Back in April, Ian Bell found himself in a pickle. When his background in sociology couldn’t guarantee him secure employment due to a global pandemic, paired with any and all plans for attending live music/art gatherings evaporated in front of him for similar reasons, Bell found himself taking up manual labour in the outdoors.
Since 1988, Washington D.C. artist Kurt Heasley has been rocking through genre and style with his band Lilys. Call them shoegaze, dreampop, post-rock, or grunge, the spirit of Lilys is to pursue the purity of art. Over the years, Kurt and Lilys have been compared to My Bloody Valentine, The Monkees, and The Zombies, but there’s no pinning down the sound of Kurt Heasley.
As its title suggests, the debut album by Toronto-based saxophonist Jesse Ryan sees the gifted young instrumentalist building musical bridges between traditional jazz idioms and the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of his native Trinidad & Tobago. The improvisational nature of jazz always appealed to Ryan, as it provided, in his own words, “a space for collaboration, cultural exchange, and [a place] where old and new worlds meet.”
Jazz, like folk and blues, is a form of music in which one is largely indebted to the contributions of one’s musical forebears. Ultimately, the goal is to take the lessons learned from past traditions and inject them with new life while still paying homage.
Wild Pink invites listeners to a festival of sonic dancing on A Billion Little Lights. Their unique brand of synth-y folk blends strings with pads and everything in between. As one song melts into the next, Wild Pink slowly constructs a clear ambience that cerebrally targets the feeling associated with chasing bliss.
Number One is a dreamy, heavily electronic reconstruction of pop music. Littered with industrial influences and, at times, hyper pop motifs, the debut album of Carlyn Bezic, aka Jane Inc, is one hell of a statement.
Some artists are impossible to place inside a certain musical genre, for each of their songs have a life of their own. When you think you know what to expect from the next track, you are continuously surprised by the different nuances they showcase. Georgia Van Etten without a doubt fits this category. Her latest work Deep Black Water displays anything and everything from Florence + The Machine orchestrations to early 90s hits by The Cranberries.
It was worth the wait. Empires have risen and crumbled since the last time we were treated to a new Mahogany Frog album, and the eight and a half trips around the sun that have produced Mahogany Frog in the Electric Universe were clearly well spent. Though the four members of Winnipeg’s premier prog rock juggernaut have their hands full with a variety of other artistic projects, the cohesion on display here is that of a band who never let each other out of sight. As with their albums of yesteryear, Mahogany Frog offers a style of prog rock that is not marked by showiness or affectation – but rather an unhurried determination to prod, probe, and unwrap a never-ending series of sounds.
Where some may say that a record is the canvas, where each track makes up the independent yet linear details that tie the painting together, Chad Vangaalen has built an art gallery made up of pieces for each track, and called his collection World’s Most Stressed out Gardener.
With only their third full-length project since 2011, Toronto band Bernice offer a rather stunning mix of jazz and ambient that “openly plays with the shape of a pop song,” as lead vocalist Robin Dann shares on the band’s Bandcamp page. Eau de Bonjourno marks the first collaboration between the group and the grand multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, who acts as producer. Ismaily’s impressive resume, which features work with the likes of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, comes as no surprise given the pleasant, pristine production throughout the album.