5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 4

by Steven Spoerl

It’s literally impossible to stress just how varied and stacked the lineup for NXNE is this year. Toronto’s going to be overflowing with bands, bands’ friends, and fans of bands in just over a month (moreso than usual). To help make the process of picking out who to prioritize on any of the potential “to see” lists floating around out there, Heartbreaking Bravery is presenting the 5 to See series. Virtually all of the announced bands have been listened to (provided their music was available to listen to online) and things as trivial as genre preference were thrown out the window in order to accommodate as wide of an audience as possible. While the selections for features do still boil down to subjective taste, it’s a broader field than would usual be featured here and, as such, it should be a little easier to take something away from it. All that said, let’s get onto the picks for this series’ fourth installment.

1. Guerilla Toss

What to Know: It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Guerilla Toss are most likely the most insane band at NXNE this year. They’re usually the most insane band on any given bill that they’re on and that alone should make them worth seeing. Putting them over the top is the fact that they’re one of the fiercest art-punk bands currently going and are quickly gaining themselves an enviable reputation based on word-of-mouth from their live shows alone. All of that should make them very hard to miss.

What to Watch:

2. Maica Mia

What to Know: There are certain artists who have one trait that immediately sticks out. For some it’s their instrumental prowess, for others it’s composition, for Maica Mia it’s a voice, Maica Armata’s, to be precise- and what a voice it is. There hasn’t been much in the way of music in this realm, operating at this level since Cat Power’s You Are Free, which was a record worth holding onto for eternity. Maica Mia’s music’s as haunted as it is haunting, acting as an open invitation before pulling listeners in under its subtly menacing spell. Something genuinely special’s happening here and it’d take a fool to miss it.

What to Watch:

3. Low

What to Know: Are Low considered an institution yet? If not, they should be. Often hailed as the act that pioneered (and subsequently perfected) slowcore, the band’s been active for over two decades and have a handful of classics to their name. There isn’t much to be said about them that hasn’t already been said in tones as hushed and sacred as the bands music feels, so just watch the attached video as a pleasant reminder of what this band’s capable of.

What to Watch:

4. Bailiff

What to Know: One of the only Chicago bands making the trek over to NXNE, Bailiff will make sure that city’s represented well. Offering up a blend of left-field pop and cinematic crescendos that are often downright vicious, their set will be a highlight for anyone lucky enough to catch them. For further proof of this, watch the video below. If the last half doesn’t manage to convince anyone that watches it to make sure they’re keeping an eye on their set time(s), then nothing will.

What to Watch:

5. Typhoon

What to Know: Why Typhoon aren’t one of the biggest names in music right now remains a strange mystery. They’ve perfected an incredibly intelligent blend of several styles that are currently at the forefront of popular taste, write genuinely great songs, and are an extraordinary live act. Yet, for whatever reason, they’re still at “best-kept-secret” status. One look at the provided video will likely dissuade anyone from making the mistake of overlooking them.

What to Watch: