Taking Flight

Ryan Hemsworth is a man who should need little introduction, coming out of Halifax he has been pushing the boundaries of downtempo electronic music for years.  His most recent collaborative EP Taking Flight, which he created with Seattle based producer Lucas, is no exception.  The album is distinctly Ryan Hemsworth yet at the same time it is not.  Although it has all of the Ryan Hemsworth calling cards including his unmistakable attention to detail and the delicacy of his melodies, it is difficult not to hear the influence Lucas has had on Taking Flight.  It undeniably follows Lucas’ hazier aesthetic and utilizes a lot of the static textures that Lucas often employs.  Their styles combine and play off each other well and the result is very high quality laid-back electronic music perfect for a rainy day.  ‘From Grace’ is certainly the most robust track with vocals that serve as rhythmic texture, overlaid by a drum kit that comes in and out of pulsing focus.  The final track on the album ‘U Remain’ is more typical of Ryan Hemsworth.  It builds throughout and finally explodes in frenetic textures about half way through before fading back into relative quiet.  Although the album is by no means a masterpiece and does not push either artist’s musical boundaries the two artists synergize very well and Taking Flight is still a great piece of production that deserves a spot on your more relaxed playlists.

 

Ryan Hemsworth, Lucas – From Grace

 

-Stephen

A refreshing surf rock style and unyielding political convictions in tow, one time Kingston resident Thomas Little, aka Dazy Crown, is making waves over in East Anglia, UK. While his first single, “Perfect Dream”, can be commended for its brevity, “Common Scents” narrows its focus to one particular injustice. Little keeps seeing people getting locked up for rolling up, and he has a problem with a government that sees no problem in that. Little’s lyrics lay out a timely case against drug policy with the Canadian election at hand, culminating in a cry to “just let it go.” Though his lack of patience for the ruling Conservative party is clear, Little holds back on animosity in his delivery; it’s a surf rock tune after all. For anyone infuriated with the Harper-Fords schmoozing over the past week, this song is a rallying call, but its pop sensibilities will propel it beyond the ephemerality of Election Day.

Anyway, the minimalist touch of the self-produced single lends a Belle & Sebastian-y tinge to Little’s voice. The tune’s fuzzy atmosphere is as if Little had turned on the space heater in his bedroom before recording it. And a standout bridge commands attention before letting “Common Scents” dissolve into outro verse bliss. Check it out, and vote if you haven’t already.

– ben

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 7.32.16 PMMilk & Bone is an upcoming Canadian duo from Montreal. They released their first album, Little Mourning, last March, and have been generating a lot of popularity since. I first heard their song “New York” on a sirius radio artist premier sometime last year, and immediately I was hooked. Their sound is reminiscent to Shura, but with some darker, undertones, that are a little similar to Purity Ring.

If you haven’t yet heard of them and enjoy electronic, dreamy pop music I highly suggest giving a few of their tracks a listen! They played their first big show at Osheaga this summer, and are currently touring right now (checkout their band camp for concert dates and details: https://milkandbone.bandcamp.com) I expect this band will be doing some big things within the next year, so listen to the link below and enjoy!

-Chelsea

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Andy Shauf, Arts & Crafts artist released his first single since his breathtaking album “The Bearer of Bad News.” If you haven’t checked out this LP yet, add it to your list. The album came out in Canada during 2012 but wasn’t released to the States until this year, so Shauf is only now getting the big time recognition he deserves. It is filled with mostly grim tales of drug abuse, murderous lovers and other misfortunes- something to save for a rainy day.

Jenny Come Home was released this morning and could not be more fitting for some low-key Friday vibes. This track is a lovable but bummed out tale of Shauf’s struggle with heartache. The 70’s glam pop sounding arrangements is an upbeat alternative to the otherwise agonizing subject matter. Shauf sings from the perspective of a man who is cheating on his significant other. After listening it is no surprise that Shauf’s biggest inspiration is Elliot Smith.

Take note, I expect big things from Andy Shauf this year.

– Mel

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The Sheepdogs released their first EP in 2011 and have been on an unbelievable incline since. With the success of Learn & Burn going platinum and numerous Juno wins the band really had a lot to prove with their newest release, Future Nostalgia – at least for me. Their self-titled album was released back in 2012 and for the past three years has been the soundtrack to most things I do. Personally, I didn’t think there was a song that gave me bigger feels than “The Way it is” and was nervous to listen to their latest full length LP since their loss of guitarist Leot Hanson.

That is until I listened started listening to Future Nostalgia and its entirety this morning. Producer and front man Ewan Currie really stayed true to the Saskatoon retro rockers vibe. The 18-track album intimidated me at first but quickly got me addicted all over again to their modern but classic-rock style. The album promptly opens with a banger titled “I’m Gunna Be Myself” that really channels early 70’s nuances and is followed by numerous other rock hits such as “Downtown” and “Take A Trip” that are clearly influenced by God’s such as Zeppelin and Joplin.

My personal favourite is the down-tempo ballad “Jim Gordon.” The wistful back porch vibe of this track is almost unbearable. It throws me into nostalgia for a time that I haven’t even experienced. The final 6 tracks from this record flow together almost too heavenly to create a soulful and cohesive melody, closing the album to perfection. This is a method the five piece practiced in Learn & Burn as well. The title really does say it all, this is an album that will never age.

– Mel

Born-Ruffians

After their outstanding performance at QPOP! it seems only fitting that we take a look at Born Ruffians anticipated new album RUFF. 2013’s Birthmarks was filled with ear-worms like “Needle” and “Dancing on The Edge of Our Graves” that we didn’t think that these four boys from Midland could get any better. RUFF totally proved us wrong. The outstanding LP dropped last week and knocked us right out of our (insert Dr. Martin/ blundstone here) boots. RUFF incapsulates the true Canadian indie pop-punk sound that these boys are known for. With anthems like “We Made It”, “Don’t Live Up” and “& On & On & On”, this album is in true Ruffians style. Luke Lalonde channels his inner Lou Reed on the track “Eat Shit (We Did It)”. This essence of The Velvet Underground is complimentary to the 90’s pop/punk sound that band incorporates into this extremely eclectic album. RUFF only leaves us wanting more from the Born Ruffians. With a solid five albums under their belt, we can only imagine what they’re going to do next.

~ Nicole

We Made It

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I am always amazed at the sounds Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto can come up with. As only a 2 member band, Majical Cloudz are able to transform simplicity into a boundary-pushing style of music unlike anything else.

As the third single off their upcoming LP, ‘Downtown’ draws listeners in with the familiarly ambient, droning waves that characterize Majical Cloudz’ music. The soft tones of the song provide listeners with an emotional atmosphere for the mind to explore. As Welsh sings about someone that he is obsessively infatuated with, one cannot help but to think of someone who gives them the same feelings in their life.

The texture of this song is very airy and slow – denoting a sense of loneliness or emptiness. Welsh’s lyrics, however, remind listeners of a childlike excitement – the feelings you had with your first crush, or when you went on your first date. This impressive quality seen in Downtown is what constantly draws me back to Majical Cloudz – they are constantly combining almost-opposite emotions and thoughts with one another. ALL THE FEELS.

I was lucky enough to catch Majical Cloudz at this years NXNE festival in Toronto. If listening to this song on your ipod doesn’t draw you into the Majical Cloudz fandom, one of their shows will. Devon Welsh’s beady eyes and intense stare makes you feel like he is singing right to you; establishing an intimate connection with the audience on a deeper, more personal level than most artists i’ve seen do in concert.

If it is not obvious, i love these guys. Check them out before their LP, “Are you Alone”, drops in the next couple weeks and takes Canada by STORM.

– Spencer

Downtown

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Long lines, cheap wine and a fantastic time. This past weekend QPOP was back with its 2nd annual festival. With just over 500 wristbands sold this promised us a weekend of music we wouldn’t forget.

Friday started off with a bang. Born Ruffians, one of the biggest names to attend QPOP played an unbelievable set. The four piece Midland Natives hit us with bangers such as Oh Cecilia and Needle as well as blew us away with a ton of new material from their newly released album RUFF. Luke Lalonde dropped panties in the front and even had the boys in the back singing along. Being known for their especially energetic sets, Born Ruffians really captured the Kingston music vibe with an intimate but intoxicating show.

The dance party did not stop there, with bands like Moon King and Kassador leading the way for some of summer’s biggest Canadian indie names. Kingston also got a fresh look at some incredible talent from across the sea. Tora, an Australian band in the midst of their North American tour, stopped by for a tasty set rich with satisfying chillwave-crosses-indie-rock tunes from their EP “Eat The Sun”. Their exotic flair didn’t end with their entrancing set, these gentleman were by far the most hip dressed dudes at the festival, and their stage setup was a marvel for us gear lovers. For those of you who were lucky enjoy to have seen Alvvays on their festival circuit this summer Friday’s set was as good if not better than anything we’ve seen by them before. The Grad Club was the absolute perfect venue for their dreamlike jingle-jangle to erupt. For those of you wanted a more upbeat atmosphere the electro-pop sibling duo, Brave Shores had us singing along even when we didn’t know the words. Their hit “Never Come Down” made us never want to come down from the euphoria that was Friday of QPOP.

With our dancing shoes laced up and our G&T’s in hand we were ready take Saturday night by storm. With the hardest schedule decision of QPOP in our midst we split up to conquer more sound. The Vault’s very own Attic Kids put on a legendary show for an intimate crowd. The four-piece Queen’s birthed band hit us with their classics such as Where We Belong, crowd and personal favourite Chloroform / Thinking Bout You as well as some new material. Rural Alberta Advantage, or RAA if you’re cool enough to know the acronym, brought us back to summer festival mode, flower crowns and all. Their whimsical set list didn’t disappoint with the perfect blend of old and new, giving the fans exactly what we wanted. Next up were big time summer contest winners, Ivory Hours. Where the fuck do we even begin? These up and comers obviously did not let their combined total of 50K in winnings get to their head. This band truly embodies Canadian indie sound. Their upbeat and colourful tune is enough to keep The Grad Club on its feet; while each song is undercut lyrically with themes of love, loss and simply the struggle of being a young adult – something we can all relate to.

The closer of a festival has the responsibility of bringing an amazing weekend to an unforgettable close. The Elwin’s did just that. Their quirky indie-pop sound had us belting Beyonce and getting so down low. Matt, Feurd, Travis and Frankie are a band to watch as they start a forty-stop tour across North America ending in the beginning of December. The Elwin’s did not disappoint your inner hipster as they played more than just their newest LP, which has been blowing up since released in February of this year. Lead singer Matt Sweeney has a way with getting the crowd even more into the show, if that’s even possible, by starting chants like “Friggin fire it up!” between songs. These guys are a must see live act.

Besides a few minor hiccups QPOP has established themselves in the Kingston community with room to grow. After two evenings of non-stop shows, shots and sing-a-longs our converse have worn thin. With a rough recovery period in our dust we can’t wait to see what QPOP 2016 will bring!

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– Mel // honorable mention to Nicole, Nick and Sophie for her dope photos.

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Queen’s very own ‘The Attic Kids’ will be joining some of our other favourite local bands at September 12th’s Welcome Back!-yard festival. Born out of an attic in Kingston’s student ghetto, this four-piece band embodies the carefree, energetic and vibrant indie music scene that has come to characterize our beloved Limestone city. With Kyle O’Shaugnessy on the drums, Adam Noble Marks slapin da bass, Freddy Kwon on guitar and Nick Castel on the mic, The Attic Kids resemble the musical stylings of popular bands like The Arkells, The Kooks and Tame Impala. To hear a killer performance of their EP, “Where we Belong”, along with some other undoubtedly catchy tracks, head on out to the Vault’s 3rd annual backyard gig this Saturday!

– Spencer

The Attic Kids – A Man’s Life

The Attic Kids – Where We Belong

Po Lazarus - Po Lazarus

 

Po Lazarus are a four piece group out of Montreal with a two song demo and a self-titled five song EP under their belt.  They easily blend folk rock and blues and weave the two together well with a ukulele the lead singer plays melancholically, it gives their music a tropical yet serious feel that suits the genre well.  Couple Weeks Time is quite a treat, it features a surfer vibe and more laidback cadence then their other songs.  The highlight of the strong EP is certainly the soulful If You Are Alone as it really epitomizes the band and their abilities, it climaxes at the end as the entire band sings the chorus together before a clean yet hectic guitar solo.  Po Lazarus is playing at the Vault’s Back-!-Yard Festival on September 12th and promises to be an interesting and fantastic show, see you there!

 

-Stephen

 

Po Lazarus – Couple Weeks Time

 

Po Lazarus – If You Are Alone