There’s a studious quality to Dany Laj’s music: It’s clear that he and his Montreal trio, The Looks—rounded out by Jeanette Dowling and Lewis Handford—own record collections that put most of ours to shame. And that’s because their music unequivocally recalls U.K. power pop of yesteryear—in Laj, you’ll hear bits of Nick Lowe’s rough-and-tumble melodies, Dr. Feelgood’s razor-sharp energy, and Elvis Costello’s early-game snarl. Indeed, Laj’s 2012 LP, the Boppa Do Down-released Telepathic Voices, recreates that corner of British pub rock so authentically—he doesn’t veer into the harder-edged power pop of The Boys or the jangle of the dBs, for example—that it’s hard to believe that yes, he’s Canadian, and no, he wasn’t born sometime in the 1950s. It’s a wonder, really.

We quizzed Laj on his favourite Toronto memories, his favourite local record finds, and the significance of 799 Queen St. W.

AUX: So, tell us: What’s 2013 been like for the band, and what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Dany Laj: It’s been quite the year so far. We’ve been everywhere in the east coast of Canada touring [and] we’ve met a bunch of new people and made some really great friends. We settled in Montreal in January so we’ve been discovering another amazing city this country has to offer. We’ve played tons of shows and kept our eyes on the yellow line. We’ve taken risks and kept ourselves open to a lot of situations which has helped us more than anything.

We have a full length record in the can and have been shopping it around. We’re hoping to have it out in the fall. As far as the rest of the summer goes, we are going back to the Maritimes and doing a southern Quebec tour with our New York friends The Above…. We are also planning to get down to America and check things out over there. Playing shows all the time is what we do. But who knows, really—maybe we’ll have our own comic book.

That’d be excellent. You’re evidently familiar with the city, if we’re to believe “799 Queen St. W.” So, what are you most excited to do in Toronto?

Well, [NXNE is] the first time in a while that we’re spending more than a night and a day in Toronto this year. It definitely seems like a nice visit/vacation. It’s rare that we get to spend so much time in a city while on the road.

We’re super excited to spend time in record shops, visit our old friends and, funnily enough, grab some of our stuff out of storage. We’re known to be seen at the Magpie, The Cameron House, Squirly’s, Graffiti’s, and The Press Club for drinks. We made reservations at the Bristol Yard to eat so we’ll be there for sure. Lewis often frequents toy shops so he can get gadgets for his son. That kind of thing, y’know.

You shout out 799 Queen St. W., which is the old location of Hits and Misses (RIP), in one of your songs. It was a pretty legendary record store around these parts—did you pick up any particularly memorable finds there?

Jeanette and I are Toronto ex-pats—we both lived in Toronto for years. We lived upstairs of Hits and Misses during its last year of existence in Toronto, so [the song] is a tongue in cheek take of me looking onto Queen from my window, observing what was going on the street that day. I loved living up there, and Pete Genest, who owned the store, became a really good friend of mine; I guess I wanted to make the song a time capsule. As for records, we found a bunch of amazing ones—I mean the selection was one of the best in Canada, if you ask me. Off the top of my head, I could mention a Pumphouse Gang re-issue on Sing Sing Records, and The Meeting of Important People’s self-titled record on Get Hip. There’s a ton of stuff we got from there

Let’s talk NXNE. Who are you most stoked to see this at the festival?

I’m really excited to see Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet [at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 14 at the Pearson Airport] and The Superfriendz [at 11 p.m. on Friday June 14 at the Great Hall] this year. They were two of my favourite bands of the ’90′s that I never had a chance to see.

Considering you’re travelling from Quebec, can you recommend us any awesome Montreal bands who are playing NXNE?

The MuscadettesRed MassThe 222s and The Normals. All great bands, you should try and see as many of those as you can. [It’s] a really great slice of Montreal from the ’70′s punk scene to now.

Having spent so much time here, who are your favourite Toronto bands? 

The Nature BoysPow WowsDodge FiascoRattlesnake ChoirDani NashSam CashAlun Piggins,The BB GunsTaylor KnoxPink WinePlanet Creature and Beams. We are playing with our friends Shbti for their record release party. And we will be playing a matinee with John Borra and Sam Ferrara.

Tell us why your shows are the shows that everyone should see.

We’re the real deal. That’s why.

Can’t argue with that. Do you have anything else to add?

Our hearts go out to the untimely passing of Chris Levoir of The Mark Inside. He was a very close friend of ours, and for us, his death is absolutely devastating. We’re going to rock out extra hard in his memory.

Catch Dany Laj and the Looks at NXNE on the following dates:

Thursday, June 13th, with Shbti. 3030, 3030 Dundas St. W. 10 p.m.
Friday, June 14th. Of a Kind Record Shop, 1037 College St. 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 15th. The Sister, 1554 Queen St. W. 12 a.m.
Sunday, June 16th, with John Borra and Sam Ferrara. Communist Daughter, 1149 Dundas St. W. 5 p.m.
Sunday, June 16th. The Magpie, 831 Dundas St. W. 8 p.m.






NXNE 2013 Artist Profile: Dany Laj & The Looks

Name: Dany Laj & The Looks

NXNE Shows: The Sister – Saturday, June 15 @ 12 AM and Magpie – Sunday, June 16 @ 8 PM

Hometown: Currently based out of Montreal, QC

Music genre: Rock ‘n Roll/Power Pop

Year it all began: 1989

A quick introduction: Dany Laj & The Looks are always everywhere. They are in your heart and on your mind. They are the band, the minute, the hour. If you like the hooks and harmonies of the 70’s power pop heyday, you will love Dany Laj and The Looks. They are the real deal.

What attracted you to music? I can’t really point out exactly what did. I can at least tell you exactly when I first fell in love with a band though, hopefully that’ll be acceptable. When I was 9 years old my parents were taking us on a family trip. At the time we lived in Kirkland Lake ON. We were heading east on our way to Rouyn-Noranda QC. We had stopped to get gas and my dad came back with a tape he bought while paying for gas. That tape was The Beatles – Rock ‘n Roll Music Vol.1. When I first heard it through the family van’s speakers it instantly changed my life. For the first time ever I fell in love with something other than my immediate family. At first it was early Beatles then it was rock ‘n roll altogether.

What are your sources of inspiration? I get inspired by the whirly world we live in. Everyday life, friendships,relationships, hardships, tall ships. Sometimes it’s a simple as a shower curtain. At times it’s as complex as the human body. Sometimes the hope for world peace inspires me. Other times war inspires me. Hatred inspires me as much as love does. When I was a kid Wayne Gretzky inspired me. When I was a bit older The Jam inspired me. Then Jean Chretien inspired me. The other day a Buck Owens 8-track inspired me. Inspiration is and has been all around me. If I can can keep my mind focused enough I can create just about anything, really.

What would your dream gig be? Singing happy birthday to Marilyn Monroe while getting whipped by Bettie Page.

What are your thoughts about the NXNE platform? I’ve never played the festival. Though we have five shows during the festival this year, so we’ll have plenty of time to reflect on it next year.

Interesting points others don’t know about you? I have two brothers. One of them is a really good guy and the other one is my twin. I do my sideburns with a drywall knife. -Dany




Dany Laj and The Looks – Telepathic Voices

by Cheryl Thompson

Dany Laj and The Looks aren’t just another indie band from Montreal. Sure, they’re an indie band currently making waves in Montreal but they are they are doing their own thing. I first came across this band when I checked out their video “Chamberlain Sessions” on youtube, and well, don’t take our word for it, get a sense for yourself what’s so fresh about this band and their four-track EP Telepathic Voices. On “Mr. Rebound” you get a good taste of Dany Laj’s vocals but what also stands out is the simplicity of the track. It’s the kind of track that would serve as the perfect backdrop to a teenage angst film. “Take It Away” and “799 Queen St West” are quintessential Canadian rock songs with hard guitar riffs, defined back beat, and cheeky lyrics. And finally, “What’s Wrong with You” is an indie rock song through and through. With its forlorn lyrics and background vocals, if you don’t like this tune, it begs the exact same question, what’s wrong with you?4/5





Dany Laj And The Looks are a three-piece power pop band from Canada, and this is their latest EP Telepathic Voices. These guys bring a lot of energy and excitement into their sound and after checking out the Chamberlain Sessions video I’m pleased to see that the band carries it into their studio material too.
Telepathic Voices is a fantastic EP full of four extremely entertaining songs. Dany Laj And The Looks use their loud power pop and bluesy style to create a very accessible and catchy sound, using it to introduce themselves to the listener in the best way possible with opening track Take It Away.
It’s impossible not to enjoy the material shown on this EP especially when your feet have to contend with the ridiculously jangly guitars in 799 Queen St West, the instant classic Mr Rebound and the slightly slower paced but still amazing What’s Wrong With You? I’ve not enjoyed listening to a record as much as I’ve enjoyed Telepathic Voices, and I seriously hope Dany Laj And The Looks bring out more material this year.




If you like your power pop with an edge, then check out Dany Laj and The Looks.  Hailing from Totonto, Canada, Dany Laj and The Looks deliver a rather tasty slice of power pop here and I am not sure if it is Dany’s looks (I watched the Chamberlain Sessions video before listening to the tracks on bandcamp) but I immediately thought of Elvis Costello when I saw him and listening to the mans music, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a fair amount of Mister Costellos music in his collection.

The tracks here remind me of a mix of early Elvis Costello and The Replacements and let’s face it, they are two excellent reference points, but this isn’t saying that this is all you get, it isn’t, these tracks are pleasently raw, energetic, bouncy and seem to have a little punk ethos about them, I like that.  In fact there is nothing here not to like, but, as always, take a listen to the tunes and judge for yourself, me, I am going to spend the rest of today playing this EP and the band previous EP “The Match.”  Enjoy.



September 19, 2012 · by Laura · in 

After finding themselves in a precarious living situation, Dany Laj and the Looks were offered the chance to take over a 2 month sublet in Le Plateau. They set out to escape the Ontarian landscape for a tick, while playing as many shows as possible.

Laj, who looks like Elvis Costello’s nerdy cousin is the leader of the pack, but he relies heavily on his crack team rhythm section; drummer Vassil Mester and bassist Jeanette Dowling. The Looks play a variety of styles, sometimes veering into serious Westerberg territory, but always keeping it a little Power Pop.

Dany Laj and The Looks will be performing a weekly stint at neighbourhood dive Barfly, every Sunday from 6-9pm.




14 OCTOBRE 2012

J’avoue sortir du garage en vous présentant ce groupe tout droit sortie des années 60. Je ne saute toutefois pas de l’autre côté de la clôture. Dany laj pourrait être confondu avec Buddy Holy dans la rue, autant pour son génie que par son look.  Autour de lui règne un aura incompréhensible, il respire l’expérience. Si on écoute les murmures autour de lui, on peut entendre des histoires de tournées croustillantes, mais il n’a pas besoin d’en parler. Il a clairement raccourcie son nom de famille pour faire de la musique et non pour créer un personnage.

 Après plus de 12 ans de tournées entrecoupées, de divers projet et différents groupes, Dany nous présentent sa musique, authentique, vieille, bien que aucunement dépassée. On peut aussi compter parmi les rangs de son trio, la typique geek sexy qui joue de la basse caché derrière ses grosses lunettes et ses tatoos.  Délicieux.

Vous ne trouverez pas de vidéo viral sur le web, votre Facebook ne sera jamais tapisser de leur promo, mais soyez certain que d’ici peu, ils auront joué dans toute les salles de l’Amérique et auront conquis les oreilles des plus fines de la pop vintage.






Dany Laj – The Match ep (2011, Boppa Do Down)

A little birdy passed this one along to me and what a pleasant “tweet” it turned out to be. Dany Laj (abbreviated for Lajeunesse) is a chap from a small Ontario town who set off to Toronto to create the great American pop album.  Well, come to think of it, The Match isn’t actually an American proposition at all, since he’s still a Canadian resident, and furthermore this six-song release technically qualifies as an ep, so forget all that “album” nonsense.  What was I thinking?  So yeah, we have the great Canadian ep called The Match, which showcases a budding troubadour who has “raw talent” written all over him.  Laj possesses the same visceral moxie that forebearers Ted Leo, Elvis Costello, and Joel Plaskett made their respective calling cards, and just like that trifecta he makes it sound so damn effortless.  Beyond quality material if you ask me, but listen for yourself.  The Match apparently hasn’t hit stores yet, and in fact, a record release party is slated for November 27 at The Piston on Bloor St. in Toronto.  Was so impressed with I heard I thought I’d share the ep in it’s entirety (at least for a little while).  Per Laj’s corner of  Facebook, he recently toured under Dany Laj and The Looks, though I’m not certain if The Look are backing him up on these half dozen tracks.

01. The Match
02. Remedy
03. Alien Ate Some People
04. Oh Dear
05. Orange Buoy
06. Smile On Face




Dany Laj & The Looks-The Match EP. Staying north of the border, Laj & Co. hail from Ontario and have released an impressive EP that brings to mind Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and The Plimsouls. The title track is classic roots-based pub rock, and despite its silly title “Alien Ate Some People” is another enjoyable track in the same vein.





By  on Sep 07, 2010 in Music Scene

It was the 3rd Wednesday of December in 2009 at Cecil’s when Dany Laj last took a North Bay stage, accompanied by Joey Clement on drums and backing vocals. There would not be much disagreement amongst those in attendance, that they saw one of the best rock shows in recent memory that night. Since then, Dany has been working to further establish himself on the Toronto music scene, regularly gigging at venues such as The Press Club, The Dakota Tavern, and Graffiti’s. Also, he has recently completed a 6 song EP called “The Match”.

On September 17, Dany Laj and The Old Youth will return to play 100 Georges.

Although, for the sake of his music career, he calls Toronto home, his roots are in the north and his connections to the north remain extremely strong. Before heading to the city, Dany lived in and belonged to the music scenes of Kirkland Lake, North Bay and Sudbury.

Of course it all started in Kirkland, as he grew up in a family with a strong musical tradition. “After dinner, the table got cleared, moved out of the way, the family sat in a circle and the instruments came out.  The entire family was involved with music in some way,” Dany relates.

His first band in Kirkland Lake was called Swank, whose line up included another ex-citizen of Kirkland Lake, Chad Newton. After Dany failed to crack the line up of a band he wanted to join, Prime Tension, he heard Chad Newton outside of school talking about how Swank needed another guitarist. Dany would not to be foiled again in his attempt to join a band: “I kind of swindled my way in by saying I knew scales and stuff… which I really didn’t, but I really wanted to be in that band. The next thing I knew, I was playing my first show with that at the Polish Hall in Kirkland.”

Another major musical counterpart was Joey Clement, a talented musician and songwriter, with whom he played in Too 4 Flynchen.    The pair eventually outgrew Kirkland and went to Toronto in another of Joey’s bands called The Awesome Team which was on the verge of making it. By the time that The Awesome Team was signed by a label, Dany had already gone back to Kirkland to reconnect with his roots. This is when he started writing songs for himself.

Sometime in 2003, Dany moved to North Bay, to once again join a band with Chad Newton, The Intesteens.  This band consisted of Dany Laj (guitar, vocals), Chad Newton (guitar, vocals), Clint Mallete (drums), and Brett McNeaul (bass) who all emigrated from Kirkland to North Bay during the Kirkland invasion of the early 2000’s. They went on to become fixtures on the North Bay scene, and released an album on Shocknova Records which was owned by Jake Naylor, also a North Bay resident formerly from Kirkland.  After the departure of Brett and Clint, Dany and Chad brought The Intesteens on a cross country tour with a rhythm section borrowed from Form One;  Nathan Gray (bass), and Mike Brushey (drums). It would be their last tour.

After the untimely demise of The Intesteens, Dany moved to Sudbury to form The Old Youth with Julie Houle (vocals), and Steve Joncas (bass, vocals) and Luke Sellen (drums). North Bay native Russ Jack, formerly of The Drones, eventually replaced Steve Joncas on bass. This band was a regular headliner at The Townehouse, achieving critical acclaim and considerable success with an album called “Lost in Dust”.

After the untimely demise of The Old Youth, it was time for another roots discovering pilgrimage to Kirkland Lake. There was only so much that Dany Laj and the Modern Day Citizens could do in Kirkland, so Dany decided it was time to go where the music industry was, Toronto.  Not surprisingly, in Toronto, Dany is collaborating with old friends and band mates from Kirkland. On the upcoming EP “The Match”, Joey Clement (drums, vocals) and Chad Newton (bass, vocals) are both involved.  The EP was recorded in Parkdale by Dave Misener, who happens to own a cottage outside of Kirkland, and mixing was done in Guelph by former Awesome Team bandmate Dan Beeson, who is originally from New Liskeard. For this upcoming EP, Dany also worked with Toronto musician Lori Hirst who sang on one of the tracks.

The manifestation of The Old Youth that we’ll see in North Bay will be Chad Newton (bass. vocals), Sean Dignan (drums), Erika Werry (keys, vocals) and Sara Fitzpatrick (fiddle) .

Playing at the George is a perfect fit for Dany Laj and The Old Youth. No venue is more dedicated to supporting original music than is the George, and Dany is perhaps one of the hardest working promoters that the North Bay music scene has known. The knock on a North Bay bars is that they don’t bring in enough original acts. However, Dany sees his role as entertainer from the perspective of the venue owner. These are businesses and are interested in making profits. He knows as an entertainer, his job is to bring people out, and make sure the bar does good that night. So, when Dany plays, expect a party.

As a musician, not only is it important to promote your own shows, it is also important to support the efforts of other musicians who are playing original music. If you don’t show up for shows, don’t be surprised if people don’t show up for yours.

“You do have a duty. If you want there to be a scene for original music in whatever city you live in, you have to get out and be at shows even when you aren’t playing. I’ve lived in North Bay, and I understand the struggles that the North Bay Scene faces. It works when people are showing up, and fails when people stay home. It’s that simple. The bars will book original music when they think the people involved can be successful for the bar.”

It could be looking up in North Bay in terms of access to original music, with the return of Drew Vendetti and the re-launch of Organ Grinder, his promotional company.  North Bay can look forward to seeing acts like C’mon, and The Sadies, in the not too distant future. Given Organ Grinder’s track record of success, Drew is not having any problems finding venues that are eager to work with him.

“It’s good for North Bay to have Drew back with Organ Grinder. If you support Drew’s shows, he’s the kind of guy that will help your band out in any way he can. I know this because I’ve dealt with Drew years ago. He knows how to promote, and works with people that support the scene. He’s successful because of it.”

Recently having turned 30, Dany has a long musical career already behind him. He also has a long musical career ahead of him, as his dedication to making music drives everything he does in life. The new album EP, is currently available on the CBC Radio 3 website, and will be released on CD and vinyl in the near future. If hard work and the quality of the product have anything to do with it, the sky is the limit for M. Dany Lajeunesse from Kirkland Lake.

Oh ya, by the way, come out to the George on the 17th, it’ll be a party.