Written by Wavelength’s Jonny Dovercourt and Adam Bradley
Welcome to Vol. 13 of “Under The Radar“. This edition is brought to you by Wavelength. For the past 16 years, Wavelength has been showcasing rising indie bands at over 20 events throughout the year, including the celebrated Wavelength Music Festival, and most recently Camp Wavelength.
If their past-performers are any indication, Wavelength is your chance to see the next indie breakthrough. The list of WL alumni reads like a Canadian indie encyclopedia with the likes of: Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, the Constantines, Owen Pallett, Feist, Fucked Up, Manitoba a.k.a. Caribou, Tokyo Police Club, METZ, Grimes and many more. If it’s anyone who knows Under the Radar Artists, it’s this organization. If you like what you hear, check out our Under the Radar channel on JAM by Indie88.
Take our poll and let us know which song is your favourite.
KEITA JUMA – PYRO
Keita Juma is quickly becoming one of Toronto’s most original voices, expertly blurring the boundaries between hip-hop and electronic music, and this hot track exemplifies his fearless ethos.
“Fire will burn you because you know that you hot.” Juma’s words get under your skin, much like the minimal, skittering beats and synth leads on “Pyro,” a standout track from his 2015 album Nights in Space: A Short Film. The Bristol, UK native says his sound is shaped by a blend of electronic, UK underground, dub reggae, and West Coast rap – and the resulting combustion is sure setting our ears on fire.
(Friday Feb. 12, The Garrison, 10:00pm.)
FOXTROTT – “DRIVEN”
Foxtrott’s dancey, warbling synths, thudding percussion and earnest-yet-fun vocal style are an irresistible mix.
Montreal’s Foxtrott deliver a heavy, clear and resounding brand of electronic dance-pop, curved with an arabesque complexity appealing to both underground music burrower and Top 40 fiend. Tune-Yards flavour stirred up with a dash of Mozart’s Sister, poured into a mould and forged into a brand new beast, with iron fists but a tender heart. Powerful and nuanced, this is music for the mind and body.
(Friday Feb. 12, The Garrison, 12:00am.)
MERGANZER – “MIRROR MAZE”
She’s been a member of Timber Timbre and Forest City Lovers, and lent her string talents to everyone from Broken Social Scene and Feist to Basia Bulat and Maylee Todd. Now Ottawa violinist Mika Posen is stepping out on her own with her gorgeous solo project, Merganzer.
You know that music that accompanies the scene two-thirds of the way through every teen movie where all the characters stare longingly out the window? If you could wring all the suckiness out of that and replace it with heartfelt, indescribable beauty, then you come close to describing the title track of Merganzer’s Mirror Maze. Much like the titular hall of infinite reflections, it’s impossible to not get lose inside a song like this. Just give it a listen.
(Saturday Feb. 13, Markham House: City Building Lab, 4:45pm.)
PARTNER – “THE ‘ELLEN’ PAGE”
The dream of the ‘90s is alive in… Sackville? Yes, the tiny New Brunswick college town is home to a thriving indie music scene, including the annual SappyFest and up-and-coming bands like Partner.
Equally inspired by the original wave of Seattle grunge as poppier as well as early-‘90s alt-rock icons like the Pixies and fellow Maritimers Sloan, Partner have been making a big noise the past year. They’re now signed to You’ve Changed Records, run by the Constantines’ Steven Lambke. This hilarious, one-minute-fifty-second queer anthem, inspired by hearing the news of movie star Ellen Page’s coming out, features the lines “if it’s 50% Maritime, it’s 50% lesbian.” The equally hilarious video, features Page herself doing a solo dance number to the song – but was in fact made entirely using Creative Commons licensed footage from Bruce McDonald’s film, The Tracey Fragments.
(Saturday Feb. 13, The Garrison, 9:00pm, plus an acoustic set Saturday Feb. 13, Markham House: City Building Lab, 2:45pm.)
SHE-DEVILS – “COME”
Languid, inviting and hypnotic, She-Devils draw you happily into their sparkling, fuchsia quicksand.
Like the music of a ghostly mirror-world Patsy Cline, Montreal’s She-Devils sway hazy in a phosphorescent cloud of sweetly smiling heartache. Built out of eerie looped samples and subtle though often odd effects, the composite result is mesmerizing. Having been playing for some time and only recently releasing music online, their rise has been a pleasant and transfixing surprise.
(Sunday Feb. 14, The Garrison, 11:00pm.)
The 16th annual Wavelength Music Festival this year is February 12th-14th. For more information and tickets to shows check out Wavelength’s website.