JOVM’s William Ruben Helms pulls out his nerd card — and wishes Rush’s Geddy Lee a Happy 67th birthday.
Crown Lands is a rising Oshawa, Ontario, Canada-based rock duo — Cody Bowles (vocals, drums) and Kevin Comeau (guitar, bass, synths) — that can trace its origins back to 2014, when the duo met. Bonding over a shared love and passion for music, Bowles and Comeau quickly became best friends and started jamming together in a local barn. And although they switched up instruments, they never strayed from writing, recording and performing as a duo.
The duo’s name manages to be forcefully indicative of their ambitions and intentions. Crown Land is territorial area belonging to a monarch — or as Bowles puts it: “Crown Land is stolen land and we are reclaiming it.” The band’s overall mission is to represent a sense of empowerment for marginalized communities through their music and their work’s thematic concerns and lyrical content. People are going to listen to you, so you may as well say something that matters,” Crown Land’s Kevin Comeau says in press notes.
Since their formation, the band has released three EPs 2016’s Mantra, 2017’s Rise Over Run and this year’s Wayward Flyers, Volume 1. Each of those releases have firmly established the band’s unique sound, a sound that draws from a wide range of influences including folk. blues, psych rock and prog rock among others. Along with those releases, the band has released two singles — “Spit It Out,” and “Howlin’ Back” — which will appear on their forthcoming Dave Cobb-produced full-length debut, which is slated for an August 13, 2020 release. “Dave pushed us to listen to ourselves and really trust our initial instinct with a song,” the band’s Bowles’ says in press notes.
The Canadian duo’s latest single, the anthemic “End of the Road” is the third and latest single they’ve released this year, and the track is fueled by Bowles’ personal experiences — while calling attention to an urgent social issue. According to Statistics Canada, between 2001 to 2015, the homicide rate for Indigenous Womxn in Canada was almost six times as high as the rate for non-indigenous womxn. “‘End of the Road’ is an outcry for awareness and action surrounding the colonial horrors of the missing and murdered Indigenous Womxn, Girls, and Two-Spirits that still haunt Indigenous communities today,” Bowles explains. “Violence against Indigenous people is something I have witnessed firsthand throughout my life. I am half Mi’kmaw and grew up spending of a lot of my childhood in and around Alderville First Nation. I identify as Two-Spirit and dream of a better world for the brilliant Indigenous womxn, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people who face adversity every day for their very existence. It’s up to all of us to make this world a better place for future generations, and this song is a small message of hope adding to the rising wave of Indigenous resistance throughout this land.”
Sonically, the track finds the duo bringing JOVM mainstay Sam Fender and even fellow Canadian Bryan Adams to mind: enormous, power chord-driven arena rock friendly hooks and thunderous drumming within an expansive song structure. And while being remarkably accessible, the song is centered around ambitious and passionate songwriting — the sort informed by the righteous fury of lived-in injustice, of people who have reached their breaking point and are screaming “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!” “We don’t claim to have any answers., but we want to use our voice to bring awareness and help make a difference,” the band’s Comeau adds.
Directed by Tim Myles and Alex P. Smith, the haunting video for “End of the Road” opens with impassionaied narration by Canadian Inuk vocalist Tanya Tagaq, who offers some contextualization of the ongoing disappearances and murders of Indigenous womxn. The video features cast of Indigenous dancers, who are dancing to choreography by Teineisha Richards, a Mi’kmaq artist based in Bear River First Nations, Nova Scotia, wearing red dresses inspired by the work of The REDress Project, a collection of 600 red dresses by community donation installed across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of missing womxn and the gendered, racial nature of violent crimes against Indigenous womxn, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people. The dancers represent the souls of those missing and murdered womxn, demanding answers from the afterlife — and adding to overall eerie yet urgent nature of the song and its accompanying video, the video was shot on British Columbia Highway 16, better known (infamously so) as “The Highway of Tears,” where most of these women have disappeared.
“To create the choreography I had to go to a pretty deep and dark place and put myself in the shoes of both the women who went missing and the families of those women who suffered with their loss,” Richards explains. “I wanted to express the desperate feeling of someone fighting to escape, but with no redemption. Additionally, I aimed to generate a sense of self-empowerment and unity within a shared struggle, by my use of staccato, aggressive, and synchronized movement during the group sections of choreography. Most of the choreography derived from that dark, yet powerful place, and the overall message and feeling I received from the song.”
Baron Crâne · 02 – Acid Rains – Commotions – Baron Crane (feat Arthur Brossard)
Baron Crane is a Paris-based indie act, whose members bonded and formed the act over one common desire — sound exploration through singular music. Throughout their history, the band has developed and honed a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach that draws from psych rock, prog rock, noise rock and even jazz.
Released earlier this year, the French band’s latest effort Commotions finds the band expanding upon their sound through collaborations with vocalists for the first time in their history. The effort’s last single “Acid Rain” features Dentelles Nerveuses‘ and Mrs. Good‘s Arthur Brossard on an heady and expansive ripper that alternates between Queens of the Stone Age-like stoner rock, The Mars Volta-like prog rock and Foo Fighters-like grunge rock/power pop held together by swaggering and forceful playing, rousingly anthemic hooks and Brossard’s soulful delivery.
Tracing their origins through the formation and split up of several different bands throughout the Marseille region of France, including Sarcopt, Malthiüs, Catacomb, Ibogaïne, La Brokante, From blond, Not a Br(a)in, Arthosis and others, the Marseille-based metal act KVARK is an ongoing collaboration between two old friends that officially started back in 2017. Since their formation, the French duo have been working on their most recently released five song EP — and with that EP’s latest single “Here Comes Trouble,” The French duo specialize in a muscular yet cinematic take on instrumental metal, reminiscent of Irata and Ministry, but with an expansive prog rock tendencies.
Employing the use of CGI graphics, the recently released video is a mind-bending and appropriately lysergic visual that would likely inspire you to want to take hallucinogens and vibe out.
Rochester, NY-based metal/prog rock trio King Buffalo — Sean McVay (guitar, lead vocals), Dan Reynolds (bass) and Scott Donaldson (drums, vocals) — formed back in 2013, and with the release of demo, several split releases, a handful of one-off singles and an energetic live show, the members of King Buffalo quickly earned an international profile in the metal and prog rock scenes. And with their self-recorded and self-produced full-length debt Orion, King Buffalo firmly established a sound that meshed elements of heavy psych, stoner rock and the blues in a way that many critics compared to Tool and Pink Floyd among others.
2018’s Ben McLeod-produced sophomore album Longing To Be The Mountain found the band expanding upon the hard rock and stoner rock sound that own them attention — but while increasingly incorporating elements of expansive prog rock. Longing To Be The Mountain‘s highly-anticipated follow-up, the self-recorded and self-produced Dead Star EP reportedly finds the band pushing the psychedelia aspects of their sound into the cosmic ether with elements of ambient drone, space rock, prog rock, synths paired with the bluesy hard rock and early metal riffage of their earliest efforts.
“In the early stages of Dead Star, we made the decision to make a strong commitment to experimentation,” explains guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay. “From exploring different time signatures, tunings and textures, to tweaking the song writing processes themselves. We’re extremely proud of these recordings, and feel it’s some of our most ambitious work yet.” Adds the band’s Scott Donaldson, “These six songs deviate and expand on horizons that we as King Buffalo haven’t reached. It’s extremely exciting to make something familiar, but unlike anything we’ve previously done. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
“Eta Carinae” Dead Star EP‘s latest single is an expansive and hypnotic, prog rock-inspired take on their sound. Clocking in at a little over eight minutes, the track is centered around a chugging and forceful Black Sabbath and Rush-like riffage, thunderous syncopation, rapid fire tempo changes and some ambient and shimmering synth bursts and paired with dystopian sci-fi lyrics and imagery that feel much like our own fucked up world.
The members of King Buffalo will be embarking on a tour to support Dead Star EP and it includes a March 21, 2020 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the tour dates below.
Mar 19 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
Mar 20 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Mar 21 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Mar 26 – Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
Mar 27 – Milwaukee, WI @ Colectivo
Mar 28 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
Mar 29 – Winnipeg, MB @ Park Theatre
Mar 31 – Calgary, AB @ Palomino
Apr 2 – Vancouver, BC @ Fox Cabaret
Apr 3 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Apr 5 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room
Apr 7 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Apr 8 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Apr 10 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Apr 11 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Apr 13 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
Apr 14 – St Louis, MO @ Duck Room
Apr 15 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
Apr 16 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
Apr 17 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Café
Apr 18 – Syracuse, NY @ Funk N Waffles
Muuk is a Mexico City-based experimental rock act, comprised of Emiliano Baena (bass), JC Guerreo (beats, samples), LS Rodriguez (guitar), Omar Carapia (synths) and Erre Guevara (drums). Formed back in 2013, the act meshes electronic elements (turntables, sequencers, synthesizers and samples) with traditional rock instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums) to create a dense, frenetic and thunderous sound, centered around uncommon harmonies and improvisational passages.
Shortly, after their formation the Mexican experimental rock quintet recorded a homemade self-titled EP, which led to appearances across Mexico’s outdoor festival circuit with a number of collectives including Aqui no Hubo Escena (Here There Was No Scene), Colapso Post Rock, Lxs Grixes, Noise Affair and others. The members of Muuk followed up 2013’s debut EP with a small, handmade physical release in 2015 that was reviewed by a nubmer of outlets both nationally and internationally including Marvin, IMAS, URL Magazine, Letras Explicitas, Noisey, Remezcla, Post Rock, Faeton Music and Atlas of Sound. Album tracks “Are You Mad,” “De Niro” and “Trypophobia” received airplay from Codigo DF Radio, GritaRadio and NoFM Radio.
The album was also named one of the best albums of the year by the likes of Indie Rocks and Sound & Vision. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the band appeared in the documentary film Aqui No Hubo Escena, which offered a snapshot of Mexico City’s indie music scene. The band has also played sets at some of their hometown’s most important venues and clubs including Foro Indie Rocks, Caradura, Imperial, Pasaguero, Multiforo Cultural Alicia, Mutliforo 246 and Centro de Cultura Digital y Bajo Circuito.
May 2018 saw the members of Muuk collaborate with members of B.A.R.D.O.S.S. on an improvised recording session titled Octomano. That July saw the band play the Hipnosis Festival lineup reveal gig at the Foro Indie Rocks. Last year, the band wrote and recorded their recently sophomore album Balbuceo, which was released through Devil in the Woods Records.
Balbuceo‘s first single “Seis Ausente” is a genre-defying song featuring elements of prog rock, psych rock, shoegaze, post rock and even Dilla-esque beatmaking as the track is centered around a mesmerizing arrangement of found vocal samples, shimmering and atmospheric synths and swirling electronics, boom bap-like drumming, a funky bass line and bursts of guitar feedback. And from Balbuceo‘s first single, the rising Mexican act specializes in synthesizing elements of the familiar into something explosive and completely novel.
The recently released visual for “Seis Ausente” manages to be hypnotic and unsettling: the viewer sees some gorgeously detailed line drawings pulsating and undulating to the song’s mesmerizing and trippy arrangement, and as the visual progresses, the drawings are overcome with explosive splashes of color — particularly a blood-like red.
Featuring members who split their time between London, Ontario and Guelph, Ontario, WHOOP-Szo is an acclaimed DIY prog rock/experimental rock act centered around a core group led by Adam Sturgeon (vocals, guitar), who is a proud member of the indigenous Anishinaabe community; Kirsten Kurvink Palm (guitar, synths, vocals), Joe Thorner (bass, vocals, Casio), Andrew Lennox (12 string guitar, synth) and Eric Lourenco (drums) with a rotating cast of collaborators. Since their formation, the act has received attention for enthusiastically crossing, meshing and blurring genres, sounds and styles: their sound is a fusion of folk, metal, pop, grunge, classical, psych rock, noise and prog rock. Thematically, their work focuses upon the effects of colonialism and colonization, self-determination, language and history, identity, empowerment and so on.
Through frequent touring across North America, the band has developed a reputation for being a relentless force of nature, enveloping audiences in an emotional storm that dances conscientiously between anger, frustration, discipline and hope. Along with that, the collective is known for their passion for social work and activism — particularly when it involves Canada’s indigenous communities.
The acclaimed Canadian act’s forthcoming album Warrior Down focuses on finding identity when it has been exterminated from your life. The material looks into the past — not with hazy nostalgia but as a way to find an indigenous future. “There is no single stereotype to associate with indigenous people.” the band writes in a statement. “The image taught in history books is not the reality of modern indigenous experience. We live in cities, have to drive cars and do a lot of the same things everyone else has to do to survive.
“Indigenous people are not relegated to the past, but sometimes that past can help you look into the future. We can enjoy making art in contemporary ways and we love future tropes; Star Trek, Star Wars and 80’s miniatures are relatable to our community.”
Centered around propulsive and tribal-like drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths and arena rock-like power chords, Warrior Down’s latest single “Amaruq” is a expansive and mind-bending song that’s a seamless synthesis of prog rock, metal and post rock that captures and evokes the concerns and thoughts of the Inuit community with a conscientious and rabble-rousing spirit. “‘Amarug’ is a dedication to the Inuit village that helped birth WHOOP-Szo,” the band explains. “The song itself is named after the remote, fly-community of Salluit, Quebec’s local high school.”
Directed by Ross Millar, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Amaruq” employs the use of miniatures and action figures in what looks to be Northern Quebec. Throughout the video, its protagonist, who’s set in contemporary times with electricity, technology, modern houses stumbles onto a portal that allows him to contact to the past — and with the ancients.
With the release of last year’s self-produced, critically applauded full-legnth debut, When I Think of You In A Castle, the Chicago-based prog pop act Post Animal — Dalton Allison (bass, vocals), Jake Hirshland (guitar, keys, vocals), Javi Reyes (guitar, vocals), Wesley Toledo (drums, vocals), and Matt Williams (guitar) — received attention nationally for a kaleidoscopic, guitar-heavy sound. Interestingly, “Safe or Not,” the first bit of new material from the act since the release of When I Think of You . . . is a bit of a change of sonic direction for the Chicago-based act, as the track finds the band employing a dance floor friendly sound centered around shimmering guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and glistening synths, a sinuous base line, a motorik-like groove and a mind-bending and expansive song structure.
“We wanted to leave the content more open ended for the listener to navigate, but it’s about self reflection,” the members of Post Animal explain in press notes. “We played around with more somber, serious lyrical content over a particularly dance-oriented song to juxtapose how one may feel internally versus how they’re outwardly portraying themselves in the moment.”
Post Animal recently released an aptly hallucinogenic lyric video to accompany the song.