We’ve found ourselves to be consistent fans of the work of Charles Valois, but we haven’t heard much from the wonderfully melodramatic pop songwriter since 2013. So we’re very excited to learn that he’s relocated to Ottawa and has been working on a follow up to his 2012 debut album Girls, and has assembled a band and taken a more collaborative approach, even renaming the project to Valois. His second record Love Dies But You Won’t is a lovely short album that delves even further into electronic music, and as you’d expect, we’re down with that. Standout single “Ça Sera” is a heartfelt weird synthpop number that’s super-catchy. Every section is very hooky and you’ll probably humming this one all day. Our favourite song from this talented songwriter yet!
You can listen to or buy Love Dies But You Won’t from Valois on Bandcamp.
We’ve always been a fan of Kelly McMichael, especially her work as Rouge, so it’s very exciting to see her launching a new project this week, and a straight-up synthpop one at that! We’re very happy to meet RENDERS, and first single “I Am Gone” is a huge but crisp pop ballad with a monstrous synth bass. We need more!
Above Top Secret, our favourite Toronto electro-hip-hop duo, is back once more with a video for their late-summer smash “WTF?!” Directed by Shadow The Great (aka Loafmusik), it features Ayo Leilani and SunSun chilling in and around an abandoned building with a few dancers on a warm summer day. Clearly this a track that’s good for any season though: that huge, dark and cold beat will be on repeat in our tapedeck all winter long.
The liner notes suggest that there’s going to be an Above Top Secret album of some kind coming in 2016. Cannot wait for that! In the meantime, grab “WTF?!” as a free download from Soundcloud, and be sure to check out their previous single “Ghost”.
We’re longtime fans of Ian Jarvis’s Chairs project. Although not quite as electronic as Galaxius Mons, his mostly-synths duo with Matt LeGroulx, Chairs still has plenty of digital textures for us to sink our synth-hungry teeth into. A couple of weeks ago, he released his third full-length album, Drawn into Mazes, and it definitely lives up to the high bar the Montrealer has set for himself. We already have gushed about lead single “Bird Calls”, which came out way back in January, and it’s great to see it here among ten other wonderful psych-pop compositions, about half of which are on an electronic tip, so, even further in that direction than 2013’s excellent The Droning of an Insect Wing. It’s hard to pick out favourites from the bunch, but the hypnotic “Constellation Eyes”, the minimal funk of “Mazes”, and the explosive pop of “Cargo Ship” are all highlights from a record that really deserves front-to-back listening and rewards careful attention.
Yet another strong release from one of Canada’s best psychedelic pop minds! Don’t sleep on it! Drawn Into Mazes is available now from Kinnta Records.
Awesome new band alert! New to our ears anyways. Blanka is a dark krautrock trio from Montreal, and they make some seriously hard-hitting post-punk that makes us want to run through the streets with exuberant angst. Best motorik grooves this side of Mimico!
Grab Blanka’s debut EP Yasuda from Bandcamp today. We’ll be eagerly awaiting what’s next for this very promising band.
Mika Posen is a name we’re excited be seeing pop up again, what with her stellar past work playing strings with Timber Timbre and Forest City Lovers. She’s started a new project called Merganzer, and is poised to release her first album under that name on November 24. For now, we’ve got the title track, “Mirror Maze,” a beautiful atmospheric ballad featuring a simple, well-crafted melody over a minimal beat and shimmering strings. Some tremendous harmonies too! Can’t wait to hear the whole record!
Be sure to catch one of Merganzer’s album release shows if you can:
Nov 26 – Toronto – Burdock
Dec 9 – Montreal – Casa del Popolo
Dec 12 – Ottawa – House of Common
We stand by our previous statements that Montreal’s How Sad are indie pop saviours of the highest order. I mean, come on, “Indian Summer”? Still holds up. So does the entire Indian Summer EP from back in ’13. So it’s with tremendous excitement that we hit play on their debut full-length Everything Happens, a record that’s filled with rambunctious anthemic fist-pumpers (well-remembered from their thunderous live shows) like “Check it Out” and “Hold On” as well as darker, more melancholy numbers. The bright synths and earworm melodies are always present – but there’s a bit of gravity to bring you down as well. How Sad indeed.
They’re back!!! Toronto electro-psych-pop party starters Phèdre have been a little on the quiet side when it comes to releasing new music since their tremendous 2013 LP Golden Age, but that all changed this month. They dropped a brilliant Acorn remix, true, but even more tantalizing was the release of a video for brand new jam “Tivoli”, as well as a promise that a new album is on the way in 2016, “when the snow disappears.”
“Tivoli” has a cleaner sound than their previous work, but that doesn’t mean it lacks for huge beats and weirdness, the things we’ve come to love about Phèdre the most. Pitch-shifted vocals over a deeply grooving bass and frantic snare rolls, the track is perfect for late-night dancefloor freakouts. The video, directed by Jason Harvey, is a sensory assault featuring bizarre animations and our heroic duo rocking out across the land in strange costumes. Totally lives up to their history of fantastic videos, including “Sunday Someday” and “Ancient Nouveau” from their last record, and of course the smash single that started it all, “In Decay.”
Phèdre are performing Dec 5 at the Silent Shout Festival (that’s us!) with a lineup we think is pretty darn swell. Torontonians take note!
Technical Kidman have made quite the name for themselves these past few years. Their music has consistently been excellent since the very beginning, but nevertheless their tunes keep getting more impressive. We’d been finding the Montreal trio hitting new heights with their most recent singles, including the ominous “Without Fear.” And it’s all been culminating to this moment: the release of their debut second album Something Stranger Coming on the Horizon.
Hitting hard from the get-go with aggressive post-punk freak-out “Try”, the record has a powerful intensity that doesn’t let up, even in its quieter moments, like on “Our Way.” Naturally, we’re especially drawn to the most electronic moments here, like the incredible arpeggiated synths on power ballad “Fractions.” Would love to hear what would result if this band became a dystopic synthpop project. But regardless of what’s in store, we’ll be with them every step of the way. Can’t wait for LP2!
Technical Kidman is on tour in November, and the band is a force live, so check them out if you can:
11/05 Montreal, QC – La Vitrola
11/06 Ottawa, ON – Debaser presents
11/07 Toronto, ON – Invocation @ May
11/10 Thunder Bay, ON – The Apollo
11/12 Saskatoon, SK – Vangellis Room
11/13 Calgary, AB – Broken City
11/14 Lethbridge, AB – Electric Eye Mansion
11/15 Edmonton, AB – Endless Bummer Festival
12/02 Saint-John, NB – Taco Pica
12/03 Halifax, NS – Home Bass @ Reflections
12/04 Fredericton, NB – Capital Complex
12/05 Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
Sometimes it’s incredible what a song can become when you strip out a beat almost entirely. Foxes in Fiction‘s lovely cover of “Shame”, originally recorded by Low in 1995, keeps things quite spare. A heavily reverbed guitar and a warmly distorted bass synth. A vocalist, and then another. It’s beautiful and simple, ambient pop at its finest (and slowest).
Foxes in Fiction’s amazing 2014 album Ontario Gothic is still available from Orchid Tapes on a PWYW basis. If you haven’t heard that thing of beauty yet, get on it!