Tag: Polaris Music Prize

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake, which is about 230 miles north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated, Montreal-based shoegazer outfit The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Canadian shoegazers have released six albums of expansive, atmospheric and textured shoegaze that has been described as magisterial and cinematic by critics.

2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum saw the Montreal-based outfit saw the band attempting to craft shorter, less sprawling songs. But after the album’s release, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar decided to mutually go their separate ways. With that decision, the Canadian shoegazers faced several career and life-altering questions: Did it make sense to even continue the band? What use is a band with an instinct for crafting expansive songs that balanced muscular heft and ethereal grave that often clocked in at five, 10 or even 18 minutes long? How can they sell that in the age of short attention spans and streaming? Can it even be relevant?

After a period of contemplation, the band came to the realization that it didn’t fucking matter. So, fueled by their love for each other, and for creating and playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes found themselves creating what may arguably be their most uncompromising album to date, last year’s The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previous five albums, the Canadian shoegazer outfit eschewed their long-held two or three year record release cycle, and went with a much more patient creative approach in which they took all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that the band had left on the shelf to be worked on, several years before The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings sessions. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Laske’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, the Montreal-based band’s sixth album found the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side — and coming back from the brink of annihilation. While in many ways touching about the band’s own story, the album is also a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — in particular, Lasek’s father who died in 2020.

From Lasek’s observations of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense and unshakable psychedelic trip of anyone’s life: at one point, Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket with a “carpenter inside of it, making objects.” These observations helped to imbue the material with a fever dream-like quality.

The acclaimed Montreal shoegazers start off 2022 with “She’s an Icicle,” an outtake from The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Great Thunderstorm Warnings sessions. Clocking in at a little over six-and-half minutes, and having gone through a process of editing and reworking, the expansive “She’s an Icicle” is centered around three distinct sections:

  • a gentle and dreamy introduction featuring shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars
  • a driving middle section featuring distortion and reverb-drenched guitars, a chugging and propulsive bass line, glistening bursts of synths and four-on-the-four-like drumming
  • a dreamy and contemplative coda that repeats the motif started in the introductory section — but with fluttering feedback, forceful drumming and glistening synth bursts before fading out

Each of those three sections are held together by Jace Lasek’s achingly plaintive falsetto and some gorgeous harmonizing. And while being an ode to a lost love, “She’s an Icicle” the continues a remarkable run of expansive and exploratory material centered around gorgeous melodies and earnest lyricism.

Two-time Juno Award-nominated and Polaris Prize listed, Toronto-born and-based Trinidadian-Canadian singer/songwriter Tanika Charles spent a formative part of her life in Edmonton, when energy sector opportunities brought the family there. But whether in Toronto or Edmonton, music was a constant presence in the Charles household: Her father would return from two weeks on site with the latest jazz records for Tanika and her brothers to jam out to.

Several years later, Tanika’s eldest brother would be the first to coach her on how to sing and how to record a song. As a young adult., Charles relocated to Vancouver, where she picked up gigs as a backing vocalist and got a taste of tour life. When she returned to her birthplace, the Trinidadian-Canadian artist’s long-held dreams of becoming a professional artist began to come to fruition: She assembled her first backing band, and with that band recorded her debut EP What? What! What?! And with the release of her debut EP, she became a local scene fixture.

In 2016, Charles independently released her full-length debut Soul Run within her native Canada. The album became a national sensation, with the album receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The following year, Italian purveyors of funk and soul Record Kicks released Soul Run internationally to critical applause from the likes of Exclaim!, Music Republic Magazine and others. Album singles like “Endless Chain,” “Love Fool,” and album title track “Soul Run” received regular radio rotation on stations across Canada, the US, the UK and France.


Charles’ sophomore album, 2019’s The Gumption was released through Record Kicks. The 12-song album picked up where Soul Run left off, further establishing the Canadian artist’s sound and approach in which classic soul is mixed with modern production. Thematically, the album saw Charles tackling moments of vindication, uncertain love, forbidden fruit and the state of the world. “It’s a little more mature,” Tanika said at the time. ““It’s not feeling guilty about being up front, not being afraid to address situations that aren’t comfortable for me. I’m comfortable in my skin now in a way I never was before.” The Gumption was long-listed for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

Along with her latest backing band, The Wonderfuls, Charles has toured across Canada and eight other counties to support Soul Run and The Gumption. Those tours have prominently featured stops across the global, national and local festival circuits, including Rennes Trans Musicales, NXNE, Lärz Fusion, Pop Montreal, Canarias Jazz Festival, CBC Music Festival, TD Toronto Jazz Fest, Birmingham’s Mostly Funk, Soul and Jazz Festival, the Pan Am Games and a list of others. Her music has appeared on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie Blue, The CW’s Seed, CTV’s Saving Hope, CBC’s Kim Convenience and Workin’ Moms and a nationally broadcast KFC ad campaign. She also has appeared as a reoccurring guest on CBC Kids and as a lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls. Between a busy schedule as a touring musician, Charles appeared in the touring production of Freedom Singer in 2017. She returned to that role in February 2019’s Now We Recognize.

Charles’ third album Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly is slated for an April 8, 2022 release through Record Kicks. The album, which features guest spots from Toronto-based emcee DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist Khari McClelland was written and recorded during and after pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. Much like its immediate predecessor, the forthcoming album is reportedly anchored in growth and maturity.

The album’s title is derived from an unlikely source, a creature that soars after the sun has set, but often goes unnoticed until light is shone on it. Referred to as “papillon de nuit” by some, the animal is more commonly known as a moth, possibly revealing a linguistic bias. “I always thought it was a strange insect,” the acclaimed Canadian artist says in press notes. “Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”

Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly‘s first single is the funky and strutting old-school inspired soul bop “Rent Free.” The song is a fiery tell off to energy sucking vampires, deadbeats, naysayers, time wasters and other shitty people centered around Charles’ effortless, Motown era-like delivery. We’ve all had those sorts in our lives, and this song is the sort of song that tells you that it’s okay to push those toxic people out of your life.

Lyric Video: Peter Peter Releases an Introspective and Dreamy Meditation on Fading Love

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.

New VIdeo: Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal Visual for Enormous “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again”

oAs 2020 mercifully came to a close, I wound up writing a bit about the acclaimed acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes. The Canadian sextet — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003, and since their formation, the band has released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of the acclaimed Montreal-based act and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And although the move was amicable between both parties, the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue as a band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes settled in to write and record what may arguably be considered the most uncompromising effort of their catalog to date, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that they had been left on the shelf years prior. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” All of this manages to imbue the album’s material with an almost fever dream-like quality.

So far I’ve written about two of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ singles:

“Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook.
“Feuds With Guns,” a dream pop-like synthesis of Prince and Beach House featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys and a soaring hook.

The Besnard Lakes begin 2021 with their forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.” Clocking in 6:39, the expansive song is centered around two alternating sections: a slow-burning and atmospheric section featuring ethereal female lead vocals, glistening and atmospheric synths that slowly build up in intensity with the addition of chugging power chords, thumping tribal-like drums and layered choral-like vocals. The end result is a song that’s a prog rock meets Beach Boys-like take on shoegaze that feels oceanic.

“The track started as an Oggy Film Song,” the band shares in press notes. “A skeletal version of the song had been in the Besnard vault for several years after we initially rejected it for a film soundtrack. It went through a couple drafts before we tore it apart, rejiggered some parts and resurrected it to its new form. The song is an ode to logic and intuition and being able to learn from the past.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released video for “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” is an animated and lysergic fever dream that features divers projected onto city buildings, electrical outlets turn into signing houses moving across the horizon and a horse runs across the changing skyline. It’s a mind-bending and gorgeous visual.

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

The Besnard Lakes have announced 3 livestream shows in support of the forthcoming album. Hosted by Noonchorus, the band’s live streams will be February 5, 2021; March 6, 2021; and April 3, 2021. The streams will go live at 7:00pm EST for each show and tickets are available here: https://noonchorus.com/the-besnard-lakes/

New Video: Acclaimed Canadian Indie Act Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal and Feverish Video for Slow-Burning “Raindrops”

Deriving their name Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthuer (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Canadian indie rock sextet have released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of The Besnard Lakes and Jagjaguwar, their longtime label home, decided it was time to part and go their separate ways. Naturally, that lead to the band to question whether or not it made sense to even continue together. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of acclaimed Montreal-based act wound up writing and recording what may arguably be their most uncompromising album of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Dispensing with a timeline, the members of The Besnard Lakes took all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the songs are old, tracing their origins back to resurrected demos left on the shelf years ago. Others were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas Riguad Ranch — with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound. Thematically, the album finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying , the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink: while it touches upon the band’s own story, it’s also remembrance of dear loved ones — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. (On vinyl, the album will be a four-side double LP: Side 1 is titled “Near Death.” Side 2 is titled “Death.” Side 3 is titled “After Death.” and Side 4 is titled “Life.”)

From what Lasek observed of his father’s experience, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life: at one point, Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” Interestingly, as I read that, I thought of what were Steve Jobs’ last words before dying — him looking past his loved ones and simply saying repeatedly “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” And as a result that surreal and ethereal quality pervades the album’s sound and aesthetic.

“Raindrops,” the album’s first single is a slow-burning song and patient song with a painterly-like attention to graduation and texture, centered around shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Along with the release of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warning’s cinematic first single, the band announced that the album is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada. Additionally, they released a surreal, fever-dream of a video directed by Joseph Yarrmush.

“This song and video details a psychedelic flight through the mind while deep in an altered state,” The Besnard Lakes explain. “The song lyrically references the death of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk (‘Garden of Eden spirited’) and also describes the idea of evolution determining the story of the Garden of Eden.

New Video: City and Colour Releases an Intimate Visual for Plaintive “Strangers”

Throughout the first half of this year, I’ve written a bit about the St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dallas Green and his acclaimed, commercially successful folk rock/alt country-solo recording project City and Colour. Green can trace the origins of his music career to when he was eight and started playing piano. By the time he turned 14, he was writing songs. Professionally, his career started in earnest as a member of Helicon Blue, but in his native Canada, he’s known for being a founding member of Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire with whom he wrote and recorded four Platinum-certified albums and an EP — 2001’s self-titled album, 2004’s Watch Out!, 2006’s Crisis and 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals and 2010’s Dog’s Blood EP — before officially breaking up in 2011.

City and Colour, Green’s solo recording project can trace its origins back to 2005 when he began releasing early versions of songs for fans to download. Many of those songs were written when Green turned 16 — and he complied those songs and rewrote many of those songs, eventually releasing them as his 2005 City and Colour debut, Sometimes.

2008’s City and Colour sophomore album, the folk-influenced Bring Me Your Love featured a wider arrangement of instrumentation, including harmonica, banjo, drums and lap steel and found Green collaboration with The Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie and Attack in Black‘s Matt Sullivan. The album’s lead single “Waiting . . . ” peaked at #32 on the Canadian Hot 100. Building upon a growing profile on both sides of the border, Green and his backing band went on their first American tour, opening for Tegan and Sara and Girl in a Coma. The following year, Green went on a Stateside headlining tour with William Elliott Whitmore. 

January 2010 saw Green on another headlining Stateside tour to support Bring Me Your Love with opening act Lissie, which he followed with a UK tour opening for Pink and Butch Waters, with a handful of headlining dates. He ended that year collaboration with Polaris Music Prize-nominated artist Shad on a remix of one of “Listen” off TSOL, and an original song “Live Forever.”

2011’s Little Hell featured Green’s highest charting single, “Fragile Bird,” which reached #1 on the Canadian rock/Alternative Charts. That August, Alexisonfire formally broke up with a statement from the band’s George Pettit saying that Green had been planning to leave the band to focus on his solo work, as balancing the two projects became too difficult.

In 2014 Green collaborated with multi-Grammy nominated and winning pop artist Pink in You + Me and the duo’s full-length debut, rose ave. debuted at #4 on the US Top 200 Charts, #1 in Canada and #2 in Australia, eventually being certified Platinum and culminating in appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Green’s most recent full-length album 2015’s If I Should Go Before You debuted at #16 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 in his native Canada, marking his third consecutive chart-topping album in his homeland.  As far as other accolades, Green has won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album, which may arguably make him one of the most commercially successful, Canadian artists of his generation.

His forthcoming sixth, Jacquire King-produced full-length album is slated for release this Fall through the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter’s newly minted Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records. The as of yet-unnamed album’s latest single “Strangers” is interestingly enough, its first official radio single and it manages to continue in a similar vein as its predecessor “Astronaut” — a mesh of honky tonk country and towering shoegaze, centered around an enormous, arena friendly hook, Green’s plaintive vocals and a haunting refrain in which Green pleads “Don’t wake when when this is over/just let me drift amidst my dreams.” “‘Strangers’ is about how you will never truly know another human being,” says Green. “You’ll never really understand what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain or heart. So, we need to appreciate the differences. If we do, maybe we can live better with one another.”

Directed by Michael Maxxis and Chris Verene, and shot on what appears to be a mix of digital cameras and Super 8 Film, the recently released, intimate video for “Strangers” throws the viewer into the lives of a beautiful Black family, a young mixed race couple, a white family, a young white couple, as one of them is preparing to surrender himself to authorities and a lesbian couple. And while each of these situations features incredibly unique individuals, the video captures profoundly universal moments — the loving and tender moments, the tearful and uneasy departures, the embittering fights about money and bills, the petty jealousies, the break ups and make ups that countless families and couples experience on a regular basis. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about the St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dallas Green and his acclaimed, commercially successful folk rock/alt country-solo recording project City and Colour. Green started playing piano when he turned eight and was writing music when he turned 14. Initially beginning his music career as a member of Helicon Blue, Green was a founding member of Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire with whom he wrote and recorded four Platinum-certified albums and an EP — 2001’s self-titled album, 2004’s Watch Out!, 2006’s Crisis and 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals and 2010’s Dog’s Blood EP — before officially breaking up in 2011.

City and Colour, Green’s solo recording project can trace its origins back to 2005 when he began releasing early versions of songs for fans to download. Many of those songs were written when Green turned 16 — and he complied those songs and rewrote many of those songs, eventually releasing them as his 2005 City and Colour debut, Sometimes.

2008’s City and Colour sophomore album, the folk-influenced Bring Me Your Love featured a wider arrangement of instrumentation, including harmonica, banjo, drums and lap steel and found Green collaboration with The Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie and Attack in Black‘s Matt Sullivan. The album’s lead single “Waiting . . . ” peaked at #32 on the Canadian Hot 100. Building upon a growing profile on both sides of the border, Green and his backing band went on their first American tour, opening for Tegan and Sara and Girl in a Coma. The following year, Green went on a Stateside headlining tour with William Elliott Whitmore. 

January 2010 saw Green on another headlining Stateside tour to support Bring Me Your Love with opening act Lissie, which he followed with a UK tour opening for Pink and Butch Waters, with a handful of headlining dates. He ended that year collaboration with Polaris Music Prize-nominated artist Shad on a remix of one of “Listen” off TSOL, and an original song “Live Forever.

2011’s Little Hell featured Green’s highest charting single, “Fragile Bird,” which reached #1 on the Canadian rock/Alternative Charts. That August, Alexisonfire formally broke up with a statement from the band’s George Pettit saying that Green had been planning to leave the band to focus on his solo work, as balancing the two projects became too difficult.

In 2014 Green collaborated with multi-Grammy nominated and winning pop artist Pink in You + Me and the duo’s full-length debut, rose ave. debuted at #4 on the US Top 200 Charts, #1 in Canada and #2 in Australia, eventually being certified Platinum and culminating in appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Green’s most recent full-length album 2015’s If I Should Go Before You debuted at #16 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 in his native Canada, marking his third consecutive chart-topping album in his homeland.  As far as other accolades, Green has won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album, which may arguably make him one of the most commercially successful, Canadian artists of his generation.

His forthcoming sixth, Jacquire King-producedfull-length album is slated for release this Fall through the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter’s newly minted Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single “Astronaut” was one part, honky-tonk ballad about a lonely life on the road, far from friend and family, playing your sad, beer and whiskey-soaked songs on the road, one part, towering and anthemic hook-driven shoegaze that recalls Slowdive and The Verve.  “I always think of the relationships in my life that have been fractured because I ended up doing what I do for a living,” Green says of the new single. “I’m always gone, wandering around and singing songs. However, it weighs on my family and friends. I’m asking for ‘one more year.’ I left home at 21 to go play my guitar. It’s lonely, but it’s because I yearn to wander, I’m aware of how lucky I am. “

The as of yet-unnamed album’s latest single “Strangers” is interestingly enough, its first official radio single and it manages to continue in a similar vein as its predecessor — a mesh of honky tonk country and towering shoegaze, centered around an enormous, arena friendly hook, Green’s plaintive vocals and a haunting refrain in which Green pleads “Don’t wake when when this is over/just let me drift amidst my dreams.” “‘Strangers’ is about how you will never truly know another human being,” says Green. “You’ll never really understand what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain or heart. So, we need to appreciate the differences. If we do, maybe we can live better with one another.”

Earlier this month Green announced festival dates and a North American tour that will feature back-to-back nights in Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. One night in each of those cities will take place in a seated theater, featuring Green playing an intimate solo show with stripped down versions of songs across his catalog with Ben Rogers, the first artist to sign onto Green’s new label.  The second night will feature Green and his touring band playing in general admission rock and indie rock venues with Ruby Waters opening. You can check out the tour dates below.

For this tour, Green has partnered with PLUS1. $1 from every ticket sold in Canada and the States will be donated to charitable foundations — Crisis Text Line here in the States and MusiCounts and Indpsire in Canada. Since launching in 2013, Crisis Text Line has provided free, 24/7 confidential support for those in crisis across the country, exchanging over 100 million messages from folks across the country. If you or someone you know needs help, have them text 741714 in the US to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor.

TOUR DATES
Festival Dates
Jun 27 – Lansing, MI @ Common Ground Festival (Solo)
Jun 29 – Peterborough, ON @ Peterborough Musicfest (Solo)
Aug 3 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Festival
Aug 5 – St. John’s, NL @ George Street Music Festival
Aug 4 – Saint John, NB @ Area 506 Festival
Aug 17 – Elora, ON @ Riverfest
U.S. Tour Dates
Sep 20 – Tacoma, WA @ WAMU Theatre (w/ ALICE IN CHAINS)
Oct 09 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East**
Oct 10 – Nashville, TN @ James K. Polk Theater (Solo)*
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts (Solo)*
Oct 15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore**
Oct 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ace Hotel (Solo)*
Oct 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre**
Oct 21 – Boston, MA @ Royale**
Oct 22 – Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center (Solo)*
Oct 24 – New York City, NY @ Webster Hall**
Oct 25 – New York City, NY @ Town Hall (Solo)*
Canadian Tour Dates
Nov 08 – Victoria, BC @ Save On Foods Memorial Centre^
Nov 09 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum^
Nov 10 – Kelowna, BC @ Prospera Place^
Nov 12 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome^
Nov 13 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place^
Nov 15 – Regina, SK @ Brandt Centre^
Nov 16 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place^
Nov 19 – Sudbury, ON @ Sudbury Arena^
Nov 22 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena^
Nov 25 – Ottawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre^
Nov 26 – Kingston, ON @ Leon’s Centre^
Nov 29 – Halifax, NS @ Scotiabank Centre^
* = w/Ben Rogers
** = w/Ruby Waters
^ = w/Jacob Banks and Ben Rogers

New Video: Black Mountain Takes on 8-Bit Video Games in New Visuals for “Licensed to Drive”

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records. the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, an album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s newest album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man.

Directed by Zev Deans, the recently released video for “Licensed to Drive” is an extended riff on classic 8-bit video games and Mad Max, complete with leather and ax-wielding barbarians, a tricked out 1976 GMC Spirit, a guy playing trash can drums, and an enormous, mutant bat. And of course, while McBean and his buddy are playing the “Licensed to Drive” game, a cord is yanked out or something and they wind up having to watch a hilarious take on the classic Maxell Cassette tape commercial. For those of you who came of age in the 80s or grew up in the 80s, this video will bring back a lot of memories. 

New Audio: Black Mountain Releases a Motorik-Styled Ripper

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, anJ album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s forthcoming album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man.