Toronto will reprise its role as host to a plethora of musical acts from Canada and abroad this weekend when the annual Canadian Music Week festival kicks off.
With 500 artists playing at 45 venues, it can be daunting to whittle down your wish list in pursuit of the bet new music. But Metro has waded through the lengthy lineup to bring you our pan-Canadian picks for bands sure to be some of the best of the fest.
• Jason Bajada, 11 p.m., Clinton’s — Montreal’s Bajada pairs relaxed prose with mellow pacing to create an intimate, pared-down sound. His sweet-sounding voice on top of acoustic instrumentation tells pensive tales made appealing by their often-forlorn nature that contrast with more blissful orchestration.
• Mother Mother, 11 p.m., Supermarket — Perhaps the double name represents the added punch this Vancouver quintet seems to propel into everything it touches, from its clever songwriting to high-energy performances. Mother Mother pens wittily emphatic rock songs, beautifully articulated by the vocal balance it underscores.
• Bend Sinister, 12 a.m., Black Betty — It’s a prog-rock revival with this five-piece Vancouver band. Bend Sinister’s updated version of the 60s/70s musical movement invites pop and punk infusions, punctuated by frontman Dan Moxon’s signature wails, matched with grandiose guitar solos.
• Malajube, 12 a.m., El Mocambo — Quels temps nous vivons! When a francophone rock band can ascend the franco-anglo divide so aptly, celebration’s surely in order. Montreal foursome Malajube delivers arrangements marked with an air of mystique, poising audiences for a powerful pop-rock experience.
• Human Highway, 11:10 p.m., Horseshoe Tavern — Islands frontman Nicholas Thorburn and Jim Guthrie fasten to form Human Highway. The duo harmonizes on mellow, Shins-like lo-fi folkpop. Sounding like a sometimes-dejected pair of rural Canadian Beach Boys, HH pens dreamlike tracks sure to leave a lingering taste.
• The Ghost is Dancing, 2 a.m., The Silver Dollar Room — This lineup-pliable hometown collective will entreat you to your feet with its anxiously attractive indie-rock tunes. Channeling Architecture in Helsinki, TGID knows how to bring imagination to the stage, both through its spry vocal arrangement and optimistic instrumental tone.
• Jenn Grant, 12 a.m., Reverb — This East Coast sweetheart fashions pretty folk ditties, boosted by her cute, comic on-stage demeanor. Unhurried, Jenn Grant uses precise pacing with acoustic guitar and a pure voice echoing Sarah Harmer to create winsome story songs.
• Vancougar, 2:10 a.m., Horseshoe Tavern — Vivacious East Vancouver femme fatale foursome Vancougar, like its portmanteau name, fuses two musical schools together to create a compelling sound. Vancougar matches girl group vocals, circa 1960s, with harder garage pop tunes to make you swoon.