Category Archives: Locally Grown

Meanwood “Seer Seer / Bi the Way” | Locals Only

0009450611_10Meanwood are a Toronto secret waiting to be unearthed.

Live, Viktoria Belle (singer) rules the stage with her smoky voice and thrashing hair. She prowls like an animal waiting to pounce, as she belts out a collection of rock that is a bluesy throwback with her own personal touch of raw and grittiness.
Seer Seer and Bi the Way are a more tame version of the band. Still lavishly gritty, the new tracks are a seductive pairing that focuses on the more tantalizing side of the band. They’ll wind you up and then slow it down to drive you wild just because they can.

Give the new tracks a listen below.

Local Spotlight: Sedge


The opening band takes the stage, the crowd mingles, half paying attention as the band gathers their instruments and begins playing to the filling room. The crowd is lingering at the back and more interested in finding coat check or getting in line at the bar before the line is too long. Often times, the band gives it their best shot and is overlooked until their name is the one in the headliner spot instead of classified under “special guest”. But every now and again you see a band like Sedge, that opens the show and draws the attention of everyone in the room. While they play their rowdy rock and make you wonder exactly who they are and where they’ve been hiding. It takes talent to silence to room and fill
Releasing their latest EP, Selective Reasoning, last August the band made an impressive follow up to their previous releases. Drenched in grunge the band has a solid sound and performs a high energy set. Surely, Sedge is a band name you’ll see popping up on more bills with good reason.

Check out some photos of their show last Saturday night at The Garrison and be sure to check out some of their music here.

Locally Grown: Alvvays

Why— The name sticks out probably because you’ve heard it among friends, seen it in your “recommended” music lists or maybe you’ve read it from the festival posters ridden all over Toronto. Playing everything from Canadian Music Week, Osheaga to Riot Festival in Chicago Alvvays is a, sort of, band that is awfully buzzed about by their die-hards. After listening to them once, you get why. There comes a time when a band starts to play and you just think “Oh yeah, this band is gonna make it.” A quick obsession follows until you find the next one. But then there are those bands that stick with you. Youlisten to their album anytime and can recreate or create something. Be it a memory, moment or a feeling, it becomes more than just music, it’s something to grow up to, to transcend you back to youth or make you stop and see the world around you. It’s a soundtrack to live to. The  Alvvays’ self-titled debut is an album that makes you appreciate just being.

Alvvays 3_edited-1

The Band— Releasing their first album in 2014, they’ve gained recognition from Rolling Stone Magazine and just this year were nominated for Juno Alternative Album of the Year. From Toronto, the band is formed by childhood friends Rankin (vocals) and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan. The two began playing music with Alec O’Hanley while in high school, later adding Brian Murphy and Phil MacIsaac in 2010 when the band formed. The fivesome very quickly they made something people loved and it’s clear they love doing it. They play communicating with silent looks, body movements and when they lose themselves in the set most of their eyes close. The chemistry between members translates vibrantly to the audience, when they play live, you can tell the exact moment people unfamiliar with their music fall in love.Alvvays 2_edited-11

They peak interest with their nostalgic sound and quirky look; once Marry Me, Archie begins there’s no turning back, instant super fans have been made; Rankin practically has people at the stages edge ready to put a ring on it. Following up their hit with strong singles Next of Kin and Party Police the band proved to be far more than a one hit wonder.

Wracking up over one million views on YouTube, Marry Me Archie is the bands best-known, and most addicting, song. A sweet rock-riff paired with Rankin’s enthralling voice the song is the perfect description of something relatable in all of us—a vulnerability, confession of love and a decision that has yet to be determined bad or good.

Show Stealers, Stage Grinding and Cowboy Boots: Inside Pistol George Warren’s Album Release Party

Meanwood @ The Horseshoe
Belle of Meanwood

Sudbury’s Pistol George Warren took over The Horseshoe Tavern with locals Stan Simon & The Hotel Bible, Meanwood and Beans, to celebrate the release of their newest album Oceapur 9. The evening was filled with cowboy boots, swearing and plenty of excitement. It’s rather captivating when the opening bands only put, but also consume it for the time they’re up, making you forget who you came to see in the first place.

Doing just that was Stan Simon & The Hotel Bible. They began the show by showing what Western from hell sounds like. Haunting may be the only way to describe them; emotion bleeds from Simon’s finger tips to the soulful harmonica laced at his mouth. The ominous tone captivated the audience until the last note struck and the appraisal brought humbling smiles to the band. With dark lyrics and lingering menacing vocals laced into the sound, Stan Simon knows how to scare the hell out of you and make you love it.

Next up, a tiny little thing with the voice of a whisky-drinking angel took the stage in cowboy boots and a look that promised trouble. The show stealers took on the Horseshoe with arm tattooed arms.

“I’d have some banter for the crowd, but I always get in trouble by the band for saying something inappropriate,” singer Viktoria Belle said. So instead of talking, Belle whipped her hair, pealed off her jacket mid-set and groaned on the floor. In short, Meanwood destroyed the Horseshoe. If you don’t know their name before, you sure won’t forget it afterwards. Meanwood is the band to watch, it takes one song and you’re entrapped in their world which is a dark collection of rock, blues and heavy 60’s influence. Belting out a sweetly, sinful raspy voice, Belle performs with her all. The girl is a rock star waiting to be discovered.

Helping audience’s calm from the excitement, Beams played their mix of country-folk that was for a specific musical taste. Their sound was rounded, and their songs were well rehearsed, but their set lay a tad too run of the mill. Taking time to enjoy their big debut, Pistol George Warren didn’t lack energy as they played venue. The eight-member set filled up the stage with four singers dancing about in the small spaces left between bodies, instruments and microphones. The entire band was more of a focus than their music. Their sound is 70’s funk heard mainly in the guitar, rock, and an underlying country-tone from their choice of their backup vocals and the members were dressed as if from each genre all at once. With a futuristic-retro-modern personas and some more stuff going on in the back, they put on a show, but they were more memorable than anything they played.

Locally Grown: Bayern Maxwell Little I Know/Far Away (Demos)

Discovering new music is something music lovers crave. When you hear something just right, it sticks with you. What I love about Toronto is the talent bleeding into the streets, onto the web and into music venues around town. It’s a shame that more don’t get showcased which is why I thought I’d give a small voice to those hidden talents.

Through a few faults, I came across Bayern Maxwell.–a blues-based rock musician from Toronto whose EP definitely stuck with me. Releasing a few demos, Little I Know and Far Away, back in May, the artist showcases acoustic pieces featuring soulful vocals and well-written lyrics. His voice is husky and emotion-driven which translates an authenticity and raw-edge to his music. Little I Know, is a calm introduction into the darkness that is Maxwell. The song is a tale that reflects on the tragedies, regrets and events that build up and tare-down a man. While Far Away, sounds like a desperate confession by a broken-hearted man living in the woods. Maxwell pleads to a riff expressing a tortured emotional honesty, while enveloping listeners into a dark world you can’t help wanting to be a part of.

Have You Met The Lifers?

Meet The Lifers, Liv and Anita Cazzola, harmonic vocalists of the Toronto-based band. Since their move from Guelph to Toronto, the folk duo are making their name known one ballad at a time. With a new single, Home for the Weekend, currently on their first cross Canada tour, these sisters are ones to keep an eye on. They describe their sound as folksy and story-like, but say the real charm heard in their unique voices, harmonies, and lyrics really come together thanks to a sisterhood bond.

“Rich harmonies are what you get when the harmonies of two sisters get together, our voices jive well,” Anita said. “Sisters jive well.”

​Across their two EP’s, The Live Sessions, and Set the Sails, no two tracks are the same. There are undertones of blues, indie, and pop, creating a different feel to every song. The chemistry between the two emphasizes the tone and emotion and keeps a cohesive sound among the diversity. The sister’s catching stage presence and song writing abilities coupled with a solid sound is what makes their music so gripping, smart and soulful. The years of passion put into their music is heard throughout all of their EP’s and their spellbinding live performances.

Their sound was established early on. They grew up around the large “hippie” community of their hometown and were raised by musicians. Music was always apart of their lives thanks to their parents cover band. Being exposed to their parent’s band practices was where they got the first glimpse of their own sound.

“Our parents had band practice in the basement every Friday,” Anita said. “We’d be dancing around and singing with our mom, which is where our harmony really came from.”

“We’d always sing her parts in the song, which were all harmony, so that’s where we were really introduced to harmony,” Liv.

From their story-based lyrics to perfectly in sync voices, it’s clear that these sisters have a charm of their own. But what makes these girls stand out is the chemistry that only two sisters creating something they both love can have.

“We like to try to bring a story to everything, whether it’s personal or drawing from inspiration around us, ”Anita said.

Drawing inspiration from real life experiences is also how their name came about. In the midst of life and change, Liv wrote a song called Lifers. She claims the there was no real thought to the name, but explains the meaning.

“We started thinking about that word, and how it can be shed in a negative light. We are always going to be sisters, we are always going to be playing music together, whether we make a career out of it or do it part time, we’re always going to play,” said Liv.

Though there may not have been extensive thought behind the name, they have come across some unexpected controversy surrounding it. People have interoperated the name from the Prolife vs Prochoice stance, but the sisters insist they are in no way trying to make political statement, but simply associate the meaning to something positive. Positivity is a common theme heard in their music. Their soft voices balance perfectly with their sweet melodies. You can’t help but feel everything in the song when you listen to them, which is exactly what the sisters hope for. The importance of the lyrics are more than just something pretty, they’re stories to provoke emotion.

“Lyrics drive emotion, which makes the harmony emphasized,” Liv said.

“—And lyrics and harmony makes people feel something,” Anita finished. “The best compliment is when people say ‘this makes me so happy.'[With our songs] sometimes the subject matter night not be very happy, but the way we go about telling it tends to be upbeat, so even if it’s not something happy, say it’s something melancholy, we just to make people feel something.”

​The two don’t only synchronize in music, but in what they add to their creation of The Lifers. The two juggle their music careers with living in the city and being full time students. Liv is currently studying an honours double major in business and popular music at Western. Formally studying at Ryerson for interior design, Anita will now being studying at OCAD in the fall. So far, both use what they’ve learned from their drastically different studies to aid the band from all sides.

“I’m a very visual artist,” Anita explained. “I do all of the web design and album covers and Liv takes care of the business aspect,”

“It’s a good trade off,” Liv added.  “We get along well as siblings. It’s great that you can have this experience with your sibling, we’ve gone through a lot of crazy times and fun times together,”

With their new single and according to Liv a “glimmer” of more music to come in the future, we can look forward to the band on the rise, The Lifers.

You can catch The Lifers this Saturday, April 18h at the Tennessee and on Song-Talk Radio on the 21nd. As well as, keep up with their songs, videos, and the latest news on the newly designed site here.