Pick a Piper – Distance

The trajectory of Toronto’s Pick a Piper has been wondrous to behold, as mastermind and Caribou collaborator Brad Weber explored the outer reaches of rhythm-centric psychedelic pop in different spacecraft, and his last major voyage (2013’s Pick a Piper) left us thoroughly in awe and eagerly awaiting the follow-up. As “Geographically Opposed” portended, their second album Distance sees their grooves growing softer, darker, and more pop. And it’s amazing.

Guest vocalists feature prominently on the record, such as Bevan Smith of the Ruby Suns on the first and last songs and a dazzling display by Japanese shoegaze pop act LLLL and singer Makota on the grippingly moody “Further and Further”. But throughout the record, it’s the jaw-dropping synth programming and sound design that keep us riveted. From the songs here, there seems like ten directions Weber could head in in the future and they’d all be fascinating. We’ll be signing on for the next expedition, one can be sure of that.

Pick a Piper are on tour now. Check out the dates on their Bandcamp, where you can also purchase Distance on vinyl and digitally.

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You’ll Never Get to Heaven – Images

London’s You’ll Never Get to Heaven have been making impressive and immaculately produced dream/ambient pop for almost as long as we’ve a blog. Now, with Images, they establish themselves as perfecters of the genre, and reestablish themselves as one of our favourite bands in the country.

Alice Hansen and Chuck Blazevic (who occasionally writes for this blog) take their production to new heights throughout the 11 track run-time. Sure, you have heard a lot of these sounds before, but the way they are used makes for a product that sounds entirely unique and new. They also take the project in (dare we say) a poppier direction than their previous outputs. Album opener “Shared Dreams,” title track “Images” and “Wind” are the clear favourites here for us, but each track has a distinct soft flavour that lends itself to multiple listens.

Images is out now on Yellow K Records and through YNGTH’s Bandcamp.

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Austra – Future Politics

We all know and love this one already right? Austra‘s Future Politics may have been released on an inauspicious day, but far from settling into a third-record torpor, Katie Stelmanis has taken her project to the ionosphere (that’s well above the stratosphere) with a magnificent collection of beautiful, utopian/dystopian darkly electronic pop songs, almost any of which could stand alone as singles.

The lead singles sound even better in the context of the full-album arc, with the defiant “Future Politics” and the better-world longing of “Utopia” merely the opening statements in an album full of intelligent, minimal pop songs with banging beats. The production is crisper, rawer, and more direct than ever before, and perhaps that’s because this time Stelmanis mixed the record herself (collaborating with bandmate Maya Postepski on production as usual and live engineer Alice Wilder on mixing). A work of genius without a dull moment, Future Politics is Austra’s best album yet in an already-storied career.

Available now from Bandcamp.

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