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

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

[Album Review] Single Mothers- Negative Qualities

No Comments 09 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
singlemothers

Rating:

Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Label: Dine Alone Records
Single Mothers have had a history of fighting, turmoil, hiring, firing, rehiring, property damage, flaring tempers and equipment damage. Just what every punk/hardcore band wants to have on its resume. Fortunately, the guys have staved off self-destruction just long enough to put out their full-length debut. However, ‘Negative Qualities’ is such a pressure cooker of pent-up anger and disgust that you want to hold it at arm’s length in case the whole thing just blows up in your face. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Ambient music, Canadian, Experimental, Music, Pop

[Album Review] Foxes in Fiction- Ontario Gothic

No Comments 06 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
foxesinfiction

Rating:

Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Label: Orchid Tapes

To say that ‘Ontario Gothic’ is a work of rare beauty would be an understatement, which is appropriate in discussing this album given that understatement is the name of the game. On each track on the album Foxes in Fiction (aka Warren Hildebrand) plays a multitude of instruments, but his touch is so subtle that the compositions seem almost bare at times. The arrangement on “Glow”, for example, is so sparse that the song “Ontario Gothic” seems downright drenched in sound by comparison, even though the latter would be considered restrained by most objective standards. It is telling that Hildebrand employs the assistance of kindred spirit Owen Pallett on most of the tracks.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Folk, Music

[Album Review] Dan MacCormack- Symphony of Ghosts

No Comments 05 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
pouches_2023

Rating:

Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Label: Independent

Halifax’s Dan MacCormack’s third album is an endearing homage to the works of David Adams Richards, with each song based on one of the author’s novels. MacCormack’s rootsy folk approach is a good match to the subject matter and comes off as a fine ode of its own to the often harsh life in rural New Brunswick and its snow, snow, snow.

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Album Reviews, Canadian, Jazz, Music, Soul, World Music

[Album Review] Elizabeth Shepherd- The Signal

1 Comment 01 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
elizabethshepherd

Rating:

Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Label: True North Records/Pinwheel Music

The word “stunning” is probably overused. Reviewers often dish out the term when all they really mean is that the music is very good or that it’s the best thing they have heard all week. But it should only be used when you hear something that literally makes you stop in your tracks and go, “wow”. Like, you’re stunned. OK? ‘The Signal’ by Elizabeth Shepherd is stunning.

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Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Classical, Country, Music, Psychedelic

[Album Review] The Slim City Pickers- The Slim City Pickers

1 Comment 01 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
theslimcitypickers

Rating:

Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Label: Independent

Just so that we are clear at the outset, I am not a fan of modern country, not by a pre-metric rural mile. But, with the Slim City Pickers that is not what we are talking about. This is more of fun-filled trip back to the early ’70’s when rock and country music coexisted comfortably, when there was no stigma attach to being associated with a genre in which singing through your nose and having a video on CMT are considered more important than delivering an honest sound. The Pickers are like the Flying Burrito Brothers, early Eagles and the Allman Brothers all rolled into one, and those are guys who wouldn’t know just what to make of the likes of McGraw, Urban and Chesney, much less want to hang out with them. Continue Reading

Album Reviews, Alternative, Canadian, Music, Pop, Soul

[Album Review] Gold and Marrow- Forever

No Comments 01 October 2014

by Mark Anthony Brennan
goldandarrow

Rating:

Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Label: Independent

 

‘Forever’ is the debut album for the group formerly known as Shannon Rose and the Thorns. This 10-song collection showcases Rose’s keen ability to craft mature indie pop. “Lamb” and “Hold My Fire” are both mid-tempo songs and both are bouncy and melodic. With one exception, the balance of the tracks are slow numbers, ranging from dream pop (“Ice and Snow”) to soulful ballad (“Something Divine”) and a few places in between. “Striking Gold” is that one exception with its frenetic beat and brassy chorus. Continue Reading

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