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Friends in Bellwoods

Friends in Bellwoods - (various artists)

(various artists)
Out of This Spark - 2007

Michael Panontin
A rickety old house in Toronto's Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood is indie central - a home, practice space and crash pad for the city's vibrant creative underbelly. And while the besotted world press continues to fawn over Toronto's more glamorous francophone sister down the St. Lawrence, this homelier Ontario city (as well as its visually challenged environs) has been quietly building its own legion of talented bands. Bellwoods House is home to three members of Ohbijou, whose Casey Mecija and James Bunton have put together this lovely 2CD scene sampler, the proceeds of which go to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto.

Quiet is definitely the new loud here as Friends in Bellwoods is for the most part awash in the softer sounds of pianos, acoustic guitars, violins and banjos, some of the rustic sort, others more of the twee bent. Forest City Lovers' 'Don't Go, Please', Norwegian ex-pat Nina Neilsen's 'Cloudberry Mountain' and Friday Morning's Regret's 'Wooden Sky', charming acoustic tracks all, help give the disc its hushed and tranquil appeal. Ohbijou's remix of their stellar 'The Otherside' - probably the standout track on the whole disc - is transcendent pop, a dazzling mix of enchanting piano/horn arrangements and fragile vocals.

And Friends in Bellwoods is hardly monolithic - Guelph's D'Ubervilles contribute some fiery post-punk angst with their tense 'We Are the Hunters', while the Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara's spacy Eno-esque atmospherics (circa On Land) add a bit of the ethereal to the project. And for those of the leather and porn persuasion, there's the raunchy electro-punk of Toronto's Kids on TV with their excellent 'Breakdance Hunx (PSBEUYS PNP Mix)' ("...a blond boy who breakdances and sucks cock? We could make five grand a week - easy - off your ass."). Fun for the whole family here.


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