Aidan Baker is a Canadian musician and writer who has toured and performed around the world, both solo and with his partner in the “ambient-doom” duo Nadja. A prolific artist, Baker has released numerous albums on such labels as Alien8 Recordings, Important Records, and Drone Records. He is also the author of a several books.
Alex Moskos is best known for his guitar work in Montréal noise-punk legends AIDS Wolf, and his avant-blues solo project Drainolith. His music is informed from a wide range of clashing forms: free-jazz, disco, techno, dub, noise, hip-hop, and a wide smattering of 20th century underground, all ground together and reformed into concentrated post-modern gestures.
From the wilds of Sackville, New Brunswick, home to some of Canada's most deranged rock, comes the mighty Astral Gunk. Equal parts filthy punk-squat fury and spaced out hippy-cult drug party, the men of Astral Gunk seek transcendence through musical aggression. Remember the house that The Stooges lived in together?, the abandoned church that early Black Flag inhabited?, or the bungalow where Captain Beefheart held the Magic Band captive while recording Trout Mask Replica? Astral Gunk is all that, but louder.
Victoria, BC rock 'n' roll road warriors Babysitter have cut a smoky slash back and forth across Canada many times, morphing from the slacker hiss to a more mature fuzz. It still sounds like DRI jamming on Crazy Horse, but the music has taken on a more epic quality, something, that in the best sense of the denim/flannel stereotype, sounds Canadian as fuck while also evoking Grunge’s greatest ideals.
Black Walls is singer/songwriter Ken Reaume. In the past Ken released three albums and a 7”, namely, Four Horses. Reaume’s music is a mixture of finger picked melodies (nylon and electric), ambient synths and delicate vocals. In the past, Black Walls has been described as a one man post-rock band, and drew comparisons to Sun Kil Moon and early Six Organs of Admittance, but his more recent work has taken a more ambient turn, finding inspiration in melodic doom and drone. In the past he has toured and played extensively in North America with Iron and Wine, Bill Orcutt, Lambchop, Six Organs of Admittance, MV & EE, and Owen Pallett.
A fixture of the Toronto music scene, Jesse James Laderoute has previously lead art-rockers Young Mother, and spent time in Slim Twig's backing band as well as various experimental projects. Blonde Elvis was started as a way of exploring his interest in the sunnier side of glam, baroque -psych and brit-pop.
Brodie West is an alto saxophonist and composer who lives in Toronto, Ontario. For the past 20 years he has been a regular on Toronto's jazz and Improvised music scene. He is a member of The Lina Allemano 4, The Ryan Driver Sextet and Ways a duo with Evan Cartwright. West leads and eight piece ensemble, Eucalyptus (since 2008) which plays his original compositions. He has toured extensively throughout Europe, The USA and Canada and appears on over 40 records. Notable collaborations include touring and recording with Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria and The Ex (NL), Terrie Ex and Han Bennink (NL), Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed (ETH), duo w. Andrew Zukerman aka Fleshtone Aura and duo w. Rob Clutton.
For Das Rad there are many roads to take to get to the final dark place where rock ‘n’ roll was buried. Proto-metal pounding, garage-punk strut, and space-rock experimentalism all converge on a heady heaven filled with souls of early Black Sabbath, The Cramps, Hawkwind, Dead Moon, The Fall, and the best ideas of Shoegaze. Like a psychotic carpenter, Das Rad takes tradition and passes it through walls of noise and drone, deforming it into something unrelentlessly heavy and intensely haunted.
Digits is Alt Altman, producer of intelligent, smoothly whispered electronic pop. Originally started while living in London and Berlin, the music of Digits touches equally on the dance floors of Europe as it does with synth-pop, new wave, and modern soul. Not surprising considering he helped found, and still blogs for, Silent Shout, Canada's premiere electronic music blog.
A staple of the Toronto experimental music scene for over ten years, Doom Tickler (Leslie Predy) has shared stages with Wolf Eyes, Arrington de Dionyso, Nadja, and has released a trail of challenging releases in her wake. Predy’s abrasive vocalizations—equally inspired by throat singing and guttural growls of black metal—are layered over minimal industrial electronics that sound like an over-caffeinated Pharmakon or blown-out 20 Jazz Funk Greats.
Side project of Paul Erlichman of Gay, Elrichman (sic) kicks back and does bedroom guitar-pop like sunny afternoons do sangria. Sunny Highlife guitar, Nick Lowe's lyrical wit, and whimsical Donovan phenomena all dance together around a maypole to the golden era of American songwriting. Kick back and let your hair down. Life doesn't always have to be so hard.
Fake Palms are a Toronto-based band stared by Michael le Riche, featuring members of Hooded Fang and the Slim Twig band. Buzz Records released their debut EP, Heavy Paranoia, in 2016. Drawing on the melancholic melodies of Echo and the Bunnymen and the post-punk experimentation of This Heat, Fake Palms serve tense noise-pop that is as claustrophobic as it is playful.
Starting as a recording project by Craig Fahner in 2011, Feel Alright has evolved into a collaborative live project that has found homes in Pittsburgh and Montreal before settling in Calgary. Feel Alright’s infectious guitar-pop songs evoke the studious power pop of Big Star; the nose-thumbing sneer of The Soft Boys; the harmony-heavy sound of early 90s Halifax; and the DIY fuzzy pop of contemporaries like Tony Molina and Sheer Mag. Feel Alright released their first full-length LP in 2011 entitled Hahahahahaha, reissued in 2015 on vinyl by Tonal Plexus out of Athens, Greece. The band also released 7” on Mammoth Cave Records and a split EP with Toronto’s Century Palm on Planet of the Tapes.
Solo project of thee Andrew Zukerman picks up where his work in Gastric Female Reflex leaves off. Tongue-in-cheek tape collage delivered at Sam Kinison speeds. No sound is sacred, no sample is left unturned. New-classical pop-schizophrenia.
The four men of Gay (Neil Rankin, Paul Erlichman, Tom Avis, Cameron Michael Murray) who came together in order to make art-rock in the same vein as Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Orange Juice, have been a faithful staple of the Pleasence label since the beginning. What stated with the gritty jangle of their first 7", before moving into their 12" post-punk collaboration with Sexy Merlin, has now embraced a grander vision with a concert hall sized prog-pop LP.
Goosebumps (formerly Germaphobes) are a Toronto-based pop duo comprised of songwriters Neil Rankin and Paul Erlichman, both of Pleasence staples, the now defunct Gay. The pair have been friends since childhood but the band was formed in late 2014 as an outlet to explore their mutual interest in the more outre fringes of pop music. Taking inspiration from groups like Sparks, The Talking Heads, and Godley & Cream, Rankin and Erlichman have carved out a sound that would have fit neatly into the Lower East Side scene of the late 70s, channeling the energy of the early New Wave and No Wave experimentalists while incorporating ambitious arrangements and vocal harmonies that hint at their more baroque ambitions.
Calgary, Alberta's Hag Face are a dark coven under a full moon attempting to invoke the ghosts of Lux Interior, early Black Sabbath, and L7. Their brand of mystical "witch-punk" can be heard as a revved up version of the current "cloak-rock" craze, stripping it of the melodrama to reveal spastic horror.
Montreal synth wiz Hobo Cubes (Francesco de Gallo) deconstructs subgenres like minimal techno and No Wave down to their most basic elements and skillfully rebuilds them as murky underwater worlds populated by smooth, sometimes unsettling, moods.
Minimal "druidic psych" from Toronto's nocturnal trio of witchy women. HBF channel Nico's dark femme-pop by way of The Raincoats' brooding post-punk. Mystic chanting, tribal seance, bottled black magic.
A sort of all star Toronto freak-punk band, the mighty Induced Labour was made of Leslie Predy (Doom Tickler), Jon Shapiro (Disguises, Almost Blue Sunshine), Mark McLean (Sick Lipstick, Black Cat 13, The Magic Cheezies), and Tim Fagan (Rattail, Germans). They blazed a trail of blood and vomit from Toronto to Montreal and back again before prematurely self-destructing in 2011. Musically, they sounded like a group of shipwrecked survivors, with nothing to eat, but lots to smoke, crazed with hunger, stranded between Black Flag's bass-heavy toughness and Arab On Radar's psychotics. Lost but not forgotten.
Isla Craig is a multi-dimensional vocalist and songwriter living and working in Toronto, ON. With pointed attention towards vocal delivery and melodic play, her music is underpinned by languid psyche blues rhythms and arrangements that tumble into trance states. In addition to her work as a solo artist, she is an active collaborator in the Toronto music scene, currently performing with Jennifer Castle, IC/JC/VC, and the Cosmic Range. Past projects include the Deeep (Not Not Fun), OG Melody (Thom Gill) and recording projects with Fucked Up and Owen Pallett.
J Blissette’s Frankensteins a raw, rock and roll heart with limbs from jangle pop and fuzzed out psychedelia. Blending the spright dynamism of Ty Segall with pure power pop sounds of Cloud Nothings and Yuck, Lethbridge, Alberta inhabitant Jackson Tiefenbach, the luminary behind J Blissette’s playbill, weaves a retrospective narrative on fucking up, reconciling, and conquering – Until I Go Blind offering the final word.
Like a bike ride through downtown in August, JFM’s s/t LP is a safari of sounds and styles. These moments only stay with you long enough to make their point, as if they were wafting from the windows of cars and clubs, bars and backyard parties, before you pedal past and the next one gets a hold of your head. Less spasmodic and more sample-based than Black Dice but coming from a similar urban zoo, Jesse Frank Matthews is a radio anthropologist as collage artist, collecting critical bits to make a mosaic in your mind that feels at once nostalgic and immediate, metropolitan and organic.
Montreal's avant-garage heroine JLK is no stranger to collaborating with Victoria's heavies heads, Babysitter. In the last few years these kindred spirits have shared stages and have released several cassettes together, the sound often leaning towards midnight-psych jams and freeform swamp-rock.
Schizophrenic skate-punk for the circuit-bending generation. JMYSB calls forth all the fury and sarcasm of power violence (Charles Bronson, Spazz) with the experimental intensity of Melt Banana. Screeching vocals, blast-beat drums and ham-slapped guitars knock each other around basements of nihilist noise pulled from repurposed children’s toys.
Confounding experimental solo project from prolific multi-disciplinary artist and musician Kevin Hainey, previously a member of Disguises, The Pink Noise, Cave Dudes, Vorvis / Hainey, and Magic Cheezies. Sounds like grease traps getting clogged with your dreams. Sounds like international bankers worshipping evil and leading your children to sacrifice and enslavement. Sounds like the good guys losing. Sounds like what happens after death. Sounds like time taking time off. Sounds like tuning in, turning on and dropping out. Sounds like self-imposed commercial failure. Sounds like teen spirit. Releases: No Knot of Tubes (Superhexen)
Lee Paradise is Dan Lee, singer/songwriter of Toronto post-poppers Hooded Fang and alien synth-funk soldiers Phèdre, who's solo work tends to lurk in the darker, simplistic corners of the ear worm's cave.
"Only Toronto could provoke such a paramount of reductive funk bursting with subterrestrial bass and xenomorphic rhythm, paving the way for incumbent beings of radiant grind." - Weird Canada Since 2004 the one-man electro-funk machine that is Man Made Hill has been executing some of the spaciest grooves this side of Saturn. The roots of this music lay firmly in the sex-bop'78-'84: late disco, modern soul, and drum machine funk (Zapp, Midnight Star, Wicked Witch) but dusted with psilocybin by angles sent by Sun Ra.
Started as a bedroom-pop project by husband and wife duo Simon Letourneau (formerly of Hell Shovel, Demon’s Claws and the Weakends) and Elizabeth-Jane Bitze, Moon Eyed is a blend of psychedelic pop and lo-fi electronics that shares a dreamy minimalism with Broadcast and Sterolab. Recording out of their home near High Park in Toronto, they self released an EP in September 2016 after playing live performances in Paris and Bordeaux, France and a series of shows in eastern Canada with Montreal artists Birds of Paradise. In early June 2017 they self released a split cassingle with fellow Torontonians and friends goth folk outfit Golden Feral. Musically, the album shares much with likeminded playful psych-poppers Syd Barrett, The Soft Boys. and White Fence, but with the couple's subtle vocal harmonies at the forefront.
Moonwood began in 2007 as a solo project of Toronto based Jakob Rehlinger, owner of Arachnidiscs Recordings, a boutique music label specializing in experimental music. He released numerous private press albums CD-Rs, exploring freak-folk, desert rock and NEU! influenced Krautrock before Jacqueline Noire (synthesizer, vocals) joined in 2009 with Matthew Fava (bass) and Luca Capone (drums) climbing aboard in 2014.
Founded by guitarist/bassist Tim Fagan (Ex-Induced Labour, Rattail), and visual artists Anni Spadafora (Guitar, Vox) and Jenny Gitman (drums), New Fries have forgone any elitism of musicianship, choosing instead to channel their energy towards kinetic affect, invoking the feminist art-punk of The Raincoats and The Slits, and the jerky noise of Teenage Jesus & the Jerks. New Fries have sprung on the Toronto scene like a situationist from a steel cage.
Neil Rankin of Pleasence art-poppers Gay and C. Jude of Toronto downer-punks HSY shed the genres of their bands and venture deep into industrial rhythms, No Wave noise, and free-sax as the dark horse duo New Positions.
Toronto-based “free-psych” duo Not The Wind, Not The Flag is composed of two of the city’s most accomplished musicians, Colin Fisher and Brandon Miguel Valdivia. Both have wide-ranging, diverse musical backgrounds that help inform their long running partnership in NTW, NTF. Fisher (guitar, saxophone) has played and collaborated with Anthony Braxton, Caribou, The Constantines, and Rhys Chattam. Valdivia (drums, percussion) has worked with Lido Pimienta, Michael Snow, Sook-Yin Lee, Tanya Tagaq, and performs solo as Mas Aya.
What started off as a whimsical fancy to create an homage to the sounds of youth, Odonis Odonis ended up converting a cramped den space into a veritable music studio. Dean Tzenos, the driving force behind Odonis Odonis, marries distorted daggers and porcelain vocals into a grimy, gum-splattered ménage of surf-gaze, punk and lo-fi. Alongside accomplices Jarod Gibson (Thighs, ex-Print) and Denholm Whale (Cartoons), Odonis Odonis’ shadowy impressionism has left the analogue era and into the not-so-distant present. From melodic and ethereal to brash and relentless, Odonis Odonis is the metaphysical equivalent of your favorite mixtape.
Halifax post-punk group composed of Allison Higgins , Danika Vandersteen , and Hannah Guinan apply the frayed sound of The Shaggs and their modern-day kindred spirits, The Vivian Girls, to C86 jangle-pop; imparting a kind of lyrical realism to their sincere brand of art-rock.
Alex Mackenzie began the Petra Glynt project in 2012 with her first EP, Of This Land, inspired by the organized resistance of the Occupy Movement. Performing at pipeline protests with the community of Toronto artists that included Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta, her songs on This Trip rallied against racism, sexism, and environmental devastation. The themes of her latest album are no less politically charged, with lyrics about governments and corporations valuing wealth over health, such as the lack of response to Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water (“Health”), and a tongue-in-cheek retaliation to the profits driving private information collection like Facebook's data hack scandal (“Surveillance”), as she watches the watchers. “No Consequences” welcomes those who fear change or inclusivity to join her on the dancefloor, while its most powerful vision of the future arrives with “New Growth”, which she describes as a feminist anthem of empowerment in the wake of #MeToo. “Progress is being made and we’re stripping away the layers of patriarchal oppression that we’ve been conditioned to accept,” says Mackenzie. “Women have realized that we don’t have to take that anymore, so it’s a new growth. When I sing ‘keep the feed flowing and watch us blow up,’ that explosion is about a viral spread of information or watching us grow bigger and stronger.” As she continues to focus on a lifelong visual art practice, directing videos and creating the intricate illustrations for her album covers, Mackenzie has also moved into composing scores for films such as the cult documentary The Devil’s Trap. These overlapping efforts arrive at the intersection of unfiltered experimentation and fiercely motivated beliefs dating back to her previous musical life. M.I.A. remains a beacon of inspiration, but she approaches the process of creative expression with the ethos of Crass. “I want to make experimental pop that’s engaged with a dialogue about real things that are actually going on,” says Mackenzie. “I grew up listening to punk and then playing drums in bands that said fuck the system, eat the rich, and feed the poor. In a lot of ways my thinking hasn't changed that much, I'm trying just trying to put that energy into a different kind of music.”
You can now pre-order the debut album from power-popper J Blissette!
"Forget about drum ‘n’ bass, this is drum ‘n’ drum. Sexy Merlin is a one-man Liquid Liquid, jamming the urban gamelan like it’s his birthday and the sticks are made of glitter. This mad (wizard) hatter freaks the funky beat and leaves witches grinding in the coven. Bold moves from Pleasence and seven inches of high fidelity bamboo bangers. " - Weird Canada If you are hearing drums on Foxfire, Mausoleum, Moon King or White Suede, then you are hearing Sexy Merlin. Deeply percussive music from on on Toronto's busiest beat makers. His solo work shows his roots in NYC punk-funk/mutant-disco and Afrobeat.
Slim Twig has long been a staple of Toronto's progressive music scene. Over the years he's steered his work away from sample based warble-rock to sunny, yet sinister, '60s inspired psych-pop. Any good audiophile will recognize the troubled spirits of Love and the Zombies haunting this music. When not expanding the minds of audiences with his Slim Twig Band, he also fronts the guitar and drums duo Tropics and collaborates with U.S. Girls as Coca Cola. A true forerunner in Toronto's blossoming new-psych scene.
Little is known about the mysterious Suitcase Sam other than he is one of the hardest working singer/song writers in Canada, playing shows from the east to the west coast, southern USA, Los Angeles, and even Hatti. A musical vagabond with a deep connection to early 20th century styles (folk, country, Tin Pan Ally, and jazz), spreading the good words wherever the wind takes him.
Started as a project by Edmonton's Philip Dickau whose self-release first cassette won our hearts with its Angelo Badalamenti inspired bleakness, like falling asleep to a warbly VHS of Twin Peaks as background music for you dreams. Since filling out to a trio, including drummer David Ferris and bass player Matt McKenzie, the project continues to explore sounds of "direst-to-VHS romantic horror" and "experimental smooth jazz," plunging deeper into dark, Lynchian realms.
The brain child of Paul Lawton and James Leroy, these Lethbridge, Alberta space cases have graced labels such as HoZac, Southpaw, and Mammoth Cave with their cosmic garage-punk, and have now have found a home on Pleasence. Perhaps if Brian Wilson spent his lost years making spaced out power-pop and listening to the Bomp! Records catalogue it would have sounded like this.
Sleaze-rock sent from the future by our robot pimp overlords. The prolific Mark Sauner continues his exploration of lo-fi synth/guitar/drum machine blues as seen from Montreal, where Chrome and Suicide meet to talk science fiction.
"Everything that you love about completely over-driven garage punk is white hot on The Soupcans first release. . . For those who like their rock and roll served raw, lo fi and smothered in awesomesauce, put them Soupcans in your musical pantry" - The Big Takeover "Thank you, universe, for letting this band happen. Because this is the scummiest shittiest awesomest band that can get away with Frank Zappa vocals. Because while being totally repellent and atonal, I can still dance to it." - MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL The quintessential odd-punks, the Soupcans have pulled their rusted sound from the murk of weirder '80s punk (Deja Voodoo, Butthole Surfers, Dead Kennedys). Bloody show by bloody show they endear themselves to damaged ears.
Two of Toronto's most distinctive musicians, the dynamic duo of Gideon Steinberg (ex-Soupcans) and Brandon Lim (HSY, Teen Tits Wild Wives), are the latest in the rich lineage of bass & drum punk (think NoMeansNo, Lightning Bolt) to make connections between noise, art-punk, and prog-metal. Tough and rough, but with a spacey edge that orbits like a doomed moon.
Traitrs are a Toronto-based band comprised of Sean-Patrick Nolan and Shawn Tucker. Long-time friends, the pair formed as Traitrs in mid-2015. Initially conceiving of the band primarily as a recording project they rapidly amassed a collection of demos that caught the attention of Toronto producer Josh Korody (Dilly Dally, Beliefs, Moon King, Fucked Up), and began working with him during sessions at his Candle Studios in January of 2016. With Korody's guidance the band set about expanding their sound, adding textural depth to their arrangements and weight to their rhythm section, transforming their stripped-down home recordings into a collection of propulsive, goth-influenced post-punk that immediately recalls acts like Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and Pornography-era Cure.
Original garage band of Slim Twig and Simone Tisshaw-Baril (Ell V Gore, One Hundred Dollars touring band). This maximum R&B/no-wave duo have been terrorizing the stages of Toronto since they were teenagers. A marriage made in heaven of Slim's hard psych influences and Tisshaw-Baril's classic rock muscle.
A collaboration between Toronto's Andrew Zukerman (Fleshtone Aura, Gastric Female Reflux) and Montreal base sound/visual artist Emilie Mouchous (GMACKRR). Answers the age old question of what happens when home-bended electronics meet tape effects in the Nasty Robot funk bar.
Toronto’s WHIMM have brought the searing intensity of their live performances to stages across North America, honed through touring and shows with likeminded artists like Ice Age, Merchandise and Frigs. Singer/guitarist Mounir Chami, bassist Andrew Matthews, and drummer Jonathan Pappo create ominous, emotionally charged avant-rock fusing spellbinding melodies with an urgency akin to 1980s anarcho-punk.
What started as a sprawling, ever changing ensemble of soul rebels, informed by Motown and The Clash, became the principle outlet for singer-song writer Daniel Bebard. Now a striped down power trio (featuring Neil Rankin of Gay/Foxfire, and Sexy Merlin) with leanings towards glam and power pop. Think Big Star songs with T. Rex swagger.
In 2012, Wrong Hole ’formed’ as an excuse for singer/lyricist Nick Flanagan (Bruntal Knights) & guitarist/drum programmer Andrew Moszynski (Deadly Snakes, Quest For Fire, Comet Control) to meet up and eat pizza while quizzically looking at musical instruments before going their separate ways. After about a year of this incredibly satisfying process, and (shockingly) the completion of a few songs, Jon “Shoutin’” Schouten (Teenanger, Telephone Explosion) came into the picture, bearing keyboard. His OK-with-nonsense attitude and Jack Nicholsonesque ‘Joi De Vivre’ forced Nick and Andrew to actually put some effort in.
Young Governor (AKA Ben Cook) has been making music out of the east end of Toronto for a dogs age. What started as lo-fi fuzz-pink has grown into stadium sized power-pop with a little help from his live band, The Scuzz. Guv is also a prolific producer, working with several bands including Pleasence artists Gay, Sexy Merlin, Tropics and Huckleberry Friends. Oh yeah, he's also been in a ton of great bands such as Fucked Up, Marvelous Darlings, The Bitters, and No Warning.
Young Truck's angular guitar has been heard in the electro-soul of Pants and Tie and in the frantic throb of post-punkers Thighs. Solo, he fuses his two sides together to birth a minimal post-dance haze. A place that only exists at night, full of ghost vocals, and where the Gang of Four go to listen to old Detroit Techno records.
ZONES initially began as a sphere of sonic exploration established in the summer of 2012 by Toronto-based multi-media artist Derek McKeon. Working as ZONES, McKeon weaves hypnotic loops and psychedelic textures together to create a marbling of pop hooks and kaleidoscopic haze. Multi-instrumentalist Kat Murie joined as a member of the live band, re-interpreting and augmenting the recorded material for a live environment. Nearly one year later, the debut and self produced LP “REAL TIME” was released on Doomsquad's boutique label, Heretical Objects Cooperative. As a duo ZONES has been touring and connecting with avant-garde music lovers; sharing stages with Tim Hecker, White Poppy, Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa.