VIDEO - The Pack a.d. - Sirens

"The Pack a.d.'s first single, Sirens, off of their album, Unpersons. Finally, we have our video for it thanks to the direction of Lloyd Choi and the erratic styles of Mr. Josh."

~ via The Pack a.d.

Show Review: Said The Whale - We Are The City

Canadian indie shows coming through Metro Detroit can be a lot like rare bird sightings. They happen with little warning and appear at odd times. Most people aren't even aware of the event. Some people see them and don't know the significance. But for a few, getting a glimpse of the Vancouver whale warbler or the Kelowna mourning dove and hearing their songs is something special.

We're kidding about the birds, but the bands are real. On Sun., Oct. 16, Vancouver's Said The Whale and Kelowna, BC's We Are The City flew into town for their first visit to Michigan at the Crofoot's Pike Room, earning a spot on our top shows of 2011 list.

We Are The City had a fly-by last March when they played Windsor's Phog Lounge. This time the band-- Cayne McKenzie at the mic and keys, Andrew Huculiak at the kit and guitarist David Menzel-- brought their forte/piano, creative, progressive alt pop to Pontiac. We love McKenzie's agile, Broadway musical vocals and the variety of their songs . Some have jazz inflections, some are just fun, some are thoughtful; some are just bites of musical bliss like "Dark/Warm Air" (with Huculiak taking a turn at singing).

Whether Said The Whale is winning America remains to be seen, but they'd won us over even before "Emerald Lake, AB," became our NXNE 2010 theme song. In 2011, they won over Juno voters to take home the New Group of the Year award; their video for "Lines," an homage to the movie Back to the Future, was voted Best Video by CBC Radio 3 listeners in the 2011 Bucky Awards. The band is personable, engaging and earnest, on stage and off. So are their irresistible songs that frequently evoke a strong sense of place ("Mermaid sits on a tide-washed rock in the harbour..."), and robust harmonies led by heartthrob Tyler Bancroft's appealing tenor to Ben Worcester's grainier counterpoint.

As the band prepares to release Little Mountain, the much-anticipated follow-up to their debut LP Islands Disappear, in March, whale-watchers will be happy to know the band is returning in April with not one, but two dates: Apr. 16 at Windsor's Capitol Theatre, and Apr. 17 at PJ's Lager House in Detroit. No binoculars required.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Our Top Shows of 2011

Notice something conspicuously absent in that title? The number 10.

Out of the 108 bands/performers we saw in 2011, we couldn't choose just 10. Because it's our blog and we'll do what we want to, here is our list, in chronological order, of our top shows from last year. Our criteria: it just had to be an experience that for whatever reason-- musically, emotionally, artistically-- was particularly memorable out of all the great shows we saw. Truly, we are continually amazed by the talent that's out there in Canadian indie. Note: since we did a Top Ten list for NXNE, we did not include any of those shows here.

Jenny Omnichord, Wax Mannequin

Les Jupes, Wheat Pool

The Rural Alberta Advantage

(wh)y.m.e.(??), Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, Rich Aucoin, Gobble Gobble (now Born Gold)

My Son the Hurricane, D-Sisive (with Muneshine)

Hey Rosetta!

Fucked Up

Parlovr, Handsome Furs

Great Lake Swimmers

The Besnard Lakes, Malajube

We Are The City, Said The Whale

Will Currie & the Country French, Library Voices

Shred Kelly

Field Assembly, The Locusts Have No King, Sunparlour Players, The Sadies

Danny Michel

VIDEO ~ I Won't Try To Break Your Heart • Crissi Cochrane

"I Won't Try To Break Your Heart", the single from folk/pop artist Crissi Cochrane's Pretty Alright EP (Nov 2011). Directed and shot by Sasha Jordan Appler at the Phog Lounge in Windsor, Ontario, featuring a white dress made by Crissi.    

Thanks to Tom and Frank at Phog, and all the locals who took part.

For more info or to buy music, please visit

It's not like we're bitter*

... about all the business cards we'll have to change now that we finally got rid of our clunky Twitter handle.

You can now tweet us at:  @n2ds2w

Yaa, we get it.

*With thanks to Shad

Hunting for a Hands & Teeth CD?

That's right, boys and girls. TWO of you can be the proud owners of Hands & Teeth's debut full-length album, Hunting Season, which will be officially released on Jan. 17. If you can attend their upcoming show on Fri., Jan. 13 at Windsor's Phog Lounge, the first two people to email us will receive a Hands & Teeth - Hunting Season CD.
US and Canada only, please.

 Listen here:

From the band's CBC Radio 3 artist page:

"Hands & Teeth, a Toronto-based five-piece, demonstrate what can be created when friends unite through a love of good food and complex harmonies. Hands & Teeth's sound is an artful fusion of pop, classical composition, angular guitar rock and inventive rhythms. It tastefully sweeps from whisper-quiet ballads to roaring anthems, reflecting each member’s eclectic past. Since the band is composed of musicians who were leaders of their own individual projects, each member takes an active role in all elements of production, from song writing to lead vocals." Listen

Road Trip!

We're pretty lucky when it comes to Canadian indie bands playing the Metro Detroit/Windsor area. But if bands we want to see don't come to N2D-- well, N2D will go to the bands.

Sarnia's an easy hour drive for us; we've even hauled to London and back. So when we found out The Besnard Lakes and Malajube were playing Oct. 5 in Kalamazoo, and Hollerado the next night in East Lansing, the answer to "What are we going to do?" was "Road trip!"

Although paired with The Besnard Lakes, one of our top 10 shows of 2010 and an all-around favourite (review here), we would have journeyed to the land of K-Zoo just to see Malajube making their first appearance in Michigan. It's a shame most of the crowd at The Strutt that night were probably saying "Mala-who?", because this award-winning Francophone band and their intelligent, nuanced, melodic rock deserves a much wider audience.

They've been around since 2004; they scored the film The Trotsky; the last three of their four albums have all been either short- or long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize. The way we see it, there are no barriers, linguistic or otherwise, to appreciating great music. So we applaud the one person who shouted "Porte disparu!" Lead singer Julien Mineau politely declined the request; instead, with one exception ("Cristobald" from Labyrinthes), their entire set list was made up of songs from their latest album, La Caverne.

After a stay at the budget-friendly and tres acceptable Red Roof Inn Kalamazoo East, we headed for East Lansing by way of the Gilmore Car Museum and a lot of rural roads through rolling farmland. Our destination: Macs Bar, a blast from the past for one of us and a venue so no-frills it doesn't even need an apostrophe.

With their water-spouting, confetti showers and other on-stage antics, we can't think of a band better suited for a college town than Hollerado.We'd been trying to catch up with them since NXNE 2010, when six months after winning $250,000 in a contest, they not only rocked Toronto's Hard Rock Cafe but let the audience order whatever they wanted on the rocks with a 10-minute open bar on their tab.

Look beyond the frat house mentality and you'll find pop rock with irresistibly catchy hooks and singalong lyrics that range from clever to poignant to whimsical. They were nominated for a Juno in 2011 (Best New Group, which went to Said The Whale). Their catalog of videos are as fun and engaging as their music ("Americanarama" has more than a million views and won Best Video in the 2010 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards; "Good Day At The Races," which features the band racing ostriches, was also nominated for Best Video). Even their website is a hoot. Although they've released some new singles recently, we know there are a lot of fans waiting for a follow-up to the enormously popular Record In A Bag; count us among them.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images,
Lincoln photo --->