Screw No.414 ~ O Toronto

Broken Social SceneStill on holidays here in Canada and exploring the music that this great country has brought to our ears. This time with a focus on the new and the city of Toronto. Kevin Drew and his Broken Social Scene collective brought the indie scene here to the fore back in the mid-noughties. The collective still gig as separate entities around the city with the odd reunion now and again. The most recent being back in July at Pemberton Music Festival in British Columbia with the likes of The War On Drugs, Run The Jewels and Father John Misty back.

Fast forward to the present day and there’s so much great new music on offer from Toronto based artists. Way more than a single blog post could do any justice to. Below are just a handful that grabbed my attention in meanderings on my brief visit here. With a savage playlist to boot.

Moon KingMoon King are Daniel Woodhead and Maddy Wilde. They started out as childhood best friends and have been creating sublime shoegaze dream punk since 2010. “I originally based it on three characters from popular culture: Bart Simpson, Peter Pan, and to a lesser degree Robin Hood. So the Moon King band is a group of merry tricksters — fun-loving but able to take care of some pretty serious biz,” explains Daniel Woodhead to Toronto based BlogTo. Check out “Roswell” below from their latest album Secret Life.

Lydia AinsworthLydia Ainsworth released her debut album Right From Real on Arbutus Records back in September 2014. Wainsworth is a composer, producer and singer whose experimental music has been described as lying somewhere between serenity and terror. Ainsworth’s haunting vocals harking back to Elizabeth Frazer and The Cocteau Twins on “Malachite” taken from Right From Real in the playlist below.

DOOMSQUADDOOMSQUAD are a trio of psych electronica siblings – Allie, Jaclyn & Trevor Blumas. They’ve described themselves as more of an “art project” than a band. The band’s latest release on Bella Union, Pageantry Suite, is a wonderful psychedelic symphony of horns, chanting harmonies and electronica vibes with a reverent nod in the diretion of Talking Heads. Check out “Apocalypso” from Pageantry Suite in the below playlist.

Fresh Snow Fresh Snow started out as an improv instrumental covers band in a bar on Toronto’s Bloor Street. The band keeping audiences on their toes, jumping from Nirvana to Kraftwerk and Mogwai. With their debut “I” focusing on a theme of anaesthesia, their upcoming WON, scheduled for release on Hand Drawn Dracula September 11, 2015 promises to be just as esoteric but no doubt a corker.

Mexican SlangMexican Slang are considered stalwarts of the Toronto music scene. Singer/guitarist Annabelle Lee told Toronto based BogTo that the idea behind the band is “essentially daydreaming about running away from my crappy life to live in the Sonoran desert. The music is supposed to be a hazy, noisy soundtrack for the head trip.” Billed as lo-fi garage punk. To me it sounds like Belly meets The Detroit Cobras. Refreshing to hear such noisey punk antics coming out of “Toronto the Good”.

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Screw No.413 ~ O Canada

I’m here in Toronto Canada holidaying with my father and thinking of all the great music that this country has given us. Neil Young instantly comes to mind along with Leonard Cohen and, eh, Justin Bieber. One of my favourites though has to be the quintessential queen of the hippy mystic Joni Mitchell. Born in Alberta, Mitchell started out her career playing small nightclubs in Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dive bars of Toronto. She then went on to define the sound of a generation with songs like “Woodstock” and “Big Yellow Taxi”. The former later being covered by CSNY on Deja Vu. Her collaborations include the aforementioned Cohen, Dylan and James Taylor. As her career and playing style progressed she began to explore jazz. This led her to work with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Charles Mingus.

What makes Joni Mitchell unique is her wide vocal range, honest story telling and impeccable rhythm. A rhythm that is especially evident in the below rendition of “California” for a BBC recording back in 1970. Here Mitchell not just plays but commands an Appalachian dulcimer. A master class in rhythm from a Canadian treasure. Enjoy.

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Screw No. 412 ~ Julia Holter

Thank god for Julia Holter, a breath of fresh air in regard to the ever waning indie music scene. Her new single ‘How I feel’ flies, swoops and dives, propelled by her idiosyncratic vocal delivery, shimmering harpsichord and orchestration. Strings seem to gild the feelings and sensations evoked, reaching for transcendence and hinting at something mystical in the everyday, in this sense she apes some of Kate Bush’s more recent work. The arrangements are straight out of the Jack Nietzsche school of arrangement, particularly his work for Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young. Robert Kirby, arranger on many Nick Drake songs is also a touchstone here. Put this on repeat.

New album ‘Have you in my Wilderness’ will be out on the 25th of September.

Julia Holter ~ How I Feel

Nick Drake ~ Fruit Tree

Buffalo Springfield ~ Expecting to Fly

Kate Bush ~ Something in Between

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Screw No. 410 ~ Wife

Wife (James Kelly) is thoroughly contemporary pop music, occupying that liminal space between multiple genres that the best pop music occupies. Influences are clear in particular when it comes to rhythm and bass; Dubstep, UKG, while there are grimey reflections of the Industrial scene in here also – London duo Raime come to mind – mainly in the distortions and manipulation of the sonic textures yet tempered and softened by iterative guitar lines. Associations with label mate (he’s signed to Tri Angle for his debut LP) Holy Other in the vocal stylistics along with the Thom Yorke in some of the cadences suggest themselves, yet none of the above detract from the sense that this is new music that can be engaged with on it’s own terms.

WIFE – Shards

WIFE – Circles

WIFE ~ Trials

Raime ~ This Foundry

Holy Other ~ Yr Love

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