Let’s get this out of the way: HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s 2015. Jeeze. I’m looking forward to January – and for the rest of the year – and I’m hopefully we’ll see a lot of great music coming through the speakers and stopping in Toronto. So yay for that. Here’s my list of what to look out for this month.
For those of you looking to get a jump start on your “Best Albums of 2015” lists…
Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Club Meds (Jan. 13, 2015)
Label: Arts & Crafts
Genre: Rock, folk
For fans of: Hayden, Okkervil River
Why you should care: While I wasn’t wholly impressed by Dan Mangan and company’s previewing of the Club Meds material at a late 2014 date, I’ve got high hopes for this album. I imagine the complex nuances performed by his newly-monikered Blacksmith band will sound better on record than they did at The Mod Club.
Listen to: “Vessel”
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Jan. 13, 2015)
Genre: Electronic, experimental
For fans of: Animal Collective, Ariel Pink
Why you should care: Animal Collective co-founder Noah Lennox returns with his follow-up to 2011’s Tomboy. Expect to fall down a rabbit hole of transfixing electronics that are detailed, complex, and probably more than a little difficult to digest.
Listen to: “Mr Noah”
Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Jan. 20, 2015)
Genre: Pop, indie
For fans of: Camera Obscura, of Montreal
Why you should care: Their ninth studio effort comes with high expectations (it’s Belle & Sebastian, after all), coming five years after 2010’s Write About Love. This new album hopes to capture more of a dance-party scene – the Glasgow band listening to vintage Detroit techno and working with Ben H. Allen III, whose past album credits include Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective.
Listen to: “The Party Line”
Hanni El Khatib – Moonlight (Jan. 20, 2015)
Label: Innovative Leisure
Genre: Rock, psychedelic
For fans of: Mikal Cronin, The Black Keys
Why you should care: Moving from Dan Auerbach’s studio to his own home-base looks to have paid off for Los Angeles’ Hanni El Khatib. His third album is already picking up buzz – and this could be the year things really steamroll for his desert rock offerings.
Listen to: “The Teeth”
Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love (Jan. 20, 2015)
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Punk, riot grrrl
For fans of: Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin
Why you should care: I’ve admittedly never been on the Sleater-Kinney bandwagon, but maybe this will change that. Already the Washington band’s “reunion” has fans giddy with excitement. Their 2015 record is their first in a decade.
Listen to: “Bury Our Friends”
The Phantom Band – Fears Trending (Jan. 26, 2015)
Label: Chemikal Underground
Genre: Rock, experimental
For fans of: San Fermin, We Were Promised Jetpacks
Why you should care: I honestly think Scotland’s The Phantom Band put out one of the most underrated albums of 2014 with Strange Friend. I’m happy to see they’re not waiting too long to put out its follow-up.
Listen to: “Tender Castle”
Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again (Jan. 27, 2015)
Genre: Psychedelic, grunge
For fans of: Tame Impala, MGMT
Why you should care: Widely known for their associations with Tame Impala (three of the five members are/were part of the band), Australia’s Pond look to further capitalize on the pysch genre’s increasing popularity.
Listen to: “Elvis’ Flaming Star”
How many concerts are you planning to get to for 2015? If it’s a lot, January might make that goal difficult as it isn’t exactly brimming with possibility in Toronto: most bands are wise enough to skip our fair city until warmer weather arrives. That said, I promise there are still a few shows worth your time and chilled bones.
Lia Ices @ The Drake, Jan. 17, 2015
Genre: Folk, alternative
Why you should go: Things have been on the rise for Lia Ices after she landed a song on an episode of HBO’s Girls. Her show at the Drake Hotel is part of a swing through North America’s East Coast where she’ll be joined by Montreal’s Seoul.
Listen to: “Higher”
Pharmakon @ S.H.I.B.G.B’s, Jan. 17, 2015
Tickets: $13 online / $15 at doors
Why you should go: Pitchfork declared Margaret Chardiet a person to watch in the noise music scene. And her latest album Bestial Burden ranked #5 on our Top 25 Albums of 2014 list. Those are good enough reasons right?
Listen to: “Body Betrays Itself”
The Vaselines @ Lee’s Palace, Jan. 19, 2015
Genre: Alternative, rock
Why you should go: The Glasgow-formed, Sub Pop-signed band formed in 1986, so they obviously come with tons of experience. Their show at Lee’s Palace is their first in Toronto since 2010.
Listen to: “High Tide Low Tide”
Sam Smith @ Air Canada Centre, Jan. 20, 2015
Tickets: $47.00 – $91.50
Genre: Pop, soul
Why you should go: Toronto has been starved for a Sam Smith concert – the popular British singer canceling his previously scheduled September Kool Haus date and many people missing out on his packed show at the Mod Club in April. His January return sees him playing to a much larger room. Expect a lot of high pitched screaming and mom-daughter dates.
Listen to: “I’m Not The Only One”
London Grammar @ Sound Academy, Jan. 21, 2015
Tickets: Sold Out
Genre: Pop, electronic
Why you should go: After rescheduling their November date at the Danforth Music Hall, London Grammar will test fan dedication by asking people to journey all the way to the infamous Sound Academy. Will it be worth the winter journey? Stay tuned!
Listen to: “Nightcall”
Zola Jesus @ Horseshoe Tavern, Jan. 22, 2015
Genre: Psychedelic, pop
Why you should go: The 25 year-old artist comes with 2014’s Taiga – a work she describes as: “Massive, with big brass and beats, [and] crystal clear vocals.” See how that newfound fidelity translates live.
Listen to: “Dangerous Days”
deadmau5 @ Guvernment, Jan. 25, 2015
Tickets: Sold Out
Genre: Electronic, house
Why you should go: While I’m hugely uninterested in going to see deadmau5 (sorry, kids – DJ sets just aren’t my scene), this marks the final show for the Kool Haus/Guvernment complex. Go shed some tears over the venue’s closing on my behalf, please.
Listen to: “Seeya”
Owen Pallett @ Lee’s Palace, Jan. 31, 2015 (x2)
Genre: Chamber pop, experimental
Why you should go: The ever-so-talented Canadian musician plays two shows at Lee’s Palace – a 2:00 pm matinee and a 9:00 pm set. Skip the hassle of deciding between shows and choose the better option: go to both.
Listen to: “In Conflict”