Tag: Toronto ON

 

Currently comprised of Winnipeg-born founding members Jackie Mohr and Marc Girardin with Max Trefler, the Toronto-based electro pop/electro rock act jackie can trace their origins to the formation and breakup of Mohr’s and Girardin’s previous band — The Mohrs, an act that shared stages with the likes of Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and The Glorious Sons.

In 2012, Mohr and Girardin relocated to Toronto, where they met Trefler and released a rock-based effort through Light Organ Records before a radical change in sonic direction necessitated a rename. “We changed our sound on this new EP, replacing bass with analog synth, and went back to having just us three as the core of the project,” the band’s Jackie Mohr explains in an email. “After a few year hiatus we’ve come back as ‘jackie’. More aware of where we want to take our place in music.”

Interestingly, the band’s transformation was partially fueled by Mohr’s experiences as a woman in a male-dominated landscape. “I’ve never had a problem holding my own in this industry, or with men, but it really does make you question why there’s so little female presence,” Mohr points out.

“When I was promoting my first single, my radio team told my management it was going to be very difficult getting ‘a female on rock radio.’ I don’t think I’ve ever hated a comment more. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now,” Mohr continues. “I think it’s time for a new narrative. This is especially important in the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative relationships are only a small part of what’s out there, and how people love one another. Other communities need to be represented as well. I remember on my debut album I worried about saying ‘her’ or ‘she‘ as a lyric because people would class me as a ‘gay artist’. This sort of thing is important for sure, and I am a gay woman, but it’s not all I am, and I never wanted that to be the focal point of my/our music, or my musical career. The band, our music, and myself are much more than that. Music is for everyone.”

“We write songs for the everyday radio listener, and the guitar nerd,” Mohr, who owns a 1962 Silverstone 1423 nicknamed Monicka Del Toro adds. “Maybe writing good music will be more important than Instagram followers again someday.”

Interestingly, the Canadian trio’s latest single, the Hawksley Workman-produced “Lifetime in a Touch” finds the band crafting pop-leaning track that’s simultaneously a club banger and an arena rock anthem, complete with a driving groove, synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” a scorching guitar solo and Mohr’s earnest, pop belter vocals. It’s the sort of rousingly anthemic song that you can envision sweaty young people shouting along to in a dark club — but the real reason it works is that it’s rooted in real, lived-in, deeply universal experiences. As the trio explain, the song is “essentially a song about heartbreak, but it’s told through a positive outlook The lyrics in the verses represent the past lover that engulfed and controlled you, while the chorus reminds you that there’s more to life than lovers.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Jason Haberman is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has had a lengthy career collaborating with a number of artists and touring bands. Recently Haberman has stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist with his latest recording project Yaeshun.

Haberman’s latest Yaeshun single “La De Ba” is his second collaboration with By Divine Right‘s Jose Contreras, and the track is a breezy yet carefully crafted ode to all things summer, centered around thumping drumming, fuzzy power chords, hushed vocals, shimmering synth arpeggios and a propulsive bass line. While being nostalgic, the track tacitly acknowledges that those lazy days and summer warmth will be back soon enough.

Currently, Habeman is working on a Sleep album. Slated for release before the end of the year, the material is specifically created to help him — and in turn, you — get better sleep.

 

ZINNIA is a Toronto-based art pop project featuring its creative mastermind Rachel Cardiello along with James Burrows, Chris Pruden, Connor Walsh and Mackenzie Longpre. And since their formation, the Canadian act has developed a layered synth-based sound with driving beats that’s been recently described as Kate Bush meets Meat Loaf as the material manages to be intimate and fierce.

Slated for a November 22, 2019 release, ZINNIA’s full-length debut Sensations in Two Dot thematically focuses on moments of doubt — in particular, creative, societal and personal, while exploring what it means to hold compassion through the multifaceted grey areas of life. Whether in the real life town of Two Dot, Montana (population 143) or the band’s hometown of Toronto (population 2.6 million), the album’s nine songs attempt to probe the complex, unsettling similarities of the human experience.  The album’s latest single, the atmospheric “Requiem” features a sparse arrangement of twinkling and dramatic keys, a propulsive rhythm section, achingly plaintive vocals and a soaring hook. And while bearing a resemblance to Aimee Mann, Kate Bush and others, the track is centered around deeply personal and lived in experience — in his case, Cardiello’s grief over the death of her father, and how that has changed over the past decade. It’s a song that hits close to home: it’s been close to a decade since my father’s death and although the circumstances are probably very different, how I’ve thought about it and processed it has changed over time.

“I spent most of my twenties processing my dad’s death — thinking, writing and singing about it,” Cardiello recalls in press notes. “In some way, I feel like I processed it so fully that I grew a thick callus around the part of the loss that was very raw and fragile. At times, I resented the tough skin, which was necessary to get through that hard time.

“I wrote ‘Requiem’ on the plane ride to Montana, to mark the 10 year anniversary of his death. It felt like a significant milestone and I was curious to see how my grief would change.”

 

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Dance Floor Friendly Sounds and Trippy Visuals of FORCES

FORCES is a new synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. And although the project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous, long-term band Golden Dogs. Throughout The Golden Dogs’ run, Jess and Dave wound up collaborating with a virtual who’s who  of contemporary, Canadian indie rock, including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for the Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson. 

In 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album, although deep down they both admit that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure’s Close to Me and Timbaland. As a result, the duo, which splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms. 

Along with that Jess increasingly stepped up as a frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to primarily focus on guitar textures and melodies. And of course, the material was primarily based around metronomic loops and electronics instead of the drums-bass-guitar they had long relied on. The end result is their debut single as FORCES, “Stay On Me.” The self-recorded, Graham Walsh and Jose Contreras-mixed track is centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release. 

“The key lyric in ‘Stay On Me’ — ‘everything we all focus on, we become’ — reminds us to turn away from mind games in favor of focusing on what matters most in our lives, whatever that means,” the duo says about their glittering, disco bop.

Featuring FORCES’ Jess in over-sized movie star-like sunglasses, the recently released video is full of vibrant, neon-like colors and glitchy footage timed to the propulsive beats of the song to create a visual that’s trippy and mesmerizing. Look for more from the Canadian duo as they plan to release a new single every few months with an accompanying video. 

New Video: The Black Fever’s Old-Timey Visual for “Marketing”

With the release of 2010’s Romanticism, 2012’s Revisionist, 2014’s A Little Help EP and 2015’s Midnight Century, the Toronto-based post-punk act The Black Fever — Shoe (vocals, guitar), Pat Bramm (bass, backing vocals) and Dan Purpura (drums) — have firmly established a sleek and propulsive take on post punk that focuses on melody and concise songwriting.  

Recorded over two intense and breakneck recording sessions, their Ian Gomes-produced EP Unarticulated Wants was released earlier this year, and the EP’s first single is the hook-driven, Editors meets Radio 4-like “Marketing.” Centered around a propulsive and angular bass line, thunderous drumming and Shoe’s plaintive vocals, the track seethes with frustration over the fact that every single moment of daily life is inundated with advertisements. It’s inescapable and oppressive manipulation to convince you to spend early and often on that new shiny thing that will make you more attractive and more interesting to others, that will help you lose weight, restore your receding hair line, keep your erection, and just make you feel whole. And yet, there’s a gnawing emptiness that can’t be resolved by possessions or by spending. 

“We need to find a better balance between ads and public art — for art’s sake.” the band said in an emailed statement. Naturally, the song expresses a concern over what the over saturation of advertising and marketing messages does to the human soul and mind. 

The recently released video for “Marketing” is centered around incredibly manipulative stock footage of old commercials. Although the context for each commercial has been removed, each commercial is meant to make you feel something — envy, pleasure, lust. hunger, despair, all in the desperate attempt to get you to buy right now. And it should feel infuriating and fucked up. 

Over the past decade the Toronto-based indie rock act Wildlife, currently comprised of Dean Povinsky, Derek Bosomworth, Dwayne Christie, Chris Dawe and Nick Greaves have released three albums — 2010’s Strike Hard, Young Diamond, 2013’s On the Heart and 2016’s The Age of Reason — which, firmly established their sound — anthemic, power pop-tinged indie rock that has drawn comparisons to Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire and others.

Building upon a growing profile both in their native Canada and elsewhere, the Toronto-based act’s fourth album Take The Light With You was released last Friday, and the album, which was recorded over a three week session with Dave Schiffman with a additional work at Threshold Studio with Mike Keire finds the band crafting some of their most concise and forceful material to date. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about  “No Control,” a hook-driven anthemic track that the listener can imagine sweaty fans shouting along to at their local music venue. “Follower (Lala),” Take The Light With You‘s latest track is a shimmering and decidedly New Wave-inspired track that recalls The Cars and even The World’s Best American Band-era White Reaper — and while continuing a run of incredibly hook-driven anthems, the song is a sweet love song about being someone’s champion and them being yours; what it feels like to know someone has your back and always wanting them to know they can also rely on you. 

 

 

New Video: Holy Fuck Releases a Mind-Bending and Hallucinogenic Visual for Motorik-Groove Driven “Luxe”

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, frequently using miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on. And perhaps more important, the act has never been overly concerned about chasing the limelight or any genre-based trend.

“Luxe” is the first batch of new material from the acclaimed Canadian electronic act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP and interestingly, the single was born out of the quartet’s desire to revisit old and trusted methods of creating new material — primarily by experimenting live on the stage. Centered around a pulsating, minimal synth loop, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping kick drum, the expansive song, which clocks in at a little over six minutes and bears a bit of a resemblance to Tour de France-era Kraftwerk can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore’”.

The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”

Interestingly, “Luxe” also is the first official single off the acclaimed Canadian electronica act’s forthcoming, fifth album Deleter. Slated for a January 17, 2020, the material reportedly finds the band pushing their signature sound in a new direction — with it being polyrhythmic and pleasure focused, as they seamlessly mesh krautrock, deep house and motorik percussion. Thematically (and spiritually), Deleter reportedly explores what happens when humanity and technology coalesce into one big, semi-organic celebration of the joys of spontaneity, repetition and individuality.  As the band puts it, “the robots are smarter than ever, and the algorithm knows more and more what we like as individuals, but we have to remind ourselves that there is music in the margins that can go missing and that that music is more important than ever.”

Directed by Rapapawn, Óscar Raña and Cynthia Alfonso, the recently released video is a mind-bending and hallucinogenic visual featuring floating geometric shapes, and animated version of the band performing the song. 

Toronto-based electronic act Holy Fuck — Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Matt Schultz — have developed a long-held reputation for playing by their own rules, frequently using miscellaneous instruments and non-instruments including a 35mm film synchronizer, toy keyboards and toy phaser guns to achieve electronic-sounding effects without the use of laptops, programmed backing tracks, splicing and so on. And perhaps more important, the act has never been overly concerned about chasing the limelight or any genre-based trend.
“Luxe” is the first batch of new material from the acclaimed Canadian electronic act since the release of 2017’s Bird Brains EP and interestingly, the single was born out of the quartet’s desire to revisit old and trusted methods of creating new material — primarily by experimenting live on the stage. Centered around a pulsating, minimal synth loop, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thumping kick drum, the expansive song, which clocks in at a little over six minutes and bears a bit of a resemblance to Tour de France-era Kraftwerk can trace its origins back to a spontaneous encore jam at Luxembourg, Belgium. As the story goes, once they had the early elements of the track worked on in the studio, they sent it to to their good friend and casual musical mentor Kieran Hebden, best known as Four Tet, who picked the early version of “Luxe” as a standout. The Canadian quartet then invited Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor to contribute vocals. Taylor not only jumped at the opportunity but went to Jack White‘s Third Man Studio in Nashville to record his vocals on White’s 1947 Voice-O-Graph.

“Among more literal translations, ‘Luxe’ is the short form of Luxembourg – the city in which the nexus of the song was created,” the members of Holy Fuck explain in an extensive statement. “On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we’d been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we’d go for it. ‘Luxe’ was the result. Or – as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 – ‘Luxembourg Encore’. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his ‘very favorite thing here’: ‘Luxembourg Encore'”.

The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian’s vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian’s temporary vocals, were ‘like an old sample you’d dig up off an old folk record… and approached more like a classic house track’. He responded, ‘We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one…’. As far as we’re aware, there are only two in the world – one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn’t work anymore) and the other at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang ‘I’d like to scrap all of this and start over again.’ Fittingly, it was New Year’s Eve.”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a lot about the Toronto, ON-born, Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstay and electronic music producer and electronic music artist Robert Alfons, best known for his acclaimed recording project TR/ST. So far Alfons has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2012’s self-titled debut and 2014’s sophomore effort, Joyland. But interestingly his first two albums found Alfons taking risks and playing with his sound and approach: his self-titled TR/ST debut was largely considered dark, kinky and defiantly queer electronica while Joyland was bright and upbeat electronic dance music.

Five years have passed since the release of Joyland and during that period, Alfons wrote and recorded material in a secluded farmhouse in Southern Ontario and in Los Angeles, where he has since relocated. The recording sessions, which eventually became his two album effort Destroyer 1 and Destroyer 2 finds Alfons collaborating former bandmate, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Maya Postepski, who co-wrote and co-produced six of the entire project’s songs. Lars Stalfors and Damien Taylor were also enlisted to further refine the album’s overall sound — at parts industrial, at parts intimate and ambient.

Interestingly, one of the key ingredients behind the Destroyer‘s material was patience. “The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

And while both parts of the project sound different from one another, there’s a central theme throughout — the deconstruction of shame, expressed in raging industrial and machine-like clang and clatter, atmospheric and eerie quiet paired with introspective lyricism. “I think the biggest reason it took five years to write and rework so much material, is that I finally had to confront these feelings of shame that I had somehow been able to push aside for so many years, which explains why the album is so tumultuous” Alfons explains in press notes.

Slated for a November 1, 2019 release, Destroyer 2 as I mentioned earlier is a decided sonic departure from both its immediate predecessor and from his previously released work as the material consists of delicate, earnest and shimmering pop songs. “I think I took so many more risks sonically and emotionally on Part 2 of this record, for that reason this release has much more importance to me. I’ve spent much of the past five years writing and re-working these songs to get them to the state they are in” Alfons says in press notes.

Centered around twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and electronics, thumping drum programming and Alfons’ plaintive vocals, Destroyer 2‘s first single “Destroyer” is an achingly tender and intimate song that’s one part introspective and soulful confession and one part hook-driven, slickly produced pop.

Alfons will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the fall — and each of these tour stops will find him playing in much bigger venues than before. The tour includes a November 15, 2019 stop at The Knockdown Center. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

28 Sept Mexico City, MX – CMD_F

31 Oct San Diego, CA -The Observatory North Park

1 Nov Los Angeles, CA – The Novo

3 Nov Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall

4 Nov Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf

6 Nov San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger

8 Nov Houston,TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs

9 Nov Austin, TX – Levitation

11 Nov Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

12 Nov Durham, NC –  Motorco Music Hall

13 Nov Baltimore, MD – Ottobar

15 Nov Maspeth, NY – Knockdown Center

EUROPE

20 Nov London – Heaven

21 Nov Brussels – Botanique

23 Nov Bern – Saint Ghetto

24 Nov Paris – Le Trianon

26 Nov Amsterdam – Paradiso Noord

New Video: METZ Releases an Explosive Take on a Gary Numan Classic

I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ over the years and if you’ve been frequenting this during that same period, you may recall that their third album, 2017’s Strange Peace found the band pushing their songwriting in new directions with their most personal and politically charged work to date — and while retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets, the material managed to capture the anxiety, uncertainty, fear and outrage that many of have felt over the past couple of years. 

Earlier this year, Sub Pop Records released Automat, a collection of METZ’s non-album singles, B-sides and rarities dating back to 2009 on vinyl for the first time — including, the band’s long out-of-print (pre-Sub Pop) recordings. Essentially, the album is designed as a chronological trip through the acclaimed Canadian JOVM mainstays lesser-known material. Interestingly, the vinyl version of Automat included a bonus 7′ single of the band covering three very diverse songs, which will offer fans and listeners a glimpse into their wide-ranging tastes — a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Pig” off a very limited 2012 Record Store Day split single, originally released by Toronto-based record store, Sonic Boom; a cover of The Urinals’ “I’m a Bug” originally released on YouTube in 2014′; and lastly, a previously unreleased cover of Gary Numan’s “M.E.” Today, the three bonus tracks were made available to all digital services. So with that in mind, check out METZ’s explosive, feedback-driven take on Gary Numan’s classic “M.E.” 

Featuring a three-headed Pleasure Principle hydra illustrated by Kirin Booth and animation by Martin MacPherson, the recently released video for “M.E.” is a mesmerizing and hallucinogenic romp.