March Toronto Music & Concerts Tip Sheet

February has come and gone and holy jeeze, we’re already on the third month of 2015. If you’re like the rest of the sane people of Toronto, you’re hoping for WARMER WEATHER. Personally, I’m hoping for warmer temperatures but also more snow because I don’t think we’ve gotten enough. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I’m sticking to it. Hopefully the rest of my March recommendations/picks are slightly less controversial. Either way: here are some albums and concerts to help get you through the final throes of winter. Assuming it ever ends.

ALBUMS

Sorry Kanye West – all of the below albums have pre-scheduled release dates. But we’ll still listen to So Help Me God whenever you decide to drop it. Don’t worry.

Purity Ring – Another Eternity (March 3, 2015)

Label: 4AD

Genre: Pop, electronic

For fans of: CHVRCHES, Phantogram, Grimes

Why you should care: People have been waiting for Purity Ring to put out a follow-up to their excellent 2012 debut, Shrines. Big on electronic hooks, R&B influences, and deceptively sweet vocals, they’re bound to pick up a bunch of new fans with the effort. Spoiler alert: new Purity Ring sounds like CHVRCHES.

Listen to: “Begin Again

ANAMAI – Sallows (March 10, 2015)

Label: Buzz Records

Genre: Folk, slowcore

For fans of: HSY, Egyptrixx, Kate Bush

Why you should care: I haven’t heard this album yet, but I know people who have and all of them are raving raving raving. Not literally raving, since you’d have a hard time getting a dance party going to these moody tunes – but, you know, saying really great things about it.

Listen to: “Half

Will Butler – Policy (March 10, 2015)

Label: Merge

Genre: Indie, alternative

For fans of: Arcade Fire, Joel Plaskett, Talking Heads

Why you should care: Will Butler’s debut solo effort is bound to inspire buzz – as a founding member of Arcade Fire, he’s got the eyes and ears of basically every Canadian. “Anna”, an album single, has already proven the younger Butler is probably responsible for any and all of AF’s quirk/whimsy. 

Listen to: “Anna

Modest Mouse – Strangers To Ourselves (March 17, 2015)

Label: Epic

Genre: Rock, alternative

For fans of: Built to Spill, Neutral Milk Hotel, Andrew Jackson Jihad

Why you should care: After seeing Modest Mouse play a pretty underwhelming show at Osheaga last year, I’m admittedly still excited to see what the band’s first new album in eight years will bring. Hopefully a better sound mix than their festival live show, that’s for sure.

Listen to: “Lampshades On Fire

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. (March 24, 2015)

Label: Milk!/Marathon/V2

Genre: Folk, rock

For fans of: Bob Dylan, Angel Olsen, Ought

Why you should care: The album title alone resonates deeply with me. Outside of that, this also marks Courtney Barnett’s first official album. She’s a deeply talented songwriter/lyricist so I’ve got high hopes for this one.

Listen to: “Pedestrian At Best

Laura Marling – Short Movie (March 24, 2015)

Label: Virgin EMI

Genre: Folk, indie

For fans of: Emmy the Great, Noah and the Whale, Ryan Adams

Why you should care: Based on a quick survey of people I know, fans of folk music are huge fans of Laura Marling. Like, huge. Now’s a good a time as ever to see where all that cult-like adoration comes from.

Listen to: “False Hope

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (March 31, 2015)

Label: Constellation

Genre: Post-rock, instrumental

For fans of: A Silver Mt. Zion, Swans, Mogwai

Why you should care: They polarized the Canadian music community by living up to the “polar” part of the 2013 Polaris Prize Award (see: winning, not showing up, then issuing a critique about the award and its ceremony.) People that weren’t paying attention to GY!BE before definitely were then. They probably don’t care what you think, but expect this record to get people talking all over again.

Listen to: “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light! (excerpt)

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (March 31, 2015)

Label: Asthmatic Kitty

Genre: Folk, indie

For fans of: St. Vincent, Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear

Why you should care: If you felt Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz (2010) was a bit too experimental and electronic for your liking, you’ll be happy to note he’s returning to his indie folk roots on his seventh studio album. It’s going to get pretty and also probably pretty sad. Sigh.

Listen to: “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross

CONCERTS

If you’re me, you’re seeing St. Vincent a bunch of times. And hey! You can even follow along on this weird adventure my friend is kidnapping me for. Outside of (/including) Queen Annie Clark, there are a lot of great concerts on the schedule. No excuses for being bored in Toronto!

Hozier @ Massey Hall (March 2, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: Blues, pop

Why you should go: We’re all pretty sick of “Take Me To Church” at this point, as perfect a pop song as it may be. You have to admit though… It’s going to sound damn good ringing through Massey Hall.

Listen to: “From Eden

Sleater-Kinney @ Sound Academy (March 2, 2015)

Tickets: $35.00 – $48.50

Genre: Rock, riot grrrl

Why you should go: Back in the January tip sheet, I professed to not being on Sleater-Kinney’s bandwagon. Then I said maybe No Cities To Love, their first album in a decade, would change that. It did. Go to this show (even if it is at Sound Academy) because that album is fantastic.

Listen to: “Surface Envy

St. Vincent @ Danforth Music Hall (March 3 & 4, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: Alternative, pop

Why you should go: There are probably 43 good shows happening on March 3 (including: Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Garrison; 2:54 at The Silver Dollar; The Dodos at The Horseshoe; and Wolf Alice at the Drake Hotel), but smart money is on St. Vincent. Both times. Or ten times this year, if my calculations of how-many-times-I’m-seeing-Annie-Clark-in-2015 are correct. Apologies in advance, Ms. Clark. I swear it’s my friend’s doing. But legitimate reasons aside, St. Vincent ended up on a whole whack of “best concerts of the year” list for 2014. There’s reason for it.

Listen to: “Bad Believer

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls @ Horseshoe Tavern (March 9, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: Folk, rock

Why you should go: Frank Turner puts on the “we’re all in a big, sweaty group hug” kind of show that other artists aspire to. With a very sold out show at the Horseshoe Tavern, expect the sweat factor to be extra high.

Listen to: “I Am Disappeared

Travi$ Scott & Young Thug @ Danforth Music Hall (March 10, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: Rap, hip hop

Why you should go: I don’t know Young Thug’s body of work very well (or at all), but my friend whose judgment I trust and who also really likes rap music is HYPED about this show so that bodes well.

Listen to: “Some More

Pentatonix @ Sound Academy (March 11 & 12, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: A cappella, pop

Why you should go: They’ll probably do a lot of things in the singing department that you’ll never see with any other band or even imagine humanly possible.

Listen to: “Daft Punk

Broods @ Danforth Music Hall (March 20, 2015)

Tickets: $21.50

Genre: Electronic, pop

Why you should go: This young New Zealand band was one of the best things I saw at CMW 2014. The Danforth Music Hall is a considerably bigger venue than The Drake Underground so it’s all looking up. Plus you can get a taste of them now before you see them at Wayhome this summer. 

Listen to: “Four Walls

Tobias Jesso Jr. @ The Drake Hotel (March 22, 2015)

Tickets: Sold Out

Genre: Baroque, pop

Why you should go: Yeah it always kind of sounds like he’s going to burst into the Cheers theme song, but if you get past that Tobias Jesso Jr.’s got a whole lot of head-turning talent to appreciate since the release of Goon. I’m half expecting this to get moved to a bigger room – but sorry to everyone that will be missing out if it doesn’t.

Listen to: “How Could You Babe

Ibeyi @ The Mod Club (March 27, 2015)

Tickets: $17.50

Genre: Trip-hop, electronic

Why you should go: Speaking of moving rooms – the Ibeyi sisters sold out the Drake Hotel so this got moved to the Mod Club. Get tickets before they sell out again. Lots of talent from a duo on a steady, steep rise. It’s really beautiful stuff.

Listen to: “River

That’s it for March! Have a great month of music and if I missed anything (slash if you think there’s anything I desperately need to be listening to/at,) politely yell at me on Twitter or send me an email. Also: is everyone else already planning their summer? Festival season is coming – and fast. But first, more snow please.

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