Tag: Juno Award

New Video: The Mournful Sounds and Visuals of TR/ST’s “Destroyer”

The Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstay Robert Alfons, best known for his industrial pop recording project TR/ST has released two critically and commercially successful, full-length albums — his self-titled debut received praise from Vice, Pitchfork and The Guardian, as well as a  Juno Award nomination. Joyland, Alfons’ sophomore effort was a major chance in sonic direction, with the material being much more pop orientated and radio friendly sound while possessing a club friendly, muscular thump. And as you may recall, after a lengthy world tour to support Joyland, Alfons managed to write and record a series of singles, including the menacing,  Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer”-like “Slug,” which I wrote about several years ago. 

Interestingly, the renowned Toronto-based producer and electronic music artist will be releasing his highly-anticipated third, full-length effort, which is slated for release sometime in 2018 and will feature the previously released single “Bicep.” His latest single finds the renowned Canadian producer pairing organic instrumentation — here being, piano, drums and horn (albeit, what sounds like a horn sample) with a slick and lush electronic production featuring thumping beats, samples and looping machines and a soaring hook over which Alfons contributes his mournful and aching baritone. 

Directed by Justin Tyler Close and famed choreographer Ryan Heffington, the recently released video for “Destroyer,” features Heffington in his first starring role, as an intense man, who’s barely holding it together as we’re introduced to him intently walking towards the camera and running elsewhere, before seeing him expressively dancing in a number of different locales in and around the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles. At one point, he runs into a man with motorcycle helmet, who he paralyzes with mere words — sticks and stones may break your bones, and words may kill you, too. Influenced by detailed conversations between each collaborator have influenced a rather symbolic set of visuals based around a desperate, last ditch effort to save a failing relationship. Heffington’s movement manage to express joy remembered, self-reflection, turmoil, ache and longing, further emphasizing the song’s overall vibe.  

New Video: The Intimate and Dreamy Visuals for Cold Specks’ “Wild Card”

With the release of her first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her solo recording project Cold Specks received both national and international attention, and unsurprisingly her first two albums were nominated for the Polaris Music Prize with her her debut effort receiving  a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. In between a busy period of writing, recording and tour, Hussein also managed to be a hotly-desired collaborator, working with the likes of Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.

After spending a portion of 2015 and 2016 touring to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to Toronto, where she began work on her recently released third, full-length effort Fool’s Paradise, an album in which Hussein exploring her identity as a Canadian-Somali woman, as a Black woman in a world brutal to Black people, as an artist and as the daughter of immigrants, who fled their homeland, and as someone surviving the best she can in difficult circumstances  — and the album’s first single “Wild Card” is largely inspired by the refugee experience. “There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”

Produced by Jim Anderson at Toronto’s Easy Life Studio, the single features Arcade Fire‘s Tim Kingsbury playing bass on a hauntingly sparse arrangement and melody. Certainly, the latest track will further cement Hussein’s reputation for being an fearlessly uncompromising and emotionally direct; in this case, the single possesses a subtle but palpably weary ache underlined with simple yet profound joys — the profound joy of being treated kindly when you are “a traveler, a man from far away,” as Paul Salopek once wrote. But along with that, there’s a deep connection that one has for a place whenever you’re far away, and I can recall in many instances when I’ve traveled abroad, finding myself inexplicably bonding with a fellow American with familiar places (even those I’ve never been before) holding a mythical weight to them. 

Created by Mac Boucher and Gnarly Bangs, the recently released video for “Wild Card” manages to nod at the videotapes her parents recorded that depict their lives with a country Hussein never knew and cheap homemade videos of people noodling around with a video recorder — and as a result, the visuals emphasize the song’s uncommon intimacy. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Cold Specks Returns with a Spectral and Heartbreaking New Track Off Forthcoming Third Album

With the release of her first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums,  2012’s I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and 2015’s Neuroplasticiy, the Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein, best known as Cold Specks received national and international attention as both albums received Polaris Music Prize nominations and a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, with the release of Graceful Expulsion! And in between writing, recording and touring, Hussein collaborated with Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.

After touring throughout 2015 and 2016 to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to Toronto, where she began working on her third full-length album, Fools Paradise, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through renowned Canadian indie label, Arts & Crafts Records. Now, as you may recall Fool’s Paradise’s first single “Wild Card,” was a slow-burning and atmospheric song, largely inspired by the refugee experience and an act of unusual kindness to a stranger from far away. As Hussein explained in press notes “There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home. My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”

The album’s title track and second single may arguably be some of Hussein’s most deeply personal song, as the song — and of course, in turn, the album — finds the Somali-Canadian singer/songwriter focusing on and exploring her identity as the daughter of immigrants and as a black woman in a world that’s relentlessly hostile to black folk, while also focusing on finding the resilience to survive through difficult times. Interestingly, “Fool’s Paradise”  manages to further cement her reputation for crafting moody and slow-burning pop but while revealing an aching longing and vulnerability paired with  steely resolve.

“New Moon,” Fool’s Paradise’s third and latest single was produced and mixed by long-time collaboration Jim Anderson at Toronto’s Easy Life Studio and features a sample from Jim-E Stack.  Sonically speaking, Hussein’s imitable vocals, which convey heartache, longing and desperate desire for clarity are paired with a sparse and atmospheric production consisting of undulating synths, stuttering beats, swirling electronics and what sounds like a mournful horn sample. As Hussein explains press notes “The song is a document of a lost year. It was all very strange, beautiful and manic. I found myself developing these intense relationships with strangers and cities. I kept looking up at the moon for some sort of clarity. It would help me measure my lost time, fleeting desire, and frantically plan for the future. Each phase carried more weight. I guess it explores the aftermath of heartbreak. I had to learn to detach, self-care and whisper sweet nothings to myself over and over again.” And as a result, the song evokes that sense of struggling to find both stability and oneself when life has thrown you for a complete and devastating loop. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Cold Specks Returns with a Haunting and Vulnerable New Single

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall the with the release of her first two critically applauded and commercial successful albums, 2012’s I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and 2015’s Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her recording project Cold Specks received national and international attention; in fact, both albums received Polaris Music Prize nominations and a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, with the release of Graceful Expulsion! And in between writing, recording and touring, Hussein collaborated with Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.

Up until recently, two years had passed since I had last written about Hussein but as it turns out, the renowned singer/songwriter had been busy. After touring throughout 2015 and 2016 to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to home to Toronto, where she began working on her third full-length album, Fools Paradise, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through renowned Canadian indie label, Arts & Crafts Records. As you may recall earlier this summer, I wrote about Fools Paradise’s first single “Wild Card,” a slow-burning and hauntingly atmospheric song, largely inspired by the refugee experience. There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”

Fool’s Paradise’s second and latest single, album tittle track reveals that the new album consists of what may arguably be her most personal work to date, as the song — and in turn, the album — finds her exploring her identity as a Somali-Canadian and as a black woman, while simultaneously focusing on existing through difficult times. And while the new single further cements her reputation for crafting moody, slow-burning pop, it’s a subtle yet decided change in songwriting approach as the song’s narrator expresses an aching longing and vulnerability; but just under the surface is a steely resolve to survive and thrive. 

New Video: RJ Sanchez-Directed Visuals for Muneshine’s “Full Throttle” feat. The Darcys Pay a Glorious and Campy Homage to 80s Pop Culture

Rob Bakker is a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-born, Toronto, ON-based multi-Juno Award and Polaris Prize-nominated hip-hop producer, engineer and recording artist, best known as Muneshine. Recently, Converse Rubber Tracks had the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based producer collaborating with the acclaimed Toronto, ON-based art rock/indie rock duo The Darcys on “Full Throttle,” a sultry, classic house music-inspired club-banging single that finds both the producer and renowned indie rock duo using their sound and aesthetic in a completely different and unchartered territory, arguably being one of the sexiest songs both parties have released to date — while thematically speaking, the song is about escaping whatever that weighs you and your life down — work stress, school stress, relationship stress, family stress, etc.

As the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based producer explains of the collaboration with The Darcys “Wes [Marskell] and Jason [Couse] are great to work with. They’re obviously great songwriters and musicians, but beyond that we just get along as humans. We share a similar dark and sarcastic sense of humour as well, which makes our sessions an evil pleasure. I love having an idea on my own and finding my own way to express it, but when you bring other people that you trust creatively into the fold and put your heads together you’re forced to explore possibilities that live beyond your own imagination. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Directed by RJ Sanchez, the recently released visuals for “Full Throttle” pay homage to the 80s — namely Fame, Flashdance, Knight Rider and Magnum P.I. in a way that’s simultaneously campy as hell, but manages to capture the exact tone and feel of 80s pop culture — to the point, that you can briefly be tricked into thinking that the song and the video were released around the period that influenced it. As Bakker says of his collaboration with Sanchez, “I met RJ through Geoff McLean (Vision Film Co.) when I was on the hunt for an exciting new director for my 2015 single, ‘Sunshine’. I hadn’t seen much of his work, but Geoff’s the man and his taste is impeccable, so that suggestion was all I needed to hear. Needless to say, RJ knocked ‘Sunshine’ out of the park, so when I finished up ‘Full Throttle’ with Darcys, I knew exactly where to go for that fire. The only ‘must-have’ I put on RJ was my need for a sexy 80’s sports car (preferably a Lamborghini Countach – my all-time favorite automobile) and he took it from there. We couldn’t source the Countach, but he got his hands on a cherry red Magnum P.I. Ferrari, and who can hate on that?! RJ gets all the props for this masterpiece, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out.”

With the release of her first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her solo recording project Cold Specks received national and international attention and as a result, Hussein’s first two albums received nominations for the Polaris Music Prize and she also received a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, with the release of Graceful Expulsion! And in between writing, recording and touring, Hussein had been busy as a hotly-desired collaborator, working with Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie HancockSwans and others.

Now, it’s been about two years since I’ve last written about Hussein but the renowned singer/songwriter had been very busy. After spending a portion of 2015 and 2016 touring to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to Toronto, where she began work on her forthcoming third full-length album. “Wild Card,” the still officially unnamed album’s first single is largely inspired by the refugee experience.  “There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.

Produced by Jim Anderson at Toronto’s Easy Life Studio, the single features Arcade Fire‘s Tim Kingsbury playing bass on a hauntingly sparse arrangement and melody. Certainly, the latest track will further cement Hussein’s reputation for being an fearlessly uncompromising and emotionally direct; in this case, the single possesses a subtle but palpably weary ache underlined with simple yet profound joys — the profound joy of being treated kindly when you are “a traveler, a man from far away,” as Paul Salopek once wrote.

 

 

 

 

Rob Bakker is a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-born, Toronto, ON-based multi-Juno Award and Polaris Prize-nominated hip-hop producer, engineer and recording artist, best known as Muneshine. Recently, Converse Rubber Tracks had the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based producer collaborating with the acclaimed Toronto, ON-based art rock/indie rock duo The Darcys on “Full Throttle,” a sultry, classic house music-inspired club-banging single that finds both the producer and renowned indie rock duo using their sound and aesthetic in a completely different and unchartered territory, arguably being one of the sexiest songs both parties have released to date — while thematically speaking, the song is about escaping whatever that weighs you and your life down — work stress, school stress, relationship stress, family stress, etc.

As the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based producer explains of the collaboration with The Darcys “Wes [Marskell] and Jason [Couse] are great to work with. They’re obviously great songwriters and musicians, but beyond that we just get along as humans. We share a similar dark and sarcastic sense of humour as well, which makes our sessions an evil pleasure. I love having an idea on my own and finding my own way to express it, but when you bring other people that you trust creatively into the fold and put your heads together you’re forced to explore possibilities that live beyond your own imagination. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Since their formation over four years ago, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Canadian roots trio Red Moon Road, comprised of Sheena Rattai (lead vocals, percussion, keys), Daniel Jordan (vocals, guitar, bass drum) and Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner (vocals, mandolin, banjo, guitar, lap steel, keys and delay pedals) have developed a reputation across their native Canada and elsewhere for a remarkably full sound that draws from a variety of influences including Canadiana, Manitoban country, folk music, gospel, soul, jazz, pop and Americana while pairing them with Rattai’s soulful, superstar-in-the-marking vocals, and for a live show that features each of the three multi-instrumentalists switching rapidly switching instruments throughout — with Péloquin-Hopfner known for playing banjo and organ simultaneously! (That’s something I’d love to see with my own eyes!)

L-R: Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner, Sheena Rattai and Daniel Jordan
L-R: Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner, Sheena Rattai and Daniel Jordan

As the story goes, while the Canadian roots trio was in tour in 2012, lead vocalist Sheena Rattai, broke her leg through a Frisbee-catch-gone-horribly-wrong accident that unfortunately lead to the trio being forced to cancel their tour. And as a result, Rattai spent several months recovering and writing, new material — most of which wound up comprising their latest album, Sorrows and Glories, which sees its Stateside release today. Co-produced by David Travers-Smith, a multiple Juno Award-winning, who has worked with The Wailin’ Jennys and Ruth Moody and renowned producer Murray Pulver, who has worked with Doc Walker and Steve Bell, the material on Sorrows and Glories is unsurprisingly, informed by the ups and downs of the healing experience and Canadian folklore — including a song that muses on Winnipeg’s Roslyn Square Apartment Complex, another that retells the tragic story of an 18th Century French aeronaut, as well as straightforward spirituals, while being reportedly being rooted in the sort of storytelling familiar to old school folk and country.

“I’ll Bend But I Won’t Break,” which I have the unique honor of premiering here, pairs Sheena Rattai’s soulful powerhouse vocals with upbeat and jaunty series of banjo chords, guitar played much like a bass guitar at parts, soaring organ chords and gorgeous three part harmonies at the song’s anthemic and powerfully encouraging hook in a song about resilience that’s deeply influenced by personal experience and hard-fought wisdom. As Red Moon Road’s Sheena Rattai explained to me by email, “I used to own this tiny little house in Winnipeg that I lived in all by myself. After a few years of trying to balance the upkeep of it with our rigorous touring schedule I realized that it just wasn’t working. I decided to make my best efforts toward grownup-hood and secure a tenant for the house. I got a tenant named Tom. Turns out, Tom was a terrible tenant! While this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, it actually ended up being a horrible experience that resulted in my having to sell the house. Needless to say, I didn’t much care for Tom at the time so I wrote an angry song that lyrically has nothing to do with Tom, but emotionally, has everything to do with him. It’s some self-encouragement that people like this that bring chaos into our lives won’t break us. I love the symbolism in how a tree survives a storm; grounding yourself and digging your roots deep.”

While I have to admit that I hope that Rattai doesn’t have any more terrible Toms in her life, the song is both a reminder of the age-old adage of that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that all things do pass in time. But it’s also an example of gifted and so rare songwriting — an earnest song that’s personable, richly visual and with an incredibly memorable hook that dozens of songwriters would kill for in any genre. And honestly, based on this trio’s sound, I’m amazed that they’re not bigger than what they are right now; but I think that will be rectified very soon.