CMW Review: The Besnard Lakes, March 22, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Brent in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment

Over the past few years it’s been difficult to get CMW out there to the mainstream Toronto music crowd. Everyone that’s just come back from SXSW is tired and feel the need to take a break, the weather still isn’t quite Spring-like, and the talent that might consider playing CMW (or CMF as it’s now being called) may have chosen to skip it and play NXNE instead or just tour instead.

This year has been a little bit different though. You’ll see that those in charge of CMW have been able to latch on to other big-name bands that just happen to be touring during the six-day music festival. By claiming a few seats to each of these venues and allowing a very small number of those with wristbands to attend each is just clever marketing. Why wouldn’t they want to advertise Rihanna/ASAP Rocky, Stars, Nick Cave, and Heart on your posters? Regardless, with this many bands over this many days, you’re bound to find some quality. One of those quality acts are the Besnard Lakes.

Riding on their fourth album Until In ExcessImperceptible UFO, the Montreal-based band played just after midnight in the headline slot to a mostly packed Lee’s Palace. They played three tracks (that I could tell) from their new album which is different than their previous albums as it’s less about the ups and downs and instead is more focused on a consistent sound from beginning until end.

Besnard Lakes played a set full of fuzzed out psychedelic ’70s rock with a strong rockstar stage presence. The vocals of primary songwriter and guitarist Jace Lasek nicely complemented the soft and warm voice of bassist and wife, Olga Goreas. They even had time to throw in a Fleetwood Mac cover during their encore that added a nice nostalgic touch.

They’re presently in the middle of a tour with Montreal Psych-mates Suuns.

The Ultimate Canadian Music Week Preview

Posted on by Ricky in Canadian Music Week | 1 Comment


It’s that time again, boys and girls.

It is Canadian Music Week, one of the most anticipated Canadian music festivals in the month of March. Thousands of bands from all over the country come to Toronto and play shows in hopes of catching that one influential ear (Scooter Braun) who might take them to stardom and the land of riches. As a result, there is an overabundance of shows this week. Walk into a bar, catch a band. It should be fun.

There are also panels and industry talks, mostly people talking about how they can extract more money from music go-ers. We don’t really have interest in that, so let’s just focus on music instead. It’s always about the music.

Here are some bands we think are worthy of your time.

Chvrches – A friend once described them as Purity Ring, but Scottish. They are awesome and charming. Lauren Mayberry is cute as a button. I don’t know where that phrase comes from. Hard to believe that former members of the Twilight Sad and Aerogramme would form an electro-pop band, but here we are. They play Mod Club on Wednesday. Don’t miss them. Check out their track Recover here, it’s a fantastic song:

Savages – The term post-punk is thrown around a bit too liberally these days, but it is a great term to describe British band Savages. An all female rock band, Savages rock their SXSW showcase last week, playing an intense rock set in almost completely darkness that left the crowd a bit stunned. The head shaven lead singer, Jehnny Beth delivers her vocals with manic expressions, jerky dance moves and an all round fury that represents the bands name rather well. She kinda looks like Annie Lennox from back in the day, if Annie Lennox was consistently pissed off. Those wanting a dose of intense rock should venture to their showcase on Saturday at Lee’s Palace with other one worded bands Suun, Lioness, Valleys and Decades.


Boy – A female duo from Hamburg with the least google searchable band name ever, Boy is also another SXSW buzz band that have made the journey up North. Building on the success of their 2011 release, the duo hopes to play their catchy pop tracks to even more fellow anglo saxons at the El Mocambo on Saturday. Check them out.

Secret Guest – I don’t know who secret guest is, but they are playing a lot of places! Just kidding, as usual, a lot of showcase have dangled the secret guest carrot at fans in hopes of garnering more attendance. Given that it’s CMW, I am guessing it’s a band that’s in town. It’s probably not Usher, so don’t have your hopes up.

Other Bands

There are a lot more bands to go through but this post is already getting pretty long. Our friend Frank over at Chromewaves has a much better written preview up. Take a look at this page here.

Supporting Other Blogs
Our friends over at Sticky Magazine have a showcase happening on Wednesday night at the Rivoli. It features a bunch of good ole’ honest Canadian music acts – Shaky Knees, Dominique Fricot, Andy Brown, Revelstoke, Leif Vollebekk and North Lakes. I am not particularly familiar with any of these artists except Leif Vollebekk, who I believe rocks a mean beard/plaid combo. Head to Sticky for more information about these acts, they have a 5 question thing going on. Questions are awesome. Their editor Chad Hutchings is also part of “THE POWER OF BLOGS!” talk. I hope they use this picture somehow:

Followed by maniacal laughing from all the bloggers and then a circle jerk. Either way, it should be an interesting talk. I am sure a similar talk elsewhere inspired this dude on kickstarter:

HE GOT 12,000$ in pledges. We totally need to get on kickstarter. I love this line in his Q & A

3). The website is going to switch from a Blogger (our current platform- free) to WordPress (cost is about $400). Then we will have a site builder come in so we can make the website as media friendly and resourceful as possible (can cost anywhere between $1,500-$3,000).

Clearly this guy does not know how to outsource his work to India. I don’t know who is charging him 400 bucks to move his site from blogger to WordPress, that guy is laughing. However, that blogger just got 12k, he is for sure laughing.

Anyways, off track. Let’s journey forward.

Top 3 tips for CMW

1. Explore
You know, a lot of people complain about the lack of a good lineup at CMW. This is true, CMW lacks marquee names. If SXSW is Wrestlemania, CMW is like the the local wrestling night put on at your local gym. You know what though? Sometimes those wrestlers become people like the Rock or Hulk Hogan. They too, wrestled in gyms at one point. What I am saying is, just because most of the bands are unknown now, doesn’t mean they won’t be big later. CMW seems to be more about getting in on the ground floor. So just go into a random bar, sit down, order a beer and then listen to five bands you have never heard. It might not be great, but nothing beats that moment for when you listen to some unknown band and they blow you away.

2. Earplugs
Don’t be an idiot like I was earlier in my years and not bring earplugs to shows. Earplugs are cheap and save you a lifetime of trouble later in life. Remember your uncle Joe, who screams at you because he can’t hear well? He probably went to 1/10th of the concerts you went to. Imagine how you’ll be in 30 years.

3. Don’t Wait in Line
Fuck the lineups, every hour you waste standing in line for a band you can probably see in a few months is time wasted not exploring other bands. Don’t get caught up in all this FOMO business everyone’s all about. You see a long line? go elsewhere.

That’s all for now, go here for festival schedule.

CMW Review: Ewert And The Two Dragons, March 24, Cabin 5

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Everything | Leave a comment

Cabin 5 is kind of a weird venue.  Cool, but weird.  Before I get into my review of Ewert and the Two Dragons, I feel I need to say a few words about this place and the circumstances surrounding my arrival.  First off, I hadn’t even planned on attending this show.  My original plan was to head over to the Opera House to catch some early evening metal, but to my surprise, the “Metal Alliance” show was no longer accepting wristbands.  So after an entirely unnecessary sidetrip to The Opera House, it was back on the streetcar and onto my backup plan – Estonian indie/folk rock guys Ewert And The Two Dragons.  All things considered, I’m pretty sure things worked out for the better in this case.

So on to the venue itself.  I had never heard of Cabin 5 and didn’t quite know what it was all about other than the address.  As it turns out, the entrance was through an alleyway with a lone doorman the only indicator that this was the right place.  As I entered, I thought it looked a little dodgy and was kind of wondering if I was in the right place at all.  However, after a brief walk up the stairs, I entered the venue to find a pretty cool little place, done up all folksy like … well, like a cabin, I guess.  A pretty good venue in which to catch some folk rock.  Apparently, a few others agreed with me, and it became evident that many of them were not there for CMW at all.  It appears that a large number of people of Estonian descent were in attendance, which makes sense I suppose.  These guys are probably a much bigger deal in their homeland and so when in town, it’s only natural that they’d attract an Estonian following.

As for their show, they had good stage presence and the music sounded pretty good.  It was some nice, piano based folk rock with lots of Crowded House-esque harmonies and a good, driving beat throughout.  I noted similarities to a variety of other acts, everything from Travis to Royal Wood to Herman Dune with lots of traditional sounding folk melodies.  Overall, a good night out and a nice surprise.

CMW Review: BADBADNOTGOOD, March 23, Wrongbar

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

BADBADNOTGOOD was featured on the cover of last Thursday’s NOW. The timing simply couldn’t have been better, since they were playing the Wrongbar the very next day. The band consists of drummer Alex Sowinski, bassist Chester Hansen, and keyboardist Matt Tavares. They met at Humber’s jazz program and have managed to fuse elements of jazz, hip hop, youthful bravado, and web 2.0 net savvy to create some kind of tidal wave phenomenon. It was a crazy and adrenaline pumped set as they celebrated both the Now cover, and getting booked for Coachella.

After seeing their fresh faces, it would be easy to discount BBNG as newbies. That is, until you hear them play. They are tight and skilled the way jazz musicians are, but they’ve managed to combine that with restless energy and the confidence to dash musical boundaries. Why can’t a band who has figured out how to tie the jazz of yesterday with the hip hop and rock of today put on a show that involves moshing? No reason, because that’s exactly what they are doing.

There’s a popular conception that modern jazz has become ossified. It’s easy to get that idea if you listen to standard adult contemporary jazz stations that cater to an older generation that grew up on Miles Davis. If that’s your starting point, then it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking BBNG are a different breed entirely. If you dig a little deeper though, you realize that mirroring the times, exploring new vistas, and pushing boundaries is exactly what jazz was about. In that respect, BBNG is simply part of the latest wave of artists to pick up the torch. They’ve been able to do it in a way that resonates with a new generation. That’s a good thing for jazz, and a good thing for new music.

BADBADNOTGOOD’s next album, BBNG2 is set to release April 3rd.