New Toronto music playlist: Hex, Jaunt and Art Department

Listen to 20 songs from local artists on our weekly Spotify playlist #NOWplaying

We’re back with another roundup of new Toronto music, including new tracks from up-and-coming bands to watch, a pair of tracks that valorize (necessarily) off-the-grid venues, and a celebratory-yet-scathing pop anthem.

Other highlights from this week’s #NOWplaying playlist embedded below:

A fresh track from Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s heavy-as-fuck new album Dirt, which was released today. 

The debut track from the upcoming album All This Here (out April 27 via Idea of North), the solo ambient debut of Evening Hymns’ Jonas Bonnetta.

A handful of songs from Toronto bands that hit big at SXSW.

Some local artists we’re cheering for at the Junos this weekend.

Listen to that playlist below, and subscribe here for 20 fresh and local tunes every Friday.

HEX: Not Over It 

After forming at Girls Rock Camp Toronto in 2014 and honing their live set alongside the likes of Lido Pimienta and Hooded Fang, HEX unleashes their debut album, Miss Pristine, today on No Mean City Collective. Not Over It encapsulates the album’s post-riot grrrl attitude. Halina Katz’s howling vocals slowly build and abate atop chugging guitar lines and foreboding drums, until the point where she sounds like she may lose control (but never does). With such confidence and prowess, it’s hard to believe the trio (made up of Katz, guitarist Simryn Mordasiewicz and drummer Kyria Sztainbok) are all still in their teens.  

Hex play a release show for Miss Pristine with Optic Flow, Slobrina, Zoë and Lavender Bruisers tonight at Monarch Tavern

Jaunt: Faster Interactions

We named Jaunt one of our Ones To Watch at the beginning of the year, and since then haven’t stopped hearing their catchy-as-hell 2016 song Hello in ads between Raptors games. Faster Interactions, the first taste of their upcoming Cue EP (out April 13) gives us a new unclassifiable tune to fail at whistling. The multi-part song somehow combines Grizzly Bear-style indie folk with jazzy Steely Dan progressions, Prince funk and cheap 80s keyboard orchestra hits. And yet, somehow, it’s a gleeful and catchy pop song. The video, featuring body cam shots and selfie hugs, strikes a similar balance between ambitious and goofy. Director Max Parr says the chaotic and warped reality of the video was inspired by his own issues with tinnitus, along with the procrastination/lack-of-sleep cycle of creativity. 

Jaunt play a Cue release show April 13 at Luanda House.

Art Department: 721 (Queen Street)

House act Art Department was a duo until 2015, when Kenny Glasgow left to go solo. Jonny White continued using the moniker and is now releasing his first EP in three years. The three-track Sour Jazz will also be the first of several releases in 2018, according to XLR8R. Though the EP includes a collab with house heavyweights Todd Terry and Roland Clark, of course our pick is this sax-heavy peak hours banger with a local reference in the title – an address we’re assuming will be familiar to Toronto scene heads.

Faiza: Thick And Melanated

Faiza landed on our radar with the summery R&B jam Body Blue, and resurfaced in Janary with the hard-hitting, Atlanta-influenced single Bands. Now you can appreciate the breadth of output on the six-track EP Audacity. The best track manages to be a celebratory anthem for Black women, a take-down of culture vultures and pointedly autobiographical – all in a tight three minutes. A sharp, scathing and catchy pop song.

Just John: Noise

The new video for this indelibly groovy track off last year’s Black Beret EP places you in Toronto right away with the words “3 noise complaints were issued during the making of this film.” Just John is part of a hip-hop and electronic music community in the city that’s learned not to advertise the locations of its warehouse and gallery parties to avoid getting broken up by the cops. The video, with its Black Panther berets and 60s soul throwbacks, places it in the tradition of great funk protests: partying in defiance. | @nowtoronto

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