Toronto band FRIGS have just released their debut album, the post-punk winner ‘Basic Behaviour’, and to celebrate – they’ve been kind enough to provide us with the best music that’s keeping their city alive. Take it away…
Our brothers Whimm released a stark and idiosyncratic record last year called ‘A Stare A Jar.’ We had the pleasure of touring with them in 2016 and they are close allies. The songs can be frenetic or bridled, but always thoughtful. With this record, Whimm managed to pull the dry and dark aspects of early post-punk into a contemporary framework. Rigid music that throws you around but then sits you down for contemplation.
New Fries are the type of band whose setup you could deconstruct and examine in pieces, only to lead to the conclusion that these pieces would never work as a unit. But to see the machine in its greased up, sputtering glory is a truly confusing miracle to behold. It runs on alternating moments of dissonance and groove, and when these overlap you’re briefly handed something you never knew you wanted so badly. A group of true weirdos whose expanding cultish support in this city gives hope that Toronto hasn’t fallen too far into complacency toward experimental art.
This is an exception on a list of Torontonians as they are actually a Montreal-via-Victoria band, but a very worthy one. Fountain are like the light to Whimm’s dark, as both bands seem to hark back to an era where punk’s influences were expanding sideways and backwards as well as full-steam-ahead. Where the latter band are broody, Fountain are full of boot-stomping, hollering twang like a perverse country group. As a band and as individuals, they exude both the creative versatility and laid-back friendliness that is the signature of Victoria.
The Highest Order’s record ‘If It’s Real’, completely blew my mind when it came out and I overplayed it. And then I did the same with the latest one ‘Still Holding’. Fiver is the solo project of Schmit, and last year she released a record ‘Audible Songs from Rockwood, a Song Cycle Based on the Lives of People Incarcerated at the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane in Upper Canada between 1856 -1881’. It’s a pretty impressive piece of work I think everyone should be forced to listen to. Fiver and the Highest Order are kind of Canadian royalty so act accordingly.
Ice Cream is another band comprised of some Toronto heavyweights. Carlyn Bezic and Amanda Crist are two really amazing musicians who have been playing in noteworthy groups for some time, but as this duo they’ve tapped into something cosmic. Their debut, ‘Love, Ice Cream’ felt like a secret whispered to you from an older sister. The instrumentation consists of unusual synth rumbles and sassy guitar tropes, which in combination with breathy vocals makes music that’s challenging in a fun way. Seeing these girls live will definitely make you feel uncool by comparison.
Nyssa is a seriously refreshing artist among the omnipresence of guitar bands. Songwriting, production and performance are all done solely by her. She’s no dream pop princess, but she kind of transports you back to a simpler time in popular music. Think female Springsteen or Bowie snorting glitter and slapping mens’ butts. She is a true performer, and she makes her solo shows seem effortlessly full and energetic. Her first EP is set to be released this year, but a string of singles are available on the world wide web.
This band is probably the most direct on the list. No bullshit instrumentation gives vocalist Anya’s bratty delivery and clever lyrics the front line. Their debut LP ‘Dancing to the Beat’ came out last summer, and consists of twelve straight-shooting punk songs that really feel organic and natural. Toronto can be a try-hard city when it comes to alternative music and I love Prom Nite because of how effortlessly fun it is.