Tag: Vancouver BC

With the release of 2020’s self-released, full-length debut, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada-based art rock/post punk outfit Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention and praised for crafting a self-assured, fully formed sound and aesthetic informed by their reverence for their small, rural city, located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Last year’s iii EP saw the Abbotsford-based act further expanding upon their sound and approach: The EP’s material featured glitchy electronics, measured drum work and guitar work that frequently shifted from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling within a turn of a phrase, paired with Riekman’s expressive vocals.

The EP also continued the long-held ethos of collaboration and community that’s been at the center of their work. The self-produced EP was recorded at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown. They then recruited four different mixers for each EP’s song — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman. 

iii‘s material reflected Riekman’s own experiences and struggles with anxiety, which at its worse confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” Riekman said in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty. 

Blessed’s sophomore album Circuitous is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Flemish Eye. “‘Circuitous: Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” Blessed’s Drew Riekman recites. Interestingly enough, for the band, the word is a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes their sophomore album, much like their previous releases, a singular, moving and unsettlingly committed piece of work. 

Circuitous reportedly will further cement and expand upon the band’s status as a band’s band: a patient, eclectic outfit guided by reverence for and an intense pursuit of an internally-dictated creative agenda focused on musicality, songwriting, performance and artistic growth. The album sonically sees them sharpening their strengths and bringing more depth and expansion into their creative process. The end result is a sweeping, industrial art-rock tragedy rooted in walls of noise, tightly controlled drums, meandering ambient and staccato syncopation that was pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos. 

While the album’s eight tracks sprawl, thrash, burst and fall, the album’s material thematically touches upon agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper control of capital and the numbness it breeds. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release later this month, I’ve written about two album singles:

Anything,” a slow-burning, hypnotic and brooding track featuring looping and shimmering guitars, bubbling electronics, thunderous drumming, and a propulsive and throbbing bass lines paired with Riekman’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, is a song that incisively ridicules modern life. 

“The narrative that you can be anything if you work hard enough is absurd. It ignores so many facets of life, development, geography, class, on and on et al,” Blessed’s Riekman says in press notes. “But it pits people against each other in an effort to become ‘something’, a ‘something’ that is loosely defined and shaped by personality rather than a communal vision. It creates a pedestal to put yourself or others on. You’re never good enough, because there’s always someone above you doing more. We’re reaching for unattainable lifestyles, that we don’t even need, that are hyper individualistic and negate the need for community. When you’re looking at the environment you exist in socially as a pyramid, and there’s people you want to be closer to “at the top”, that’s a net negative for anyone. The more accessible we are, and on the level with each other we are in our immediate places, the more we gain.”

Redefine,” a slow-burning and patient song centered around dexterous and shimmering acoustic guitar lines and jazz-like percussion paired with Riekman’s achingly plaintive delivery. While sonically “Redefine” may draw comparisons to OK Computer-era Radiohead, the song is rooted in longing for much more than the banality of wake, sleep, eat, work until you die. 

“The idea that we cannot disrupt the status quo only serves someone with power over us,” Blessed’s Riekman says of the new single’s thematic concerns. “It’s easy to feel that you’re never doing enough, that your mere existence in the face of crushing weights of the world isn’t an act of triumph in itself. We’re generally fed a narrative at this juncture that no one works hard enough, and your circumstances are your own fault exclusively. Being told that the only path forward is working 10 hour days, volunteering your labor to companies that make billions, and that you’ll one day be rewarded is a farce.” 

Built around scorching, angular guitar attack, bursts of glistening synths, walls of wailing feedback and distortion, mathematically precise drumming that alternates between thunderous and tightly controlled, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and Riekman’s expressive vocals, Circuitous‘ third and latest single is “Agoraphobia,” evokes a sense of creeping, woozy panic overtaking its narrator. But there’s the tacit understanding that only they are suffering and fearful — alone.

Dealing with moments of panic and crisis is confusing for the people around you,” Blessed’s Riekman explains. “Especially if you’re suffering from something that doesn’t have heft in the common day to day world. Wide open spaces and being far from home is generally exciting for most, and touring was a vehicle for me to feel that same feeling a lot of the time. But with so much home time, I was enveloped again with a sensation that makes little sense to anyone else, and attempted to open the door a little to that isolation.”

New Video: Blessed Shares Brooding “Redefine”

With the release of 2020’s self-released, full-length debut, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada-based art rock/post punk outfit Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention for crafting a self-assured, fully formed sound and aesthetic informed by their reverence for their small, rural city, located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Last year’s iii EP saw the Abbotsford-based act further expanding upon their sound and approach: The EP’s material featured glitchy electronics, measured drum work and guitar work that frequently shifted from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling with a turn of a phrase, paired with Reikman’s tenor vocals. The EP continued the long-held ethos of collaboration and community that’s been at the center of their work. The self-produced EP was recorded at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown. They then recruited four different mixers for each EP’s song — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman. 

Blessed’s Drew Riekman credits Fraser Valley’s previous generation of DIY artists with fostering a strong sense of local responsibility, pride and solidarity that the band aims to perpetuate and continue for younger generations. In fact, they do so by attending city council meetings, by booking all-ages shows with local acts and by sharing resources with younger artists leaning the ropes of recording, touring and grant application. 

iii‘s material as Riekman said at the time, reflected his own experiences and struggles with anxiety, which at its worse confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” Riekman said in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty. 

Blessed’s sophomore album Circuitous is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Flemish Eye. “‘Circuitous: Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” Blessed’s Drew Riekman recites. Interestingly enough, the word is a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes their sophomore album, much like their previous releases, a singular, moving and unsettlingly committed piece of work. 

Circuitous reportedly will further cement and expand the band’s status as a band’s band: a patient, eclectic outfit guided by reverence for and an intense pursuit of an internally-dictated creative agenda focused on musicality, songwriting, performance and artistic growth. The album sonically sees them sharpening their strengths and bringing more depth and expansion into their creative process: The end result is a sweeping, industrial art-rock tragedy rooted in walls of noise, tightly controlled drums, meandering ambient and staccato syncopation that was pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos. 

While the album’s eight tracks sprawl, thrash, burst and fall, the album’s material thematically touches upon agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper control of capital and the numbness it breeds. 

Last month, I wrote about album single “Anything,” a slow-burning, hypnotic and brooding track featuring looping and shimmering guitars, bubbling electronics, thunderous drumming, and a propulsive and throbbing bass lines paired with Riekman’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, is a song that incisively ridicules modern life. 

“The narrative that you can be anything if you work hard enough is absurd. It ignores so many facets of life, development, geography, class, on and on et al,” Blessed’s Riekman says in press notes. “But it pits people against each other in an effort to become ‘something’, a ‘something’ that is loosely defined and shaped by personality rather than a communal vision. It creates a pedestal to put yourself or others on. You’re never good enough, because there’s always someone above you doing more. We’re reaching for unattainable lifestyles, that we don’t even need, that are hyper individualistic and negate the need for community. When you’re looking at the environment you exist in socially as a pyramid, and there’s people you want to be closer to “at the top”, that’s a net negative for anyone. The more accessible we are, and on the level with each other we are in our immediate places, the more we gain.”

“Redefine,” Circuitous‘ second and latest single is slow-burning and patient song centered around dexterous and shimmering acoustic guitar lines and jazz-like percussion paired with Riekman’s achingly plaintive delivery. While sonically “Redefine” may draw comparisons to OK Computer-era Radiohead., the song is rooted longing for much more than the banality of wake, sleep, eat, work until you die.

“The idea that we cannot disrupt the status quo only serves someone with power over us,” Blessed’s Riekman says of the new single’s thematic concerns. “It’s easy to feel that you’re never doing enough, that your mere existence in the face of crushing weights of the world isn’t an act of triumph in itself. We’re generally fed a narrative at this juncture that no one works hard enough, and your circumstances are your own fault exclusively. Being told that the only path forward is working 10 hour days, volunteering your labor to companies that make billions, and that you’ll one day be rewarded is a farce.” 

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with visual artists Nathan Donovan and Jacob Dutton, the artists and the band have begun to tease out a unique visual universe through a series of stills, images and video shorts.  The duo’s latest video for “Redefine” is the second part of an animated diptych that features the android protagonist of the AI-inspired video for “Anything” in the same claustrophobic maze of corridors and doors. But the video tells a different side of the story: This time, the story unfolds through the perspective of security cameras and computers in an eerily, nondescript office, complete with a coffee mug right in the corner, and some Post-It notes.

Brooding and uneasy suspense are created through long, lingering shots that capture the monotony and banality of modern life. Without being given a clue to whether the viewer is seeing from the perspective of another observer or if they’re a fly on the wall, the viewer is forced to contemplate their complicity and role in the story.  

New Video: British Columbia’s Blessed Share Tense and Eerie “Anything”

With the release of 2020’s self-released, full-length debut, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada-based art rock/post punk outfit Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention for crafting a self-assured, fully formed sound and aesthetic informed by their reverence to their community to their small, rural city, located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Last year’s iii EP saw the Abbotsford-based act further expanding upon their sound and approach: The EP’s material featured glitchy electronics, measured drum work and guitar work that frequently shifted from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling with a turn of a phrase, paired with Reikman’s tenor vocals. The EP continued the long-held ethos of collaboration and community that’s been at the center of their work. The self-produced EP was recorded at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown. They then recruited four different mixers for each EP’s song — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman.

Blessed’s Drew Riekman credits Fraser Valley’s previous generation of DIY artists with fostering a strong sense of local responsibility, pride and solidarity that the band aims to perpetuate and continue for younger generations. In fact, they do so by attending city council meetings, by booking all-ages shows with local acts and by sharing resources with younger artists leaning the ropes of recording, touring and grand application.

iii‘s material as Riekman said at the time, reflected his own experiences and struggles with anxiety, which at its worse has confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” Riekman said in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty. 

Blessed’s sophomore album Circuitous is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Flemish Eye. “‘Circuitous: Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” Blessed’s Drew Riekman recites. Interestingly enough, the word is a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes their sophomore album, much like their previous releases, a singular, moving and unsettlingly committed piece of work.

Circuitous reportedly will further cement and expand the band’s status as a band’s band: a patient. eclectic outfit guided by reverence for and an intense pursuit of an internally-dictated creative agenda focused on musicality, songwriting, performance and artistic growth. The album sonically sees them sharpening their strengths and bringing more depth and expansion into their creative process: The end result is a sweeping, industrial art-rock tragedy rooted in walls of noise, tightly controlled drums, meandering ambient and staccato syncopation that was pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos.

While the album’s eight tracks sprawl, thrash, burst and fall, the album’s material thematically touches upon agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper control of capital and the numbness it breeds.

The album’s first single “Anything” is a slow-burning, hypnotic, and brooding track featuring looping and shimmering guitars, bubbling electronics, thunderous drumming, and a propulsive and throbbing bass lines paired with Riekman’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, is a song that incisively ridicules modern life.

“The narrative that you can be anything if you work hard enough is absurd. It ignores so many facets of life, development, geography, class, on and on et al,” Blessed’s Riekman says in press notes. “But it pits people against each other in an effort to become ‘something’, a ‘something’ that is loosely defined and shaped by personality rather than a communal vision. It creates a pedestal to put yourself or others on. You’re never good enough, because there’s always someone above you doing more. We’re reaching for unattainable lifestyles, that we don’t even need, that are hyper individualistic and negate the need for community. When you’re looking at the environment you exist in socially as a pyramid, and there’s people you want to be closer to “at the top”, that’s a net negative for anyone. The more accessible we are, and on the level with each other we are in our immediate places, the more we gain.”

Longtime collaborator and digital artist Nathan Donovan teamed up with Jacob Dutton to art direct and design original art and videos for the album’s songs, centered on a nameless, childlike robot that can make specific, subtle and uncanny expressions. The childlike robot appears on the album’s cover art — and in the accompanying video. Set in an eerie all white factory, the robot comes to life when its OS is inserted into a small disc drive behind its ear. The robot’s quickly seems to gain a sense of consciousness and self in a way that’s eerie, unsettling and all too childlike.

New Video: LEATHERS Shares a Glittery Synth Pop Confection

Shannon Hemmett is best known for playing synths and contributing vocals in Vancouver-based post punk outfit and JOVM mainstays ACTORS. Back in 2016, Hemmett stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her synth pop project LEATHERS.

With her first few singles as LEATHERS, saw Hemmett develop and then hone her own take on synth pop: 2016’s debut single “Missing Scene” channeled early 4AD Records-era Cocteau Twins. 2017’s “Day For Night” featured a softer, glittering hue that caught the attention of outlets like Diamond Deposits, I Die: You Die and Impose Magazine.

Those singles appeared on last year’s LEATHERS debut Reckless EP, which was released to praise from Post-Punk.com, Synthpop Fanatic, I Die: You Die, CBC Radio 3 and Exclaim!, who wrote that the EP was “pulsing eighth-note bass, mascara-streaked goth melodies and ’80s-worshipping pop sweetness” — while landing on their Essential Releases for August 2021.

Hemmett’s latest LEATHERS single “Runaway” is her first bit of new material since the release of Reckless EP. Featuring glistening synth arpeggios, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, tweeter and woofer rattling thump, and an insistent motorik groove, paired with Hemmett’s plaintive, yearning elivery and her uncanny knack for crafting an infectious, razor sharp hook, “Runaway” is a slickly produced and swooning pop confection that’s lovingly indebted to 80s pop.

Directed by frequent ACTORS collaborator Wayne Moreheart, the accompanying video for “Runaway” nods to classic-era MTV pop videos: Hemmett and a backing band performing the video in a sparse studio with soft pink light, a wind machine and endlessly falling balloons. While being a bright splash of color, the video is about breaking free from mundane routines, letting go and just having fun.

New Video: Pink Mountaintops Cover Black Flag

Founded by British Columbia-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean in 2004, Pink Mountaintops has always supplied him an outlet for his more arcane fascinations and obsessions.

The 12-song Peacock Pools, the first batch of new material from Pink Mountaintops in over eight years, is sparked from his self-described magpie-like curiosity for a diverse and wild array of pop culture: the sci-fi boy horror of David Cronenberg, Disney Read-Along Records from the 1970s, early Pink Floyd, mid-career Gary Numan, John Carpenter movies, Ornette Coleman live videos, a 1991 essay on the cult of bodybuilding by postmodern feminist writer and thinker Camille Paglia, and more.

Featuring contributions from Redd Kross‘ Steven McDonald, Melvins‘ Dale Crover recorded live in the studio, the Peacock Pools‘ material took shape from a bath of songs McBean first pieced together during the pandemic’s early days: “I’d moved into this cool little ’50s rancher house outside L.A. and was just mucking about in my bedroom studio, and pretty soon I started reaching out to some friends who were also shacked up and craving broadband sonic collaboration,” Black Mountain and Pink Mountaintops’ Stephen McBean recalls.

Over the next few months, McBean began working remotely with an All-Star lineup of indie rock, psych rock and garage rock players that included Destroyer and Black Mountains’ Joshua Wells (drums, piano); Feels and Death Valley Girls‘ Leana Myers-Ionita (violin, vocals); Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn‘s Ryan Jewell (drums); Ty Segall‘s and Emily Rose & The Rounders’ Emily Rose Epstein (vocals); and Black Mountain’s and Sinoia Caves‘ Jeremey Schmidt (keys).

Produced by McBean and mixed in Vancouver by Dave “Rave” Oglivie, Pink Mountaintops‘ fifth album may arguably be the most eclectic, strangest and unpredictable batch of songs to date.

Peacock Pools‘ second and latest single sees McBean and company crafting a piano-laced and bluesy, garage psych take on Black Flag‘s pent-up and wiry “Nervous Breakdown” that unspools with a cool, surfer dude on shrooms-like insouciance.

“Steven McDonald used to always play a disco version of that bassline to annoy [Black Flag co-founder] Keith Morris when they were sound-checking for OFF!, and it ended up fitting perfectly with the demo I’d made,” McBean reveals, referring to McDonald and Morris’s hardcore supergroup. Speaking of Morris, he emphatically approves of the Pink Mountaintops cover, sharing the following: “Great job taking a song that’s been beaten to death by numerous punker dunkers and turning it into your own song! BRAVO!!!!”

McBean created a mischievous accompanying visual for “Nervous Breakdown” that features found footage and appearances from McBean, Red Kross’ Steven McDonald, Feels and Death Valley Girls’ Leana Myers-Ionita, Destroyer and Black Mountain’s Joshua Wells and Ryley Walker’s and Steve Gunn’s Ryan Jewell rocking out in their respective homes.

Peacock Pools is slated for a May 6, 2022 release through ATO Records and Cadence Music Group.

New Video: Tanika Charles Teams Up with DijahSB on a Strutting and Triumphant Bop

Two-time Juno Award-nominated and Polaris Prize listed, Toronto-born and-based Trinidadian-Canadian singer/songwriter Tanika Charles spent a formative part of her life in Edmonton, when energy sector opportunities brought her family there. But whether they were in Toronto or Edmonton, music was a constant presence in the Charles household: Her father would return from two weeks on site with the latest jazz records for Tanika and her brothers to play and jam out along.

Several years later, Tanika’s eldest brother would be the first to coach her on how to sing and how to record a song. As a young adult., Charles relocated to Vancouver, where she picked up gigs as a backing vocalist and got a taste of tour life. When she returned to her birthplace, the Trinidadian-Canadian artist’s long-held dreams of becoming a professional artist began to come to fruition: She assembled her first backing band, and with that band recorded her debut EP What? What! What?! With the release of her debut EP, Charles quickly became a local scene fixture.

Back in  2016, Charles independently released her full-length debut Soul Run within her native Canada. The album was sensation nationally, with the album receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The following year, Italian purveyors of funk and soul Record Kicks released Soul Run internationally to critical applause from the likes of Exclaim!, Music Republic Magazine and others. Album singles like “Endless Chain,” “Love Fool,” and album title track “Soul Run” received regular radio rotation on stations across Canada, the US, the UK and France.

Charles’ sophomore album, 2019’s The Gumption was released through Record Kicks. The 12-song album picked up where Soul Run left off, further establishing the Canadian artist’s sound and approach in which classic soul is mixed with modern production. Thematically, the album saw Charles tackling moments of vindication, uncertain love, forbidden fruit and the state of the world. “It’s a little more mature,” Tanika said at the time. ““It’s not feeling guilty about being up front, not being afraid to address situations that aren’t comfortable for me. I’m comfortable in my skin now in a way I never was before.” The Gumption was long-listed for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

Along with her latest backing band, The Wonderfuls, Charles has toured across Canada and eight other counties to support Soul Run and The Gumption. Those tours have prominently featured stops across the local, national and global festival circuits, including Rennes Trans MusicalesNXNELärz FusionPop MontrealCanarias Jazz FestivalCBC Music FestivalTD Toronto Jazz FestBirmingham’s Mostly Funk, Soul and Jazz Festival, the Pan Am Games and a list of others.

The Canadian artist’s music has appeared on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie BlueThe CW’s SeedCTV’s Saving HopeCBC’s Kim Convenience and Workin’ Moms and a nationally broadcast KFC ad campaign. She also has appeared as a reoccurring guest on CBC Kids and as a lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls. Between a busy schedule as a touring musician, Charles appeared in the touring production of Freedom Singer in 2017. She returned to that role in February 2019’s Now We Recognize

Charles’ third album Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly is slated for an April 8, 2022 release through Record Kicks. The album, which features guest spots from Toronto-based emcee DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist Khari McClelland was written and recorded during and after pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. Much like its immediate predecessor, the forthcoming album is reportedly anchored in growth and maturity. 

The album’s title is derived from an unlikely source, a creature that soars after the sun has set, but often goes unnoticed until light is shone on it. Referred to as “papillon de nuit” by some, the animal is more commonly known as a moth, possibly revealing a linguistic bias. “I always thought it was a strange insect,” the acclaimed Canadian artist says in press notes. “Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”

Last month, I wrote about the funky, old-school soul-inspired bop “Rent Free,” a fiery tell-off to the energy sucking vampires, deadbeats, naysayers, haters, time wasters and other shitty people of life, centered around Charles’ effortless, Motown era-like delivery. We’ve all had those sorts in our lives, and this song is the sort of song that tells you that it’s okay to push those toxic people out of your life for you to feel better — or to succeed.

The album’s latest single “Different Morning” is a collaboration that features Toronto-based emcee DijahSB, whose album Head Above the Waters was featured in Exclaim Magazine‘s Top 50 Albums of the year and landed a Juno Award nomination — and a performance slot at the award show. Sonically speaking, “Different Morning” is a slick and strutting synthesis of Larry Levan-like house and neo-soul centered around twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, swinging J. Dilla-like beats, and ebullient horn blasts. And over that celebratory two-step inducing production, Charles contributes soulful vocals that gradually build up confidence with a celebratory and triumphant verse from DijahSB.

“So much of our days are spent dwelling on the same mistakes, the same misfortunes. That thing we wish didn’t happen, or what we wish we hadn’t done,” Tanika Charles explains in press notes. “‘Different Morning’ is about starting a new day without that baggage, about finding a way to correct course and move past it. What starts as a pitiful interior monologue evolves into a celebration of getting over that hump by being your biggest cheerleader. DijahSB is someone who was able to carry that triumphant spirit that the second half of the song needed. ‘I’m alive today’ is enough of a blessing, enough of an accomplishment, and enough to be thankful for.”

Directed by Cazhhmere, the accompanying video for “Different Morning” features the Canadian artists in a lush, Alice in Wonderland-like maze at night dancing and rocking out to the song. Shit, I wish I could join them because they’re having fun, and just enjoying the moment.

New Video: Acclaimed Punk Outfit Grim Streaker Share a Frenetic Visual for “Mind”

Currently split between Vancouver and Brooklyn, acclaimed art-punk act outfit Grim Streaker — Amelia Bushell (vocals), Dan Peskin (guitar, electronics, synths), Bill Dvorak (bass) and Piyal Badu (drums) — initially made a name for themselves playing DIY spaces and venues across North America, sharing stages with METZ, IDLES, Surfbort, A Place To Bury Strangers and a lengthy list of others.

The quartet quickly became known for a precise and frenetic pace, which frequently lays the foundation for Bushell’s explosive stage performances. And along with that, they released two critically applauded efforts — 2017’s Minority Girl EP and 2019’s No Vision, which The FADER called “razor-sharp modern punk that harkens back to the icons of the genre.”

Bushell stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her singer/songwriter side project Extra Special — and in light of the pandemic, she relocated to Vancouver. Interestingly, Bushell’s move to Canada helped channel a new creative process for the band, which included a decided change in sonic direction: Bushell’s performances became more vulnerable, playful yet unsettling. Peskin built a genre-bending band of art punk while Dvorak and Basu locked tightly into pulsating, danceable frameworks.

Recorded at Greenpoint-based Diamond City Studios by Johnny Schenke, Grim Streaker’s latest EP MIND was officially released today through Montreal-based purveyor of all things psych Mothland. The four-song EP is a surreal, subversive effort that reflects on the current state of mental health, laughable social constructs and the inescapable, seemingly infinite working grind centered around a sound that meshes careening disco punk and R&B among other things.

“There has been a constant question of the why/how we create music as we’ve grown together over time,” the member of Grim Streaker say in press notes. “Influences from the punk, no wave and post-punk eras have always created a playground for us to build upon. Much of our latest  songwriting draws from more diverse musical influences delving into the realms of dance, hip hop, funk and industrial. With MIND, each song exists in its own world, pulling sonically from new places with a punk point of view.

The main theme for MIND is mental health. Finding happiness and mental stability in a world full of socially constructed expectations. Being different and having one’s own unique views and preferences on society and its dwellers. Work and money, being a part of a machine. 

“Most of the EP was written in the pandemic on the internet or right before in NYC. It was recorded alongside Johnny Schenke from the band P.E. at Diamond City Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was printed live off the floor wearing masks, with minimal overdubs. We got weird with instrumentation too, using a number of synths, drum machines and even household objects to build up the layers of each song.”

MIND‘s frenetic and uneasy title track “Mind,” features wobbling atmospheric synths, angular and percussive blasts of guitar, a driving motorik-like groove, relentless, metronomic-like four-on-the-four, paired with Bushell’s sultry delivered lyrics on the tenuous hold on reality in the unending grind that sonically brings Gang of Four to mind.

Directed by Stephen Mondics and Devan Davies-Wood, the frenetic and turbulently edited, accompanying video for “Mind” follows a man’s tenuous hold on reality while being a cog in a relentless, profit-making machine.

“‘Mind’ is a uniquely dynamic song,” the video’s directors say in press notes. “We knew the video had to match the song’s frenetic energy in the visuals and pacing, and we wanted to incorporate a narrative based on the themes presented. The visual textures felt right for the song, as they both breathe and feel organic in ways that complement each other so well. The edit matches the pacing of the song perfectly, reinforcing its turbulent nature.”

Two-time Juno Award-nominated and Polaris Prize listed, Toronto-born and-based Trinidadian-Canadian singer/songwriter Tanika Charles spent a formative part of her life in Edmonton, when energy sector opportunities brought the family there. But whether in Toronto or Edmonton, music was a constant presence in the Charles household: Her father would return from two weeks on site with the latest jazz records for Tanika and her brothers to jam out to.

Several years later, Tanika’s eldest brother would be the first to coach her on how to sing and how to record a song. As a young adult., Charles relocated to Vancouver, where she picked up gigs as a backing vocalist and got a taste of tour life. When she returned to her birthplace, the Trinidadian-Canadian artist’s long-held dreams of becoming a professional artist began to come to fruition: She assembled her first backing band, and with that band recorded her debut EP What? What! What?! And with the release of her debut EP, she became a local scene fixture.

In 2016, Charles independently released her full-length debut Soul Run within her native Canada. The album became a national sensation, with the album receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The following year, Italian purveyors of funk and soul Record Kicks released Soul Run internationally to critical applause from the likes of Exclaim!, Music Republic Magazine and others. Album singles like “Endless Chain,” “Love Fool,” and album title track “Soul Run” received regular radio rotation on stations across Canada, the US, the UK and France.


Charles’ sophomore album, 2019’s The Gumption was released through Record Kicks. The 12-song album picked up where Soul Run left off, further establishing the Canadian artist’s sound and approach in which classic soul is mixed with modern production. Thematically, the album saw Charles tackling moments of vindication, uncertain love, forbidden fruit and the state of the world. “It’s a little more mature,” Tanika said at the time. ““It’s not feeling guilty about being up front, not being afraid to address situations that aren’t comfortable for me. I’m comfortable in my skin now in a way I never was before.” The Gumption was long-listed for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

Along with her latest backing band, The Wonderfuls, Charles has toured across Canada and eight other counties to support Soul Run and The Gumption. Those tours have prominently featured stops across the global, national and local festival circuits, including Rennes Trans Musicales, NXNE, Lärz Fusion, Pop Montreal, Canarias Jazz Festival, CBC Music Festival, TD Toronto Jazz Fest, Birmingham’s Mostly Funk, Soul and Jazz Festival, the Pan Am Games and a list of others. Her music has appeared on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie Blue, The CW’s Seed, CTV’s Saving Hope, CBC’s Kim Convenience and Workin’ Moms and a nationally broadcast KFC ad campaign. She also has appeared as a reoccurring guest on CBC Kids and as a lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls. Between a busy schedule as a touring musician, Charles appeared in the touring production of Freedom Singer in 2017. She returned to that role in February 2019’s Now We Recognize.

Charles’ third album Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly is slated for an April 8, 2022 release through Record Kicks. The album, which features guest spots from Toronto-based emcee DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist Khari McClelland was written and recorded during and after pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. Much like its immediate predecessor, the forthcoming album is reportedly anchored in growth and maturity.

The album’s title is derived from an unlikely source, a creature that soars after the sun has set, but often goes unnoticed until light is shone on it. Referred to as “papillon de nuit” by some, the animal is more commonly known as a moth, possibly revealing a linguistic bias. “I always thought it was a strange insect,” the acclaimed Canadian artist says in press notes. “Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”

Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly‘s first single is the funky and strutting old-school inspired soul bop “Rent Free.” The song is a fiery tell off to energy sucking vampires, deadbeats, naysayers, time wasters and other shitty people centered around Charles’ effortless, Motown era-like delivery. We’ve all had those sorts in our lives, and this song is the sort of song that tells you that it’s okay to push those toxic people out of your life.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays ACTORS Release a Horror Movie-Inspired Visual for Slow-burning “Obsession”

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut It Will Come To You, the acclaimed Vancouver-based JOVM mainstay act ACTORS — currently Jason Corbett (vocals, guitar), Shannon Hemmett (synth, vocals), Kendall Wooding (bass) and Adam Fink (drums) — quickly established a brooding yet anthemic post-punk sound centered around icy synths, angular bass lines, squiggling guitars and Corbett’s reverb-drenched croon. 

Since the release of their full-length debut, the Canadian post-punk outfit had been busy: Until pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions put touring on pause, ACTORS had been on a relentless touring schedule to support the album, including a stop at the long-shuttered Brooklyn Bazaar for a headlining set at 2018’s A Murder of Crows Festival. Interestingly, during that same period of time, ACTORS’ frontman Jason Corbett has become an in-demand producer, who has worked with the likes of BootblacksUltrviolence, SPECTRES, and a growing list of post punk acts.

The Canadian post-punk outfit’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Acts of Worship was released earlier this year through Artoffact Records. Recorded and produced at Corbett’s Jacknife Studio, the album finds the members of the JOVM mainstay act pushing their synth-driven sound in a more dance floor friendly direction, while retaining the brooding melancholy and massive hooks that have won them attention across the international post-punk scene. 

I’ve managed to write about three of the album’s singles so far:

  • Love U More,” a single that can trace its origins to the band being on the road: While traveling the Autobahn at 190km per hour (about 120 mph), the song’s opening synth melody looped through Jason Corbett’s head. The song itself is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, angular and reverb-drenched bursts of guitar and a relentless motorik groove in one of the act’s more sensual songs to date. 
  • “Only Lonely,” Acts of Worship‘s second single, a song that Corbett explains is indebted to Roxy Music — in particular “The Space Between” “Dance Away” and “Love Is The Drug.” And much like the sources that inspired it, “Only Lonely” manages to express a similar yearning and vulnerability. 
  • Cold Eyes,” a leather, lace and light night come on, centered around buzzing bass synths, twinkling synth arpeggios and a relentless motorik groove.

Acts of Worship‘s fourth and latest single “Obsession” is a slow-burning yet sultry song centered around a propulsive bass line, glistening synth arpeggios, Corbett’s achingly tender crooning and the band’s unerring knack for an enormous hook. Sonically, the song — to my ears, at least — reminds me of The CarsDrive” and Avalon era Roxy Music with a subtle nod to classic soul but while tackling loneliness and obsession gone dangerously wrong.

The recently released video for “Obsession’ is split between sequences of the band playing the song in a dark, strobe lit room and a masked killer, who stalks a punk rock couple, hanging out in a parked van.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays ACTORS Releases a Sultry Dance Floor Friendly Bop

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut It Will Come To You, the acclaimed Vancouver-based JOVM mainstay act ACTORS — currently Jason Corbett (vocals, guitar), Shannon Hemmett (synth, vocals), Kendall Wooding (bass) and Adam Fink (drums) — quickly established a brooding yet anthemic post-punk sound centered around icy synths, angular bass lines, squiggling guitars and Corbett’s reverb-drenched croon.

Since the release of their full-length debut, the Canadian post-punk outfit had been busy: Until pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions put touring on pause, ACTORS had been on a relentless touring schedule to support the album, including a stop at the long-shuttered Brooklyn Bazaar for a headlining set at 2018’s A Murder of Crows Festival. Interestingly, during that same period of time, ACTORS’ frontman Jason Corbett has become an in-demand producer, who has worked with the likes of BootblacksUltrviolence, SPECTRES, and others.

The Vancouver-based JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated sophomore album Acts of Worship is slated for an October 1, 2021 release through Artoffact Records. Recorded and produced at Corbett’s Jacknife Studio, the album reportedly finds the Vancouver-based pushing their synth-driven post-punk sound in a much more dance floor friendly direction while retaining the brooding melancholy and massive hooks that have won them attention across the international post-punk scene.

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles:

  • Love U More,” a single that can trace its origins to the band being on the road: While traveling the Autobahn at 190km per hour (about 120 mph), the song’s opening synth melody looped through Jason Corbett’s head. The song itself is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, angular and reverb-drenched bursts of guitar and a relentless motorik groove in one of the act’s more sensual songs to date.
  • “Only Lonely,” Acts of Worship‘s second single, a song that Corbett explains is indebted to Roxy Music — in particular “The Space Between” “Dance Away” and “Love Is The Drug.” And much like the sources that inspired it, “Only Lonely” manages to express a similar yearning and vulnerability.

Acts of Worship‘s third and latest single “Cold Eyes” continues a relatively new run of dance floor friendly bangers. Centered around buzzing bass synths, twinkling synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, Corbett’s breathy vocal delivery dueling boy-girl harmonizing for the song’s rousingly anthemic hook, “Cold Eyes” is all leather, lace and late night come on.

“‘Cold Eyes’ was written and recorded in one day. Sometimes that just happens and it ends up being the band’s favorite song on the new album,” ACTORS’ Jason Corbett says in press notes. “We can’t wait to play it live!”

Shot in a cinematic black and white, the recently released video for “Cold Eyes” employs a relatively simple concept: we see the individual members of the band dancing to the song while occasionally playing their respective instruments. As ACTORS’ Jason Corbett notes, the band’s current lineup perfectly reflects the balance of masculine and feminine energy contained within the songs.

The members of ACTORS had planned a Fall North American tour to build up buzz for the album and them to support it; but those plans have been put on hold because of pandemic. Hopefully, they’ll be able to reschedule those dates.