When thinking of what to do for my 40th birthday earlier this year, I thought “Why not take a trip to Chicago?” It had been nine years since my first visit there in 2011, and I really enjoyed what I saw of the city (when I wasn’t melting under the sun at Pitchfork Festival). I thought it would be a great way to do something fun, while not making a big deal of it.
With what has happened over the last few months, it obviously meant that a trip over the border was not in the cards. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about what it means to turn 40, and have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life up until now.
Inspired somewhat by Hanif Abdurraqib’s recent playlist project SIXTY EIGHT 2 OH FIVE, I started looking back at the music that shaped me. I didn’t go into quite so much detail, as I can’t even imagine how much work and research was involved in putting his site together. Instead, I looked back on music that played an important role in my life and put it together in a chronological (as it relates to my musical discovery) playlist.
My early years definitely skew towards popular music/my parents’ taste but these are all songs I have vivid memories of while growing up (with the obvious exception of “kids songs”).
I was a bit of a movie fan growing up, so some of the musical tastes were inspired by what I was watching at the time, as well as what I was into at the specific time itself. I should also note that there are bands on this list that appear much later than when I first knew of them, or listened to them, but I opted to choose the song from the time in my life that they really became a staple band for me. I should also note this playlist was made with Spotify, so there are a few songs I would have included but couldn’t have due to not being available, such as “All Good” by De La Soul (feat. Chaka Khan), “Parkin’ Rock” by Zoobombs, and “Howl at The Moon” by The Paint Movement (only 2 of which I was able to find videos for).
Anyway, it’s been fun reflecting over these last few weeks, and putting this together. I will continue to add to this list as new songs/bands emerge in my life, and will be posting some photos over the next little while from some of my favourite concert memories (including ones from my pre-shooting days). Thanks for following along.
Every Monday morning you can find my weekly playlist here. Feel free to follow on Spotify and let me know what you think. If you’d like to have your music considered, or have an upcoming event in Toronto, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kicking off this week’s list is Montreal’s Sorry Girls. The group played on Saturday night, as part of Exclaim’s Class of 2019 series, and showed why they were selected with a set of dreamy, jangly pop that had the packed crowd moving. As of right now, the band doesn’t have any more shows scheduled in the area, but I’ll be sure to let you know when they’ve announced a return.
Durand Jones & The Indications released their second single, the politically-charged “Morning in America” from their upcoming album American Love Call. The album will be out March 1st via Dead Oceans/Colemine Records, and they’ll be touring through the U.S. in support. No Toronto date as of right now, but I’ll be sure to update if they make their way north of the border.
One group that will definitely be coming to Toronto in the near future is Foals. Last Monday, they premiered “Exits”, the first single from their upcoming album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part I, which comes out March 8th. They’ll be at Rebel on 4/22 in support of said album, and presumably again (though maybe in a larger venue?) toward the end of the year, when Part II comes out in the autumn. Tickets for the April show are available at Rotate This and Soundscapes, but if you don’t feel like braving through the cold, here you go.
Early last week, Embrace announced prodigy producer Hana Vu has been added to the March 7th Wet w/ Kilo Kish show at Velvet Underground. The teenager made waves last year with the release of her song “Crying on the Subway” and the subsequent release of her EP, How Many Times Have You Driven By. This is one of those chances where you won’t want to miss the opener. Tickets available at Rotate This and Soundscapes.
Later in March at Velvet Underground, you’ll also be able to catch Yves Tumor, who recently came through town as an opener for Blood Orange at the Danforth Music Hall. He’ll be headlining this time, in support of his acclaimed 2018 album, Safe in the Hands of Love. The show is on Saturday, March 23rd and the reasonably priced tickets ($15 + $5.91 fees) can be purchased HERE.
Apparat, aka Sascha Ring, announced his new album LP5 will be released on March 22, via Mute Records. No North American tour dates, but if you’re in Europe in the spring and want to check him out, tour dates can be found HERE.
Vampire Weekend made headlines last summer, when they opened their Lollapalooza set with their song “A Punk” three times in a row. Maybe with that in mind, at the beginning of last week, they teased Thursdays release of two new songs “Harmony Hall” and “2021” with a two hour guitar loop aptly named “120 Minutes of Harmony Hall.” As promised, on Thursday, they released the two new songs from their upcoming album Father of the Bride, which comes out later this spring. They’ll be dropping 2 new songs next month, and the month after prior to the release.
Maggie Rogers‘ name has been popping up quite a bit lately. She just released her album Heard it in a Past Life on January 18th, and opened for Mumford and Sons at the Scotiabank Arena in December. She makes her return to Toronto with an all-ages, two-night stand at The Phoenix on March 21 & 22. Tickets are currently sold out, but the Ticketweb sale page does say “limited tickets may be available at the door.” If you like what you hear, you’ll want to keep an eye on Embrace’s twitter account for updates on that front.
You might not be familiar with Pip Blom yet, but 2019 promises to be a big year for the up and coming indie rock band from Amsterdam. Last week they announced the release of their debut album, Boat, which will be released May 31st via Heavenly Recordings. Prior to that, they will make their first U.S. appearance in March at South by Southwest and based on the early buzz around the new single “Daddy Issues” a proper North American tour shouldn’t be out of the question.
Now some news on a band you most definitely are aware of. Last week Weezer surprise released an album of cover songs called The Teal Album. The album includes their 2018 cover of Toto’s “Africa”, along with other needless covers of songs by Tears for Fears, A-Ha, TLC & more. In my mind, there’s only one Weezer cover that needs to be heard, mainly because it’s from the era I love the most, and it covers the band that heavily influenced their early sound: The Pixies. That’s why I’d say if you have to listen to one Weezer cover the rest of your life, make it “Velouria”.
Speaking of The Pixies, they also made new last week when they announced they have partnered with Signal Co. No1 for “Past is Prologue, Pixies” Podcast Series, which will document the making of their new album and the band’s history. The forthcoming LP is scheduled for release in the autumn and will be previewed with the 12 part podcast series that premieres June 27th. Until then, the band will be back on the road with Weezer, continuing their 2018 tour. If you didn’t catch them here last summer, the closest stops on this run are March 13th in Montreal and 14th in Albany, NY.
Another act that toured through Toronto last year was Florence + The Machine, who played the Scotiabank Arena in support of last year’s High As Hope. Last week, the band released a non-album single called “Moderation”, which has made its way into recent concert setlists. With a two month gap between the end of their current tour on March 25th, and a lone North American appearance at Governor’s Ball in NYC, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some tour dates announced in the not so distant future. Maybe a stop at Budweiser Stage to open the summer concert series?
The Black Lips & Fucked Up announced last week that they’ll be playing a concert at The Phoenix on April 25th, and they’ll be bringing along NYC’s Wooing. Last year saw the band release their debut EP Daydream Time Machine, following that up at the end of the year with two more new songs. This appears to be the first time they will make their way to Toronto, so it will be a good chance to catch the band on the rise.
Other concerts this week Note: * indicates a show I will be taking photos at
01/28 – The Soft Moon @ Velvet Underground
01/28 – Half-Alive @ The Drake Hotel
01/30 – Dawes @ The Danforth Music Hall
01/30 – Dan Mangan @ Tiny Record Shop (in-store @ 6pm)
01/31 – Dan Mangan @ The Danforth Music Hall
01/31 – The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer @ The Horseshoe Tavern
02/01 – John Maus @ The Opera House
*02/01 – Tallies @ The Drake Hotel
02/01 – Yonatan Gat @ Lee’s Palace
02/01 – After Funk @ The Horseshoe Tavern
02/02 – Ripe @ The Mod Club
02/02 – Shane Koyczan @ The Danforth Music Hall
I present the first playlist of the new incarnation of Tunes in TO. I’ve made some notes on each of the artists I’ve included below, so you can see why they’ve been chosen for the week. I’m looking forward to doing this on a weekly basis, and you’ll be able to find this post every Monday morning. Feel free to subscribe, or let me know what you think.
2018 was a good year for Kacey Musgraves. Though I wasn’t a big fan of her disco/country crossover hit “High Horse”, I find myself repeatedly listening to the song I’ve included here, “Slow Burn.” She’ll be at the Danforth Music Hall this coming Friday, January 11th, with support from Natalie Prass. This one’s been sold out for a long time, so if you’re looking for tickets, good luck.
The week before that, Deerhunter‘s new album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? will be released, via 4AD Records. The album will be released on Friday, January 18th and they’ll be performing at the Danforth Music Hall on February 21, with support from Mary Lattimore. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster for just over $40 (incl. fees).
Over the holidays I discovered Kanopy, the free streaming service where all you need to start an account is a library card. One of the movies recommended was Hearts Beat Loud (see trailer above), which was an entertaining story about a father/daughter who gain fame when they record a song in one of their jam sessions, which ends up becoming a viral hit. It stars Nick Offerman and the track’s vocalist, Kiersey Clemons, and there is a lot more to it than I just described, but it’s worth seeing if you’re into quirky comedy.
One of the albums Nick Offerman’s character recommends in the film, as the owner of a record store, is Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavillion. That album turns 10(!) years old this week, and one of my favourite memories involving them is seeing a bunch of fans dancing to “Brother Sport” during their headlining set at Pitchfork Music Fest in 2011.
I found General Crush on the weekly new release playlist on Spotify. “Who is that?” is my first exposure to them, but it’s a pretty good first impression. Looking forward to hearing more.
Blackalicious just announced a show here in Toronto, and they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on March 2nd. We last heard from them in 2015 with Imani Vol. 1. As it was intended to be the first release in a trilogy, perhaps we’ll get to hear some of Vol. 2. Tickets are $23.50 (+ fees) and available at Ticketfly.
I’ve decided I’d like to include a cover with every playlist, and seeing as how David Bowie‘s birthday this week (January 8th), I thought I’d celebrate by including one of my favourites: Warpaint‘s cover of “Ashes to Ashes”.
Golden Daze‘s dreamy sounding new album Simpatico will be released February 15th, via Autumn Tone Records.
Though I’m not a gamer, I was pretty excited to find out that D’Angelo had a new track that appeared in Red Dead Redemption 2. Not holding my breath for a new album anytime soon, but it’s always good to know D’Angelo is still working on something. His last album, Black Messiah was fantastic, and lead single “Ain’t That Easy” was one of my favourites of 2014/2015.
One thing I decided to do last year was to finally start watching Schitt’s Creek. I can proudly say I have caught up (including the holiday episode) and I am looking forward to the new season, which starts tomorrow. One of the loveliest moments in the last season was when Patrick (Noah Reid) serenaded David (Dan Levy) with an acoustic rendition of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” I know I said I wanted to have one cover per week, but given the timing, for this week I’ve decided to make it two.
Beliefs‘ Jesse Crowe released her solo project Praises‘ first album In This Year: Ten of Swords at the end of 2018, via Hand Drawn Dracula. Catch her performing her dark, electronic sounds this Friday, January 11th at Baby G. Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased in advance via Ticketfly.
Talliesreleased a series of singles to finish off 2019, and their anticipated debut album will be released this Friday, January 11th, also via Hand Drawn Dracula. Give it a listen, or check it out live at their album release show at The Drake Underground on February 1st. Tickets are only $13.50 and they’ve still got them at Rotate This and Soundscapes.
Rapportare part of Exclaim’s Class of 2019 series and will be playing on January 25th at The Monarch Tavern. The band are made up of ex-Moon King/Spiral Beach vocalist Maddy Wilde, Kurt Marble and Mike Pereira (Most People). “Unconscious” is the only song they have on their Spotify page, so maybe they’ll just play this song over and over? Only way to find out is to hit up The Monarch to see them (and Ellis!)
After recent opening spots with Big Thief, Whitney, and an upcoming tour with Cass McCombs, Sam Evian seems poised to be on the verge of breaking out. Check them out at The Horseshoe Tavern in support of he aforementioned Cass McCombs on Monday, March 11th. Tickets are $17.50 (+fees) and according to their site, Soundscapes still has them, but Rotate This is sold out. You can also buy them through Ticketfly, and seeing as how they’re selling out you might want to scoop them up sooner, rather than later.
After postponing their gig in September, Cuff the Duke rescheduled their show at The Rivoli for this coming weekend, with not one, but two shows on Friday, Jan. 11th and Saturday, Jan. 12th. Tickets for Friday night are still available at Ticketfly for $20.00 + fees, but Saturday is sold out.
Lastly, I am a vinyl collector, and since Christmas just passed, I was gifted with a copy of TV on the Radio‘s fantastic debut Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes from my wife. I decided to put the song that hooked me on to the band in the first place. Here’s hoping we see something new from them in the coming year.
Be sure to check back next week! And if you have any suggestions or comments, please leave them here, or email at email@example.com.
Photo: David Byrne @ The Sony Center. See full set at Live in Limbo
It’s been quite some time since I’ve used this space for posting anything, but with a new year upon us I’ve decided to start using this space again. I will still be using it for my music photography, but you’ll start to see some more content.
One such thing I’ve decided to add is a weekly playlist. Friends of mine are often asking me for recommendations and playlists, and I am still receiving lots of contact from new bands and publicists that have largely gone unread/listened to (sorry!). I’d like to change that this year and give those new bands/albums a listen, and help promote them in my playlists. Note: If you’re a publicist/in a band, feel free to get in touch!
The rest will be constantly evolving, and I’ll probably try some stuff that won’t work, but your feedback is definitely encouraged.
So, in speaking of playlists, I’ve decided to start the year with a wrap-up of the 30 songs I enjoyed most in 2018. Enjoy, and be sure to get in touch with any suggestions you have that I might have overlooked last year.