Lucid Smog Disorder

This is Lucid Smog Disorder (LSD).

A pop-punk band born out of the pandemic, LSD is Jack Doris (vocals, guitar), Daryn Pancer (guitar, vocals), Bronson Aguiar (Bass) and Matt Yuyitung (drums).  With strong melodies and lyrics that are surprisingly both pessimistic and hopeful at the same time, their songs reveal a broad range of influences that include Green Day, Blink 182, Husker Du, Ramones, Bikini Kill, Dog Party, Beatles, Beach Boys, the Penguins, Black Flag, Descendents; White Reaper, Freethrow, Scooped Up, and The Clash. 

The idea of the band has been mulling around in Jack’s head for almost 5 years.  All of the band members had been involved in other projects pre-Covid.  But over the course of the last 20 months, the impact of the pandemic “cleared out a lot of brush and created a lot of fertile soil for Jack, Daryn, Bronson and Matt. 

Over a year ago, Jack moved back to Toronto from Collingwood.  He knew Daryn from growing up in the same neighborhood.  While many of the songs for the first album were already written, Jack and Daryn bubbled and bunkered in Daryn’s rehearsal space and worked on the harmonies, guitars and technical parts of the songs.  They both wanted these songs to get out into the world.  This was their full-time job. Their motto through rehearsing  – “you got to live life while you have life to live.”

The band rounded out as Jack knew Matt from high school.  They were in jazz bands together and he knew “Matt could play the fucking drums,” a sentiment shared by the entire band.  Jack also knew Bronson from camp and the neighborhood.  They would send songs to Bronson and overnight he would quickly have a bass riff that vibed with the mix.

Their first single, reminiscent of early Green Day, The Walls Talk to Me was released in early 2021.   They followed it up with a more adrenaline-fueled, under 2 minute punk song, 10,000 Hours.  

Eager to start getting the songs out into the world, the band started playing live gigs in mid-August as the city re-opened.   Their first show, put on by local charity, Save Toronto Music Venues, was at Living Colour formerly known as Tail of the Junction. 

The first show was a perfect storm of bands and people who really wanted to share in the joy of live music again – an “Orgasm of Music,” as Daryn describes it.  After the show, Daryn couldn’t sleep.  The residual energy and adrenaline from the live show experience made him realize he wanted this feeling every weekend.

For Jack, there is a line in their single  – Beverley – that brought the first show to life for him – “legacies unwind but only in my mind.”  Seeing the songs come to life with a crowd of people rocking out to them was incredibly surreal after a year of practicing.

Another change that LSD noticed about the return of live music, post-Covid, was that bands were more grateful to be playing gigs again and were far more open to sharing gear and happy to help each other out.  Prior to Covid, bands were a bit more standoff-ish and somewhat competitive.   But, there seems to be way more camaraderie now and more of a community that the band hopes will stick around.  

The debut album, Psychedelicacy, came out on November 12th.  12 tracks recorded on their own time and own dime.  While it was influenced by their own personal history of rock and roll and the bands that influenced them, they also allowed themselves room to experiment.  They put an amp in the dryer and recorded it.  They recorded a toilet bowl. You’ll also hear clarinet, bongos, bongs, triangle, and saxophones along with the harmonies and catchy melodies that make each song get stuck in your head. 

The album release was celebrated with a record release show at the Bovine.  Again, put on by Save Toronto Music Venues and this time part of the proceeds went to Canadian Mental Association as a nod to the mental health struggles the band went through during the pandemic.  Opening for them were local hard rock band, Shot Down Twice and post-hardcore band, Life Post-Mortem.  

You can see them next on December 17th at Hard Luck Bar with Black Budget and Wednesday Bender.

To stay up to-date on LSD, you can follow them at:

The Honeyrunners

This is the Honeyrunners

A four-piece group in Toronto (sometimes up to 12, when performing live), fronted by high energy Ottawa-born singer/songwriter Dan Dwoskin (lead vocals, piano, wurlitzer, rhodes, synth), Canadian-Peruvian audio-engineer/producer, Guillermo Subauste (bass, drums, vocals, electric & acoustic guitar, cajón, percussion, synth), Conor Gains (electric guitar) and Toronto-born drummer and filmmaker, Lewis Spring (drums).

A blend of Southern Roots and Americana style in the realm of bands like Alabama Shakes, Nathaniel Rateliff, Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, with a little Rolling Stones thrown in alongside some Anderson .Paak and Frank Ocean, topped off with the soulfulness of Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Ray Charles. They like to push the limits of everything, musically. Ensuring not to conform to what’s happening in the mainstream, but rather to follow their own sense of what they love about music, and what excites them about songwriting, production and tone.  

They were first featured in Coca-Cola’s 2013 compilation “52 Songs of Happiness” with their song “My Garage”. They released their first self-titled EP in 2013, followed by a second EP, simply titled EP2 in 2014.

As a band, they embody community building. They are a product of local venues like the Cameron House, Horseshoe Tavern, the Monarch Tavern, and the now defunct Silver Dollar (where they had their first EP release party with Toronto tastemaker Dan Burke) – places where music advocates do each other favours to help foster the community as a whole.

Their latest album, an antidote to everything that was happening pre-pandemic and a celebration of everything we need to recover from the past 20 months, “Everything Is on Fire” was released on October 22, 2021 after 20 months of sitting on the shelf. 

The Honeyrunners started writing the album in 2018. Over that time, they wrote more than 50 songs. The band trimmed it down to 9, and took their time with crafting the production of each chosen song. The album title was originally meant to be ironic; a criticism of the media and how news headlines and social media clickbait constantly suggest that everything is always on fire. It was tiring. The media had become absurd. This album was an expression on how to put all of that absurdity aside and how to stop letting the headlines stress you out.

Dan and Guillermo wrote the songs together and co-produced the album at Subauste’s Roncesvalles studio on the West side of Toronto, Pacha Sound. Being a new Dad at the time, Dan had a lot of late nights with a singular driving thought through all of them, “What kind of world am I bringing my daughter into?”

You can catch an early performance of one of the songs on the album, “Cabin Fever”, live at the Horseshoe Tavern in April 2018. They were first set to release it in 2019. Then Australia caught fire. And then California caught fire.

The band headed to New Orleans to play Folk Alliance International in January of 2020. On the way back, they noticed full flights of people arriving with masks on and the questions they were asked at the border check-in appeared far more serious than when they had first traveled to New Orleans.

Prior to that flight, they had planned to release the album on March 27, 2020.  But, now they knew everything was going to shut down. They had 25 tour dates that were immediately scrapped. Venues closed. Side hustles in the hospitality industry, gone. Everything they had built towards building a community, gone. And they knew: live music was going to be the last public service back on the table when the dust settled. So, they shelved the album…until now.

On October 22, The Honeyrunners hosted a sold out record release party and performance at the Horseshoe Tavern with the capacity capped at 130 people, seated. They went for it. Dwoskin and Subauste brought in the 11-piece band for the show – a fully orchestrated wall of sound. After 2 years of everything being on hold, they wanted to celebrate this album and the return of live music together (#ForTheLoveOfLIVE).

For a taste of their energy, you can watch a performance of the title song, “Everything is on Fire” on YouTube. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for new music videos for singles “Ghosts” and “Mixtape”.

Stay in touch with the Honeyrunners at the following:

Cat and The Queen

This is Cat and The Queen

A theatrical force to be reckoned with and true renaissance artist, Cat Montgomery, her Nord keyboard (aka ‘The Queen’) and her backing band, the New Royals (Amanda Barbosa on Bass and Graham MacKey on drums), bring an effervescence and visceral experience to each album and every show they play live.   Self described as “Tori Amos meets Jefferson Airplane meets B-52s meets early Bette Midler meets Kate Bush”, Cat and The Queen have their own fresh take on the Cabaret Rock / ‘Caba-Rock’ genre.

Cat grew up in Barrie, playing piano privately and eventually pursued theatre at the Etobicoke School of the Arts for high school (grades 9, 10 and OAC), with a brief interlude in Spain. After high school, she went to a small theatre conservancy, studio 58, in Vancouver and then came back to Toronto for her Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in theatre and teaching voice at York University.

In 2012, after dealing with some personal issues, Cat retreated.  Her Mom, in a way to reach out and help her through it, sent her their childhood piano, from BArrie to Toronto. Cat rekindled her relationship with it. What she lacks in technical capability on the piano, she more than makes up for it with her personal connection to it.  Eventually, she went to an open mic at a Keele & Annette pool hall and down the musical rabbit hole she went. 

A couple of years later, Cat started working with a drummer and then another drummer and then a bassist, and then, of course, dancers.   She started standing up at the piano to have a more ‘punk’ aesthetic and to dial up the energy of the performance.  She quit smoking, took some singing lessons, and moved from more ‘speaky’ cynical songs to finding her singing voice.

In August 2018, she put out her first album, Loba Loca and followed it up with an immersive theatre rock show, called LOVE IN SPACE! Performed at The Assembly, an underground theatre in Parkdale.

In 2019, CATQ released their second album, Heart For A Ride – an experiment in mixing a solo electro pop sound with a raw ‘live off the floor’ sensibility.  Cat also had another theatre rock show that year at the Toronto Fringe Festival called “PUMP” at the Theatre Passe Muraille.

As Cat rolled into 2020, she had sublet her house and had planned to go to Halifax for 4 months of performing and exploring the scene there.  The pandemic had other plans and Cat ended up staying at her mother’s cottage in the Algonquin Highlands/Dorset area by herself for 2 months.  What was supposed to be a summer of performing turned into introspection and reflection and ultimately, her 3rd album, released  in 2021, the super lo-fi “I Caught a Fish”.   

The first single, “Bear Boy”, is a haunting portrait of longing and lost love.  Her theatrical presence comes alive with her video for the single Cabin Fever.  And her video for Haunted World is the perfect time capsule to capture the public rage of the anti-police protests in 2020. 

Recently, on October 30th, CATQ brought her new album and live show to one of her favourite venues in the city, the Horseshoe Tavern.  In addition to being the headliner, Cat also used social media to construct a true Cabaret for the evening, which included comedian Hoodoo Hersi, musician Ariel Sim and ThunderClaw Robinsong

In addition to performing, Cat is working on a new kids show with her partner, called the Cat in Space Show, in which they are a rock band, called Bondar, traveling through space and exploring new planets – think a musical Peewee’s playhouse supported with emotionally intelligent content. The show is currently in post-production and they are getting ready to pitch it.  

To follow Cat and The Queen, check out her:

Pascal Dennis

This is Pascal Dennis.  

Pascal’s story and his relationship with music is the story of many immigrants new to Canada.   Pascal’s parents barely escaped World War 2 and the civil war in Greece, which left his family (and many families) devastated.   Landing in Kensington Market in Toronto, his Dad got a job as a dishwasher at Grossman’s tavern and his mother was a garment factory worker.

At 14, Pascal started playing guitar and writing music as a way of expressing his pain and helping to make sense of the things he and his family were going through – poverty, mental illness, intolerance towards being an immigrant in Toronto.  As he dug into rock and roll and blues, playing guitar became “like breathing” for Pascal.   He also found time to teach himself the piano and the harmonica.

Unfortunately for Pascal, like many immigrants, his family could not afford formal music lessons and he didn’t think he had enough training to pursue music as a career.  Instead, he did the responsible thing – he stayed in school and graduated with a degree in engineering.

About 30 years ago, he met David Logan, someone who would eventually bring him back full circle.   Pascal liked Dave’s arrangements and Dave liked Pascal’s music.    They made a record, and it went nowhere.

In 1996, David went to Hollywood and found success as a composer in the video game industry, scoring music for games like X-Men – Mutant Academy, PacMan World 2 and Asteroids.  He has also scored for film and tv for shows like Sex and the City and Disney’s Ready or Not.

Pascal started a family and a consulting company.  But music was always his passion.  His consulting took him around the world and he always carried a notebook with him everywhere he went.  He found inspiration in those moments in between work and travel and he wrote and then he wrote some more.  He took piano lessons.  He took music theory lessons.  

Fast forward to 2020 and a global pandemic.  With no ability to travel, Pascal had his consulting life on hold and was able to focus 100% on music for the first time in his life.  Pascal decided to reach out to David again.   David now lives in Rome and teaches at the world renowned Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.  Founded in 1585, it is one of Europe’s oldest musical institutions.  Pascal shared his latest collection of songs with David.  

Once again, David liked them and they started producing the songs virtually.  

Pascal took on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica. David plays producer, guitars, keyboards, drums and percussion.  And David was able to recruit 3 more musicians through the school – Davide Sambrotta on piano and keyboards; Luca Camerota on electric, acoustic and nylon string guitars; and Marco Bonelli on saxophones.

The first album, Crazy Angels was released in 2021 and there are 3 more in various states of rehearsing, recording and post-production.  

The whole album is a tribute to Pascal’s coming of age in Toronto.  It tells the story of his family and all immigrant families and their struggles to be accepted as part of the city’s fabric.  The second song on the album, Crazy Angels is an opera in 3 parts and ultimately a metaphor for the entire album.  It is the retelling of the Great Gatsby story but through the lens of Pascal’s life growing up in Toronto.   It refers to the infamous Prince Edward Viaduct that was made famous by Michael Ondaatje’s book, “In the Skin of a Lion” which was about the desperately poor immigrants who built this bridge to the wealthy area of Rosedale during the Great Depression.  Referred to as the “bridge our fathers and their fathers built”, the narrator sees Rosedale as this mythical place he will never truly belong, much like the light at the end of the Great Gatsby.  

Another 10 minute, 3-part opera on the album, called Summerside – is about Sunnyside Pavilion.  A place and time in Toronto that many long for where, 100 years ago, our waterfront was like a beautiful British Beach town – with the Palais Royale, the Pier and elegant gentlemen and ladies dancing to music from the city’s jazz bands.  Eventually, that part of Toronto fell into hard times and became more of a place for immigrant families (many of whom were involved in building the Gardiner Expressway, one of the city’s main highways) as they were trying to be part of the city. Despite it’s lost glamour, Pascal still goes there for inspiration.  

There’s also a song called “Come to your window Sarah” which is set in the 1950s and talks about the immigrant experience back then, including the intolerance.  If you go to the web site and download the lyric sheet for that song, Pascal has included examples and the history of this intolerance in the PDF. 

The band also released a more bluesy rock song just in time for Hallowe’en called Black Cat (Hallowe’en) Blues, you can listen to it here or watch the video here.

The second album, Nicaragua Moon, will be released with a series of singles, and full album release in June 2022.  The title song is an homage to the immigrants and refugees from across Latin America who have made Toronto their home and is also dedicated to Pascal’s friend, Nicaraguan poet Francisco Santos, who helped overthrow the Somoza regime.  Like Pascal, Francisco and his family lost everything and had to start over in Toronto.

Watch out for the first single, “Not Saying it was Aliens”, which will be coming out on January 8th, 2022.  Followed by “Blues in the Morning” in February and “Anchorman Blues (Bleep it, We’ll Do it Live) in April.

To stay on top of Pascal’s future releases, you can follow him on spotify or at his web site

Queens & Kings

This is Queens & Kings.  Alissa (drums/vocals) and Brendan (guitar/vocals) make the kind of gritty rock that when you listen to it or see them live, you won’t know whether you want to “fight or fuck” to it (as described by Danny, one of their close friends).  If you like loud and dirty post-punk garage rock duos like Royal Blood, Death From Above, Cleopatrick, Japandroids and the Pack A.D., then do yourself a favor and check them out on spotify.  

Alissa became obsessed with music at a young age, and went to university to study ethnomusicology.  Prior to Queens & Kings, you may know her from her looping project, Alissa Vox Raw (AVR), which is still active today.

Brendan started with music while still in the womb.  His Mom played piano and was a professional opera singer.  He has a picture of him playing the ukelele on the farm at 3 years old. His parents thought they were just keeping him amused, but he remembers trying to figure the instrument out. At 13 years old, he would often take his older sisters’ records – Jethro Tull, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Black Sabbath and drum along with them in his basement.   Jamming to music has always been a supernatural experience for Brendan.  

Alissa and Brendan met over 12 years ago.  Brendan had just moved back from Vancouver and was doing his own solo project.   He was doing the open mic circuit in Toronto and one fateful night he walked into an open mic in Kensington Market.   Alissa was doing her AVR project. Brendan was mesmerized by the performance and immediately began filming (Brendan is also an accomplished photographer)​​.  

Following that night, Alissa and Brendan started hitting open mics together.  The collaboration felt effortless.  They backed each other at festivals.   They hung out. They were a couple – on and off.   Always pushing through even after break ups.  Their bond is bigger than the band.  

Queens & Kings started a few years ago.    They both wanted to rock.  To have fun. To let loose. To be free. The band started as a way to vent frustrations – at the music industry and their relationship with each other.   For a taste of their chemistry, check out their self-produced/edited/directed music videos for Going Through Hell, You Got Me and I’m Beggin’.

Brendan started channeling his inner Neil Young, Hendrix, Satriani, Stone Temple Pilots, and Queens of the Stone Age.  After many years of experience with various types of percussion, Alissa grabbed a drum kit and decided to teach herself the drums.  

Their live performance is visceral. Their lyrics are personal.  Their passion comes through in every song. Sometimes on stage, a fight or an argument from before the show comes alive and becomes part of the performance.  “Hate singing” has admittedly happened.  But they have nothing to hide.  They are authentically themselves. All of themselves.  And it gives the audience permission to let loose.  It’s therapeutic for the band and for the audience.  

Like many others, the impact of the last 20 months has been challenging.  As soon as the pandemic hit North America, Alissa knew the next 2 years of her life would be drastically different. It was gut wrenching.  The album was recorded but Alissa and Brendan needed to recalibrate and find new ways to keep going.   She was asked by the City of Toronto to do a Facebook livestream for AVR and did a second one for a multicultural festival called “Happening Multicultural Live”.   

Queens & Kings did some festivals with Dropout entertainment and a Hallowe’en special in 2020.  The trick was to keep as active as possible – which included a lot of writing on guitar and a rented electronic drum kit.   She rented lights from Long & McQuade for another Queens & Kings livestream for a Balanced Breakfast festival.  As an artist, she just used her creativity to find ways to solve problems and to find ways to keep going.   “Being a musician isn’t a job; it’s something you have to do.  We’re just problem solvers and we’re used to kicking doors down and figuring it out.”

Meanwhile, Brendan spent much of the pandemic in Cobourg, taking care of his Mom who had broken her arm pre-pandemic.

Luckily, their album was recorded before pandemic and now they had the time to do the post work during pandemic.  They worked remotely on mixing the album with their engineer Vic Florencia and continued to work on music and videos remotely and sometimes together when Brendan could come to town.  Given their ear for perfection and their attention to detail in the production process, each song has had the time to be crafted to the level they expect of themselves.

Performing at the Bovine Sex Club. Photo credit: Joe Mac

The last show they played live before lockdown was for International Women’s Day 2020 at Cherry Cola’s.  Now with restrictions rolling back, Cherry Cola’s asked them to perform for their official reopening, but they had another show booked for August 21st at Bovine Sex Club with Cigr Club and Mobius Radio.   Out of respect for the Bovine Show, Cherry Cola’s ran their burlesque shows and still gave Queens & Kings their first music night on August 28th.

With each show, they have been getting the feel for live again.  Brendan professed “If I am sweating, I am having a good time.”  And there has been a lot of sweating at these recent shows. 

What’s next?

  • They have an epic Hallowe’en show coming up 10/28 with Neon Bloom and Mandolynne at Sneaky Dees.  There will be costumes, a new musical set and even the first performance of a song that has never been performed live before.
  • Two new music videos are in the works and of course, the 8 song album will be released too.

To stay on top of their live shows and music releases, you can follow them at:

Good Enough Live Karaoke

This is Good Enough Live Karaoke (GELK).   Brainchild of Tim McCready and source of many Torontonians living out their rock star fantasies since 2013.

Tim harvesting weed fall 2021 (location unknown).

After spring and summer 2000 internships at Sonic Unyun Records in Hamilton, HM Magazine in Austin,TX and Tooth & Nail Records in Seattle; followed by a degree in Visual Arts from University of Windsor; then working in theatre production for Princess Cruises around the Caribbean and Alaska in 2004, Tim arrived in Toronto in 2005 after landing a job in ad sales at VICE Magazine.  With his VICE business card in hand, he got himself on as many party and event guest lists as possible around town, trying to discover a city and local music scene he previously knew nothing about.  

Exiting VICE summer 2009, Tim started planning the 1st of his now famous #159Manning barbecues, exploring photography and playing bass in a band called the Bang Bangs. Summer 2010 he played bass on a European tour with Mohawk Lodge and Eamon McGrath, a group of musicians who a few years later became July Talk!  

Back from tour, Tim became the sound tech at Parts & Labour, famous for head chef Matty Matheson and many classic punk and hardcore shows in the basement booked by Mark Pesci. Working through various challenges the room presented over the years, Tim learned how to set up and get bands on quickly, a skill that has paid off to this date as GELK cranks through 10-12 covers every hour they are performing. 

Late November 2013 Tim got the call from a sound-tech friend, asking if he knew any karaoke bands he could hire for an upcoming event. Tim pulled a band together and they learned 20 songs in 2 weeks.  During rehearsals, the name for the band became abundantly clear as they would learn most of a song and say “Good enough, now let’s learn the next one”.  Two of the guys from the inception are still in the band to this day (Jesse on guitars, Craig on bass).   

After a successful Christmas party, and because of Tim’s job at P&L, GELK Immediately got a monthly residency at Parts & Labour on Thursday nights.  Word spread and then Clintons offered them a residency for every other Wednesday.  And in 2014, they started playing Junction City Music Hall as well.  

GELK just kept learning songs. And more songs.  And more songs.  Tim taught himself to play keys and started playing guitar for the first time in a band as well.  For a sample of what they play, check out this spotify playlist.   

One gig kept leading to the next gig.  Tim followed the improv mindset of just saying yes.  Musicians started swapping in and out to allow for more flexibility and more gigs.  

Tim showing off GELK’s new raffle spinner which we’ll bring to bigger shows to randomly pick singers.

3 years later, Tim and some of the band members were actually making a living at it.  By Fall 2016 – GELK was averaging one or two corporate gigs a month and residencies.   The momentum was happening.

2016 – 76 shows

2017 – 178 shows

2018 – 256 shows

2019 – 206 shows

By 2019 – they had multiple line-ups with 3 musicians full-time and another 8-10 part-timers who could sub-in based on availability and interest.  Tim stayed focused on always hiring musicians better than him, while he took on all of the organization and promotion.

When the pandemic hit, Tim was ready for a break.  He would not have slowed down otherwise. “The Pandemic was good for me” – says Tim.  He was playing every night and coordinating all the shows, paying people, organizing, promoting.   The break in 2020 allowed him to get caught up on taxes and administrative things that had been pushed aside. He also spent the last 18 months learning how to play better.  Finally learned how to play the regular closer “Under the Bridge” properly, and finessing his guitar on songs like “Mr. Brightside” and “Sweet Child of Mine.”

Also, another major opportunity was thrown Tim’s way in the pandemic.  Given the lack of tours coming to Toronto in 2020, GELK was able to their first gig at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.  The Phoenix had a 1500 person venue sitting empty and they needed someone who could bring people in.  A year later, they played again in August 2021.  And now, they have a monthly residency at the Phoenix.  The last show was Oct. 1st with local musician Michelle Treacy singing a few songs to warm up the crowd.    They will be back at the Phoenix again on Friday, November 12th, 2021.

To stay on top of their next shows and ever growing song list, you can follow them here:

Fall 2021 Good Enough Live Karaoke reverse tie-dye t-shirt featuring GELK drummer Janine Hynes singing (and wearing a GELK-shirt in the photo).

Harmony on Mars

This is Harmony on Mars – a Toronto-born psychedelic punk duo made up of two brothers – Max White and Jack White.   Max plays guitar and sings, while Jack plays the drums.   You may have heard their latest single, Don’t Stand Still in the Starz/Amazon Prime series, ‘American Gods’.  They have also done session work for film and TV.  Their performances have been featured in Netflix’s “Frontier” and “V-Wars” as well as “Trigger Point” and Norwegian thriller “Hevn.”

The band itself has only been around since July 2018, but have already been compared to Joy Division, Dead Meadow, The Stooges and The Velvet Underground.  Their debut at the Horseshoe Tavern with Mute Choir and Madame Psychosis led to a great relationship with Craig Laskey and also made the brothers realize they were on to something.   They continued with several other shows around the Toronto circuit, including the Horseshoe, Cameron House, Duffy’s Tavern, plus 2 Canadian Music Week Shows at Sneaky Dees and Cherry Colas.  But, it was opening for Mattiel at the Drake Hotel, opening for Annunaki (Arlen Thompson from Wolf Parade and Dave Read from Moths & Locusts) and sharing the stage with Cola Wars (keyboardist Gregory MacDonald from Sloan) at the Monarch Tavern that started to make it real for them.  

But in reality, music has always been core to their existence.  Max and Jack come from a long legacy of musicians in Toronto.  Their grandfather was the first flute in the symphony and ran New Music Concerts, contemporary music series that brought some of the most famous composers to Toronto like John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, among others, back in the day.  Their father was the trumpet player with Bruce Cockburn in the 80s, their mother is head of the flute department at the Royal Conservatory of Music and their uncle is a saxophone player who has recorded or played with several local artists, including Dave Young, Holly Cole, the Shuffle Demons and July Talk.   

Drawing influences from Wire, Kurt Vile, Lou Reed, Dan Auerbach, Neil Young, the Doors, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the brothers have been making atmospheric and soundscapes for their filmmaker friends or just jamming in their basement since grade school.  Both Max and Jack deepened their connection with music in their post-secondary education as well.  Max studied marketing, entrepreneurship and composition/sound engineering at Queen’s, while Jack studied composition at Queens and is currently in the Electrioacoustics program at Concordia. 

They released their first EP, Ghosts & Skulls in 2018, The Basement Demos EP followed in 2019, which featured demos of three of the staples of their live set, and their experimental EP, Permanence, which was inspired by Sparklehorse and Fennesz’s In The Fishtank 15 EP and Scandinavian film scores, released in 2020. 

Some day, they hope to open for Death Valley Girls, Night Beats or Courtney Barnett next time any of them are in town.   Until then, you can find their music on bandcamp and all other streaming services here: 

The High Loves

This is The High Loves.   A band that has only been around since 2018 and like many other bands over the past 18 months, has already gone through a line-up change due to the pandemic.  They lost 2 founding members and midway through 2020 rejuvenated the band with 3 new additions.

The current line-up consists of founding members, Noah Monckton (Lead singer and guitarist) and Marco Stojanovic (lead guitar player) and new members – Jaden Spanier (drummer), Jeremy Ugro (keyboardist) and Jake St Jean (bassist).   Noah and Jeremy are both originally from Victoria, BC and moved to Toronto for the music scene, while the others are originally from here.  They crossed paths at the Humber College Music Program and bonded through immersing themselves in the Toronto music scene.  Constantly catching their friend’s gigs at the Silver Dollar, the Horseshoe Tavern, the Painted Lady and many others.

Noah was especially fond of the Silver Dollar, a proper dive bar, which he had only played once in a previous band.  When the bar was added to the long list of music venues lost in the history of Toronto’s ongoing condo gentrification, The High Loves wrote a tribute to the Silver Dollar, High Rise which won them the John Lennon songwriting award in the rock category.

While Noah usually writes the lyrics and melodies for the main songs, he hit a bit of a rut at the beginning of the pandemic.   It took about 6 months until he fully accepted the ‘new normal’ and started to let go of control over his reality.  As the control loosened, he found his creativity again, writing many of the songs that appear on their recent, Too Much of a Good Thing EP.   With new members came new life to the band and ‘letting go’, provided a fresh start.

The songs are “serious fun” – playful music with personal lyrics and a definite 80’s influence combined with indie rock sensibility.  

By Fall of 2020, the band started to find their rhythm and became increasingly prolific.   They came up with big ideas. Wrote new songs.  Made demos.  Built off each other’s ideas and then finally started to play together IRL in November 2020, pre-extended lockdown.

That first time playing music together was sheer joy for all of them.  They kept jamming, recording on their iphone and refining the songs.  Over and over until they got them to a point where they were ready to record in River Radcliffe’s home studio, where River helped produce a few songs as well.

With the city opening up again, they recently had their first show back at the Supermarket and have another this Friday at Lee’s Palace.  They have also been able to produce 2 music videos from their EP – Call me Back  and Sometime.  And a new video is currently in production for their song, ‘Comes and Goes’.

Watch out for more live shows and another EP, which is written and in final stages of production and will be recording later this month.  

To find out more about the band, visit here  


This is whereisluna (aka Amy Han).  A former business school student turned musician, Han grew up all around the GTA including Hamilton, Pickering, Woodbridge, Aurora, went to school in Guelph and then finally settled in Toronto.  Music has always been a big part of her life, but she has been taking it more seriously over the past 4 years.

When she was still in business school in Guelph, she started attending music related workshops, courses and networking events in Toronto.  She wasn’t able to connect with her business program, but she found herself routinely inspired by learning anything she could from people in the music industry.  She absorbed it like a sponge and it fueled her fire to eventually pursue music over business as something she saw herself loving and doing for the rest of her life.  Through music she saw the opportunity to express herself and speak her mind in ways being an accountant would never have been possible.

At first, Han felt “super awkward” as a newbie outsider attending music events in Toronto, but quickly found them to be extremely friendly.  She would often go to these events by herself, and with a combination of “liquid courage and ladyballs,” she made a goal for herself to meet at least 1 or 2 people at each event to learn about the industry and her experience.

Originally, her band name was “Lunaa”, a recognition of the fact that she does most of her writing at night.  Night is when she feels the most inspired, but it’s also because she had lived in a toxic household.  She would stay up late and write on her balcony as it was the only place she found peace.  To this day, Han finds she still functions best, writing at night.

Unfortunately, there are many other artists with the word Luna in their band name, causing confusion in getting her name out there.  To maintain the intent and to create some uniqueness, she changed the name to “whereisluna”, which reflects where her head is at since so much of her writing comes from “dealing with mental health or just being able to speak her mind the way she wants to.” 

During the first year of the pandemic, mental health was a real struggle for Han.  Her Mom and brother are both nurses.  To stay in a bubble with them, she had to be extremely cautious and responsible.  The isolation and intense alone time put Han in a slump.  For a year, she felt stuck.

As Toronto worked through the longest lockdown in the world, Han started to go outside, take walks, get some fresh air, and scheduling zoom calls with friends and family to see their faces and just talk again.  This edging back to normal helped her writing.  Han also found new meditations and set a goal of reading a book every month.  The goal setting was the one constant she could control outside and inside.  

After taking care of her mental health first, she was able to write a handful of songs, some of which are coming out soon.   Recently released by whereisluna, is “Out my head” with frequent collaborator, Mindy – and another titled – “quarter century pity party” – which she is really excited about.  Expect a fun twist on the existential life crisis.

Also, somewhere in the archives, she has a song written about a specific waterfall in Hamilton near McMaster university, which she may or may not release some day.  This is part of a collection of songs she used to write about Hamilton and her summer adventures there.  For her fans, feel free to ask her about it. 

For more information about whereisluna and her streams, go here:

Michelle Treacy

This is Michelle Treacy and this is her story of resilience, embracing one’s true self and the embodiment of John Lennon’s famous quote “if it’s not ok, it’s not the end”.  

Originally from Ottawa, where she has been making music ‘since the womb’ and identified early on that being an artist was her calling.  There was no other choice.  She was born that way.  Unfortunately, being true to herself as an artist meant she spent most of her high school years being bullied.  

Things started to turn around for her at age 17, after being invited to sing on stage with Lady Gaga for an impromptu duet during the ArtRave tour, and being promptly signed by Sony.  She then moved to Toronto in 2014 and had a Billboard Hot 100 song in Canada with “Armageddon”. Michelle would often go to the Toronto Music garden and sit under the willow trees to write songs.  She had another song, ‘Colours’ and then just as quickly as early success had come, she found herself dropped by Sony and shortly afterwards, also dropped by her manager.

Photographer: Meg Moon

After a devastating break up with a boyfriend, she moved back to Ottawa, where she checked herself into a hospital to deal with her mental health.  It was at this hospital where she met a nurse who told her “Fuck everyone else! And to use this time to restart her life and go get what she wants.”   Along with the nurse’s advice, she had been listening to the “And the writer is…” podcast and Bebe Rexha was the guest.  During the interview Rexha, quoted John Lennon – “In the end it’s going to be ok, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end”.   Both of these thoughts swirled through her head and kept her going.

And it’s a good thing they did.  She ended up winning the 2nd season of “The Launch” in 2019, where, coincidentally, Rexha became her mentor.  Being able to thank Bebe personally for helping get through that rough patch was momentous.  Michelle also had the incredible opportunity to record the song “Emotional” with Nile Rodgers.

However, Michelle had been told her ‘personality was bigger than her music.’  This stuck in her head as she continued to find her sound and voice as an artist.  It was a friendship with music producer Young Spielburg who helped shift her direction.  He kept encouraging exploration in a surf rock sound, which was completely opposite to the moody, darker Lana Del Rey sound she had been exploring.

She came back to Toronto in August 2020, and through the pandemic, she found herself working harder than ever on becoming the artist she wanted to be.   It changed her outlook, her ambitions, her goals and ultimately, her life.  Writing every day and recording in her closet, she had “maximum creative freedom and minimal agenda.”  She also realized she was just tired of feeling sad.  She wanted to dance and make others dance and feel free.  She wanted to write bangers like Miley Cyrus.   When she wasn’t writing and creating, she was often being given flowers by strangers on the streets of Toronto, a city she feels she belongs in now, as she can let her “freak flag fly”.

Halfway through the process, she was recording a song called “It ain’t over”, which didn’t make the final EP, but it was the moment she started to realize the artist she wanted to be and felt most authentic to herself.  Expect the song to be released some time in the future.

The end result was a new EP that feels the most like her – “High Heels in the Moshpit”, which was released on September 9th.   Self-described as Tame Impala meets Austin Powers.  Tracks like “It Feels So Good To Be Back” and “Love Every Minute” highlight Treacy’s spunky care-free lyrics that remind us to not overthink things and enjoy the present moment for what it is. On High Heels in the Moshpit, Treacy’s voice is seamlessly set to slightly left-of-center melodies infused in a variety of genres from punk to new wave–culminating in a delightful concoction for music fans of all genres.”

Photographer: Colin Gaudet
Stylist: Amber Watkins
Hair and makeup: Brittany Sinclair

In addition to being an artist, Michelle has also been giving back to the industry by mentoring up and coming female artists – teaching them singing, songwriting and artist development (and ultimately confidence).  She does this by invite only and has created her own community of students, helping each other out, sharing each other’s music and lifting each other up.  This has given Michelle a renewed sense of purpose and meaning and opened the door to managing some of these artists.

When she’s not involved in music, you can find her enjoying the food of Toronto (another one of her favourite topics), either a pizza at Via Mercanti or sushi at CJ Lunchbox.  

You can find out more about Michelle at: