilizes her skill of shining a light on darkness and twists the word into Wallace’s own. With such talent, and much buzz around her, she’s one to discover. Here are five things you didn’t know about the talented beauty.

1. She’s aware of her “sex eyes”

 “I often get real fired up when I perform.  I apologize if I give anyone sex eyes at future shows; it’s my default look when I’m really feeling it and I don’t mean to give you the wrong signals,” Wallace said.

2. Her favourite place to perform is right here in Toronto.

“The Dakota Tavern, by far: great sound, great room, and skulls on the walls,” she said. Her latest performance was at Canadian Music Week, where she rocked the cozy Rivioli stage at the BC showcase alongside the likes of Hot Panda, Gay Ninties and The Boom Booms.
”One of the elements I enjoy most about those types of festivals is the devotion to art for a decided number of days, turning off whatever devices or responsibilities that cloud our minds in “real life”.  It brings out the best in people and this crazy cool community forms.  It makes music come alive,” Wallace said.

3. The worse part of touring for Wallace is,

“eating A&W Fries and not showering”…the best part of touring? “Eating A&W and not showering,”

4. She avoids writing about herself

“There are so many stories from this killer country.  It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s chockfull of stories.  It’s also what I know,” Wallace said. ”I tend to write stories about made up characters over writing about myself.  Right now, I’m in the midst of writing a song about a woman with a propensity to kill her various husbands, and my most recent song, War Years, is about using sex as a tool by a Confederate spy in the American Civil War. I like the idea of always incorporating story telling into my work.

5. She’s a secret Punker

Though she describes her sound as, “a dark, hard folk with slices of rock and alt country with a string section,” the performer has a hidden punk rock side to her.

 “Most obviously, a big musical influence in my life is my Newfoundlander roots.  When I explain to listeners this aspect of my heritage, I’m often greeted with an “Ooooooh, of course!” Less obvious in my music is my serious love of punk.  I find that it’s been sneaking a little into newer songs, though.” She said. “I try maintain the philosophy of not trying to sound like something else, and I am always guided by passion and honesty.  But I guess even if I was trying to sound like something else, it’d still be me doing it. There are so many definitions of/ways of going about staying true to who you are.”

The Grotesque (and unavoidable) Things You’ll Experience When Front Row @ Fat White Family

Fat White Family

Ah yes, cheers to some good old rock music. The energy is high and the music of Fat White Family is pretty damn sick, both positively (and negatively). Being front row is an experience that had some covering their eyes; backing away in disgust and relishing in Saudi’s (lead) sweat-shower. The London-based band Lias Saudi (vocals), Saul Adamczewski (vocals, guitar), Adam J Harmer (guitar), Nathan Saudi (organ), Joseph Pancucci (bass) and Dan Lyons (drums) played The Horseshoe Tavern before GOASST for CMW. As everyone was packed as tightly to the stage as possible, anticipating Sean Lennon, they got more than a few surprises from FWF. If you ever get a chance to experience this band, here’s a little warning for those front row lovers and an insight into what can only be described as an experience too rude for Canadians.

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Hot Panda’s Chris Connelly is Preparing to “Kick Your Ass” at CMW

Oh, I’m calling on my teenage self for this one. Upon my search through the bands of CMW, there was one that I was so pleased to find, it had my inner teen screaming and my adult-self planning my evening around the show. For nine years, Hot Panda has been making their way through the indie rock scene with their special blend of garage-rock with influences of indie-pop coupled with skilled guitar and finished with, lead singer, Chris Connelly’s raspy voice, that no matter what mood can get you all riled up.

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Oh Hi, Yeah, Women Can Be Bad Ass Too.

Remember these faces. Their genres are all worlds apart but the thing that these ladies have in common is that they rock the hell out of a stage. The ladies focused on during Canadian Music Week’s: Toronto Women of Music showcase brought out some of the city’s best talent you need to check out. The showcase took place at the intimate Garrison on Dundas West. The venue was the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the future of Toronto’s music scene.

Continue reading Oh Hi, Yeah, Women Can Be Bad Ass Too.