Toot Toot is the latest album from Hamilton-based electronic musician Graham Kartna. Known by indietronica fans for his collage-like style of incorporating various sound bytes, voice recordings, and the occasional robot voice within his music, Kartna is a unique talent and a prolific artist, having released over 20 albums since 2011.
In most parts of his music, he doesn’t need lyrics; the melodies say it all. The small comforts of this album make it feel incredibly warm and welcoming. It has almost a nostalgic haze type of vibe to it. I think the best part about it is that this isn’t some pretentious ass shit. It’s complex and beautiful, but it still doesn’t feel as though it’s trying to aim too hard for that target audience of ‘snobby hipsters who listen to folk music and probably think that they’re both better than you AND too smart for you.’
I did not have Baritone/Bass Spanish post rock on my musical bingo card for the year of 2022. A collection of serenading bass riffs along with tense percussion drawn from post rock pillars like Archers of Loaf and Hüsker Dü, Leia Rodríguez’s emphasis on Low-end makes for a refreshing rock listen.
The music video for “Designated Driver,” one of the leading singles from Taylor Janzen’s debut LP, I Live In Patterns, sees Janzen behind the wheel driving an old 60s-era motorcar. Artistically shot using a conspicuous green screen, Janzen traverses various landscapes, supermarkets, and cattle pastures, driving with no clear destination. As the chorus builds and melodies intensify, so too does the speed of her travels. Like a bullet through a desolate purgatory with nothing to arrest her motion, Janzen cycles and flips through the pain and regret in her mind. “I swear to God I’m trying/ Not to ruin our plans/ I made myself a martyr with the holes in my hands,” she sings.
I’ll remember Living Hour’s performance at the Winnipeg Art Gallery at the tail end of last year for two reasons: those spinning chairs the audience was seated in and the sonic expansion within the band’s sound across a collection of new songs that dug into my brain. With the release of Someday is Today, the Winnipeg indie darlings’ third LP is their most diverse release yet. My brain rests easy knowing the songs recorded sound just as good as they did in the Muriel Richardson Auditorium.
Energy was the theme of the night on Thursday, January 26 – both the respective energies of the bands themselves and the overall dynamic flow of the evening. Amping up for the second weekend of Real Love’s Winterruption, the Good Will was taken over by Bedtime, an up-and-coming dream pop duo, the thoroughly-beloved Virgo Rising, and New Brunswick’s very own “deep-thinkin’ rippers,” Motherhood. What appeared at first to be a somewhat bizarre (albeit fascinating) lineup proved to be a show for the ages.
Fire & Smoke is the bilingual folk duo comprised of Claire Morrison and Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner. They released the single, “How It Is,” from their FR-EN bilingual EP (Spring-Summer 2023). We caught up with them at Synonym’s office above Electric Lunch.
Stylus: You have your take on “Billy in the Low Ground” on the album and fingerpicking guitar on songs like “Don’t Lie About Your Dreams”. How does folk music fit into the picture?
Matt Foster: Protest music would’ve been how I found folk music. The power of bringing people together, politically throwing a wrench in the gears. There are all kinds of things in folk music that I love, how you don’t have to be good in terms of playing to get up on the stage; it’s very equalizing; it’s everyone’s music. In terms of direct influences, I don’t pull on it directly. Live, I’ll slow “Billy in the Low Ground” down and play a crooked version. I’ll reference the tune, but I’ll play the B section first, I’ll play it super slow. No one plays fiddle music really slow; everyone’s racing to be that athlete. But if I just let the strings ring, let them create chords in the sustained spots, there’s a beautiful harmonic sadness. I try hard not to define anything lyrically, harmonically, I try not to let anything get boxed in, so the ear settles – I like this sense of the unsettled.
Folks trickle into the Goodwill on a Saturday night to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the local shop Chip’s Vintage. The love and community-feeling is palpable, making it easy to forget the bitter cold outside. DJs Co-op and Hunnicutt hone in on the feeling and bring it to the fore, spinning jams to move the crowd and permeating the spaces between bands with warmth and energy.