Tag: Toronto ON

New Video: Toronto Garage Psych Outfit Wine Lips Releases a Furious Ripper

Started as a part-time project between founding members Cam Hilborn (vocals, guitar) and Aurora Evans (drums), the rapidly rising Toronto-based, garage psych rock outfit Wine Lips — Hilborn and Evans, along with Jordan Sosensky (guitar) and Charlie Weare (bass) — hit the stage together for the first time in late 2015. The band began playing shows in and around Toronto, eventually stretching out organically to the surrounding towns and cities, then into Québec

By mid 2017, it was clear that the band members were ready to make a full-time commitment. That year, they released their self-titled full-length debut through Fried Records, which they supported with a five province tour with a stops in the country’s Maritime Region — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. A chance meeting resulted in an April 2018 tour of Hong Kong and China, where they were received by enthusiastic audiences.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Toronto-based garage psych outfit released their sophomore album, 2019’s Stressor, which they supported with relentless touring across North America until the pandemic struck. But the band was able to amass an ardent following — and some of their material has been featured prominently on television and Netflix.

Much like countless artists across the world, the members of the band spent the bulk of last year, holed up at London, Ontario-based Sugar Shack Studios, where they wrote and recorded their Simon Larochette-produced third album Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party. “The record is crazy! We really spent a lot of time getting the songs to sound exactly the way we wanted,” Cam Hilborn says in press notes. ” I think this is the best stuff we’ve recorded and I’m super stoked with the end result!” 

Slated for a Fall release through Montreal-based Stomp Records, Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party is reportedly a collection of psych rock bangers influenced and informed by the likes of The Hives, Bad Nerves, Dead Kennedys, Thee Oh Sees, Idles, Ty Segall, Buzzcocks and Parquet Courts.

Clocking in at 90 seconds, Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party‘s first single “Eyes” is a sweat and beer fueled mosh pit ripper centered around scuzzy power chords, frenetic drumming, rousingly anthemic hooks and Hilborn’s shouts and yelps. Play this one at ear splitting volumes and rock out. You’ll thank me for it.

“Eyes is a song about feeling burnt out creatively, mentally and physically. Something so many of us can relate to, even more so over the past year and a half,” Wine Lips’ Hilborn explains in press notes. “It sheds light on situations where you find yourself powering through the days with different coping methods brought on by late nights, alcohol and promiscuity, and seeing how far you can push the limits of your body before you find yourself defeated and broken down.” 

Directed and filmed by Sammy J. Lewis, the recently released video begins with a woman smoking a cigarette in a seedy, garbage-strewn Toronto alley. The cigarette smoking woman sees a slightly opened garbage bag with a glowing light coming out of it. Curious, the woman opens the bag and dives into a frenzied live performance of the song.

“Sammy had the idea of making it look like the band was playing inside a garbage bag, so we did a classic performance video but tried to make it a little more interesting with crazy fast paced cuts and some added green screen fun,” Wine Lips’ Hilborn says of the video. “It was super fun, super sweaty and we felt like trash by the end of the day.”

New Audio: Toronto’s Absolutely Free Releases a Sprawling, Politically Charged Single

Acclaimed Toronto-based psych pop act Absolutely Free — multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Matt King, Michael Claxton (bass, synths) and Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg (drums, synths) — is an offshoot of experimental rock outfit DD/MM/YYYY, an act whose multi-rhythmic, boundary pushing raison d’être provided a springboard for Absolutely Free’s sound and approach. The Canadian psych trio’s full-length debut, 2014’s Absolutely Free. received a Polaris Prize nomination and received widespread critical applause from the likes of PitchforkThe FADERStereogumBrooklynVegan,Exclaim!Under the RadarPopMattersAllMusic and countless others. 

During the past decade, the members of the Absolutely Free have cultivated and developed a long-held reputation for an unorthodox approach to both conceiving and performing music: Since the release of Absolutely Free., the Toronto-based psych pop act have released an array of multimedia projects and releases including 2019’s Geneva Freeport EP, which features U.S. Girls‘ Meg Remy. And adding to a growing profile the’ve toured alongside the likes of AlvvaysYouth Lagoon and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and shared bills with Beak>, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, U.S. Girls and Fucked Up

Absolutely Free’s highly-anticipated Jorge Elbrecht-produced sophomore album Aftertouch is slated for a September 24, 2021 release through Boiled Records. Deriving its name from a the name of a synthesizer function, the album is fueled by the trio’s desire to “. . . to create an album that wasn’t bound by a physical ability to perform it live, to not only expand our palette, but also to consider the live performance as something completely separate.” Culling from myriad of influences including krautrock, New Wave, early electronic dance music, and an array of international psych and funk complications, the album sonically and aesthetically finds the trio shifting in, around and between analog and digital sounds, and real and fabricated images while simultaneously reveling in and refuting the loss of tactility. Thematically, the album explores narratives of hegemony, grief and exploitation in the present while sustaining curiosity for the unknown post-everything future. 

Last month, I wrote about Aftertouch album single “Interface,” a dreamily maximalist song featuring glistening synth arpeggios, percussive and angular guitar blasts, a chugging bass line and an insistent rhythm paired with plaintive vocals that reminded me of Amoral-era Violens — in particular, “Trance Like Turn.” The album’s latest single “Remaining Light” is a sprawling track with two distinct parts — a cinematic and atmospheric instrumental introduction featuring twinkling keys, glistening synths and clinking marimba. At around the 2:20 mark, the song slowly morphs into a slow-burning and brooding bit of pop featuring King’s plaintive, reverb drenched vocals ethereally floating over the mix.

Continuing a run of expansive and mind-bending material, “Remaining Light” was originally written in 2016 and was informed by the disturbing trend of rising gun violence against marginalized populations at the time of its creation. The song thematically tackles the weighty issues of structural racism, poverty and injustice that are embedded into society’s often corrupt and exploitive systems — all while sounding like a slick synthesis of The Fixx’s “Sign of Fire” and Amoral-era Violens.

“‘Remaining Light’ expresses the frustration felt towards invincible and corrupt institutions that uphold structural inequities, including police brutality and manufactured poverty experienced primarily by racialized communities,” the members of Absolutely Free explain. “Written during a heat wave in the summer of 2016, the song dishearteningly remains as relevant as ever today.”

New Video: Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD Releases a Gorgeous and Mind-bending Visual for Expansive “Beside April”

The acclaimed Toronto-based jazz-inspired act BADBADNOTGOOD — currently founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty — have developed and honed a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, acid jazz and prog rock — and famously for jazz based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which has allowed the acclaimed Canadian ensemble to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others.

Interestingly, BADBADNOTGOOD can trace its origins to its founders — Hansen, Sowinski and Matt Tavares — bonded over a mutual love of MF Doom and Odd Future. As the story goes, the band played a composition based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructions, who unsurprisingly didn’t believe it had much musical value. Instead of listening to their instructors, the band released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1.” The track eventually caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral.

BADBADNOTGOOD followed up with their full-length debut, 2011’s BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and of course,. Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

The Toronto-based act’s sophomore album 2012’s BBNG2 was recorded over a course of a ten-hour studio session. Featuring guest spots from Leland Witty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar), the album was a mix of their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

Their third album, 2013’s III featured “Hedron,” which was featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo. They also assisted with the production and composition of The Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack.

The band’s fourth album, 2015’s Sour Soul saw them collaborate with Ghostface Killah on what has been described as a hip-hop album that nodded at jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). Capping off a busy year, they released their fifth album, the somewhat ironically titled IV, which featured Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson. The album was also named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

The Canadian outfit’s highly anticipated psych jazz album Talk Memory is slated for an October 8, 2021 release through XL Recordings. Composed in conjunction with legendary Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai, the album features features guest spots from Karriem Riggins, Laraaji, Terrace Martin, and a list of others. Perhaps more so than their previously released material, Talk Memory sees the acclaimed act actively capturing some of the focus, energy and improvisation which is at the heart of their live show.

For the band, a song is a living, breathing entity that naturally changes and evolved as it’s played in different settings. The album plays with that thinking. After years of relentless touring, the band paused and refreshed and looked at their history and experiences before starting out on the creative process for the new album. And as a result, a sense of reflection and renewed communication is at the heart of their new creative approach. Interestingly, that led to the album’s title. While their earliest material took place very quickly, the band took on a much more international approach: The album was written over a two year period, with the band expanding upon the album’s material in the studio, rather that on the road.

Talk Memory’s latest single “Beside April” is an expansive and breathtakingly gorgeous composition featuring a cinematic string arrangement, skittering syncopated drumming and a mind-bending and expressive guitar solo. The end result is a song that — to my ears — is one part indebted to Brazilian psych rockers and JOVM mainstays Boogarins, one part jazz fusion, one part shimmering film score.

Directed by Camille Summers-Valli, the accompanying visuals draw some inspiration from the first motion picture, Horse in Motion 1878. The video itself manages to be simultaneously surreal, trippy and gorgeously shot. Plus, there’s a majestic horse that’s really the star of the entire affair. “There was really special energy around this video,” Camille Summers-Valli says. “The band wanted to do something with horses and equestrians. That’s where this begun. Funnily enough, I am petrified of horses. But it felt like a good way to overcome my fears. Subconsciously through a process of reading, finding references and discussing with my team, I started to piece together the puzzle of what this video could be. We shot this in Georgia; where the casting was incredible. The horse also was wonderful. So strong and majestic, we just wanted to do this beautiful creature justice. The magic aligned, so many great hard working people pulled this video together.”

Toronto-based punk rock duo Vangelism features two members, who have been rather nomadic throughout their music careers with stops in Montreal, Nashville, Brooklyn, Toronto and Japan in a number projects — some really good, some really bad but all totally worth it. And through these various projects, the members of Vangelism have opened for a diverse and eclectic array of artists across three continents including The Stranglers, Death From Above 1979, Nashville Pussy, Electric Six and even Bon Jovi.

The duo released their full-length debut last fall to some fanfare: DSP’s like Spotify and Amazon featured the album and its material on a number of official editorial playlists. The album also received praise from the likes of Digital Tour Bus and Mystic Sons.

Building upon a growing profile., the duo have plans to release two consecutive EPs but before those EPs, two stand alone singles — the first sees the Canadian tackling Elastica’s 1995 smash hit “Connection.” While being a fairly straightforward and loving cover that retains the song’s melody and buzzing power chords — but delivered with a punk rock sneer.

New Video: Toronto’s Hot Garbage Release a Trippy and Menacing Visual for Anthemic, New Ripper “Sometimes I Go Down”

Toronto-based psych outfit Hot Garbage — Alex Carlevaris (lead vocals, guitar), Juliana Carlevaris (bass, vocals), Dylan Gamble (keys, synths) and Mark Henin (drums) — will be releasing their Graham Walsh-produced full-length debut RIDE through beloved Montreal-based label Mothland on October 29, 2021.

Coming hot on the heels of some extensive North American touring including opening for Ty Segall, Meatbodies, L.A. Witch and JJUUJJUU, as well as stops at LEVITATION and Sled Island Festivals, the Graham Walsh-produced RIDE was recorded mostly live off the floor at Palace Sound and Basketball 4 Life Studios to to better capture the band’s raw energy, developed and honed from relentless touring. Sonically, the 33 minute album, which also features a guest spot from Kali Horse’s Sam Maloney on percussion, reportedly sees the Toronto psych rockers meshing core elements of 60s and 70s psych music, post punk and desert rock but while also speeding through motorik krautrock, nodding at surf rock and flirting with garage rock paired with otherworldly textures. Thematically and lyrically the album’s material tackles the afterlife, depression and freedom — but also rejoices in soft mantras and uplifting verses. The end result is an album’s worth of material that simultaneously evokes dread, beauty, wonder, horror and mystery.

RIDE’s first single “Sometimes I Go Down” is metallic mesh of psych rock, post punk and kraut rock featuring scorching guitar fuzz, thunderous drumming, droning and glistening organ, boy-girl vocal harmonizing and a relentless motorik groove paired with enormous hooks. While the band mentions that the song draws influence from Sonic Youth, Wand, L.A. Witch and Kikagaku Moyo, I also hear hints of Directions To See a Ghost era Black Angels.

Hot Garbage’s Alex Carlevaris says of the new single “It’s okay to feel down sometimes and need space. We as people have to accept that, allow that and have a healthy and realistic idea about having shitty days, feeling like shit and still loving ourselves. Also recognizing that others around us may need it and being patient with people.”

Directed by William Suarez, the recently released video features the members of Hot Garbage getting on the phone to make or receive phone calls using a four-way split screen. Whether or they’re actually speaking to each other in a four way call is up to you but you’ll notice that each of the characters is acting a little off — perhaps because something is after them? A mysterious black clad figure suddenly appears and each character disappears — that is until the end when the tarot card playing woman shows the figure the card she just pulled out during her reading. Trippy.

Andrew Oliver is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the rising, solo electro pop project Nightshifts. And with Nightshifts, the rising Canadian singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer has developed a reputation for crafting kaleidoscopic productions featuring vintage synths, groovy guitar lines and drum machines paired with soulful and lived-in songwriting. The rising Canadian artist aims to create a space where listeners can dance yet feel introspective while learning and feeling something new upon repeated listens.

Oliver’s work thematically focuses on imbalance and the challenge to stay present, with the Canadian artist confiding in press notes, “I very often get caught up thinking about past situations, and looking towards future ones. I write a lot about this imbalance. And ironically, the times I feel most in the moment are when I’m working on music.”

“Beach,” Oliver’s latest Nightshift single is features a warm and breezy production centered around alternating dreamy and fuzzy passages, complete with skittering boom bap beats, buzzing bass synths, looped strummed guitars, twinkling keys and Oliver’s plaintive vocal layered upon each other — with backing vocals being drenched with autotunes and other effects. While bearing an uncanny resemblance to the hazy nostalgia of M83 and Washed Out, the song as the rising Canadian artist explains is rooted in the idea of wondering what would have — or could have — happened if we took a different path in our lives. Yes, it’s the old adage of “if I had known then what I know you” but placed in a vivid and languorous daydream that feels lived-in yet somehow exaggerated. “I have a tendency to daydream, to second guess choices I’ve made in the past, and to think about what could have been,” Oliver says in press notes.

Favours is an emerging Toronto-based pop duo. Over the past few months, the Canadian duo have been building up buzz for their forthcoming EP Left Behind. The EP’s latest single, the breezy “Right Back” is centered around a funky and propulsive bass line, shimmering guitars, twinkling and atmospheric synths, plaintive and ethereal vocals, placed within an expansive yet accessible song structure featuring some razor sharp hooks. While sounding as though indebted to 80s Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, the song as the duo explain “is about a love or friendship that never fades. No matter the distance, every time you meet, you’re right back where you left off.”

New Video: Acclaimed Toronto-based Psych Act Absolutely Free Releases a Trippy and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Interface”

Acclaimed Toronto-based psych pop act Absolutely Free — multi-instrumentalist and vocalists Matt King, Michael Claxton (bass, synths) and Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg (drums, synths) — is an offshoot of now-defunct experimental rock outfit DD/MM/YYYY, an act whose multi-rhythmic, boundary pushing raison d’être helps provide a springboard for Absolutely Free’s sound. The trio’s 2014 full-lengths debut, Absolutely Free. received a Polaris Prize nomination and received widespread critical applause from the likes of Pitchfork, The FADER, Stereogum, BrooklynVegan, Exclaim!, Under the Radar, PopMatters, AllMusic and countless others.

In their decade or so run together, the members of the Absolutely Free have cultivated and developed a long-held reputation for an unorthodox approach to both conceiving and performing music: Since the release of Absolutely Free., the Toronto-based psych pop act have released an array of multimedia projects and releases including 2019’s Geneva Freeport EP, which features U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy. And adding to a growing profile the’ve toured alongside the likes of Alvvays, Youth Lagoon and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and shared bills with Beak>, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, U.S. Girls and Fucked Up.

Absolutely Free’s highly-anticipated Jorge Elbrecht-produced sophomore album Aftertouch is slated for a September 24, 2021 release through Boiled Records. Deriving its name from a the name of a synthesizer function, the album finds the members of the band “wanted to create an album that wasn’t bound by a physical ability to perform it live, to not only expand our palette, but also to consider the live performance as something completely separate.” Culling from myriad of influences including krautrock, New Wave, early electronic dance music, and an array of international psych and funk complications, the album sonically and aesthetically finds the trio shifting in, around and between analog and digital sounds, real and fabricated images while simultaneously reveling in and refuting the loss of tactility. Thematically, the album explores narratives of hegemony, grief and exploitation in the present while sustaining curiosity for the unknown post-everything future.

Aftertouch’s second and latest single, “Interface” is a cosmic and dreamily maximalist song. Featuring expansive song structure with glistening synth arpeggios, percussive and angular guitar blasts, a chugging bass line and an insistent rhythm paired and plaintive vocals, the song is centered around a dexterous bit of craft, as it features an accessible, pop friendly melody and an enormous hook. Sonically, speaking the track reminds me quite a bit of Amoral-era Violens — in particular, I think of “Trance Like Turn.”

Absolutely Free’s Matt King explains: “Written as a pseudo-love song that interludes between two versions of self, Interface recalls an adolescent summer where I spent every waking hour on early web-based chat programs, instead of going outside. Typical coming-of-age feelings of loss and confusion were further conflated by prioritizing an emerging potential of a new virtual identity more ‘real’ than a physical self.”

The recently visual for “Interface” by Aussie artist Benjamin Portas features a surreally vibrant neon color palette and features two young people connecting through internet chats in a dystopian world much like our own.

With the release of their first three albums, 2010’s Romanticism, 2012’s Revisionist and 2015’s Midnight Century, the Toronto-based post-punk act The Black Fever — Shoe (vocals, guitar), Pat Bramm (bass, vocals) and Dan Purpura (drums) — have established a sound that draws from Interpol, Joy Division, and The Cure with lead bass lines and propulsive drums paired with a focus on melody and concise songwriting.

Since their formation, the Canadian post-punk trio have received media coverage in outlets like The Toronto Star, Now Magazine, CHARTAttack, Exclaim!, and Scene Magazine and airplay on CBC Radio 1, campus radio stations across Canada and online radio stations across the world. Adding to a growing profile in their native Canada, the band has made the rounds of the Canadian festival circuit playing Canadian Music Week four times (2013, 2015, 2016, and 2019), NXNE three times (2012, 2014 and 2016), as well as the Hamilton Film and Music Festival.

The members of The Black Fever have managed to remain busy during the pandemic, writing and recording new material including their latest single “Nowhere,” which officially dropped yesterday. Centered around a sinuous bass line, Shoe’s plaintive vocals, angular guitar blasts and propulsive drumming, “Nowhere” finds the Canadian trio continuing their long-held reputation for crafting a sound that seemingly meshes elements of classic 4AD Records, The Cure and Interpol paired with enormous hooks and earnest, lived-in songwriting. As the band explains, the song was informed by and written about the troubles experienced by those in their generation: Economically, socially, politically, environmentally and even health-wise, people between their teens to their 40s are struggling under the weight of so much shitty stuff. And no one seems to have a solution besides the same old bullshit we’ve all heard before.

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New Video: Montreal’s LiYON Releases a Feverish Visual for Swooning “Starstruck”

LiYON is a Montreal-born and-based singer/songwriter and producer, who started his career in 2010 behind the scenes as a songwriter and producer, writing and producing material for other artists, and making music for films and ads. After stints in Toronto and Los Angeles working behind the scenes and winning a Gemini Award along the way, LiYON returned Montreal, where he had begun to write his own original music, as a way to release what had been building up in his heart and soul.

Fueled by a goal to “bring good vibes to the world, and connect with other humans in a genuine way,” LiYON pairs an ambitious sound with earnest, meaningful and thoughtful songwriting — in both English and French. Interestingly, the Montreal-baed artist plans to release two new singles in English and French and an EP.

The Montreal-based artist’s latest single “Starstruck” is a slickly produced, swooning pop banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering and thumping beats paired with LiYON’s plaintive vocals and an infectious hook. Sonically, “Starstruck” manages to be a radio friendly, club banger — and in a way that reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstay Washed Out. “Starstruck’ is about an overwhelming feeling of lust and love,” LiYON explains in press notes. “It captures the feeling of being trapped within someone’s grasp – almost hypnotized by an attraction so perfect at that exact moment in time.”

The recently released video for “Starstruck” is a stylish fever dream full of decadence, guns, drugs and violence, while following a protagonist, who seems willing to do anything to keep that love in is life.