Tag: Juno Award

New Video: Acclaimed Toronto Producer Harrison Teams Up with RALPH on Soulful 90s Synth Pop Inspired Track

With the release of his 2016 full-length debut, the critically applauded, Juno Award-nominated Checkpoint Titanium, the Toronto-based electronic music producer, electronic music artist Harrison turned from DIY bedroom producer, posting tracks on Soundcloud to a nationally and internationally acclaimed artist and producer, at the forefront of his hometown’s R&B tinged electro pop scene. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the acclaimed Canadian’s sophomore album Apricity, (which is defined as “the warmth of the sun in winter”) found him at a point where he was evolving his sound and approach, figuring out ways to translate ideas and challenge existing conventions more effectively while working with an equally acclaimed set of collaborators including Daniela Andrade, IaamSaam, BADBADNOTGOOD’s Matty Tavares, Prince Innocence’s Talvi, Basecamp’s Aaron Tiem, Prince DCF and RALPH among others. 

Interestingly, Harrison quietly released a set of B-sides through Bandcamp that will be included as part of the Apricity Deluxe bundle, which also will include an official Fingerboard, and a limited edition 140g, Black Smoke LP copy signed by Harrison, as well unlimited Bandcamp streaming; but let’s talk about Apricity’s sultry, 90s synth pop-inspired summer banger “Your Girl.” A collaboration featuring up-and-coming local vocalist RALPH, the track is built upon a dense, hook-driven production consisting of lush layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, RALPH’s soulful, come hither delivery and chopped up vocal samples. Directed by Ft. Langley, the video stars Doug Paton as “The Man” and is a slick, hilarious and absolutely incisive commentary on consumerism and advertising becoming a part of our innermost dreams and fantasies. 

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New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

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.”