Canadian Music Week

CMW Song Of The Day: Caveboy – Monochrome

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I managed to catch Montreal’s Caveboy for the first time during last year’s Canadian Music Week where they managed to impress with an energetic live show and their atmospheric yet danceable electro/dreampop sound. Since then, they’ve played a whole bunch more shows, including appearances at Pop Montreal, CMJ, SXSW. Hillside, Pride Toronto, Osheaga, and Rifflandia.

The band have returned for another CMW and will be playing The Silver Dollar as part of the NeXT POP MTL @ CMW showcase on April 19 (I’m still processing the fact that the Dollar is almost gone) as well as a show with Ria Mae at Adelaide Hall on April 21.

Check out the video for “Monochrome” below:

CMW Song Of The Day: 54-40 – One Gun

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Canadian Music Week will soon be upon us once again, with a whole bunch of Canadian and international artists and industry folk descending on Toronto for a week of shows. Of the Canadian acts, one of the notable names is 54-40, the Vancouver band who helped to define the CanRock sound of the ’80s and ’90s with songs such as “I Go Blind,” “She-La,” “Nice To Luv You,” “Baby Ran,” and “Assoholic.”

After 30 years as a band, 54-40 have reached the point where they’ve started to look back over their career, releasing the compilation album La Difference, an all-acoustic rerecording of some of their greatest hits last year.

54-40 will be playing the Indie Awards on Wednesday, April 19 alongside The Nursery, Repartee, Dan Mangan, The Wooden Sky, and Hollerado and will also be inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall Of Fame this year. Check out an acoustic performance of “One Gun” below:

CMW Review: The Spook School, The People The Poet, May 6

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Back in the day when the time that a show aired on TV mattered a whole lot more than it does now, the term “Friday night death slot” was coined. Because people would generally rather go out somewhere than stay in and watch television on a Friday night, this time slot created a sink or swim situation, thus dooming a show to a lack of viewers and often ultimately leading to cancellation if it couldn’t hold on to an audience. On a similar note, it would seem that live music may have corresponding times and places wherein, for whatever reasons, a band doesn’t get much of an audience. I happened to observe this a couple of times during CMW, and both acts responded in perhaps the only way they could: by not giving a fuck and playing the best show they can regardless.

First up was Welsh band The People The Poet, who were playing at the rather un-rock ‘n roll hour of 6:00 pm. At a festival like CMW, where the tradition of having day shows has never caught on, this ensured that they’d be playing to a crowd of mostly after work drinkers and/or people on their way to the Blue Jays game. “We’re not from here, which explains why we’re playing to this many people,” offered up singer Leon Stanford by way of introduction. The band took the low pressure environment of such a show and ran with it, playing a loose but enjoyable set and seemingly using it as an excuse to work on their goofy stage banter game, commenting about the kinds of people found on chat roulette and taking a few shots at baseball (“It makes cricket look good.”).

Later that same evening, poppy indie/punk four piece The Spook School faced a similarly tiny and mostly indifferent crowd, but the band, who introduced themselves as “a bunch of queers from Scotland” put on a tight show regardless. Though they played a 1:00 am slot at The 300 Club to a mostly empty room, they still managed to impress me with their catchy numbers on topics such as sexuality and gender identity, with “Binary” and it’s singalong chorus of “01010101” ¬†standing out as a particular highlight. “I think I saw this on an episode of Behind The Music. It’s gonna be alright,” quipped drummer Niall McCamley at the start of their set as he surveyed the audience and he later joked about how much he was enjoying it in a way. “This is great. It’s like an intimate rehearsal, but we’ve got lights. And a hostage crowd that would rather be at the bar.”

CMW Review: KJ Jansen, May 6, Bovine Sex Club

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As KJ Jansen, singer and guitarist for Calgary pop punk band Chixdiggit, took to the stage at The Bovine, he jokingly announced to the crowd, “Welcome to the soundcheck. It’ll last about 25 minutes,” making a crack about his level of professionalism. And though there was a looseness to his performance, Jansen managed to make that work to his advantage.

Right off the bat, there was a very communal vibe about this show, with several superfans up front who seemed to know all of the words to all the songs, some of them probably better than Jansen himself (one of them even sang the bassline to one song). Having put together a list of songs that he knew how to play before the show, Jansen entrusted a couple of fans up front to be in charge of choosing the setlist. This got slightly out of hand quickly enough when other people started shouting out ones he didn’t remember, but Jansen was game enough that he just rolled with it. Towards the end of his set, he began referring to the entire crowd as his band for the night and he led his “band” though singalongs on numbers such as “Chupacabra,” the 30 second long “Quit Your Job” and “(I Feel Like)(Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart).”

Jansen started off his set by saying that of all the shows happening during Canadian Music Week, this would probably be the least professional. If that’s the case, then I say professionalism be damned – he put on easily one of the most entertaining shows I saw all week, with both the audience and Jansen himself clearly enjoying every minute of it.