Saturday, January 09, 2010

Toronto bands to watch in 2010.

Local music writer Richard Trapunski from Resonancity asked me to contribute a list of Toronto bands to watch in 2010. And so here are 8 bands to keep on eye on as they rise to the top of the indie music world in this country and elsewhere. (Maybe.) Here they are in alphabetical order:

The Balconies---Already pretty buzzy in Toronto, this group originally hails from Ottawa, where they recently dominated the local alt weekly's year-end best-of list. Their self-titled album, released a few months ago, impressed many, but for me it's the band's live show that really sets them apart. The record doesn't quite do this band justice. Guitarist and vocalist Jacquie Neville is an superstar in the making. [Photo credit: Alex Cairncross.]
Download: "The Slo" (The Balconies, 2009).
More: How I discovered the Balconies.

Diamond Rings---Is there more than this Pitchfork-approved dance hit (with matching video) up John O'Regan's sleeve? Yes. I still occasionally yearn for the acoustic version, but cutting it up is way more fun than wiping a tear from my eye. And I've come to trust his artistic assuredness, and consider him one of my favourite vocalists. Between a new D'Urbervilles album and a DR release, John will continue to be a busy man in 2010.
Download: "All Yr Songs" (Diamond Rings / PS I Love You split 7", 2009).
More: Watch Diamond Rings' performance at NxNE 2009 at the Rivoli. Part 1 is here.


Dinosaur Bones---One of the city's younger bands with a decent-sized loyal following, Dinosaur Bones have a darker, moodier, Radiohead-er rock flavour than, say, Born Ruffians. Look for a full-length album to drop in 2010, produced by Jon Drew (Arkells, Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up). Their 2008 self-titled four-song EP was great---especially "Royalty" and "N.Y.E."---so I'm expecting to be impressed this time around. Abundant good cheer, youthful energy, and, well, good looks, won't hurt this five-piece either. The band is heading down to the US come February, the same month they will release a 7" on Hi Score Records. [Photo credit: Stephanie Luong.]
Download: "N.Y.E." (Dinosaur Bones, 2008).
More: Bassist Branko topped Bob Battams' list of the Toronto rock star elite.

Hooded Fang---2010 will see a full-length from this ensemble. Their 2008 debut EP was shockingly good, and is still one of my go-to records when I'm looking for catchy pop. Strong male and female vocals, great lyrics, and scads of pop fun are hallmarks of this group. I haven't heard any new recordings, but have heard some performed live. I have high hopes!
Download: "Fall Leaves" (Hooded Fang, 2008).
More: Front-man Daniel Lee is also part of at least a couple other musical groups, Hut and Tonka & Puma, and he and bassist April are behind the Daps Duo all-ages series. The musical Comedy "Just East of Broadway" is showing right now at the Factory Theatre; it was co-written by a member of the band (Nicholas Hune-Brown), and features music composed in part by him and Lee.

Maylee Todd---Once known as one of the Adorables and for her lead vocals on Woodhands' hit "Dancer," Maylee's got two main projects on the go right now, a dance-workout performance troupe called the Sweatshop Hop, and a band called Maylee & Pegwee Power. I'm not generally one for extra doses of zany, but Maylee's Pegwee make-believe world isn't just a gimmick. Now that's she's leading her own band, her quirky personality combined with soul and pop sensibilities make Maylee & co. a shoe-in for this list. Can't wait to see and hear what happens next.
Download: "Aerobics in Space" (Choose Your Own Adventure, 2010).
More: Get "Summer Sounds" for free here.


Sylvie Smith---The stand-out track on the two-disc Friends in Bellwoods 2 compilation was Smith's "On Our Own." At the release show at the end of August, we were told to look out for more from her. We already know her from the Magic and for contributing vocals to Evening Hymns' latest album, Spirit Guides. Here's hoping 2010 will be a break-out year for Sylvie, whose gorgeous, smooth voice deserves the spotlight.
Download: "On Our Own" (Friends in Bellwoods 2, 2009).
More: Sylvie and John O'Regan were in a band together once upon a time.

The Wilderness of Manitoba---I knew most of these guys before they were all in this band together (yes, I am cool), but setting familiarity aside, their 2009 EP is just gorgeous. I wasn't sure how it would be receiver further afield, but the buzz surrounding this band---on this continent and especially in the UK---makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. They're already slotted to play the End of the Road festival (with Wilco) in September. Look for more and more people to fall in love with Hymns of Love and Spirits and for a follow-up full-length come spring or early summer. [Photo credit: Zuzana Hudackova.]
Download: "Evening" (Hymns of Love and Spirits, 2009).
More: Two beautiful live videos are available at Southern Souls.

Zeus---Classic rock with a current twist, this Arts & Crafts outfit was signed early, but rightly so. Their full-length is due out in February. I got my hands one of of the new songs ("Fever of the Time") in the summer, and I've listened to it a whole lot since. They played the teeny Dakota a few times in 2009. 2010 will see them sell out much larger venues, appealing to music fans of all ages.
Download: "I Know" (Sounds Like Zeus, 2009).
More: "How Does It Feel" music video with live footage by Sara Collaton. Heard it before but don't know the band? That's because you saw this Nissan commercial.

Check out Resonancity's compilation for more bands and commentary: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

1 comment:

kazey said...

I know these bands! (most of them)