Greetings, Earthlings! I have now taken over 2020k….
It’s summer in the city and while perhaps one might expect my monthly round-up of gems from Canada to harbour a Caribbean flavour (it’s Carnival weekend here in Toronto), I’ve opted instead for a blend of the atmospheric and the hook-heavy pop. Cozy up, get introspective and dance the rent check blues away.
“With Haste” – Future History
Toronto indie band Future History fast earned my devotion at NXNE 2012, where I caught half their set and rushed off to another gig with their CD in hand. Said CD, Loss:/Self, earned top honours in OTM’s Top 12 of 2012 with its powerful storytelling and sonic exploration of what it means to lose oneself in every way.
Sounds depressing, but it’s not. Trust me, it’s a must-own album.
2013 heralds the band’s third album Lungs, and like the title suggests, Future History plans to rebuild the soul left searching in 2012. Lead track “With Haste” is the first single and signals the rise from the scorched earth. Haunting vocals and a continued commitment to the progressive elements and experimentation that push them to the front of the pack make this a track to check out. It’s a free download at their official site, or you can check out the video below.
“What I Wouldn’t Do” – Serena Ryder
Canadian songstress Serena Ryder is well known around my neck of the woods. With her bluesy pipes and catchy songwriting, it’s no wonder the divine Melissa Etheridge brought her along as support on her tour for Fearless Love. Let me tell you: the duets between the two were simply incredible.
On her latest album Harmony, Ryder is a bit of a child at play, exploring different styles of music yet retaining the sincerity of her work. Single “What I Wouldn’t Do” is commercial pop all over and yet, it delivers enough maturity and quirky lyrics to make it more memorable than the latest Disney star pap. Check out the track below and groove along.
“Goldmine” – Fitness Club Fiasco
Matt Henderson has never been the kind of guy to kick back and rest, or so it seems. Having released his first album with Old English this year to considerable acclaim from OTM, he’s already off and running with a new band, Fitness Club Fiasco. The sound is decidedly similar to Old English‘s retro-but-fresh-synthpop vibe, yet it has a bit more of a lightness to it. The happier cousin, perhaps?
“Goldmine” is the first single the band’s dropped and it’s definitely danceable — just ask the poor souls on the subway who’ve witnessed me tapping my toes happily while commuting to the day job. Give it a spin, but beware: it has earworm qualities.
“Bad Dream” – Wildlife
One of the stellar albums of 2013 I have yet to properly pay attention to over on OTM is Wildlife’s …On The Heart. A sort of musical love letter to the importance of the heart — as a muscle, as a metaphor for our passion and dreams — Wildlife combine indie alt-rock’s driving guitar lines and drums with a twist of electronic overtones to create something that’s more intriguing to the ears than the likes of Billy Talent.
(Aside: I apologize to America for Billy Talent and their “Viking Death March” song that has nothing to do with vikings or marching, much to my husband’s rage.)
“Bad Dream” has been on a loop for weeks in my skull, with its tale of sordid lives and love done wrong and its pulsing undercurrent. It truly embodies a racing heart on a sonic level, one of the nuances that make the entire album so memorable. By the time the song crescendoes and you’re singing, “‘Cause all this is better than nothing!” it’s too late: you belong to Wildlife.
“Catching Cold” – Andrew McMahon
Andrew McMahon is American and not indie. As the frontman of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon has spent half his life on stages, pounding a piano with a ferocity only Tori Amos can top (although I don’t see her standing on her piano and jumping off). His piano pop-rock compositions are a staple on the trusty iPod and his latest EP, The Pop Underground, is no exception.
On this track, there’s a riff that evokes old school Police and a flair of reggage and while it doesn’t surprise me much, given the man’s taste in music, it’s still a new element that makes “Catching Cold” standout. Ever personal within his lyrics, the sincerity touches the heart even as one moves to the melody.
Speaking of that sincerity, a quick Toronto concert story: the city was hit with a thunderstorm from hell, creating havoc and floods as I and dozens of fans waited outside for his show. Andrew came out into the storm — no umbrella, no coat — and took photos with and hugged every single one of us, thanking us for braving the weather to see his show. Now, if that’s not a man worthy of four minutes and two seconds of your time, I don’t know who is.
And that’s it for August! Be sure to swing by OTM for more reviews and news, including RJ’s Hidden Gems series as part of our blogging exchange.