Foxwell’s Just So EP is equal parts wacky and soulful, alien and human. The Winnipeg group are masters of orchestration, from stirring strings through mysterious feedback. Every hi-hat trill, every chiming synth, rings out clearly and deeply through a voluminous four-song setlist.
Local alt-rock band Merin released their third EP this past August, and I had the pleasure of giving it a thorough listen. Full of pop-culture references and galactic metaphors, this album is the soundtrack to an epic space adventure — even referencing the classic sci-fi film Dune in the opening track, “Fear is the Mind Killer, Nerd.”
There is an Anishinaabe story about the Aandeg (a.k.a. the Crow), who is said to have once been without purpose, but who uncovered their raison d’être by helping others. In this way, crows are seen as exemplars of finding meaning through the process of continually seeking, deliberately pushing forward, and tenaciously not giving up; this bird is also suitably regarded as a welcome travelling companion. Perhaps there is soul resonance here between the flyer and frontperson of the band Status/Non-Status – community worker Adam Sturgeon – whose latest album, Surely Travel and its companion EP/B-Sides January 3rd, dive headlong into such themes. After all, most songs from this project deal with life on the road in the contrived nation of “Canada” and one’s distance from feeling at “home.”
Between hearing a lot of good things about the Winnipeg-based musical group and their band name aligning with my star chart, I thought it an auspicious sign to check out Virgo Rising’s sophomore EP, Vampyre Year. The band, who is signed under the Winnipeg record label House of Wonders, consists of four members: Emily Sinclair (Vocals, Guitar), Lauren Wittmann (Bass, Keyboards), Jenna Wittmann (Guitar, Violin), and Isaac Tate (Drums, Percussion). Their last iconic album from 2021 was described as “bedroom-indie-rock,” and currently, they use tags such as “bedroom pop,” “alternative,” and “indie” on Bandcamp to describe their upcoming album.
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.”
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.
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.
I think that this is the type of EP you would dismiss at first. The type that you need to learn how to love. Like those tracks that you always initally skip but then when you actually give it a listen you discover it’s the best song you’ve ever heard in your entire fucking life.
“…this body of work is supposed to display the danger in isolating. While in this state, we set ourselves up to be in harm’s way by outside forces, but breaking out and embracing humility and community, you can finally transcend into a healthy trajectory.”
So writes Zoon’s Daniel Monkman in the press release for their surprise EP Sterling Murmuration.