Guelph residents are a bit confused at the line-up for this year’s Hillside Music Festival. No big headliners and very few buzz bands, just a lot of unfamiliar names. But, faithful to the festival as always, fans have scooped up all available tickets and will turn out in droves for Guelph’s biggest summer festivity this weekend. If you are one of those confused festival-goers, with no idea which unknown band to choose over the others, I’m here to help! I’ve cobbled together 15 tracks from different bands that I’m most excited for. So hit play and take note of the songs that catch your fancy. The planning phase of your stage-hopping schedule begins now.
Aidan Knight – A Mirror // Aidan puts on a hell of a live show. This Calgary native released a new album last October and will no doubt be touting those tracks during this performance. Check out more tracks here.
Whitehorse – Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song) // Whitehorse is Luke Doucet and Melissa McLelland, both legends in the Canadian folk scene who got hitched and formed a band together. CBC favourites and great live energy. If we’re lucky, we might just catch some of Melissa’s famed piano skills. New album in August! Check out more here.
Indians – I Am Haunted // Indians are a Danish band who sing fuzzy, reverbed-out rock songs. If you like Youth Lagoon, check out Indians. More here.
Jim Guthrie – Taking My Time // I’m pretty excited to see Mr. Guthrie. Jim just released a new album called Takes Time, and it’s pure folk rock gold. Catchy, witty, wonderful songwriting and so well-produced, with a style that brings together classic genres with more modern electronic indie rock feel. Oh yea, and he’s from Guelph (but lives in Toronto). More here.
Reuben and the Dark – Shoulderblade // Is a newcomer to the folk scene in Canada. Hailing from Calgary, Reuben Bullock released a powerful debut album via Arts & Crafts. With a voice and songwriting that sounds like an in-tune Connor Oberst, Reuben’s songs are jump from a soulful brood to a soaring chorus in the blink of an eye. Check him out here.
Snowblink – Unsurfed Waves // Snowblink are another Canadian band on the Arts & Crafts roster. They create stripped-down, hazy post-rock. Check out more here.
AroarA – #14 are a Montreal-based husband/wife duo. Andrew Whiteman has worked with Canadian big-leaguers Broken Social Scene and Apostle of Hustle, so you know he’s inventive, creative, and talented. More here.
Snowden – The Beat Comes // Like Edward of the same name, Snowden will leak delicious soundbites all over the place this weekend. If you’re looking to dance, Snowden might be one of the best chances you’ll get. They’re from Atlanta and you can learn more here.
The Darcys – The River // This track is off The Darcys’ upcoming album, to be released September 17th. One listen and you’ll be hooked on the unique sound of this art/alt rock band from Toronto. Yet another Arts & Crafts roster member. More here.
Young Benjamins – Bones // Young Benjamins are from Saskatoon and have been making waves with their debut album, released in May. They’ve turned the heads of Stars and Austra, both of whom have enlisted them as supporting acts in the past. ‘Bones’ was a pre-album single. Check out more here.
July Talk – The Garden // The Garden is a gritty blues song from Toronto duo July Talk. This duet features classic push/pull lyrics full of gravel and whiskey. You can listen to July Talk’s excellent debut album over on their bandcamp page.
Kopecky Family Band – Heartbeat // This isn’t actually a family band per se, but they’ve fostered a homegrown sound that could convince us otherwise. Heartbeat is a lively folk rock song off their most recent album, ‘Kids Raising Kids’. Check out more of these guys right here.
Two Hours Traffic – Territory // Two Hours Traffic haven’t really grown up. Which is a good thing, considering their sound has always embodied the youthful energy of a life without responsibility. Distinctly Canadian and carrying a hint of the east coast wherever they go, Two Hours Traffic are Hillside favourites and never disappoint. More here.
Niyaz – Parishaan // Ever heard of Namgar? Yea, probably not. They’re a Mongolian group that blends traditional nomadic East Asian folk music with modern electronic beats, and they’re awesome. When I first heard Parishaan, I immediately thought of Namgar, and that’s a really good thing. I can guarantee that this will be the best dance party of the whole weekend. Iranian melodies with a deep rhythm, founded in Montreal. Check ‘em out here.
Diamond Rings – Wait & See // Diamond Rings is John O’Reagan, a University of Guelph grad who resides in Toronto and makes electronic music. A kingpin of the queer music community in Toronto/Canada, John has a gift for creating catchy, poppy tracks that are perfectly catered to his deep singing voice. I’ve always wanted to see Diamond Rings live, so I’m pretty psyched for this. More here.
See y’all at the Island! I’m out for now. -M.