Album Reviews, Canadian, Hardcore, Metal, Music

[Album Review] USA Out of Vietnam- Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes

No Comments 19 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

usaoutofvietnam

Release Date: May 5th, 2014
Label: New Damage Records / Aurora Borealis

‘Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes’ is an impressive effort, to say the least. Recorded at Montreal’s renowned Hotel2Tango with a gaggle of guest musicians, the album is a richly layered cornucopia of musical sounds. It’s progressive drone metal, but that’s a label that is more limiting than illuminating.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Music, Pop, Psychedelic

[Album Review] Smash Boom Pow- Do You Feel?

No Comments 18 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
smash

Rating:

Release Date: June 20th, 2014
Label: Independent

Vancouver’s Smash Boom Pow embrace a variety of styles – alternative power pop, psychedelic fuzz, hard rock and British glitter rock, to name just a few – but there is no uncertainty in their ambition. The trio (drums, bass, guitar/vocals) are clearly just having fun playing whatever they like, without concern for what may be trendy or marketable. This refreshing approach results in an album featuring a nice diversity of sounds, but at the same time establishes an overarching cohesion that is somewhat difficult to define but is clearly attributable to the band’s ethos.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music, Pop

[Album Review] The Wilderness of Manitoba- Between Colours

No Comments 18 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
betweencolours

Rating:

Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Label: Pheromone Recordings

The sense of purpose on ‘Between Colours’ is palpable. On this their fourth album, the Toronto-based trio The Wilderness of Manitoba are making conscious and deliberate efforts to expand on their sound by increasing the complexity of their instrumentation. On the closing track “The Movement of Stars” they hit the mark beautifully with the use of time signature changes, layered guitars and some trippy keyboards. Unfortunately, however, on most of the songs the conventional song structures and less than memorable lyrics simply don’t match the band’s ambitions.

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Album Reviews, Canadian, Electronic, Electropop, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Hush Pup- Waterwings

No Comments 18 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

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Rating:

Release Date: September 25th, 2014
Label: Legwarmer Records

The album ‘Waterwings’ opens with the delicate wash of synths followed by the ethereal sounds of Ida Maidstone’s breathy vocals. You think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Maybe you have. Dream pop heaven, that is. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Garage, Music

[Album Review] Death From Above 1979- The Physical World

No Comments 16 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

dfa1979

Rating:

Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Label: Last Gang Records

Ten years is one hell of a long time to wait for a second album but the faithful never gave up and they’ve finally been rewarded – Death From Above 1979 has finally put out the follow up to their 2004 groundbreaker ‘You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine’. In all those years they haven’t lost a step – Jesse Keeler still crushes your spine with his blistering bass and Sebastien Grainger’s yowling vocals retain their scorn as he pounds out a mean beat. Yes, DFA 79 are back and they sound as good as ever. But wait, that’s a problem, isn’t it?  It’s like a movie sequel – being just as good as the first is not enough, it has to somehow push further, do one better, to be considered worthy. I’m afraid so. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] West My Friend- When the Ink Dries

No Comments 13 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
westmyfriend

Rating:

Release Date: March 6th, 2014
Label: Grammar Fight Records

West My Friend are the quintessential Victoria band. They are friendly, personable, well-educated, liberal-minded, funny, environmentally conscious and they lean towards indie folk. And then there’s that je ne sais quoi – the thing that sets them apart, that makes them unique – let’s call it their quirkiness.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Blues, Canadian, Country, Jazz, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Petunia- Inside of You

No Comments 07 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

petunia

Rating:

Release Date: July 21, 2014
Label: Trapline

Petunia is a bizarre and mysterious character. I cannot determine his real name, but I do know that he is originally from rural Quebec and is now based in Vancouver, although he seems to have spent time in almost every corner of the country (both Toronto and Fredericton claim him as a former resident, just as examples). What I do know is that he’s an entertainer – I mean in the old-school sense of someone who sings anything, plays anything, does anything in the name of entertainment. He’s Buffalo Bill Cody, he’s P.T. Barnum, he’s Ed Sullivan and he’s a carnival sideshow barker. He wants to take you go on a wild ride with his album ‘Inside of You’, so step right on up, folks. 

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music, Pop

[Album Review] The Wooden Sky- Let’s Be Ready

No Comments 06 September 2014

by Tiana Feng
thewoodensky

Rating:

Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Label: Chelsea Records

It’s been 2 years since The Wooden Sky released the beautiful folk album Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun. Since then, Gavin Gardiner built himself a home studio out of a garage in his backyard, which is why it’s perfectly fitting that a photo of spot on Dundas West would make the cover of Let’s Be Ready.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] Sunfields- Habitat

No Comments 04 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
sunfields

Rating:

Release Date: May 27th, 2014
Label: Independent

‘Habitat’ by Montreal’s Sunfields sounds, at least superficially, like a mixtape made by a university kid in the 1970’s who still misses the ’60’s but has warmed up to the country folk sounds of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. There’s the odd Beatles flash-back but the harmonica, steel guitars and organ are all touchstones of that late ’70’s southern California sound. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Electropop, Folk, Music, Pop, Singer/songwriter

[Album Review] Valery Gore- Idols in the Dark Heart

1 Comment 02 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

valerygore

Rating:

Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Label: Independent

Valery Gore has always been enjoyable and has proven her ability to craft a solidly listenable song. Now however, after spending four years bringing her third album to fruition, Gore takes a huge step forward with a work that displays both greater lyrical maturity and musical complexity. She, in fact, stands poised to earn her place in the pantheon of critically acclaimed contemporary female singer-songwriters.  Fortunately for us, along the way she hasn’t forgotten that her primary job is to entertain. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Music, Pop, Singer/songwriter, Soul

[Album Review] Cold Specks- Neuroplasticity

No Comments 02 September 2014

by Tiana Feng
Layout 1

Rating:

Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts

A month ago, Cold Specks played a very sold-out show at The Drake Hotel. Front woman Al Spx took to the stage, acting mostly as lead singer as opposed to double duties as a guitarist. This allowed the singer to put her full energy on her awe-inspiring vocals that could fill a theatre. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music, Pop

[Album Review] The New Pornographers- Brill Bruisers

No Comments 01 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
brillbruisers

Rating:

Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Label: Matador/Last Gang

Of the two major critics’ darlings in Canadian contemporary music Arcade Fire are the ones for whom indie weirdness comes so naturally that it’s a struggle for them to rein it all in and present something listenable. Their West Coast counterparts, The New Pornographers, on the other hand, could rattle off enjoyable power pop in their sleep (and maybe they do), and so you would swear they deliberately go out of their way to sound “difficult” in order to ensure that they are taken seriously. However, after kicking around for about 15 years TNP are at a point in their musical lives where they no longer seem to care whether they are taken seriously or not. On ‘Brill Bruisers’ everything sounds more effortless, without any obvious attempts at pretension (gone, for example, are the head-scratchingly obscure song titles). The resulting product exhibits more exuberance and cohesion than we’ve heard since the band’s early days. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Blues, Canadian, Music, Singer/songwriter, Soul

[Album Review] Jill Barber- Fool’s Gold

No Comments 01 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
jillbarber

Rating:

Release Date: June 14th, 2014
Label: Outside Music

I know it’s been said before but when it comes to Jill Barber it all starts with the voice. It has a childlike quality that is balanced off by a faint huskiness. Then there’s her signature quaver that sounds both vulnerable and alluring at the same time. You combine all of that with her breathy delivery and, hell, she could make the Canadian national anthem sound like a torch song. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Canadian, Covers, Music

[Album Review] Grey Lands- Songs By Other People

No Comments 01 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
grey-lands

Rating:

Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Label: Paper Bag Records

I enjoy an interesting cover song as much as the next person, but I have rarely been inclined to review an entire record of them. Once in while, however, a covers album comes along that is more than just a tribute – it makes an artistic statement of its own. Such is the case with the aptly titled ‘Songs By Other People’ by Grey Lands, a side project of Cuff the Duke leader singer Wayne Petti.

I have no idea what induced Petti to pick these particular songs but it was an inspired move. With the exception of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” (OK, and maybe “Girl from the North Country”) these tunes are pretty obscure, but damn they are all excellent. I’d be just as happy with a collection of the originals. Then again, that would just be someone’s personal mixtape and, yeah, what’s the point in that? Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Classic Rock, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Zeus- Classic Zeus

No Comments 01 September 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
zeus

Rating:

Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts

‘Classic Zeus’ will be familiar territory for anyone who has listened to the band’s first two albums. Again they pay tribute – whether it’s intentional or not – to the likes of the Beatles, ELO, the Hollies, the Band and Harry Nilsson. Zeus has never been guilty, however, of being mere imitators – their sound is original and it’s their own, even if they do sound like they’re auditioning for a taping of ‘The Midnight Special’. And the boys continue to hone their craft here, both as performers and songwriters. Nevertheless, they still come up a little short of producing a masterwork. Continue Reading

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