With the proliferation of site-specific, “experiential” music festivals in Toronto these last few years, traditional bar- and-club-focused fests like Canadian Music Week have begun to emit a whiff of old-school traditionalism.
But while its conference portion is indeed dude-heavy and predictably industry-minded at a time when many artists are staying DIY, you can find some fresh and progressive talent in its music programming. A few of our best bets are below, with more to come next week.
CMW runs April 18-23 at venues all over town. Explorer pass $75 (gets you into club shows), Explorer+ pass $150 (priority access to club shows and concert series).
Best chance for romance: TOBi
We included the Toronto musician in a recent hip-hop edition of Ones To Watch, but he also could’ve fit in an R&B edition, thanks to vulnerable and romantic recent single Libra. His runs bring Outkast to mind, his flow is playful and, at this VU showcase opening for Xavier Omar, we’re excited to see whether he’s found his footing live.
At the Velvet Underground (508 Queen West), Tuesday (April 18), 8:30 pm. $20.
Best bet to sate your curiosity: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Experimental rockers YT // ST have many new faces – including in the vocal department. This showcase comes on the heels of sister/brother members Alaska B and Brendan Swanson’s launch of AVRHA at last weekend’s Owen Pallett show. Hear how the visually dynamic Toronto collective’s new material and reinvention are all coming together.
At the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), Wednesday (April 19), 11 pm. $15.
Best thing to come out of Edmonton since Mac DeMarco: Faith Healer
We’ve loved Jessica Jalbert since she first released music under her own name. We love her as Faith Healer, too, and 2015’s Cosmic Troubles is all laid-back summertime lightness, sleepy but catchy tunes, and occasionally noisy tangents. Word is we’re getting new material at these shows.
At Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton), Wednesday (April 19), 9:15 pm. $5 and at Handlebar (159 Augusta) on Saturday (April 22), 11:45 pm. $5.
Best bet for a technicolour experience: Bossie
Bossie is the colourful alter ego of Toronto’s Anne Douris, who plays infectious synth pop indebted to video games and the 80s. In 2015 she told us she was attempting to make the poppiest pop possible. Find out if that’s still the case.
At the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina) on Wednesday (April 19), midnight. $8 and at the Baby G (1608 Dundas West) on Saturday (April 22), 11 pm. $20.
Best bet for female empowerment: Japanese Breakfast
Michelle Zauner’s acclaimed Psychopomp album, released under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, is full of giddy dream pop despite being written in the aftermath of her mother’s death. The Portland musician’s doing her part to change the music industry game thanks to all-female, all-Asian American tours like the one she did last year with Mitski and Jay Som.
At the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Thursday to Saturday (April 20-22), midnight. $12.
Best bet for deliriously intelligent songwriting: The Luyas
The Montreal avant-pop sextet led by Jessie Stein brought their new Human Voicing record to the Smiling Buddha in March, when it was just a few weeks old. At the Baby G, soak in its impressionistic and uniquely psychedelic vibes, dotted with Pietro Amato’s synth and horn work, Michael Feuerstack’s expressive guitar, Stein’s joyous vocals and stage presence, and lots of time-signature complexity.
At the Baby G (1608 Dundas West), Thursday (April 20), 11 pm. $17.50.
Yi CMW photos
Best bet for side-project fun, part I: Yi
Beliefs’ Jesse Crowe and Rolemodel’s Jordan Allen make up this noise rock duo, fleshed out live with more Beliefs and Rolemodel members. They’ve released two EPs in short order: the quieter EP1 is out this week, while EP2 is slated for fall and said to be influenced by Blur and Massive Attack.
At the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Thursday (April 20), 10 pm. $12.
Best bet for side-project fun, part 2: Tim Darcy
You know his commanding voice, poetic lyrics and six-string artistry from his work with Montreal’s Ought, but he took the solo spotlight in February with the release of his intimate debut album, Saturday Night. Experimental and intentional, it’s sometimes fierce, sometimes chill and sometimes surreal. Fast fact: it was recorded here in Toronto.
At the Baby G (1608 Dundas West), Thursday (April 20), midnight. $17.50.
Best bet for a party: New Swears
One of the highlights of the recent Megaphono festival in Ottawa was New Swears, heroes of the capital who inject bratty fun and unpredictability into every set by way of confetti blasters, garagey rock ’n’ roll licks, onstage anarchy, bared torsos and mumbly gang vocals you can’t stop yourself from singing along to. They’ve just announced new album And The Magic Of Horses, out June 23 on Dine Alone.
At the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), Friday (April 21), 11 pm. $20.
Best bet for Brampton pride: Haviah Mighty
Haviah Mighty raps, sings, produces and DJs, and is all about giving props to her home of Brampton, as heard on her Flower City EP, released earlier this year. Also part of The Sorority, with Keysha Freshh, Lex Leosis and pHoenix Pagliacci, Haviah Mighty raps quick and sings gorgeously. Fire.
At Revival (783 College), Friday (April 21), 10 pm. $10.