Tag: Vancouver BC

Emerging Vancouver-based indie pop act Vox Rea — siblings Kate Kurdyak (lead vocals, piano, guitar, bass), her sister Lauren Kurdyak (vocals, piano) their childhood friend Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher (vocals, percussion) and Mitchell Schaumberg (vocals, piano, guitar, bass) can trace some of their origins back to when the Kurdyak Sisters and Hansen-Boucher singing in choirs together as children.

Lifelong academics at heart, the Kurdyaks attended a small liberal arts schools in the mountains, where Kate studied philosophy and Lauren studied ecology. And while at the school, they met Mitchell Schaumberg and started playing school parties under the name BEEF. Although they started the band as a lighthearted endeavor, the trio quickly realized the creative chemistry they all shared, and would later meet up all over the world for late night, liquor-fueled writing sessions that would eventually comprise Vox Rea’s earliest material. But more on that later. . . .

The Kurdyak Sisters and Hansen-Boucher formed the indie pop trio The Katherines, which released their full-length debut To Bring You My Heart back in 2017 through 604 Records. The album amassed over one million Spotify steams with songs off the album appear on a number of prominent playlists including New Music Friday, Pop All Day, Hot Hits Canada, Indie Pop Chillout and the Canada Viral 50 chart. The Katherines were featured in a number of major media outlets including Vice, MTV, Vancouver Sun, the National Post — and they’ve performed on morning shows in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

Accompanied by a top-notch backing band, the members of The Katherines have toured across Canada and have made stops along the national festival circuit. including Rifflandia, NXNE, Juno Fest, Canada Day Vancouver and Denim on the Diamond, among others. And adding to a growing profile, the trio had songs appear on TV shows like Orphan Black, Reboot and The Order.

The Vancouver-based quartet’s latest project together Vox Rea is a bit of a sonic and stylistic departure. Citing influences that range from Arcade Fire to Friedrich Nietzsche, the members of Vox Rea, the act’s full-length debut chronicles a group of artists trying to come to terms with their generation’s place in the larger human story — and thematically, the album’s material touches upon addiction, self-doubt. lust, identity. independence and grief. And as a result, the album can be seen as a soundtrack to the confusion and euphoria of coming of age in a world seemingly on the verge of annihilation. The band’s unique brand of noir pop finds them crafting material that features classically inspired string arrangements, three part harmonies, brooding atmospherics and a seamless mesh of digital and analog while underpinned with raw emotionality.

Written in collaboration between the Kurdyaks, Hansen-Boucher, Schaumberg, Luca Fogale, Begonia, and Joël, their Connor Seidel, Tim Buron, Derek Hoffman and Joel Stouffer-co-produced Vox Rea full-length debut was written in apartments in Vancouver, Toronto, Berlin, Montreal and Boston — and was recorded during a snowy winter in the Quebec forests.

Vox Rea’s latest single “Dose Me Up” is a slow-burning, atmospheric ballad centered around a stunningly gorgeous lead vocal and three part harmonies, twinkling piano, brief bursts of shimmering guitar, stuttering drumming and electronic plinks and a soaring hook. Sonically speaking, the track may draw comparisons to Cloud Castle Lake‘s gorgeous Malingerer, PJ Harvey and others but with all the sturm und drang of one’s 20s.

Zaac Pick is a Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada-born, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Relocating to Vancouver in the early ’00s, Pick quickly immersed himself in the region’s indie-folk music community as a guitarist and songwriting member of Doubting Paris. After the band was dropped from their American label, Pick decided it was time to venture out on his own, eventually releasing a string of attention-grabbing EPs an an LP which received radio airplay on the CBC and helped built up enough of a profile to land opening slots for The Civil Wars, Noah Gundersen and Bahamas, helped him earn several regional songwriting nominations and awards, as prominent appearances for his work on major network television shows.
Slated for a June 26, 2020 release, Pick’s forthcoming full-length effort Passages reportedly finds the Medicine Hat-born, Vancouver-based singer/songwriting leaving behind the folk simplicity for a sweeping and cinematic sound featuring dance floor friendly rhythms, pulsing guitars, soaring strings and arpeggiating synths but while juxtaposed with his warmly reassuring vocals and thoughtful songwriting tackling heavy subject matter. In the case of Passages, the album’s material thematically focuses on learning to embrace the beauty of life’s liminal states with the album exploring the ambiguities and complexities of desire, masculinity, mental health, disillusionment and finding strength.
Although most of Passages‘ material was written fairly quickly, the recording process initially proved to test Pick’s resolve: three months of unfruitful recording sessions nearly derailed the project. Feeling as though he were floundering, Pick abandoned those early sessions and started over with a new producer Jonathan Anderson, at his Protection Island Studio in rural Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. With Anderson’s guidance, Pick returned the album’s songs to their essence — and the album was recorded with newfound confidence in an inspired burst over a few weeks. Passages also features contributions from some of Vancouver’s finest singer/songwriters and players, including Jordan Klassen, Tourist Company‘s Taylor Swindells, Bre McDaniel, Copilots and Fond of Tigers‘ Skye Brooks and string arrangements by Dear Rouge‘s and Holy Hum‘s sibling duo Brian and Caleb Chan.
Passages’ first single, “Atmosphere” is a slick and seamless synthesis of earnest and deeply personal lyricism, cinematic and 80s inspired soundscapes and soaring hooks paired with what may be some of  Pick’s most ambitious and adventurous songwriting.
“‘Atmosphere’,” as Pick explains in press notes “is about loving someone despite the flaws or hardships you face together, and the tension between knowing and mystery in long-term relationships.” Pick notes that “‘Atmosphere acknowledges the space in between, how it expands and contracts, blurring and coming into focus over time. The distance that can grow between two people, that still allows for the desire or willingness to cross it and reconnect. The song started out as a scrap of a melody in a voice memo, and the lyrics came together from some disparate places — a Jeff Wall photograph, an Esther Perel podcast, some therapy.”

New Video: Vancouver’s SPECTRES Return with an Anthemic and Nostalgic Take on Post Punk

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Vancouver-based post-punk act SPECTRES. Since its formation back in 2005 by frontman Brian Gustavson, the band has been widely cited as being one of the acts responsible for kicking off Canada’s rented interest in the post-punk sound. Initially, inspired by the British anarcho-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the Vancouver-based post punk outfit meshed that scene’s ethos with punk stylings and an unerring knack for crating hook-driven and anthemic material. Interestingly, over the past few years of their existence, the band’s sound as gradually evolved, as they increasingly incorporated elements of New Wave and punk. 

“The band started as a way to creatively explore 1980s British anarcho-punk and while creatively we have drifted in new directions, this core influence still holds a lot of inspiration for us,” the band’s Zach Batalden  (guitar) says in press notes. Bands like The Mob, Crisis, Crass and Zounds are all still very important for us. From there we took a deep interest in ’80s post-punk and new wave with bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate and Modern English, central to the way our sound has developed.”

Now, as you may recall, the Vancouver-based post-punk act’s Jason Corbett-produced album Nostalgia was released last month through Artoffact Records, and the album thematically touches upon the alienation of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. “Deepening political partisanship, aging, and finding one’s own way through alienating times are common themes the on the Nostalgia LP,” says Batalden. Sonically, the material fnds the band continuing their ongoing exploration of a decidedly post-punk like sound with Gustavon’s plaintive and melodic vocals ethereally floating over chiming guitars and propulsive beats. “For the new album, Nostalgia, we were listening to a lot of Flying Nun bands like The Bats, The Verlaines and The Clean as well,” Batalden adds.

Last month, I wrote about album single “Years of Lead,” a decidedly New Order-like track centered around shimmering and jangling bursts of angular guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. Continuing a run of anthemic post-punk, the album’s latest single “When Possessed Pray” manages to sound as though it were a uncannily slick synthesis of Joy Division and early Echo and the Bunnymen, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks and deceptively anachronistic production that pulls the song’s aching nostalgia to the forefront.

The recently released video features glitchy and stuttering black and white footage of the band in their hometown and performing the song in a suburban looking house. And although they be cooler than you, there’s this sense that their band could very well have been the band you tried to start in high school.  

SPECTRES  is a Vancouver-based post-punk act founded in 2005 by Brian Gustavson. And since the band’s formation, they’ve been popularly cited as being one of acts responsible for kicking off Canada’s renewed interest in the post-punk sound. Interestingly, the band was initially inspired by the British anarcho-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the Vancouver-based post-punk meshed that scene’s ethos with post punk stylings and an uncanny knack for crafting hook driven, catchy material. But over the years, the band’s sound has evolved, increasingly incorporating elements of New Wave and punk.

“The band started as a way to creatively explore 1980s British anarcho-punk and while creatively we have drifted in new directions, this core influence still holds a lot of inspiration for us,” the band’s Zach Batalden  (guitar) says in press notes. Bands like The Mob, Crisis, Crass and Zounds are all still very important for us. From there we took a deep interest in ’80s post-punk and new wave with bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate and Modern English, central to the way our sound has developed.”

Slated for release this Friday, through Artoffact Records, the Vancouver-based post-punk act’s soon-to-be released Jason Corbett-produced album Nostalgia lyrically finds the band touching upon the alienation of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. “Deepening political partisanship, aging, and finding one’s own way through alienating times are common themes the on the Nostalgia LP,” says Batalden. Sonically, the material fnds the band continuing their ongoing exploration of a decidedly post-punk like sound with Gustavon’s plaintive and melodic vocals ethereally floating over chiming guitars and propulsive beats. “For the new album, Nostalgia, we were listening to a lot of Flying Nun bands like The Bats, The Verlaines and The Clean as well,” Batalden adds.

“Years of Lead,” Nostalgia’s latest single is a decidedly New Order-like take on post-punk as its centered around jangling and shimmering angular bursts of guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and rousingly anthemic hook. Interestingly, much like “Northern Towns” off the band’s “Provincial Wake” 7 inch, “Years of Lead” features a pitch perfect, deceptively anachronistic, era specific production paired with a bittersweet and nostalgic air.

 

 

 

New Video: Emerging Canadian Singer Songwriter Dana Gavanski Releases a Gorgeous Meditation on the Passing of Time

Dana Gavanski is an emerging Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, who grew up in an artistic home — her father is a filmmaker and her mother is a painter. Gavanski has long harbored a desire to sing. The rising Canadian singer/songwriter relocated to Montreal to study, and as the story goes, during her senior year of college, her former partner left a guitar behind, and she decided to that it was the perfect time to re-learn the instrument. Ironically, she didn’t immediately go into music: she spent a summer as her producer father’s assistant in the Laurentians, working a derelict hotel-turned office that according to Gavanski looked like something out of The Shining.

The long days behind a computer cemented her her desire to make music, “because it was impossible to play that I needed to, in order to feel like it was real,” she says. The income she earned and saved that summer, funded a year of writing religiously, eventually leading to her debut EP, 2017’s Spring Demos, which the rising Canadian singer/songwriter describes as “whatever was coming out of me. A flood.”

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release, Gavanski’s full-length debut Yesterday Is Gone reportedly reflects her aim “to make something bigger, more thought through.” Steeped in determination, uncertainty and a simple desire to write a good song, the album’s material took shape after she returned from a writing residency in Banff, Alberta. She left the residency resolved not to worry about her songs being “too obvious.” She also began to learn the art of empty time, of being alone with her emotions, of losing herself in a landscape. And naturally, she considered how she might be able to use writing as a way to make sense of her life after a tumultuous breakup and a relocation to a new city.

Feeling adrift in Toronto, Gavanski struggled to make herself feel at home and connected, but her solitude allowed her to develop a grounding writing routine: she kept office-style hours at her bedroom desk, writing every day until she felt that she was starting to understand the writing process — and more important, to see that transforming a burning desire into something clear and tangible is a delicate and vulnerable act. That it often means letting things happen as they’re meant to happen, to accept losing some degree of control.

Yesterday Is Gone is co-produced by the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter, Toronto-based musician Sam Gleason and Tunng’s and LUMP’s Mike Lindsay. While Gleason helped Gavanski bring out the tunes, Lindsay’s input marked “the beginning of developing a sound that was closer to what I had in my head,” Gavanski explains. Excited by the other elements of a song introduced during production, Gavanski and Lindsay were keen on finding essential things, not overblowing, keeping things bare and letting the elements speak for themselves.

The album’s material shapeshifted as it passed through the hands of its production team, taking on different tastes, feelings and visions. When Gavanski performed the songs with a band, they found a new and very different form. She was intrigued by performers like David Bowie and Aldous Harding, who inhabit different personalities on stage, physically tuning themselves to their music. “Watching these kinds of performances,” Dana says in press notes, “I feel my body longing to express myself in exaggerations … to leave behind self-consciousness and become this energy.”

Interestingly, a three-month trip to Serbia in late 2018 pushed performance to the forefront of Gavanski’s mind: she took singing lessons to learn how to sing with the resonance that defines traditional song. Inspired by the bombast of the country’s music of the 50s, 60s and 70s, including the high-energy kafana or cafe music, all which were rooted in expressive pouts as it was in vocal resonance, the trip created a yearning to completely inhabit herself on stage. “I often feel we’re all just these controlled bodies,” she says. “Sometimes I just want to make a snarl with my lip and keep it there.” 

Expressive urges run all throughout the album’s material with each component being meticulously and purposefully placed to yield a deeply sincere response to the chaos and uncertainty of human emotion. “Often we have to go a little far in one direction to learn something about ourselves,” the Vancouver-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter says. 

Album title track “Yesterday Is Gone” is a hauntingly gorgeous yet highly unusual song: centered around a playful 7/4 meter, the song is actually a bittersweet meditation on longing, nostalgia and the passing of time that sonically recalls Man Who Sold the World-era David Bowie, late 60s pop and fellow Canadian folk act Loving. “‘Yesterday Is Gone’ is more of a straight pop song than the others on the album,” says Gavanski. “It’s about the intractability and muddiness of time passing. At the time I wrote the song, I was super into 60s pop music and the idea of what makes a classic song classic. I was toying between being more obvious in my lyrics and progressions while still tending to feelings hard to describe.”

Directed by Nina Vroemen, the recently released and gorgeously shot video for “Yesterday Is Gone” is set in Montreal’s Metro. We follow the emerging Canadian-born singer/songwriter in brightly colored 70s-styled through the Montreal transportation system’s colorful, modernist, late 60s-early 70s architecture. The video feels like feverish dream punctuated by loneliness and the gentle hum of the trains pulling in and out of each station. Of course, commuting underground is where space and time are endlessly distorted: everything is a constant state of arrivals and departures. (Unsurprisingly, the video immediately brought back memories of commuting from my hotel room to various venues and events in Montreal. I think I’ve been in two of the stations featured in the video, too.)

Born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Irish-American father and a British mother, who was of Arabic and Italian origin, singer/songwriter and actor Michael Malarkey grew up in Yellow Springs, OH. He  eventually relocated to London, where he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As the story goes, while studying acting and drama, Malarkey began to immerse himself in music and songwriting, which he found to be a form of poetic journalism and an endless journey of self-discovery.  Interestingly, although Malarkey may be best known for playing Enzo in CW‘s The Vampire Diaries and Captain Michael Quinn in the History Channel‘s Robert Zemeckis-executive produced Project Blue Bookhe has managed to simultaneously carve out a separate career as a singer/songwriter.

Malarkey’s full-length debut 2017’s Mongrels was released through Cap on Cat Records to critical applause from MetroBillboard, Classic Rock, and The Guardian. The album’s material thematically explored the duality of his nature and that of human nature in general. Recorded by Malarkey along with Tom Tapley and Brandon Bush in Atlanta, and from album title track “Mongrel,” the material possesses a subtle old-school Nashville/country vibe that further emphasizes the introspective nature of the song and of the album’s material.

Malarkey’s sophomore full-length album Graveracer is slated for a February 10, 2020 release through Cap on Cat Records/Kartel Music Group.  The album’s material was written in 2018 in Puerto Rico and Vancouver while the singer/songwriter and actor was working on the 50 Cent-produced crime drama The Oath and Project Blue Booth. That period was one of a physical and emotional turbulence: Malarkey, along with the cast and crew were evacuated from Puerto Rico during the build up of Hurricane Maria. And understandably, that experience has reportedly bled into the material’s lyrical imagery. “During the time I was working on the record, I escaped two hurricanes – as well as a third, I suppose, my own personal one. This record is my Odyssey in a way. It’s the journey back home after being ravaged in the seas of your own mind and finding the strength to carry on after the storm. I was left with a feeling of freedom and I found it through these songs,” the singer/songwriter and actor says in press notes.

Recorded at Sheffield, UK-based Tesla Studios and co-produced by Michael Malarkey and singer/songwriter A.A. WilliamsGraveracer is reportedly centered around a straightforward, heartfelt honesty in its songwriting and tone with the material being reflective without leaning on nostalgia and forward-thinking without being urgent; in fact, it’s rooted in the present, as a portrait of one complex and flawed person, as a work in progress — as we all are.

“Shake the Shiver,” Graveracer‘s latest single is a sparse and brooding single, centered around Malarkey’s sonorous baritone,  atmospheric synths, a simple yet propulsive backbeat, a sinuous bass line, strummed guitar and a razor sharp hook. And while recalling Daughn Gibson and Jace Everett, the track manages to be seductive yet full of a dark and creeping, existential dread.