Latin America by Holy Fuck

Latin America comes to us off of Holy Fuck’s latest record; 2010’s Latin. With a forthcoming album rumoured to be in the works for release later this year, it is time to examine this four-piece electro-rock group from Toronto, Canada. This track is an excellent example of Holy Fuck’s sound: ambient and distorted synth and computer noises swirling and mingling with each other in the air over top of earthy, repetitive, thudding bass lines. What makes Holy Fuck stand out in the world of electronic music is that they rely on a plethora of analog guitar effects pedals as well as midi effects interfaces to produce these otherworldly sounds. It’s a way of making electro-rock music that hearkens to the pre- macbook days of Radiohead’s Kid A and even earlier artists like The Alan Parsons Project and Aphex Twin. In a time when EDM dominates the electronic genre, it is refreshing to hear a group that has chosen to stick to the genre’s analog roots.

Holy Fuck’s music is available on iTunes


Satellite by The Kills

Satellite comes to us off of The Kills’ 2011 release Blood Pressures. The two piece group consisting of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart have really refined their sound on this song and this album in general. With a devastating backbeat of crunchy, octave – dubbed guitar mixed with a straightforward drum track, this song has an almost mechanical thudding rhythm that is addictive. When combined with the exquisitely harmonized vocals of Hince and Mosshart, the track gains its own unique flavour that is almost like a bastard love-child of ambient indie rock and grunge. Either way, Satellite is a top-notch song and Blood Pressures is a top-notch album worth investing in.

Blood Pressures, as well as the rest of The Kills’ discography is available on iTunes and physical music retail stores.

Holiday by Electric Guest

Holiday is the single off of Electric Guest’s 2012 debut Mondo. The mixture of acoustic and electric wah-wah guitar gives this song a distinctly psychedelic feel, and would be right at home in 1967. Despite these tonal similarities, the falsetto singing and harmonization by Asa Taccone demonstrates this Los Angeles based group’s indie personality. With a driving bass and drum rhythm accompanied by subtle electronic tinkling, This track maintains a slight edge that makes gives it a good groove. A good, lighthearted indie song.

Jericho by The Souljazz Orchestra

Jericho comes to us off of The Souljazz Orchestra’s latest record, Solidarity. The Ottawa, Canada based group demonstrates their reggae influence in this song, hearkening to the early 1970’s sounds of reggae giants Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The music itself holds to a deceptively tight groove, with the guitar and bass playing the main rhythm in tandem. Adding to the atmosphere are the added percussion sounds, which compliment rather than overpower the overall groove. Coming from a band that has in the past focussed on Afrobeat and jazzier sounds, Jericho is a refreshing jaunt into the slower world of reggae music.

Solidarity is available on iTunes and is a must have for any fan of reggae music.

All Those Friendly People by Funeral Suits

All Those Friendly People comes to us off of Funeral Suits’ debut album Lily of the Valley. This indie rock group from Dublin, Ireland have really made a mark with this track. With a good mix of ambient and attention grabbing textures and an energetic drum section, All Those Friendly People is an upbeat song that would be right at home in any collection of indie records. The use of electronic elements in this song is done well, erring on the side of constraint rather than flamboyance; a welcome change of pace from the over-abundance of indie rock artists that have converted almost completely to the electronic music genre.

Lily of the Valley is available on iTunes.

Album Review: Insides by Samara York.

Insides front cover copy

Insides by Samara York is nothing short of spectacular. This forthcoming album from the Toronto based singer songwriter is well crafted, with continuous lyrical atmospheres of regret, anger, and betrayal. Despite these incendiary lyrical themes, the music is powerfully calm, surging energy gradually; simmering without coming to a full boil. When these two elements collide throughout this record, it gives the listener a sense of powerlessness as the walls come crashing down in slow motion. 

The album starts off with a gorgeous, echo-laden piano arpeggio on “Intro” that creates a foggy dreamscape, only to be punctuated by York’s voice. The music and lyrics set the general mood of the album, and York demonstrates her impressive control of her vocal range.

The song immediately segues into the mid-tempo songs “Skeletons” and “Space Between”, bringing in York’s band in a rockier wake-up call. These two songs make use of  guitarist Jaime Cazes’ classic stratocaster tone to add a alternative rock texture to the choruses of both. The modulating bass rhythm on “Space Between” by Tudor Gagea is also worth noting, as it drives the song to it’s climax in a powerful, yet contained manner.

“No Prisoner” is the fourth track of the album and has a more playful staccato rhythm. The groove is reminiscent of classic jazz artists, albeit with its own flair. In particular, the overlaid backing vocal tracks give York’s vocal performance a more rounded sound. Excellent placement by producer Joe Coupal if I do say so myself.

The mood immediately changes with “Live Here” and “Loud and Clear”. Both tracks are slow, remorse-filled tracks that exude a sense of helplessness. The darker overtones in both songs act like an incoming storm front slowly creeping over an otherwise calm summer’s night. The electricity hovers somewhere between the rhythm and melodic instrumental tracks in these songs. In “Loud and Clear”, the contrast between the rhythmic and melodic sections is make apparent by the stark shifts from full band crescendos to quiet vocal and piano choruses. With each crescendo larger in scope than the last, the chorus of the song becomes more powerful  as the song progresses. In addition, the drumming of Adam Thomas compliments the rises and falls in the music in a skillful manner, giving the songs a tight feel.

“Guilty Mind” is a bit of an oddity on this song. This acoustic guitar -oriented song is up tempo and upbeat, breaking up the album’s musical flow in a great way. After this short jaunt into the world of levity is the rather desolate “After the Funeral”. A well crafted song with rather complex vocal harmonies, the track continues the sense of foreboding that is intricately woven throughout the album’s lyrics and musical motifs.

“New Earth” follows a similar vein to “After the Funeral”, but comes from the opposite end of the spectrum. Whereas “After the Funeral” is focussed more on driving, rockier rhythms, “New Earth” is a more operatic piece that consists only of York’s vocals and piano, and an elegantly simple strings accompaniment. Although it has the potential to become too grandeoise to fit the rest of the album, this track demonstrates excellent restraint in the use of the strings section, soliciting the listener to visit the track multiple times in order to uncover their intricacies rather than displaying them out front for all to see.

The final official track is called “Escapism” and is my favourite on the album. This track starts simple and quiet but has a slow build to a beautiful chorus and bridge section that features a subtle but well crafted guitar solo and use of the same contained string elements from the previous track. An excellent end to the album, this track provides a sense of closure for the listener, at least musically.

The use of contiguous elements in the album proves to be addictive, and makes the listener want to listen to it over and over again to uncover the meanings behind the metaphors in order to fully understand the relationship between the lyrics and the unspoken vibes of the music itself. 

Insides will be available this July from Samara York’s website. I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys music with soul and purpose; two things this album is chock full of. For a sample of what is to come on Insides, click 

Magnet by Now, Now.

Magnets comes off of Now,Now’s second album Threads, released in March of last year. The Minneapolis, Minnesota based trio demonstrate their songwriting prowess with this song, blending ambient indie sounds with more straightforward 00’s rock. The wide palette of textures in this song make it easy to get enveloped in, and the combination of electronic instruments with piano, bass, drums and guitar is executed well. Now, Now are definietly a group that deserves more attention then they have. Go get yourself a copy of Threads, you won’t regret it.