Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
A Austra: The band with the front woman who is occasionally compared to Kate Bush just released a new album called Olympia, which sounds like it’s made by classical music school dropouts and rebels. July 13, Bluesfest.
B Bjork: When she toured in the ‘90s, everyone came to her shows wearing those little buns all over their head in a moment of fan reverence expressed through fashion. Bring back the buns, I say. July 13, Bluesfest.
C Chris Hadfield: Astronaut-cum-social media darling becomes touring songwriter who teams up with one of the Barenaked Ladies. What can’t this dude do? Maybe @Cmdr_Hadfield will play a rendition of “Major Tom” at one of two Canada Day shows. July 1, Parliament Hill.
D David Byrne & St. Vincent: Icon of New Wave and darling of jagged-fuzz-toned pop collaborate to make beautiful weirdness and waltzes. Their current tour features eight choreographed bass players. Attention star-spotters. When on tour, the duo likes to gather their crew for a “band bicycle gang storming of local haunts.” June 23, Ottawa Jazz Festival.
E The Elwins: Just back from a UK tour, these four Ontario Gen Ys play ‘60s-inspired pop with sensi-man lyrics. June 27, Ottawa Fringe Festival Courtyard.
F Fun.: They call themselves “fun” with a period, because it doesn’t get much more complex than that. The band that you dance to naked comes out of the private confines of pop-rockers’ rooms everywhere to play the big stage. July 7, Bluesfest.
G Great Lake Swimmers: “Bodies and Minds,” “The Great Exhale,” most of this band’s song titles could be reimagined as motivational tunes for the competing paddlers at the Dragon Boat Festival where this band will play. June 22, Mooney’s Bay Park.
H Herbaliser: The Brit-based duo, formed in ’96, plays hip-hop rooted jazz fusion tunes that many reviewers and fans have likened to film scores. It’s the kind of lo-fi vibe that fits well with tales of rogues and badasses. June 28, Ottawa Jazz Festival.
I Imaginary Cities: The band name may sound like some City of Ottawa-sanctioned focus group, but it’s really a testament to the dreamy outlook of the members of this Winnipeg band who sing hooky, hopeful pop. July 13, Bluesfest.
J John Carroll & The Epic Proportions: Carroll is a regular performer at The Laff, and that should serve as enough of a descriptor. His voice is flavoured with tavern life—parched, lived-in, and with a storyteller’s tone. June 30, Ottawa Jazz Festival; July 14, Bluesfest.
K Kendrick Lamar: Straight Outta Compton … and coming to Hog’s Back soon. The California hip-hop phenom will be a headliner at this year’s genre-defiant folk festival. Sept. 6, Folk Fest.
L Lal: They’ve been playing trip-hop since it was trendy. The Toronto trio brings in Desi influences from blip to bhangra to hash out a sound that’s balmy and club cool. June 21, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Mercury Lounge.
M Maylee Todd: The Toronto boogie-R&B artist recalls Ivana Santilli. On her new album Escapology (Do Right! Music) is a track called “Pinball Number Count.” It’s a jazzy rendition of the Sesame Street animation that crescendos into the big finale of Tweeeeeeelve! June 28, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Mercury Lounge.
N NDMA: It’s the handle of Nilton de Menzies and the word art — not a veiled club drug reference, though the early stuff that the Ottawa musician has put out shows promise towards producing a floor-filling, intoxicating sound. July 6, Bluesfest.
O Old Man Luedecke: He played the folk festival last year, where his banjo-stompin’ travel tales were enthusiastically received by a sweaty crowd. He moves over to the Bluesfest this year to re-greet his Ottawa fans for a show inside the war museum’s theatre. July 11, Bluesfest.
P Passion Pit: The multi-synth pop-explosion lifts up lyrics about the experiences of the crestfallen. The Cambridge, MA group loves its audiences and it shows in their live shows. Their tune “Mirrored Sea” from last year’s album, Gossamer, is brilliant. July 10, Bluesfest.
R Roberta Bondar: We already have one astronaut on the summer bill (see above); so don’t confuse this quartet with Canada’s first female astronaut in space, who is also a neurologist. The Ottawa band hopes to have an effect on your circuitry with its hazy rock. July 13, Bluesfest
S She & Him: Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward present so many parallels with David Byrne and St. Vincent. Both duos feature artists who can wear the title actor-slash-musician. That somehow gives them a very liberating free pass to find the ends and bends of pop music through tunes that can be weirdly wonderful. July 5, Bluesfest.
T Tiesto: He’s the superstar DJ and headliner at this year’s edition of the Escapade music festival, which made plenty of news last year when one of the co-founders took the festival’s funds for his own escapade. July 1, Escapade Festival, York Street location.
V Vampire Weekend: The band does indie rock with a Paul Simon-sounding throwback bent. September 5, Folk Fest.
W Willie Nelson and Family: The country icon has staying power and with that comes permission to try anything once (remember that gospel reggae album?). Expect musical variety. June 21, Jazz Fest, Confederation Park.
X Skrillex: Emphasis on the X here — to keep with format, and because the electronic party-rocker is bringing his exxxxtra-cool side project Dog Blood to town. It’s a collabo between with the dude with the asymmetrical ‘do — aka Skrillex — and Boys Noize. July 14, Bluesfest.
Y Yukon Blonde: Indie rock with retro vibe, the B.C. group is popular with people who like bands with names that sound like strains of pot. July 14, Bluesfest.
Z Zeds Dead: Diplo-approved Toronto dubstep duo of Hooks (Zach Rapp-Rovan) and DC (Dylan Mamid) blend in wide-ranging influences from Jamaican dancehall to BonIver. July 6, Bluesfest.