Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls — the first wave of NXNE bands to play the TWM shows at Rancho Relaxo have been announced. The majority of these bands have been picked by TWM in conjunction with NXNE, and I’m pretty pumped up on what we are going to bringing you. What I can’t tell you, is exact time slots or what night yet because right now that is all in a state of flux. But here they are in alphabetical order:
Amity Beach: If the Elwins lived in the sunshiney beautiful waterside place known as Grand Bend and started a band, they could very well sound like Amity Beach. We love the Elwins, so this is a big compliment. You are going to really really like these dudes.
Broken Bricks: What to say about Broken Bricks? They’re easily one of Toronto’s best bands and have been for quite some time now. Throughout it all, Rancho has been somewhat of a homebase for the guys of this band. And they are coming home for the NXNE festival, where last year they were one of the buzz bands of the whole thing! Sometimes in Toronto we tend to make the mistake of forgetting about acts who’ve been around to run to the flavour of the month; don’t be that guy.
Bronx Cheerleader: Bronx Cheerleader’s new album Real Punks Don’t Sing About Girls is one of the better releases of 2012. I got me a copy on vinyl and it sounds so bloody good. Hailing from St. Catharines, Bronx Cheerleader have been around a while but they’ve seemed to really gel on this album, blending indie-rock, with hints of gaze, pop sensibilities, and some Can-Rock in there as well. Click the link, they sell themselves.
CHAMPION LOVER: The boys from Black Devils Brigade lost a member, reformed, changed their name and wrote some songs that have more in common with Justin Timberlake than they do garage rock. But don’t be misled. CHAMPION LOVER’s songs have grown teeth and they are drifting, if not running back, towards a dirtier garage sound but dancier than Black Devils Brigade ever was. They debut at NXNE!
Dilly Dally: We at camp Two Way Monologues love Dilly Dally and think they are one of the better live bands in Toronto right now. It’s been a little while since they put out new music, which probably means that is about to happen soon — hopefully that’s not just wishful thinking. Regardless, take a listen to the EP available on their Bandcamp and hear for yourselves why I think Dilly Dally sounds like an amazing indie-rock band fronted by a female Dylan!
Doom Squad: This Toronto/Montreal duo makes experimental indie sounds that could have been concocted by a mad scientist with an unbelievable taste in music. It’s dark, it’s hypnotic, it’s captivating, and it’s unlike anything else I am listening to right now. This is one of my most anticipated sets of the fest.
Double Fuzz: Double Fuzz, hailing out of Calgary, bring the two-piece garage rock/blues that just wants to explode off the stage. They’ve gigged with all sorts of awesome bands and their album on Bandcamp is pretty much impossible not to be a big fan of. Put these guys on your radar, yesterday.
Dream Jefferson: What do I say about Dream Jefferson? One of my favourite bands in Toronto with some of my favourite people in Toronto. Finally a wider audience is taking notice of how awesome their music is. Whether you’re listening on Bandcamp, headphones, or live, Dream Jeff explodes off of every medium. They have just finished recording their masterpiece Manchester Blue. Once it comes out, the world will never be the same. They’ll be celebrating said release at Rancho for NXNE!
Elektro Tank: Eytan, the brain behind Elektro Tank, is a bit of a musical beast. In multiple music projects spanning all sorts of completely different genres, promoting shows now, he has hands in every cookie jar and still can’t stop himself for wanting more. Of all those projects, Elektro Tank is the one that gets me excited. Elektro Tank has just put out an album called Post Neon which you can hear at the link provided. Be prepared for a trip!
Foam Lake: Hailing from Saskatoon, Foam Lake was one of the first bands we scooped up for NXNE 2012! Foam Lake does indie-rock with a few dashes of electro and a pinch of folk. It’s a bold sound that they go for, one that could easily get muddled in the process. Thankfully, it never does that.
Hind Legs: Hind Legs, one of the most vital young bands on the rise in Halifax right now. They also have a hell of a loyal following here in Toronto. They return to Rancho Relaxo, their home away from home, to bring their brand of female-fronted garage with vocals that will remind you of PJ Harvey at her gnarliest.
Hotel Royal: These folks been on my radar for a while now but this is the first time we’ll do a show together. Hotel Royal are a rock band through and through, fusing a retro rock sound with some blues mixed in as well. Listen to “Love Junkie” and tell me that those organs aren’t ridiculously awesome!
Hue: Could not possibly be more stoked on having Hue play Rancho for NXNE. They play the most exuberant, high-energy brand of indie-pop/rock and every time they play I look around and people are smiling and completely emerged in the music. We’ve had some great shows at Rancho over the years, but this will be the greatest of them all.
Meanwood: For many of us, Meanwood’s set at Canadian Music Fest at Rancho in 2012 was the highlight of the fest at the venue. It had everything: a place packed to the rafters, a floor of people completely enamored in the performance, and a bass player who’d been hit by a streetcar earlier in the week dragging himself up on stage in sling to play a couple of songs with the band while in significant pain. That we get to do it again (hopefully minus the streetcar part) just a few months later is unreal!
MiniBoone: Amazing Brooklyn based band with a Canadian band member comes to Toronto to play their first ever Toronto show ever! That’s how this story begins, but it likely ends you with leaving with merch and a new favourite band. It’s indie-pop/rock done with influences that I haven’t really ever heard anyone else do as of yet. Here’s a quote from Christopher Weingarten of The Village Voice: “The band mixes the dervish energy of ‘78-era post-punk with the super-hooks of modern indie-pop — think Buildings And Food-era Talking Heads if David Byrne could travel back in time and tell himself about Arcade Fire.”
Paint: When Paint first moved to Toronto, they debuted at Rancho Relaxo. TWM and Paint have been friends ever since, but it has been forever since we actually did a show together. All this changes at NXNE when Paint returns to the Ranch after some re-tooling, with band member changes and having just been on a pretty significant tour. If you haven’t caught Paint in a long time then you pretty much are seeing them again for the first time as they’ve come along way!
Papermaps: Papermaps are Toronto’s best band, but they are criminally underrated as so many of Toronto’s show-going music scene are busy chasing after the next hip thing. Nationally, and even internationally, people are taking notice in a big way about just how great this band is. Sooner or later Toronto is going to do the same. If you are going to see one set for NXNE, this should probably be it.
Ramona: Mystery band! Heard about these folks for a while now but have never seen them live. Come strongly recommended from my boy Antony East though. So he’s getting kicked in the nuts if they don’t deliver.
Snake & Crane: Band instrumentation that includes a 12-string guitar, bass, clarinet, drums, and djembe. Here is how they describe their sound: “Middle Eastern/Arabic inspired Post-Punk & Psychedelia [a cross between Gang of Four’s ‘Solid Gold album and 60’s Turkish Psych/Beat comps.] is some sweet Baklava for the ears.” The opening track on their Bandcamp is 14 minutes long and I love every second of it. One of the coolest bands we have for the fest.
The Dying Arts: Toronto based the Dying Arts are favourites of my friends over at the Indie Machine but I, as of yet, have not had the chance to catch them live. They play well-thought-out indie rock that appeals to people who listen to almost any genre. Listen to the top track provided at the link above, “No Pain”, and try not to find yourself doing a serious chair bob!
The Fabulous Yawn: The band is fronted b y Spencer David MacEachern and features members of Tokyo Police Club and the Elwins. Did I get your interest? I bet I did. But while that might have gotten your attention, the fact is this band is great on their own merit. But yeah, it can’t hurt having that kinda firepower either!
The Sour Notes: Having a band from Texas play for us at NXNE is pretty damn alright, I must say. Just click that Bandcamp and tell me this band isn’t absolutely prolific! When NXNE sent me the long list of bands to pick from for this year’s festival, I have to say the Sour Notes leapt off the page. But don’t take my word for it:
“Never short on hooks or ambition, The Sour Notes play brittle pop for star-crossed post-grads… On rising tides of lonesome guitars & glimmering synths, the band builds its postmillennial laments, occasionally nodding to Krautrock & frequently conceding to soundtrack-worthy mood.” — Erik Adams, The Onion AV Club
Wazu: Nearly 15,000 folks on FB can’t be wrong, right? That’s how many people like this excellent band! A few years ago they came down in a different band from Australia and rocked the Ranch. Now they are entrenched in New York and making big waves. Their first play for NXNE is at the quaint Painted Lady, which I can’t imagine will be able to hold their energy. I gave them a second play, you won’t want to miss it.