Five Albums You Should Hear: Property/John Michigan/Eve Parker Finley/Lee Paradise/Dinah Thorpe

‘Think Electric!’ by Property

Sarah Harris, Jack Etch, and Liam Wight make a bold statement on their latest EP. Their signature mix of punk rhythms, post-punk arrangements and artsy vocals is delivered commandingly. “The Isolator” has a Kinks-esque vibe, but vocalist Harris goes from whimsy to the voice of authority in the blink of an eye. “Running Away”, on the other hand, is so angular and repetitive that it should be annoying, but the subtle use of melody turns it into a beautifully hypnotic experience. Perhaps best of all is “In Gloom”, where Harris rambles on about the dreariness of being stuck in fogbound St. John’s, but all the while the band thoroughly entertains us with a woozy blend of electronic and “natural” instrumentation.

‘Think Electric!’ is a confident release, showcasing a band in the prime of their creativity.

‘Pastures’ by John Michigan

After several years recording as Konig, Kingston’s Nadia Pacey now emerges as John Michigan, and with the name change comes a boost in intensity. This is the same singer-songwriter/electronic artist but the surrounding colour is amplified. Despite its whimsical elements, “Twist and Shout” is a dark tune about troubled sleep and features a powerfully downbeat bass line. The slinky “Oxygen Milk Bar” is equally dark, but it’s more the post-punk/Gary Numan kind. There’s a trippy feel to “Breadwinner”, whereas the creepy backing vocals on “I Feel It In My Hair” are downright surreal. Even the sweeter, lighter moments, like the electropoppy “Yellow Jacket” and the more ambient “Groundhog Day”, have a definite edge and quirkiness to them.

‘Pastures’ is like everything you loved about Konig, just cranked up to 11.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4K3f77qzHLxFrrrB2MTTUi

‘Chrysalia’ by Eve Parker Finley

With its luscious blend of string arrangements, electronics, and ethereal vocals, ‘Chrysalia’ is a beautiful masterwork. It isn’t simply a case of contemporary pop with orchestral instruments, as Finley fuses the elegant movements of classical music with their own sense contemporary song. Tracks like “Clouds” and “Electrofeu” feature swirling rhythms with string highlights — complex arrangements, but simple in emotional appeal. The standout is perhaps “Come With Me”, which attains a baroque/chamber pop high with its soaring vocals, even as the cello and viola add mournful touches.

‘Chrysalia’ is a standout example of how traditional styles can be synthesized into contemporary expression.

‘The Fink’ by Lee Paradise

There’s a dark, post-punk atmosphere that pervades ‘The Fink’, but Lee’s unbridled exuberance makes it a fun experience.

Lee (actually Daniel Lee of Hooded Fang) captures our interest immediately with an intriguing intro of conversation snippets and strange electronic rhythms, which quickly cuts to the funky sounds of “Message to the Past”. From then on you’re hooked on the bold electronic beats, balanced out by Lee’s detached, downbeat vocals. It’s exciting and cautionary ride.

‘For the Birds’ by Dinah Thorpe

Thorpe is an artsy singer-songwriter with a Portishead approach to music. However, her beats (when they arrive) tend more to the contemporary, so this is no walk down trip-hop memory lane. The overall vibe is one of witchy folk infused with electronica that burst forward in the form of jazz (“Come On, Let’s Do Everything”), urban-cool (“Barely”) and dance “For the Birds”).

Although her contemporary/future rhythms can feel remote, her hushed vocals are almost painfully intimate, as if she is whispering in your ear. On “Almost All the Leaves”, for example, you feel as if you’re in a private conversation as she shares the experience of being an artist and being queer.

Thorpe turns the expression “for the birds” (meaning worthless) on its head, producing an album that is highly worthy, even for the (much respected) birds.

Listen to CFUV (Victoria), Tuesday, March 2, 10 pm to midnight to hear “Deeper Cuts”, featuring several tracks from the above five albums: http://listen.streamon.fm/cfuv

Review: “Which Way Am I?” by Tough Age

Review by Mark Anthony Brennan

toughage

Although now based in Toronto, Tough Age are from Vancouver and their West Coast sensibilities are very apparent. They have a folksy lyricism, despite being driven by garage rock/proto-punk energy (in clear evidence on tracks like the colourful ‘My Life’s a Joke & I’m Throwing It Away’). Their music can actually be beautiful (check out the lovely instrumental ‘Mathers Ave’), and is often bouncy and upbeat. However, this can be deceiving as their poppiness is heavily tempered by a grim outlook. They actually give a false sense of ’90s fun while delivering lyrics that reflect the dark reality of the 21st century.

Tough Age have the instant appeal that could attract almost anyone, but it is primarily the serious listener who will fully appreciate that they are following in the tradition of Television and Talking Heads by playing lively music that serves as a vehicle for their commentary on modern day life.

Review: “Communist Love” by OKGB

Review by Mark Anthony Brennan

OKGB 2

All things Cold War may now be cool, but the lads at OKGB definitely have their tongue in cheek in using Soviet-era propaganda as the motif for their latest album. There’s nothing here at all that references communism or the USSR. Instead we have a delightful collection of quirky garage pop tunes, delivered in artsy, angular form.

“Affection” kicks things off in rollicking form, with a punky tune that features odd bell noises and a staccato vocal delivery reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux (although male). Elsewhere, however, you have psychedelia in the moody song “Good Boy” and, to throw you right off balance, whimsical americana in the humorous track “Woman of Your Dreams”.

OKGB is a band that does not take itself seriously, but their songwriter craft and the ability to effortlessly carry anything they tackle is abundantly evident on ‘Communist Love’.

Review: “EP THREE” by Praises

Review by Mark Anthony Brennan

PRAISES-2020-by-JMLadd-3-btn

For several years now, Beliefs member Jesse Crowe has performed solo as Praises. It is an outlet for their more personal statements in music. Lucky for all of us.

‘EP THREE’ finds Crowe bold and confident, as they create dark, atmospheric spaces into which we are invited. Our acceptance is hesitant because these spaces are almost nightmarish, but the pay-off is immense. “I Don’t Want to Ask” has vocals that echo and disappear into the surrounding gloom, as mournful piano descends and pounding percussion threatens. “Shadow of a Doubt” has perhaps more grace, but it is equally mournful as it explores a more trip-hop groove. Nestled between these two tracks lies the most frightening track of all: “Hunter”. Detuned piano lends an air of dread and anxiety, while Crowe’s vocals are somehow more powerful through the flattening (deadening) of certain notes.

Kudos should go to the great production of Crowe’s long-time collaborator Josh Korody, even though the dark landscapes are intimate and very much Crowe’s own.

Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2019 – Top 20 Albums

Kitzl – 40 Moons That We Know Of [self-released]

Bombnivours – Metamorphonic [self-released]

Waxlimbs – The Autumn Bell [self-released]

Iamthemorning – The Bell [Kscope]

Mappe Of – The Isle of Ailynn [Paper Bag Records]

MIMICO – Hi-Action [Hand Drawn Dracula]

Devours – Iconoclast [Artoffact Records]

Clara Engel – Where a City Once Drowned: The Bethlehem Tapes Vol. II [self-released]

Most People – Call Me Up [self-released]

A Formal Horse – Here Comes A Man From The Council With A Flamethrower [self-released]

Mark Wylie – Moments [self-released]

Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean [Inside Out Music]

Bleu Nuit – Le jardin des mémoires [Michel Records]

Flore Laurentienne – Vol 1 [Costume Records]

Angel Bat Dawid – The Oracle [International Anthem]

Hymns57 – Peyote Road Burn [self-released]

Eric Thorfinnson – Qwag [self-released]

Warez – Warez [self-released]

Organ Mood – Indivisible [Dare To Care Records]

Courtney Swain – Between Blood and Ocean [self-released]

Honourable Mentions: nêhiyawak – nipiy [Arts & Crafts] / Archipelago – Archipelago [s/r] / Eine Kleine China – User Illusion II [Boat Dreams From The Hill] / Sunglaciers – Foreign Bodies [s/r] / The Moon Runners – Wakeless 2096 [s/r] / Sarah Pagé – Dose Curves [Forward Music Group] / Colliding Canyons – Desert Ballads [s/r] / Comedy For Airports – Ambient 1: Comedy for Airports [s/r] / Matmos – Plastic Anniversary [Thrill Jockey] / Darkroom – The Noise Is Unrest [s/r]

NOTE: This list is in nonhierarchical order 😉 ❤

Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2019 – Top 20 EPs

Apollo Suns – Dawn Offerings [self-released]

L CON – Whatever EP [self-released]

Mark Wylie – Fable EP [self-released]

Low Kites – Maybe Its Because [self-released]

Wangled Teb – Seasonal Depression [TwoFifteen Records]

Future Machines – Future Machines [self-released]

NAVI – Cartography EP [self-released]

Clara Engel – Little Blue Fox [self-released]

Douleur Fantôme – Foi et Travail [self-released]

Aaron Novik – No Signal [self-released]

Glassreel – Unalike EP [self-released]

Algorhythm – Algorhythm EP [self-released]

Drunk at the Library – where do you see yourself in 60 years, do you see yourself helping me out of the bath? [self-released]

Hold My Hand Spaceman – Everyone Grows But Me [self-released]

iskwē – Acākosīk [self-released]

WITCHXHAT – WITCHXHAT [Glue Gun Records]

BIRMANI – EP3 [Cuchabata Records]

Silent Island – Rapa Nui EP [self-released]

MOUTHFEEL – demonstration one [3 Nines Compact Cassettes]

Isla Den – Acid Dream [Bedroomer]

Honourable Mentions: Sauna – EP [Idée Fixe Records] / Brave Moon – Wild Thing [s/r] / Tea Room – Dress Up [s/r] / Burnaby – Wasted Time EP [3 Nines Compact Cassettes] / Hosana – Hosana EP [s/r] / King Dice – Red Version [s/r] / GURTH – A Better End [s/r] / Transstar – Famous Door [s/r] / Blonde Heir – First Feelings [s/r]

NOTE: This list is in nonhierarchical order 😉 ❤

Baffled Octopi/Coast to Coast to Coast Top 25 Canadian Songs of 2019

by Mark Anthony Brennan

Baffleed 2019

 

 

25. “Cosmic Joke” by Crashing into Things
Electrifying psych-garage from Victoria.

 

 

24. “Sweet Little Thing” by Radiant Baby
Completely over-the-top saccharin-sweet electro-pop. Try to resist.

 

 

23. “Féminin Masculin” by Bleu Nuit
Doom and excitement, melded into a post-rock whole.

 

 

22. “Treasures of the Blind” by Braintree
Artsy garage with a killer arrangement.

 

 

21. “I’ve Been Waiting for This Moment” by Slut Prophet
Raw punk, served up with delicious wit.

 

 

20. “Hegemony” by Usse
Usse use a minimalist approach to create a menacing and edgy atmosphere.

 

 

19. “Sophie’s Dad” by Kamikaze Nurse
Noisy and melodic. Relentless and meandering. KC Wei and company are a band of contrasts.

 

 

18. “Nice Song (ft. Eliza Niemi)” by WLMRT
With the addition of Eliza Niemi (Mauno), WLMRT make a nice song. Uh-oh.

 

 

17. “Witch” by Man Meat
Sludge-heavy and razor sharp, from the Saskatoon power trio.

 

 

16. “Jim Says It’s OK If I Die” by TETRIX
Perhaps even more creepy than last year’s “Drugs in the Water”.

 

 

15. “Mostly Ocean” by Graftician
Soulful calm in an exotic landscape.

 

 

14. “It’s a Cruel World!” by FLOOR CRY
Hauntingly beautiful single from Winnipeg’s Felicia Sekundiak (aka Floor Cry).

 

 

13. “I Feel Unholy” by PROPERTY
There is something quite holy in the performance of “I Feel Unholy”.

 

 

12. “The Heaviness” by PAPAL VISIT
A bubbling pot of angst, dread and fear, but it’s a delicious stew.

 

 

11. “Dead of Night” by Orville Peck
Cowboy theme music for a David Lynch movie.

 

 

10. “FATAL” by DEBBY FRIDAY
A frightening collision of rock, hip-hop and electronic, thanks to the fearless Debby Friday.

 

 

9. “Amelia” by Sleeepy Dog
A countrified slacker tune about a dude whose girlfriend gets kidnapped by some guys he’s in trouble with. Poor Amelia.

 

 

8. “Money” by Polly Dactic
Bordering on glammish horror rock, but the gravity of the post-punk atmosphere makes the evil more sincere.

 

 

7. “Big Mouth” by Necking
The bounce of punk-pop, but with the kick-to-the-balls of hardcore.

 

 

6. “Candy BB” by Crystal Eyes
A dreamy track from Erin Jenkins (Crystal Eyes) that has a sense of endlessness.

 

 

5. “Hung Ron” by Cowbo Morsche
This track is so quirky that it seems literally warped.

 

 

4. “Rod Crowhop” by STOiK
Alarming beats and industrial grinds set an ominous tone in this exciting blend of traditional indigenous and modern electronic.

 

 

3. “Freeloader Feast” by Deliluh
Art punky approach, with an edgy down beat and an angular vocal delivery that’s unnerving.

 

2. “V” by Swim Team
The amazing trio known as Swim Team mesmerize us with an instrumental (mostly) that builds subtly and slowly.

 

 

 

1. “Shelley Duvall in 3 Women” by Greys
The Toronto-based band create a brooding base of uneasy grunge, with rising spires of gloomy elegance.

Baffled Octopi/Coast to Coast to Coast Top 25 Canadian Albums of 2019

by Mark Anthony Brennan

whoop-szo

 
25. “Allo Futur” by Claude l’Anthrope
Claude Sophie Périard indulges in delicious beats.

 

24. “DRI HIEV” by DRI HIEV
DRi HIEV’s debut full-length is packed with cleverly arranged industrial beats and noise.

 

23. “Honey” by lungbutter
Art-punk meets doom/sludge. It’s like thick, tasty molasses.

 

22. “Dark Beings” by LAL
Both dark and bubbly, this neo-soul/electronic album is slinky and satisfying.

 

21. “Salt” by Blessed
Blessed proves they are one of the premier alternative bands around. A poised album, with both warmth and edginess.

 
20. “Above All Else” by redress
Victoria experimental artist scores big with minimalist electronics and highly personal vocals.

 

19. “Dear Bongo” by Motherhood
Fredericton’s Motherhood manage to make a cohesive statement, despite pulling out everything from doom rock to electronica and artsy punk.

 

18. “V” by Swim Team
Vancouver trio like to play improv-style, but they always seem to have complete control of their avant-pop/experimental garage sound.

 

17. “Stillness and Stars 2” by Stillness and Stars
Prog rock never sounded as fresh and relevant as this.

 

16. “Pity Party” by Slut Prophet
Noisy and wild punk, with a wicked, sly sense of humour.

 

15. “Every House Has a Light On” by TETRIX
TETRIX combine throw-back accordion with current doom-laden psych.

 

14. “Le jardin des mémoires” by Bleu Nuit
Post-punk in attitude but catchy and engaging in its delivery.

 

13. “Have You Met Elliott?” by Hélène Barbier
Have You Heard Hélène Barbier? If not you are missing out on her quirky vocals and sly (sometimes dark) arrangements.

 

12. “Foreign Bodies” by Sunglaciers
Shoegazey, melodic, gritty and edgy. All smoothly delivered by Sunglaciers.

 

11. “The Same But By Different Means” by Yves Jarvis
Formerly known as Un Blond, Jarvis continues to expand his musical universe with transcendent coolness.

 

10. “A Gaze Among Them” by B I G | B R A V E
Experimental posr-rock with heavy emphasis on thundering percussion and bass.

 

9. “Significant Changes” by Jayda G
Intricate textures and intriguing beats are rife on this electronic/house/soul release.

 

8. “Metamorphonic” by Bombnivores
This Halifax duo crank out coolly modern, slick and groove-based music.

 

7. “The Strange One” by MNGWA
This Vancouver collective serve up feisty world music like you’ve never heard. Exciting and multicultural, with impressive progressive touches.

 
6. “C’est ça” by Fly Pan Am
Fly Pan Am are veterans, but ‘C’est ça’ beats the pants pants off any contemporaries in the realm of avant/post-rock.

 
5. “Flowers for S” by Usse
With a solid foot in free-form jazz, Usse come up with the most impressive experimental/electronic album of the year.

 
4. “Primitive Feelings” (Parts I & II) by The High Dials
A delightful and clever blend of styles that makes for a trippy, cool, exciting, and groovy ride.

 
3. “Age Hasn’t Spoiled You” by Greys
Waves of grungy noise punctuated with islands of relative calm. This is, however, a highly focused album with fierce intensity.

 
2. “When I say to you Black Lightning” by Common Holly
Brigitte Naggar’s sophomore effort varies from folk to slinky rock and never lets up on emotional content.

 
1. “Warrior Down” by WHOOP-Szo
The Guelph band reaches new heights (and depths) on this concept album. The emotional power pushes through the heavy weight of their devastating music.

Baffled Octopi/Coast to Coast to Coast Top 25 Canadian EP’s of 2019

by Mark Anthony Brennan

death drive

 

 

 

25. “X” by Bratboy
The name change from BB to Bratboy doesn’t disguise the fact that this is really cool dark surf,

24. “Instrumental EP” by hansmole
hansmole proves she’s just as formidable without vocals.

23. “Salade​-​Secte” by LOOK SACRÉ
LOOK SACRÉ master the art of gloom pop. Uplifting and depressing, in equal measures.

23. “Dirt Fight” by Man Meat
A nasty slice of post-punk, with hardcore viciousness.

21. “Where a City Once Drowned: The Bethlehem Tapes Vol. II” by Clara Engel
Engel is without doubt a Canadian treasure. Personal, artistic, mesmerizing, and, oh, so cool.

20. “A new American Classic” by Shirley & the Pyramids
Aron Zacharias has an almost uncanny ability to create engaging shoe-gazey psych.

19. “3 Songs for the Road” by HARSH
Gritty punk with a feminist/queer bent is damn fine with us.

18. “Spero’s” by Sleeepy Dog
A unique blend of garage rock and americana. Only a Vancouver band could pull this off.

17. “Toothsayer” by Tanya Tagaq
One of Canada’s prominent experimental artists entraces once again.

16. “Whatever” by L CON
Lisa Conways continues to produce intimate music on a fascinating palette.

15. “Open Up and Bleed” by Flatbed
Nanaimo’s masters of hardcore noise strike again. It’s like short blasts of pain that bring pleasure.

14. “Smaller Than Death” by Crashing Into Things
Edgy and disturbing, but what fun psych-drenched romp.

13. “Mes Amis” by BLVD NOIR
Instrumental forays into dub, jazz, house and you name it.

12. “Oath of Intent” by Deliluh
Toronto’s Deliluh manage to be as free-form and artsy as hell, and still be engaging.

11. “H2BH” by PROPERTY
Newfoundland’s Property strike a lovely balance between the music’s angularity and the breeziness of Sarah Harris’ vocals.

10. “Cut Your Teeth” by Necking
In a false pop package, this is some killer punk. Pretty hard to resist.

9. “Dip’n’Dot” by Purlicue
Purlicue expand their musical range to fantastic effect.

8. “2” by Virtues & Failings
The mysterious Virtues & Failings again mine the motherlode of high gothic post-punk.

7. “Alive Inside” by Braintree
Intriguing artsy trio produce music that’s as catchy as it is strange.

6. “Beat My Distance” by Anemone
Chloe Soldevila and company paint broad brushes of colourful psych-pop/kosmische.

5. “WLMRT Forever” by WLMRT
Noisy, discordant and abrasive. Add “clever” in there and you get the idea.

4. “Mandarins” by Graftician
From the mind of Roxanne Nesbitt comes something strange, soulful and deeply rewarding.

3. “Altering the Timeline” by PIQSIQ
Sisters Kayley Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik (of Quantum Tangle) create ethereal beauty.

2. “Half Nermal” by Polly Dactic
Wild, unpredictable and dark. Also deviously delicious.

1. “Death Drive” by Debby Friday
Electronic hip-hop with serious hardcore heaviness. A form of Messiah.

 

Nicholas’ Personal Best of 2019 – Top 20 Singles

Faunts – There Will be Blood

That Joe Payne – End of the Tunnel

Renard Blanc – Feu Sacré

SUNDIVER – Cat In A Box

Dog Drive Mantis – Volta

Dévah Quartet – Day Without Dawn

SOMBRA – Casablanka

Bent Knee – Hold Me In

SAGES – Until Now

Iamthemorning – Song of Psyche

Glutton – Pinhole

Isla Den – Navi.6

Devours – Garnet Graves

Waxlimbs – After the Wreak

Bonnie Trash – Shades of You

SICK BOSS – After you

GelaX – Life

JESSA – Simple Little Song

yoo doo right – The Moral Compass of a Self-Driving Car

Most People – Leavin’ It All Behind

Honourable Mentions: Warez – Stupid / Apollo Suns – Silver Gloves / The Moon Runners – danceboy.exe / Darkroom – Serenade / Bleu Nuit – Le même discours / iskwē – Little Star / Gallus Mag – Drag / Fifth Species – Tub / Midas Fall – Blink / suffer fools – bourgeois death

NOTE: This list is in nonhierarchical order 😉 ❤