CMW showcase – coast to coast dynamic duos
Since the dissolution of the White Stripes, the Black Keys are the go to two-person band nowadays, or, depending on your style of music, Tenacious D.
From coast to coast, Canadian duos are starting to make a comeback, in a time where most bands are trying to get the fullest and most powerful sound they can, forgetting the amount of beauty that can be found in simplicity.
Here are just a few examples displayed at CMW from across the country of potent pairs making waves in the indie music scene these days.
Miesha & The Spanks
This girl and guy duo from Calgary, Alta., is a true testament to what one girl’s dream with a guitar can really accomplish. Miesha Louie, the front woman of the band, has a rough around the edges garage style rock appeal with sassy vocals and downright dirty guitar licks that make for an entrancing electric experience. Add in the spanks from a powerful drummer, and you’ve got a solid combination.
“I had been holding onto the name “The Spanks” since high school, dreaming of starting an all girl punk rock band,” explained Louie. “When that fell apart, I put my name in, that way if members came and went, at least the name was mine.”
CMW has been an aspiration for Louie since her band’s inception in 2008, but this was the first year they were invited, although they have graced North by North East a few years running now.
“We were invited to CMW after getting home from the Halifax Pop Explosion. I find it intriguing because this is more of the business side of music rather than just a music festival. It’s my first time working with such an organized team.”
Louie started the project off as an acoustic solo project, but wanted it to grow into something more, although she still breaks down her tunes to play unplugged sets and coffee houses.
“It’s pretty much based on typical garage rock,” euphemized Louie. “Started off as acoustic really, but I definitely evolved playing with this new drummer, he’s really scrappy. I only started playing electric guitar when we started this band.”The Mad Ones
What’s in a name? With these two guys from Toronto, their moniker pretty much sums it up. They’re a couple of wild and crazy guys that love to jam. Front man and guitarist Andrew DeVillers and drummer Phil Wilson slay the set with powerful guitar riffs and grungy vocals, along with rampant drums to fill the room with an in your face attitude and a wall of sound.
Both playing in other bands prior to this, they had a vision for something simpler, yet to bring their music to new levels. The Mad Ones gave them exactly what they were looking for.
They’ve definitely found their groove together with their newest EP, Burning Window, compared to their first release, Behaviour, which they attribute to finally getting used to only playing as a two-piece.
“Some of the first album was written before this band found its legs, this new EP is a more solified version of what we’re here to do,” said DeVillers.
“It’s been a year-and-a-half of playing just the two of us, and getting used ot it,” said Wilson.
Their favourite part of CMW this year was playing their set Thursday night, March 21 at the Great Hall. The set was a blast of fast energetic rock, sampling songs from both their first LP and the new EP, and the band never failed to enthuse the crowd and they themselves were all smiles throughout the entire show.
This is all about a couple brothers, Maxime and Guillaume, from the heart of Quebec City, doing what they love to do – make music.
Needing not to bring in members from outside the family, the two Chiasson brothers rock distorted guitar and rock drums to create a unique blend of pop, folk and rock, influenced primarily by 60s rock and 80s punk.
“It’s not so much about the words as it is about the music. We have fun playing together. We thought about bringing in a third member at one point, but we realized that just the two of us together works well,” said Guillaume.
Being from the far North corner of the province, the brothers loved coming to CMW for their first year, to not only show Canada what French music is all about, but also to rub elbows with the rest of what Canada has to offer its indie fans.
“Since it’s our first time, it’s a nice way for us to expland our fan base, since we pretty much only have a french crowd,” said Guillaume. “We’ve had a few chances before to play for an english crowd, had a good response, but now we’re trying to push it a little bit. So far, so good.”
“We don’t feel language boundaries.”
The brothers have just released their debut album, 27 Club, and are ready to hit the ground running for a full Canadian tour.
The Town Heroes – not just a clever name. Hailing from the east coast of Canada, – Halifax, N.S. – they aim to bring their prestige from the small city to the rest of Canada, and soon internationally. After releasing their debut LP, Birds and Fear, things have being steadily rising for the maritimes duo, soon to release their sophomore album.
“After we released the first album, we toured the east coast, started to pick up a little momentum which brought us overseas for a few shows in Europe,” said front man Mike Ryan. “We just signed to our first label, Warner.”
They had just finished producing their second album right before being signed, and were left with a thousand copies they couldn’t do anything with as they had to remaster the album through Warner Music.
“We’ll probably just be playing frisbee with them and putting them in toasters, maybe use them as coasters,” joked Ryan.
The new album, titled Sunday Movies, offers a little more instrumentals and fuller sound, same stlye of alternative rock inspired by the 90s.
“It sounds like a big mash-up of all the styles from all the Big Shiny Tunes from over the years,” said Ryan. “We know exactly where we’re going musically, and Bruce (Gillis) always does what he needs to on drums for me, he doesn’t mess around.”
Ryan says that the band dynamic is so solid because there’s only their two opinions, and if there are creative differences, they just hash it out between the two of them.
This is their second time hitting up CMW, their first time they were flown in pro bono after winning a music writing contest.
“It’s not often there’s a gathering of this many musicians and like minded individuals,” said Ryan. “Plus we get to mingle with cool cats in the media like you so it’s a lot of fun.”
Story by Devin Size