A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to photograph Cass McCombs & Sam Evian at The Horseshoe Tavern. The photos were posted last week at Live in Limbo, so give photo a link to see the respective sets.
This week’s playlist begins with Emily King. The GRAMMY®-nominated recording artist’s new album Scenery was released this past Friday, via ATO Records, and the early word is positive. The reason she’s first up, aside from “Can’t Hold Me” being a pretty solid lead-off song, is because she will actually be playing in Toronto TONIGHT (Feb. 4th – sorry if you are reading this too late). She’ll be at The Mod Club, and as of this morning tickets are still available at Rotate/Soundscapes. If you have no luck that way, I am sure there will be tickets at the door.
The week before last, we received the sad news that Field Trip Festival has been cancelled for this summer. It’s a bummer because Field Trip always felt like the unofficial start to summer, and that, coupled with the fact that summer festivals in Toronto are pretty much non-existent now, makes it feel like even more of a blow. Last year’s version was great, notably the performance of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who headlined the Saturday evening. The YYYs currently don’t have anything in the works, but singer Karen O has announced a new joint effort with Danger Mouse. The new album, called Lux Prima, will be released in March, and features the previously released title track, as well as new song “Woman.”
Four days into the new year, Lizzo released “Juice”, the upbeat lead single to her newly announced album Cuz I Love You. The album will be released April 19th, and coincides with a spring tour that brings her to The Danforth Music Hall on May 16th. General ticket sales start this Friday, but if you pre-order the album you’ll get access to the ticket pre-sale. That starts at 10am TODAY, so get on it if you want to “beat the box office”.
Natalie Prass recently came through town with a stop at The Danforth, opening for Kacey Musgraves. This past week, both announced that they’ll be back in Toronto by year’s end. Prass will now be headlining, and makes an appearance at The Horseshoe on April 14th, with tickets available at Soundscapes/Rotate for $14.50. Kacey, on the other hand with be playing the much larger (and seated) Sony Centre. General onsale is also this coming Friday, but there are a bunch of pre-sales happening, and coming up this week. If you happen to know any of those passwords, you’ll want to get to Ticketmaster and order those ASAP because this one’s likely to sell out quickly.
Speaking of the Sony Centre, last summer I got the chance to photograph and see David Byrne. This was a big deal for me, as I am a big fan of Talking Heads. When I caught word of the setlists having a healthy mix of songs I’ve come to love, deciding to go was pretty much a no-brainer. I was especially excited to see my favourite Talking Heads song, “Born Under Punches (Heat Goes On)” was going to be played. What made the performance even more fantastic was that I version performed was closer to the amazing cover version Angelique Kidjo released early last year on her rendition of Talking Heads’ album Remain In Light.
The reason I decided to include this cover this week (aside from it being one of my favourites) is because this coming Friday, Hot Docs Cinema will be continuing their “This Film Should be Played Loud” series with a screening of Stop Making Sense. The film features footage of Talking Heads’ four-night stand at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre and is widely considered to be one of the best concert films ever made. The film is played at Hot Docs annually, and word is that there will be dancing in the aisles, so if you are a fan and have not seen it yet there could be much worse ways to spend your Friday night. Get your tickets HERE, and don’t forget for only an extra $5.31 you can get both a popcorn AND a beer. What a deal!
If the name Nilüfer Yanya rings a bell, it’s likely because I mentioned in a previous playlist that she will be opening for Sharon Van Etten at The Danforth Music Hall next Monday. What you might not know is that she’s going to be releasing her debut album, called Miss Universe and it’s scheduled for release on March 22, via ATO Records. She has been tipped as an artist to watch by The Guardian, and the first single from the the album, “In Your Head”, definitely illustrates why. There are still tickets available for the show via Ticketmaster, so if seeing Sharon alone wasn’t reason enough to pick up the tickets, there you go.
The last year and a half has been busy for Phoebe Bridgers. After releasing Stranger in the Alps in the autumn of 2017, and working with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker last year to release and tour the boygenius EP, she somehow managed to fit in some time to record and release an album with Conor Oberst. The duo call themselves Better Oblivion Community Center and they surprise released their self-titled album digitally last week, with a physical release coming Feb. 22nd, via Dead Oceans. A U.S. tour has been announced, with no dates north of the border but hopefully we’ll see a second leg after their tour ends in May.
Brooklyn’s Teen Body released the first single “Validation” from their upcoming album Dreamo, which will be released April 12th, via Broken Circles Records. The album is their eight-track follow-up to their 2016 debut Get Home Safe and marks a step forward for the band. As of right now they only have the album release show scheduled, but I’ll be sure to update if the band announce a tour.
And now for a band that has announced a tour. After years of not coming to play club shows in Canada, Guided By Voices have made good on their promise that “the club is open” by announcing a return date at Lee’s Palace for July 13th (tickets available at Rotate/Soundscapes). That show will mark their second appearance at Lee’s in eight months, having played an epic two-and-a-half hour show there in October. They’ll also have a full album’s worth of new material, as they just released their new album Zeppelin Over China this past Friday. According to their website, they’ve also got two more albums coming out this year with 2 other albums, Warp and Woof & Rise of The Ants, listed on their discography page, so if you don’t get tickets for the show in July, it probably won’t be long before you get another chance.
February 1st saw the release of a few new albums, but also marked the 25th anniversary of Green Day‘s Dookie. In honour of the anniversary, I decided to include the song that introduced me to them in ninth grade, “Longview”. No tour dates announced at the moment, but could we perhaps see a 25th anniversary tour? Guess we’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
HÆLOS has announced they will be releasing their sophomore effort, Any Random Kindness, on May 10th via Infectious. Along with the album comes a spring tour that includes a stop at The Garrison on March 30th. Tickets can be purchased at Soundscapes/Rotate for $15 + fees.
The Strumbellas have been riding high for the last couple of years on the success of their 2016-released album Hope and it appears as though they are ready to follow that up with a new album. Rattlesnake is due for release on March 29th, via eOne Music. They’ve got a U.S. tour plotted out at the moment, ending June 14th, so I would expect we see a Canadian tour sometime this summer in support of the new album.
SACRED PAWS just signed a deal with Merge Records last week, and to commemorate they have released their new single “Brush Your Hair”. There is no mention of a new album quite yet, but they do expect to be announcing a tour in the spring so if you like what you hear, keep an eye out for that.
ShadowParty released a new Marigold EP, which features a single edit, live version and Daybreakers remix of the track. The track is originally taken from their self-titled 2018 debut, released on Mute Records.
Molly Sarlé may be known as being one of the three vocalists from American folk trio Mountain Man, or maybe even as a member of Feist‘s touring band, but now she’s taking the center stage with a release of her own on the way. The first single “Human” is a warm, jangly song and Sarlé’s vocals make you feel like you’ve been put in a trance that you won’t want to come out of. Produced by Sam Evian, it’s a promising debut to be sure. Her debut EP will be released sometime this year, via Partisan Records and I am very eagerly awaiting to hear what’s next.
Also releasing her debut album at some point this year is Claude Fontaine. The Los Angeles-based songwriter and singer released her debut single “Cry for Another” last week and announced she will be releasing her album later this year via Innovative Leisure. The album promises to be “a love song to classic reggae and Brazilian music, and an album honoring that feeling of finding a home away from home.” Expect announcement of a release date later this year.
Finishing off this week, Ólafur Arnalds will be at Roy Thomson Hall this Friday, performing songs from his stellar 2018 album re:member. There are still seats available, and they can be purchased online HERE.
Notable concerts this week
Note: * indicates a show I will be taking photos at
02/04 – Emily King @ Mod Club
02/05 – Feeder @ Lee’s Palace
02/06 – Sister Nancy @ Radio
02/07 – The Devil Makes Three @ Mod Club
02/08 – Gryffin @ Danforth Music Hall
02/08 – Jarreau Vandal @ The Garrison
02/08 – Unearth/Darkest Hour @ Hard Luck Bar
02/09 – LP @ Danforth Music Hall
02/09 – Kalle Mattson @ The Drake Hotel
02/09 – Exmag @ The Rivoli
Every Monday morning, you can find my weekly playlist here. Feel free to follow on Spotify, or let me know what you think. If you’d like to have your music considered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kicking off this week, I wanted to lead some good news for anyone reading who’s been unable to buy advance tickets for some of the shows I have posted about, due to them being sold out before my posts. On Friday, Collective Concerts announced that Death Cab For Cutie will be playing a show on June 20th @ Echo Beach, with support from Jenny Lewis. Tickets go on sale this coming Friday, January 25th at Ticketmaster, but if you can’t wait until then there are some pre-sales being done by Spotify, Collective Concerts and Indie88 that you could probably sign up for. Or you can always wait until Friday and go pick your ticket up at Soundscapes and Rotate This, and check out their Death Cab, Jenny Lewis or Postal Service vinyl offerings to prepare yourself for what’s sure to be a lovely evening of music.
A couple of weeks ago, I showcased Sam Evian on the playlist, with his song “IDGAF”. This is just a reminder that he’ll be opening for Cass McCombs at The Horseshoe Tavern on March 11th. If hearing him didn’t convince you to pick up tickets, maybe Cass’ new song “The Great Pixley Train Robbery”, off of his forthcoming album Tip of the Sphere (out February 8th via ANTI- Records), will help. Seriously, you’re not going to get a much better double bill for $17.50.
Then again, if you’re into female-fronted, guitar-driven 90s rock sounds, Julia Jacklin and Black Belt Eagle Scout could be more up your alley. Julia will be playing songs from her upcoming album, Crushing, which will be release February 22nd, while Black Belt Eagle Scout is touring their 2018 album, Mother of My Children. They’ll be making a stop at The Horseshoe Tavern on April 28th, and this one only costs $12.00 and should be worth every penny.
Notice how the prices keep dropping! Continuing on that trend, Dan Mangan announced that he’ll be stopping in to Tiny Record Shop on January 30th for a FREE in-store performance at 6:00pm. I haven’t been to their new location yet, but can only assume they’re a little tight on space still, so you might want to get there early for that one, especially considering that his show the next night at The Danforth Music Hall is sold out.
Speaking of sold out shows at The Danforth, Toronto’s PUP have not one, but two sold out shows there on June 7th & 8th. They’ll be playing in support of their forthcoming album Morbid Stuff, which is set for release on the band’s brand new label Little Dipper, in partnership with Rise Records/BMG on April 5.
Since the release of Gemini in 2010, Wild Nothing has been one of the artists driving the dream pop genre, and they haven’t altered the formula too much in the albums since, including last year’s release, Indigo. One song cut from the release of that album, “Blue Wings” was released last week as a new single and though it does sound like a Wild Nothing song, I also can’t help but feel like it has a bit of a Cut Copy sound to it – which I like.
Nothing new on the Cut Copy front as far as music or a tour, but their fellow countrymen POND have announced a new album, Tasmania, which will be released March 1st on Interscope Records. The album is said to act as a sister album to 2017’s The Weather, and they will be announcing tour dates later this year – likely after the summer festival dates played by Tame Impala, who the band shares some of its members with.
None of those Tame Impala festival dates are here in Toronto, but if you want a similar sounding experience in the tighter environs of The Drake Hotel, be sure to check out Blac Rabbit when they come through town on April 2nd. Growing up in the “mecca of hip-hop”, Brooklyn, NY, identical twins Amiri and Rahiem Taylor were raised with a wider variety of musical influences, including 60s, 70s and 80s pop, funk and soul. The twins started out performing Beatles covers on the subway, and gained popularity one year ago this week when New York Nico, the “Unofficial talent scout of New York City,” posted this video of one such performance to his 120K+ followers on Instagram. The last year has seen the group’s popularity increase, including recording a cover of The Beatles’ “Michelle” for a Gucci ad campagin, and an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Look for them to play songs from their 2017 self-produced, self-titled EP, and likely some new material, as the band plans to release their debut album Interstella in the Spring. This is definitely a chance to catch this band on the rise, so make sure to pick up your tickets at Soundscapes and Rotate for $15.00ea.
Now, as Blac Rabbit’s bio noted, Brooklyn is considered by many to be the “Mecca of Hip-hop”, and touted as the home of artists such as Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, ODB, Big Daddy Kane, etc… it’s hard to argue. However, when it comes to some of the all-time greats, you can’t sleep on Queens, the home of Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Nas, Chuck D (of Public Enemy), Mobb Deep, and, the subject of Hanif Abdurraqib‘s upcoming Love Letter to a Sound, a Group, and an Era, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. I’ve been reading his collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until they Kill Us, and cannot recommend it enough. I’m very eager to see how he tackles Tribe, and will be sure to pick it up on release next month. If you’re interested, be sure to pre-order Go Ahead in the Rain here: https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/abdurraqib-go-ahead-in-the-rain
One documentary series that has been exploring the origins of hip-hop, and beyond, is the aptly named Hip-Hop Evolution. Hosted by Canadian Rap sensation Shad, the Peabody-winning series has done a thoroughly fantastic job of putting together a hip-hop historical timeline. It also does an effective job educating people not only on the music itself, but the socioeconomic factors surrounding the release of many of the genre’s staple songs. The four episodes that make up Season two were added on Netflix in the Fall, including the final two episodes that showcase New York artists, such as many of the aforementioned Brooklyn/Queens artists, and more.
Based on where the series is at, it may be some time before we get to hip-hop outside the United States, but Shad himself can definitely take some credit for consistently being one of the best MCs north of the border in the last 10+ years. Last year saw the release of his 5th studio album (Six if you count his album released under the moniker, Your Boy Tony Braxton) A Short Story About A War, and though it clocks in at a tight 39 mins, the dense album demands multiple listens. He finished off 2018 with two nights at The Great Hall, so it might be some time before he returns, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see his album pop up on the Polaris shortlist this year.
If you finish the eight Hip-Hop Evolution episodes, and are looking for something else on Netflix, Killer Mike (one half of Run the Jewels) has a new series called Trigger Warning With Killer Mike in which he aims to challenge the misconceptions of what it means to be black in America. I have only watched the first two episodes so far, with the first involving its host “living black” for three days. It showed how a positive thing like the end of segregation had a negative consequence on black businesses, and how difficult it is in society today to keep dollars circulating within the black community, where during segregation black people had to buy from their own communities. It ended with a strong message that in order to fight systemic racism and oppression, both black people and “allies” need to support black businesses, and each other. It definitely challenges the status quo, and I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the episodes.
I was introduced to Killer Mike through one of my all-time favourite artists, Outkast, and there is news on both Andre 3000 and Big Boi from this week. First, it was just announced that Big Boi was added as a performer at the upcoming Superbowl Halftime show. Performing along with the previously announced Maroon 5 & Travis Scott, it at least guarantees that Atlanta’s rich hip-hop legacy is represented, seeing as that’s where the Superbowl is being held this year. Going back to They Can’t Kill Us Until The Kill Us, do yourself a favour and read his essay “The Night Prince Walked on Water”, in which he gives his account of the greatest Superbowl Halftime show ever. Seriously, just check the book out.
In other Outkast news, Andre 3000 popped up with vocals featured on the new James Blake album Assume Form, which was released on Friday. “Where’s The Catch?” is vintage 3 Stacks, with lyrics like: “Come with me, come with me, calming me down, Be chamomile, calamine lotion. Camel motion, humpin’ on the flo’ (Yeah).” The rest of Blake’s album is quite good and showcases how far he’s come as a producer since his first album in 2011. He’ll be at The Sony Centre, likely sans musical guests, on February 27th. Tickets can be picked up HERE.
Now, as far as the biggest concert announcement last week, that would be the one made by The Who, who announced a new album and tour. They’ll be at Scotiabank Arena on June 1st, and tickets aren’t cheap. That being said, The Who were once the “loudest band alive” according to the Guinness book of records, or at least according to Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks, in the clip from below. Though only one season long, the show did an entire episode dedicated to The Who, and it is one of the most memorable. Back to The Who, their new album is still unnamed, but will be released later in 2019.
Also announcing a new album last week was Brian Jonestown Massacre. The new album will be self-titled, and released on March 15th (via Anton Newcombe’s A Recordings), but for now “Hold That Thought” is on here because it’s one of the songs I forgot to put on my end of year playlist. What a jam!
For this week’s cover, “Bonnie” Prince Billy‘s album I See a Darkness just turned 20 years old this past Saturday. Released on January 19, 1999, the album was received very positively, with Pitchfork ranking it their ninth best album of the 1990s, and Mojo dedeclaring it the twentieth best album released during the magazine’s lifetime. The title track also caught the ear of Johnny Cash, who recorded a haunting version of the song, along with “Bonnie” Prince Billy singer Will Oldham doing backing vocals for his album American III: Solitary Man.
Rounding out the playlist this week, is Strand of Oaks (the solo indie project from Tim Showalter) who dropped an early contender for song of the year. “Weird Ways” is the lead single from his forthcoming album, Eraserland (out March 22 via Dead Oceans), and it starts out sounding like a Ryan Adams song until building into a full on sonic tour-de-force. The sound can be attributed in part to My Morning Jacket, who, unbeknownst to Showalter, booked studio time to help him record songs that he never thought would see the light of day. If the rest of the album is anywhere near as good, I’m sure we’ll see it on plenty of end of year lists. A tour has been announced through May, though there is no Toronto date as of yet. Hopefully we get the second or third leg, because this feels like something you won’t want to miss.
Other concerts this week
Note: * indicates a show I will be taking photos at
01/22 – Guster w/ Henry Jamison @ The Mod Club
01/22 – The End of the Ocean w/ Tides of Man @ Lee’s Palace
01/22 – The Lemon Twigs w/ Jackie Cohen @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre
01/22 – The Lil’ Smokies w/ Michigan Rattlers @ The Drake Hotel
01/23 – Mineral w/ Tancred @ Lee’s Palace
01/23 – Anika @ Velvet Underground
01/23 – MØ w/ Abra @ The Danforth Music Hall
01/23 – Juan Waters w/ Nyssa, Sunshine & The Blue Moon @ The Horseshoe Tavern
01/24 – AHI w/ Kalyna Rakel @ The Horseshoe Tavern
01/25 – Kongos @ Lee’s Palace
01/25 – The Amity Affliction w/ Senses Fail @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre
01/25 – Lee Harvey Osmond – Record Release Party @ The Horseshoe Tavern
*01/25 – Ellis w/ Sorry Girls, For Jane, Rapport & TyriqueOrDie (just added) @ The Monarch Tavern
01/26 – Little Junior w/ Good Kid @ The Horseshoe Tavern
01/26 – Daley/JMSN @ The Mod Club
01/26 – Kallitechnis w/ Do Not Push @ The Drake Hotel
I present the first playlist of the new incarnation of Tunes in TO. I’ve made some notes on each of the artists I’ve included below, so you can see why they’ve been chosen for the week. I’m looking forward to doing this on a weekly basis, and you’ll be able to find this post every Monday morning. Feel free to subscribe, or let me know what you think.
2018 was a good year for Kacey Musgraves. Though I wasn’t a big fan of her disco/country crossover hit “High Horse”, I find myself repeatedly listening to the song I’ve included here, “Slow Burn.” She’ll be at the Danforth Music Hall this coming Friday, January 11th, with support from Natalie Prass. This one’s been sold out for a long time, so if you’re looking for tickets, good luck.
The week before that, Deerhunter‘s new album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? will be released, via 4AD Records. The album will be released on Friday, January 18th and they’ll be performing at the Danforth Music Hall on February 21, with support from Mary Lattimore. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster for just over $40 (incl. fees).
Over the holidays I discovered Kanopy, the free streaming service where all you need to start an account is a library card. One of the movies recommended was Hearts Beat Loud (see trailer above), which was an entertaining story about a father/daughter who gain fame when they record a song in one of their jam sessions, which ends up becoming a viral hit. It stars Nick Offerman and the track’s vocalist, Kiersey Clemons, and there is a lot more to it than I just described, but it’s worth seeing if you’re into quirky comedy.
One of the albums Nick Offerman’s character recommends in the film, as the owner of a record store, is Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavillion. That album turns 10(!) years old this week, and one of my favourite memories involving them is seeing a bunch of fans dancing to “Brother Sport” during their headlining set at Pitchfork Music Fest in 2011.
I found General Crush on the weekly new release playlist on Spotify. “Who is that?” is my first exposure to them, but it’s a pretty good first impression. Looking forward to hearing more.
Blackalicious just announced a show here in Toronto, and they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on March 2nd. We last heard from them in 2015 with Imani Vol. 1. As it was intended to be the first release in a trilogy, perhaps we’ll get to hear some of Vol. 2. Tickets are $23.50 (+ fees) and available at Ticketfly.
I’ve decided I’d like to include a cover with every playlist, and seeing as how David Bowie‘s birthday this week (January 8th), I thought I’d celebrate by including one of my favourites: Warpaint‘s cover of “Ashes to Ashes”.
Golden Daze‘s dreamy sounding new album Simpatico will be released February 15th, via Autumn Tone Records.
Though I’m not a gamer, I was pretty excited to find out that D’Angelo had a new track that appeared in Red Dead Redemption 2. Not holding my breath for a new album anytime soon, but it’s always good to know D’Angelo is still working on something. His last album, Black Messiah was fantastic, and lead single “Ain’t That Easy” was one of my favourites of 2014/2015.
One thing I decided to do last year was to finally start watching Schitt’s Creek. I can proudly say I have caught up (including the holiday episode) and I am looking forward to the new season, which starts tomorrow. One of the loveliest moments in the last season was when Patrick (Noah Reid) serenaded David (Dan Levy) with an acoustic rendition of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” I know I said I wanted to have one cover per week, but given the timing, for this week I’ve decided to make it two.
Beliefs‘ Jesse Crowe released her solo project Praises‘ first album In This Year: Ten of Swords at the end of 2018, via Hand Drawn Dracula. Catch her performing her dark, electronic sounds this Friday, January 11th at Baby G. Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased in advance via Ticketfly.
Tallies released a series of singles to finish off 2019, and their anticipated debut album will be released this Friday, January 11th, also via Hand Drawn Dracula. Give it a listen, or check it out live at their album release show at The Drake Underground on February 1st. Tickets are only $13.50 and they’ve still got them at Rotate This and Soundscapes.
Rapport are part of Exclaim’s Class of 2019 series and will be playing on January 25th at The Monarch Tavern. The band are made up of ex-Moon King/Spiral Beach vocalist Maddy Wilde, Kurt Marble and Mike Pereira (Most People). “Unconscious” is the only song they have on their Spotify page, so maybe they’ll just play this song over and over? Only way to find out is to hit up The Monarch to see them (and Ellis!)
After recent opening spots with Big Thief, Whitney, and an upcoming tour with Cass McCombs, Sam Evian seems poised to be on the verge of breaking out. Check them out at The Horseshoe Tavern in support of he aforementioned Cass McCombs on Monday, March 11th. Tickets are $17.50 (+fees) and according to their site, Soundscapes still has them, but Rotate This is sold out. You can also buy them through Ticketfly, and seeing as how they’re selling out you might want to scoop them up sooner, rather than later.
After postponing their gig in September, Cuff the Duke rescheduled their show at The Rivoli for this coming weekend, with not one, but two shows on Friday, Jan. 11th and Saturday, Jan. 12th. Tickets for Friday night are still available at Ticketfly for $20.00 + fees, but Saturday is sold out.
Lastly, I am a vinyl collector, and since Christmas just passed, I was gifted with a copy of TV on the Radio‘s fantastic debut Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes from my wife. I decided to put the song that hooked me on to the band in the first place. Here’s hoping we see something new from them in the coming year.
Be sure to check back next week! And if you have any suggestions or comments, please leave them here, or email at email@example.com.