Brasstronaut Land in Toronto
Vancouver indie jazz quartet Brasstronaut played their first show in Toronto last night at the Drake in support of their impressive debut Old Word Lies EP. It was a showcase of sorts, hosted by their label Unfamiliar Records. Although their ingredients might not impress the jazz crowd most of the band's members come from, it's the indie-centric vocals of keyboardist Edo Van Breemen that put this band more in the "interesting indie pop" section of my mind - a place that's reserved for bands like Beirut.
Brasstronaut is actually an outlet for Edo's more - wait for it - spacey songs. His electro pop band The Clips have a more predictable sound while Brasstronaut instantly catch you off guard - mainly because of Bryan Davies' otherworldly trumpet and flugelhorn playing. "Bryan is known in Vancouver as being one of the best virtuoso trumpet players", Edo told me after the band's impressive set. "This is a different thing for him and the other guys because they get to do whatever they want - there aren't any rules".
The band's set last night was a great blend of quiet keyboard-led moments with frail vocals and strong trumpet-led instrumentals. The tight rhythm section (drummer Brennan Saul and upright bassist John Walsh - both professional jazz musicians) switched gears at will between down-tempo grooves and full on house beats, as Bryan's improvised horn playing filled the candle-lit room with jazzy melodies. A local fan even sat in with them on bass clarinet for a few songs, adding even more interesting sounds and dynamics to an already unforgettable show.
Brasstronaut are about to wrap up their first tour outside British Columbia (which included a few shows at Pop Montreal), after building up a solid local fanbase over the past year in Vancouver. "We're learning how to play this band a little louder now," Edo enthusiastically explained, "at first this band started really mellow and the EP was recorded in a mellow way, but the live situation is totally different...Brennan [on drums] really lets go and it becomes something else."
This is only Edo's second time ever in Toronto. What does he like about our city so far? "I like Kensington Market, the nachos at Sneaky Dee's." He also thinks we have a "really good" music scene here where people doing interesting things can get exposure.
And what does Vancouver have that Toronto is missing? "I think what you're missing is a really interesting, collaborative scene where people are not really competitive about music".
Brasstronaut play a free in-store show at Criminal Records today at 6pm. Photo: James Hutchison.
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