Here’s what Toronto musicians look like as cartoon characters
Here’s what happens when you fire up the new video game Loud on Planet X. You pick a local musician, like Metric or Shad, head to a gig at the Horseshoe or Mod Club, and tap to the beat to get the crowd going. That’s when things get weird. Aliens invade the concert hall and suddenly you’re shooting beams of light from your speakers, laying down fog machines and summoning bouncers to fend off slug-like beasts.
The game, the latest project from local media studio Pop Sandbox, is one part Guitar Hero, one part sci-fi shooter and one part ode to Toronto’s indie music scene, packed with 28 playable tracks by Tegan and Sara, Fucked Up, Lights and more. Whether you’re playing on your phone, computer or PlayStation 4, it’s dangerously addictive and surprisingly challenging. Here, we round up our favourite songs from the game along with Mathew den Boer’s quirky illustrations of the artists who perform them.
In Loud, players have to tap in time if they plan on defeating the encroaching aliens, so a strong, steady beat is a blessing. This 2012 single from Emily Haines and co. offers just that, opening with a pulsing kick drum before evolving into a catchy chorus.
Tegan and Sara
The sisterly synthpop duo won a Juno with this buoyant anthem from 2013’s Heartthrob. We have to admit there’s a certain satisfaction in repelling bug-eyed invaders as they sing, “Can you come a little closer?” What a tease.
Shad (featuring Saukrates)
“Stylin” is arguably the finest track off the Q host’s latest album, Flying Colours. It might also be one of the most unabashedly Canadian rap tracks ever recorded: in the third verse, Shad rhymes BC with MPP and NDP amid mentions of “the dot” and “West Van.”
Up We Go
The synth-powered star otherwise known as Valerie Poxleitner cites video games as a major inspiration for her work, so Loud on Planet X feels like a natural career step.
Don’t be fooled by Katie Stelmanis’ voice. Underneath those soaring operatics, Feel It Break’s “Lose It” is essentially a collection of chiming beeps, boops and digital arpeggios that could double as the soundtrack to any video game.
Queen Of Hearts
We’re inclined to believe that if angry aliens did indeed show up at a Fucked Up show, Damian Abraham would simply rip his shirt off, dive off stage and hug them into sweaty oblivion. Problem solved.
Guns + Ammunition
This song is the perfect introduction to July Talk: singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay trade verses—his rough and assertive, hers airy and nimble—atop a chugging bass line and distorted guitars.
The track’s original video was essentially a video game, anyway, so…
If we had to pick just one song to set to alien warfare, it’d be “Wet Blanket.” Loud and violent, it’s bound to awaken players’ carnal instincts.
Corin Roddick, one half of the sleek electro duo, typically performs behind a collection of crystalline lamps. So, when it comes to blasting aliens with beams of light, it looks like he’s way ahead of the game.
An earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that Yuliya Boublikova created Loud on Planet X's illustrations. She is in fact the game's animator.