Icelandia- Kinship (Pre-Order)

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Elections, Snowfalls, Exams, Awkward Family Gatherings.

No matter what has you down, if you need a little musical escapism look no further then ICELANDIA.

The synth group from Kelowna is primed to release their debut LP Kinship, this coming Friday (Nov. 25th) and if preceding singles are any indication of what is to come, it is well worth a pre-order. Pristine beats, lush synths and buoyant, infectious vocals create a listening experience guaranteed to elevate. Its also worth noting that as the video for “Paper Suns” demonstrates, the outfit has a panache for great visuals, too.

Listen to all three singles below and pre-order Kinship by Icelandia on iTunes here.

New Music from Old Cabin

 

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The first new music from Jona Barr’s Old Cabin since 2013 is coming at us this Friday (so now, in essence.) The album, Saturn Return, is a 6-song player following up aself titled LP and 2012’s Growing Up Young.

For those familiar with the Whitehorse singer/songwriters previous work, expect to be taken back in by his warm, hazy voice…a welcome comfort like the first sweater day of autumn. That being said, expect some surprises too.

The first track and single from the album is titled Where Did You Go though it matches the pace and tone of works from his previous albums, theres a notable expansion in the soundscapes including long interludes of strings. There’s a polished smoothness to the track, replacing the remnants of grit honky-tonk picked up on previous works. For parties concerned by that last description, please note that that grit wasn’t so much blown away as it was collected, for the album’s next track, !?!, which has a distinctly louder, garagier sound then what you’d be used to. As for the honkey-tonk, just wait for Joe.
I Got You features an energetic sound, catchy, hollerable lyrics and a fun baseline,
dubbing it the summer power anthem of the album.

It feels like Barr decided to stretch his legs a bit more stylistically on Saturn Return, and thats fun because after three years, it means that Old Cabin gets the opportunity to reintroduce himself to some, and make a first impression on others. This is great news because new fans get the pleasure of not just enjoying these diverse six tracks but delving into the trove of music from 2012 and 2013 whose slow, sun hazed sound still holds up today and really are worth their discovery.

Though this release comes at the heels of Old Cabin’s cross-country tour, you may have the opportunity to check him out this autums as he plays some shows in the western provinces in connection with, you guessed it, Break Out West.

The full album is currently streaming on Exclaim and can be purchased on Bandcamp as of Aug. 26th.

Also, check out a vide from Southern Souls the group was featured on below.

 

Real Life and the Dream Life

 

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In a culture often filled with cynicism and aloofness, Doug Hoyer challenges me as he puts the heart back in its rightful place- on the sleeve.

Dream Life was released in September, and while I got the opportunity before hand to hear the tracks at many live shows and YEG music events, it has taken til now, with his freshly-begun tour, for me to write something about it. The reason (other then laziness) is really entirely to do with me rather then the album, and oddly enough it was re-listening to the album that helped me get it together and actually do this thing that I really want to do.

At risk of stating the obvious for someone with a music blog, I love music, and despite the currently less-then-regular updating, I love writing about it, love thinking about it, and love supporting it. The problem for me is that I’m also a self-loather. There tends to be a large chasm between my confidence in the validity of my ideas and the amount of respect I have for the artists I write about. I care what people think. Add to that writing about artists whom I personally know and it makes for a small internal crisis.

Right off the bat though, Doug compels his listener to let down their guard. Against an optimistic melody of strings, keys, flute and percussions he implores “Show me your heart! Thats a good start. We’re in the moment now, we wont be here for long…” Sigh. Okay Doug, fine. And while the mood is fun and light hearted, for the majority of people who struggle to be completely honest and open with their truest selves (for isn’t that the essence of the heart?) its a big ask, and Doug is right to coax us into it with his crooning.

 

On the second track, we are taken along on the course of an evening where the subject is anxiously preparing for a meal with his significant other and their boss. He presses his shirt and straightens his tie but still ends the night as a bit of a boozed mess. Where this could have take a turn where the partner is disgruntled at the way the evening ended, lamenting their choice in dates, the track is peppered with cute, silly whistles and the affirmation of one to the other, “Your mine, and I am yours”.

We begin to see what a dream life for Doug Hoyer looks like, and rather then cash, cars or vengeance, it looks a lot like the things a beauty pageant contestant might list: Love. Peace. Hope. Truth.

 

The album progresses from catchy, campy tracks to contemplative and mysterious on “Walking On a Bridge” and “Meet Me in The Pale Moonlight”. Curious as to the actual subject of the former, Doug again poses a request that it could be argued again values intimacy over comfort; “Meet me in the pale moonlight, find me in the forest green. Meet me where you don’t want to be seen.” Go where I don’t want to go? Why? For what? Theres a part from the Songs Of Solomon (super old love poem on book in ye old Bible) where the beloved comes to his bride in the middle of the night and is knocking at the door, and in modern wording her response is essentially “You mean I have to get out of bed and put on my robe?” Of course the action reaps its rewards, but lets face it, sometimes we just don’t want to walk away from our Netflix to meet our boo at that lame bar. Worth it in the realm of human connectedness, but not easy.

After a couple more tugs to the heart imagining a society free of the ugly parts of life and reminding of us of the beauty of a constant love or the impact presence can have on negativity, the album ends with the reminder that when all is said and done, time will leave us behind. Rather then undoing any hope or optimism brought forth this serves as a simple reminder that there isnt always tomorrow, and to a certain extent, we can have this Dream Life, but it requires our courage, hope and active participation.

Thanks Doug.

As hinted at, this album is often lighthearted in its indie-pop vibes, drawing on the style of Jens Lekman with some elements remnant of The Talking Heads. The music matches the sincerity and simplicity imparted in the vocals, making a fantastic album to warm the cockles of your heart or to give you the encouragement to be human and be hopeful. Doug Hoyer is currently touring across Canada including a date at Sled Island, click here to see the dates.

The Existential Exploration of We Are The City

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We Are The City- the first band I ever interviewed (shortly before I decided I hated doing interviews) are a group that I truly love to follow. I follow the articles and releases almost the way a fourteen year old (or lets be honest, a twenty-something year old) follows the status updates of their crush. Self-aware of my admiration for their boldness and confidence in themselves, when I think thoughts like “WHY ARENT THESE GUYS FAMOUS YET?” I know I have to take it with a grain of salt. But then again, why arent they more well known? At least in the Canadian music landscape? They won The Peak Performance Project when they were barely out of high school in 2009, released several buzz worthy projects including the “High School Series” and work on “Violent” and continue to bloom in their sound. They should be a crowned jewel of Canadian indie.
These guys are talented, creative, and risk takers. Apart from their music they’ve also done film work, collaborating in the creation of the film “Violent”, directed by drummer Andrew Huciliak. The band composed the music for the film and released a separate album under the same name in 2015. Their expression is experimental in the best sense, including interesting sound structures, piquing lyrics and spontaneity without alienating the listener. To add to the experience, the visuals that the band release to accompany their songs are pure magic, blending whimsy with chaos.

If you follow the band from their beginning, you see them evolve with their sound and their style (both sonically and physically). They grow up, but from the onset you can always pick out this existential theme of life in its complexity ranging from severe sobriety to optimistic, that alway exists.With every album the groups sound, along with this  theme, gets more and more polished to the point that it glares on their most recent work, Above Club.

Their all-in brand of experimental rock meet art-pop makes for an extremely enjoyable listening experience, but not always an easy one. I suspect that this is what curbs their mass appeal. Particularly if you’re the lyric examining/ self examining type. Where a lot of musicians are able to make notable records based on themes that point to the flaws in the other, We Are The City seem to excel at pointing to the flaws in the “I” and the “us”. The deep dive continues throughout the album, one of my favourite lines being “Please let the dance music start / After we have time to get messed up/ In the bathroom of the bar/ My tears will still come” from Dance Music. Kiss Me, Honey expresses a  romantic plea and the desperate request to be the object of desire juxtaposed with the mundane, complex and the practical implementation of relationships that are often swept under the rug in the pop love song or breakup ballad.

 

Amidst a melange of procession, distortion and melody, modern existentialism is explored and opened up for response.We Are The City have created an album with Above Club that is commentary and to some, possibly a critique, of the personal status-quo.

 

 

Give Me Something Beautiful- Ghost On A Throne (album release)

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Montreal trio Give Me Something Beautiful are set to release their debut LP, Ghost On A Throne, January 19th. That’s basically now.

I found out about these guys no more then half an hour ago while looking online for venues I might like to check out in my new city, so forgive me for my haste, but with a release date set for tomorrow, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share their name!

Currently, the group have only three tracks available on their band camp but according to the site, full streaming abilities will be available come release day.

The tracks carry a cinematic sense of drama. It’s a bit more overt on Destroy Me (album opener) with its quicker tempo and a punchier melody, but a more understated ember emerges, slow-burning on other offerings on the album in the form of glimmering finger picking on Tiger Beetle to atmospheric interlude in Made of Wires or some echoey cathedral-like harmonizing on the album’s last track, A Decade Wide. The group incorporates many sonic elements on the album, all bound together like twigs by the strong twiney voice of capital vocalist, Matthew Hills. Groups that came to mind in my quick, rash, first listening of these tracks included We Are The City, Explosions In The Sky and Dan Mangan.

The group will be launching their album with a free show at Casa Del Popolo starting at 9, doors at 8. Ill be sad to miss it, but am looking forward to giving the full thing a stream when I wake up.

“I Love You Honeybear” VIDEO

Father John Misty’s music video for the title track from his February release, “I Love You, Honeybear” fits the bill just right with its intertwining themes of impending doom and ostentatious romance.

The video features two on-call EMT’s living it up in the back of the ambulance where the whisky is flowing freely and the gauze is slinging through the air and playfully being tied on each others bodies. This scene alternates with shots of carbon monoxide filling an opulent mansion where at last we see Josh Tillman and a woman sprawled out and seemingly unconscious on their king-sized mattress.

Inevitably, our ill-prepared medical heroes get the call and respond, looking haggard as they race through city streets and while I wont spoil the fates of our beloved rockstar and woman, the video ends with both EMT’s recovering just fine.

“I Love You Honeybear” is the first song on the eleven track album, his second under the Father John Misty Moniker. Read more on the album here. Father John Misty will be in Edmonton as part of Interstellar Rodeo on July 25th.

Diamond Mind Blank Tape Release

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With bright, gleaming, illustrious tracks such as those we are treated to on Blank Tape, Diamond Mind shines out in a way that eliminates the ability to label them as laying “in the rough”. Here, these guys are the real-deal and on display for everyone to see (hear) and enjoy.

Hailing from Edmonton, Diamond Mind is a quartet of indie rockers comprised of Ian Waddell, Matthew Cardinal, Aidan Lucas-Buckland and Liam Trimble. Today, these guys released their newest e.p., Blank Tape which follows up their Fake Tape released last fall. The whole thing is only four tracks long but where the tape lacks in quantity, it absolutely makes up in energy and infectious melodies referencing a bouquet of sounds ranging from the Everly Brothers to The Knack to Joe Pernice.

First on the tape are some garagey beach vibes in “Little Lung” which weaves back and forth between surf rock and halting punches and switches. Next is the slow-jam of the tape, “Street Goes Straight Forever” where Trimble sings wistfully of life’s monotony and discontents until the track fades into a deluge of lyrical repetition of the title text that is liable to give you the spins or at the very least cause you to see double.

“Acid Jungle” was the first single to be released from the tape and while the slower guitar conjures up imagery of careless cloud watching, the lyrical content is far less airy (though rather tongue-in-cheek). Liam’s voice flutters smoothly, singing about our impact on the environment around us. Natural resources from pearls to fossil fuels becoming animated amidst the heralding cry for the possessors to “give it back.” Despite any self-loathing the lyrics bring up, the tune is catchy enough that even the less environmentally inclined among us may find themselves swaying and tapping along in time.

Diamond Mind leaves us amped up and ready to Carpe Diem at the end as they close the  tape with “Hark”. The last track starts off sounding like you’re in a pinball game and then the raucous tune kicks in. The guitar riff and energetic drumming get you bobbing immediately and as the second verse hits, it begins to really channel sounds of the late 70’s /early 80’s new wave power pop/ rock acts.

I love Diamond Mind, and I love going to Diamond Mind’s shows. If you’ve ever crammed yourself into Wunderbar on a night when this quartet of rockers is playing, you know that the energy this group and its fans brings to the table exudes the best in the local scene. Sure you might have to put up with a few of Liam’s dad jokes as he tunes his guitar, but thats just part of the charm. Diamond Mind will be playing such a show this evening at Wunderbar (doors at 9) alongside Psychedelic folk rock from Faith Healer (who is also releasing her debut LP) and Matthew Cardinal’s noisy lo-fi outfit, Slow Girl Walking. Blank Tape will be available there but you can also click here to check it out on band camp.

Faith Healer- Cosmic Troubles

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Faith Healer is the name of the summery new psychedelic sound from Jessica Jalbert put together with BFF Rene Wilson. Both incredibly talented in their own rights, the duo have combined forces and created some very groovy psychedelic folk vibes for us all to listen to. Their self-titled debut album comes to us from Mint Records (the same Canadian label the put out Rene’s solo LP from 2013, “Sugarglider”) and so full of groove you might find yourself seeing paisley.

The album opens with “Acid,” where Jalbert passively turns down a hit after realizing the drug just brings her down. Instead, she croons towards the end of finding what she needs from within: “If I need a feeling ill just get it from my soul”. It’s placid, sun-soaked and serves as a great ease-in for the rest of the album without giving away too much.

The tempo picks up on “Again” which features claps, tambourines and Jalbert’s all-abandoned holler at the end of each chorus while the old gets spacey and dusky with some fuzz rock for “Canonized”. The title track “Cosmic Troubles” plays out like a haunted folk ballad until the instrumental break hits and suddenly the mood is much more light giving the kind of vibes you imagine putting your hands in the air and doing a slow-sway with your friends to. This  mood carries into “Fools Rush In” where Jessica’s voice is so innocent and sincere that when she calls herself stupid you just want to give her a pep talk to boost her self confidence: “Aw Jessica, you’re not stupid. Don’t talk about yourself like that!”

“Infinite Returns” is breezy and wispy, conjuring up the feeling of an 80’s love ballad wit the nostalgic guitar licks and soulful baseline. “No Car” stands out on the album and is one of my personal favourites. The track features swinging percussions, bossanova base on a constant build up and distorted, fuzzy guitar riffs all juxtaposing Jessica’s under-the-radar vocals crooning “…You will go far, but you don’t have no car…” Add in that dash of organ and the whole thing is just a lot of fun. “Universe” channels a groove that echoes a Steppenwolf sound and will instantly make you want to hit the road looking for adventure while the next track, “Was, Is And Is to Come” will bring you back to yourself with its wistfulness and ‘c’est sara’ type of simplicity. This track has all the heart of a marching or pub song as it fades into boomeranging distortion for the last two thirds with echoes shining as it ends and breaks into the closing track “Until The World Lets Me Go.” The final track is probably the sunniest on the album, glistening with organ and tambourine, and layers of optimistic vocals gushing sentiments of contentment in an infectious sing-song harmony.

The guitar work on Faith Healers debut is genius and one of the standout aspects on the album. It ranges throughout from jangly to fuzzy to blues and every time it’s intriguing and finessed, fitting the mood perfectly. The harmonizing back vocals and occasional falsetto-tipped innovations from halberts Vocals were also delightful. Faith Healer pulls off the old-made-new-again sound near perfectly on Cosmic Troubles. The album will be available for purchase via Mint Records next Tuesday.

Check out the ending track “Until The World Lets Me Go” here:

PURITY RING TOUR DATES W/ BORN GOLD, BRAIDS

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Purity Ring have just released the official details of their upcoming world tour in support of their upcoming album Another Eternity, the follow up from their 2012 debut Shrines.

The Tour kicks off in Brussels April 8th and winds up June 19th in Oakland. Heading out with them in April is fellow Edmontonian artis Born Gold, with Braids joining the bill for the North American portion beginning in May.

Im absolutely thrilled about both supporting Artists. Braids’ lulling piano and spacey, ethereal soundscapes along with Born Golds break-the-mould brand of macabre industrial glitch pop are the perfect pairing for Purity Rings own unique sound.

Tour dates are listed at the bands website here.  It appears that the location for Edmonton’s show is yet to be announced, but with the hometown date set for June 13th I suppose we have a little time.

Listen to “Begin Again” off upcoming Another Eternity here and check out videos from Born Gold and Braids below.

30. VALENTINES DAY with Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear

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Happy Valentines Day. Hopefully by now you’ve carefully curated the day ahead of you- made the dinner plans, purchased the goods and prepared whatever else people do on February 14th to celebrate love and romance. But maybe you’re having a harder time this year. Maybe you and your significant other have had a go of it this last year, had some highs and fought through some stuff. Maybe shit just got real and the simple candy coated sentiments you can find in the card isle ad nauseam aren’t an accurate depiction of the more complex varietal of love you’ve come to taste and you don’t feel like lying. If so, consider skipping the Hallmark and handing your boo the new album from Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear.

I Love You, Honeybear is a concept album that doesn’t so much do away with the mushy-gushy lovey-dovey stuff as it does augments it with the down and dirty, nitty-gritty parts of love often blushed about and either repressed all together or reserved for explicit rap music. Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes) combines heart-swelling romantic accolades with an astute recognition of baggage, insecurity and been mental health as well as brash, unapologetic descriptions of sex to create an album intimate and still unexpected.

Musically speaking, this album is a treat for those who enjoy diversity. Tillman switches the sound up from track to track as much as he does the angle of the subject matter. The album starts with the title track, a heartfelt piano driven ballad with orchestral strings and blues guitar that leads into maracas and spanish guitar on the next track followed by glitchy minimalistic pop and vintage folk. It’s Tillman’s voice and vocal style that offers a truly common thread through out the albums play. Sounding reminiscently of early Elton John, Father John Misty’s voice rings out with emotion throughout the albums entirety. Its an accurate statement Tillman makes when he states in his own letter regarding the album, “I am truly singing my ass off all over this motherfucker.” As previously hinted, the album is lyrically heady so the stamina is impressive.

The greatest caution I or anyone else who has delved into the album can give in favour of staving it off as a Valentines day gift is the level of cynicism and self-depreciation we see particularly nearing the end. “The Ideal Husband” is basically a confession of every thought or action committed that is in direct opposition to the title while “Bored In The USA gives a depressio account of the disparity between reality and previously conjured up expectations of marriage and even average adult life, with a hint of satire care of a laugh track response to some of FJM’s vulnerable admissions. It’s true that you can simply take these tracks as another honest exploration of the anxieties and fears many people have when faced with true intimacy and commitment, but if your partner is the more literal, face value type of person then maybe you’re better off to stick with offering the more traditional trappings of Valentines day.

I Love You, Honeybear is out now on SubPop. Regardless of how you decide to let today play out, put this album on your check out list and let Father John Misty’s cornicopia of emotions and neuroses help validate your own.

Give the full album a listen here, then go buy it for your raw/real valentine:

Father John Misty performing “I Love You, Honeybear”