New Release: Foxtrott – A Taller Us

Foxtrott caught us completely by surprise this year with a string of amazing singles and jaw-droppingly beautiful videos that established the Montreal artist as a must-listen. Thankfully A Taller Us, her debut release, out now on One Little Indian, follows-through on the promise we saw in the project. This feels like pre-Austra Katie Stelmanis, with a little less operatics, sprinkles of experimentation, amazingly big production and bang-on synth-programming.

It’s nice to hear an uncompromising electro album that we feel will stand the test of time, which A Taller Us certainly will. Lead single “Beyond Our Means,” is still a stand-out track, but there are so many gems on this record that picking just one seems fruitless. This is an album through-and-through and needs to be best appreciated by listening to it from beginning to end.

A Taller Us is available via One Little Indian, iTunes, various streaming services and wherever records are sold.

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We’ve been astonished all year by the continued output of Toronto‘s JOOJ, the new ambient electronic pop project from actor/director, musician, and Canadian media personality Sook-Yin Lee and her partner and long-time collaborator Adam Litovitz. 2015 saw them release a string of remarkable music videos: “Shoulders and Whispers,” directed by Brandon Cronenberg; “Ghost of Love”, directed by Yuula Benivolski; and “Jessica”, directed by Sook-Yin herself.

But we hadn’t yet gotten the chance to review about their album as a whole, which is a masterpiece of experimental pop minimalism, equally expert at exploring textures and ambience as they are gifted with tremendous songwriting and lyrical skills. Often using the absence of percussion to incredible effect, or in the songs that do have percussion, bringing inventive and unconventional patterns to their drum programming, this otherwordly, experimental, and sometimes creepy album is one of the finest releases of the year.

We are beyond ecstatic for the opportunity to present JOOJ in Toronto at the Silent Shout Festival this Saturday, performing with Phèdre, Scott Hardware and Hush Pup. Hope to see you there! JOOJ’s debut album is out now on Last Gang (limited edition red vinyl!).

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New Release: New Hands – Leave with the Night

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.

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New Release: Ben Gunning – Massive Love

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.


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New Release: Doldrums Island Nursery – The New Shell

Doldrums Island Nursery is the performance name of Calgary‘s Elaine Boyling, and we don’t know much about her besides that she quietly released her second album The New Shell back in September. She’s making low-fidelity bedroom electronic pop that thwarts expectations, with lots of twists and turns and inventive production techniques. Also, the complex layered vocals with oodles of melodic sense will surely reel you in. Available now from Bandcamp, pay-what-you-want download!

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