canada

AGE OF YOUNG EMPIRES
October 5, 2016 2:33 pm

Upcoming band alert!  Winston Churchill once said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” If this is the case then Canadian band Young Empires is on their way to taking over the world. While I’m honestly not a huge fan of electronic music, Young Empires mixes indie rock and electro in a way that is not overbearing and just feels damn good.

The trio from Toronto that formed in 2009 is made up of Matthew Vlahovich, Jacob Palahnuk, and Taylor Hill.  The band experienced major hype after their debut EP, Wake All My Youth, was released in 2012 and high demand for tours took over before they were able to spend a solid amount of time working on their first full-length album, The Gates, which was released last fall.

As empires go, they have been gaining ground internationally and conquering media outlets left and right.  NME compared them to The Killers, Arcade Fire, Yeasayer, and Foals. Quite the compliment from a magazine who gives out “Worst Band” awards.

To me they sound like a blend between Cut Copy and Two Door Cinema Club.  It’s energetically electronic while still being ear-otically pleasing.  You can and may very well want to dance to it, but hey, you can chillax to it too. And it is this very precise balance on which they are building their empire. Their lyrics are quite the balancing act as well. Gospel-like lyrics contain omens of both despair and hope.  For example, their song “The Gates” sings, “No I won’t lose hope, no I won’t lose sight, but heaven is a place I just can’t find” and features a music video that includes haunting scenes of religion displaced with images of humanity, beauty, and destruction. The video recently was names one of Vimeo‘s staff picks and you can watch it here.

HOT PANDA: GOOD POP, BAD POP
August 24, 2016 12:06 am

 

Hot, inescapable energy comes charges through some early distortion and coy guitar strumming on “Other Spooky Is the leadoff track to Hot Panda’s 4th studio album, Bad Pop. But once Chris Connelly’s high pitched hollerings kick-in, everything just snowballs from there.

The song’s pace kicks into a completely frantic pace towards the halfway mark, and by that time, a spookier, modulated voice spelling out the title of the song is introduced. Even before this, the title made absolutely no sense. This idea really just doubled down on the nonsense.  As Bad Pop went on, it seemed as though doubling down on nonsense was, in many ways, all part of the Hot Panda charm. Choosing Hot Panda as a name in the first place evokes a sort of inherent silliness.

13935008_10154468150364549_7992990735320087478_n

There are certainly moments of normalcy to be appreciated on the record, though. Time-travelling Psych-Pop tunes like “Golden Arch are as straightforward and clean cut as they come. The sound is made for the Ed Sullivan show as teens bop their heads back and forth like a newton’s cradle made of skulls. And “On Your Own” provides easily the most tender moment Bad Pop has to offer.

It’s certainly more fun when they decide to embrace their weirdness, though. The perfect example of this being “Linda Ronstadt, a track built on the quirky concept of paying homage to the legendary singer. The quirk also gets a big boost from the charmingly chirpy backing vocals from bassist Catherine Hiltz, whose voice clashes with Connelly’s in a way that makes for a captivating listen.

In an Occam’s razor type of inevitability, however, the true standout here is of course “Bad Pop, the album’s titular track. Not only do their sugar rushed odd ballerey stand out, the lyrics are funny enough to cause some unexpected laughter on a crowded train. An act that still leads to stares from people, even though it should be completely normalized at this point. Regardless, it’s really great hearing Connelly’s maudlin self-awareness that this cheery sounding ditty could easily be used to sling sneakers in a year’s time. I think that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t fucking know, I failed psych class.

As Hot Panda powered through their 10 song LP, they displayed a hodgepodge of different ideas. The heavy, fun Power-Pop somehow blends seamlessly with their more psychedelic and jammy moments. It’s all squeezed under their umbrella of strange in Totoro fashion, who wasn’t exactly a panda, but they can’t be too far separated in the animal kingdom.

JESSE MAC CORMACK: NEVER ENOUGH
August 16, 2016 8:20 am

 

Montreal native Jesse Mac Cormack recently toured the US with Half Moon Run and played shows around Europe with Patrick Watson, Cat Power, and The Barr Brothers. Now he’s getting ready to release his new EP, After The Glow, on September 16th (my birthday!).

Have a listen to “Never Enough”, the first single off the EP, while you read up on what Jesse thinks of recording at home, his French roots, and staying sane while on tour.

As you’re becoming more well known outside of your hometown of Montreal, what would you like people to know about you if they’re new to your music?

I do what I do without pretension and I don’t expect anyone to love me. I’m just a musician.

I’ve heard you record all of your music in your home studio. Is it a convenience thing, or is it because of the intimacy a setup like that can offer?

I’m very at ease at home, I got everything I need and I love producing music. I don’t see why I would go to a studio and pay to record. The clock is never ticking at home as well, that’s a big advantage.

Many of your Facebook posts are in French. Is it important for you to retain that piece of culture from your home in Montreal?

My family is half French, half English and that’s also how I was raised. So when I talk to the Montreal crowd it’s important to do it in French, of course.

You performed at a number of music festivals throughout the spring and summer. What are some pros and cons of playing to a large audience versus a more intimate crowd? Is there one setting you prefer over the other?

Small crowds up to now. There’s nothing like the ambiance in a bar on a hot summer night. People dance, sweat and exchange with you a lot more.

How did your tour with Half Moon Run go?

I love the states, especially the western and the southern parts. The shows and crowds are very cool and welcoming to us. For a lover boy, a month is a long time away from home. I missed my studio and girl a lot but at least I had palm trees and exotic weather to comfort me.

How do you prepare to go on the road? How do you kill time while traveling?

Hummmm. I write a lot, exercise, listen to music, sleep and look out the window. “Kill time,” what a horrible thing to say.

19Is there anything in particular you miss about home while you’re away?

Decent food, my bed and my love.

Where are your favorite places near Montreal to see live music?

Casa del Popolo, Bar Le Ritz, and Brasserie Beaubien.

Are there any artists from Montreal you feel deserve more attention?

Helena Deland.

What are your plans for the rest of 2016?

I’m starting to record an album just now and hope to release it in the beginning of 2017. I’ve got a European tour coming up in the fall and a couple of recording projects with various artists. I might go to South America to escape Montreal’s terrible winter and on top of that, be sober and happy.

ARKELLS: MORNING REPORT
July 19, 2016 12:29 pm

Canadian rock band Arkells is representing Canucks everywhere exceptionally with their most recent songs Private School, Making Due and A Little Rainfrom their upcoming album Morning Report.

If you have’t heard this rock group, here’s a little background. Max Kerman, Mike DeAngelis, Nick Dika, Tim Oxford and Anthony Carone all met at McMaster University where they attended college. They named the band Arkells after Arkell Street which is where they all lived and honed their music craft together.

Since the band started in 2006 they have gone to climb the rock ladder, touring with bands such as Tokyo Police Club, The Postelles, X Ambassadors and Lights. Aside from the note-worthy bands they have toured with, they have independently earned their high rank status on the charts. Most recently, garnering awards such as the Juno Award for Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year in 2015.

Below you can check out their most recent music video for “Private School” which features past artists they have worked with such as Lights, Dave Monks from Tokyo Police Club and Steve Jocz (from Sum 41..throwback!) who was also the director of the video.

Morning Report is due to drop on August 5th so, before you run over to the movie theater to see Suicide Squad, hop onto i-Tunes and download the album here.

DVSN’s KNACK FOR THE DRAMATIC
July 8, 2016 11:31 am

These fucking Canadians and all their emotions. They’re taking over. First, it was Drake’s penchant for melancholia that got fogey rap heads in a tizzy, then The Weeknd started paralyzing people’s faces with no remorse. Now we’ve got DVSN, a producer/singer duo of Nineteen85 and Daniel Daley recently signed by OVO, Drake’s mothership label.

All the trails have been blazed for DVSN, and extensively so, at this point. The swirling atmospheres in With Me paired with trappy snares can be traced back to the Frank Ocean Family Tree, while Another One shows a type of pop gloss in production that follows Abel and Aubrey’s footsteps as new explorers of the emotional. So in the modern landscape of R&B, DVSN fits quite seamlessly. Sept. 5th, their debut album (seriously, what is it with sad Canadians and their love for Autumnal months), is indeed a product of this new era; pairing the genre’s obligatory ‘baby making music’ ambiance with a newly intensified sense of mystery and anguish.   

For Daley, his talent in bridging these two unique ideas together is what makes listening to Sept. 5th worthwhile. His tender voice wraps around each of Ninteen85’s intricately arranged pieces on the album. As indicated on “Angela,” he can falsetto his ass over horns, strings and keys, whatever. He’s in his comfort zone regardless. It’s his strongest vocal performance on the album, showing off every high note he’s capable of belting out, as well as heartier moments that show him digging deeper into his belly for the words. He even finds the time to pay homage to the late Elliott Smith by using his refrain from “Angeles.”

In each of these songs, DVSN and Smith are looking for a solution and whether it’s a new city or a new woman is unimportant. The novelty of newness is what they believe will save them. It won’t, but for artists who are as deeply tapped into their feelings as they are, they see a new love as the rescue rope from it all. For “Angeles,” Smith is cynical enough to know that this false hope will never truly actualize anything. DVSN, however, carries the optimism that love- or at least a decent enough fuck- can actually heal everything.

“I could make it better, if I could have sex with you.” That’s literally part of the chorus to the album’s titular track, and the confidence with which he delivers such a line makes the listener believe that Daniel Daley is very confident in what he’s able to do with his penis. Whether it’s genuine delusion or an awareness on Daley’s behalf to document his own ego’s misgivings is up for debate. His ability to convey the desperation is what’s compelling.

So try having sex with Daniel Daley if you can. Maybe things will improve in your life. They probably won’t, though. Because unlike what these Canadian Pioneers of Feel want you to think, sex and love heal nothing.

I’m joking, I’m a virgin. I know nothing about this stuff.

SERF-ING WITH JONS
June 6, 2016 11:57 am

When there’s a will, there’s a way. Jons is celebrating the May 29th release of their debut album Serfs of Today. It was recorded on iPhone, and led to the band’s signing with Solitaire Recordings. The album was so good, that Solitaire decided to release it as-is.

The Victoria (Canada, not Australia) band is also about to embark on 29-date tour, including a show supporting fellow Canadian Alex Calder. And, believe it or not, Jons is already working on a follow-up album.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with frontman Patrick Rendell on how all of this craziness came to be.

jons

Congratulations on your new album and your signing to Solitaire. What would you like people to know about your band?

We’ve all been living on Vancouver Island for 5 or 6 years. The band started out with Logan, David, and me making music casually and then the band was fully formed when Logan and Keenan met painting houses.

I’ve heard your album Serfs of Today was recorded on iPhone and cassette. Is that true?

Yeah, that is partly true. There was a period where we didn’t really have the means to record drums (and didn’t really know how to either) and so David would play drums on an app on his iPhone directly into the tape machine. For “Orcachief” I played floor tom and snare while David played ride symbol on his iPhone to get the effect of a full kit.

You’re getting ready for a 29-date tour around Canada. Is this your first tour of that size?

It’s been a lot of work setting up the tour and it makes it harder that we haven’t actually done this before. The longest tour we’ve done so far is to Calgary and back so this is a completely different ballgame.

What are your favorite items to pick up at Tim Horton’s to keep you going?

One good way to prepare is to abstain from Hortons’ until you leave so you have a fresh palette. Keenan’s favourite donut is the Old Fashioned.

You will also be performing a show with Alex Calder on your tour. How did you get involved with him?

Bands in Canada are very interconnected and chances are you always know someone who knows someone. In this case our friends Freak Heat Waves were already playing the show and we were going to be in Montreal at the same time. Logan’s brother also plays in Alex’s band so it just worked out.

You seem like a band that would know a lot about psychedelic music. Are there any albums you’d recommend to someone looking to expand their record collection?

Some albums we’d recommend checking out are A Lovely Sight by Pisces, God Bless Tiny Tim by Tiny Tim, Playback by The Appletree Theatre, July’s self titled album and Release of an Oath by Electric Prunes. Also [Pink Floyd album] The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Friends by The Beach Boys are staples.

Are you working on a followup for Serfs of Today?

We’ve actually been working on our followup to Serfs of Today for coming up on two years now. Dave picked up a Tascam 388 and has become really good with it so it’s a noticeable step up in fidelity. Having Keenan play on the record has been a big deal too. He didn’t play on Serfs of Today and he’s an incredible musician. His playing on the tracks has had a huge effect on our recordings. We’ve been working on it for a very long time and we’ve each grown quite a bit individually as musicians in the process.

Will you be be doing any recording with iPhones, as in Serfs of Today?

No iPhones were used in the making of the record.

I think you’re the first band I’ve interviewed from Victoria. What’s the music scene like there?

It’s really great. It’s a small city but for the size there’s tons of really great bands. Sometimes people pass it by on tour because they don’t want to make the trip to the island but there’s some very cool stuff going on here. I’d highly recommend coming here and checking it out if you get the chance.

Which venues in Victoria are your favorite for seeing live music?

Some of the classic spots to see bands play are Logan’s and the Copper Owl. There’s also a bunch of nightclubs and a thriving scene of DIY spots that are really great to play at.

Are there any local bands you feel deserve more attention?

Some bands you should check out are Privacy, Pinner, Smoke Eaters, Psychosomatic Itch and Fountain. There’s also a small local tape label called Gary Cassettes and everything they’ve put out has been really sweet.

What will you be up to after your tour?

After tour we’re gonna focus on new music. After working on the same songs for so long we’re really stoked to get started on something new.

Will you be performing at any music festivals?

We’re playing at Sled Island in Calgary but thats our only festival this summer.

DUMP TRUMP, FIND LOVE
May 23, 2016 11:30 am

When Donald Trump announced his intent to run for president last summer, it was the best joke of the season. Like every time Jimmy McMillan, the “rent is too damn high” guy, runs for office in New York. It was a good bit and I just could not wait to see it crumble. As time and time passed though, you couldn’t escape the cold sore that was Trump. As a journalism student and an avid media intaker, there is not one day, or hour, in which Trump doesn’t come up. I thought I was safe at work, but even then the Trump disease seemed to have spread and infiltrated my offices. Said best by The Smiths, that joke wasn’t funny anymore.

Trump’s notoriety and constant inconstancy have apparently made him so popular among some Americans, that his shot at an American presidency are not altogether impossible. While media outlets like the New York Times have written articles condemning him and warning off against trump and even the Republican party themselves have been against his views, some people have simply given up on the fight. For all of you giver uppers, there’s a way to get yourself out of this political hellfire that will surely ensue. Maple Match.

maplematch

Maple Match iScreenshot_2016-05-15-12-13-49s a dating app that promises to find you a partner in Canada that will help you in your political escape out of the United States. You know how everyone jokes about moving to Canada if Trump becomes president? Maple Match is making that joke a reality. While the site is not up and running just yet, there is an official wait-list that’s ripe and ready to be filled with the inevitable hundreds of thousands of names. While there is no other information for the site other than the email wait-list, the hope that this isn’t just a social experiment is more than enough to get a Trump-enduced anxiety ridden voter to sign up.

While you may be thinking, Canada? Isn’t that country synonymous for being lame? You, my dear reader, are absolutely wrong. Canada is a country that offers so much. It’s got a great music scene, it is a prime film shooting location and it is the home of greats like Ryan Reynolds, Mike Meyers, Ellen Page, Drake, Justin Bieber and Tom Green. Canada also has prime minister Justin Trudeau to be proud of, and not to mention, easy on the eyes.

Now during this coming election, when you’re stressing out over the future of America, don’t build a wall around your heart, and don’t let “the Mexicans” pay for it. Instead, try out Maple Match, and get yourself your own Ryan Reynolds to help you in your time of politically-fueled-asylum-seeking.

QUIRKY CLEVER KOOKY COOL: WEAVES
November 24, 2015 8:31 am

Toronto has produced yet another phenomenal alternative indie music act with Weaves. Although they have only been a band for less than two years, Weaves has been on the Beasts’ radar for a while now, playing our CMJ showcase at Pianos this past October, and living up to the respectable hype generated by publications such as The Gaurdian, NME, and Rolling Stone.

weaves

The praise is well warranted as the music of Weaves is in a category of it’s own. Front woman Jasmyn Burke and friends have created a spunky brand of laid back stoner pop that has been immersed in a world of pop art. The laid back vibe brings a wave of 90’s nostalgia with it, drawing comparisons to acts such as The Thermals and fellow Canadians The New Pornographers. But Weaves has something more. They have a creative element to their sound that goes beyond music. Is it the recognizable sense of humor? The non-chalantness? Or the never before seen Individuality? I’d say it some combination of all of these.

Their debut self-titled EP is a sonic masterpiece of the lazy punk- indie rock aesthetic. The record, released through Buzz Records, was produced by Dave Newfeld, known for his work with Broken Social Scene and Super Furry Animals. Tracks like “Take A Dip” feature wailing guitars and upbeat melodies while tracks like “Buttercup” and “Do You See Past” present a loosened up and faded side of Weaves.

After their big 2014 release, Weaves shows no signs of slowing down. Their Summer was spent on tour in Europe and since their New York City CMJ appearance, they have been spotted in Iceland. Their next show will be in their hometown of Toronto at Lee’s Palace December 5th. So if you’re in the area, make sure to see Weaves make their waves.

If your like the rest of us, You will probably be reminiscing a bit this holiday weekend on how the hell you’ve gotten so old. So the Beasts suggest you take a trip out of time, perhaps back to the 90’s, throw on the Weaves EP, and go ahead, stuff your face, we’re not watching.

DILLY DALLY SETS BABY’S ON FIRE
November 16, 2015 8:23 am

For the past few weeks, Dilly Dally has been touring the U.S., leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. Well, maybe not death and destruction, but the band did put on a hell of a show at Baby’s All Right on Saturday.

Dilly Dally is the work of childhood friends Katie Monks and Liz Ball, who met while attending high school in Toronto. They bonded over their mutual love of the Pixies, Christopher Owens, Pete Doherty, and Kurt Cobain. However, my gut reaction upon listening to their debut LP Sore, is that Monks and Ball are spiritual successors to feminist hardcore punk bands like Hole and Babes in Toyland, with their songs covering topics that include menstruation and self-reinvention after heartbreak.

dillydally

dillydalllSigns posted outside the venue warned attendees that video recording would be taking place at the show. They weren’t kidding. A video production team had set up camp directly in front of the stage, flanked by journalists and photographers, in all likelihood to the dismay of the audience (sorry). However, it’s no surprise there was so much press in attendance; Dilly Dally has already been featured in publications including Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, Stereogum, and Rolling Stone. And judging by the reaction of the audience, the band will not be slowing down anytime soon.

Saturday’s concert was sold out, and the venue was packed. This didn’t stop the crowd from dancing and, in one case, crowdsurfing. The guy with the video camera got shoved a couple of times. The passion with which Monks and Ball deliver their work is palpable, each one breaking a sweat early on in the show, and (along with the audience), eventually becoming drenched by the end of it.

The climax of the night came during the band’s performance of “Desire”, a song whose chorus is delivered in a gloriously lingering battle cry of repressed emotion. It’s a sound contemporary music hasn’t heard in way too long, and already I’m having fantasies about Dilly Dally beating the crap out of the excessively made-up artists whose overly produced nonsense is currently passed for popular music. It’s going to be awesome.

CAVEBOY IN THE LIMELIGHT
November 3, 2015 1:35 pm

Is that Robyn singing? Is she in this room? Wait, no. Is that Tegan and Sarah? Who is that singing? These thoughts raced through my mind as I made my way down to the main floor of The Delancey. Once down, my eyes met the stage where three girls lit up the room with their electric girl power energy. Dying to know who these girls were, I turned to a stranger to ask. They replied, “Caveboy.”

With their cool rocker hair, vibey 80’s flair meets modern electronic indie beats and fierce primal stage presence, their name suits them well. Don’t even get me started on the vocals. If lead singer Michelle’s voice was a currency it would be gold because those vocal cords are flawless. Accompanied by Isabelle (synth extraordinaire, bass and backing vocals) and Lana (bad ass drummer and backing vocals) they are the perfect trio. Towards the end of their set, they all banged on one drum for an entire song. It was mesmerizing. There wasn’t a heart in that room that wasn’t racing. There are people who perform just to perform. And then there are people who perform to not only feel something themselves but make their audience genuinely feel something. Caveboy is the latter. They just released their Caveboy EP to iTunes this month. With undeniable hits such as “Something Like Summer” and In “The Grottos,” their name might be Caveboy but their heading right past all the bedrock and straight towards the limelight. Check them out below!