The underground music scene in the Greater Toronto Area is filled with noteworthy artists. From Toronto’s Roach, Spirit Desire, and Doctors Hate Her, to Guelph’s Drunk at the Library, Hamilton’s Sea of Troubles, and Mississauga’s Mildew Mildew, a lack of variety does not exist. There’s indie-rock, noise-pop, alt-country, post-hardcore, and dream-pop bands just a few train stops from one another. Despite the pandemic, many of these local bands have completed and release some quality projects.
With that said, welcome to the inaugural M List: a bi-weekly roundup of the moment in A&E. Our series kicks off with some of the hottest local indie bands of the summer.
Mildew Mildew – Chopped Lumps
Mildew Mildew is a Mississauga-based noise-pop band. Chopped Lumps is their debut album, which is important to keep in mind when you consider it’s also a double-album spanning 22 songs long, a lengthy 59 minutes. Throughout this full-length EP, Mildew Mildew seamlessly switches back and forth between funk-rock, noise-pop, art-punk, and industrial-rock. The vocals, sung by Nolan Japukovski and Ali Garvin, shift from conventionally pleasing to anxiety-inducing with ease. The band flexes their rhythm on tracks like “Scissorkicks” and “Big Snuggly Wuggly Hug,” where the bass and drums lock into some unusual and infectious grooves.
Mildew Mildew’s Chopped Lumps is an intersection between The Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? and Talking Head’s Fear of Music — required listening for fans of either band.
Westelaken – The Golden Days are Hard
On its Bandcamp page, Westelaken introduces The Golden Days are Hard with an explanation: “here’s an album what’s [sic] got ten types of songs.” The band was right to do so, because the number of genres they blend together throughout this album makes it hard to categorize. They describe themselves as a country band, but they have hints of pop, indie-rock, and art-punk sure to tickle your ears. The way Westelaken incorporates different genres into their music allows them to make five-minute songs fly by in seconds, maybe best heard in “The January Song.”
The immaculate production makes The Golden Days are Hard nearly indistinguishable from a high-budget major studio release. There are motifs that run throughout the album, like the piano lick in the opening seconds of the album. The lyrics are incredible and turn some songs into the “dying type of songs,” which is how the band describes “The April Song.”
This album is for fans of Modest Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Microphones.
Daffodil – i don’t know what’s wrong
Daffodil is a two-piece band with only one release: i don’t know what’s wrong. I won’t even try categorizingthis album. It’s dreamy, chaotic, and unpredictable at every turn. It switches from loud to subdued and back again without warning. The structures of the songs make each one feel like three shorter ones stitched together. And I say all of this as a compliment.
This EP, composed of five songs and only twenty-four minutes long, is a unique experience. You might draw comparisons to Animal Collective at some points, but by the time you do, they’ve started sounding more like Sleater-Kinney. It’s an album that’s disorienting and hard to pin down, but if you seek something unlike anything else, Daffodil is the band for you.
Glutenhead – Glutenhead
Glutenhead is a Toronto band composed of six people. Their self-titled EP is six tracks long and filled with slacker-rock gems. There are moments in this album that’ll make your hips move, moments that’ll make your head bob, and moments bound to make you sing along. The lyrics are funny and sad at the same time, a fascinating mix that allows you to relate to the music without it ruining your day.
Every musician plays impeccably. Guitars, drums, bass, and vocals all come together to form a coordinated mess where even imperfections seem calculated. This is slacker-rock made with care.
If you like Built to Spill or Pavement, this is for you. There’s not much to say other than Glutenhead made a fantastic, concise, and fun listening experience. They also get points for having the coolest name.
While the pandemic rages on, and we’re stuck inside, local musicians keep drumming up hype. There’s something to check out no matter what you like to listen to. Whether you’re looking for something smooth and simple, chaotic and experimental, or some mix in-between, there are exciting underground bands on the rise. Don’t be shy to try them out just because they’re not popular! When we get through this pandemic and come together again, we’ll have new concerts to circle on our calendars.