Label Mates

Label Mates #5 – Secret City Records

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Here is all that you need to know about the current roster of Montreal based Secret City Records artists:

Miracle Fortress – Nominated for the 2007 Polaris Music Prize
Patrick Watson – Won the 2007 Polaris Music Prize
Plants And Animals – Will be nominated for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize

Taken from the Secret City website:
(regarding their logo)…as a façade, it’s also an affront to the posturing and empty branding behind so much of the music industry fixated on fabricating fleeting tastes rather than supporting or helping document sounds that will endure which is what we think a record label these days should do.”

Well put.

Next Release: Plants And Animals first full length Parc Avenue hits the shelves on February 26th.


Plants and Animals make good music that will get your heart going, slow it down, then jack it up again when you’re not expecting it. Remember when you used to get high in-between classes in high school and listen to OK Computer in the back seat of your best friends Geo Metro? Yah, Plants and Animals are kind of like that, but different. When Pitchfork reviews Parc Avenue in a few weeks, I suspect that it is going to be up there with the Panda Bears and Deerhoofs of the Pitchfork world. Plants and Animals make music with that art school, experimental feel that they get all hot and botherd by over there. As they should because I have really enjoyed their 25 minute EP over the past few months.

Next Show: You can catch Plants And Animals at the Drake here in Toronto on February 21st.

Label Mates #4 – White Whale Records

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White Whale Records is a Los Angeles based label that formed in 1965 and was home to the legendary surf music band “The Turtles”. What? No wait….that isn’t it. White Whale Records is a Vancouver based indy label that is home to such bands as Octoberman, The Mohawk Lodge and Culture Reject. I guess record label names are in short supply, kind of like Canadian Football Leage team names. If you email White Whale, then chances are you will get a reply from either Ryder Havdale (Mohawk Lodge) or Marc Morissette (Octoberman).

Quote From The Label: Play your heart out, (Ryder Havdale, The Mohawk Lodge)

Next Show Check out Octoberman in Toronto during Canadian Music Week in March

Next Release: Culture Reject, some time early 2008.

culture reject

Cutlture Reject (Michael O’Connell) was at Pop Montreal this past year, and also played at the White Whale Show at CMJ in New York along side the Mohawk Lodge and Octoberman. He is sometimes backed up by vocalist Karri North or a thick wall of saxophone and trumpets. A thick wall of saxophone and trumpets you say? Hmmm…sounds interesting.

I included a couple of songs compliments of Ryder over at the label. The first is track from the upcoming Culture Reject album which will be out early this year. The second one is the Octoberman track “Run From Safety”. This tune was nominated as the ‘Best Song to listen to in the Fetal Position’ category for CBC Radio 3’s year-end ‘Bucky’ Awards. If you are a fan of Young Galaxy, then you should give this one a try for sure.

Label Mates #3 – Kelp Records

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kelp banner
Kelp Records was founded in 1994 in Frederiction by Jon Bartlett, but is now located in Ottawa. Enough about that, lets talk music.

Jim Bryson

Jim Bryson. Jim has been making solo records since 2000 and has backed other Canadian talent such as Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer and The Weakerthans. His latest release, Where the Bungalows Roam (2007), is available for streaming on the Kelp site. It is worth a listen. It reminds me a lot of Luna. I can picture myself listening to Jim’s cd driving down a snowy country road, not being in a hurry to get to wherever I am going, or dancing with the one I love in my living room. For a country pop, singer, songwriter, Where The Bungalows Roam has quite a wide range of appeal. There is something for everyone. You can catch Jim Bryson February 26th at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. I’ll see you there.

Quote from the label: “As for quotes, what can I say? We are coming up on our 14th anniversary this spring, and I am blessed to be able to work with such a strong stable of talent, and very appreciative of the kind words, emails and attention that our artists have been getting of late. Kelp is really looking forward to 2008!” (Jon Bartlett)


Next Kelp Release: April 1st. A new HILOTRONS album called Happymatic.

I first heard of the Hilotrons via their Science Fiction Music single a few years ago. It seems they used to play it every Saturday night on the CBC radio show (RIP). Jon was nice enough to give me an advance listen to the Hilotrons upcoming release, Happymatic, and let me tell you, it was a pleasant surprise. No wait, let me rephrase that, it was a freaking awesome surprise. In listening to it from start to finish, I really got the sense that the band went into the studio and wanted to ‘try’ a bunch of things. The things they tried really work. This list includes some power pop (Lost In Yichang), some super catchy power pop (Deep River), vocal distortions and synthesizers (Comrade Elvis), and even an instrumental surfer rock ditty (Feet First). Happymatic is good and it will make you want to dance. I hope it gets the attention it deserves on April 1st when it is released. No joke.

Label Mates #2 – (weewerk)

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*Phil Klygo and Germaine Koh of (weewerk)

Based out of Toronto, (weewerk) is an indepentent record label, artist management, and promotions company. Founded in 2002 by Phil Klygo and Germaine Kok in the apartment above Rotate This, (weewerk) started off as an art-and-music salon event organization. Since the label is small and only has one person in charge, decisions can be made quickly, overhead is low, they can be very accomidating, and artists are able to keep their artistic integrity in their music as well as in their live shows. In the battle of big label vs. little label, (weewerk) is holding their own, and then some.

The labels biggest artist would have to be Great Lake Swimmers, who released their first self-titled release in 2003 with the help of the (weewerk) crew. At that time, a lot of attention was bestowed upon the new start-up label because of their DIY attitude and commitment to the independent Canadian music world.

Some other (weewerk) artists include The Barmitzvah Brothers, Elliott Brood , Great Lake Swimmers, Two-Minute Miracles, The United Steel Workers of Montreal and The Burning Hell.

Besides the Great Lake Swimmers, my favourite (weewerk) band would have to be the Barmitzvah Brothers. Fun and poppy quartet from Guelph. This past October they released their fifth album, Let’s Express Our Motives: An Album of Under-Appreciated Job Songs.

Quote From The Label: “…we just put up our newly designed website yesterday.” (Phil Klygo)

burning hell*The Burning Hell. Photo by Angus MacPherson

Next Show: This Friday night, (weewerk) is having a CD release party for The Burning Hell, Jan, 18th, 9:PM, The Studio (235 Carlaw, #202), $10. I have a feeling that this is going to be quite the party since my invitation stated that it was BYOB. There will be live music until late and an old-fashioned rave complete with glow sticks and Vick’s. (what does Vick’s mean?)

The Burning Hell combines quirky instrumentation, happy little melodies, and cute lyrics with a ukelele. Have a listen to the track posted below. With all the schooly yard talk about dinosaurs, this track could have easily fit in on my newly acquired Juno soundtrack. Everybody loves Juno, right? Then chances are that you might get a kick out of The Burning Hell too.