Tag Archives: Canada

November 3, 2017 — “Later Days” by Walrus

Walrus

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Later Days” by Walrus (2017, from the album Family Hangover).

Walrus is a heavy psychedelic/noise rock band from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Although I’ve been getting stuff in the mail bag about them and I’ve heard their name bandied around, I don’t know much about them other than that they have two guys named Keith and two guys named Justin. One of the Justins has a brother in the band called Jordan.
In June, the band released their debut album Family Hangover via Madic Records. That’s a tiny label with only two bands, but it got my attention because it’s an imprint of the Arts & Crafts label and it’s also operated by Dan Mangan.

The bit of press that I’ve seen and the emails that I’ve gotten reference a wide array of bands ranging from The Beach Boys to Black Sabbath. Today’s song actually has a tiny bit of a dream-pop feel to it. For the first minute or so, I’m reminded a bit of Ride.

This is that song:
“Later Days” by Walrus

Right around the 1:00 mark, there’s a big shift from shimmering guitars and wispy drums to loud, heavily affected guitars and thunderous drums. I love big shifts like that. Then, around 1:30, it shifts back and the dreamy, delay-laden vocals come in a little later. The end of the song features a muddy fade-out that I also kind of like. There’s no doubt, though, that my favorite bit is the loud, thundering, squawking bit from 1:00 to 1:30. Looking at the big picture, I’m reminded more of The Catherine Wheel, and that’s always a good thing. The rest of the record has some other reference points, but that’s what I’m getting from this song.

You can buy Family Hangover from Bandcamp here.

There’s also a fun video for the song which you can view here:


June 6, 2017 — “In Undertow” by Alvvays

Alvvays

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “In Undertow” by Alvvays (2017, from the forthcoming album Antisocialites).

Alvvays is a jangle/noise pop band from Toronto. You probably recall that I was obsessed with their 2014 eponymous debut album. So much that I named it my #5 album of the year.

The band formed in 2011 as five members who had been friends for life. Molly Rankin (vocals/guitar) and Kerri MacLellan (keys) were best friends and next door neighbours on Cape Breton Island while Alec O’Hanley (guitar), Brian Murphy (bass) and Phillip MacIsaac (drums) grew up on Prince Edward Island and were friends since diapers. The boys were also in a band called The Danks, but I don’t know anything about that band. The press photos that I’ve seen for the new album show everyone except MacIsaac, but I’m not reading anything into that.

Everything that I’ve read about the new record suggests that it’s going to be as good or better than the first. It’s been described as an album “replete with songs about drinking, drugging, and drowning”. It’s also described as “a multipolar period piece fueled by isolation and loss”. The album has a song about getting kicked out of the Louvre and wandering around Paris with vomit on boots. There’s a song called “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”, which was inspired by Jim Reid out of The Jesus and Mary Chain. There’s a song that’s described as reminiscent of Cocteau Twins. In other words, this is a record that I’m going to love as much or more than Alvvays.

The new album comes out September 8 via Polyvinyl Records in the US and Royal Mountain Records in Canada. So far, the only song I’ve heard is the album-opening “In Undertow”. This is that song:

“In Undertow” by Alvvays

I love the ringing buzz of what I’m told is a Farfisa. I’m not clever enough to pick one keyboard synth from another without help, but that’s what I’ve read. It’s got the formula that we all loved about “Archie, Marry Me”: fantastic pop sensibilities mixed with a healthy amount of fuzz and feedback. Unlike the first record, though, this one has Rankin’s voice much clearer and front-of-mix.

The band will play Lollapalooza in August before heading over for a UK/EU tour in the late summer. For now, you can pre-order the album via Bandcamp here. There are also loads of bundles you can order via Polyvinyl here.


February 26, 2017 — “Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas

The Luyas

The Luyas

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas (2017, from the album Human Voicing).

The Luyas is an experimental indie rock/krautrock quartet from Toronto. They formed in 2006, and released their debut record Faker Death the next year. They followed with Too Beautiful to Work in 2011 and Animator in 2012. It’s always pointed out, and I’ll do it again, that Luyas frontwoman Jessie Stein, with her small, soft, mildly squeaky voice, sounds VERY MUCH like the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast. Their music is also reminiscent of stuff like Broadcast and Stereolab.

Way back before I started writing this blog, I called Too Beautiful to Work my third favourite Canadian album of 2011. The next year, over on this blog, I called Animator my fourth favourite album of 2012.

The band took a hiatus after touring with Animator, and to be honest, I didn’t think about them very often during that hiatus. Last year, they finally emerged from their hibernation with an EP called Says You, but it slipped totally under my radar. This year, I was very excited when I learned that they had a new record, which just came out on February 24. I got my ears on a copy of Human Voicing, and it’s everything that I hoped it would be. The first time I listened to the new album, I listened through crappy car stereo speakers, and I really loved it. I was really blown away by tonight’s song, which I had to play again and again and again before moving on to the album’s third song. Now that I’ve had time, I’ve also listened to it on headphones, and of course I like it a lot better that way.

It’s a gloriously noisy piece with a nice motorik beat and some interesting stuff going on in the stereo field. It’s definitely worth your while to listen to this on a quality set of headphones or earbuds. I’ve said that about every record by The Luyas, and I’m not ashamed that I’ve said it again.

I love all eight songs on the new record, but this is the one that got me the most excited. This is that song.

“Self-Unemployed” by The Luyas

It sounds a little bit like it’s been taken out of context; the way the song starts so abruptly sounds like it might be a cross-fade from the previous song. However, that’s just the way the song is. It’s meant to have that jolt. It gets a bit noisy and chaotic, and then at about 0:34, there’s another sudden jolt into the main part of the song. I absolutely love the buzzy synth and the motorik drum bit that pairs with Stein’s nifty bass part. There’s some other percussion mixed in and a lot of other stuff mixed in that almost turns into a wall of sound. It may be a tiny bit chaotic, but I adore the beautiful noise.

Just when you think it might go on for a bit longer, it comes to full stop after a chorus. Again, it’s a bit jarring, but I love it. A lot.

Just as the previous two records did, I imagine this one will finish in at least the top 10 of my year-end list. I know I never published one from 2016, but I’m definitely going to in 2017.

There’s an official video, but I really prefer this live performance video, which is considerably less noisy:

You can order the album via Bandcamp here. They have several different format options, including digital, CD, and a limited edition hot pink vinyl.


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