So It Goes by Hollerado

So It Goes comes to us off of Hollerado’s 2013 album White Paint. Continuing the upbeat, uptempo rock style from their debut Record In A Bag, the Ottawa-based group have come out strong on their second full length offering. The track’s punchy, driving rhythm pushes a youthful energy that has come to be expected from Hollerado, and is executed in their signature, super-positive way.

Keeping the groove tight, the group have also demonstrated that they are no slackers when it comes to writing and performing their songs. Lead singer Menno Versteeg also demonstrates his songwriting chops, allegedly writing this song about how his grandfather’s life was saved from an organ donation after another elderly man had passed away. The song’s underlying motif is one of pondering the complex interconnectedness of life and how his grandfather’s life was dependent on someone’s else’s grandfather’s death. An interesting concept for an otherwise catchy, upbeat rock song.

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The Fall by Rhye

The Fall is a single from Rhye’s 2013 debut Woman. The Canadian-Danish duo have demonstrated their artistic flair with this down-to-earth, soulful track. Blending contemporary easy-listening indie sounds with a more traditional soul rhythm, The Fall has a sultry, yet laid back feel. Using traditional instruments such as the piano, slide guitar, and a brass and string ensemble, Rhye has crafted a song that has a timeless quality that just might have more longevity than it’s computer and synth focused contemporaries. Although I’m not entirely sure whether to label this track as indie or as soul (or perhaps neo soul), it is clear to me that Rhye has written a truly exceptional easy listening song in The Fall.

The River by The Darcys

The River comes to us as a new single from The Darcys in anticipation of their new album Warring, which is due for release in September. This track from the Toronto based group demonstrates their song-writing prowess, mixing an exciting blend of classic alt-rock sounds with spacey guitar and vocals as well as crisp electronic drum beats. The sinister, echoing guitar notes at the beginning of the song signal the masterpiece to come, laying down a foundation upon which the song slowly and dramatically builds like a brilliant plume of smoke out of a nineteenth century locomotive. The vocals are deceptively powerful, swelling and rising with the music in a controlled, mature way that is rarely experienced in a post Led Zeppelin world of rock singers. The River is a great indie tune that mixes just the right amounts of ambience, melodic hooks, and drama. Just one small sample of the burgeoning Toronto indie rock scene that has been steadily growing over the last decade, The Darcys are a great example of the innovation that has been wrought into Canadian music over the years.

You’ll want to keep an eye on this band.

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

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.

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 https://noiseworthy.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/space-between-by-samara-york/