Northern Lights: Max, Krystale, Thick As Thieves, Black Walls and Villa Kang

MAXThis is a recurring infrasound guest post by Amber Waves over at Open ‘Til Midnight. Inside 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.

Oh my God, I think Spring may have finally sprung!  I think I saw actual sunshine out there, and I dared wear my pleather coat outside and did not incur hypothermia.

To celebrate, allow me to share with you a few tracks that have echoed the prolonged cold of the winter months or bring a little light into 2014.

“Cold Without You” – Krystale

Montreal’s Krystale has crafted a sound she describes as electro-soul: a fusion of jazz, indie-electric and island influences that offers a new take on the soundscapes created by the likes of Erykah Badu with the introspection of Janelle Monae’s ballads.  “Cold Without You” is a tale of longing and loss woven into an ethereal world of water-trickling percussion and synth and a bass-laced rhythm that evokes a more uptempo shimmy than might be expected.  Krystale has a great sound and beautiful pipes and is one to watch on the Canadian scene this year.

“Communion” – Black Walls

Toronto-area artist Black Walls released his album Communion earlier this year and it’s an intriguing, enigmatic collection of songs.  The impetus behind the compositions being the passing of his father, it’s no surprise that themes of isolation, childhood, attachment and detachment slip in and out of the post-rock and ambient layers.  The title track is particularly stellar, ebbing and flowing, building slowly as if straining to reach beyond the inky night sky to something more… someone now gone.  Recorded alone at night, Black Walls is indeed a musical dish best served through headphones in the shadows.

“Ghosts” – Thick As Thieves

Los Angeles band Thick As Thieves landed on OTM’s radar after discovering folk-pop singer-songwriter Sunday Lane (whose sophomore album From Where You Are easily made our top albums of 2012 list).  Lane’s folk-pop sensibilities are a perfect fit for the band’s established exploration of the intersections of classic rock, rap and R&B.  The result is music as catchy as any pop hit, but with layered emotional depth and edgier elements.

The video for “Ghosts” — one of the strongest compositions on their EP These Days — is sheer brilliance:  a symbolic representation of being haunted by feelings for a love now long gone plays out as Pac-Man tumbles into a downward spiral after being left by Ms. Pac-Man.  Touching, amusing and highly creative, it brings the song to life better than anything I could have imagined.

“Beauty’s Bones” – Villa Kang

Toronto artist Villa Kang lives and breathes in the realm of electronic music where EDM is shunned for the more classic playful vibe of synths, vocals layers and hand claps as accent.  Think Passion Pit circa Manners, sans sped up vocals.  Rich in bass, “Beauty’s Bones” treads that fine line between dark tones and shimmering, airy melodies to mirror the struggle between beauty ideals and one’s self-acceptance.  Heavy material and lightness of sonic being.

A solid debut and good omen for his forthcoming EP, I may have found something to tide me over until Michael Angelakos decides to treat me to a post-Gossamer release.

“Mug Shot” – MAX

I’m a huge Marshmallow (read: Veronica Mars fan), so needless to say, I snagged a copy of the soundtrack to the movie I backed on Kickstarter, featuring this track right here.  MAX — Max Schneider, a fellow Marshmallow! — delivers a ridiculously catchy fusion of Motown soul elements and pop in “Mug Shot”.  Let’s just say this is my daily jam, and I’m often caught singing it at work.  If James Brown were born in the late eighties, I imagine he’d be crafting a sound something like this.

Bonus points:  the video’s pretty damn fun to watch.  Enjoy! (And check out Veronica Mars because that show is amazing and the film is a delicious cherry on top.)

That’s all for this month!  Be sure to come check out RJ’s post at OTM, Hidden Gems.

About Amber Waves

I'm a music junkie, a horror movie buff, and a potty mouth. I collect rescued abused cats, and give them names like Gravity, Mimi and Kali. They are my furbabies. Cats are superior to humans, you know. Mine are, anyway. I live for music, speak in song. I'm a survivor, a spoonie and a sleepless girl. Words are my jail and they are my freedom, and you'll find me using them on blogs, social media and sometimes, in novels. Maybe I'll tell you about them one day.
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