Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Garage, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Monomyth- Saturnalia Regalia!

No Comments 31 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
monomyth

Rating:

Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Label: Mint Records

Monomyth are no longer Halifax’s best kept secret — they are well on their way to becoming Canada’s latest indie pop darlings. Are they deserving of such acclaim? If their debut ‘Saturnalia Regalia!‘ is any indication then the answer is most definitely “yes”. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Experimental, Metal, Music, Psychedelic

[Album Review] Kuato- The Great Upheaval

No Comments 29 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
kuato

Rating:

Release Date: June 24, 2014
Label: Acadian Embassy

Kuato consists of five talented musicians from Halifax who practice their craft in the shadowy world of post-rock, which is a genre that is often misunderstood and sometimes even maligned. This is not prog rock for the 21st century, in fact it is “progressive” only in the broadest sense that it seeks to go beyond traditional rock stylings and structures. Nor is it merely instrumental metal. For one thing, post-rockers are not head-bangers, they are serious composers who approach their art the way classical musicians do, albeit with electric guitars and drums rather than violins and trumpets. Furthermore, on ‘The Great Upheaval‘ the music is just as often soft, almost ambient, as it is thunderous and loud. The only track that could be considered metal is “Battle of Bloody Creek”, but the title of the song should give you a good clue as to why it’s metal. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Garage, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Pink Mountaintops- Get Back

No Comments 28 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
jag250.11183v5

Rating:

Release Date: April 29th, 2014
Label: Jagjaguwar

‘Get Back’ starts off with such promise that you think, “This could be it. This could be the year’s big one.” Unfortunately, things go downhill after the first two tracks until finally bottoming out with one of the most abysmal songs in recent memory. “North Hollywood Microwaves” starts off with some garage boogie mayhem, which is all fine but you can’t help feeling that this must be heading somewhere. It is, but trust me you’ll wish you never got to that somewhere. Guest vocalist Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) starts into a rant that is not quite sung/not quite rapped. The subject matter is distasteful to say the least (it involves bodily fluids and bears, that’s all I’m saying). Even worse, the quasi spoken word part fails to bring the song together, in fact it throws everything completely off balance. All in all, the track is a regrettable inclusion. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Canadian, Electronic, Electropop, Music

[Album Review] some minor noise- Anachronisms

No Comments 27 July 2014

by Tiana Feng
someminornoise

Rating:

Release Date: July 14th, 2014
Label: Emprise Music

In 2014, we saw the release of a bunch male-fronted dark pop like Trust’s “Joyland” and The Hidden Camera’s “Age”. Electropop duo Some Minor Noise even the playing-field with their debut Anachronisms. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Music, Pop, Shoegaze

[Album Review] Alvvays- Alvvays

No Comments 26 July 2014

by Tiana Feng
alvvays

Rating:

Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Label: Royal Mountain Reocrds/Polyvinyl Records

At its surface Alvvays‘ self-titled, is a collection of jangly-shoegaze pop tunes that were released at the appropriate time, summer. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Music, Pop, Uncategorized

[Album Review] Prairie Cat- Who Knows Where To Begin?

No Comments 25 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
cover

Rating:

Release Date: August 5th, 2014
Label: Independent

The album ‘Who Knows Where to Begin?‘ starts with the sound of a child’s music box, which is quite appropriate given that there is a pervasive childlike theme at work here. The writing and arrangements, for example, are childlike in their simplicity. The songs are essentially just singer-songwriter Cary Pratt (a.k.a. Prairie Cat) tooling around on his electric piano, although he does recruit the help of several of his Vancouver musician friends to provide embellishment. And there is even a childlike innocence in Pratt’s earnest vocal delivery, right down to the deliberate rolling of his r‘s. In fact, you find yourself so caught up in the record’s innocence that by the time the singer drops an f-bomb in the fifth track you find yourself snickering like a 10-year old. Continue Reading

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

[Album Review] Reef Shark- Better Weather

No Comments 24 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
reef shark album

Rating:

Release Date: June 23rd, 2014
Label: Independent

One thing about eagerly waiting for something for too long is that you start to worry that you are building it up too much and that surely this is going to end in disappointment. Such was the case with the debut album from Vancouver’s Reef Shark. It was recorded in 2013 but for some reason it has been languishing for many months with only the odd teaser to keep us tantalized (like the video to “Frozen Beach”). Well, the debut is finally here and fortunately the record was definitely worth waiting for. It is, in fact, one of the best Canadian indie albums of the year so far. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Blues, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer- A Real Fine Mess

No Comments 23 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

harpoon

Rating:

Release Date: June 17th, 2014
Label: Tonic Records

The Harpoonist (Shawn Hall) and the Axe Murderer (Matthew Rogers) hit a career high with their latest album ‘A Real Fine Mess’, which is aptly titled given that it is one hell of a mess of styles but, boy, is it fine. The record is a wild mix of blues, funk, southern roots, honky-tonk and motown, but what makes it special is how the duo fuses these diverse styles into a unique sound that is all their own. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Experimental, Music

[Album Review] Five Alarm Funk- Abandon Earth

No Comments 18 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
fivealarmfunk

Rating:

Release Date: June 7th, 2014
Label: Independent

The last thing that occurs to you when first listening to ‘Abandon Earth‘ is that there is any coherent theme to this barely bridled mayhem. The album is an exhilarating but frightening rollercoaster ride through funk, heavy metal, gypsy, punk, prog rock, afro-beat and many other musical styles just too numerous to list. This is such high octane insanity that you’d never believe there was actually a method to the madness. But there is — this is actually a concept album, which relates the sci fi tale of a demented ice cream vendor who laces his wares with drugs and then takes his victims on a psychedelic trip to the centre of the earth. Whoa, hang on, that sounds … nuts. Maybe we should just say that there is madness to their madness.

Five Alarm Funk have been around for ten years now, and in that time they have evolved from a more traditional-sounding funk band into something heavier, darker and weird, something that is all their own. They make full use of everything at their disposal – drums, guitars, brass, sax and percussion —  to gleefully whip their listeners into a frenzy. It is still a carnival, but where it was once a romp in the fun-house it is now a riot at the freak show.

The album opens to the chiming of an ice cream truck, which gives you a bit of a shiver because you know that it’s ominous, like the singing of a nursery rhyme at the beginning of a horror movie. Then there is a brief bit of vaguely Balkan-sounding guitar work before the flood-gates open and the band hits you with all that they’ve got — and this is a 9-piece band, so that’s quite a bit. When lead singer (and drummer), Tayo Branston, delivers the narrative he does so with a menacing growl that one normally associates with death metal, putting you on notice that this is no walk in the park. This is a dizzying, high-energy thrill ride, but it has a sinister edge.

Once the band unleashes their sonic barrage on “We All Scream” they never let up. ‘Abandon Earth‘ is impressively creative with its unique concoction of sounds, but it’s relentless and it’s intense. So intense, in fact, that when the band plays this material live they make sure to intersperse it with some of their older, less demanding songs.

However, for all of that, Five Alarm Funk’s music remains rhythmic, bouncy and infectious. The story they tell on this record may involve catastrophe, fear and destruction, but at the end of the day it is still a party.

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

[Album Review] Animalia- Mouth Full of Teeth

No Comments 13 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
animalia

Rating:

Release Date: June 4th, 2014
Label: Killjoy Collective

I read recently somewhere that electronic music is currently a creative wasteland. Maybe so, but there are still some acts around worthy enough to restore its good name. Case in point, Animalia (a.k.a. Jill Krasnicki), who may be favourably compared to the likes of Goldfrapp, St.Vincent, and even Bjork. None of those are “electronic artists”, you say? Precisely. In emulating the example set by these excellent female songwriters Krasnicki deftly avoids the pitfall of placing too heavy an emphasis on sound effects and gimmicks at the expense of solid song structure. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Garage, Listen, Music, Psychedelic

[Album Review] Surprise Party- Heart of Love

No Comments 12 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
surpriseparty

Rating:

Release Date: March 17th, 2014
Label: Independent

Man, I hate it when that happens. I get an e-mail from Tiana which reads “Winnipeg psychedelic goth-lords Surprise Party”, and when I head over to their Bandcamp site I find it splattered with satanic images, including a particularly gory Last Supper scene. Hey, I’m down for anything, so I sharpen my butcher knife, grab a frisky sacrificial lamb and head on down to the party. But, whoa, imagine my surprise, this is a California beach party and here I am dressed like a druid! Fortunately, no one here cares what you look like. I just smile and quickly hide the lamb behind my back (I strongly suspect these guys support PETA). Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Hardcore, Music, Punk

[Album Review] Fucked Up- Glass Boys

No Comments 12 July 2014

by Tiana Feng
glassboys

Rating:

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts/Matador Records

Back in December, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Damian Abraham, Jonah Falco and Sandy Miranda at Candle Recording Studio for a Stereogum feature story. Abraham had discussed with us his internal conflicts, what it’s like to be a dad and also a member of a band with a certain level of fame yet still being accepted in the punk scene. These are all internal conflicts that fuel the energy found in the band’s latest effort Glass Boys. Continue Reading

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

[Album Review] Greg Smith and the Bad Dreamers- Dreamers

No Comments 12 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
gregsmith

Rating:

Release Date: April 14th, 2014
Label: Independent

Right from the start ‘Dreamers’ makes you feel at home. The way Greg Smith delivers the opening line to “Loyalist Parkway” with a quaver and that distinctive rolling of his r’s leaves no doubt that he is a Canadian singer and this is Canadian music. He and his band, the Bad Dreamers, breeze through a set of solid songs that are as comfortingly familiar as a backyard barbeque complete with some Molsons and a few of your hoser friends. This latest project by the Weakerthans’ bass player is a collection of folk rock numbers which are charming and fun, if somewhat undemanding. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Experimental, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Wunderstrands- Wunderstrands

No Comments 06 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
wunderstrands

Rating:

Release Date: May 29th, 2014
Label: Independent

Wunderstrands‘ is the self titled debut from the duo of Mara Pellerin and Brad Kilpatrick. They are both members of the Newfoundland indie rock outfit Gramercy Riffs. It is unclear whether this is to be considered a “side project”, but it is certainly a marked departure. Pellerin and Kilpatrick eschew any notion of pop commercialism in favour of a delicate, ethereal sound. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Hardcore, Music, Punk

[Album Review] Greys- If Anything

No Comments 03 July 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
greys

Rating:

Release Date: June 17th, 2014
Label: Buzz Records/Carpark Records

There are artists out there who give a lot of thought to their intended audience. They use terms like “relatable”, and strive to have their music “resonant” with the listener. Then there’s the likes of Greys. Frankly, they are too happy just playing what the hell they want to give a sh%# what you think. It’s the quintessential punk attitude, and Greys have it in spades. Continue Reading

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