Tag: Toronto ON

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

New Video: Introducing the Badass Ladies of Toronto’s The Sorority

Comprised of Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis, Haviah Mighty and Keysha Freshh, The Sorority are a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based hip-hop act that can trace their origins to when the quartet first collaborated together at a 2016 International Women’s Day cipher that quickly received attention from the likes of Noisey, The Fader and others. And since then, the act which features four individual artists, who contribute their own unique styles, personalities and energies have focused on empowering, entertaining and educating through the release of several singles and shows alongside The Internet, Jidenna, Miguel, Joey Bada$$ and A-Trak.

The Canadian hip-hop act’s full-length debut, the aptly titled Pledge is slated for an April 13, 2018 and the album’s first single “SRTY,” features each of the act’s four emcees rhyming about unity, body positivity, sensuality and resilience — and of course, being the baddest, best emcee on the face of the earth in a way that reminds me of the old schoolers I grew up with — in particular, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and others, complete with a self-assured swagger; but paired with a hyper-modern, minimalist and ominous production consisting of skittering snares boom bap drums, wobbling and woozy synths; it’s a slick synthesis of the old school with the new school in a way that’s both radio friendly and unique. 

Directed by Composite Films, the recently released video features the ladies of The Sorority being badass, kidnapping and fucking with four presumed fuckboys, subverting hip-hop tropes in a mischievous and very smart fashion.

New Audio/Lyric Video: Dusted Releases a Jangling and Anthemic New Single

Brian Borcherdt is best known as a founding member of the renowned, Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based electronic act Holy Fuck, as well as Toronto-based indie, All-Star supergroup LIDS, which features Constantines’ Doug MacGregor and METZ’s Alex Edkins, and while he’s spent the bulk of his career writing and recording unhinged dance music, behind the scenes, he had spent his time writing material that went in a decidedly different direction from his primary band — lo-fi, garage pop, which eventually became his solo recording project Dusted. And with Dusted’s critically applauded 2012 full-length debut, Total Dust, Borchedt opened for the likes of Great Lake Swimmers, Perfume Genius and JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers, as well as a cameo in Jean Marc Vallee’s 2014 film Wild.

Dusted’s sophomore effort, Blackout Summer is slated for an April 6, 2018 release through Polyvinyl Records and while the album’s latest single “Backwoods Ritual” will further cement the project’s growing reputation for jangling and anthemic, lo-fi, garage pop with fuzzy melodies, the deceptively upbeat track actually possesses a bittersweet wistfulness over things that have passed and are just out of grasp.

New Video: The Mournful Sounds and Visuals of TR/ST’s “Destroyer”

The Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstay Robert Alfons, best known for his industrial pop recording project TR/ST has released two critically and commercially successful, full-length albums — his self-titled debut received praise from Vice, Pitchfork and The Guardian, as well as a  Juno Award nomination. Joyland, Alfons’ sophomore effort was a major chance in sonic direction, with the material being much more pop orientated and radio friendly sound while possessing a club friendly, muscular thump. And as you may recall, after a lengthy world tour to support Joyland, Alfons managed to write and record a series of singles, including the menacing,  Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer”-like “Slug,” which I wrote about several years ago. 

Interestingly, the renowned Toronto-based producer and electronic music artist will be releasing his highly-anticipated third, full-length effort, which is slated for release sometime in 2018 and will feature the previously released single “Bicep.” His latest single finds the renowned Canadian producer pairing organic instrumentation — here being, piano, drums and horn (albeit, what sounds like a horn sample) with a slick and lush electronic production featuring thumping beats, samples and looping machines and a soaring hook over which Alfons contributes his mournful and aching baritone. 

Directed by Justin Tyler Close and famed choreographer Ryan Heffington, the recently released video for “Destroyer,” features Heffington in his first starring role, as an intense man, who’s barely holding it together as we’re introduced to him intently walking towards the camera and running elsewhere, before seeing him expressively dancing in a number of different locales in and around the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles. At one point, he runs into a man with motorcycle helmet, who he paralyzes with mere words — sticks and stones may break your bones, and words may kill you, too. Influenced by detailed conversations between each collaborator have influenced a rather symbolic set of visuals based around a desperate, last ditch effort to save a failing relationship. Heffington’s movement manage to express joy remembered, self-reflection, turmoil, ache and longing, further emphasizing the song’s overall vibe.  

Live Footage: Arte Concert Snapshots Presents: Metz at Le Trabendo Paris

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so you, you’d recall that with their 2014 self-titled debut and their 2015 sophomore effort II, the Toronto, ON-based trio and JOVM mainstays METZ, comprised of Alex Eadkins (vocals, guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums), received attention across North America and elsewhere for a sludgy, face-melting, power chord-based, noise punk/thrash punk sound reminiscent of Bleach and In Utereo-era Nirvana, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids and others. 

The band’s third full-length album Strange Peace was released earlier this year through Sub Pop Records, and the album finds the band actively pushing their sound and songwriting in new directions while retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live shows; but perhaps much more importantly, Strange Peace may arguably be among the most politically charged material they’re written and recorded to date, capturing the uncertainty, fear, divisiveness, bitterness and growing socioeconomic inequality of the age of Trump, Putin, Kim Jong Un, rampant capitalism and so on. 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 Canadian punk trio have been relentlessly touring to support their latest album and throughout most of November, they were touring throughout the European Union, and the tour included a stop at Paris-based music venue Le Trabendo, which was filmed by ARTE Concert and La Blogotheuqe as part of their continuing concert series, Snapshots. Unsurprisingly, the footage of Strange Peace’s “Mr. Plague” and “Eraser” manages to capture the band within their sweaty, strobe light flashing, intensity, forcefully snatching the title of “World’s Loudest Band,” and “World’s Noisiest Band” from all challengers. While in the past, they would play extremely straightforward versions of their material, this Paris set finds the trio gently teasing new musical ideas from bits of inspired improvisation. Along with the band’s passionate and frenzied performance, check out the French audience, who are absolutely losing their shit to these guys