Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

On July 12th, Sub Pop Records released “Automat”, a collection of METZ non-album singles, B-sides, and rarities dating back to 2009, available on LP for the first time, and including the band’s long out-of-print early (pre-Sub Pop) recordings. It’s a chronological trip through the lesser-known material of Metz, the widely-adored and delightfully noisy 3-piece punk band from Toronto, ON.

The vinyl LP format of Automat included an exclusive bonus 7” single of Metz interpretations of three diverse cover songs, a glimpse of their wide-ranging and excellent taste. And, on August. 20th these three bonus tracks will be available in digital services everywhere. Rejoice! And then also go listen to: a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Pig,” from a very limited 2012 Record Store Day split single originally released by Toronto’s Sonic Boom record shop; “I’m a Bug,” a cover of the Urinals’ art-punk classic, originally released on YouTube (not an actual record label) in 2014; and Metz’s previously unreleased rendition of Gary Numan’s “M.E.”

released August 20th, 2019,
2019 Sub Pop Records
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Toronto group Ducks Unlimited have a jangly sound that owes much to ’80s indiepop like The Go-Betweens and the rosters of Flying Nun and Sarah Records. They’ve opened for The Goon Sax and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and have just released this cracking slice of strummy goodness, “Get Bleak.”

Ducks Unlimited Featuring guest vocals from Laura Hermiston of fellow Toronto band Twist, “Get Bleak” is a jaunty slice of C86 indie-pop. The song pokes fun at the wishful thinking that simply moving to a new city will fix your problems, and it also sulks in that reality. “You flew across an ocean to / Get bleak,” sings lead vocalist Tom Mcgreevy against chunky guitar plucks.

Released July 16th, 2019

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Toronto’s Aunty Social (AKA Daniela Gitto) is one of those voices. The first track off her forthcoming debut EP, “Trying”– is a gritty alt-pop tale of leaving religion behind and looking forward to a brand new day.

Deeply ingrained within this track is Gitto’s arduous story of finding her own path, after forsaking the only one she’s known all her life. “Before all of this, religion was my identity,” she shares. “It’s what I relied on, it’s what I followed. Once that was gone, I really didn’t know who I was. I felt like all this progress that I had made from six to sixteen was completely void, and then I had to muster up all the things that make me who I am.”

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Dressed up in a magnetizing production of palpitating drum kicks and lo-fi synths, “Trying” is more than just a coming-of-age story. It’s a mesmerizing vocal performance, with Gitto’s soft voice slowly building up to a swelling chorus, uninhibited and free to speak its mind. Because that is what this song truly is all about – shedding the past, with all the insecurities and fears that it harbours, and moving forward to a lighter and brighter future.

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Toronto jangle-pop quartet Ducks Unlimited have shared their new single “Get Bleak” taken from their forthcoming currently untitled EP, out later this year.

Featuring guest vocals from Laura Hermiston of fellow Toronto band Twist, “Get Bleak” is a jaunty slice of C86 indie-pop. The song pokes fun at the wishful thinking that simply moving to a new city will fix your problems, and it also sulks in that reality. “You flew across an ocean to / Get bleak,” sings lead vocalist Tom Mcgreevy against chunky guitar plucks.

Mcgreevy says of the track: “Get Bleak” is a song about this idea that moving somewhere else is going to solve all your problems. It’s something that I’ve heard expressed by a lot of friends in one way or another, especially as more and more people are getting priced out of cities like Toronto, New York and London. There can be plenty of good reasons to leave the place that you’re from or somewhere you’ve made your home for a long time, but I think there’s this ‘grass is always greener’ thing that in my experience, and anecdotally from people I know, just isn’t true. It’s hard to move to a new place, and you’re still going to be you when you get there with the same issues and hang-ups, plus you’re going to miss the people who care about you, and they’re going to miss you.

Ducks Unlimited have previously opened for artists like Weyes Blood, Rolling Blackouts Coast Fever and The Goon Sax . released July 16th, 2019

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A new PUP video is always an event. Over the past six years we’ve seen the Toronto punks impaled, demolished, and nearly killed; covered, 8-bitted, and animated and today, we get a stylish crossover of their two preferred genres.

The new clip for “Sibling Rivalry” blends the body horror imagery and cartoon aesthetic of previous videos to riff on the anxieties of travel, with exaggerated safety brochures and warning signage to complement Stef Babcock’s furious lyricism inspired by a camping trip gone awry.

Additionally, the video offers autobiographical insight into the essential track from one of thebest albums of the year (so far), contextualizing the lyrics as stemming from an actual series of camping trips Babcock has taken with his sister. Things end a little sweeter than they began when the video concludes with a dedication to the band’s siblings, before a brief stills montage of PUP on tour together.

Things end a little sweeter than they began when the video concludes with a dedication to the band’s siblings, before a brief stills montage of PUP on tour together.

Foxwarren

Subtle and thoughtful, Foxwarren – the four person band comprised of Toronto solo artist Andy Shauf and his hometown friends, who released their self-titled debut album last year – draws parallels to Shauf’s solo work while leaning on collaboration and looseness rather than Shauf’s meticulous arrangements. The new music video for Foxwarren’s “Lost on You” also makes a strong case for following your gut instincts. Canadian filmmakers Mark Klassen and Hope Little were about to depart on a road trip across Nevada’s Death Valley to the Pacific Coast of California and at the last minute decided to bring their lighting design equipment with them, to experiment with along the trip’s route. Along the way they stopped when the conditions were just right to film and from this footage the “Lost on You” video was born.

“Lost on You” by Foxwarren from the self-titled album, available now on Anti- and Arts & Crafts

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Quickly becoming one of the year’s break-out new voices, Toronto-based songwriter Dana Gavanski has been operating in the fringes of the folk scene since her 2017 EP, Spring Demos, which came out on Fox Food Records. Now signed to Full Time Hobby, Dana looks destined for great things, yet it could all have been so different if Dana had stuck with her original plan to follow her father into the film industry. Thankfully film’s loss was music’s gain, after an ex-partner left Dana with a guitar and she began crafting the songs that would maker her name.

Late last year I had the opportunity to work with Mike Lindsay (Tunng and LUMP) in seaside Margate, England and it was a beautiful and unforgettable experience. ‘One by One’ was written as a tender embrace of the feeling of being alone in the world and moving on with it. Of the dark interiors of the mind and remembering to open the windows.

This week Dana will share her first release for Full Time Hobby in the shape of a 7″ single, “One By One”, a track described by Dana as, “a tender embrace of the feeling of being alone in the world, and moving on with it”. The track has a gorgeously wistful quality, the unwavering, stoic vocal accompanied initially by a gentle flutter of acoustic guitar, the whole track gets gradually weirder and more intriguing, as a simplistic, and unusually prominent, bass-line propels the track, while synths and backing vocals drift in and out of earshot.

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The accompanying B-side, Do You?, is an exploration of moving cities; of struggling to connect with new people and a new place in the world, set to a delightful piece of finger picked guitar and that rich, Joan Baez meets Sharon Van Etten vocal. Not content with all that, Dana also has some upcoming high-profile shows in the UK supporting Chris Cohen and Tomberlin, as well as contributing three songs to the final instalment of the, Song By Toad Split 12″ series. A songwriter as busy as she is brilliant, Dana Gavasnki won’t need any introduction for long.

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Three girls, three instruments and one hell of an awesome and brutal energy. That’s how we describe in few words our new favorite Toronto’s band, The Beverleys. They play fast, loud and with no bullshit. Brutal was their debut album and is literally how that word sounds. We all have very different influences… Susan loves Nirvana, it’s her favorite band of all time and so she loves the heavy grunge stuff. Steph is more of a Britpop and hip-hop kind of fan and Joanna loves all sorts of classic rock music, Britpop and shoegaze. It was just sort of all those things coming together and that’s just what made what you hear today. Nothing purposely influenced what we did.

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Originally released November 6th, 2015

Susie – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Jo – Guitar, Vocals
Stephanie/Audrey – Drumz

Written and Performed by The Beverleys 

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Tim Baker has been filling venues as one-seventh of Hey Rosetta! for the last decade, but after the Newfoundland bandmates parted ways in fall 2017 the now-Toronto-based musician branched out on his own, releasing intimately performed and shot acoustic videos as part of The Side Door Sessions since October of last year. It all leads to his debut album, Forever Overhead, which holds 11 songs of original material, showing us that Baker’s voice rings out just as heart-wrenchingly on its own atop guitar and piano, particularly on a track like lead single “Dance” where he sings longingly for that titular dance (though a slow, slinky build in the second half brings some lightness to the heartache).

Baker writes nostalgically of his Newfoundland home (“’Cause no matter where I’m headed/ I’ll only end up where I been,” he sings on “All Hands”) and how those old haunts and ghosts can become a big part of your present (“Once a stranger to me/ but now you’re the song in my mouth,” he sings on “Spirit”). Forever Overhead is the singer-songwriter at his most vulnerable, one foot on the land that formed him and the other striding forward.

Shot in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, nature is frozen in time, enclosed behind protective glass and two solitary characters exist in their work and in isolation from each other, until a beautiful moment. “For me this has always been a song sung from someone held apart – convalescing maybe, notes Tim “from someone dreaming of being alive and close to love and something important.”  “Tim and I both grew up in Newfoundland,” says director Jordan Canning. “As teenagers we spent summer nights skipping stones on middle cove beach, driving up to Southside Hills to explore the cliffs, and playing spotlight in the woods, our flashlight beams scanning the trees for our friends. Nature was always within easy reach. Years later, we both find ourselves living in Toronto. Here, you can go days without stepping foot on a patch of grass. Everywhere you look there is concrete and steel and plastic and people. And when you look away it is usually to stare down at a phone or computer screen”

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“Should” is a tricky word. It sets unrealistic expectations. It’s guilt-inducing. I should go to the gym today. I should hang out with my friends more. I should be happy. PUP drummer Zack Mykula knows all about this: “The expectation that you’d be happy just because you’re a semi-successful touring musician—it’s like the other side of that sword is the self-shame that comes with acknowledging you should be happy,” he says. “‘Should’ is the operative word because ‘should’ is inherently a self-shaming word.”

Some might place this burdensome expectation on the Toronto punk band because the members have done a lot since they released their self-titled debut album in 2013. But even saying “a lot” is an understatement: The four-piece set a goal to play two hundred shows that year, and they played over two hundred and fifty. They followed up their beloved debut with another critical darling, The Dream Is Over, in 2016To top it all off, the band releases music videos that can be described as nothing less than iconic.

Now, PUP who are made up of singer Stefan Babcock, bassist Nestor Chumak, and guitarist Steve Sladkowski, in addition to Mykula are back with their most ambitious album yet, Morbid StuffOn the surface it’s a fun, bopping record with nearly forty minutes of rambunctious headbangers and mighty anthems.

But leading up to the creation of Morbid Stuffthe four guys were going through some bleak times.

Hiding in plain sight, beyond the commanding guitars, pulsing bass, and red-blooded drumming, this impassioned album is dark. Real dark. Babcock explores the shadowy recesses of his mind—the parts that most of us would prefer to avoid—to dive into ideas of self-destruction, numbness, restlessness, and isolation.

“We should be really stoked on life,” Babcock says. “That can be a tough thing to deal with, because your happiness or sadness can exist totally independent of things that are going on around you. We were always wondering what was going to come next for us in our lives.” .Luckily for PUP, these are the conditions in which they thrive creatively. But instead of extracting musical inspiration from other artists, Babcock turned to an unlikely medium: podcasts. He explains that when he’s deep in the writing process, listening to music can be the last thing he wants to do in his spare time. His favorite podcasts include a smattering of hockey-related series, as well as true crime pods Dirty John and Dr. Death.

“Especially listening to Dr. Death and Dirty John, I would be like, ‘Man, everybody’s life is way more fucked up than mine,’” Babcock laughs. “This isn’t that bad.” In Babcock’s words, Morbid Stuff became like his own personal podcast. One where he could be utterly vulnerable and comfortable with himself.

“I felt like I was just figuring out my voice, and figuring out how to say the things I wanted to say properly, and just ran with it,” Babcock says. “Sometimes probably too much. Should have fucking reined it in a little bit.”

It’s true—Babcock doesn’t shy away from divulging his most intimate thoughts on this record. From wondering whether he should have given in to his demons on “Kids,” to not being able to recognize himself in the mirror anymore on “Scorpion Hill,” he lays it all on the table.

You can find the fun dotted throughout Morbid Stuff,  in the form of wry jokes and black witticisms. At the end of “See You at Your Funeral,” Babcock throttles up to a panicky scream: “I hope the world explodes / I hope that we all die / We can watch the highlights in hell / I hope they’re televised.” And in the middle of a Satanic ritual (or is it just a trip gone wrong?) described in “Bloody Mary, Kate and Ashley,” Babcock grills the listener, asking an important but ridiculous question: “Do you prefer Ashley or Mary Kate?”

Uniting all eleven tracks is the idea of sticking together. Despite the self-loathing, despite the apathy, the band members still have one another. Even though Babcock decries the “mind-numbing reality of a godless existence” in “Kids,” it ultimately doesn’t matter, because he’s “pretty happy lying here with you / It’s pretty good to feel something.” We may all be losers, but at least we’re losers together. That’s what makes our pretty terrible world a little more bearable—and what makes this record a delight to listen to.

“Morbid Stuff” out on April 5th

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