Northern Lights: The Foreign Films, Colornoise, Ohio, Morgan Doctor

The Foreign Films

This is a monthly infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over at Open ‘Til Midnight. Inside of these issues are five tracks – mostly independent acts from Canada – that have found their way onto Waves’ radar. Be sure to check out this month’s posting by 2020k on OTM’s blog monthly as well with the same premise, called Hidden Gems.

Happy February, 2020k!  If you’re reading this on posting day, allow me a little pride strut as Team Canada is leading the medals board for the first time EVER.  Rah!  Aren’t our skiing sisters the coolest?  I adore their support of each other.

Being as I’m feeling a little international, allow me to share a mix of tracks from all over the world to brighten those snowy commutes (or, for you lucky souls in warmer climates, accompany your sunshine-y days) and get you grooving.

“In Between Living And Dying” – Morgan Doctor

With an impressive resume stretching back to age 10, when she first laid hands on drumsticks, Toronto’s Morgan Doctor is a force to be reckoned with.  Having shared stages and touring line-ups with The Cliks, Cyndi Lauper, Tegan and Sara and Andy Kim, Morgan also creates her own solo works.  On her third album, Major Over Minor, Doctor locked herself away and chose to craft an instrumental album.  The results are subtly confessional and intriguing listens.  Have a listen to one of my favourites, a tune evocative of the darkest days of the year.

“Fall Of The Summer Heart” – The Foreign Films

Hamilton’s The Foreign Films has carved out this wonderful new genre of sound you might call “cutting-edge nostalgic”. Blending the timeless sounds of the 60′s greats who created a path for generations of artists with ingenious electronic elements, the man behind the moniker — Bill Majoros — has built a world where the familiar pulls the heart in while the innovative engages the mind.  Foreshadowing his forthcoming new album, single “Fall Of The Summer Heart” is a 13-minute song cycle and it’s stunning — the ambitiousness of the concept truly pays off for listeners.

“No Name” – Colornoise

Costa Rica’s Colornoise bill themselves as experimental noise rock, but don’t mistake them for the hipster sort of the genre (I’m looking at you, old school Sonic Youth).  Think of them more as the introspective stoners who toe the line between traditional prog and more of a meandering post-rock.  Their latest album, Polychronic is a series of cautionary messages about societal control, conformity and a failure to embrace what we love fully.

“Face To Face” – Ohio

Contrary to their moniker, Ohio hails from Toronto, although the sly hints of rockabilly beneath their synth rock might conjure up the Delta more readily than the dusted hills of snow I glare at on my daily commute.  Known for their playful and sardonic lyrical sense (aside:  they’ve written a song about Rob Ford — excited, RJ?), “Face To Face” is an odd track with no album to call home that doesn’t want to belong to your status quo of albums anyway.  So there.

“Stand By Me” – Playing For Change

This song isn’t new.  This version is six years old.  So why am I sharing it right now?

Well, it’s a bad-ass cover.  Let’s be real.  It’s true to the original without lacking in its own spirit and flavour.  What makes it truly remarkable and inspiring at this time is the way it was assembled:  each musician was added piece by piece as the song traveled the globe.  The result:  a piece of music that unites us all in message and in its existence alone.

In thinking of Sochi and the atrocious way LGBTQ people are being treated, in examining the highly questionable financial decisions made by Russia and the pockets lined, it’s heartwarming to see our athletes focused on sports, on a universal language of hope and hard work.  It’s amazing to see artists like tatu take a risk and push the limits of restraint.

No matter where you are, 2020k readers, stand by the ones you love and the ones who need our love all over the world.

Be sure to swing by Open ‘Til Midnight, where 2020k shares his own highlights of the month! 

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Infrasound: “Lydia” by Jessica Bassett

Jessica Bassett Lydia
Someone tries out for American Idol and was rejected by the judges. This is a predictable bedtime story. Since the beginning of the shows run on Fox, we’ve seen talentless gimmicks pushed through to the audition process while worthwhile talent is pushed aside. It’s an obvious attempt at ratings that unfortunately causes enough mild-mannered humor for ratings to skyrocket each year. It’s a shame. We all watch with disappointment each year as talent is turned away and can’t do a thing about it but yell at the TV and continue gushing over the celebrity judges (I do love Jennifer Lopez).

For once we’re seeing a revival of this wrongdoing through the success of an original song called “Lydia” that 22 year old Jessica Bassett elegantly sang in front of the national audience. She was turned away, but her song, which was released on iTunes on Friday February 7th, 2014 has skyrocketed through the Apple charts in Canada and the United States.

2020k Fun fact: The last entry in my teenage journal contemplates trying out the American Idol audition process, only to come to terms at the end of its entry that the disillusioned process and strict winning contracts would cause more artistic imprisonment than one could bargain for. A few days ago, I contemplated once more with friends before ultimately coming to the same conclusion. Jessica’s success only reinforces this notion that hard work does not go unnoticed.

It seems that a lot of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of Ellen DeGeneres, who’s went to bat for her  the second the American Idol judges declined to progress Bassett along. In fact, a quick Google of the songwriter and song title pulls up almost The Ellen Show links exclusively.

We’re here to give her an extra push. This song is too good to be ignored and we want more.

In Jessica’s words, the song’s inspiration is a cinch, but it’s delivery is anything but. “It was a couple months ago and my best friend Lydia had written on Facebook that she was having an awful day and that just didn’t sit well with me – she’s my best friend. So, I sent her a video of a song I was written and she loved it. It made her feel better, luckily.” Strictly guitar and vocals, the live performance of “Lydia” lies in a realm that recalls that of more accessible Stan Getz compositions or other jazz/pop wonders of yesterday, interpolated with a more 21st century vocal delivery.

Currently, Jessica Bassett has a phenomenal YouTube channel full of cover songs and a humble Twitter handle that shows she’s currently in the studio cooking up something.

“Lydia” and its artsy artwork is currently available for $0.99 on iTunes and is also streaming on Beats Music.

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t.A.T.u Perform “Not Gonna Get Us” at 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sochi

tatusochiinstagramThe Forward thinking Russian synthpop duo t.A.T.u performed “Nas Ne Degonyat” at the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sochi, Russia yesterday.

As part of a signature pro-LGBTQ movement the duo has stood for since the beginning of their careers (which was originally brought to surface by controversially taking on the role of  lesbians), the two held hands and were seemingly ready to kiss at the end of the show, instead opting for a more friendly, but politically effective conclusion to the song that speaks for young lovers who run away to cut ties with those who don’t understand their love.

Sound interesting, Putin?

The performance is ironic due to Russian politics so outrageously against homosexuality that it’s debatable to hold public demonstrations in favor of gay rights, speak in defense of gay rights and distribute material related to gay rights, or to state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships. See Madonna, who was sued for breaking a law that was passed in 2013 aiming to “ban promoting homosexuality to minors.” Eventually, the allegations were thrown out of court.

The performance continues to be ripped from video uploading services, so please continue to post links in the comments section of this article to keep it alive. The most updated link seems to come from Rutube.

“Nas Ne Dagonyat” was also an international hit in the English speaking world under a translated re-working of the song called “Not Gonna Get Us.”

The song was later mashed up with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” during the ceremony.

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Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl, and Lindsey Buckingham’s 2014 Grammy Rehearsal Footage Leaks

Nine Inch Nails Queen of the Stoneage Lindsey Buckingham Dave Grohl Grammy 2014Of the arbitrary tweets from the 2020k account on the night of the 2014 Grammy Awards, an act of aggravation in regards to CBS cutting the outstanding Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters performance off in favor of advertisements was one of them. No regrets. Fist bump to the Rock it Out Blog. Click.

Later, Trent Reznor joined in, several full cut versions of the presentation were uploaded only to be removed for copyright reasons, and now we have full rehearsal footage on YouTube courtesy of a Nine Inch Nails archive website Reflecting In The Chrome.

Most likely, this footage will be taken down at some point, so grab a stream and a download before it’s too late. Hysterical moments include fake crowd noise and an announcement of Red by Taylor Swift for album of the year winner (the real winner that night was Random Access Memories by Daft Punk), but the performance is a seamless, superior rendering of the aired telecast.

The talented gang perform extraordinary versions of Nine Inch Nails’ “Copy of A” and Queens of the Stone Age’s “My God is the Sun”.

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We’ve Finally Calmed Down Enough to Talk About the New Iamamiwhoami – “Fountain”

iamamiwhoami;_fountainTrust me, for the last four days there’s been nothing in this room but fountains of audiowaves bouncing off the walls.

Ambition gets expensive, no matter how satisfying it is for artists to create and recipients to enjoy. Because of this, iamamiwhoami have ripped page from the How to be Amanda Palmer Diaries with a titled Generate concept [here] being broadcasted on their official website. Essentially a donate page, all funds are sworn to go towards future creative projects, with the possibility of communication between donators being reciprocated back. (Sidenote: Donations are nothing new. Art is an extremely rewarding hardship. It’s right under your nose).

Thankfully, the duo has found strength in their artistry and so January 21st brought new light into the iamamiwhoami world with an enigmatic introduction called “Fountain,” which is assumed to be the catalyst in regards to a follow up from 2012′s kin and 2013′s physical bounty release.

The song itself is a freeing, self-proclamation of persevering against the odds, a sort of uplifting conviction of self-love and human experience. “Fountain” speaks straight into the mindset of Iamamiwhoami right now, as the Generate and continuation of the group is obviously an expensive investment, but a project so gratifying and worthwhile that the brawl to keep it alive seems worth it. “When all has gone to blazes, I start to run,” Jonna laments, “until I find places where nobodies gone.” Of course, “Fountain” has a surface level of overall triumph, but layers are what we’ve come to love about this Swedish duo, and layers are what we’re continuing to see not only lyrically, but visually and sonically as well.

The video pays homage to the black and white contrast, while further expanding the idea by displaying several transparencies throughout the feature. The first and most apparent example of this concept showing itself mere seconds into it; a fish in its square bowl. Working more subtly in showing progression, Jonna Lee’s plastic outfit carries on and is free from the “b” music video and creatively uses the song’s water based premise as an overall transparent image to bring together this era’s aesthetic experience, thus far. The black box has been burned, shootupthestation [recap] has been burned, this is a new foundation. Epic, relying on breathtaking wide angle scenic shots in accompaniment to the quirky dances Lee has adoringly incorporated into her performances, the apparent WAVE [info] directed visualization stems unique viewpoints and signature maintains of the folklore we’ve experienced through the iamamiwhoami project since the beginning.

What describes the sonics as a whole is nothing short of majestic, otherworldly, resplendent, and marvelous. Claes Bjorklund’s craft of synth love and long reverb techniques shine the spark so brightly on the mark that through arpeggiated melodies, swirling pads, and stereo oriented hi-hat manipulations, the overall musical painting flourishes auditory envisions of fountains, waterfalls, and soaked emotion more elegantly than one could ever sculpt.

“Though my body’s aching, we have to push on” and to that we say welcome back, Iamamiwhoami. Nice to see you surging forward.

“Fountain” is available straight from the website in lossless and MP3 formats, as well as iTunes. Doesn’t look to be streaming anywhere beyond YouTube.

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crystal SURGE Debuts “VHS AFTERLIFE” and Divulges Cyptic Underlying

crystal_SURGE_VHS_AFTERLIFEAmbiguous identities, obstructive statements, and cohesive conceptualizations are nothing new to the independent market, especially in the alternative electronic world. In an apparent attempt to focus deeper thinking, the Ukraine based (at least, that’s the location stated in any details we could conjure up) crystal SURGE have released a puzzling debut entitled VHS AFTERLIFE that recalls nostalgic urgency inside of both minimal and busy tracks.

When asked to explain the themes within VHS AFTERLIFE, crystal SURGE spoke exclusively to 2020k, disclosing with us openly, “the opening track sets up what is going on in this record.  [It's] the idea of sending messages back in time by using entertainment from different eras.” Later, the artist more ambiguously added, “the more ambient tracks are influenced by the suggestion of an afterlife existing in an analog medium.”

What seemingly works well in the ambient genre lately is the process of time stretching popular music samples beyond recognition. crystal SURGE follows suit in “Heaven is ok (you don’t know),” taking away accessible focus from one of 2012′s biggest hits [spoiler, if you dare] – transforming the sample into uncertain, surreal bliss. An opening ambient pad ambivalently drones, providing the slick paste to mesh interpolated and original aspects together in a solidity. “if you really want it” progresses this motif head on through headstrong, classic Janet Jackson snippets spaced out through a complicated downtempo based foundation.

Alternatively, “Japanese Legs” relies more on a dubious environment, almost sketchy and dirty when coupled with the song’s blank title.

Following afterward is the accessible “VHS is Killing Me,” with a manipulated emcee confronting the puzzle piece that is the album’s title. “I tried save you, you’d rather fade through. I came through, too late to take you.” The demise of VHS’s have never felt so human.

But what about inspiration? What was the mindset behind this lone creator? We asked that too and received a response seeping in clandestine possibilities. SURGE  “I think the most reoccurring image in my head while creating the album was Chicago Bulls era Michael Jordan.”

Anything else? “Dennis Rodman in drag as well.” Fair enough.

There’s more than meets the eye with this release, in fact there’s an apparent secret code hidden within it. crystal SURGE asks that you decipher it, then hit the Bandcamp contact button with your answer. The first person to successfully crack the code will be contacted back for further instruction.

Thumbs up if you’re listening to this in 1999 now.

VHS AFTERLIFE was released on January 23rd, 2014 and is available as a limited casette and name your own price digital download via Bandcamp.

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Northern Lights: Open ‘Til Midnight’s Top Ten Tracks of 2013

I_Love_Music_by_kjghluvrThis is a monthly infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over at Open ‘Til Midnight. Inside of these issues are five tracks – mostly independent acts from Canada – that have found their way onto Waves’ radar. Be sure to check out this month’s posting by 2020k on OTM’s blog monthly as well with the same premise, called Hidden Gems.

You know what’s fun about the end of a year?  Watching the Best Of Lists.

It’s not because I agree with them; usually, I think most of them copy each other, chomping at the proverbial bit to appear genius-like and being mediocre and safe as a result.  What I do enjoy about the best lists is being exposed to albums that I maybe missed along the way, finding new favourites as I do so.

Case in point:  Lorde.  No, really.  I don’t listen to radio, aside from local station Indie88, and sometimes, when an artist is suddenly hyped to death, I recoil out of a stubborn refusal to listen just because everyone is.  Poor gal was on my list of “I’ll get to you, I swear!” until December.  Past late to the party moment:  Florence + The Machine.

In any case, in discussing with Mr. 2020k what to post for the January installment of our music sharing, I suggested we exchange our Top 10 lists, given that they were so very different.  Our preferences and regional exposures created very different sonic landscapes at the ready in 2013.  Come enjoy them, as we have.

Open ‘Til Midnight’s Top 10 of 2013

(For our complete Top 30, click here; for extra musiclove, click here to check out our Top 13 Albums of 2013.)

10. “Weapon For Saturday” – LOLO

From our previous review
Lauren Pritchard (now going by LOLO) first caught my attention with her soulful blues vocals on the cast recording of Tony Award-winning musical, Spring Awakening. For all of the hype and praise Lea Michele has received from that launchpad, Lauren was the one who truly stood out for me. Her debut album, Wasted In Jackson, became a favourite of mine; in particular, darker tracks like “Painkillers” and “When The Night Kills The Day” became songs I’d give to friends. “You gotta hear this,” I’d tell them.

Yeah, I was totally Garden State Natalie Portman. Not sorry.

After a hiatus, LOLO has emerged from the silence with a fresh track to feast upon, and it’s one hell of a tune. A blend of bluesy rock and industrial elements, it’s everything I believe Madonna was trying to accomplish with the sonic atrocity “Gang Bang”. Sinister yet seductive, foreboding yet fascinating, Pritchard delivers clever wordplay and a sense of confidence not seen since Fiona Apple’s classic album When The Pawn…

9. “Burn” – Magneta Lane

From our previous review
Kicking off the quartet of tracks [on their latest EP, Witchrock] is melodic rocker “Burn”, a pedal-to-the-floor tune with a driving melody that begs for attention and lingers on the lips in a merry hum. Dark and foreboding, it evokes the Celebrity Skin era of Hole: hook-heavy, almost danceable, yet confessional and in your face in unrelenting fashion. Bonus points: one of the best videos of the year.

8. “The Strangest” – Future History

Honourable mentions: “My Lungs Don’t Feel Right”; “Take Two”

Markham, Ontario’s Future History delivered their follow-up to their acclaimed album Loss:/self this Fall. Entitled Lungs, the album serves as a continuation and answer to its predecessor. While taking any one piece from the whole diminishes the larger picture, “The Strangest” serves as a stunning example of the instrumental layering and ambiance that makes the band stand out from the indie folk rock crowds, while capturing the essence of the album’s internal conflict.

7. “Bad Dream” – Wildlife

Toronto band Wildlife’s sophomore album, …On The Heart is a self-described love letter to the organ itself, both in its physical and metaphorical forms. Everything about the album, from its pulsing, throbbing percussion to the way it achingly captures love and loss, hits the mark. “Bad Dream” has literally taken over my brain. I’ve written to it, sang it loud and proud and immersed in a loop of it at times. Intelligent lyrics with a word even I had to look up in the dictionary? Colour me impressed. Perfect for speeding down the highway (OTM does not endorse the breaking of traffic laws /disclaimer).

6. “We’re Long Gone” – Matthew Good

Honourable mentions: “Letters In Wartime”; “Had It Coming”

Track begins at 2:40 (although really, the two songs go together as a one-two punch, so play the whole thing).

From our previous album review: Where previous outing Lights Of Endangered Species was an experimental, exploring analysis of humanity and its role in its destruction or survival, Arrows Of Desire is a throwback to the garage rock honesty of decades lost, a study of history and a spirited call to arms against our repetition of it. “We’re Long Gone” evokes early Springsteen with its ‘lost hometown’ vignette and an infectious melody that deserves to jam out live for several more minutes.

5. “Caves” – Data Romance

From our previous album review: Vancouver-based duo Data Romance have set out on their debut LP Other on an exploration of the human experiences of belonging and disengaging, whether intentional or not. From the soaring heartbreak of opener “Caves”, the equally enchanting and haunting vocals of Amy Kirkpatrick spill over the listener, echoing the battered beats of metaphorical muscle beneath the ribcage.

4. “Knives” – The Box Tiger

Honourable mention: “Set Fire To Your Friends”

From our previous review: The use of pop song structure to intentionally clash with darker elements continues with “Knives”, the second single released as a lead-in for the album’s release. Eighties babies like myself may giggle in secret to a refrain of “Cuts like a knife” but the track is again one of the sinister deceptively cloaked in gossamer and ought to be a Top Thirty hit by now.

3. “Came Back Haunted” – Nine Inch Nails

Honourable mentions: “Copy Of A”; “While I’m Still Here/Black Noise”

From our previous review: On Hesitation Marks, the echoes of [The Downward Spiral] are most prominent in lead single “Came Back Haunted”, a pulsing, predatory composition with undercurrents of PTSD and a battle not yet over. “They tried to tell me but I/I couldn’t stop myself and I came back/I came back haunted,” Reznor belts (an intentional rarity on the album, surprisingly). For the listener, it epitomizes the thematic elements on this journey: depression; isolation; the cyclical nature of one’s emotional well-being; but also, the compulsive need to reflect, to delineate our history to better appreciate and ultimately survive and thrive in the present. One also finds sonic throwbacks and variations on the core elements of The Downward Spiral: the swelling, electronic noise evokes hit track “Closer” in an almost negative image.

2. “Afraid” – Amanda Merdzan

Australian folk artist Amanda Merdzan is one of those musical finds that make wading through the email backlog a joy. When her stunning video for “Afraid” arrived in the inbox, I was immediately captivated by its message. Favouring a raw and confessional approach to her work, “Afraid” is a testament to the fear within the struggle to grow and change, to face the obstacles in our path. More than a well-crafted tune, it’s become a mantra for me, a favourite song of all time. For more, read our interview with Amanda or our review of her CMW performance.

This brings us to our top track of 2013, a song we’ve previously raved about in our monthly column at 2020k…

1. “Let Me Go” – HAIM

Honourable mention: “The Wire”

From our monthly column at 2020k: Perhaps one of the most hyped debuts of the year, Los Angeles band HAIM slammed onto the scene with singles “Forever” and “The Wire” and have continued garnering attention with their album Days Are Gone. Cleverly pop in the vein of Fleetwood Mac meets early 90′s girl band and shaken with just a touch of Joan Jett anger, HAIM is pretty infectious for pop rock.

But where the ladies truly shine is on the first track of theirs I ever heard, “Let Me Go”. Blues rock angst that builds and swells, the collective talents of the band are truly unleashed. I can’t say whether the decision to lean the album to more of a retro dance feel was a marketing choice or truly where their hearts were at, but I do know that I’d love their next release to jam out as hard as this live recording from The Roundhouse.

And there you have it:  the ten brightest lights in my northern corner of the world!  See you in February, with a collection of 5 fresh tracks to keep you cozy in the winter.

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