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.
Snowdance started back in 2012 when it was unseasonably warm, and there was almost no snow. Due to the lack of snow there was no ski hill to run and there was an abundance of musicians on staff. Thus the impromptu music festival featuring staff gave birth to Snowdance.
“The only man I hold weight for” – Ghostface Killah
Kairo is a student, but he’s also a teacher. The Winnipeg rapper is constantly learning about hip-hop history, cultural traditions from his homeland in Trinidad, and even lessons from his ancestors in Africa. But Kairo is also using that knowledge in his own music, to connect it to his past and to teach a younger generation that may have yet to discover the importance of figures like Haile Selassie. Kairo’s conscious style but street-savviness makes him one of the most interesting up and coming rappers in Winnipeg today.
Aaron Powell has become a household name when it comes to bedroom pop. If you’ve ever spent hours scouring Bandcamp looking for your next lo-fi obsession, Powell’s project Fog Lake was probably the exact sound you were craving. From a rural small town on the East Coast, Powell started his project Fog Lake after getting into scoring film with friends – which didn’t come as a surprise to me. The layered soundscapes Powell creates tell the isolating stories of his songs as much as his writing does.
“I’m bringing crying back” might be a phrase most of us have contemplated tweeting late at night this past year. A forgivable sentiment given the slow burn of defeat from every corner of the news. “Let’s see what chaos visited humanity today while I was on vacation” sings Greg Katz on “Original Composition,” an acceptance, along with a shrug, that the world is seemingly ending that will only resonate a bit too strongly. This track is only a chapter of an unofficial 2020 handbook called Emphatically No., the second full length from Los Angeles garage-rock trio Cheekface.
For their debut EP, Sixteenth Sapphire, Emily Sinclair, Lauren Wittmann, and Jenna Wittmann of Virgo Rising grace our thirsted ears with a sweet collection of graduated bedroom pop. Introspective themes dominate this enchanting combination of gossamery vocals, clean lyrics, and soft instrumentals, which immediately reminded me of Frankie Cosmos, old-style Ian Sweet, and Angel Olsen, minus some of the drama.
Mike Powell, known to Bandcamp as closetjudas, tackles abstract concepts of presence, truth, and a lack of both. In the lo-fi non sequitur, closetjudas blasts fuzzed out guitars through what sounds like the tiniest speakers. The sharp, shrill lead guitar parts peek out from behind the extremeness of the rest of the instrumentation, balancing like a wavering tower, surrounded by clouds of spoken word excerpts.