Toronto alt-folk group Fort York are having a busy month. With an Indiegogo campaign in full flight to help fund the recording of a new album and shows planned all over the city, I asked the guys to take over mixtape duties for me and tell me what they’re listening to as they write new songs for their upcoming EP. The result is a mix so eclectic that I can only assume their new album will strive to be all things to all people. From J Dilla to Dirty Projectors, and Bob Lind to King Tubby, I was excited to see some of my personal favourites and discover some new songs that have been on heavy rotation since. Below you’ll find Conor and Rory Lavelle, Nick Kewin and Kyle Fulton’s choices with some brief thoughts on what they like about each of their picks. When asked to contribute anything further, drummer Dan Lefebvre simply said “I think y’all got it covered” – I’d have to agree.

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— , August 24, 2012    Comments Off on Guestlist: Fort York

The tenth annual Wolfe Island Music Festival is happening in Kingston, Ontario this weekend. Interestingly enough, it will take place on Wolfe Island, one of Kingston’s most beautiful places and probably the world’s most perfect spot for a small indie music festival. I’m obviously biased, but if you’ve ever had the chance to catch the free ferry that goes from downtown Kingston right through to where the Cataraquai River empties into Lake Ontario, across to where the ferry docks right on the island’s main street, well, you’ll know what I mean. Add some excellent music to the mix, some drinks, some camping and some good friends and there’s actually nothing better you could ask for. Actually.

I’ve only made it to the festival once before, but I am still forever talking about the experience. It usually runs for two days – the Friday and Saturday of the second weekend in August – and features awesome Canadian indie bands. Last year I had the privilege of catching Handsome Furs, the Abrams brothers, Land of Talk, the Acorn, and Plants and Animals among many others.

If you don’t have plans to come pitch a tent over here for the weekend and kick back with a cold one, bring your laptop outside (if it’s not raining) and chill out with my Wolfe Island Musicfest ’09 playlist.

Sarah Harmer

Sarah Harmer

To start is Sarah Harmer. A Kingston local, she’s always sure to turn up at a rocking indie show as a guest drummer or vocalist. This weekend she’s got her own gig at the General Wolfe Hotel and it’s sure to be breathtaking. This is the first Sarah Harmer song I ever heard, and once I heard it I was hooked for life.

Sarah Harmer – I Am Aglow



Next is Ohbijou, who will be playing on Saturday, set up in the island’s baseball diamond while we lucky listeners will either be getting baked in the sun or drenched in the rain. The forecast doesn’t look too good, but nothing will keep me from catching these phenomenal Toronto-based musicians; especially not from their soulful layers or Casey Mecija’s unique vocals. This track is from their latest release, Beacons.

Ohbijou – Wildfires

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— , August 7, 2009    4 Comments

Attack in Black

Given that I haven’t been out to a show since Mother Mother back in October,  I felt a need to get back out and experience some music. The plan was two shows in two nights at Call the Office, Attack in Black and Ladyhawk on Thursday, Small Sins and the Secret Machines on Friday. Contrary to my usual live experiences, I was not familiar with any of the bands playing outside a couple of songs, minus Small Sins.

Thursday was more of a traditional rock and roll night. The riffs were catchy and the drinks were flowing freely. I saw Attack in Black sometime last year when they were supporting Wintersleep. Of course, not knowing who they were and arriving near the end of their set limited the experience. After listening to Young Leaves many times since then, I decided it was worth a gamble to make the trek out to see them. I don’t usually see bands on the strength of a single song, but I needed some rockin’ in my blood after missing out on the Bronx last week. The band drew quite a rowdy crowd, and delivered a solid set of tunes, heavily loaded with material from their forthcoming album. No, I didn’t get Young Leaves, but that was by no means a dealbreaker. Highlights include someone from opener Shotgun Jimmie (presumably Jimmie) hopping on stage for a song, and the band taking shots offered by the crowd. The experience inspired me to delve further into their catalogue. I even tried to get a T-shirt, but was denied by a lack of sizes. Medium dudes, keep stock of medium!

Attack in Black – Marriage

Ladyhawk took the stage shortly after, and I was even less familiar with them, but they impressed me. The crowd thinned after Attack in Black finished, as it did last time, but those that stayed were treated to some excellent music. Midway through the set, the drummer started calling for shots. One wonders whether he was in need of a drink or promoting their latest album. Either way, drinking and rocking continued. As the set finished, lead singer Duffy Driediger offered the following advice: “Don’t get fat, stay in school, and don’t do drugs.” Were truer words ever spoken?

Ladyhawk – STHD

Toronto readers are advised to attend the show tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern, if you weren’t there last night. Or even if you were.

After recovering from the previous night, Friday brought Small Sins and the Secret Machines. Braving a rainy Friday night, I continued my self-dubbed rock-a-thon.
When I last saw Small Sins a few years ago, they had just changed their name from the Ladies and Gentlemen due to legal reasons. A simple name change really hurt the band, confirmed by resident hand-clapper Kevin Hilliard at the merch table. The band had built a sizeable following that seemingly disappeared after the change. While the crowd was far smaller than the Ladies and Gentlemen days, the band was as tight as ever. The white band uniform is long gone, which was sad to see, but anyone who enjoys well done indie synth rock severely missed out.  This is a band that really should be bigger.

Small Sins – Too Much to Lose

I recall the Secret Machines being hyped up quite a bit years ago, and given that Brooklyn bands rarely play jolly-old London town, I figured they were worth a shot. The Secret Machines must be credited for putting on the best light show I’ve ever seen at a venue like Call the Office. Instead of utilizing the simple floodlights above the stage, the band brought in their own lighting system, with stunning end results. The stage was bathed in dynamic colour and fog for the entire set, adding a visual flourish to the prog-rock stylings of the band. I feel like knowing the band better would’ve really helped the experience of the show. Until the one-two punch finale of Nowhere Again and First Wave Intact, I was hypnotized by the band, and in my tired state I was hardly rocking as much as I should have. But of course, finishing with the two songs I actually knew snapped me back into reality and capped off the night nicely.

Secret Machines – Nowhere Again

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— , November 15, 2008    1 Comment