CMW Night #3: Raised By Swans, CATL, Paper Lions and more.

My third night of Canadian Music Week promised to make up for my pretty terrible second night, and it proved to do just that. I saw a few really great sets last night, and it wasn’t even raining that much which was also awesome. I started the evening at rancho for Raised By Swans.

If you’re a film nerd like myself, you may remember Raised By Swans from Atom Egoyan’s Choe (they appeared in the film and were mentioned multiple times by the titular character). Their music sounds like a cross between shoegaze and post-rock, with vocals that reminded me of indie-pop. Think atmospheric pop that builds and recedes and you’re getting closer. At first I wasn’t completely sold on the vocals, but by the end of the set I really liked what they were doing. I could see these songs are the kind that will grow on you over time, becoming catchier the more you listen to them. I also thought both guitarists had some killer guitar-tones going on. Just a great sounding set all around.

Next up were Pick A Piper. They’re a psychedelic indie band featuring Brad Weber of Caribou, who fuse elements of electronic, krautrock and dance music with a double dose of tribal drumming. I’m not usually very big on bands who do the multiple drummer thing, but Pick A Piper pull it off just with their sheer energy and how fun they are on stage. Just like last year, they packed the house and drove the crowd wild with their extended percussion jams.

I hopped around the corner to The Silver Dollar next, to catch a set by CATL. I didn’t know anything about CATL going into this set, but I left thinking it was maybe my favourite of the whole festival so far. A three-piece that proves you can exist in an overcrowded genre while still sounding fresh and exciting, CATL burned through a raucous of collection of Mississippi Delta blues inspired tracks with a definite punk influence. The addition of Sarah Kirkpatrick on organ and maracas really put CATL over the top. Her backing vocals and energy really took everything to that next level. A must-see.

Then I was off to Sneaky Dee’s to check out Paper Lions who hail all the way from Price Edward Island. They took the stage and barreled through four or five quite catchy songs. Opener “Don’t Touch That Dial” was a total highlight of the evening: unpretentious and catchy as hell. To me their energetic pop rock reminded me a bit of Tokyo Police Club and Burn Planetarium in a very good way. About half way through their set though, something happened. They lost me. The songs got a bit heavier and I found my attention wandering. They managed to end the set on a high note, as their final song was fun in a way the earlier songs were. I can’t say I fully loved Paper Lions, but they have a handful of very good pop songs that I think a lot of people could get into in a big way.

I skipped out on The Meligrove Band, a decision I might regret later but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I made it back to Rancho to catch Adverteyes. I wasn’t digging their set though, as they just didn’t seem very interesting to me. It felt like well put together — but fairly bland  — rock.

The Motherlode closed the night out at Rancho, featuring bartender Greg LeGros and Casey Lyons (formerly of Sitcom). The Motherlode play the kind of grunge and punk influenced rock music that a lot of people probably don’t think is very cool, but fuck you. Greg has the perfect voice for the genre, and the riffs come fast and heavy. The Motherlode are fun as hell and that’s that.

Speaking of that’s that, at that point I cabbed it home and made it back to my bed by 4:30 am. Last night was a long haul but it was worth it. I’m looking forward to closing out this years festival in style with sets by The Balconies (Lee’s), Parks and Rec (Rancho), and Short Pants Romance (The Dollar).

Dan Gorman

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