The local music scene keeps generating fresh faces. Here are some up-and-comers to watch for in 2002.
Andrew Rodriguez dropped off the rock 'n' roll radar for a while, but Bodega's return to the spotlight with a kickass sophomore album was well worth the wait. Rodriguez is a true charmer onstage, moving effortlessly between guitars and keyboards with endearing sweetness and quirky, self-effacing banter that make for energetic, interactive shows. And Without A Plan rocks, post-millennial Pink Floyd-style, combining psychedelia-tinged big-guitar rock songs and jangly, Beatlesish indie ballads. Luther Wright may be rebuilding The Wall, but Rodriguez is rewriting it.
The FembotsThe Fembots
Local stoners and low-tech cut chemists Brian Poirier and Dave MacKinnon's first album, Mucho Cuidado, released in 2000, garnered them critical props and opening gigs for Emm Gryner and Julie Doiron. The Fembots work the postmodern pastiche thing with panache, riffing off Speak-and-Spell toys and Fisher Price xylophones with childlike fascination and glee. Their fucked-up cut-and-paste collages of Teddy Ruxpin samples, bits of old Superman dialogue and analog synths make for a unique musical experience. Keep an eye out for their new record, whose ETA is sometime this spring.
The Hidden CamerasThe Hidden Cameras
Made up of queer scenesters and artsy zinesters, the "gay church folk music" experiment that began as frontman Joel Gibb's 4-track basement recording project has become a bizarre hybrid freak show, elementary school Christmas assembly and church revival. The live show is not to be missed, and the tunes are gorgeous, with lilting organ-accented melodies and perverse lyrics. They head into the studio in January to record a new album with the Two-Minute Miracles' Andy Magoffin, Canadian indie music's producer with the Midas touch. A cool artzine made music.
The Jane WaynesThe Jane Waynes
Last year's O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack led a much-talked-about roots music renaissance, and these cute drag-clad cowdykes pick up on the trend with dead-on hand-clapping bluegrass tunes and wistful, alone-on-the-range country & western ballads. Since they started playing together just over a year ago, the posse have expanded from the dynamic duo of Travis and Tucker (Lisa Silverman and Catherine Doherty) to include a full five-piece band, with dobro, upright bass and trumpet. Their live shows are rollicking, foot-stompin' flirtathons that attract the cutest fillies in town.
Oddly named wild-haired Patootihed (Joe Noonan) developed a taste for Indian drumming while studying music at York, leading to some of the freshest drum 'n' bass beats found in T.O. He's supplied some of these twisted beats as soundtracks for R Room (www.rroom.org) films such as Unhappy Meal and CCNN. He's recently released Pranksta (only available at Mothership, 831 Queen West) on new label Corporate Giant Inc.
Raising the FawnRaising the Fawn
Thanatopop's John Crossingham reveals his kinder, gentler side in this slowcore art-rock band whose intricate songs pack a wallop, building walls of whispery sound that channel pure, raw emotion. Live, the four Fawns are eerily intense, lost in their own worlds. They take a break from touring this winter to work on a new album and video (directed by Chris Mills), due out this summer. You've gotta love that their first album was composed as a cycle of love songs from Crossingham to his girlfriend, former RTF drummer Lesa Hannah -- it's an indie-rock romantic dream that leaves Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando in the dust.
Lullaby Baxter's Great Balancing ActLullaby Baxter's Great Balancing Act
After Lullaby Baxter's (Angelina Teresa Iapaulo) Capable Egg (2000), an eclectic assortment of songs ranging from Brazilian pop to country backed by San Francisco's Oranj Symphonette, received limited acclaim, she didn't pack it in. Instead, she continues in her jazzy vein of witty, playful songs like Mama (Should I Bake a Cherry Pie And Hide You Inside?) with a new, more genre-focused ensemble, the Great Balancing Act, which sounds a bit like Yo La Tengo on Quaalude cocktails.
With only punk-flavoured drums, bass and vocals guiding their short, sweet and sardonic songs, the marvellously named trio have entertained those who are sick of the serious stars pretty much non-stop since their first insurrection. Whether they're playing at house parties with other well-named bands like the No-No's or at their upcoming show at Oasis on Friday (January 5), their fan base will surely soon adopt a collective name for themselves in homage to their heroes -- maybe the Slutardees or the Slut Heads.
Sticky RiceSticky Rice
This trio like to serve up their female-powered garage-style punk in Chinese attire, with occasional high kicks and wine sips. Since their first show in May 1999, they've played the last two NXNE festivals, and their Ian Blurton- (Change of Heart) produced Take Out, released on Bobby Dazzler, has been climbing up the Canadian college radio charts.