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The Elwins. Photo courtesy of Take Aim Media.

The Elwins bring catchy tunes (and clean fingernails) to Targ

By Jared Davidson on December 1, 2015

It’s been a great year for Toronto’s The Elwins. After releasing their sophomore album, Play For Keeps, in February, the band made numerous appearances at major summer festivals such as the Wolfe Island Music Festival and Sonic Boom, had a hit single on Canadian alternative radio, were featured in a Fido commercial, and followed it all up by releasing a fantastic video for their song “Show Me How to Move.”

The band is currently on a cross-Canada tour, with stops in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina Halifax, and Ottawa’s own House of Targ on Saturday the 5th of December. The band will be taking the stage with South Carolinian grunge band Heyrocco and Ottawa’s own Mosely . The venue seems like an ideal fit for the band, whose pop-rock style is sure to go well with a side of perogies and arcade machines. The Elwins intend to bring an energetic show to the stage on the 5th, said Matthew Sweeney, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

“We’re trying to move our bodies more, get more sweat going on stage,” he said, adding: “I’ll clean my fingernails, you can expect that.”

Clarifying his fingernails comment, Sweeney noted that everyone in Ottawa “seems so presentable” and that he feels like clean fingernails are a prerequisite for playing the city. However, given all that the band brings to the stage, it’s doubtful that Sweeney’s shiny nails will be the main draw.

November saw the release of the video for the song “Show Me How to Move.” The Elwins have built a reputation for releasing compelling, sharable videos (see their video for Forgetful Assistance, for example), and this video is no different. It features the undeniably smooth dance moves of Drew Smith (of The Bicycles and Doctor Ew). Directed by Zach Rose, the video is a slight departure for the band, whose presence in the video is not nearly as pronounced as in their other offerings. However, it allowed the band a little more control when it came to providing input on the directing of the video.

“It was really cool to step back,” said Sweeney. “With the other [videos], we couldn’t really see first hand what it was looking like. We just had to trust in the directors, and though that always turned out great, it was cool to be there and have something to say.”

The works hard to produce compelling videos, in large part because they’ve found success through that model. Sweeney notes that many of their fans have discovered them through YouTube directly, and the band sees it as an important venue for promotion.

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“We feel like a music video is going to be a lot of people’s first impression of our band,” he said, “and so we always feel like it’s so important to do the best job that we can.”

The song is the second single from Play For Keeps, following “So Down Low,” a song that has brought the band plenty of notoriety—it reached #12 on Canadian alternative radio, charting for over 6 months, and became part of a Fido ad campaign.

After Ottawa, the Elwins will be wrapping up their Canada-wide tour with a sojourn in the eastern provinces. After that? It’s back to the Toronto for the holidays, and then back to work on the new album.

“We’re working our guts out and treating it like it’s a job—9 to 5 every day,” said Sweeney. “In January we’re going to start writing pretty aggressively and get real serious about trying to write some hit songs.”

If their next album is anything like Play For Keeps, their fans are in for yet another treat. The Elwins are a band that one can’t help but expect great things from. Great things beyond, of course, clean fingernails. In Ottawa, that’s the bare minimum.

The Elwins play House of Targ on Saturday December 5th alongside Heyrocco and Mosely. Tickets are available at Vertigo Records and via Spectrasonic. You can also find the Elwins at their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Bandcamp.