NXNE preview: Unrefined Canadian
The challenge of this week’s NXNE festival: Buy a wristband, bar hop, and drunkenly discover some overlooked local gems among all the Ghostface and Flaming Lips hype. Here are my suggestions, some of which are relatively new, so I can’t vouch for the quality of their live show. But you’ll be drunk anyways. - Marsha Casselman
Cousins is a Halifax duo making lo-fi pop-tinged garage rock, and their recent LP A Palm at the End of the Mind has become the pet album of a handful of Canadian music critics for good reason. Cousins are to release an exclusive NXNE cassette at the Out of Sound showcase Thursday June 14, playing at 2.am (Facebook event); they also play the Velvet Underground the same night at 11pm. Facebook event
Mac Demarco is a jokster with an entire twitter account devoted to championing Viceroys – but he’s a seriously talented pop songwriter. The Montreal-based former frontman of Makeout Videotape is chanelling everyone from Ariel Pink to David Bowie to Elvis on his latest release Rock and Roll Nightclub (out on NYC’s Captured Tracks). He plays The Drake Wednesday @ 11PM, The Garrison Thursday @ 10PM, and Silver Dollar Saturday @ 10PM and the Bruise Cruise, which was good vibes last year. Facebook event
Toronto/Montreal’s Doom Squad fall somewhere between modern occult-worshiping witch house and the spiritual indie music that might do well in, say, Portland. They have an art-school vibe to them, not unlike fellow Montreallers YT//ST. No idea what to expect live, but they sound worthy of a dark dance party. They play The Drake Hotel Underground Thursday, June 14 @ 9PM and Rancho Relaxo Friday, June 15 @ 2AM. Facebook event
It’s hard to keep track of Cam Findlay, the shy ex-Crystal Castles drummer, as I found out a couple years ago after interviewing him for his Madonna-tinged electro-band project Parallels, which seems to be on haitus. But he’s remained a big part of Toronto’s dark electro trend, drummed for Trust and has a new warped goth project Kontravoid. He’s part of new label Pretty Pretty, which launches Saturday at the Silver Dollar. Facebook event
Toronto’s Beta Frontiers make retro electro and are garnering some buzz working alongside other old-school sampling acts like Phedre over at Daps Records. They play Friday June 15 at Sneaky Dee’s Facebook Event.
Bowly comes from Montreal’s E.S.L crew and makes some soothing post-dubstep, funky-house productions. He spins at The Drake Hotel Underground Thursday, June 14 @ 12AM; Wrongbar Thursday, June 14 @ 2AM;
Unlovable Friday, June 15 @ 12AM
Leboeuf et Laviolette – How Funny They Are (Bowly’s 808 Workout) by bowly
In line with the electronic-fusing which Toronto is pumping out hard, ElektroTank is collective led by vocalist Eytan Tobin with other locals (from The Cautioneers, The Wilderness, etc.). I think their bass, trip hop and post punk combo is at its early stages, but their cover of Prince’s I Would Die 4 You is promising. They play Rancho Relaxo Thursday @ 2AM Facebook Event
Snake & Crane
Snake & Crane is a three-peice from Brampton use sitars, djembe and other world instruments to create an Arabic psychedelic jam band. I’m especially interested to see them play tuning forks and tingshas (used in vibrational therapy and “centering” ) which will induce a state of spiritual ecstacy – at least I’m hoping. They play Rancho Relaxo Wednesday at 10pm. Facebook Event.
Fine Canadian Forces
I’m not usually one for solo loop artists, but Fine Canadian Forces (aka Toronto-based Jordan Fine) whips up some hearty pop-rock. He’s originally a jazz-trained guitarist, he paid his dues as a cruise ship one-man show. His mixing is rough, but when it works, he can sound pleasingly east coast and textured, like the end of this track below. He plays Czehoski at 1am Saturday. Facebook event
Omegas are a bunch of 80’s era hardcore punks from Montreal – and they’ve got an attitude, as I found out when I tried to interview them a couple years ago. A good roughing up is in order if you venture to Parts and Labour’s dank basement Friday June 15. Facebook event
If you’d like to end the festival on a low (as in awesomely droney and dark and deep) note, see Toronto’s Nadja play the Garrison Sunday. Since moving to Berlin, the acclaimed ambient metal duo have been rare in these parts. They play their old stomping grounds for the first time in two years Sunday. Facebook Event
I couldn’t have thought up a better list than Weird Canada’s alterna-NXNE festival, NXNEWyrd called WXWC (Wyrd X Weird Canada). It features precious soft rock from Montrealers TOPS, tribal drum creations from Toronto’s Sexy Merlin, and “New Age DJ’ing” by Weird Canada’s Aaron Levin. Tickets are separate from NXNE as far as I know. Check out the details here.