Festival season is now well underway in Toronto with more opportunities to check out amazing music coming out daily. With that I’d like to take a look back on the fest that started it all this year, Canadian Music Week.
The weather was stunning for CMW this year, reminding us of the great move the masterminds behind the fest made a couple of years ago to move it from a usually frigid March to a far more tolerable weekend in May. This year’s CMW was, for me, just as much about new musical discoveries as it was about celebrating the rise of bands and artists that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and loving for a little while now. Check out my faves from CMW below!
It was a rainy night in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec when I happened upon les Deuxluxes playing to a small audience out of the back of a truck for Festival de Musique Emergente. It was freezing, the rain was coming down hard but they didn’t let it phase them. On the contrary, les Deuluxes rocked so hard they forever cemented themselves in my conscious, making me a fan for life. I made sure to seek them out at Pop Montreal and I was thrilled to discover they were playing CMW this year in their first Toronto appearance. Their music is irresistible and awe inspiring at the same time: how can only two people make so much glorious noise, and look so fabulous while doing it? Singer/guitarist Anna Frances-Meyer is a goddess, her fierce vocals matched only by her brash and beautiful style. Not to be outdone, drummer/guitarist/singer/jack of all trades Etienne Barry was decked out like a gentleman cowboy, astounding the crowd with his mad skills as a multi-instrumentalist . Bluesy guitar licks meld with soaring gospel inspired vocals in a sultry and soulful combination, singed by the fire of rock and roll. Your hips move, your arms wave and you’re drawn in by the spell cast by les Deuxluxes.
Another Pop Montreal discovery of mine, the Muscadettes are sweet surf rock at its finest, despite having come from a place where surfing isn’t really a thing. Twins Chantal and Kathleen Ambridge look the part of California girls, but rock like the New York garage punk bands that inspired them. They took the stage at the Bovine Sex Club and launched into a killer set, their sweet, strong voices contrasting wonderfully against the raw, fuzzed out guitar riffs and pounding drums that characterize their tunes. For a moment I zoned out, my soul leaving the grungey dive bar setting as I pictured msyelf driving down the PCH, the wind whipping through my hair, as “I’m in love” blared from the radio…only to remember it was coming from the stage. The Muscadettes: music awesome enough to inspire out of body beach road trip experiences.
Rap rockers (or rock rappers depending on how you view it) Tiny Danza have been on my radar since they took home the top prize at Indie Week a few years ago. At the time I must admit I was disappointed that they won (no hard feelings guys!), but that forced me to keep an eye out for them and it allowed me to see their musical progression, which has been remarkable. I’m always ready to admit when I’m wrong, and I definitely was about Tiny Danza. The band turned the dark dank room at Velvet Underground into a hip hop fueled party, their lady fans writhing in front of the stage to their signature sound and the beats provided by drummer Nick Shao. Rapper/singer Galen Hogg was the showstopper of the night, the rhymes emanating from his throat surprising and delighting everyone present. My personal highlight? The band’s cover of “Habits” by one of my favorite artists Tove Lo, beautifully rendered by Andrew Craig.
I have loved the Lazys since watching them open for Big Wreck last fall. The Australian rockers have managed to spend a fair amount of time in Canada but one thing is certain – I wasn’t going to get the chance to see them in a venue like the Horseshoe again so I jumped at the chance. And just like back in October, these hard rockin Aussies did not disappoint. The Lazys make music that you crave like a hard partying Friday night after a rough week at work. It’s sweat soaked, hip shaking and hair tossing rock and roll that music lovers just can’t get enough of. You just can’t help but let loose and have a blast dancing your shoes off when these guys are on stage, and that’s exactly what they brought to their CMW performance.
These B.C. natives were on my “must catch” list ever since I received an email with the line “The Wild!’s reputation of unspeakable acts of debauchery hasn’t been seen in rock and roll since the days of Guns N Roses and the Sunset Strip” in it. Suffice it to say, I was intrigued, so I stuck around after the Lazys’ set to see if the rumors were true. While I witnessed no on stage debauchery to speak of, I did get a healthy dose of balls out, grimey and super sexy rock and roll. Dylan Villain (guitar/vocals) and Lucas “Boozus” Jancikic (bass/vocals) have cornered the market on onstage crazy eyes, making photo editing an adventure, and watching them all the more entertaining. Rowdy “Rick” Riegs (drums) knows how to pound those skins, giving the crowd a solid headbanging beat. The trio work seamlessly to create music that rattles the walls, shakes the floors and digs deep into the core of every human within earshot. Definitely a band I’ll need to catch again, and again, and again.
Last Bullet is another band that’s been on my radar for a while, and I’ve loved seeing how much these guys improve with every live show. Evolution is the key to any band, and Last Bullet have mastered it. From the undeniable rock star power of guitarist Brendan Armstrong, singer Bryan Fontez’s powerful voice and drummer Chris Galaz’s animal energy from behind the kit, these guys are already the real deal, but they never rest on their laurels. On the contrary, they work tirelessly at improving their sound and their live performances, and it showed as they closed down the Saturday of CMW at the Hideout. Bolstered by the great talents of their rhythm guitarist Michael Silva and bassist Will Shannon, Last Bullet is another band to watch – these boys are destined for great things.