The name of this new Toronto-based duo doubles as a mission statement. Featurette seem to be all about cinematic sweeps in short formats, and that grand approach to pop singles can be heard in “Hardest Game.” There’s big synths, “ooh”ed choruses and some anthem-sized ambition.
And if you’re in Toronto, you can catch their debut album’s release party this Thursday.
This is rather bittersweet. Hamilton’s New Hands have finally released their debut album, but there’s a catch: it’s also their last. The band broke up early this year, and we’re so happy that they decided to release their material anyway, because it’s golden.
It turns out that two of the released songs on the record, the arpeggiated dance song “Strange Attractor” and the languid “Swimming,” are the end points of the album’s range. It moves between soft, calm singing and a dramatic heartfelt tenor, the synths oscillating between pastel and bright tones. (And for older New Hands fans, 2012’s “Tulips” gets a great-sounding revamp.)
There’s also a lot of clever wordplay, evident even in the title of the first song (“Decide & Conquer”), which also uses word repetition to get entirely different meanings across, like “green” as in new and naive juxtaposed against “green” as in jealous.
We wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to this band, but Leave with the Night makes an excellent swan song.
We have expressed our love for Ben Gunning with his string of amazing singles, but now we have an entire album to sink our teeth into. The long-time Toronto mainstay has really found a unique groove with Massive Love, which is a–for lack of a better word–MASSIVE record that is filled to brim with interesting instrumentation and arrangements.
Taking on an almost prog-funk style, the album introduces itself with the infectiously groovy “Reverence,” moves into the mega hit “Massive Love” and continues on the journey from there. We go from slow R&B (“High Road”), to electro-pop banger (“Live in Love”), to Bowie/Prince-inspired jazzy weirdness (“Mouth to Hell”).
Produced by Kieran Adams, a superstar in his own right, so there’s no doubt that the record is infused with a level of precision and professionalism that puts it in the pantheon of must-listens for 2015. Not to mention the other collaborators, which we’ve spoken about at length, but it bears repeating: DIANA’s Kieran Adams and Joseph Shabason, Bonjay’s Alanna Stuart, OG Melody/general wunderkind Thom Gill and that’s just the tip of iceberg! There is so much amazing talent on this record!
Massive Love is available for purchase via Ben Gunning’s Bandcamp. You can also catch him on Friday, December 4th when he plays our 5th Anniversary Party at the Smiling Buddha with Lydia Ainsworth, Lockbox and Hush Pup. Advance tickets are available for Day 1, Day 2, or the festival as a whole.
Foxtrott has been firing on all cylinders for the better part of 2015. Her record A Taller Us, released last week on One Little Indian, is a supremely satisfying listen, harkening back to pre-Austra Katie Stelmanis levels of experimental almost-operatic electro-pop.
But as good as that record is, I gotta say that I am absolutely floored by her latest video. Weird dancing in a seemingly never-ending quarry? Really fucking cool. Was there a helicopter involved in this shoot? Regardless, the sheer spectacle of the video fits the sense of doom and unease that permeates throughout “Shaky Hands.” The video is the perfect companion piece to the similarly beautiful “Driven,” which also features some weird dancing on rocks.
A Taller Us is out now in North American, December 4 elsewhere and has been on repeat in our offices since it was released. Get it now on One Little Indian.