Miranda Elliott is a Richmond, VA-based singer/songwriter, producer and creative mastermind behind the lo-fi, ambient pop project Old Man of the Woods. Elliott describes her creative process as the alchemy of shit into sustenance, deriving the project’s name after a dark, scruffy mushroom that survives by — well, turning shit into sustenance. Interestingly, Elliott’s Old Man of the Woods debut, last year’s Dissolve EP according to Various Small Flames’ Jon Doyle “blurs the line between the personal and the natural world, conjuring a vivid and sometimes eerie soundscape as damp and rich as the woodland floor.”
Elliot’s forthcoming Old Man of the Woods’ full-length debut is slated for release later this year. In the meantime, the Richmond-based artist has managed to be rather busy; her Dissolve Remixed EP marks the first time she has collaborated with others: Richmond-based artists monad and OK HUNNEYS, as well as Totally Real Records labelmates SUPERORDER contribute remixes of Dissolve EP material.
Along with that she has collaborated with Roman Betanzos and Gabriel Güieros, visual effect artists based in Vancouver and Montreal on the video for Dissolve EP’s title track “Dissolve.” As for the song, “Dissolve” is a slow-burning and meditative track centered around Elliott’s plaintive vocals and atmospheric synths that — to me, at least — seems to evoke mist gently rising in the forest.
The recently released video can trace its origins back to when Betanzos and Güieros reached out to Elliot through Bandcamp, detailing how “Dissolve” to them sounded like the coastline of British Columbia. Interestingly, the video follows a humanoid wisp of mist through a lush and damp forest landscape, much like the ones seen in the Pacific Northwest. For Elliot, it reminded her of a surreal hike in Berlin, where she had actually forgotten that she wasn’t in Virginia and took note that “all woods feel like home.”
Port-au-Prince, Haiti-born, Montreal-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Wesli– born Wesley Louissant — has had the sort of musical journey that should be made into an inspiring biopic: he’s gone from stringing up an oil can with nylon fishing line to becoming a critically applauded, award-winning artist who has developed and honed a sound that features elements of voodoo, rara, roots reggae, Afrobeat and hip-hop through the release of three albums 2011’s Liberté dans le noir, 2015’s Immigrand and Ayiti Ètoile Nouvelle and 2018’s Rapadou Kréyol. Those four albums have found him collaborating with a talented collection of Canadian artists including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Paul Cargnello, and Malika Tirolien.
Since winning the Radio Canada Revelation Award back in 2009-2010, Louissant has collected a bevy of various awards including the Babel Med Music Prize in 2010, SOCAN’s Hagood Hardy Award in 2016, an award from the Académie Charles Cros in 2019, a World Music JUNO Award in 2019, a Félix Award for Album of the Year in World Music and a Canadian Folk Music Award (CFMA) for World Solo Artist of the Year in 2020. Adding to a rising international profile, Louissant has toured across North America, Colombia, Brazil, Europe and his native Haiti while playing sets at WOMEX, Mundial Montreal and Cape Verde’s Atlantic Music Expo.
Louissant’s fifth album, reportedly will be more electronic leaning and is slated for a fall release through Cumbancha Records. But in the meantime, his latest single “Le Soleil Descend” (The Sun Goes Down” in English) is an infectiously upbeat and breezy synthesis of reggae, traditional Haitian music, reggaeton and hip-hop centered around the rising Haitian-Canadian artist’s easygoing vocals, shimmering guitar, a rousingly anthemic sing-along friendly hook and a equally good times/good vibes verse from Paul Cargnello. It’s a summer anthem that evokes the irie vibes that we all need right this moment.
The recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Le Soleil Descend” follows Louissant through Port-au-Prince and the Haitian countryside as the sun slowly starts to set. The visual offers a simple yet beautiful slice of every day Haitian life, as we see Louissant walking down the streets with his guitar, digging the scenery around him. How can you not fall in love with beautiful young Black folks in a beautiful place trying to live their lives with dignity and joy?
Meggie Lennon is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, who started her career as the frontperson of acclaimed indie pop/indie rock outfit Abrdeen, an act that received an Alternative Independent Music Gala of Quebec (GAMIQ) nomination for 2017’s Endless Dreams and Dreamlike Mornings EP.
Abrdeen supported their material touring with a number of indie acts including Good Morning, JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone, The Dears, Julie Doiron, Sugar Candy Mountain and Laura Sauvage. And the band made the rounds of the provincial festival circuit with stops at POP Montreal, M for Montreal and FME. Additionally, Lennon developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator, lending her vocals to material by Debbie Tebbs, Lucill and Super Plage.
Lennon fully steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the July 9, 2021 release of her Samuel Gemme-produced full-length debut Sounds From Your Lips through Mothland. Featuring guest sports from Elephant Stone’s Gabriel Lambert and her longtime friend and collaborator, Super Plage’s Jules Henry, the album finds Lennon and her collaborators crafting a sound that meshes late 60s and early 70s psych, The Byrds, T.Rex, Melody’s Echo Chamber, MGMT, and Beach House into something that Lennon describes as “make-out dream-pop” with a glowing and infectious sense of optimism.
Sounds From Your Lips’ first single, album opening track “Night Shift” is heavily indebted to Scott Walker psych pop as the track features a gorgeous arrangement of soaring strings, twinkling Wurlitzer and a sultry yet propulsive groove paired with Lennon’s breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars within an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure, a trippy break. And as a result, the song manages to capture the intimate thoughts of late night trips home — but with a cinematic grandeur.
“The first part of the song came to me while cycling home back from L’Esco after a wild night. I was on a Box and the streets were completely empty,” Lennon explains. “I was riding fast through the night and it felt both meditative and exhilarating – this feeling is reflected in the dreamy verses and then heavier guitar crescendo at the end. When we got in the studio, I laid the lead track on the Wurli and it all came naturally. The second part, ‘take a glimpse outside,’ came while doodling on the synth. We were in the studio without windows but we both went outside and the sun blinded us, the lyrics were inspired by this.”
Directed by Marielle Normandin Pageau, the recently released visual for “Night Shift” is a gorgeous visual featuring sequences shot during golden hour, with others shot through dreamy filters to evoke the a feverish and hallucinogenic vibe.
Peter Roy — best known as Peter Peter — is a French Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started his music career as a member of metal/alt rock act Post Scriptum, a band in which he played guitar and occasionally sang English lyrics. After leaving the band, he relocated to Montreal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood, where he began a solo career in which he wrote and sang exclusively in French.
In 2008, Roy competed in the annual Montreal-based Ma Premiére Place des Arts contest and won. The French Canadian artist caught the attention of Audiogram Records, who signed him and released his Howard Bilerman-produced eponymous debut in 2011. Adding to a growing profile Roy played in that year’s Les FrancoFoiles de Montreal, a festival in Downtown Montreal featuring Francophone artists from all over the world.
Roy’s Peter Peter sophomore album 2012’s Une verson améliorée de la tristesse was long listed for 2013’s Polaris Music Prize. And since then, Roy has released two more albums: 2017’s Noir Éden and last year’s Super Comédie to critical acclaim across the Francophone world. Roy is currently in the studio working on new material — but in the meantime, Super Comédie’s latest single “Les mariés ont disparu” is a brooding and introspective song featuring shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and Roy’s breathy and achingly tender vocals. But at its core, the song is centered around an age old tale of fading love and love lost told through the lens of a dreamy nostalgia.
The recently released lyric video was shot on grainy VHS video and fittingly set in an old cemetery that a curious cat wanders around. Some of the gravestones are dedicated to lost loved ones while others seem to have been worn down by time and weather — to the point that the deceased has been erased by time.
Tommy Lunaire is a a Montreal-based electronic music producer and artist, who has a lifelong obsession nd love of analog synthesizers. His debut EP, the five-song Until I Melt EP is heavily inspired by the likes of Jamie xx, Flume and Rival Consoles — while featuring highly personal compositions.
The EP’s latest single “Hailstorm” is brooding and cinematic track centered around dense layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, fluttering flute, skittering beats and a driving groove. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — reminds me a bit of Octo Octa’s oft-mentioned Between Both Selves while evoking the bracing chill of a summer rainstorm.
Featuring art direction and motion design by Louis Robert and 3D art by William Thibault (Loodious) is a trippy mix of modernist painting-like animation and computerized art.
Founded back in 2016, the Montreal-based psych rock act Mort Rose has established a sound heavily influenced by and indebted to the sounds of the late 60s — but with a personal and modern touch. The band’s sophomore album Goodbye Cowboys is slated for a September 10, 2021 release, and the album reportedly finds the Montreal-based act further embracing all things psychedelia.
Goodbye Cowboys’ latest single “Money” is a mid-tempo and trippy song featuring around shimmering sitar, guitar, dreamily sung verses, rousingly anthemic hooks centered around harmonized choruses before a Baba O’Riley meets bluegrass coda. But underneath the tune-out and lift off vibes, the song is a satirical take on money with the song essentially inviting the listener to invest all of their cash into NFTs and cryptocurrency — as a way of forgetting about all of the world’s real problems. Get rich at all costs, baby!
The video follows four everyday schlubs as they devise a get rich quick scheme — presumably so that they never have to work a shitty day job again. And all of it takes is a laptop.
Born Malik Izaak Taylor, the legendary and beloved Phife Dawg was a co-founder of the multi-Grammy Award nominated, multi-platinum selling, equally legendary and beloved hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest. Along with his work with Tribe, Phife Dawg was a solo artist, who collaborated with lengthy lists of acts and artists including Fu-Schnickens, Diamond D, Chi-Ali, Black Sheep‘s Dres, De La Soul‘s Trugoy and countless others, eventually releasing his solo debut album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP.
If you’re a hip-hop head, you’d remember that the members of A Tribe Called Quest — Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — reunited in 2006 to help Phife Dawg with mounting medical expenses as a result of complications with diabetes. They co-headlined that year’s Bumbershoot Festival and played a handful of sold-out across across the States, Canada and Japan, including making appearances at the 2K Sports Bounce Tour. According to Phife Dawg, the members of the beloved hip-hop had planned to release an album to finish-off their six-album contract with Jive Records.
In 2008, A Tribe Called Quest was the headlining act for that year’s Rock the Bells tour. Taylor, who had been dealing with complications from diabetes over the past decade, wound up receiving a kidney translate from his wife. At the end of the that year, Q-Tip released his long-awaited sophomore album The Renaissance, which he followed with the release of 2009’s Kamaal The Abstract, which had been shelved for over seven years.
Tribe co-headlined 2010’s Rock the Bells and that year, Taylor had planned to release his highly-anticipated sophomore album Songs in the Key of Phife: Volume 1 (Cheryl’s Big Son); however, continued health issues delayed the release of the album. In 2013, it was reported that Phife had went back to work on his sophomore album, which was re-titled MUTTYmorPHosis. During that same period, the tense relationship between the act’s co-founder was famously documented in Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2015, the members of A Tribe Called Quest reunited to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the act’s debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. In what would be the last few months of his life, Taylor had been incredibly busy: he had finished his long-anticipated sophomore album, now titled Forever, collaborating with a collection of trusted, All-Star producers and artists. Additionally, Tribe had secretly gone into the studio to work on what would be their sixth and final album We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service. Tragically, Taylor died as the entire group were finishing the album; the remaining members finished the album and posthumously released the album, as a tribute to their co-founder.
Taylor’s family and estate will be finally releasing Phife Dawg’s long-awaited sophomore album Forever later this year. “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans,” Taylor’s family says of the album. “His fans meant the world to him.” So far, one single has been released from the album, “Nutshell, Part 2,” featuring Busta Rhymes and Redman — and as a taste of the album, it’s a classic New York hip-hop banger, in which three legendary emcees spit bars and trade zingers over a subtle DJ Rasta Root reworking of a J. Dilla production.
“French Kiss Deux,” Forever‘s second and latest single finds the beloved “Five Foot Assassin” teaming up with Vancouver-based production duo Potatohead People and J. Dilla’s younger brother Illa J on a tribute to one of my favorite cities, Montreal: Phife and Illa J trade verses about some of that city’s beautiful women and scenery over a warm and vibey neo-soul meets Golden Era hip-hop production centered around shimmering Rhodes, reverb drenched horns and twitter and woofer rocking beats. Simply put, it’s an infectious, feel good banger.
The four-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum New York-born MC and member of A Tribe Called Quest’s highly anticipated album, Forever, is slated to be released in 2021. Prior to Phife’s tragic 2016 passing, he spent time working on this album, partnering with trusted collaborators and assembling a catalog of songs representative of his art. Of the upcoming album’s release, Phife’s family stated that “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans. His fans meant the world to him.”
Deriving their name from a song by French songwriter Jacques Dutronc, written to mock the pricks swarming his flowerbeds, Hippie Hourrah is a new Montreal-based psych rock project seemingly inspired by that song’s spirit, featuring three of the city’s most accomplished musicians — Les Marinellis’ Cédric Marinelli, Elephant Stone’s Miles Dupire-Gagnon and Elephant Stone’s, Anemone’s and The Besnard Lakes’ Gabriel Lambert.
“Fantôme” is the band’s debut single — and the first single off the band’s forthcoming full-length debut, slated for a June 2021 through Simone Records. Centered around a hypnotic groove featuring shimmering sitar, gently buzzing synths, wah wah pedaled guitar and propulsive polyrhythm, the song possesses the sort of hazily lysergic air and mind expanding vibes that will remind listeners of the late 60s.
Directed by Joey Desjardins, the recently released, gorgeous video for “Fantôme” follows a woman, who through meditation opens her third eye, revealing the mysteries of the universe. “When I met Cédric Marinelli, he showed me the medal hanging from his neck” Joey Desjardins recalls. “It had a sun with an eye in the center of it. Cedric told me that each member of the band wears one, and they really enjoy this type of occult imagery. I really like these kinds of esoteric knick-knacks, which is reflected in the tone of the video. Since I loved the song and had wanted to create a psychedelic ghost tale for a while, there was a click. Gabriel Favreau (the animator and editor of the video) and I were really on the same page, which allowed us to quickly construct this spectral, hallucinatory journey.”
With the release of 2016’s Jeunes instants EP, 2017’s full-length debut À jamais privé de réponses and 2019’s Jettatura EP, the rising Montreal-based indie electro pop duo Paupiére, visual artist Julia Daigle and Polipe’s and We Are Wolves‘ Pierre-Luc Bégin, established their sound, a sound that meshes elements of 80s English synth pop and New Wave — i.e., The Human League, Depeche Mode and others — with French chanson. But just under the breezy pop melodies and catchy hooks, the duo’s work thematically touches upon naive, adolescent and hedonistic romanticism and a contemporary disenchantment.
Slated for a May 7, 2021 release, the duo’s sophomore album Sade Sati continues their ongoing successful collaboration with We Are Wolves’ Vincent Levesque, who produced their previously released work. Album single “Coeur Monarque” is an infectious and sugary sweet pop confection centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering polyrhythmic beats and boy-girl harmonies. Sonically, the song is a playful, hook-driven mix of Phil Spector-era pop and Ace of Base-like synth pop — but thematically, as the duo explain the song is much darker: “‘Coeur Monarque’ is an imaginary tale about a girl, who lives her life according to her moods. Her freedom contributes to her isolation and she loses herself in it. ‘Coeur monarque’ is a light and poppy piece, just like the protagonist of the story.
Directed by Kevan Funk, the recently released video for “Coeur Monarque” follows a a brash and very stylish woman, who’s caught in a Groundhog’s Day-like loop in which she endlessly repeats the same actions in generally the same fashion with minor — yet very important — differences: the seasons change, which require different outfits and outerwear and a few times the time of day changes. What we wind up encountering is this protagonist preparing for a night out with her usual rituals: making sure her makeup and outfits are just right, smoking a cigarette and/or pre-gaming with a quickly gulped glass of wine or a can of beer. Sometimes a friend stops by to hang out or to pick her up; but generally, she seems to be on her own and heading to meet someone. Much of the behavior is escapist and destructive without much rhyme or reason, except maybe boredom. “We really liked the idea of being caught in a time loop, reliving that same routine over and over again,” the video’s director Kevan Funk says of the new video. “The idea was to focus on the cycle of a festive lifestyle, which in some way drives away the alluring fantasy that we often imagine. Evocative of a life synonymous with the monotonous and destructive treadmill on which our main character sits. “
Featuring a collection of accomplished, Montreal-based musicians, who have played with and alongside the likes of Pawa Up First, Patrick Wilson, Boogat, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and others, the rising Montreal-based Japanese psych punk septet TEKE: TEKE – Yuki Isami (flute, shinobue and keys), Hidetaka Yoneyama (guitar), Sergio Nakauchi Pelletier (guitar), Mishka Stein (bass), Etienne Lebel (trombone), Ian Lettree (drums, percussion) and Maya Kuroki (vocals, keys and percussion) — was initially founded as a loving homage (and tribute) to legendary Japanese guitarist Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi.
With the release of their debut EP 2018’s Jikaku, the members of the Montreal-based septet came into their own highly unique and difficult to pigeonhole sound that features elements of Japanese Eleki surf rock, shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Last year was a momentous year for TEKE: TEKE. They signed to Kill Rock Stars Records, who will be releasing the band’s highly-awaited full-length debut Shirushi on May 7. 2021. And to build up buzz for the album, the band has released four singles off the album:
“Kala Kala:” Deriving its title from a phrase that roughly translates to English as clattering, “Kala Kala” is centered around a mind-melting arrangement and song structure, Kuroki’s howling and crooning. And to my ears, the track accurately captures the band’s frenetic live energy.
“Chidori,” a cinematic yet mosh pit friendly freak out that’s one part psych rock, one part Dick Dale-like surf rock, one part Ennio Morricone soundtrack delivered with a frenetic aplomb.
“Meikyu:” Deriving its title from the Japanese word for labyrinth, the track is a no bullshit, no filler all killer ripper with menacing guitar work, dramatic bursts of trombone, fluttering flute, thumping tribal drumming and some wild soloing within an expansive, mind-melting song structure.
Yoru Ni,” a fever dream featuring dreamy blasts of flute and trombone, menacing and slashing guitars and intricate Japanese shamisen. Deriving its name from the Japanese phrase for “at night,” the song despite it’s mischievous tone, is a somewhat romantic and spiritual tale about its central character letting go of a long-held delusional quest.
“Barbara,” Shirushi’s fifth and latest single is a mischievous and cinematic track with a stomping, punk rock energy that to my ears at least, sounds like it would be a perfect soundtrack for a circus or the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, as each instrumental part seemingly introducing a new and strange character. Much like the previously released singles, “Barbara” captures the frenetic energy of their live sets. “I remember er i being pretty late at night in the studio, everybody was perhaps feeling a bit edgy from a long day of recording,” the band’s Ian Lettre recalls. “And after having a chat about Brazilian band Os Mutantes, somehow we just thought ‘you know what? How about we all get in that room together and play ‘Barbara’ like there’s no tomorrow. That ended up being cut that’s on the album, haha . . .”
The lyrics as the band explain are a twisted take on zashiki-warashi, spirit beings, who like to perform pranks and bring good fortune to those who see them. “The initial inspiration for this song is a true story that happened to me,” the band’s Hidetaka Yoneyama explains. “I was randomly mistaken for an old lady by this stranger on the street, who came up to me screaming ‘Barbara? Barbara?! It’s you?! Barbara?!’ Maya then had the idea of taking the story to another level by turning it into this psychedelic tale of yokai (ghost or spirit) that escapes a house and goes on doing all sorts of pranks on people, that spirit being Barbara.”
The recently released lyric video was animated by the band’s Serge Nakauchi-Pelletier and Maya Kuroki and features some childlike and mischievous line drawings of the band performing and of the song’s equally mischievous titular character Barbara, evading attention, playing pranks and causing some good hearted trouble.