Tag: Polaris Music Prize

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.”

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Charlotte Day Wilson. And as you may recall, Wilson’s musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo; but with the release of her debut single “After All,” the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist quickly emerged as an up-and-coming solo talent within her hometown’s scene, eventually beginning ongoing collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber.

2016’s CDW featured critically acclaimed singles “Work” “Find You,” and the aforementioned “After All,” and unsurprisingly, the album found Wilson further establishing herself as an artist, who crafted deeply personal songs with an wisdom, insight and honesty that betrayed her relatives youth — paired with sleek, minimalist, electronic production. Interestingly, this past year may arguably be one of biggest years of her career: Stone Woman, Wilson’s sophomore effort is a decided and self-assured change in sonic direction in which Wilson paired her effortlessly soulful vocals with neo-soul, soul and jazz-leaning production in which organic arrangements are meshed with subtle electronic production.  Since its releasee earlier this year, Stone Woman has amassed over 30 million streams across all screaming platforms. Wilson was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Work” was awarded a Prism Prize for best Canadian music video. Wilson and the video’s directed Fantavious Frtiz used the prize money to create the Work Film Grant, a fund that awarded $10,000 to emerging female and non-binary directors. 

Additionally, Wilson toured with longtime collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD, which included an incredible BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell stop back in August. The acclaimed Canadian artist  ends a big 2018 with two Spotify singles recorded at Toronto’s HOB Studios– “Doubt,” the first single off Stone Woman is a slow-burning and soulful ballad featuring a production that recalls BilalErykah Badu and others; but more important, the song is centered around a heartbreaking emotional honesty in which, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness. The Spotify singles version possesses a “you-were-there-in-the-room” immediacy that gives the song’s an emotional punch. 

The second track is Wilson’s cover Dolly Parton‘s “Here You Come Again” centered around a sparse arrangement featuring the Canadian singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist’s soulful vocals, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys — and although Wilson’s version is a slow-burning and atmospheric take, the track maintains the song’s ache, reminding contemporary listeners of what an under appreciated songwriter Parton is. 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Returns with an Ode to Resilience in Our Dark Times

Throughout the better part of this year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin, and as you’d likely recall, Aucoin has spent time as collaborator and guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before quickly developing a reputation an an attention grabbing solo artist. In fact, Aucoin’s 2007 debut EP Personal Publication was a concept album conceived and written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas — and he supported the effort with a cross-Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for  Childhood Cancer Canada.

After completing the tour to support Personal Publication EP, Aucoin joined his brother’s band and toured with them; but as the story goes, because of a sudden shift from regular and extremely strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through a debilitating iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, Aucoin went on yet another solo tour in which he ran partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing 2011’s full-length debut We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. Aucoin’s debut was long-listed as a nominee for 2012’s Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013. Building up on a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded Ephemeral back in 2014.

Released earlier this year, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in about four years, and EP singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle”  and the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop  “The Fear.” further cement Aucoin’s reputation for crafting infectious and anthemic yet thoughtful pop. The EP’s latest single “The Dream” is a slow-burning and wistful track that pairs the Canadian producer and electronic music artist’s tender falsetto over a production centered around twinkling and plinking keys, bursts of handclaps,  and a propulsive and strutting bass line. And yet, the song manages to evoke something the narrator longs for the deep down, he recognizes he might not be able to fully achieve it; that sometimes you get what you need and not what you want. But there’s a hopefulness that suggests that sometimes just having a dream is necessary to survival. As Aucoin explained in press notes, “‘The Dream’ is a song about the contentment we can feel at an individual level when daydreaming or imagining a different world. It’s not about the achieving of making that world come to reality but looks at the various therapeutic benefits from such an endeavour. Whether it be imagining a time where you are not heartbroken, in an estrangement, or in conflict with the changes in your life, that power to picture yourself beyond the given moment is a useful tool for accepting the way things are and getting to that new spot, ‘The Dream.’”
Directed by Mike Bromley, the recently released video for “The Dream” was filmed in Los Angeles and it follows Aucoin, who plays an aspiring actor, and although he does suffer through some early rejection, he continues to be persistent — and with a smile, no less as he strives for the dream he wants to achieve. 

New Audio: New JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Releases a Dreamy, New Single

Now, over the first few months of the year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin. And as you may recall, Aucoin has spent time as a collaborator and guest musician in older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as an attention grabbing solo artist. Aucoin’s 2007 debut EP Personal Publication was a concept album conceived and written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Canadian artist supported that effort with a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. Upon completing his solo tour, Aucoin joined his brother’s band and toured with them; but because of a sudden shift from regular and extremely strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through a debilitating iron deficiency. Once he recuperated though, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. We’re All Dying to Live was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Canadian electronic music artist released his 2014, critically applaud album Ephemeral. 

Released today, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and the EP features the sprawling and propulsive club banger “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle”  and the jangling, club banging electro pop and indie rock amalgamation, “The Fear.” The EP’s latest single “The Dream” is a slow-burning track in which Aucoin’s tender falsetto is paired with twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, bursts of handclaps, bursts of mournful horns — and in some way, the song seems to evoke something that the song’s narrator longs for, but deep down knows he can never fully achieve; in fact, there are countless times in which it seems as though much of what you’ve desired or felt you deserved is often out of reach, and that such things leave lingering and embittering reminders. 

Interestingly, as Rich Aucoin explains in press notes. “‘The Dream’ is a song about the contentment we can feel at an individual level when daydreaming or imagining a different world. It’s not about the achieving of making that world come to reality but looks at the various therapeutic benefits from such an endeavour. Whether it be imagining a time where you are not heartbroken, in an estrangement, or in conflict with the changes in your life, that power to picture yourself beyond the given moment is a useful tool for accepting the way things are and getting to that new spot, ‘The Dream.’”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you would have come across a couple of posts featuring the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist Rich Aucoin. Aucoin has spent time as a collaborator and guest musician inches older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as an attention grabbing solo artist; in fact, his  2007 debut Personal Publication EP was a concept album designed as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He supported that effort by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After he completed his solo tour, he rejoined Hylozoists on their town; however, because of a sudden shit from regular, strenuous exercise to virtually no exercise, Aucoin eventually suffered through an iron deficiency. Once he recuperated, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin then released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and as you may recall the EP’s first single “Release” featured live drumming from Broken Social Scene‘s Justin Peroff in a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger that draws from house music and boom-bap era hip-hop, centered around laws of arpeggiated synths. The EP’s second single “The Middle” was swooning track that may remind some listeners of M83, as it possessed a soaring hook that evokes an earnest and swooning yearning.

The EP’s latest single “The Fear” continues in a similar vein as its predecessors as it’s a jangling and rousingly anthemic instrumental track consisting of propulsive drumming, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, jangling guitar and chopped up vocal samples — and interestingly enough, the track manages to be a trippy synthesis of club banging electro pop and anthemic indie rock.

Aucoin’s PRESS ON tour to support Hold EP will feature him bicycling from city to city to raise awareness for mental health — with the Canadian artist raising awareness for mental health by bicycling from city to city and donating 100% of the tour proceeds to Mental Health America and The Canadian Mental Health Association. The tour will include an tour opening stop at Brooklyn’s newest venue Elsewhere. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:
2/27: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
3/26: Los Angeles, CA @ Bardot
4/6: Phoenix, AZ @ TBA
4/11: Flagstaff, NM @ The Hive
4/19: Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
4/26: Amarillo, TX @ The 806
5/3: Oklahoma City, OK @ The Root
5/4: Norman, OK @ Opolis
5/11: Little Rock, AR @ TBA
5/16: Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
5/23: Nashville, TN @ TBA
5/31: Knoxville, TN @ Birdhouse
6/20: Washington, DC @ DC9
6/23: Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
6/26: Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA

New Video: The Vivid Animated Visuals for Rich Aucoin’s Swooning, New Single “The Middle”

Rich Aucoin is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based electronic music artist and indie rock artist, known as a collaborator and guest musician of his older brother Paul Aucoin’s band Hylozoists — and as an attention grabbing solo artist. Aucoin’s 2007 debut effort, Personal Publication EP was conceptualized as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which he supported by going on a cross-Canada tour entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After he completed his solo tour, he rejoined Hylozoists but during a sudden shift from regular exercise to virtually no exercise at all, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based electronic music artist and musician suffered through an iron deficiency. But after recuperating, he went on another solo tour, running partial marathons between stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

During both of his early solo tours, Aucoin spent time writing and recording the material, which would comprise his 2011 full-length effort, We’re All Dying to Live, an album that featured over 500 guest musicians, including Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. The album was long-listed as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, with the music video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” winning a Prism Prize in 2013. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Aucoin released his critically applauded, 2014 effort Ephemeral. 

Slated for a March 16, 2018 release, Hold EP is Aucoin’s first batch of new, recorded material in over 4 years, and as you may recall the EP’s first single “Release” featured live drumming from Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff in a sprawling yet propulsive, club banger that draws from house music and boom-bap era hip-hop, centered around laws of arpeggiated synths. And while reminding me (to my ears, at least) of The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and others — but underneath the club banging swagger, there’s a zen-like tranquility. The EP’s latest single “The Middle” is a cinematic yet dreamy and contemplative track that will immediately remind most listeners of M83, as it possesses soaring hook that evokes an earnest and swooning yearning. 

The recently released video by Meags Fitzgerald features hand drawn drawings, animation and live action in a way that emphasizes the both the themes and the lyrics of the song in a vivid fashion.