As I was watching Dwight Howard’s corpse limp lifelessly around the key last night in search of braaaaaaaaaaains, I was hit by an idea to help promote great labels we love. It probably didn’t hurt the naming process watching twitter explode over Pau’s benching, but the phrase I kept coming back to was “the starting five.”

So, my idea is pretty simple. Pick a label, and offer up five songs by five of their heaviest hitters. With so much music being recorded at home and thrown blindly into the abyss, it’s time to celebrate the Canadian outlets that are still trying to figure out how to make some money for bands and offer their acts some stability.

Up first, Toronto’s Paper Bag Records. Over the last few years, I’m don’t think any Canadian label has had a better run than PB. Almost every band they’ve worked with has either been Polaris nominated, Pitchfork approved or is just fucking amazing (Elliott BROOD, I’m looking at you).

Throw in a massive 10-year festivus and a free Bowie tribute record that seems even more topical now, and you can see why Paper Bag is one of the brightest stars in our Canadian music scene. What’s most amazing to me is that I’m featuring five of their bands today, and that leaves bands we’ve covered endlessly, and love completely - RAA, Cuff the Duke, PS I Love You - out in the cold. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give to the lineup Trevor and his team have put together.

So now, here’s your starting lineup.

Birthmarks, the new LP from Toronto’s Born Ruffians, isn’t out until April but the excitement over the release is already building. “With Her Shadow” is a more mature sound, controlled and well thought out, but still catchy enough to keep you listening over and over again.


Young Galaxy and Dan Lissvik have joined forces again, and the first taste of the Swedish sessions is a New Order-ish gem that sparkles like sun kissed snow. It’s still chilly, but Catherine McCandless’ voice is the scarf that warms you just enough to make you breath deep until your lungs explode.


Other than the fact I deserve to get paid every two weeks, the only thing my boss and I agree on is how fantastic Elliott Brood truly is. I still think one of the happiest moments of my musical life was looking down from the balcony and seeing everyone smashing baking sheets, smiling and hugging as The Brood crushed their ten-minute Polaris spotlight session. Magical seems like an odd word to use for a band so rooted in history and war, but it’s also very, very appropriate.


If you pitched me the idea of a mix of dream pop, opera and classical music, I’d probably politely decline. If it wasnt for the simple fact Paper Bag is consistent and has a finely tuned ear, I would have never listened to Rachel Zeffira, and it would have been my loss. You can hear her lovely take on “To Here Knows When”, but her talent runs deeper than an inspired cover. The Deserters is going to take the music world by storm, even if Rachel’s voice and instrumentation is as calm and serene sea.


My love for The Luyas has spanned so many eras in my life, it’s hard to imagine a world without their delightful, heady, intelligent art rock efforts. Jessie’s voice, the band’s meticulous yet hazy arrangements; they punch with sharp jabs and still paint in broad, beautiful flowing strokes.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3:: The Luyas - Fifty Fifty