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    Peter and the Wolf Cap Toronto’s Over the Top Fest

    After a last-minute cancellation by Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes, Austin, TX's Peter and the Wolf took the stage last night (May 4) at Toronto's Sneaky Dees venue and concluded the four-day Over the Top festival at the notorious PWYC (Pay What You Can) indie showcase, Wavelength. Like a glockenspiel making very deliberate love to a ukulele, an odd sawing contraption accompanied The Ivori Palms gem "The Bike of Jonas," adding cool harmonies to frontman Red Hunter's melodious yarn.

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    Crystal Castles Bring It Home

    Awaiting a set from local heroes Crystal Castles, fans were content to thrash out their anticipation in a sweaty cluster of keffiyahs and Kanye shades last night (Feb. 21) at Toronto's Wrongbar until the puckish duo took the stage. Frontwoman Alice Glass, looking like a black-rimmed JD Salinger heroine viciously attacked by Karen O in a dark closet, demurely vogued to the hard-edged beats of mix master Ethan Kath, who remained hunched over his Atari-pimped synthesizer (a 5200 chip is encased inside) throughout the set. Both sported his and her leathers, and emanated a mysterious resilience. A live drummer added weighted professionalism to the frenetic burn of bangers "No Skin," "Air War," and MySpace slam-dunk "Alice Practice," as a constant pounce of strobe lights induced electric synesthesia (or maybe it was just the flash of all those photo bloggers).

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    The Teenagers

    Who? Guitarist Dorian Dumont and lead singer Quentin Delafon aren't lying; they actually met as teenagers in the suburbs of Paris. Bored with their day jobs as promotional call centre employees and under-paid waiters, the two friends created the "Fuck Nicole" single in 2005, an ironic plea to the waifish starlet Nicole Richie. Unexpectedly, it took off on MySpace with a shot, launching the two twenty-five year olds to Internet (and scenester) stardom. When Delafon moved to London for business school (he's since dropped out), Dumont also followed, bringing along fellow adolescent bassist Michael Spziner to complete the teen trifecta. Their debut for XL Recordings, Reality Check, arrives in March. What's the Deal? Reality Check is an anthemic ode to American pop (and culture), accented by spiky synthesizers, neon-gold guitars and thick French accents.


    Who? Casting aside their suburban garage rock roots,Toronto's Moshe Rozenberg (drums/keys/vocals), Jordan Holmes(guitar/vocals), Matt King (keys/sax), Tomas Del Balso (guitar) andMike Claxton (bass/ guitar/vocals) bonded during Brampton YMCA showsand formed indie outfit DD/MM/YYYY, yes, named after the calendar.Lately, their schedules have been jam-packed -- a North American summertour with Japanther, a spot at Toronto's Virgin Festival, and sharedsleepovers with Dan Deacon in Kalamazoo, Michigan (they went out forpizza the next morning). What's the Deal? Are They Masks?DD/MM/YYYY's second LP, out now on Toronto imprint, We Are Busy Bodies,is a mess of spastic, specially challenged art rock with jagged,diamondback guitars, '80s video game synthesizers, and drums that rollwith all the punches of the discordant dreamy vocals.

  • Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are Soul-Sensational

    Brooklyn songbird Sharon Jones strutted onstage like a woman donewrong, taking time to groove with no less than five audience membersplucked from the packed crowd at the Phoenix last night (Nov. 13). "Igotta get my mojo working!" she testified, tossing her long braids andcocking a hip as concertgoers sashayed in the aisles. Clad ina black baby doll dress highlighting curves you just don't see inCanada, the ex-correctional facility officer Jones was pure badditudeon tracks such as "Let Them Knock," "Keep On Looking" and theformidable "Nobody's Baby" off recent junior full-length 100 Days 100 Nights.The dapper Dap-Kings, a motley crew of mustachioed, porkpie-hatted anddouble-breasted suit wearing musicians (who also back Amy Winehouse)were Gillette-sharp, with undulating bass lines, bright blasts of brassand rhythmic bongo drumming that set Jones passionate voice aflame.

  • Taken by Trees, 'Open Field' (Rough Trade)

    After four albums with the Concretes, Swedish gamine Victoria Bergsman departed for the inevitable solo project; instead, her hollowed-out, achin'-to-be vocals added a rueful drone to Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks." Now, with minimalist production from Bjorn and John, Bergsman's new work has an introspective solitude -- wisps of mandolin, sparse coils of marimba, all-thumbs pianos, drunken xylo­phone. While her voice gave a certain gravitas to the Concretes' Spector-ish parade, here she confesses: "I don't wanna be left standing alone / Without a hand to hold." Now Hear This: Taken by Trees - "Lost and Found" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Ravens and Chimes

    Who? Bandmates Asher Lack (vocals/guitar/harmonium), Brittany Anjou (vocals/keyboard/ glockenspiel), Avery Brooks (keyboards), Abe Pollack (bass/mandolin) and Nora Kelleher (flute/vocals) crossed paths at NYU, studying music and screenwriting (Asher) at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Homeless and unemployed after graduation with Rich the drummer combating a dislocated shoulder, Ravens and Chimes flew between the equally freezing Montreal and New York to record with Arcade Fire producer Howard Bilerman (Funeral) in six-hour blocks only. Hipster hardship has been good to the band -- they're slated for an upcoming slot at CMJ and frenzied chatter in the blogosphere has tagged them as the next next Arcade Fire. What's the Deal? Debut full-length Reichenbach Falls, out Oct.

  • Five O'Clock Heroes Prove They're More Than 'Skin Deep'

    For those about to rock, the Five O'Clock Heroes feature the best of both ponds with sexy Strokes-like style and quality U.K.-influenced riffage. The New York via Northampton, England quartet create bouncy new wave jams smattered with ska and post-punk -- the fact that they do it with leather jackets and carefully disheveled manes is strictly icing. New single "Skin Deep" is a manic, panicked mix of snappy beats, jangly guitars and the best punk snarling since Strummer by singer Antony Ellis. With a snappy call and response chorus set to a simple to-and-fro ska melody, and heaped with elements perfected by Elvis Costello and the Jam, "Skin Deep" showcases a band that knows their influences and isn't afraid to take them onto 2007's dance floors. Bend to the Breaks, the band's U.S. debut long-player, breaks out Oct.

  • It Takes 'Two' For Film School

    San Francisco's Film School features five cinephiles cum indie rockers, fronted by mainstay Greg Bertens. Praised for their dreamy pop featuring keyboards and guitars that float by like puffy cumulus, the band recently recorded the soundtrack for comedian Demetri Martin's newest Internet shorts, Clearification. Now, Film School brush up their gossamer guitar-driven sonics for their sophomore studio effort, Hideout. The four-minute melancholic pop tresses of "Two Kinds" wafts with watery synths and swishing drums, displaying a slightly new wave edge that recalls the atmospheric wane of Joy Division and the Cure. "There's two kinds of love / And one we used to know," croons Bertens to a psychedelic soundscape that rises and falls with a hardened bass line and pretty, multilayered guitars. Moody, gothic and intense, Film School is definitely fit for the school of rock.

  • Hard-Fi Rocks the Suburbs

    Self-professed suburbanites (London by the way of Staines, Surrey) Hard-Fi sure have fluidly shifted from taking out Mom's trash to stacking stadiums as openers for Green Day's English outing. The group's ska-inflected rhythms and picket-fence leanings have never been as cogent than on new single "Suburban Knights." And yet, that's not enough for the swaggering foursome. Enlisting the help of fellow Londoner Alex Metric -- known for dissolving hits to their basest, most danceable elements (his remix of Metric's "Monster Hospital" eventually cascades the electric-pop tune to pure beats and breaths) -- "Suburban Knights" becomes an iron-clad combination of distended guitar fuzz and a gyrating, bleeding synth that sounds like the buzzing of bees. "We rock the satellites!" exclaims singer Richard Archer to a beat your booty can only understand.

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