It’s December! How is it December? I’m clearly still trying to wrap my head around 2014 almost being over and done.
With just one more month of the year to go, there are definitely some concerts happening in the city that’ll be worth braving the winter weather for. December’s great album releases are a little bit more on the sparse side of things, but there are still some gems in there to give you temporary respite from the Christmas carols.
So before you get swarmed by endless piles of “2014 best-of” lists (ours included!), here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on in Toronto for December.
December isn’t exactly notorious for producing the best albums of the year (unless, of course, Beyonce decides to drop another surprise album, a la 2013…) That doesn’t mean it’s totally hopeless, though. Here are some releases worth adding to your listening lists.
Walk the Moon – Talking is Hard (Dec. 2, 2014)
Genre: Rock, pop
For fans of: Atlas Genius, Grouplove
Why you should care: The Cincinnati band gave fans a surprise listen to the album by releasing it on Spotify a week ahead of schedule. It’s chock full of bouncy pop hooks and catchy, likeable choruses – sure to stick around in your head and make menial holiday chores a bit more fun.
Listen to: “Different Colours”
Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow (Dec. 2, 2014)
Label: Warner Brothers
For fans of: Uh, any of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan’s solo projects?
Why you should care: As the saying goes: Wu-Tang Forever.
Listen to: “Ruckus in B Minor”
Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons (Dec. 9, 2014)
Label: Salvation/Tommy Boy
For fans of: Wu-Tang Clan (duh), Nas
Why you should care: Consequence of Sound favoured Ghostface’s solo album more than the latest Wu release, saying: “36 Seasons is the result of consummate artistic process and taste – a complete album both lyrically and musically.”
Listen to: “The Battlefield”
Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint (Dec. 15, 2014)
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Republic
Genre: Hip hop
For fans of: Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea
Why you should care: She’s one of the most ubiquitous names in hip hop right now and this is the album that’s already sparked controversy over the oh-look-there’s-a-whole-lot-of-butts in “Anaconda” and oh-look-there’s-a-whole-lot-of-blatant-Nazi-imagery in “Only”. If anything, it’ll be the album to get your family talking around the dinner table.
Listen to: “Bed of Lies”
Charli XCX – Sucker (Dec. 15, 2014)
Label: Asylum/Atlantic/Neon Gold
Genre: Pop, electronic
For fans of: Katy Perry, Marina & the Diamonds
Why you should care: With the pop star adding influences of Weezer, The Hives, and The Ramones to her arsenal, expect the 22-year-old to pack this record with a lot of punch.
Listen to: “Boom Clap”
It’s not too late to up your concert count for the year and go to at least 250 shows. Or, y’know, a more reasonable (/sane) number. Here’s some of Toronto’s upcoming highlights for December:
Yusuf / Cat Stevens @ Massey Hall – Dec. 1, 2014
Tickets: $80.00 – $295.00
Genre: Folk, psychedelic
Why you should go: C’mon – how often does Cat Stevens tour? If you do go, please note there seem to be extensive security measures taken for this tour – so be prepared for a full pat down by security.
Listen to: “Wild World”
Field Trip Discovery Series VI @ The Drake Underground – Dec. 4, 2014
Tickets: Free with RSVP
Genre: Indie, electronic
Why you should go: Field Trip and Scion Sessions caps off 2014 with the sixth and final edition of their Discovery Series. This one features a showcase with Calvin Love, New Hands, Aron D’Alesio, and Michael Rault and – in even better news – it’s all free if you RSVP! – But wait, it gets even better-er. There will be free copies of Volume 1 & 2 of the Field Trip Discovery Series 7″s available at the show too.
Listen to: Calvin Love – “Cool”
Jamie T @ The Mod Club – Dec. 6, 2014
Genre: Alternative, rock
Why you should go: He’s bringing plenty of buzz to his Mod Club performance – even though he hasn’t quite “broken” over here yet. Jamie T’s Carry on the Grudge album ended up at number 8 on NME’s list of the 50 best albums of the year.
Listen to: “Zombie”
O-Town @ Lee’s Palace – Dec. 8, 2014
Tickets: $26.50 – $40.00
Why you should go: Everyone loves a reunion! Unfortunately the $40.00 meet and greet tickets are already sold out, but given how tiny Lee’s Palace is you can at least expect to be in close proximity to O-Town. Yes, that O-Town. (Just, sadly, sans-Ashley Parker Angel.)
Listen to: “Liquid Dreams” (I hope they play this more than once.)
GWAR @ The Opera House – Dec. 9, 2014
Genre: Thrash metal, hardcore
Why you should go: If you do go, bring a poncho. I won’t be there. I will probably still be wearing a poncho out of sure terror/preparation, anyway.
Listen to: “Madness at the Core of Time”
The Hold Steady @ The Horseshoe Tavern – Dec. 10, 11, 12, 13, 2014
Why you should go: Playing four back-to-back dates at the Horseshoe Tavern is sure to delight diehard fans of the Brooklyn band. Expect Craig Finn to point a lot.
Listen to: “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You”
Justin Timberlake @ Air Canada Centre – Dec. 10, 2014
Tickets: $65.00 – $195.00
Why you should go: Justin Timberlake is a lesson in how to transition out of boy band status gracefully. Plus he’s an all around entertainer and the ACC is sure to be full of shrieking women and men alike.
Listen to: “Cry Me A River”
Jason Collett’s Basement Revue @ Adelaide Hall, Dec. 18, 2014
Why you should go: Every year, Jason Collett puts on a seasonal revue that gives talented artists, writers, and generally cool people a chance to perform in front of an attentive audience. While three of the nights take place at the lovely and intimate Dakota Tavern, he’s also expanded it out to Adelaide Hall – giving more fans a chance to experience the event and celebrate the holidays. You never know who’s going to be there (with past guests including Broken Social Scene cohorts like Feist and Kevin Drew, as well as Canadian literary talent such as Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje), and that’s half the fun.
Listen to: “I’ll Bring the Sun”
Jhene Aiko @ Sound Academy, Dec. 18, 2014
Tickets: $47.25 – $72.25
Genre: R&B, soul
Why you should go: After opening up for The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko returns to the city on the strength of her own name. It doesn’t hurt that the 26-year-old has already collaborated with Drake and Childish Gambino, so hope for/expect some other big names to stop by.
Listen to: “The Worst”
Rich Aucoin @ Lee’s Palace – Dec. 31, 2014
Genre: Rock, pop
Why you should go: What’s more fun than a Rich Aucoin show? Try a Rich Aucoin show additionally billed as “the greatest karaoke set ever!” And that, my friends, is how you ring in the New Year in style.
Listen to: “Are You Experiencing?”
Stay tuned for Live in Limbo’s year-end “best of” list(s), because they’re coming! Oh yes. They’re coming. Have a wonderful December, a very happy holidays, and here’s to hoping you had as great a year of music as I did. No pressure, 2015.