If Daniel Glen Monkman’s debut album Bleached Wavves could be described as elementally water-bound – saturated and immersed in dense reverb and sonorous with echo – their sophomore LP Bekka Ma’iingan both soaringly transcends and at times hovers just over the surf of what came before. The latest release by Zoongide’ewin (pronounced “Soon-guide-a-win”) is airy, textured, complex, meditative, and positively stunning. Anchored in the depths of past recordings, Bekka Ma’iingan is also an emergence into another realm of sound. And amidst the sundry, mindfully bright orchestral tones that ebb and flow throughout, listeners are moved to pause and gaze upwards with their mind’s eye in absolute wonderment at the swirling, many-layered, multi-hued audio skyscape created by Zoon.
Softswitch—consisting of Suzy Keller on drums, Rob Hill on guitar, and Ryan McPherson on bass and vocals—takes you to the centre of a universe at once recognizable and surreal with their new self-titled EP. Mundane activity is set against a background of questionable perceptions of self and reality. “Memoriam,” the first track on the album, displays this uncertainty with lines like “Was she even real?” and “It was like a faded page somewhere in our cursive memory.”
*Because I care for Amos Nadlersmith, the front man of Amos the Kid, and we’ve fussed around with songs over the years, two of which ended up on this album (I don’t write about those here for obvious reasons), don’t read this as a review proper, but as an appreciation of Amos’s songwriting and an interpretation of his work from my subjective position. *
by Noah Cain
Amos the Kid’s debut album, Enough as it Was, opens with the world on fire. Smoke hangs in the sky like clouds. In the choking heat, The Kid—the moniker I have for the album’s hero—feels drawn away from the city, to return home and reckon with what’s transpired, to square what he was taught about the world with his experiences in the world, to digest it all before riding out into a future all his own.
STELLAR’s distinctive vintage aesthetic infuses a united message in its music and visuals, a message about the past and what it could have been. Released in 2021, their first single, “Call Me Goodbye,” is a touching, melancholy track about heartache, with shimmer acoustic guitars, harmonized, reverbed vocals, and winding solos. In the same vein, they released “Stranger,” which touches on topics like unrequited love and ends with a beautiful guitar solo. “Water” is their most recent single, which has a calming, meditative vibe and continues to express a dysfunctional partnership that, ultimately, does not work out.
Raphaelle Standell-Preston cries aloud a prolonged “Oh My God” to introduce the space-y free-flowing “Left/Right.” A sudden blink in lyrical flow once “illuminated on the mountain top: Mont Royal” spills like a panic of spacial hyper-awareness as the strings wash over the synth floor, the acknowledgement of footsteps which the song title points to. A track with such spontaneity feeds into a theme within Euphoric Recall; the abandonment of strategy, burning away the structures and embracing the impulses, and welcoming imperfections. A move seemingly necessary to exercise the pandemic demons many artists endured, Euphoric Recall follows 2020’s “Shadow Offering,” one of many albums created with hopes of support in the form of performances and subsequent touring that got washed out in the pandemic noise. In the demand for patience and space, this album is also an urgency for movement, injected from a lingering groove-based pulse from Standell-Prestons’ fluid-motion side project Blue Hawaii.
Nickybaby’s self titled album was a very intriguing listen. It has elements of folk and indie rock that combine to form one of my favourite indie releases of the year so far. It has almost deceptively good production, meaning that it sounds very rough, but that lack of fidelity only aids in conveying the theme of the record.
In the song “Pennyroyal Tea,” Kurt Cobain once sang, “Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld, so I can sigh eternally.” Not every artist possesses the ability to impel listeners to breathe deeply, but this is definitely the case with Tinge’s debut EP Big Deep Sigh. The project hearkens back to when Indie was more Punk than pretentious and when Emo was less of a post-goth fashion statement than an angst-ridden, authentic, and worthy successor to Grunge-era music.
Winnipeg singer-songwriter Noah Derksen makes strikingly earnest music. It’s probably thanks to this fact that seeing his most recent album come up marked “Explicit” on streaming services feels momentarily surreal – if only for the presence of several pointed and beautiful breakup songs on the record.
Winnipeg’s own Yes We Mystic’s third and final album, Trust Fall, was released on October 21st, 2022. The group describes it as (in addition to being heavily inspired by Kate Bush) “the songs were most proud of, and that we fought the hardest to bring into the world.”