10 breakout bands from Toronto in 2013
Toronto has too many bands to fathom. They're busking in Bellwoods, playing Supermarket's open mic, or headlining a packed Horseshoe on Friday, then asking you to like their Facebook and listen to their new demos (recorded in the basement of some guy who hangs out with Sloan). Cool, cool, but none of this makes a breakout band. That takes real talent, dedication, originality - and some magic. Toronto's been lucky in this department - PUP just won two CBC Bucky awards, DIANA is basking in a buzz halo, plus there's July Talk, Ell V Gore, Lido Pimienta, Gay, and Maylee Todd all repping our city. Who am I forgetting?
In 2013 we featured 16 different Toronto bands in our Breakout Bands series. We've broken them down into the top five that are already making it, five more to keep your eye on, and six others that are still gaining speed.
Tre Mission is a young Toronto MC who lays down razor-sharp rhymes overtop of fast and frantic beats. He's found most of his success overseas, blowing up within the UK's grime scene. He also made a name for himself with wicked YouTube freestyle videos that have racked up hundreds of thousands of views. He made his debut album "Malmaison" available free for download here.
If you put on Majid Jordan's house/RnB track "Good People," you will likely become helplessly caught in a cycle of play and replay. Same goes if you're a Drake fan - Majid Jordan is featured on his single "Hold On, We're Going Home" which has a mere 30 million YouTube views. Clearly, working with an international superstar is a pretty good indicator that they're on a successful career path. No news about their future releases has been released, but you can listen to their EP on YouTube in the meantime.
Jessy Lanza partnered up with beat-maker Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys to fill out her dreamy solo project. They create electronic grooves with fuzzy baselines that support her effortlessly smooth vocals. In terms of impressive accomplishments this year, her debut album 'Pull My Hair Back' was released through major London-based label Hyperdub, and she's already jet-setted on a European tour.
This March, Beliefs truly broke out of the crowd with the release of their full-length album on Hand Drawn Dracula Records. Critics took notice, giving them positive reviews on NME, NPR, World Cafe and many other music blogs. They've been everywhere this year, playing Toronto's ALLCAPS and Long Winter festivals, plus they've embarked on a tour that took them through Europe, the UK and Iceland.
The C'mons have had quite a year of successes, playing NXNE, Pop Montreal, Indie Week and recording a brand new EP. They deliver dynamic rock sets, chock-full of all the power chords and anthem choruses your angsty inner self could want. Their small-but-mighty lead-singer Steph Bosch has a command of the microphone that makes audiences take notice each time they grace the stage.
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Petra Glynt, aka local artist/illustrator/activist Alex MacKenzie, has risen this year from the simplistic Grimes comparisons some neatly clipped upon her to proving herself an artist whose strong original vision is unmistakable and fiercely sincere. The former Dentata member made waves at NXNE, Electric Eclectics, and a host of other fests, and while she's also been busy with her visual art and duo Pachamama with Brandon Valdivia, it's Petra Glynt's bold vocals and unique percussion that made single "Sour Paradise" one of Toronto's most memorable tracks in 2013.
Tasha the Amazon
Tasha the Amazon is a self-proclaimed "bomb in a china shop," laying down her raps with fierce attitude and a larger-than-life stage presence. The rapper hasn't been on the scene long, but she's quickly become a well-known on the local hip-hop scene. Her inventive lyricism and passionate delivery have been given nods in Earmilk, Now Magazine and HipHopCanada.
Here's an artist who is really making a new sound. Isla Craig's a cappella creations are moody and soulful while containing folky elements at the same time. On Craig's recent release, she works closely with friends to explore different layers of tones and harmony. She's ever expanding her songwriting describing the creative process as "collaborating across genres and styles, being influenced and introduced to new things and new ideas." Think sulty R&B meets fireside folk - then keep going.
Yacht Club has made themselves known by bringing back the 80's in 2013. Fucked Up's guitarist Ben Cook teamed up with Matt DeLong on guitar and Robin Hatch on keys to kick start their '80s-inspired pop band. They've been making a stir this year by releasing a 12", new videos, opening up for Austra as well as playing Long Winter festival.
Some Minor Noise
Jane Void and Wayne Doe came together when the singer-songwriter was looking for a new producer to work with for her solo project. Doe's beats added a modern-90s-rock quality that they loved, and thus the pair created Some Minor Noise. They take a lo-fi sound and add electronic elements, creating a sort of indie dance pop that's moody and ambient.
MORE BREAKOUT BAND FEATURES FROM THIS YEAR
Photo of Tre Misson by Jah Grey