Featuring founding members Riley Hawk (guitar, vocals) and Bruce McDonnell (drums), the Southern California-Based trio Warish formed earlier this year, when its founding members wanted to try their hand at something a bit more distinct than they’d previous done. “We wanted to do simpler riffs and a fun live show,” Hawk explains in press notes. “A little more punk, a little bit of grunge… a little evil-ish.” Sonically, their sound reportedly draws from a variety of things — early Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Incesticide-era Nirvana, Static Age-era Misfits. With “Fight,” the first single off their self-titled debut EP, slated for a February 19, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records, the trio quickly make their presence known as the song is centered around Hawk’s effects-laden vocals, enormous grunge rock meet thrash punk power chords, pummeling drumming, mosh pit friendly hooks and an aggressively sleazy, Troma Films-like vibe — and it’s fucking awesome.
N0V3L is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based creative collective that operate out of house, where they produce their own music, videos and clothing. Naturally, all of these various elements converge and convulse for the members of the collective to create music that openly challenges the gluttony and ruin wrought by power. The collective’s forthcoming debut EP NOVEL is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Flemish Eye Records — and from the EP’s first two singles “To Whom It May Concern” and “Natural,” the collective specializes in frenetic, angular and dance floor friendly post-punk centered around group-yelped anti-capitalist mantras.
And while sonically, the act’s sound immediately brings Entertainment!-era Gang of Four to mind, “To Whom It May Concern” is centered around the tense and uneasy recognition of time flying by and that you may have wasted the only valuable resource you have. “Natural,” is centered around a shimmering melody and a propulsive, dance floor groove but with an anxious, uncertain fury. Interestingly, the act continue a long tradition of acts reminding the listener that the dance floor is the place for dialogue, action and resistance.
HERO is an up-and-coming Calgary, Alberta, Canada-born, Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist. With the release of “Dirty Work” and “The Juice” off his forthcoming Dirty Work EP, the Canadian electronic music artist and producer emerged into prominence both nationally and elsewhere. “Dirty Work” received praise from the likes of MTV Latin America, Complex, booooooom tv and others while, “The Juice” was featured in an episode of HBO’s Insecure; in fact, the song was so well received that they actually wrote HERO into the script, with a character referring to him as “the black Daft Punk.”
Certainly, with “Stay the Night,” the reference to the Canadian producer and artist as “the black Daft Punk” sounds and feels incredibly fitting, as the sensual and retro-futuristic club banger recalls Homework and Discovery-era Daft Punk, as its centered around a propulsive and sensual groove, arpeggiated synths, vocoder-fed vocals and an undeniable, infectious hook.
Memory Keepers is the Austin, TX-based electro-punk side project of The Sour Notes‘ Jared Boulanger and Amarah Ulghani. The duo’s latest single is a propulsive, synth and vocoder-led cover of Brian Eno‘s “Uncle Third” that retains the original’s motorik groove — and in many ways, the original feels like pre-Autobahn-era Kraftwerk while the Memory Keepers cover feels like The Man-Machine.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Charlotte Day Wilson. And as you may recall, Wilson’s musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo; but with the release of her debut single “After All,” the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist quickly emerged as an up-and-coming solo talent within her hometown’s scene, eventually beginning ongoing collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber.
2016’s CDW featured critically acclaimed singles “Work” “Find You,” and the aforementioned “After All,” and unsurprisingly, the album found Wilson further establishing herself as an artist, who crafted deeply personal songs with an wisdom, insight and honesty that betrayed her relatives youth — paired with sleek, minimalist, electronic production. Interestingly, this past year may arguably be one of biggest years of her career: Stone Woman, Wilson’s sophomore effort is a decided and self-assured change in sonic direction in which Wilson paired her effortlessly soulful vocals with neo-soul, soul and jazz-leaning production in which organic arrangements are meshed with subtle electronic production. Since its releasee earlier this year, Stone Woman has amassed over 30 million streams across all screaming platforms. Wilson was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Work” was awarded a Prism Prize for best Canadian music video. Wilson and the video’s directed Fantavious Frtiz used the prize money to create the Work Film Grant, a fund that awarded $10,000 to emerging female and non-binary directors.
Additionally, Wilson toured with longtime collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, which included an incredible BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell stop back in August. The acclaimed Canadian artist ends a big 2018 with two Spotify singles recorded at Toronto’s HOB Studios– “Doubt,” the first single off Stone Woman is a slow-burning and soulful ballad featuring a production that recalls Bilal, Erykah Badu and others; but more important, the song is centered around a heartbreaking emotional honesty in which, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness. The Spotify singles version possesses a “you-were-there-in-the-room” immediacy that gives the song’s an emotional punch.
The second track is Wilson’s cover Dolly Parton‘s “Here You Come Again” centered around a sparse arrangement featuring the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist’s soulful vocals, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys — and although Wilson’s version is a slow-burning and atmospheric take, the track maintains the song’s ache, reminding contemporary listeners of what an under appreciated songwriter Parton is.
rum•gold is a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who quickly emerged into the local scene with the release of two singles “Where There’s Smoke” and “Cashmere Cage” along with introductory interview on Pigeons and Planes back in June. The up-and-coming local singer/songwriter’s debut EP yaRn is slated for release next year, and to build up further buzz, rum•gold recently released the third and latest single from the EP, “Get Through.”
Featuring a James Chatburn minimalist yet textured production consisting of a sinuous bass line, a mournful and gorgeous trumpet arrangement (played by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter)and thumping boom bap-like beats, “Get Through” is centered by rum•gold’s achingly tender and soulful falsetto. Sonically speaking, the song (to my ears, at least) recalls Maxwell and Moses Sumney, complete with a deeply intimate, emotional honesty and vulnerability.
As rum•gold says about the song in press notes, “‘Get Through’ is a self revelation. Its about finding that vice to get through a hard place, while also understanding that you wouldn’t be who you are today without going through said hardship. Its about learning to understand that contradiction is natural and if allowed can be incredibly freeing.”
Ocean Potion is the Toronto, Ontario, Canada side project of Yukon Blonde‘s Jason Haberman and Zeus‘ Mike O’Brien. Haberman and O’Brien met while their respective primary bands were touring Canada, and as the story goes they quickly bonded, beginning a bedroom recording project over the course of this year. Initially, there were no actual songs, just extended free form jams based around looping riffs. As these loops took more of a song shape, a creative process began to emerge — Haberman would record a basic instrumental track, then send it over to O’Brien, who would add words and melodies.
Throughout the summer, Haberman and O’Brien bounced tracks back-and-forth throughout the summer and after they felt they had a collection of 10 songs that represented the best of what they’d created, Haberman dove into the mixing process, shifting through the many layers of synths, woozy guitars and dreamy vocals to find the purest and best version of each song.
“Lights Out,” the Toronto-based duo’s latest single will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting dreamy and ethereal pop centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a simple backbeat, shimmering guitars fed through effects pedals and O’Brien’s equally ethereal vocals. Sonically, the song evokes a few things to me — lazy days, sitting around and playing music and driving around aimlessly on gloriously sunny days with music on your stereo. It’s all good vibes and enjoying the eternal now.
Currently comprised of Andrew Kissel (vocals, guitar, piano), Travis Pinkston (bass, vocals) and Brian Yurachek (drums, percussion), the New York-based indie rock act Valentin Marx originally formed in 2012. Shortly after their formation, they wrote, recorded and released their debut EP, which lead to shows at a number of renowned indie venues across town — including Piano’s, Arlene’s Grocery, Berlin Under A and Pete’s Candy Store and others. Since their formation, the band has gone through a lineup change while retaining the sound that first won them attention locally.
Interestingly, the lineup change has resulted in a much more collaborative approach to their songwriting and recording, utilizing the skills and life experiences of each of the band’s members. Their new single, the jangling and anthemic “Made Up” recalls 120 Minutes-era MTV but as the band notes the song is rooted in the frustration and disappointment surrounding modern relationships. Despite the fact that we’re all constantly connected to each other with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and online dating sites, no one is actually having an authentic and meaningful interaction.
Comprised of Joe Mantell, Rob Leishman and Dimitar and Karbov, the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based rock trio Boy Breaking Glass derive their name from the Gwendolyn Brooks poem. Interestingly, the Canadian trio have received attention for a sound that’s dark, cinematic and intense.
The band’s forthcoming sophomore album Exceed is slated for release sometime next year and the album’s first single, “Masquerade,”is centered by Joe Mantell’s sonorous baritone, atmospheric synths, dramatic drumming. a soaring hook and a propulsive, arena friendly coda — and much like Roxy Music (which the song sonically and thematically recalls), the core of the song is a palpable heartache. In fact, unsurprisingly, the song was written by by the band’s Mantell towards the end of a long-term relationship. And as a result, the song follows two very different people, who recognize that they can no longer they can change themselves or their situation to make things right — and that their relationship ending is inevitable.
Crywolf is the solo recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetnalist and producer Justin Phillips. When he started releasing music, he was practically homeless, living in a room the size of a closet and subsiding on food stamps. Since then, Phillips has come a long way — he has amassed millions of streams, headlined the second largest stage at Electric Forest and has received praise from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Alternative Press, Billboard, Nylon, Complex.
Deriving its name from the Latin name of a small, carnivorous plant, Phillips’ latest Crywolf single “CEPHALØTUS” will further his growing reputation for sensual, enveloping and cinematic pop centered around a gorgeous and atmospheric production featuring shimmering guitar chords, Phillips’ reverb-drenched ethereal falsetto which expresses vulnerability and plaintive need paired with dramatic bursts of industrial clang and clatter. The song possesses a surrealistic and painterly quality — while delving deep into the depths of its creator’s psyche.