One of the great redeeming aspects of big, multi-day, city-wide music festivals like Canadian Music Week/Fest is the opportunity for discovery.
It’s very rare these days that one gets the opportunity to hear something truly great, for the first time, in a live setting. Generally, if I’m going to a show where I’m unfamiliar with the band I’ll at least check out their Myspace page, if not snag the whole album online prior to the performance to see what they’re like. But in a setting with literally hundreds of bands playing on dozens of stages, where itineraries are changed more often than undergarments, it is an inevitability that you’ll be stumbling in on some unfamiliar territory.
So for this edition of Tuesday Tracks, I’d like to share a few discoveries: performances I saw by sheer chance and loved every moment.
First up: Everything all the Time benefits by being comprised of a selection of this country’s best musicians, with members contributing to Feist, Sarah Harmer, the Hidden Cameras and Jason Collett. Of course, they also benefit from having one of the most swoon-worthy voices fronting them ever put to tape. But hyperbole aside, don’t be fooled by the precious voice you hear on “Lazy Days” below, Alanna Stuart’s voice is as powerful as it is versatile.
Secondly: Dan Mangan shares a lot with another troubadour from the west, Chad VanGaalen. Both employ unconventional subject matter in their songwriting, but where VanGaalen swerves to the absurd Mangan stays sure footed. When Mangan sings “Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you,” there is such an earnestness in his voice that you take him seriously.
Finally: Parlovr (pretend the “v” is a “u” when you say it) was perhaps my favourite surprise at CMW/F. Hailing from Montreal, they’ve forgone the eight-plus member standard the city has become known for in its band output and culled a trio with a violent and aspirational stage presence.
Even without an extended back up, the simple guitar, keyboard, drum structure creates enormous, passionate music. Parlovr sing, scream and whisper their magnetic affirmations both to and from the crowd. The wonderful, sobering element to their performance is that amongst all the sloppy pop they mash out, it’s impossible to miss the genuine adoration and excitement painted all over their faces. Even in a tiny club, playing for 30 people, they’re living the dream.