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AKUA with INVASIONS and LANGUAGE ARTS as part of the Class of 2014 at the Silver Dollar, Friday, January 24. Rating: NNN
Montreal's Akua took the stage just after 1 a.m. - the last act of Dan Burke's fifth and final installment of the Class of 2014, a series showcasing the most promising pupils in Canadian indie. If this were a test, the singer would have come out with honours.
Armed with a keyboard, slick backing tracks, killer pipes and her band mate's pulsating drum pad, Akua brought her soulful R&B to a full room which just hours before featured raucous rock bands and their failed stage dives. Akua's smooth layered vocals - think 90s: TLC and Mya - are laid overtop experimental synth electronics. It's a common enough device that Akua subverts into something fresh and coolt.
Earlier in the evening, Invasions took shots on stage before plunging into their western-meets-surf rock ditties. The local five-piece obviously love the cinematic build-up, filling each song with a climax (or anti-climax) and superfluous trumpet solos. All said, the crowd was clearly feeling it.
Toronto was also repped by Language Arts, led by singer/guitarist Kristen Cudmore. Usually her vocals are the strongest element of the art pop band's sound, but Kudmore's voice lost some of its idiosyncratic charm in the live setting. However, she pulled it together for the title track of their upcoming LP, Wunderkind.