Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Toronto’s Vypers released a new 4-song EP back in March and if you want the limited vinyl, you’d better act quick!, The four-track offering will be treated to a physical release on clear 10-inch vinyl via Fishbum Records.

Vypers play loud high energy psychedelic garage rock all enveloped in a wall of noise and plethora of hooks.

A couple of the tracks are previously released but no matter, “Mr. Girl” deserves to be played at least as much as “Despacito.” . Beyond that, you can also check out the new video for “My Girl.” It was shot on a ’90s camcorder and the band blew their $50 budget on “dollar store confetti guns and gin.” The results are exactly as fun as they sound.

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Vypers The Band are:

Nic Waterman – Fuzz Guitar, Vocals
Damien Florio – Drums
Patrick Lefler – Bass
Liam Cosby – Verb Guitar, Vocals

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Representing the softer side of indie rock, Canada’s Alvvays are set to bring their light, breezy vibe to the desert. In 2017 the band released Antisocialites, a deceptively anxious collection of warm, dreamy melodies and jangly guitars. It was one of our favorites of 2017. Toronto-based five-piece Alvvays combine their fuzzy, jangly indie pop with infectious, sugary melodies that recall the likes of Scottish outfit Teenage Fanclub and nod to the U.K. post-punk act the Dolly Mixture. Lead vocalist Molly Rankin — the daughter of John Morris Rankin from the popular Canadian folk family group the Rankin Family — was joined by childhood neighbor Kerri MacLellan on keyboards, and met guitarist Alec O’Hanley at a show as a teenager before they proceeded to write music together. Rankin self-released a solo EP in 2010 with the help of O’Hanley before bringing the rest of Alvvays together, with Brian Murphy (bass) and Phil MacIsaac (drums) joining the fold.

Northern Heirs is a rock band from Toronto Ontario. This project is a labour of love born of a desire to make honest, thoughtful music. Debut 6-Song EP was released in May 2017.

This is a compelling sound indeed. This Toronto act blends folk, rock, and dream pop to form an art all their own. Vocally, it reminds us of City & Colour while instrumentally, it can vary depending on what point of the track you are currently listening to. Lyrically they are surprisingly talented and relevant, mixing a variety of life and dreams. With one EP under their belts, the act are currently working on crafting more well received tracks for their next anticipated effort. We cannot wait to hear more from the guys.

The indie rock outfit formed by recording Toronto artist Scott Carruthers and producer Michael Norberg to fill the creative space between the down time of their own personal projects became this lovely formidable thing. Scott’s considerable backlog of material crafted between two like minds became the debut EP

Single from Northern Heirs, released February 2018.

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U.S GIRLS – ” Half Free “

Posted: January 8, 2018 in MUSIC
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One of the most memorable moments on U.S. Girls‘ recent album, Half Free (4AD), isn’t a song but a short skit that interrupts the idiosyncratic outsider pop two tracks in. Illinois-born, Toronto-based Meghan Remy is one of our favourite breakout artists of 2015 and her 4AD debut is a magpie’s nest of mini treasures; part soul, part lo-fi rock and hugely rewarding. In an alternate universe Window Shades with it’s piano stabs would be the perfect Bond theme – seductive, cool and rather raunchy.

It begins with Meg Remy calling a friend to tell her about a creepy dream involving her father, then shifts to the two of them riffing on gender, ending with a canned laugh track that somehow strips all the comedy from the punchline.
“I decided to do a skit almost as a joke, but then it turned into something serious because I can’t really do anything as a joke,” Remy explains. “It’s a mostly improvised conversation between me and my sister-in-law, and it kind of ties the record together. It deals with almost all the themes on the record: family, violence and sex.”

U.S. Girls originally started as a solo noise-pop experiment but has evolved into something more overtly pop. On Half Free, Remy enlists an array of collaborators (including her husband, Slim Twig), which takes the collage concept she’s always worked with in a new direction.

Each song is a small story often focusing on the darkness in many women’s lives. She’s repeatedly cited Bruce Springsteen as an inspiration behind her character-driven storytelling, but she says another key influence is Toronto’s Simone Schmidt (of Hundred Dollars, Fiver and the Highest Order).

“Her bravery and her voice totally inspired this record and inspired me to write from the perspectives of characters that aren’t really being heard from. She’s also unapologetically political, and I think everyone should be in this fucking era we’re living in.”

It’s not surprising that she steers the conversation toward politics, since that seems to be how most of her interviews go. While other artists are often preoccupied with making the dialogue all about the music (or themselves), Remy has other priorities.

“I don’t want to talk about myself. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I’m hoping to reach people and get them thinking about what’s happening in the world. We’re living in such a crazy time, and it’s getting crazier. Part of that is people’s laziness and inability to get active in what’s going on. Everyone is just staring at their phone all day.”

critics loved Meg Remy’s debut for 4AD. With Half Free, the Toronto-based American expat crafted a heady collage of sonic, political and narrative ideas into nine tracks that explore the lives and concerns of working-class women.

Her sixth album is essentially what a glossy major-label pop album might sound like if turned inside out: it runs a gamut of stylistic influences and is full of simple, affecting melodies and hooks, but the guts are on display in its scrappy samples, psychological complexity and unapologetic realism.

Remy writes and sings from the point of view of characters, but it’s her sonic details and vintage atmospherics that beautifully express how the struggle for freedom and equality spans time.

Half Free is one of those records that gets better the deeper you go with it. Easily the most ambitious album to come out of Toronto this year

Ten years into her career as U.S. Girls, Meg Remy switches up her M.O. for In a Poem Unlimited, eschewing samples in favor of a full live band. She’s still pulling from ‘60s girl groups and R&B, but theres a real ‘70s vibe this time out, adding glam, glitter, disco and funk to her arty mix. (“Sed Knife” from 2016’s Half Free pointed in this direction.) Lyrically, Meg remains a potent voice of protest, mad as hell — literally in one case — and laying into the powers the be. Having road-tested the record with her new band late last year, this year’s tour should be as anticipated as the LP itself.

‘In A Poem Unlimited’, the new album by U.S. Girls, will be released on February 16th 2018 on 4AD Records:

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On their second album, Toronto art-rockers Weaves tightened up the formula of their debut, adding pop-informed melodies to their fuzzy guitars and barbed observations. The jangly perfection of “Walkaway” and acoustic inoffensiveness of “Grass” beautifully signal this new direction, while the T. Rex-infused, oddball glam of “Slicked”—imbued with a heavy dose of bubblegum-snapping attitude from vocalist and songwriter Jasmyn Burke , She polishes up the best moments from their previous effort.

Weaves – Slicked Recorded Live: 10/17/2017 – Paste Studios – New York, NY

Taking a spiritual cue from the socially-conscious but introspective approach of Bruce Springsteen, Burke, Waters and company have plenty of vitriol to counter the step or two toward the mainstream. “We are living in a time where misery is just a comm on circumstance,” she sings on “Scream,” a fiery collaboration with Tanya Tagaq that takes on everything from body-image to reproductive rights—the stick beat and freak-out grunts reminding us that Weaves can still get wonderfully weird.

Weaves – Walkaway – 10/17/2017 – Paste Studios, New York, NY

WeavesLa La Recorded Live: 10/17/2017 – Paste Studios – New York, NY

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Weaves has all of the markings of a familiar rock band, but what comes out rarely resembles what you’d expect to hear from a drums-guitar-bass-voice quartet. When the Toronto-based group came to the UK last year I loved the guitar dynamics of Morgan Waters‘ his angular guitar playing including shouting into the guitar f-holes, and the dynamic driving force of the rhythm section. All this great musicianship fuels the songs that singer Jasmyn Burke sets on fire. Jasmyn is on her own planet, one that’s both dauntless in tone and affirming in message. But there are many welcoming moments on the latest album “Wide Open” that can win over a relatively less intrepid listener. The opening track, “#53,” will make Bruce Springsteen fans smile. #53 is the first single from our sophomore LP “Wide Open” came out October 6th, 2017 via Buzz Records, Kanine Records, & Memphis Industries.

Tamara Lindeman was 31 years old when she recorded her latest album as the Weather Station, which is significant. “Thirty” is a song about surviving that milestone birthday, about the small moments that define that time of life: “You put your hand on the small of my back, I was surprised that you’d touch me like that.” The song builds speed and momentum, getting faster and faster with each new memory, much like life itself. And Lindeman stands in the middle of the storm, trying to make sense of one moment before the next moment hits. “That was that year, now here is another one.”

On astonishing artistic statement The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman homes in on her rebellious core to express some of the finest musical sentiments Canada has conjured. A mood and scene-setter, Lindeman delves into the complexity of interpersonal relationships and, in particular, the tricks and treachery of soul mate communication. It’s not always easy, and neither is the Weather Station.

Often citing the writing of Steven Lambke, like he’s a mentor, Lindeman approaches language like a dancing partner but also like a foe. Often, as on the flurry of imagery that propels “Thirty” or “Kept it All to Myself,” she lets loose emotive lyrical torrents that haunt the listener.

Beyond her gift for phrasing and alluring voice, Lindeman also shows off an ear for arrangements and production here. The musicality is uniquely orchestral and sophisticated; the back-up vocalists are utilized with subtle strength. This is the Weather Station, ascending with the grace of a heron to full flight.

The Weather Station’s S/T album was released October 6th, 2017 on Paradise of Bachelors (worldwide), http://www.paradiseofbachelors.com/po… as The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman reinvents, and more deeply roots, her extraordinary, acclaimed songcraft, framing her precisely detailed, exquisitely wrought prose-poem narratives in bolder and more cinematic musical settings. The result is her most sonically direct and emotionally candid statement to date, a work of profound urgency and artistic generosity.

The palpable freedom emanating from Tamara Lindeman’s fourth long-playing album as The Weather Station is unmistakable, and completely intentional. Stepping aside from a successful acting career, and taking the reigns in the recording studio, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has crafted her most intrepid, stirring, and successful work to date. All it took was a load of gumption.

She cracks that the new album is her rock and roll record. There’s of course a grain of truth in every joke. “There was this excitement around what would happen if I blended my sensibility with that spirit,” she says. “That devil-may-care attitude.” By that she means that she had to actively work against most of her natural instincts in the studio—to be less careful, less cautious, and totally unselfconscious in her decision to stand up to male assertion. “I knew exactly what I wanted, and I just realized that it was actually better if I didn’t listen to anyone else,” she adds.

It’s an environmental reality most women have had to face. The overcoming of this quiet oppression, this subtle misogyny, becomes an unwanted career milestone—the product of a deep-rooted, male-centric ideology that remains a de facto force in creative and corporate settings. “Lord, Give Me the Confidence of a Mediocre White Man” is an oft-memed phrase for a reason.

Lindeman explains that she’s never worked with a female producer, and in her experience men in that role exude finality in their point of view, often ignoring the artist’s input altogether. As a self-proclaimed introvert and someone to whom leadership does not come naturally, she adds that she had to tap into her acting chops to construct a reality where her opinions of her own work negated outside input. She adds that men have a keen ability to make their opinion seem like the truth. “But in the end, that’s just one opinion, that’s how it sounds to you,” she says. “I just had to pretend to myself that my opinions were the Word of God.”

The new, self-titled album’s eleven songs unfold and build upon one another like chapters in a captivating memoir. They’re moving yet unsentimental, welcoming listeners aboard a passenger train between heart, brain, and larynx.

“I just had to pretend to myself that my opinions were the Word of God.”

“All these years I have followed you / It never occurred to you to follow me,” she sings on album opener “Free.” The song acts as a mission statement, the trailhead of a path through introspection and liberation, surrounded by swaying guitar, stringed breezes, and chirping piano. It’s familiar and yet deeply personal, merging universal truth and individual experience. It describes the making of the record, and the feeling throughout the end result. It’s a painful realization—and a battle cry.

Like any great book, the LP’s effortless quality comes from a mastery of craft. Each song has a stream-of-consciousness quality, but in fact endures rounds of re-imagining and revision. Lindeman begins with a germ, a seed of a song, and incubates it by recording different, largely spontaneous versions on the theme with just guitar and voice. She plays them back, transcribes them, and then fuses together her favorite parts for a finished song.

Album standout “Impossible” began with what became its apex: the line “I guess I got the hang of it, the impossible.” She knew immediately that the very loaded observation deserved a wider exploration. Despite the universality of the song’s crux, she sought a very personal narrative to surround it. An early version didn’t tap far enough into any specific place in time, and ended up on the cutting room floor. “It doesn’t feel right if I write a song that’s too vague,” she says. “All the lyricists I admire have moments where it’s universal and moments where it’s specific. There’s a perfect balance that I’m always striving for.”

Like any red-blooded Canadian, Lindeman cites Leonard Cohen as a lyrical hero, but with a caveat. “Bob Dylan is also the best,” she says. “Leonard is better in a lot of ways, and I think he’s the best, but you need Bob, too.” She also mentions Canadian compatriots of the contemporary music scene in the same breath. Artists like Jennifer Castle have inspired her own free-form approach to songcraft, which emphasizes lyrical narrative, rhythmic phrasing, and organic instrumentation over traditional verse-chorus formatting. It’s a signature mark of artists like Joni Mitchell and Mary Margaret O’Hara, and one increasingly present in the new age of singer/songwriters like Lindeman, who deftly manages to work a multitude of cohesive feelings, ideas, and actual words into her songs.

When asked about her approach to phrasing, her voice piques with excitement. “People don’t talk about phrasing, but it’s so key,” she explains. She adds that while she doesn’t have a deep knowledge of the canon, rap music has influenced the quality of her sung words. “You can’t help but notice the ingenuity pouring out of that genre right now,” she says. “What people are doing in rap is much more distinctive than what people are doing in folk music… Having rap permeate the culture has really affected me.”

For an album with a remarkable series of firsts, from self-producing to string arranging, The Weather Station spins like a classic work from a storied professional, steeped in equal parts confidence, grace, and duende—that intangible spirit of passion. And all this despite disapproving forces in the studio. “There were people around me who didn’t like the record,” Lindeman says. “I was like, ‘OK, I gotta see this through.’” The result is a triumph of character and expression. A singular vision swimming upstream in a sea of know-better.

Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics is album number three. It offers a tighter, punchier sound than the previous two with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps. Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise.

Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly truer in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger tapping. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds.

Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presented his debut album “A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone” under moniker Mappe Of. Lyrically, he populates the disc with an interesting gang of characters: a disturbed boy setting fire to his family’s home, a vagabond in Australia who’s disavowed all family ties, a Canadian youth figuring life out overseas, and an elder dying from Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize his family. Musically, the album is a dreamy, meta-dimensional sequence of alternative folk masterpieces. Mappe Of blends synthesizers with organic instruments including guitars (both acoustic and electric), trumpets, violins, kalimba, and autoharp. Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.

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