“In Havoc’s Hands” by Artifiseer

Ian Livingstone returns as Artifiseer with a full-length album of his avant electronic pop. “In Havoc’s Hands” has much of his ethereal beauty but also has a paranoid edge.

 

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.

Album Reviews: Bombnivores/Mallsex/Common Holly/Hélène Barbier/Usse

Reviews by Mark Anthony Brennan



‘Metamorphonic’  by Bombnivores

(Halifax)bombnivores 4

Halifax is known is a major regional music centre, but one would hardly expect something as coolly modern, slick and groove-based as Bombnivores. Even more impressive is that it all comes from the minds of two individuals: Jamie Larade (drums, samples, bass) & Sheldon Kelly (vocals, keys, bass.)

Kelly’s soft vocals ease into your soul by osmosis, while Larade’s percussion keeps things grounded. Songs like “Watching the Heat Curve” could simply float off into the ether but the nice, fat rhythm section keeps your toes tapping on Earth.

Killer track:  “Sunset Splitter”



‘Live in Reverse’  by Mallsex

(Vancouver)mallsex

Opening track “The Crux” starts in a blaze of distorted, strident guitar. Hellish, you may think. The song then settles into a beat and the vocals come in. Normality? Hardly. This is when the real hell starts.

Mining element of gothic post-punk, this Vancouver trio present a dark offering of synth-washed rock. Vocals are majestic, in a mournful, foreboding way, while the garagey beats get you dancing with the Devil.

Killer track: “Sewer Bells”







‘When I say to you Black Lightning’  by Common Holly

(Montreal)common

Brigitte Naggar (aka Common Holly) follows up her excellent debut (2017’s ‘Playing House’) with an impressive, more experimental work. Her vocal and lyrical honesty is still on full display but there is an edginess, and perhaps a sense of fear of an ugly world. For example, on “Uuu” her voice is light, whimsical even, but the subject matter is anything but, (“You’re throwing on logs/Trying to silence the ones/The ones that contradict you”).

‘When I say to you Black Lightning’ works on all levels. It varies from folk (“Little Down”) to slinky rock (“Joshua Snakes”) and never lets up on emotional content.

Killer Track:  “Joshua Snakes”




‘Have You Met Elliott?’  by Hélène Barbier

(Montreal)helene

Hélène Barbier is another excellent singer-songwriter who follows her own unique path. Her vocal delivery is sweet and soft, and often deceivingly so. On “Cold” there’s an atonal quality to the music that provides a dark edge, while “Discipline Alley” has an overall nervousness to it.

Although she relies on invoking a sense of unease within her listeners, Barbier herself is comfortable in her own creative skin, slipping from a gentle whisper in your ear to the voice of alarm (such as on “Country Club”).

Killer track:  “She is a Bully”




‘Flowers for S’  by Usse

(Saint John, NB)usse

Usse hail from Saint John, NB, but frankly sound more like an illustrious member of the Montreal post-rock crowd. ‘Flowers for S’ is perhaps the finest example of electronic experimentalism we’ve heard all year.

With a solid foot in free-form jazz, this collective’s music is as much improvised (or more) as it is composed, as evidenced on the 13 minute epic “Imaginative Sympathy / Retreat”. Even the shorter, more concise numbers, such as “Free Speech Apologist Technologies”, have a flowing, unbridled feel, while the politically-charged “Hegemony” stops and starts with hesitancy.

The album is a wonderful example of apparent chaos packaged in aesthetically pleasing chunks.

Killer track:  “Hegemony”