With the NXNE season coming to a close in Toronto, I was fortunate enough to catch Dreamers and Grounders- no, these are not abstract Ted-talk concepts- on Thursday night at Sneaky Dees. Hailing from Brooklyn, Dreamers’ frontman Nick Wold quipped that his band was playing in Canada for the first time, and evidently they had little trouble bringing their onslaught of guitars and soaring choruses through customs. Wold sometimes enlisted a loop pedal to reproduce his serrated, often single string guitar riffs, but other than that Dreamers are a punk-via-indie (or indie-via-punk?) three piece that sees all members sharing vocal duties.

Next on the bill was Grounders, who enjoyed a crowd that had been thickening since midway through Dreamers’ set. Grounders are part of a group of indie-leaning Toronto stalwarts that make up the bread and butter of NXNE, bringing a democratic, layered sound to the midnight hour upstairs at Sneaky Dees. The omnipresent, sustained guitar blasts courtesy of Evan Lewis may impress a sense of aimlessness into their songs, but it becomes apparent that frontman Andrew Davis maintains a handle on the reins. Tame Impala comparisons are perhaps warranted; they often privilege atmosphere over lyrics in the mix and establish thick grooves to play off of over the course of the song. And that isn’t to detract from the Toronto band at all; they are right at home in this year’s crop of compelling Canadian acts. Judging by the NXNE crowd’s response to Secret Friend, the band known as Grounders can also hit singles on a major league diamond.

Check them out!

-Ben Swan

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Chance the Rapper has taken a completely different approach with his latest release, Surf. Unlike in Acid Rap where Chance was put on the spotlight, there is an emphasis on his collaboration with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment in this album, which gives off a different vibe in terms of the rhymes, arrangements and flows. For those of you who don’t know, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment is just an alias of 21-year old trumpeter Nico Segal, joined by other members Peter Wilkins, Nate Fox and Greg Landfair Jr.

The opening track Miracle highlights Chance’s ability to take on an interesting beat coupled with a complex lyrical flow. This first track sets up for a wicked record, which features a bounty of rappers and singers such as BoB, Janelle Monae, Busta Rhymes and more. The rest of the track-list showcases the versatility in his style and how the genre of rap can combine other musical genres. From instrumental-only numbers to spoken word flows to jazz-fusion tracks, Surf is a refreshing album that is inclusive of all audiences.

Chance the Rapper’s combination of jazz sounds, pop jingles and hip-hop influences is emphasized in this 16-song record. If you haven’t already, go check it out and did I mention? It’s completely free on iTunes!

-Freddy

fkj

Instant Need

Waiting ft. Madelyn Grant

Greetings from Vancouver! I saw Parisian producer FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) play a live set at Fortune on Saturday night and it was equally groovy as it was sweaty! (Seriously I was pouring water on my head ten minutes in). For those of you who wish to enjoy some sophisticated electronofunk, I strongly suggest you give a listen to his 2014 EP, Time For a Change. It’s real good stuff.

At his show, FKJ proved to be diverse talent, playing the keys, guitar and bass over his pre-looped tracks. One of my favourite songs, “Waiting” features the smooth vocals of Madelyn Grant, and reminds me a little of Odesza with a hip hop feel.

His show was a real kick off to the summer, and I know I’ll be listening to FKJ as I drive to and fro my silly  job for the next couple months. How about you? Check that EP!

-brebz

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Dillan Ponders released his latest tape this April Fools called You’re Welcome. The tape has a combination of remixes of beats you know as well as some new tracks. “All In A Day” has a nice trappy beat behind it so if you need a new turn up track for your next jam this one could be a good candidate. The album has all of the signature themes of Ponder’s style and lifestyle for anyone who’s familiar with his earlier work. Definitely a good one to let your conservative Uncle or Grandmother listen to over Easter this weekend.

 

Cam

Go Slow

Bassically

Up-and-coming artist Tei Shi has just blessed listeners with her new EP, Verde. Having only released her first single a mere 2 years ago, Verde makes clear that Tei Shi has evolved into a respectable and entertaining recording artist. It is safe to incite that Verde is her most interesting and ultimately most impressive collection to date.

Although originating from Argentina, Valerie Teicher has spent most of her life moving across North America. Through cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and now New York, Tei Shi has experienced a vast mosaic of musical culture, undoubtedly contributing to her distinct sound. This sound, too, has itself adapted to a more mainstream, poppy vibe, while still maintaining the airy, ethereal qualities of her 2013/14 releases.

This accumulation of musical experience has led Tei Shi to embody the epitome of current experimental pop music. With a soft, echoey tone, Tei Shi’s voice makes a quick comparison to big-name female artists such as Jessie Ware, Purity Ring’s Megan James, and the HAIM sisters. This voice overlays a series of distinct sounds throughout the EP as well. From internal, liquid-like rhythms, to offbeat bursts of synth, to the chambered bravado of some of her slower tracks, Verde truly exemplifies Tei Shi’s diversity within her genre.

If there is one thing that stays constant throughout the EP, it is that these vocals work with whatever they accompany. With such an organic blend in production, Tei Shei’s voice truly acts as an instrument in itself.

Although the EP is really set to drop on April 14, Verde has been premiered on Hype Machine until it’s official release. Peep some of the EP’s hits above, and make sure to stream the full collection at http://hypem.com/premiere/tei+shi.

This is one EP that you will not want to miss.

– Spencer

jakubi

Holiday

 

Is it pronounced “jack-ou-bee” or is it supposed to sound more like jacuzzi? I don’t know, but I DO know that this group has some talent. A pop band blending elements of a ton of different genres that are so numerous that it’d look like a grocery list if I did. You can hear it yourself in the music though.

Sticking to the simple, tried and true lyrical content of love, a girl has been met on a holiday. Sounds like they kissed n’ stuff. He probably needs to get over it. Clearly the songwriter isn’t over it though, because he combined those words with this awesome jam.

– Matt

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How Could You Babe

Hollywood

Just A Dream

Developed in his living room in North Van, Tobias Jesso Jr’s latest album reminds listeners of a simpler time in Music; one where the Beatles were the gods of pop-rock, albums were purchased solely on vinyl and there was no such thing as a synthesizer. Jesso’s Goon invokes true nostalgia to such an era.

With its continual flow of soothing, emotional lyrics and soft piano chords, the album is refreshingly simple. Following a theme of melancholy, Jesso’s rough and airy record really makes listeners feel the heartbreak that is expressed throughout his album.

The album’s underproduction also delivers that nostalgic vinyl sound; one that makes Goon seem like it could have been recorded in the 60s or 70s. This is a big part of what is so impressive about the album, though. By invoking such a reminiscence to the popularity of the piano balladeer, Jesso’s ‘McCartney’ aesthetic makes his first LP instantly timeless. With very little added production, the album exemplifies the true power of raw music; a theme that seems to be somewhat forgotten in recent decades. Looking at the Mccartney/Kanye fusion in FourFiveSeconds, this 2015 thread of simplicity-in-sound did not exactly begin with Goon. However, Tobias Jesso Jr. may very well be leading the pack in this year’s refreshing trend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m praying this trend stays for a while. God damn, is it ever nice.

– Spencer

 

GRIMES

REALiTi

Just in case you we’re busy, dearest Vancity native, Grimes, dropped “REALiTi” earlier this month and I really like it!!!!!!

The song was originally meant for her follow-up album to Visions, which she scrapped because it “sucked”. Here’s what she had to say about it:

This song was never finished. its a demo from ~ the lost album ~, recorded early 2013. i lost the ableton file, so its not mixed or mastered. i tried to doctor the mp3 into a listenable state, but it was poorly recorded in the first place and never meant to be heard by anyone, so its a bit of a mess haha.  xo

Grimes b, this is one impressive mess. “REALiTi” has much of the token trancy and electropop elements that we loved on her Visions album, however the structure of the song (the bridge especially) and the motivating lyrics are all leaning towards a catchy, feel good anthem. It’s great because Grimes, who seemed like the cool girl you admire from afar, is suddenly very relatable.

Not sure when she will be releasing her new album, but I’m hoping the poppy trend will continue.

-brebz

This Is How I Let You Down-Cover Art

Show Me The Quiet Air

Strongest Man Alive

Over the past couple of weeks I have been itching to post about this sweet band that I only just started listening to. I present to you: The Franklin Electric. This 4-piece alt-folk band based in Montreal released their debut album, This Is How I Let You Down, around a year ago, but somehow is only making waves now. It MAY have something to do with the fact that they recently opened for some guy named Ben Howard, you might have heard of him. The Franklin Electric on the other hand, are a lesser-known commodity…for now.

This Is How I Let You Down has become my go-to album for everything from countryside drives to morning walks on to class. I love that their music has lots of storytelling elements. It’s always nice to feel like you are getting more insight into a band, especially with one like The Franklin Electric who are not yet a household name. This is aided by the clear sense of honesty and self-reflection that comes through in songs like “Show Me The Quiet Air”. Their overall sound is full and wholesome, complemented by the great range and emotion in lead singer Jon Matte’s voice. The lyrics are engaging and captivating, and I often find myself getting lost in their narratives, as heard in the song “Strongest Man Alive”.

Even though I am only catching wind of The Franklin Electric now, I am certain that big things are to come. They remind me a lot of Half Moon Run, another Montreal band whom they share a label with. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more to come!

The Franklin Electric has back-to-back shows at The Drake Hotel – Underground, in Toronto April 2nd and 3rd.

-Eric

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Do It

 

Tuxedo has brought the funk with their self-titled album, and this track is easily my favourite of the bunch. The synth bass and lead manage to hit a sweet-spot, sounding somewhat retro but fittingly modern at the same time. A simple dance beat and some memorable bass lines are all it really takes for a funk song to be catchy, but there are so many layers to it all. Everything just fits like a glove.

You don’t see groups like Tuxedo put out LPs like bands from the past did within their genre. The fact that the retro vibe comes out so obviously in the music and the album having twelve tracks on it; it almost seems as if this album could have been released sometime in the 70s. It’s truly remarkable how new and old this song and the entire album sounds. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s incredibly fun to listen to.

– Matt