January 1 2016 – Every year we round-up the bands that we felt represent the future of Canadian #RealRock and this year is no exception. These are T-Mak World’s Top 10 Indie Bands of 2015, and if you like your music fueled by riffs and thunderous drums you don’t need to look any further. These bands are ones we have seen in the various venues around Toronto this year and each and one of them are top-notch performers that just need a couple of lucky breaks to be filling in arenas. In short they ROCK! These (mostly) long hairs are keeping the vibe of the genre alive. Here they are in alphabetical order
One of only two bands not from around our home base area of Toronto – these Vancouver rockers blew the roof off Canadian Music Week (CMW) this year and we instantly bonded with them. They got the sound and the look of rock, but more importantly they have the stage presence. Playing to a very small crowd at a md-week show they let it all go as if they were headlining the ACC. Riff friendly rock with melodic tunes that prove if you love your art, people will take notice. For fans of Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, and a harder version of Queen.
We used to like this band a lot and then they sort of disappeared for a couple of years, but 2015 was the year they came back with stellar results. A killer CD was released and they played a few shows to support Deus Ex Machina which were highlights of the year for us. Their music style is varied and is as much Depeche Mode as it is Pink Floyd, or wait is that some Zeppelin theremin style songs?. It is apparent they are very talented musicians and they are able to make smart music because of that. Do not even pass a chance to check them out when they are in town.
These 5 rockers from Toronto are rising at a stellar pace. Although the band overall is fantastic in their pure hard rock delivery they also feature a mandatory star vocalist/guitarist duo such as Townshend/Daltrey, Page/Plant, Richards/Jagger, May/Mercury. Fontez is the singer and Armstrong is the guitarist and they are as solid a 1-2 punch as any band in the GTA. Their shows have elevated to pure rock n roll debauchery showcases and these guys can get on stage at the ACC with no nerves or practice. For fans of good old hard rock from the 80′s.
One of only two bands on our list not from the Greater Toronto Area or even Ontario. Open Air is from Calgary and that means we only get to see them very rarely but we have word they will be back at Canadian Music Week 2016! Woo Hoo!!! Steeped deep in the tradition of classic rock these guys are Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and all those wicked riff fueled bands from the 70′s. These guys are a band we want to see make it big because they carry the torch of the rock we love. For fans of 70′s classic rock with a hard edge to it.
Radio Free Universe
Talk about a last-minute addition to our list! We just discovered this band in mid December as they were opening up for White Cowbell Oklahoma at Lee’s Palace and they became an instant favourite of all our editors. Zeppelin infused riffs and rhythm this is one band we want to see a lot more of in 2016. Singer George Panagopoulos looks and sounds like Sammy Hagar and we can’t think of a better compliment to bestow on a rock band front man. You can catch them at The Hideout on February 12.
Imagine the Black Keys with Janis Joplin singing. Pure edgy and hard garage blues that is as good as any band playing that style. Excellent rhythm section and bluesy riffs make a perfect foundation for one of Toronto’s best female vocalists Frances Rose to belt out her earth shattering soulful words. For fans of electric garage blues with a vintage sound. They won the Breaking Bands competition at Big Music Fest in 2015 and will thus be featured on the main day of music in the 2016 version of the best rock festival in our area!
Return for Refund
I was picked to judge Indie Week and my winner of one night I was judging was Return For Refund – a hard rock juggernaut. The vocals, guitars and drums are out of this world with a bass laying down the foundation. Highly energetic show with full audience emotional connection. Exactly what you need to hear on a cold winter night to warm up and let the energy flow. For fans of grunge era bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden and even Black Sabbath.
We didn’t feel the need to cover NXNE at all in 2014 and this year’s festival didn’t generate that much more interest. It has become a hipster fest with very few bands that we dig. There was one band however that caught our interest and forced our attendance and that is Toronto’s SATE. SATE was up until recently known as Saidah Baba Talibah, daughter of blues singer Salome Bey. SATE first got on our radar when we heard her new song Warrior. Hard driving, bluesy riffs and incredibly powerful vocals. Finally some #RealRock. SATE was a powerhouse live and her band was incredibly tight. Other than guitarist Kirt Godwin, the rest of the band isn’t known but they were all amazing.
TimeGiant has been on our list from day one and will be on it forever. For an old rocker like myself that grew up worshiping bands like Rush and Triumph, TimeGiant is the next Toronto band in that hard rock tradition. They have showmanship on stage which accompanies the music like a fine wine. Drum solos by their Bonham-next drummer Charlie McKittrick always gets the audience stoked. Bassist Pat Wilken is a force to be reckoned with and his foundation is exactly what makes their songs so rocking. Last but not least Tyrone Buccione juggles vocals with lead guitars and occasional saxophone and when he takes over the stage, TimeGiant serve notice that rock is here for good. Everyone has the band that fits their musical style the most and for me it is TimeGiant. For fans of Rush, Triumph and Led Zeppelin.
Holy crap are they amazing musicians. Complex prog-metal, if you like good music you will be totally absorbed by The Unchained. They bring out the inner headbanger in me and make me wish I had long hair to rock band and forth. For fans of complex prog-metal but with sophistication – kinda like Dream Theater without their awful singer (sorry not a fan of LaBrie’s voice).
HONOURABLE MENTIONS go to Monster Truck and One Bad Son who are too big to be considered “Indie” for the purposes of this list but are 2 of our all time favorite Canadian bands – check them out if you haven’t.
Now if only some booker in Toronto got all of these 10 in a TorontoStock festival style concert this summer, all our dreams will come true!