Friday, February 28, 2014

TGIF: M83's "I Need You"

Following a year of penning other swirling synth beauties for sci-fi thrillers, M83's Anthony Gonzalez just dropped another new single and contribution to the futuristic film Divergent. It's called "I Need You," and of course, it's gorgeous.

M83 is easily one of the most cherished bands of my past decade - offering an endless collection of powerful, accessible electronic that remains unparalleled in my books. Usually blending a combination of big percussion, melodic keys and some sort of sax bridge - Anthony Gonzalez has no shortage of spine-tingling anthems up his sleeve.

Even though the song has typically big moments, Gonzalez's oh-so-sweet croon anchors the track.

PS The rest of the soundtrack will deserve a listen - it features Ellie Goulding, Snow Patrol, Chance the Rapper and a "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" rework by Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala. (Wait, what? Yes please.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The National

As I finish watching the new trailer for The National documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, as well as stare starry-eyed at The National's Toronto tour date which is penciled into my calendar - I figure it's a good idea to throw back to an underrated tune off the famed Brooklyn rock band's 2005 release Alligator.

I always thought this song was a gem. Characteristically honest and raw, the song's lyrics are complemented by gorgeous chords that build over the course of the three-minute song. Also, something about the song title is just dreamy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coldplay Drops New Single 'Midnight'

We all know that Chris Martin and Hova are boys, but perhaps Coldplay's frontman took a cue from Jay's wife when he and his famed Brit-rock crew quietly dropped an unannounced new single called 'Midnight' yesterday afternoon. Well, I guess they actually released it at midnight... in Mongolia.

The significance of the uncharacteristic single is unclear - but it's safe to assume the downtempo electronic track is the first off the band's sixth release. Although most definitely not typical first listen material, the chilly electronic undertone is still an exciting tease of what's to come from the fairly patterned rock crew and their likable discography. The band has a much-anticipated showcase scheduled at SXSW in Austin coming up, which, after this leak, promises to be something interesting.

Whatever this is, I actually like it very much. Although not their typical stadium rock, the way Martin's echoey vocals dance with the song's slow pulse is something I could get used to, if done right.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chad Malinchak's "So Good To Me"

It's only Tuesday, it feels ridiculously cold, and I've just acquired a handful of summer festival tickets. I can't take it anymore. I needed warmth, grassy stretches and festival beers yesterday.

This song on repeat is the only thing pumping happiness through my system this morning. It's not new, but New York DJ Chris Malinchak's sun-streaked synth ditty (which samples the Marvin Gaye classic "If This World Were Mine") feels so good to me.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Must Hear: St. Vincent's New Release

Stream St. Vincent's New Album

Since she glided onto the scene with her 2011 debut, everyone's been waiting for the inevitable moment when Annie Clark - also known as St. Vincent - rules the world. She's always had all the ingredients - she's stunning, sweet, slanted, feisty, fascinating and now - with tomorrow's release of her self-titled follow-up - she's the woman who has crafted what will be some of the most thrilling sounds of 2014. Or, like, ever.

Known for the eccentric art-pop sounds heard on her first album and collaboration with David Byrne, Annie Clark says the new release was assembled with her live performances in mind. "I was almost almost reverse-engineering the record to make sure there could be a really energetic live show. I wanted to make something that was really kinetic, sexy from a rhythm section standpoint,” she said. Mission accomplished.

Borderline accessible while still pushing boundaries with bonkers beats and zaps of wildly funky experimentation, Clark's sweet croon carries melodic throughout the 11-track set. With the thump of groovy rock tracks like "Birth in Reverse" and  "Huey Newton" (be prepared to lose control at 2:40) comes the balance of dazzling hymnals like "Prince Johnny" and "I Prefer Your Love." Clark has achieved a formidable sound with more layers than can be counted in one sitting - and it can only be described as completely triumphant.

Be wowed by St. Vincent tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2014

TGIF: An All-Time Favourite Live in Toronto

Last Friday, I talked about the change in me the first time I heard Lauryn Hill. So, in light of the Band of Horses concert in Toronto tonight - I'll reminisce about another first with one of the most influential bands in my life.

I remember being 16 years-old and listening to Everything All The Time; it became the first taste of the kind of alt-country sound I would come to love and know so well over the years. The hearty twang in Ben Bridwell's limitless voice, the seamless momentum of both piano and guitars on each track - everything, every little thing - became, almost immediately, the textbook answer to what kind of rock music made me feel alive. I remember thinking that although I had grown up on alternative rock and was beginning to dabble in indie, I had never heard anything quite like this. I think I found my future wedding dance song within an hour. It was hard, it was soft, it was all so dynamic - without ever sacrificing the arresting melodies they managed to dream up with every new release. I realize I may have a lot of "favourite" everythings (who doesn't?) - but, to this day, Band of Horses remain right up their with a select few.

Last week, the band released their highly anticipated Acoustic at the Ryman album - a stunning live collection of songs they've penned over their decade spent together. And, let me just say, this is a side of them I now have an endless appetite for. Their harmonies have never sounded more flawless, placed on top of that simple instrumental backdrop. They're heard graciously thanking their fans. They laugh. It's all beautiful. The hauntingly stripped down versions of "Detlef Schrempf" and "The Funeral" are standout hushed moments, while the acoustic Southern sways of "No One's Gonna Love You" and the charming "Marry Song" resurrect them as new kinds of classics all over again. Essentially, it's hard to hear this live album and not be brought back to exactly how you felt when you first fell in love with this band.

See you tonight!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Band to Watch: Wet

This Brooklyn trio may only have four songs, one of which I've already posted about, but after keeping their EP on repeat this past month - I just have to share another track of theirs. Wet, a group of talented twenty-somethings who are in their industry infancy, are already making waves in the blogosphere with the self-titled EP they released in October. With such a tiny collection to their name and no major publicity yet, it's hard to know very much about this mysterious little group - other than the fact that every bit of their melodic, electronic-infused pop is totally mesmerizing.

On "Don't Wanna Be Your Girl," we're treated to frontwoman Kelly's best vocal performance yet - sounding like a seasoned R&B pro with her milky riffs and chilling delivery. Something about its soulful melancholy resembles what would have been a mid-90s hit; so, here's hoping the band picks up the recognition they deserve for this kind of balladry.

PS. Their website is I know, right.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Favourite Song: Francis and the Lights' "Like A Dream"

Francis Farewell Starlite is no newbie to the music game - although, a nearly three year hiatus makes it feel like his breezy new single, "Like A Dream," might be his first. He and his pop crew have only made ripples since their inception - despite being university classmates with MGMT and dabbling in work on Drake's debut album - yet, somehow, I consider anything they've delivered to be pretty memorable. Their 2010 debut was perfectly pleasant, and from the sounds of this soul-pop ditty, their real time to shine might be just around the corner.

And, with a happy-go-lucky video like this one - featuring that impressive two-stepping stamina - might not only need the Peter Gabriel-flavoured vocals and sun-drenched melody that gets people's attentions.

The Like A Dream EP was released in November via Good Years Recordings. Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

TGIF: Lauryn Hill Covers The Beatles

Lauryn Hill has sure had a rough decade - but so has Cat Power and countless others - and that doesn't make me cherish them any less.

With each passing generation, we're lucky to acquire a handful of contemporary female R&B singers who quickly become iconic. While the Mary Js and Mariahs are high in my books, Lauryn's double-threat game has had me irreversibly mesmerized for as long as I can remember. Being a young Fugees fan before buying the legendary Miseducation album in '98, I remember Lauryn Hill's solo efforts being unlike anything my little ears had ever heard. A woman with more soul, fire and wit packed into her rhymes and croons than any of her competition? I was changed after hearing that album. And, I still feel just as overcome every single time I listen to it.

So, although she's had her troubles, her recent live cover of The Beatles' classic "Something" is every bit of proof she's still got it. Despite all the odds, oh man, does she still have it. If this is any sign of a real comeback, Lauryn's next decade might be even more newsworthy than the last.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jenny Lewis' "Completely Not Me"

I notoriously watch little to no TV. I'm known to be the first to explore the "underground" and the last to tap into the "mainstream." I personally would like to think this isn't always the case, but when it is, it's usually an extreme case - like being one year late to the Katy Perry game and only watching Breaking Bad (which is happily changing my life) for the first time now.

One thing that I'm fairly good at keeping track of, other than all things Walter White, is HBO's Girls. I can't get enough of Lena Dunham and her genius depiction of girls my age. As well, I'm always interested to hear the soundtrack that's curated by the cast - often involving seasoned indie artists and original tracks written specifically for the hit series. Lately, I've been obsessed with Jenny Lewis, of Rilo Kiley, and the song she wrote for Girls, titled "Completely Not Me." Lightheartedly describing a brief mental breakdown, Lewis and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij gain wisdom through this Tom Petty-remiscent anthem, which is carried by Lewis' sweet girl group croon and the thumping combination of uplifting piano and kick drum. While the catchy song perfectly fit the bill for Girls' darker storyline last season, it's also just some honest songwriting about one thing we all experience in our mid-20s - feeling a little nutty.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast's 'Martel' Drops Today

Jay Malinowski &The Deadcoast – Martel

I've been a longtime fan of all things Jay Malinowski. I spent my young adult years swaying to the sweet reggae-rock of Bedouin Soundclash, kept an eye on his collaboration with then-girlfriend Coeur de Pirate and pored over the summer EP he released with new bandmates The Deadcoast. Today, after three years of work, he and his string and vocal trio drop their much-anticipated concept album Martel - a release I believe might just change everything for the already seasoned Canadian artist.

The fascinating double album explores, through Malinowski's own imagination and diverse arrangements, stories of a distant ancestor named Charles Martel. Accompanied by an illustrated novel, Martel soulfully unravels the long lost relative's voyages, from France to Cape Breton, where his body now lies alongside Malinowski's grandfather.

"Before my grandfather passed, he had mapped our family lineage in detail, in old books. That's where I found Charles' story, and these patterns of displacement that resonated in me deeply. The Martels after Charles became sailors, privateers and pirates for the most part. It was a dislocation I felt deeply having been continuously travelling for all my life," Malinowski told CBC.

I've been listening to this album steadily for the past week, and it's one of the most unique - and impressive - changes in direction that I've heard a Canadian artist accomplish in some time. Unlike most of the mainstream ska sounds that made his raspy pipes famous, Malinowski's latest exploration is challenging from start to finish. The album has every bit of dark yesteryear tone the group must have set out for - often sounding like it should be set to a crackling sepia picture that depicts the nearly 300 year-old stories it tells. Martel's waltzy rhythms, beautiful strings and Malinowski's throaty desperation not only walk us through visionary tales of his family's past, but in their intricacy, simultaneously paint a clearly bright picture of the artist's future. Although Malinowski's admittedly spent recent years drifting and searching - and with the album's inevitable success this is probably unlikely - I hope that with Martel, he can stand still to really enjoy this moment.

For more information, visit

Monday, February 10, 2014

James Vincent McMorrow's "Post-Tropical"

Being sick last week, I probably went the longest I had in a few years without listening to music. A symptom of the plague was a sore ear - so, too much noise or audio wasn't really the best idea while I was trying to heal. Once I started to come out of my sick haze, I wanted something soothing and mellow to listen to - which is why I turned to James Vincent McMorrow's newest release, Post-Tropical.

Since this album has been sent to me, I've found solace in its delicate melodies and McMorrow's soulful vibrato. McMorrow doesn't try anything flashy on Post-Tropical - although there are certainly a few epic moments - but really lets the beautiful instrumentation and his James Blake-meets-Patrick Watson soprano carry his audience song to song. Each track is beautiful in its own right - but the below two, in particular, are a few of my favourites. Often beginning like quiet dream sequences, McMorrow's songs quickly transition into more robust instrumentation (including crashing horns, cymbals and strings), which subtly pushes them into anthemic territory.

Check out the songs that coaxed me out of my music hiatus below. And, enjoy your week!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sick > Blogging, Unfortunately...

Magical moments that exist around us, if you only look through a different lens.
I'm very sorry that I've been missing in action this week - I picked up a bad case of strep and have been bed-bound since! It's that time of year, I guess.

Hopefully I'm not out of commission for too much longer. And, in the mean time, I'll quickly share with you what I've been swooning over this week - Starbucks' home-run Valentine's compilation, Sweetheart 2014. Whether Bahamas, Phosphorescent, Jim James, Fiona Apple or Beck - this beautiful collection of love-themed cover songs has been working hand-in-hand with gingerale and yogurt to soothe my sickness woes.

Here are a few of my favourites from the album - enjoy! And stay healthy.

Vampire Weekend covers Andrea Bocelli

Ben Harper covers Mazzy Star

Phosphorescent covers Bob Dylan