Tag: Toronto ON

New Video: Up-and-Coming Canadian Born Producer and Electronic Music Artist Bruno Belissimo Releases Surreal, Mischievous Visuals for Sultry Retro-futuristic “Boloña Baleárica”

Born the son of Italian immigrants who moved to Canada in the 70s, Bruno Belissimo is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-born and -based electronic music producer, multi-instrumentalist and electronic music artist, who grew up in a rather creative environment — his father owned a movie rental store and directed independent sci-fi movies and his mother managed a small cafe in the  St. Clarens neighborhood, best known as an enclave of Italian immigrants. As the story goes Belissimo showed a predisposition for music at a very young age: at 8 he was the best vocalist of his Baptist Church’s The Little Lord Singers and as he got older he won a scholarship at Toronto’s Royal Conservancy of Music, where he studied upright bass and composition. As he got older, Belissimo got interested in electronic music, and began producing his first tracks, quickly established his own style and sound, centered around disco-inspired programming and deep grooves. 

“Boloña Baleárica,” Belissismo’s sultry, new single features a swaggering, retro-futuristic production consisting of shimmering, arpeggiated synths reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder, tribal drum programming and warm yet soulful blast of horns. Sonically, the song sounds mischievously anachronistic — it could have been released in 1982, 1992, 2002 or today. As the Canadian producer, electronic music artist and multi-instrmetnalist says of the track “Boloña Baleárica is an homage to the sweaty and sweltering city of Bologna burnt by the sun in the scorching summer season. High cliffs instead of hills, fresh fish instead of Ragù and the surrounding sea instead of the city. This is the perfect soundtrack for your holidays in Bologna.”

Directed by Maison Blame, the video follows Stefano, the body builder, who’s obsessed with his physical shape and is like 100% muscle; Anna, a tourist; and Bellissimo through a sultry and sweaty Italian vacation in beautiful Bologna. 

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New Video: Introducing the Global, Genre- Blurring Sound of Up-and-Coming Benin-born, New York Artist Shirazee

Shirazee is  Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist and singer/songwriter, who studied in Ghana, overcame homelessness and after spending a stint in Atlanta, relocated to New York to pursue his dream of being a performer and singer/songwriter. Since then, Shirazee has written for and collaborated with Afrojack, Sting, Ty Dolla $ign and Kiesza — and as a solo artist, the Benin-born, New York-based artist has received attention from Wonderland, OkayAfrica and Hunger Magazine, as well as millions of streams across Spotify and Apple Music for a sound that draws from Afropop, American hip-hop and contemporary electronic music paired with songs that possess underlying personal narratives.

The up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist’s debut EP Make Wild finds him collaborating with the Brooklyn-born and-based hip-hop artist and producer SAINt JHN — and as the Brooklyn-based artist and producer says of their collaboration, “he’s a friend first and a rising star in his own right second. When he heard me playing Juju in Toronto and asked to jump on it, I thought he was kidding, until he insisted, ‘Juju issa vibe!’”

“Make Wild,” the EP title track and latest single is a breezy and summery track featuring thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and looping guitar lines, and a sinuous and infectious hook — and while managing to be a slickly produced amalgam of African pop, Afrobeat, American electro pop and soul, the up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based artist manages to do so in an incredibly accessible, crowd pleasing fashion.

Produced by WOVE, the recently released video employs the use of incredibly vibrant video, full of colors meant to evoke sunset over the Sahara Desert as Shirazae sings to a gorgeous woman just out of his reach. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Preoccupations Return with Psychedelic-Tinged Visuals for Propulsive Album Single “Decompose”

Over the past handful of years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, and as you may recall the band which features Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar), initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong that managed to put the band in the middle of a furious and tumultuous debate centered around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols closely associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of despotism, fascism, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their sophomore album, an effort that found each of the individual members of the band in rather unsteady and uncertain positions — at the time, each member relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established writing process of writing and testing material while on the road both extremely difficult, if not highly impractical.

Additionally, a couple of bandmembers were reeling from long-term relationships ending around the time that they were preparing to enter the studio — and unlike their previously recorded material, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions a collective blind leap of faith. Eventually the album’s material wound up drawing from something specific and very familiar — the anxiety, despair and regret that causes sleepless nights.

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility will be releasing their third album New Material was released earlier this year through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which was self-recorded and self-produced by the band is as the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.”  Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams.

Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter based rhythm meant to convey a sweaty anxiety, while being about how people forget that we’re all talking, walking, shitting animals, who have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the wrong choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it’s centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. As the band’s Flegal recalls, When I was writing ‘Disarray,’ it started off with an image of a mother combing her daughters hair that came into my mind, I liked the metaphor of splitting the braids and combing through the tangles, and wrote the rest of the lyrics around that image. This song sat untouched for close to 6 months as a recording with just bass and drums before we came back to it and wrote and recorded the guitar line while out of our minds one night in the early AM.”

New Material’s latest single “Decompose” continues in the angular and propulsive vein of its predecessors but centered around twinkling synths, buzzing guitars and an eerie melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable yet murky vibe. Interestingly, the release of the video comes as the band finished an eventful North American tour in which they were robbed twice, having all of their gear stolen. Luckily, they were able to finish the remaining dates of the tour borrowing instruments and gear from friends and openers. The North American leg of the tour ended with a positive note, as they were able to reach their fundraising goal to replace their gear — and in time for them to embark on the European leg of the tour. You can check out the tour dates below; but in the meantime, the video was directed by Evan Henderson and features live footage of the band performing at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern shot on film that had been boiled for two weeks in a salt water brine prior to filming — and while capturing the band performing, you’ll see explosions of geometric shapes and bright colors, which gives the video a subtly psychedelic vibe, while hinting at decomposition and decay. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brampton, ON-born, Toronto, ON-based DJ, violinist, singer/songwriter, sync pop artist and JOVM mainstay Maya Killtron, and as you may recall Killtron first came to attention both nationally and Stateside with the 2012 release of her debut EP Hipster/Gangsta. As a result of the surrounding buzz around her debut EP, Killtron made the rounds across the North American festival circuit with appearances at Miami’s Winter Music ConferencePride TorontoThe Halifax Jazz Festival and CMJ. Adding to a growing profile, her collaboration with NYC-based production duo Love Taps “Back For More” received attention from the likes of Stereogum and Huffington Post for a sound that meshed moomba and R&B – and for visuals that showcased a sadly bygone NYC. Additionally, Smalltown DJs, The Slow WavesEyes Everywhere, Brothers In Arms and City Kid Soul have all have remixed “Back For More” — with the City Kid Soul remix being named in the Top 5 at Toronto’s Bestival.

Killtron’s latest single “Satin Sheets” will further cement her reputation for crafting thumping, 80s synth pop/synth funk and 90s dance music-inspired tracks — and while rooted in a sweet nostalgia for slow dances at the school dance, for creating mixtapes of your favorite jams straight from the radio or for that new sweetheart of yours. Sonically speaking her material immediately brings to mind the likes of (the oft-mentioned on this site), Cherelle, I Feel for You-era Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, early Mariah Carey and so on, with a similar swaggering self-assuredness and an underlying heartbreaking angst — but bolstered by an incredibly slick modern production that’s both radio friendly and club friendly. As Killtron says of her  latest single “Satin Sheets,” “With this track I wanted to take it back to my hometown high school summers. Picture it: Brampton 1999, Cruisin’ along Queen St. on the 1A to Bramalea City Center, summer crushes at the Professor’s lake beach, tryin to catch the eye of the L-section babes for a slow jam at Rec dances, between pizza roll breaks, & bright summer afternoons crushing banquet burgers with the whole squad at Sunny’s. This song is high school Maya, the stacked vocal harmonies, the 90’s bass, the Brampton top down beat. As with all of the Never Dance Alone (my forthcoming Album) tracks, it’s the music I always wanted to make. Not just a nod or throwback, not disposable or following any trend. Its a real gateway into my musical past in ever bar. Syrupy, rich & full of R&B high school angst.”

 

 

Sam Arion is an Iranian-born, Toronto area-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and the creative mastermind behind Mute Choir. Raised in the Toronto suburbs of Richmond Hill and Newmarket, Arion left the ‘burbs when he turned 18 to seriously pursue a career in music. Eventually, Arion had a glimpse of success as a part of a band that signed to a major label, and although countless young musicians across the world would salivate over such an opportunity, Arion quickly saw that the demands of the situation ran counter to his own musical and creative philosophy. And for the Iranian-born, Toronto area-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, the only solution was to make a clean break and take full command over his artists output with his own solo recording project — Mute Choir.

Behind the Bars Arion’s self-produced Mute Choir full-length debut was primarily written and performed by the Iranian-born Canadian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer himself. “I’d say that 98% of this album was made by me alone on my laptop at 3 a.m.,” Arion admits in press notes. “I’m not a great drummer so I had to get a friend to do that, but I wrote all his parts. As soon as I started playing music when I was 13, I immediately wanted to learn how to produce because I never wanted to be in a situation where someone else was telling me how my music should sound. What’s most important to me is not feeling like I’m faking it, not just with music but all aspects of my life. That’s what this album represents most—it’s a true expression of who I am.”

Interestingly, Arion has dubbed his sound “post-electronic” as a nod to a split musical personality as a balladeer and experimentalist; in fact he admits that his songwriting has almost always been a bit melancholy but that incorporating electronic music elements became almost like meditation, as it has allowed him to lose himself in the music. “Growing up in a generation musically dominated by EDM, I saw how powerful the ability to make people dance can be,” Arion says. “It brings music into the physical realm. I want to bring that out in people, I want people to lose themselves in the music the same way I did making it, but not necessarily as a means of escape. It’s also very important to me to have lyrical content and themes that also allow listeners to think and reflect on their lives.” Thematically speaking, the album reportedly focuses on freedom — particularly, the freedom to live your life however you choose, and the freedom to follow your creative vision wherever it leads. Of course, in order to develop and have a concept of freedom, there has to be the experience of its direct opposite, so the album in some way also focuses on that dichotomy and how it clashes in one’s personal and creative life.

Behind the Bars‘ latest single “Election Season” is an anthemic bit of electro rock/synth rock that immediately brings to mind Empire-era Kasabian — but within an expansive song structure centered around bombastic hooks, arpeggiated synths, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a sinuous bass line that features a gorgeous and cinematic string arrangement before building up to a cathartic cacophony. It’s the rare song I’ve heard this year that’s both dance floor friendly and mosh pit worthy but underneath the self-assured swagger is some thoughtful and ambitious songwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Animated Visuals for METZ’s “Mr. Plague” Captures the Horrors of Our Contemporary World

Over the past four years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about he Toronto-based JOVM mainstays METZ, and as you may recall the trio’s third, full-length album 2017’s Strange Peace found the band pushing their songwriting in new directions with their most personal and politically charged material (without being explicitly being so) they’ve written to date, while retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets — and while capturing the anxiousness, uncertainty, fear and outrage that many young people currently feel, the material seems to suggest that when things are at their bleakest and most hopeless, that you aren’t alone; that there are others out there, who feel like you. As the band’s Alex Eadkins explained in press notes, “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

Now, as you may recall, the members of METZ have developed a reputation for being relentless road warriors, who melt faces and pummel eardrums at clubs and festivals across the globe, and just before they were about to embark on an extensive world tour that included stops in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, they appeared on truTV‘s The Chris Gethard Show, where they played a set featuring singles “Mr. Plague,” “Cellophane” and “Mess of Wires.” And just as they announced some additional dates including a NYC are show at the Rocks Off Cruise with Holy Fuck, the JOVM mainstays released an animated video for the blistering and anxious bruiser “Mr. Plague,” a single that finds the band injecting a small bit of melody into the maelstrom. (Check out the tour dates below.) 

Interestingly, as the video’s director Shayne Ehman explains, “the video examines ” . . . the crumbling remnants of civilization . . . a broken justice system . . . a consumer wasteland. . . Was it part of the plan?”  Drawn in a way to emphasize the horrors of a completely broken, fucked up and hopeless world, the video evokes Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” complete with an existential dread. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Toronto-based Post-Punk act Releases Murky Visuals for Angular Album Single “Taking Pictures”

Currently comprised of Bria, Duncan, Lucas and Kris, the up-and-coming Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based post-punk quartet FRIGS have developed a reputation for a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach that draws from the diverse array of influences each individual member brings  — and for a visceral live show that embraces the mercurial and experimental, as though built upon instinct and feel. 

The Canadian post-punk band’s self-produced full-length debut Basic Behavior was written and recorded over a 16-month period in two locations: the band’s home studio and Union Sound Company, and while lyrically the album is centered around Bria Salmena’s personal experience, the album is reportedly the product of several years of self-discovery as a unit. Naturally, recording at home allowed the band to take much-needed time to explore and experiment with sonic textures and production, and meticulously re-working their material. However, they felt that a degree of urgency was necessary to push them to finalize the album, and with engineer Ian Gomes, the band embraced the limitations of third-party studio time, which gave the sessions a sense of immediacy, and as a result, the album’s material is at points stark, chaotic, reflective and manic — often within a turn of a musical phrase. 

Basic Behavior’s latest single “Taking Pictures” features an arrangement based around propulsive drumming, slashing and angular bass and guitar chords, over which the band’s Salmena coos and howls throughout — while evoking a growing sense of disillusionment and fury without focusing on an actual narrative; in fact, it gives the song a primal and forceful urgency. As the band says of the recently released video for “Taking Pictures,” “We wanted a video that similarly eschewed narrative in order to portray this feeling through distorted perspective, overlapping subjects and a black-and-white pallet.  Adds the video’s director, Christopher Mills “The camera seems to be broken in a glitchy, 360 degree virtual space filled with multiple exposures of FRIGS, occasionally and inadvertently disrupted by glitchy abstract shapes in this dark and moody portraiture. For me, this song is like what Mazzy Star would play before a street fight. The toughness of this music evokes images of Ponyboy Curtis, with all of his friend running around the perimeter of town, looking for trouble. ”

Born Elizabeth Lowell Boland, Lowell is Calgary, Alberta, Canada-born singer/songwriter and up-and-coming pop artist, who spent time living in Carcross, Yukon Territories, near a mountain that once offered passage to gold hunters — and was also once a preying haven for wolves; the up-and-coming pop artist has also spent time living in Massachusetts, Ottawa, Georgia and Calgary, before splitting her time between Toronto and London, UK.

Early within her career, she won the attention of Martin Terefe, who has worked with KT Tunstall, James Blunt and Jason Mraz; Sacha Skarbek, who has worked with Lana Del Rey, Adele and Miley Cyrus; James Bryan, who has worked with Nelly Furtado and The Philosopher Kings; and Paul Herman, who has worked with Dido.  The quartet of songwriters and producers invited them to London’s Kensaltown Studios to write with them; however, what they all worked on wasn’t in sync with Lowell’s vision, so they scrapped what they had and started over again with the end result being her I Killed Sara V. EP and her full-length debut, We Loved Her Dearly, which was released on renowned indie label Arts & Crafts Records. Both efforts received attention for songs, which openly focused on topics like sexual abuse, rape, abortion, women’s rights, the lack of LGBTQ rights, as well as our cultural ignorance about (and simultaneous) obsession with homosexuality.

Ultimately, Lowell’s first efforts were fueled by the need to empower her and her listeners to challenge gender conventions and inspire freedom from social limitations, rules and misogynists’ abuse of power, and to celebrate and uphold individuality — and while those are understandably heavy and urgent subjects, the up-and-coming pop artist pairs that with accessible, downright radio friendly melodies and upbeat vibes. Much like Fela Kuti and others, she’s used music as a weapon — suggesting as they did, you can challenge social norms and speak truth to power while dancing. Interestingly, Lowell remained friends with Terefe et. al. and it lead to her working with Terefe as a member of his band Apparatjik, and to her mini album If You Can Solve This Jumble. Following that, it lead to four days of writing and recording with A-ha’s Magne Furuholmen, Coldplay‘s Guy Berryman, Mew‘s Jonas Bjerre and Terefe, who she joined onstage at 2012’s Roskilde Festival.

After the release of her full-length debut, Lowell took up residency in her own studio space, where she began writing for other artists, including Icona Pop, Dragonette, Netsky, Grandtheft and Bulow, and where she also spent time working at writing, producing and practicing her craft, as well as guitar and piano (which she is classically trained), so that she could be ready for a self-financed UK tour, where she was backed by a drummer. Since then, she’s played showcases at Canadian Music Week, CMJ, Sled Island, and performed at David Lynch’s Club Silencio in Paris, headlined in Oslo and Copenhagen, opened for Chad Valley in Berlin, Padova and London; and opened for The Raveonettes in Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid.

Lowell’s sophomore effort Lone Wolf was recently released on Friday, and the album’s material focus on the power an influence of youth — particular as a teenager, but from a more mature viewpoint; from someone, looking back on their own youth as an adult, who isn’t too far removed from it. And as a result, the album thematically focuses on self-discovery while retaining the upbeat, anthemic and dance floor friendly production that has won her attention.  In fact, the album’s first single “War Face” is an infectious and soulful track centered around an arrangement featuring bluesy guitar, handclaps, a propulsive battle rhythm and an infectious shout worthy hook that brings to mind The Black Keys and Alice Merton, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays METZ on “The Chris Gethard Show”

Over the past three or four years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstays METZ, and as you may recall the trio’s third, full-length album Strange Peace was released last year, and album found the band retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets, while pushing their songwriting in new directions, with the most personal and politically charged material they’ve written yet, as it captures the anxiousness, uncertainty and fear of our time; but interestingly, the album’s material manages to suggest that when things are their bleakest, that you aren’t alone, because they are others just like you.  As the band’s Alex Eadkins explained in press notes, “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

The members of METZ have been relentless road warriors, melting faces and pummeling eardrums on stages large and small all across the world, and before  embarking on an extensive world tour that will include stops in lovely Amsterdam and Rotterdam and elsewhere, METZ appeared on truTV’s The Chris Gethard Show, where they played a face melting set featuring singles “Mr. Plague,” “Cellophane” and “Mess of Wires.” Oh and check out the exuberant dude in the banana suit, because if you had even half his exuberance, life would be way more fun.