After a full month of hip hop was successfully pummelled into my system in preparation for our last house party, I’ve switched gears pretty drastically into more of a shoegaze, vaporwave, psychedelic rock run. It must be the looming of the cold, and the rise of midterms that has made the shift seem so natural, but it’s one I’ve embraced – it comes in pulses. Here are a few of my new dream pop meets indie alternative favourites, both new and old, in a semi-deliberate order:
ELSA – “Am I With You?”
After first hearing these Toronto musicians at Wolfe Island Music Festival last summer, I’ve been eagerly awaiting their upcoming album. They are a bit of a mysterious band, with assortments of their releases scattered across the web. “Am I With You?” comes off their 2013 EP In Two, which I had to grind off their bandcamp. I’m a big fan of Elsa’s ultra-dreamy pads they create during verses, and of course that Real Estate-esque guitar tone.
PORCHES – “Car”
The one out-of-town musician on my list hails from New York, and has blessed our ears with his 6th release Pool just last week. “Car” is more dream pop sounding than the rest of the album, and builds off those low-pass filtered synths layered with sonic guitar that marches on in a Young Rival sounding fashion.
BELIEFS – “Violets”
As veteran of the Hand Drawn Dracula record family, members of Beliefs have jumped between various bands in the shoegaze scene in Toronto. My personal favourite track, comes from their older toned-down 2 track LP Catching My Breath / Violets released in 2012. The song is pretty dynamic, and returns to a very catchy rift that neither sounds heavy nor laid back.
WALRUS – “Banger”
These east coast punks have been taking the psychedelic rock scene by storm lately, with performances at Pop Montreal and Halifax Is Burning. This band was meant for a decked out basement, flashing lights and a crowd ready to party. “Banger” off the 2014 record Glam Returns is everything you’d hope from a song with such a title – but don’t be fooled, this song will take you for a ride you weren’t expecting. Keep your eyes on these guys.
WISH – “All The Time”
Cut off Hand Drawn Dracula’s label from Toronto, this group has members that have played a gig or two in the genre. This track is my favourite off their self-titled record WISH from 2014. Leave this song on after hitting a few, and you’ll be lead through a blissfully, dazed sound filled with that oh-so-sweet muffled guitar sound. Kyle Connoly’s vocals help to keep you grounded through this stoned-rock jam.
BASEMENTS – “A Voice”
This trio from Toronto has done a great job telling a cool story on their 2014 self-titled release BASEMENTS, which features my favourite track “A Voice”. Jessica Paton provides welcomed supporting vocals on this youthful-fairytale sounding track. Leave room at the end for a great head banging jam.
TOPS – “2 Shy”
The Montreal veterans behind TOPS have been gigging their unique synthpop sound for a few years now. “2 Shy” is a track of their second release Picture You Staring from 2014. Lead singer Jane Penny’s really shines on this track, as she treats listeners to her iconic angelic falsetto. Tracks like this don’t get much more of casual or dreamy.
SUNSHINE & THE BLUE MOON – “Sunshine and Lucy”
It’s rare that you hear about music from Thunder Bay, but these 5 psychedelic rock goons have been doing a great job embodying the sounds of the surf. “Sunshine and Lucy” off their record Electric is particularly sexy – I feel like I’m caught amidst a lovers weekend away in the woods. Simple, fun, reminiscent of summer.
HOMESHAKE – “I Don’t Wanna”
Peter Sagar has crafted yet-another fireside-ready album filled with all the comforts that dreamy lo-fi indie rock can bring. “I Don’t Wanna” off of his 2015 release Midnight Snack feels like just the right mixture of his signature reverb-heavy vocals, soft cymbal crashes and elegant guitar rifts. Classical.
DEERHUNTER – “Helicopter”
I’ll admit I am a new Deerhunter fan, but these rockstars have weidling fire since 2001. “Helicopter” is rainbow road meets ambient punk, and comes off their 2010 release Halcyon Digest. I can’t stop listening to this song and don’t plan on it. It’s an incredibly euphoric, melodic tune that achieves a beautiful full sound. Listen with the speakers cranked.
SEOUL – “Haunt / A Light”
Think Goldroom meets Half Moon Run, and that’s where you’ll find Montreal’s indie-alternative synth pop group Seoul. This track off 2015’s I Become A Shade is a hazy romantic journey with a solid shoegaze backbone, that still manages to achieve their signature clean, polished sound.
VULVA CULTURE – “Phantom Limb”
Our second east coast feature also hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia with a track off their major 2015 release In Vain. With a haunting, dazed out sound, these ladies have made music that sounds like the soundtrack to your weirdest dream – a slow melancholic dance.
ETIQUETTE – “Pleasantries”
“Pleasantries” off these Toronto natives 2015 release Reminisce, blends together a variety of ethereal sounds found across many dream pop / vapour pop artists. It’s a soft experimental sort of journey, that tugs you along before releasing it’s grip. A great way to end this playlist, and a reminder of how many directions shoegaze and dreampop can really go.
Good luck with midterms, happy reading week +++