Last year, the moment we heard “Restaurant,” the first single from Vancouver’s Sur Une Plage, we knew we had stumbled upon something incredibly special. But we worried: how could the band possibly top the Devo-esque synthpop masterpiece? Well, with the release of Legerdemain, the band’s stellar debut record, we’re pleased to say that all fears were assuaged. While “Restaurant” is still a perfect introduction to the project, the album has remarkable depth and reveals so much time and again, rewarding the listener of repeated listens.
Half the album features slow-burning dark ballades like opener “Sins,” or the chugging and mechanical “Love Machines,” all featuring lyrics taken from the best pages from a gothic high schooler’s poetry book. Songs like “Means To A Dividend” make up the rest and are pure fodder for a new-wave dance floor that would turn the heads of any Gary Numan or Eurythmics fans.
The duo, composed of Joshua Wells (of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) and Colin McKill, named the album Legerdemain for a reason. Meaning “skillful use of one’s hands when performing conjuring tricks,” (we looked it up), their masterful manipulation of classic synths is as close to real magic as we’re ever going to get. They are true maestros of the oscillators!
You can order a physical copy of the album now via their label Jagjaguwar, or digitally from iTunes. It’s also embedded below for your listening pleasure, and you gotta trust on this one. We cannot emphasize enough how excellent this record is.
“Okay, we’re gonna blast off, ready, here we go?” asks Tom Whalen, aka Space Bros., who’s also known for playing as a live member of Jay Arner‘s band (and its Energy Slime offshoot), before inviting us to come aboard his spaceship. Well count us in for the cosmic voyage, through one of the strangest electronic pop releases we’ve heard so far this year. Sci-fi imagery abounds on his debut record In the Dreamtime of the Saucer People, as spacey synths twist through reverb-y interstellar landscapes on our way to the “Crystal City”. Standout single “Come Aboard the Spaceship” is a deeply catchy galactic funk track that recalls some of the best of classic Ariel Pink, but it’s just the poppiest apex on a record that’s extremely worthy of repeated listens, particularly if you’re in outer space.
“Minimum” is the newest addition to Sur Une Plage‘s excellent trio of earnestly-sung singles from their forthcoming debut. And the video is a perfect appetizer to keep you satiated until the full album comes out on March 17 (two weeks away!).
There are slow drives through overcast suburban neighbourhoods, scenes of the duo – Joshua Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust) and Colin McKill – dancing increasingly frenetically under the song’s sine wave, and an ominous figure reflected in a stained-glass mirror straight out of your mother’s house. Watch out for the surprise shout-out to the supermoon!
Emerging from an ominous realm of late night tumblr hashtag searches for black & white suicide by drowning, comes Artificial Monuments‘ gloomy video for their new track “Desertion”.
The video is directed by Canadian-born, Copenhagen-based frontwoman Johannah Jørgensen (sister of Silent Shout fave Sally Dige), who is joined in this holy minimal synth trinity by Kim W. Andersen (MOTH/Chainsaw Eaters) and Patrick Ringsborg.
The high contrast monochrome images of drowning and rolling-shutter strobing are perfectly matched with the pitch-black poetics of Johannah’s fragile vocal delivery floating amongst the dark minimal synth-pop melodies and reverb-soaked beat programming.
You can purchase “Desertion” from Artificial Monuments’ Bandcamp page.
Vancouver’s Humans have consistently proved themselves very capable at making some of the most interesting electro-pop this side of Sweden. Their latest single “Follow,” erm…follows in this tradition by hitting all the right notes: a pulsating beat, vocoded melodies, and a damn funky bass line.
The video, directed by band member Peter Ricq, is another “creepy stuff happens to a person driving a car” with a unexpected twist at the end. It’s real effective and suits the paranoia of the song quite well.
This is the first single from Noontide, the band’s upcoming album, coming out on February 24 on Hybridity Music. They are also embarking on a cross-Canada tour for the better part of the year, so make sure to catch their amazing live show when they’re in your area.
At the close of 2014, Vancouver-based producer Wolfey released a stunning EP of soft focus dance tracks entitled Habit on A.S.L. Singles Club. Beautifully laced with tape hiss and dreamy ambiance, Habit’s finest tracks explore jazzy, deep house idioms (It’s Not the Name”) and the more ethereal and melancholic dimensions of electronic music (“Time Constraints”, “Bittersweet”). Stream the remarkable EP closer “Bittersweet” and head over to bandcamp to pick up this fine release!
Vancouer ex-pat/neu-Berliner Lief Hall, trippy video artist and one-half of the now on-hiatus noise-pop duo, MYTHS, has just released Transform, a dystopic trio of unexpectedly catchy dark electro cuts featuring black-as-hell trap beats paired with glistening pads, sleazy synths and her signature choral vocal layering.
She just dropped the first music video in her new solo-outing that suitably sees Lief invoking the gods of Windows 95 while staring into a glowing neon vortex of black mirrors with back-up dancers in the hypnotizing form of morphing, undulating hands that beckon the viewer to surrender to the luminously layered cosmos of “Glass Machine”.
Pick up Transform on Lief’s Bandcamp.
New year, new music to get excited about! Vancouver’s Sally Dige has graced the blog many times in the past, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about her new project. That new band, formed in Berlin with Sixth June‘s Laslo Antal, is called Cult Club, and we expect them to reach cult status almost immediately.
The video features chopped-together images of the pair moving in front of a white background, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. The blonde-haired, black-clad duo employ hair twists, shoulder rolls and outstretched arms to visually express their beautifully-executed haunting synth pop. Dige’s voice, an exquisite alto that will occupy your dreams for days, works especially well over the dark production.
Keep an eye out for their debut EP, set to descend to Earth early this year!
We’ve already mentioned our excitement about Vancouver synthy power pop project Rec Centre‘s second album Monster of the Week, and we totally loved the X-files themed video he released a couple of months ago for lead single “Like I Care.” Well the follow-up to last-year’s excellent Times a Billion came out last week, and it’s full of brilliant gems like the standout “Celebrity Deaths,” a sweet bit of downtempo synthpop featuring the band’s signature harmonies.
You can buy Monster of the Week direct from Rec Centre’s Bandcamp on cassette or digitally.
The piano chords at the beginning prepare you for the epic journey you’re about to go on, but it’s not until the huge throbbing bass arpeggiator comes in that you really understand what Vancouver’s Sur Une Plage are up to. Having released one of the finest songs of the year in “Restaurant”, this song is the slow brooding cousin to that frantic synthpop gem. This duo composed of Joshua Wells (of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) and Colin McKill is one of our favourite new bands we’ve discovered this year, and all their tracks are free on Bandcamp. Go bask in their glory!