Friday, October 30, 2015

TGIF! Listen To The New EL VY

Apologies for the spotty posting this week - I've been away on vacation (and will be until Tuesday). But, I've been listening hard to a few things, mostly the debut album from EL VY - The National frontman Matt Berninger's side project with Brent Knopf, previously of Menomena and currently of Ramona Falls.

While not a complete upheaval of The National's coined sound, this bouncier collection might be one of the year's best albums. Have a listen to my new favourite off Return to the Moon, and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Best New Track: "Flesh Without Blood" - Grimes

It's been a rollercoaster of a wait for new music from Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, the 27 year-old experimental pop artist from Montreal who took over 2012 with her acclaimed third studio album Visions. A little over a year ago, she dropped the (perfectly fine) follow-up single "Go," off what would have been REALiTi, the fourth album she later scrapped because "it sucked."

And that brings us to yesterday, when Grimes finally dropped the video for both "Flesh Without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream," two polar-opposite songs from her (actual) forthcoming album Art Angels, mashed together as an exceedingly bizarre, Boucher-directed montage of tennis, Elizabethans, bloody death and quirky dance parties.

The weird-ass video and second song aside, straight up - "Flesh Without Blood" is Grimes' biggest, most accessible pop song to date. Her pixie vocals jump around the danceable punk guitar and clap-beat and, also surprisingly, deliver a pretty straightforward message about kicking a former love to the curb.

The best part about this pop anthem is that it's still got Grimes written all over it - those ethereal vocals fly high and the dark undertones of her coined electronic mixing are visible through the bubbly layers. It's just a new kind of Grimes - one that is definitely going to make the rest of our wait for Art Angels more bearable.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Get Your Hands On BØRNS' Debut Album 'Dopamine'

Garrett Borns, better known as BØRNS to his new cult of adoring fans, is good at a lot of things. Aside from his buttery falsetto, expert production and nomad lifestyle (he conceptualized/recorded his debut in a Los Angeles treehouse...), it's his unwavering ability to pen real earworms - songs that stay with you, that you don't tire of - that's pretty remarkable, considering he only fell onto the mainstream indie radar about a year ago. 

Two weeks ago, BØRNS (finally) dropped his highly anticipated debut record Dopamine and it's everything his prior EP hinted at: candy sweet melodies, beachside vibes and that voice - that beautiful set of pipes which guide each track to majorly dreamy territory.

Track to track, there's something for everyone on Dopamine - psychedelia, theatrical, Queen-like rock,  synth-pop. But, my new favourite is "Dug My Heart" - an understated love song that will chug its way into your heart. Enjoy.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Best New Track: Bieber's Done It Again With "Sorry"

Justin Bieber's newfound proficiency for voicing trop-house anthems that bring nations of men and women to their knees in the club is... astounding, to say the least.

The two biggest questions of the summer, "Where Are Ü Now" and "What Do You Mean?" - Bieber's record-breaking cry-dance anthems - have finally been answered with a single, equally addictive declarative statement: "Sorry." Bieber dropped the latter melodic slapper last night, along with a #dancegoals video that will be mimicked infinitely, and after one listen - hell, after 25 seconds - I bet you'll feel that your world has changed a little. 

And, it doesn't hurt that Bieber's lyrical intentions - apologizing to a past lover he misses (or his fans for being a certified d-bag for 5 years?) - remain quite endearing on this one.

Maybe even more than "What Do You Mean?" - the Skrillex-produced "Sorry" will keep you going, through your tears of joy, until the end of time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Best New Album: Beach House's 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'

I don't know what we did to deserve another Beach House album within the span of two months, but whatever it is, I'm thanking my lucky stars.

While this August's Depression Cherry had a few gleaming moments, I found it sounded more like their reverb-filled earlier efforts and less like the cohesive masterpiece that sort of changed my life, or at least my 2012, Bloom. Not that sounding like Bloom is a Beach House pre-req, but start to finish, that album was beyond beautiful. Anything that edges towards it immediately has my heart.

Enter Thank Your Lucky Stars, last week's out-of-nowhere release - where the emotive melodies and all-consuming sonics are enough to make you weak in the knees. It's no secret that mortality is a prevalent theme in all Beach House music, and Thank Your Lucky Stars is one of their darker, more romantic takes on the subject. Lead singer Victoria Legrand rarely overextends her husky vocals over the course of the nine songs, seamlessly matching the downtempo serenades that hover somewhere between dreamy indie-doo-wop and slow-burning statements like "Elegy to the Void" (which is easily one of their most magical anthems to date). 

As the winter chill rolls in, this should be exactly the collection of sounds you want in your ears.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Please Watch Drake's "Hotline Bling" Video

Unless you live under a rock, you're well aware that last night was a big night for Canada. Fresh Prime Minister, fresh Blue Jays win, fresh Drake video. But, not just any video. Possibly the best video the Toronto superstar has ever released, for "Hotline Bling," his highest charting solo single since 2009's "Best I Ever Had" and 2013's "Hold On, We're Goin' Home."

I mean, the best way to describe this video is to not describe it at all and just let you watch it. Let you watch Drake shake his tailfeather, two-step and thrust his pelvis for five minutes straight. So corny, yet so, so wonderful.

Needless to say, Drizzy's moves live up to the song it draws the most similarities to -"Cha Cha" from D.R.A.M., who last night on Twitter said he felt "jacked." Pipe down, D.R.A.M. This is music video gold, it's not even close to the same song, and it will only do good things for you.


And, if you don't care for this song, please watch this Future Islands-infused version instead:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Best New Track: "Arm's Length" - Kacy Hill

I was already pretty enamoured with Kacy Hill's slow, trippy R&B before I had any idea she could write a thundering song like "Arm's Length." 

Following a successful cameo on Travis Scott's Rodeo album, Kanye's up-and-coming G.O.O.D Music signee dropped her debut EP Bloo last Friday, consisting of her first single "Foreign Fields," a few new songs and two remixes. Of the batch, "Arm's Length" highlights Hill's skilled falsetto and ability to weave together big, soulful instrumental and production components to make a Florence Welch-esque kind of anthem. 

While her whimsical electronic ballads are enough to get anyone's attention, it's the lustre of a piece like this that will keep her in the game.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don't Sleep On A.CHAL: Listen To "VIBE W/U"

If you're a relatively new artist, you don't need an elaborate promotional plan when Zane Lowe pumps your tires, OVOSound Radio spins your first two tracks and A$AP Rocky decides to premiere your third via Twitter.

Such is the case for A.CHAL, the rising R&B star who splits his time between NYC and LA, pumping out bangers ("Round Whippin'") and boozy ballads like "GAZI" and yesterday's new addition, "VIBE W/U," which in my opinion has the most widespread potential. Between the cool downtown beat, A.CHAL's nonchalant vocals and that short interjection of bluesy guitar, "VIBE W/U" will no doubt make you want to get down with that special someone.

Keep an eye on A.CHAL, he won't be floating beneath the radar for too much longer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Christine and the Queens and Perfume Genius Team Up On "Jonathan"

Christine and the Queens and Perfume Genius are a musical match made in heaven. Two of the most challenging, mesmerizing artists, joined together one week ahead of CATQ's debut album release for a soft electronic ode to someone named "Jonathan."

Between Perfume Genius (AKA Mike Hadreas)' achey vocals and her french coos, these two should never stop making music together. On the song, Christine and the Queens mastermind Héloïse Letissier says:

"I wrote 'Jonathan' because my lover would ignore my existence outside of the closed, silent room I lived in; it became then imperious for me to sing, just to make sure I was still here. From the start, the song had two voices; one in English, one in French - longing for an answer I knew I would never get. So it was there, on my computer, crepuscular, like my own little Mrs. Butterfly's swan song."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Best New Track: "Downtown" - Majical Cloudz

If the first three singles from Majical Cloudz's second album are any indication, one or both of this Montreal-based duo is in big-time l.o.v.e.

On "Downtown," which might be their most intimate, lovestruck ballad yet, Welsh and Matthew Otto use the concept of downtown - similar to Petula Clark's 1969 hit of the same name - to paint a picture of a big, gleaming love. While the echoey synth and organ and Welsh's plainly haunting voice demand your attention, it's the arresting lyrics ("If suddenly I die/ I hope they will say/ That he was obsessed, and it was OK") that make the song so beautiful.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Best New Track: "It's Strange" - Louis The Child (feat. K. Flay)

On Monday mornings when you're feeling extra depleted after a wild weekend away, it's sweet little songs like this one that just give you life all over again.

Today I came across this adorable earworm, courtesy of Chicago electronic duo Louis The Child and self-proclaimed experts at creating "music that makes you happy." Featuring raspy female vocalist K. Flay, "It's Strange" is the age-old story of an independent girl making space for the right person. That's a cute enough concept as it is, so when you toss in some dreamy tropical synth and a delicate finger-snap beat, you've got yourself a whole bundle of feelings.

You can hear "It's Strange" on the upcoming FIFA 2016 soundtrack or on its own via Next Wave Records.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

3 R&B Songs You Need To Hear Now

Happy first day of October! Seeing as the new month has brought a wee cold spike, here are a few hot R&B singles to warm up with.

1. Pleasure This Pain (feat. Angel Haze) - Kwamie Liv: Despite a handful of fire singles ("Higher" was one of my favourite songs of the summer), somehow, people are still semi-sleeping on this Swedish R&B artist and her milky voice. Who knows, maybe now that she's added help from fiery MC Angel Haze, there could hopefully be more uptake on this sultry spin.

2. Hardest Thing - Coco O.: I'm a huge fan of Rhye, which led me to Quadron (which features one-half of Rhye), which led me to Quadron's Danish frontwoman Coco O. On her first official solo single "Hardest Thing," Coco blends soul with some jaunty funk chords, barely ever letting her sweet, oh-so-capable voice get ahead of the instrumental. Lyrically, she yearns the same way she did on plenty of Quadron's songs, but her subtle delivery here is even more heartbreaking.

3. I Don't Give A - Jojee: A deep beat and chugging piano keys are usually all I need to be hooked on any song off the bat. With production notes from Mickey Valen, the neo-soul "I Don't Give A" is a solid introduction to New York-based vocalist Jojee and her Weeknd-reminscent balladry. If she keeps this up, I predict we'll hear more from her solo perspective, as well as cameo spots on hip-hop numbers, soon enough.