I’ve kept a keen eye on Shakey ever since he released Roll the Bones back in 2011. He released an EP in 2012, then a live album last year called West of Calgary, recorded in Banff (if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on that rare album, you won’t be disappointed). A few weeks ago, Shakey released his second full-length album, entitled And the War Came. Higher production value, real drums, and a female presence (Esme Patterson) set this album apart from previous releases. Shakey still maintains the raw sound and the brilliant songwriting that makes him such an incredible musician. He’s definitely on my list of must-see musicians, and he’s playing the Phoenix in Toronto in early December for all you locals who might be interested. Without further ado, here’s my favourite track off the new album – the rhythm-driven ‘Family and Genus’:
And as a bonus, here are a couple of tracks off West of Calgary:
This album isn’t brand spanking new, but it’s new to me and lately I’ve been obsessing over it. Moonface is Spencer Krug (of Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes and Swan Lake fame). Over the years he’s had many projects on the go with many different musicians. I’ve been a big fan of Krug’s ever since the first spin of “Apologies to the Queen Mary”, but somehow this Moonface album passed me by until now. On this 2012 release entitled ‘Heartbreaking Bravery’ Krug teamed up with Finnish band Siinai. We all know about Scandinavia’s uncanny ability to produce some of the most vibrant and catchy electro-pop out there and Siinai is no exception. Pair that upbeat magic with Krug’s undeniably unique vocals and songwriting and it’s a hell of a match up.
Time and time again we see that many of the most delicious songs are made with simple recipes and quality ingredients. Such is the case with the debut single from Mexico City Blondes, a duo from Santa Barbara consisting of Allie Thompson and Greg Doscher. A catchy guitar riff, a synth, a smoker’s voice, and a Danger Mouse-esque drumline is all that’s needed to create this winning alt/country/rock track. On top of that, their band name is one of more badass I’ve heard in a while. Their debut album is coming (keep an eye out for news here), but in the meantime, they’ve blessed us with a free download to the track below, which can be found here.
Jurassic 5 is back after 6 years with a song that samples The White Stripes and appears to comprehensively cover the topic of how good they are at rapping. And ham sandwiches. Pretty standard stuff from J5 and a great way to kick off the summer.
I’ve been back in the country for 2 months now and it’s high time I renewed my vows to this blog and promised our small but dedicated readership that starting today, I’m back on the roster and I’ll be posting regular updates. My tastes have tended more in the direction of pop music lately. In that vein, I’ve recently discovered Made in Heights, a Beverly Hills duo who’ve blended the percussive tastes of Purity Ring with the pop sensibilities of CHVRCHES and created a sound that’s the perfect addition to an night drive in the rain or an early evening drink with friends. Their music isn’t as predictable as it initially sounds and weaves a path between genres that’s as seamless as it is surprising (and refreshing). Check out my favourite tracks below and check out their debut album via bandcamp.
This dude is a total enigma. Very little is known about him apart from his two excellent tracks “Jasmine” and “BTSTU“. Despite his lack of material he’s garnered a huge following and the followers have been chomping at the bit for an official debut from the UK DJ. A little over a year ago a 16 track album leaked onto his bandcamp page with no fanfare or exposure. Obviously the blogs jumped all over it causing an intense flurry of activity and speculation that this really was his debut. Soon after the 16 tracks disappeared and Jai Paul himself released a statement via twitter claiming that the tracks weren’t his debut and that the leak was illegal. Rumors of his laptop being stolen spread around, but it seems that no one really got a proper answer about the leak. Paul’s record label XL refused to comment on the temporary leak. This whole event has deepened the mystery and left Paul’s fans in a state of desperation. When are you coming back to us?? Those who were on the ball a year ago have been comforted by those 16 tracks for a year now, but still everyone is wondering when we’ll hear another peep from this secretive genius. -K
William Onyeabor is an extremely talented man shrouded in a cloud of mystery. Hailing from Enugu, Nigeria, Onyeabor self released 8 albums between 1978 and 1985. His sound was unlike anything else coming out of Africa at this time. While there was a lot of rock and roll influence spreading through Africa during this time, Onyeabor paved the way with his own brand of funk electronic. He had enough money or backing to have his own music studio complete with every electronic gadget and synthesizer he could get his hands on. His talent has only recently been discovered in North America and there’s no denying Onyeabor’s musical talent. Since the release of his final album “Anything You Sow” Onyeabor has become a born again Christian and refuses to provide interviews or discuss his previous musical career. Vice recently released an excellent documentary entitled ‘Fantastic Man‘ where they tried to dig deeper into Onyeabor’s story. My introduction to Onyeabor came from this cover track by Hot Chip which is found on the Record Store Day (April 19) release of ‘William Onyeabor Remixed’. WIthout diverging too much from the original track Hot Chip manage to add their own funk flair. Below is the original. -K.
Prepare to get slammed in the face with some of the most frenetic yet infectious dance beats around. When I first heard “Now You Know My Name” it blew me away. The Derevolutions is the musical moniker of Boston-based Brett Boucher. Boucher got his start in the music business by creating musical jingles for various TV commercials. This corporate experience eventually evolved into the dance-pop he’s been pumping out lately. Each of his songs are lightening fast paced complete with elaborately layered instrumentation, vocals and poignant samples. There’s a ton of energy in these tracks yet they somehow don’t sound cluttered, they just make you want to dance! Every song that Boucher has produced is free to stream/download via Soundcloud. So if you like what you’re hearing (and I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t) then go find some more here! – K
Although winter still has a death grip on us right now, everybody is beginning to dream of long summer of days filled with warmth and sunshine. As the season changes my musical focus always seems to take a shift. For some reason winter seems to be the time for gritty garage rock, then I feel the pull of electronic as the temperature rises and the snow melts away. So here’s a snippit of electro that I’ve been quite taken with lately.
Trust is the musical moniker of Toronto’s Robert Alfons. He spent much of last year touring in support of his debut album ‘TRST‘ but just yesterday he released his second LP via Arts & Crafts entitled ‘Joyland‘. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the entire album yet, but the singles he has offered up in anticipation of the album are some impressive works.
“Are We Arc?” is a haunting slow burner accompanied with Alfons’ distant vocals. The more I listen to it the more I’m drawn in to its magic. “Rescue, Mister” on the other hand is a synth heavy danceable track filled with intricate layers that get the body movin’. If you’re in Toronto this weekend I strongly suggest checking out Trust at Adelaide Hall this Saturday. – K.
To get things rolling again after a brief hiatus Brooklyn’s STRNGRS offer up a straight shot of gritty rock n’ roll. It’s simple and that’s what I love so much about it. Some classic guitar licks and a steady no-nonsense kick drum to keep the momentum charging forward. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Austin for SXSW this year, you might want to check these fellas out.
If you dig this stuff, then show some love to Low Animal. I got the pleasure of seeing them perform again this weekend and every time this 2-piece outfit from Niagra On The Lake just blow me away. Always tons of energy and a wall of noise. – K.
Here’s your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a brand new band that’s going places! This Philadelphia group only has three tracks so far, but their upbeat hazy grooves are hitting all the right spots. I can’t get enough of “Do What You Want”. So here ya go! -K
Damien Jurado has been in the game for a good long while now, but he’s showing no signs of letting up. Instead he just getting better and better. On January 21st he’ll be releasing his 11th studio album titled ‘Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son’ on Secretly Canadian. What’s equally as exciting is that this effort is produced by the talented and eclectic Richard Swift. The first single is an sublime groove that with just a dash of psychedelic flair for good measure. His voice is so perfectly gentle that it begs for a closer listen. Definitely excited to see what else lies on this album.
My love affair with War on Drugs began when I first saw a video for their track ‘Needle In Your Eye‘ on pitchfork.tv. I became absorbed by their raw Dylan-esque folk/rock sound. At the time it sounded unique and completely different than everything else I had been listening to at the time. Since then War on Drugs has been one of my all time favourites. A band you can go back and listen to again and again and their shine never fades. Well as it turns out they’ve got some goods coming in 2014. They will be releasing their third studio album, ‘Lost in the Dream’ and by the sound of their single ‘Red Eyes’ its going to live up to all my expectations. Just listen to this! How can you not fall in love with that steady beat, the feeling of motion and movement, yet the nostalgic feel at the very same time. n the dead of winter this song transports me to a brighter time. This needs to be played while cruising down a desert highway with the windows down and the sun spreading its rays. I can say this album is already a favourite of 2014. Bring it on.
Nick Waterhouse is definitely doing his own thing. Nick came out of the Orange County underground music scene. The very same scene that cultivated the recent talents Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin and The Growlers. But while these bands are more focused on gritty garage rock, Waterhouse is reviving 50′s swing and soul. He recorded his debut single ‘Some Place‘ back in 2010 and he nailed it out of the park. Since then he has built himself a band, released his debut album and toured Europe and North America with the Allah-Las. Now his second album is due March 18th. ‘This Is A Game’, is the first single and it’s a hip-shaking groove straight from a bygone era. Keep an eye on this cat in 2014. Also check out his soundcloud page for some killer 45 mixes.
So 2013 was quite a dandy year for new music. Many of our favourite artists released some stellar material to keep us hooked and there were countless new bands coming out of the woodwork with ear-catching vibrations. Here is a list of 70 tracks that stood out for us in 2013 in no particular order. This list certainly spans a genre or two or ten, but there’s a whole pile of talent here and I hope it inspires you to do a bit of digging and further discovery. Go forth and support these artists! – K.
It’s awesome to come across an old album that feels so right for the present time. A week ago I had never even heard of the now defunct Toronto garage rockers The Deadly Snakes. When I discovered the track ‘Closed Casket’ in a snowboard edit I had to do some digging. I went straight to itunes and bought their 2003 album ‘Ode to Joy’ without hesitation. It’s a gritty and noisey piece of work that makes you wanna party. It’s impossible not to pick up on some Dylan/Stones influence woven throughout their work. Too bad these dudes have split, because their live show would be full-on riot. – K.
I don’t know why I haven’t wrote about these guys yet. Maybe I just wanted to keep their sublime sounds to myself for a while, but they are too fantastic not to share around. Jungle bring the funk, but instead of being in your face with heavy beats they opt for a more silky smooth demeanor. It’s still very much danceable, yet their vibrations are subtle and damn sexy. Each track of their so far limited collection just leave you begging for more groove. These UK gentlemen were a huge standout in 2013 for me and I sincerely hope they’ve got an album in the works for 2014. We’ll see what the new year brings, but for now I’ll just have to sit here with these tracks on repeat letting the funk and soul wash over me. – K.
It’s a dark winter day here and I’m huddled inside my warm apartment waiting for the next blast of winter expected to fall from the skies this evening. As I sit here with an espresso to warm my insides, these two haunting songs by UK’s Matthew and the Atlas feel appropriate for a day such as this. Both tracks are captivating in their mystery. You don’t simply listen to these track and shrug them off, there is something about Matthew Hegarty’s voice and the hypnotic melodies that draw the listener in for a more intimate look. These two songs are a sneak peak of whats to come on Matthew and the Atlas’ upcoming album due out in spring 2014. Good vibrations for 2014. -K.
Temples are a young band from UK that are dishing out a heavy dose of psychedelic vibrations. I just stumbled across them and immediately devoured everything they had to offer at their soundcloud page. Each tune is a carefully layered art piece that soothes the eardrums. Soak it in. – K.