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

[Album Review] Rec Centre- Monster of the Week

No Comments 28 November 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
reccentre

Rating:

Release Date: November 18th, 2014
Label: Independent

Although he utilises the able help of Jay Arner and Jessica Delisle (who currently have their own venture, Energy Slime) Rec Centre is, for all intents and purposes, the musical outlet for Alex Hudson, whose work as a writer (e.g. for Exclaim!) and blogger make him something of a music industry insider. Although the record has a surficial sheen of light-hearted fun, underlying it all is the inevitable cynicism. This is reflected in the album title, ‘Monster of the Week’ — that crass industry term for whatever crap is currently popular — and is pervasive throughout.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] Mecca Normal- Empathy For The Evil

No Comments 24 November 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
mecca

Rating:

Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Label: M’lady’s

The name Mecca Normal conjures up images of a cheesy ’80’s electropop band playing god-awful dance music with a motorik beat. Wrong! MN are actually the artsy indie duo of singer Jean Smith and guitarist David Lester, and they’ve been kicking around since (gasp) 1984. Their music centres around Smith’s lyrics and her odd vocal style. As she sings, speaks or sing-speaks her voice comes from deep in her throat in a near-warble. It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty fascinating.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] Dean Drouillard- UFO Houses

No Comments 24 November 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
dean

Rating:

Release Date: October 28th, 2014
Label: Backward Music

‘UFO Houses’ is an instrumental guitar album by Toronto producer and musician Dean Drouillard. This project has apparently been in the works for a couple of years and finally came to fruition recently with the help of friend and fellow producer Joshua Van Tassel. Van Tassel just released an album himself — the ambient instrumental “Dance Music: Songs for Slow Motion” — and his influence can clearly be heard on some of the atmospherics here. However, Drouillard’s approach is somewhat different — he uses his guitar to express concepts and emotions rather than evoke them.

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Album Reviews, Canadian, Chillwave, Electronic, Music

[Album Review] Snowday- As We Travel

No Comments 12 November 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
snowday

Rating:

Release Date: November 25th, 2014
Label: Independent

The album ‘As We Travel’ is a work of delicate beauty that, for the most part, gives a sonic portrayal of our coldest season. Despite being primarily electronic, there is a true organic feel in its evocation of the elements, such as wind, rain, ice and snow, as well our place within those elements. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Canadian, Electronic, Electropop, Music

[Album Review] Ryan Hemsworth- Alone For The First Time

No Comments 11 November 2014

by Tiana Feng
ryanhemsworth

Rating:

Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Label: Ryan Hemsworth

Mister Ryan Hemsworth fascinates me because of how good he is on the interwebs. He’s a master of social media with a fanbase that includes North America, Europe and Asia (the dude has a cult of Asian girl fans).  It’s not a surprise as Hemsworth has create a signature style of electronic music that is both fascinating and well, kind of adorable. Though his latest album is titled Alone For The First Time, this album features a bunch of collaborators including members of his new label/project Secret Songs. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Electropop, Experimental, Music

[Album Review] Absolutely Free- Absolutely Free

No Comments 03 November 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
absolutelyfree

Rating:

Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts

The artsy outfit Absolutely Free never seem rushed. In the same way that they have taken their time to develop the band’s career (it has taken them over two years to get around to putting out their debut full-length) they allow their songs all the time they need to do their thing. As a result, many of the tracks on ‘Absolutely Free’ start out by wandering around aimlessly (this is not a bad thing at all, it’s very pleasant) before gradually taking on some semblance of structure. A prime example of this is the closing track “Spiral Jetty” which starts off in a very ambient vein with looping synths. The keyboards start to coalesce around a recognizable beat and are joined by vocals that are so disconnected and airy that they could be dispersed by the slightest of breezes. Partway through the piece, however, Matt King’s drums kick in and provide an anchor to the entire affair. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Ambient music, Canadian, Electronic, Music

[Album Review] Joshua Van Tassel- Dance Music: Songs for Slow Motion

No Comments 30 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
JVT_DanceMusic_lo-res

Rating:

Release Date: March 25th, 2014
Label:Backward Music

Multi-instrumentalist Joshua Van Tassel offers up his more electronic work to date. That is not to say that there is less humanity here, far from it. Despite the ethereal ambience of the album, emotions such as hope, dread, fear and joy are ever-present and pervasive. However, these emotions are not articulated so much as evoked, making for a very personal experience on the part of the listener. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Canadian, Electronic, Electropop, Music

[Album Review] Caribou- Our Love

No Comments 28 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

caribou

Rating:

Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Label: Merge Records

After 2010’s ‘Swim’ it should come as no surprise that Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) should again delve into contemporary R&B on his new album ‘Our Love’. And even though the lyrics take on a lighter tone this time out, long-time fans can be rest assured that Snaith is not forsaking his subtle artistry in his march to the dancefloor.

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Album Reviews, Electronic, Music, Psychedelic, trip-hop

[Album Review] Dada Plan- A Dada Plan Is Free

No Comments 20 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
dadaplan

Rating:

Release Date: October 21st, 2014
Label: Kingfisher Bluez

Dada was an art movement in the early 20th century that celebrated the absurd and the nonsensical. A data plan, on the other hand, is a mundane phrase from the early 21st century that is a reflection of our electronic media-obsessed society. Put the two together and you have … I dunno, a bunch of guys who think they’re clever? The good news is that, from a musical perspective, they are.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] Fish & Bird- Something in the Ether

No Comments 20 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
fishandbird

Rating:

Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Label: Fiddlehead Records

They are an indie folk-rock outfit from the West Coast. You think you’ve got them pegged already, don’t you? Think again. For one thing they have more rootsy instruments in their arsenal than you’d normally expect from Canadian pacific music (banjos, fiddles, etc.). The thing that really sets them apart, however, is their arrangements. That’s not to say that F&B take you on weird free-form trips or baffle you with dissonant change-ups, but the song structures are never disappointingly predictable. It’s not heavy-handed by any means, but they throw you off just enough to pique your interest.

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

[Album Review] The Sky Lit Up- The Sky Lit Up

1 Comment 14 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
theskylitup

Rating:

Release Date: September 28th, 2014
Label: Independent

Comparisons to the Beatles are often lazy (how many bands don’t owe something to the Beatles, after all?) and can be a disservice (who wants to listen to a band that sounds like them when we all know and love the original?). So, I’ll limit my analogy to just two elements  – first, like the Beatles, The Sky Lit Up walks that fine line between being universally appealing and being artistically satisfying, and, second, “Shadow of a Vampire” does actually sound like a George Harrison number that they forgot to put on ‘Revolver’

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

[Album Review] Hansmole- Whitest Whiteness

No Comments 12 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
hansmole

Rating:

Release Date: September 17th, 2014
Label: Independent

Up until now Hansmole (or Hannah van Adrichem, according to her driver’s licence) has been first and foremost a visual artist. So it comes as no surprise that she brings an artist’s aesthetic to bear when she turns her talents to music. None of the tracks on ‘Whitest Whiteness’ are simple in their structure, as each has been carefully composed with a vision in mind. Consider the song “Sunshine” with its contrasting elements (a recurring device throughout the record). There are light leopards on the surface with a sombre rhythm below, like a dark undercurrent in a babbling brook. Van Adrichem’s pleasant voice is offset by eerie, heavily processed backing harmonies. When she sings the refrain, “Sunshine“, it is cleverly accompanied by a burst of glittering synths, like the sun suddenly bursting forth from behind a cloud.

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

[Album Review] Rich Aucoin- Ephemeral

No Comments 12 October 2014

by Tiana Feng
richaucoin

Rating:

Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Label: Bonsound

It’s hard to review a Rich Aucoin album without also referencing his live shows. The energy, spontaneity and uplifting spirit of his concerts are captured in his latest album Ephemeral, but unlike 2011’s We’re All Dying to Live, the new album is listenable and just as good on it’s own as a cohesive work.

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

[Album Review] Anchoress- Crime & Compass

No Comments 12 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan

crime

Rating:

Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Label: File Under: Music

Despite the themes of social decay and destruction, and despite the spit-in-your-eye punk onslaught of the music, ‘Crime/Compass’ is not a work of pure nihilism. The lyrics tackle issues such as ecological disaster, societal breakdown, alcohol abuse, self-loathing and disaffection with poetic phrasing and reflective thought. These guys actually care about these issues. Anchoress may not be the first intellectual punk band in history, but you’ll be hard pressed to find such a stark contrast between the blistering, steel-edged assault of the music and the beautiful intelligence of the prose.

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Album Reviews, Canadian, Electronic, Electropop, Experimental, Music, Singer/songwriter

[Album Review] Lydia Ainsworth- Right From Real

No Comments 09 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
lydia

Rating:

Release Date: September 29th, 2014
Label: Arbutus Records

Given her background in composing scores for film, it should come as no surprise that Lydia Ainsworth creates such breathtakingly evocative music. What is surprising is that the album that represents her full-length debut should come off sounding more like a career masterwork. The execution here is so seamlessly perfect that it impossible to find one fault (other than the fact that the record is too short). Continue Reading

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