Dance Movie is singer-songwriter Tara Thorne and on her first full-length she is backed by Rebecca Zolkower (Strings/Glock) and Craig Jennex (Drums) along with an entourage of talented Nova Scotian musicians.
Taking influence from Regina Spektor’s four-producer approach (2009’s Far), the fittingly titled Interlopers, is helmed by Matt Charlton, Amelia Curran and Jenn Grant; all of whom take Dance Movie into very different styles of indie-pop music. Some listeners may find this ruins the flow of the album – and I would agree – but others will enjoy this gauntlet of experimentation. Some highlights include, the lulling opener “A Quick Drink and a Slow Dance”, the Karen O inspired “Yeah You Are” and the sweet folk homage “Snow Heart”.
Even with these great moments I still found Interlopers to be a difficult listen as a collection of songs. There are just too many that lack energy and get boring really quick (“Big Talker”, “Blood Ablaze” & A Million More Dollars”). With that said, there is still more to love here then to hate – so give it a listen and find what wets your indie-pop appetite. (Independent) ~ 3/5 Stars
Old English began as a solo project for Matt Henderson but this “accidental band” grew as Henderson “found himself missing the collaborative nature” that he was used to working with. Evolving into a collaboration with 15 other artists – the sound of the Old English will tug at your heartstrings and will remind you of The Stars and even Bran Van 3000.
“We’ve Been Here Before” is the first single off the band’s debut LP, Prose and Kahns, which has an early 2013 release date. You can hear Henderson’s excitement to share in his creation, the upbeat, pop-dance track is infectious and is expertly produced. Layers of beats, mellifluous backing vocals, dreamy synthesizers and horns are all intoxicating; perfectly capturing the story of past lovers rekindling an old flame.
Download the first single below, along with a remix of the same track by Allosaurus – both tracks are well worth your time. Now, all we have to do is wait for the full-length. (Independent) ~4/5 Stars
Hailing from Waterloo, Ontario – Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs are a loud, rambunctious punk band with a raw sound that incorporates elements of country, garage rock and soul into sing-along bar burners. Sure, the band’s playing is pretty simple and the production level is pretty bare but the passion is undeniable. Clear influences include Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones; add in the bands own ruthless blend of undeniable hooks and what you get is your next favourite band. Word of advice, turn this one up loud! (Evolve Records) ~ 3.5 Stars
Essentially, the album is full of down-tempo, indie grunge songs that are stripped to chugging guitar parts with simple and solid rhythm arrangements topped off with Weinwurm’s nonchalant vocal delivery. Sure, that would describe opening track “Pictures”, “Tell Me Something Brave” and “Caroline” but Weinwurm throws in a few surprises.
“Coyotes In The Commons” starts off with an easy one-two drum beat but blooms with an intense string vibrato that will remind listeners of Arcade Fire’s early work. “Tractor And Crane” utilizes Weinwurm’s weapon of choice – the baritone ukulele to great effect coming off like a modern-day gospel plow. “If you will kill me, I will haunt you very long” is the opening line to “House Shake” – a track that contains some creepy backing vocals and layers of off-tune strings and held Rhode notes.
Overall, Continental Drag has some great moments and the songs are pretty solid, but be warned it takes more than a few listens to truly enjoy. (Saved By Vinyl) ~ 3 Stars
Clearwater, Nova Scotia’s Jennah Barry began her music career by leaving her hometown for Toronto in 2006 where she studied jazz as a pianist. During this time, she also joined the pop-orchestra group, The O’darling – unfortunately her musical inspiration was dulled as “Barry grew sad and reclusive from a combination of homesickness and heartache”.
Quickly after graduation, she returned home to work in her “natural element”. The result is Barry’s impressive debut, Young Men, a collection of songs that touch on themes of heartbreak, hope, and more importantly, self-reliance.
Fittingly, an ode to her hometown, “The Coast” opens the album and sets the tone perfectly, revealing a singer-songwriter open to layering her folk songs with lush arrangements and dreamy soundscapes. Follow-up tracks, “Blackhole” and “Dead Give Away” will remind listeners of Sarah Harmer’s country-tinged pop songs and will be instant favourites. The soulful “Honey” is another highlight that begins with just an upright bass and Barry’s lulling voice that slowly builds into some beautifully produced horned and stringed parts.
Not all songs are memorable though, there is a mid-album lull starting with the much too slow “Sheriff”, the cluttered “4×4” and “Sweetheart” is ruined by an annoying and unnecessary vocal filter. Overall though, Barry’s debut album features some beautiful songs that are easy to love and her voice is something special. (Independent) ~ 3 Stars
Jason Haywood’s debut album is dedicated to Gene Clark. I have to admit that the name didn’t register with me, but a quick Google search revealed a treasure cove of material to get into. So, thank you for that Jason! A Thousand Miles Since Yesterday is quite defiant, taking country music back to it’s simplistic – but no less powerful – roots of honky-tonk, folk and fusing it with some country soul. Like his influences, Haywood pulls out common country themes of heartbreak, hope and redemption – it sometimes get to a point where some of the songs sound the same – but his calm and soulful voice pushes away those negative thoughts and you just lose yourself in the moment. A Thousand Miles is merely reinventing the wheel, but it does gets better with repeated listens. (Independent) ~3 Stars
Peterborough singer-songwriter Nick Ferrio is best known as the bassist of The Burning Hell and his work with Baby Eagle and the Proud Mothers – but his debut country album will most certainly change all that.
The album is broken down as Side A &B – Side A features three of the best tracks which all capture life/loneliness on the road (“Night Garden”, “Popular Flower” & “Always Searching”) while Side B feels more intimate and mysterious with standout tracks found in “Story’s Long, Story’s Old’ and “When We Sang Together”. One word of advice though – blast this record on headphones – it sounds like Nick Ferrio & co. are playing their hearts out to an empty bar. The whole album is beautifully produced courtesy of some old analog equipment and a commitment to the songs.
Nick Ferrio and His Feelings is due out September 18 and is well worth your time as Ferrio brings his own brand of storytelling to classic Western sounds. (Shuffling Feet Records) ~ 3.5 Stars
Steve Poltz started his career as a founding member of San Diego based indie-rock band The Rugburns and is best known for co-writing Jewel’s hit song “You Were Meant for Me”. Since then he has built a reputation as a killer live performer and after listening to his eighth album, I get the sense that Polz is a songwriter’s songwriter.
Noineen Noniy Noin opens with “Spirit Hands” which has a distinct Zeppelin-esque vibe and with that distorted slide guitar (especially during the heavy choruses) reminded me of Jeff Martin’s (The Tea Party) solo work. “Croatia” is a romantic ode to the former Republic of Yugoslavia and is one of the catchiest song here, blessed with a full brass section and some sweet country twang. “I Pray It Never Comes To This” is another gem where Poltz puts on his best Tom Petty impression. Again on “Check Your Head” this chameleon delivers a wonderful 70’s soul song with a wild falsetto and is miles away from the rest of the record.
Bob Dylan recently said in a Rolling Stone feature, “a songwriter doesn’t care about what’s truthful. What he cares about is what should’ve happened, what could’ve happened”. Steve’s Poltz’s most controversial song, “Trash” takes the man who Johnny Cash shot in “Folsom Prison Blues” and turns him into Cash’s transvestite lover. I have to admit, I didn’t see that punch line coming and I had to restart the song just to see how it all came together.
Overall, Noineen Noniy Noin is an amazing collection of songs that are melodically rich and Poltz’s tales of romance and tragedy tantalize the imagination. (Arrival Records) ~ 4 Stars
Released back in 2008, Gregory Generet is still pushing his debut album four years later; it’s quite all right though, because (Re) Generet-tion is an easy-to-love collection of classic jazz songs that will never grow out of style.
The heart and soul of the group is based on the trio – Onaje Allan Gumbs (Pianist), Marcus McLaurine (Bass) and Payton Crossley (Drums) but when you throw in Roger Byam (Tenor), Marc Cross (Soprano) and Eddie Allen (Trumpet) throughout the mix, well, these guys can take on any style of jazz and make it sound fresh.
For example, Van Morrison’s much-covered “Moon Dance” is slowed down quite a bit courtesy of Generet’s vocal delivery as the group tastefully rolls out some sweet solos. Another highlight is the groups take of the My Fair Lady classic “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” where Generet keeps in mind the melody, but, still brings in his own soulful flair, somehow making the song seem even sadder. Even with these powerful renditions, my favourites showcase how versatile the band is. “Stolen Moments” has the group keeping solos short and sweet while maintaining Generet’s smooth vibe while final track “Caravan” is a wild mix of world-beat and contemporary vocal jazz.
Overall, (Re) Generet-tion is a fabulous debut for Gregory Generet with tons of soul, groove, romance and the occasional surprise. But, it’s time for some new material! (Monsieur Music Records) ~ 3.5 Stars
Connie Saulnier writes music from the heart and it is quite apparent how genuine she is as a performer and artist. Her debut album, Impressions, is a collection of soft pop-rock. Sure, her bio includes musical influences of rock, folk, R&B, classical and jazz but these moments are fleeting and unfortunately sound dated and under-produced. I do like Saulnier’s voice though, there aren’t too many people who sound like Melissa Etheridge and it is quite unique when blended with smooth jazz (“Stay” and “Love Or Something”). Saulnier’s songs of relationships & self-confidence are definitely needed in this day and age, I just don’t enjoy the music in which the message is wrapped up in. (Independent) ~ 2 Stars