Toronto band Weaves brings skronk and spontaneity to pop music

By Jamie McNamara
Weaves formed out of an almost-retirement from vocalist Jasmyn Burke. Photo: Brendan George Ko

Weaves formed out of an almost-retirement from vocalist Jasmyn Burke.
Photo: Brendan George Ko

CALGARY — Forgive this writer for starting this with a little bit of music journalism echo chambering, but at the time of writing this article, doing a quick Google search for Toronto band Weaves will result in about a dozen separate “Band to Watch” articles appearing on sites everywhere from no-name blogs to Spin. Deservedly so, one listen to their music is all it takes to be enraptured in their world of chaotic guitar pop. Weaves’ recently released self-titled debut is full of guitar-based, fuzz-bombed pop gems that burst at the seams with multi-faceted melodies that have been put through the wringer, but still come out as fresh as they went in. Lead single “Tick” opens with a guitar line that sounds like a kazoo put through a guitar distortion pedal, and that’s only song one.

The four-piece has strong art rock leanings and a breezy, musician’s sensibility to let things unfold live. That tendency to play it by ear has left most anyone with the opportunity to witness Weaves perform live saying the same thing: “wild.”

On the phone from Europe, vocalist Jasmyn Burke ponders if the band is really as wild as everyone insists.

“I guess in a way, yes. We’re free at least, and we do what we want to do, so in that sense we’re sort of wild. I think the live show, people seem to react to it positively and they seem to like what we do onstage. It’s a lot of improv that’s happening, and we’re trying different things every night within a song so there’s a level of spontaneity that I think makes it feel a bit wild, I dunno,” she says with a laugh.

Spontaneity seems to be a throughline for most of Weaves work thus far. The band came together after Burke met guitarist Morgan Thompson at what was supposed to be a show celebrating her decision to leave music behind. Instead, the two decided to meet at Thompson’s office for an impromptu writing session that proved to be the jolt both artists needed to give music another go.

“I think that Morgan and I had both been in bands previously that just felt a bit stagnant. I personally didn’t think I was going to play in another band, I was over it and I didn’t think I wanted to continue playing live, but then you start to crave it and you miss it, and you realize that you can’t live without making music, so we just started sort of making songs.”

The two eventually fleshed out the band with Vancouver transplants bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole, but the core writing team of Burke and Thompson is the braintrust of the project.

“For both of us, we’ve never really created songs like this, so the process of my writing loops, and coming up with all the lyrics and melodies and stuff, and then working on developing the music with Morgan – neither one of us had worked with another person that way, so maybe that helped us to create our own little unique sound.”

That unique sound isn’t far removed from the noisy rock of fellow Torontonian bands (and Buzz Records label mates) Dilly Dally and Greys, but Weaves have an ear for pop arrangement that puts them in a different class. Still, Burke says that originality and urge to eschew a traditional band dynamic is what really keeps everyone engaged.

“It’s really interesting, just being on the road these last two months. We’ll have people who are older come to shows – there was one guy yesterday who came to a show and he said he’d been going to see bands every week for 40 years and he was sick of rock music and hadn’t gone to see bands in a few years, but he came to see us because he thought we were making stuff that sounded original. That kind of stuff is more complimentary, the personal things people say to you after the show.”

You can catch Weaves at Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver on August 16th, The Palomino in Calgary on August 18th, Vangelis Tavern in Saskatoon on August 19th, or Rainbow Trout Music Festival in Winnipeg on August 20th.

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