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    Wavves Debut New Songs at Tour Kick-Off

    Flanked by two oversized papier mache aliens and a smoke machine billowing out the occasional plume, Nathan Williams and his new bandmates kicked off their tour at Lee's Palace in Toronto with a raucous combination of familiar songs and materialfrom their forthcoming Wavves album King Of The Beach (out August 3rdvia Fat Possum). Opening with his titular call to arms "Wavves," Williams unleashed aspiraling guitar solo whose reverb sounded like a planedeparting for takeoff. The surf rock-influenced "King Of The Beach"took the San Diego band's summertime love to its literal conclusion, as he sang: "Let the sun burn my eyes, let it burn my back." Williams, clad in his characteristic preppie-skateboarder madras shirt,false-started on the pounding chords of new single "Linus Spacehead" --"Iwasn't ready," he admitted.

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    Kate Nash Turns Riot Grrrl in Toronto

    She might wear cute outfits and sing songs with titles like "Pumpkin Soup," but British singer-songwriter Kate Nash's North American tour kickoff at Toronto's Mod Club Theatre was pure riot grrrl. Debuting a choppy haircut and an edgy, no-wave sound, Nash told a crowd packed with pretty girls in party dresses that "a cunt is a useful thing." The response? Sheer and glowing adoration. Nash's musical transformation, heard on this year's bombastic My Best Friend Is You ups the lyrical confessionalism heard on fare from her 2007 debut Made of Bricks like "Foundations" and "Merry Happy" and adds a kiss with a fist.

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    Dr. Dog Launch Tour with Powerfully Eclectic Show

    A shaggy crossbreed between Pink Floyd's psychedelic guitar work, Beatles vocal harmonies, and the infectious glee of the Muppet house band, the southern-fried indie-rock of Dr. Dog tends to bring out the hippie head bobbers in a crowd, which as many noted, smelled better the further you got away from the crowded stage. On the first date of their North American tour at Toronto's Lee's Palace Thursday night, Dr. Dog debuted a professional looking stage set-up, which illuminated the Philly five-piece plus a friend on tambourine (clad in their token toques and sunglasses) in swathes of greens, reds, and purples that changed with each down-stroke of their guitars. Like their fans, Dr. Dog tend to pogo in unison to the beat of their songs like a chorus of bong-hitting Rockettes.

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    Breaking Out: The Rural Alberta Advantage

    Drinking on the patio of a Toronto bar, the Rural Alberta Advantage sit underneath a mural touting Big Rock Beer: "Alberta's Other Natural Resource." The irony of the ad is not lost on drummer Paul Banwatt, 28, multi-instrumentalist Amy Cole, 30, and singer-guitarist Nils Edenloff, 30. "You can't escape your home," says the freckled Edenloff, who grew up in Edmonton. "Even though you want to leave, it's so much a part of you, whether you like it or not." Leaving obscurity behind has been easier. After starting out playing weekly open-mic nights at a Toronto biker hangout, the band got a boost from eMusic late last year, when the online retailer featured them as a "Selects" artist. Hometowns, the trio's independently released debut, promptly became the best-selling album from a so designated act on the site to date.

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    Broken Social Scenester Debuts Happiness Project

    "To be honest, I didn't expect this to go beyond my living room," admitted Broken Social Scene guitarist Charles Spearin Wednesday night at Toronto's Music Gallery, where he debuted the Happiness Project. We might as well have been in his living room. Spearin had already kicked off his shoes and was treating fans to his experimental, home-spun sound: The recorded voices of family, friends, and neighbors talking about the meaning of happiness were mashed up with a 10-person live band. The sound of Spearin's project is somewhere between free jazz and beat poetry. The voices were looped to create an odd symphony through the interplay of storytelling and music.

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    Metric Debut New Songs Live!

    Though the weather outside Sound Academy was frightful Saturday night, a packed crowd seemed delighted by the Canadian indie flair of Toronto's annual Jingle Bell Rock concert. Beyond appearances by Mike Relm, the Dears, Sebastian Grainger and the Mountains (formerly of Death From Above 1979), and Tokyo Police Club, the main attraction was a set from hometown heroes Metric, who unleashed music from their as-yet-untitled 2009 album, a project two years in the making. Clad in hot pants, a half-shouldered halter, and festive red booties, Emily Haines shook her moneymaker to the new tunes, most of which were making live debuts.

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    Torche Terrorize Toronto

    Clad in stovepipe Levis and a Mario mustache, Torche frontman Steve Brooks seemed more likely to get his ass kicked at Lee's Palace's experimental-metal showcase last night (July 14), let alone take the stage. But such blasé genre-bending is indicative of their new long-player, Meanderthal, and traces of Superchunk's poppy freneticism, the Melvins' sludgy heft, and Minor Threat's fevered drama all made appearances throughout their opening set. Starting with a scissor kick and doom-laden revision of The Beatles' "She's So Heavy," Torche blanketed thick waves of guitar fuzz across the packed floor. "Without A Sound" grew monolithic with crashing cymbals and a sparse, sonic guitar solo, while "Healer" recalled Soul Asylum with NOFX-worthy hooks.

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    Aimee Mann

    What?Heartbreak chatter, specifically stories told about our last doomed relationship (and the exes that remain on our couches), sound like lyrics penned by Aimee Mann -- caustic, clever, with a pervading undercurrent of thoughtful sensitivity. The flaxen-haired college dropout first gained notoriety in the mid '80's fronting new wavers 'Til Tuesday, spouting lyrics inspired by former bandmate/lover Michael Hausman (including mega hit "Voices Carry.") And after contributing to filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia soundtrack and releasing many a solo album, including Bachelor No. 2, Lost In Space, and The Forgotten Arm,Mann returns this week with @#%&*!

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    Spiritualized

    What's the Deal? Space rock was born in Rugby, England in 1990 with the demise of Jason Pierce's previous band, Spaceman 3. Spiritualized's sixth studio album, Songs in A&E, out today in the U.S., is inspired by Pierce's brush with death in an Accident and Emergency ward (hence the A&E) after a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. A bombastic tour-de-force, 18 tracks of gospel-tinged psychedelia are matched by eerie echoes of whirring electronics and droning church bells, as single "Soul on Fire" recalls the airy symphonic angst of 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Who?

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    Kassin+2

    What? The sun-spattered, psychedelic swathes of Brazilian tropicalia featured on Kassin+2's Futurismo (available now on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label) might be the ideal sound to hit it poolside with a cold cerveja this summer. With the final installment in the +2 trilogy, this trio creates an effervescent collage of samba, airy folk, and sheer mysticism; "Pra Lembrar" floats on soft keys and an accordion solo, while "Samba Machine" adds a baile funk to wayward synths and feverish electric guitar. John McEntire (Tortoise) and Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas) lend vocals to English (most sung in Portuguese) tracks "Lakeline" and "Bow Road," creating a clumsy sweetness and adding to the trio's groovy blend. Who? Namesake band leader Alexandre Kassin plus, well, two -- Moreno Veloso and Domenico Lancellotti.

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