Stars live by Wikimedia Commons
After introducing the shiniest stars of Toronto music heaven (Broken Social Scene, Metric, and Crystal Castles) some time ago, we decided to follow up and present more bands that deserve your attention. Since we’re an artsy city full of amazing talent, it might really be worth checking them out and catching them live as soon as possible!
Stars is an indie pop band formed in 1998 by vocalist Torquil Campbell and keyboardist Chris Seligman, who were soon joined by singer-guitarist Amy Milan and bassist Eva Cranley. Although Stars originate in Toronto, they relocated first to New York City and afterwards to Montreal, where they reside these days. The release of their 2004 album Set Yourself on Fire marks the band’s breakthrough into the first league of alternative bands, as the first single, Ageless Beauty, catapulted them way ahead in the international music charts and earned them critical acclaim — especially after the U.S. release. Three members of Stars also play with Broken Social Scene and contribute to their albums, which can often be sensed in the musical expression of the band. The band mentions a wide variety of influences in their music, including New Order, the Smiths, OutCast, and Momus. Their next Canadian appearance is scheduled for August 10th at the Regina Folk Festival in Victoria Park.
Great Lake Swimmers
by Wikimedia Commons
Great Lake Swimmers were named as a tribute to the people who used to traverse Lake Ontario in the past, when doing so was considered a big deal. Now, it’s an amazing challenge, but kind of a physical feat taken for granted. To remember this almost forgotten part of history, this indie folk band decided to call themselves Great Lake Swimmers. Formed in 2003, the band began with Tony Dekker (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Erik Arneson (banjo, guitar, harmonium), Bret Higgens (bass), Julie Fader (keyboards, vocals), and Greg Millson (drums). When Julie Fader decided to leave, Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals joined. So far, the band has released four albums, with the most recent one called Lost Channels. While right now, Great Lake Swimmers are on tour in the United States, you might see them supported by the emerging Cold Specks in Toronto on June 2nd at the Danforth Music Hall Theatre. The price is $38.75 and the show starts at 8:00 P.M.
MSTRKRFT by Wikimedia
MSTRKRFT is often described as dance-punk, electro house, hip hop, grime, or simply an electronica duo. They were formed by two young musicians, Jesse F. Keeler (Death from Above 1979) and Alex Puodziukas, nicknamed Al-P (Girlsareshort) in 2005. Al-P once described what the band’s main philosophy is: “We’re interested in making people feel like they want to dance, at least a little bit, so it’s all about whatever it takes to get people there.” And for sure, they’re doing very well. That’s clear to anyone who sees them performing and gets to know their dance fans all around the world. MSTKRFT released their last studio album “Fist of God” in 2009 and earned #14 in Top Electronic Albums Chart. Ever since, they have cooperated with big names of the industry including the Metric, Bloc Party, the Kills, and Justice, who keep commissioning remixes to them. If you’re interested in MSTKRFT, check them out on July 4th at the Ottawa Bluesfest in LeBreton Flats.
The Constantines have managed to be part of the scene for more than 13 years and still have something to say to their audiences. During their career, they have been compared to stars like the Clash, Bruce Springsteen, and Nick Cave and the band’s style is often described as “art-punk.” Already their first self-released album has got them credit on campus radio and earned the band nomination for a Juno Award for Best Alternative Album. Their hit singles released in the band’s most creative period, especially between 2004 and 2009, like Young Lions or Our Age are to be remembered by the Constantines’ fan community. During the Vancouver Olympics, they were even invited to perform as a part of the official program. In 2009, after a series of band members’ decisions to quit the band and hunts for replacements, many speculated about the band’s demise. However, the Constantines dismissed the rumours, saying that they’re just slowing down a little. That’s probably also the reason why there are no upcoming events announced for them.
Death From Above 1979 is an alternative rock, dance-punk, or noise rock duo formed in 2004. Ever since, they have only released one full-length album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, which is understandable, as the band split up in 2006 due to strained relationships between the two. In 2011, Death From Above 1979 announced that they are reuniting on an ongoing basis. Originally, the band was just called Death From Above, but was forced to change name after a legal dispute with a New York dance music label that shared the name. The band performs rarely these days, due to the many other activities of its members (e.g. MSTRKRFT and Bad Tits), but the duo is currently scheduled to appear in Toronto during Edgefest ’12 in Downsview Park on July 14th. Tickets for the event cost about $51.
The Hidden Cameras consist of a varying group of musicians and singer-songwriter Joel Gibb, who is the mastermind of the band. Now based in Berlin, the band itself describes the Hidden Cameras’ style as “gay church folk music” and they are often considered to be a part of an anti-folk style that has gained substantial popularity in recent years. Among others, the Hidden Cameras became famous for their high-energy live shows that include go-go dancers in balaclavas, a choir, a string section, and special made-up dances for every song. Their most recent release, Origin: Orphan, was presented to the public in May 2009 and includes singles In the NA and Underage. The band itself claims that the latest album is an evolutionary leap beyond their previous efforts, so check it out to find out whether it’s true. Their fans in Toronto will get a chance to see one of their legendary shows on July 1st at the Harbourfront (WestJet Stage) for free.
7. Holy F**k
Holy F**k is for sure one of the best electronic rock bands in Canada. To achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of computers or programmed backing tracks, they use a wide range of instruments and non-instruments, such as toy keyboards, toy phaser guns, and film synchronizers and mostly do so without rehearsing. Their current member list includes Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh as well as Matt Schulz on drums and Matt McQuaid on bass. The prominent alternative music server Pitchfork delivered its praise for Holy F**k clearly: “We often say casually that bands are ‘awesome’ without actually thinking about the true meaning of the word — Holy F**k actually inspire awe.” Although there are some scheduled concerts for Holy F**k, none are taking place in Canada, so fans at home have to wait for a while to see the band’s unforgettable performance.