Published October 9, 2015

*** YUKON BLONDE appear alongside Hey Rosetta! in this video ***

One fascinating aspect of the current political campaign leading up to election day on Oct. 19 has been the outspoken pleas of many leading figures in Canadian music for a change of government.

Blue Rodeo grabbed plenty of attention with their hard-hitting new anti-Harper song and video "Stealin' All My Dreams". It has quickly notched 340k YouTube views and can be seen here.

Neil Young has been as candid as ever, and the #ImagineOct20th campaign spearheaded by Dan Mangan and Torquil Campbell (of Stars) is also having an impact. Two notable bands supporting that campaign are Hey Rosetta! and Yukon Blonde. Hey Rosetta! recently released a politically charged, anti-Conservative Party themed track," Land You Love", and their pals Yukon Blone joined them in a new video for the track.

In a press release, Hey Rosetta! mainman Tim Baker explained that the song's origin started "when our friends Dan Mangan and Torquil Campbell reached out with their #ImagineOct20th concept and the strategic voting awareness movement. Looking at our schedule I realized that, other than the odd tweet, there wasn’t much we could do live, as we were going to be on the road the whole time up until Election Day. So I thought maybe we could learn and perform a cover song, something good and empowering and ‘protesty’, and then film it and send it around. Unable to find a song that spoke precisely to our present political situation in Canada though, I decided to give myself an afternoon to see if anything would come to me in the way of an original song. “Land You Love” is the song that came out of that. It came very fast, as it seems there’s no shortage of things to talk/yell about when talking about the current federal government."

Baker then asked Yukon Blonde for their help with the accompanying video. He recalls "they were into it, but being from the other end of this vast country, and being continually on tour as well, we were unable to physically be together for the shoot. So we had a bit of fun with this quite complicated split screen idea. And it turned out to be kind of poetic to me, us being from NL and them being from BC. And just like the Canadian populace, we were far-flung and we had to turn to technology to speak together with one voice.”

The video has quickly resonated, grabbing well over 100,000 views in just a few days. Baker's lyrics are strong and direct, in the best protest music tradition. A sample here: "There is a time when a change has to come, For you to speak your mind, for you to fight for the land you love".

It takes courage for artists to be so candid and overt in their political views, as they risk alienating fans who do not share their opinions. We salute them for their strong stance.

Published October 2, 2015

The explosive shoegaze meets psych sound of Montreal's No Joy has earned them a loyal North American and European following. Back in June, NCM's Noah Siegel gave their third album, More Faithful, a glowing review (read it here), while this scribe was impressed by a set he caught at Toronto's Silver Dollar over the summer. The band is still promoting the album hard, and next week they begin an extensive North American tour with DIIV, following on from plenty of gigs in Europe.

To coincide with this trek, No Joy has just put out a new video, for the track "Judith". It premiered on Noisey, and they described the clip as "a really goofy soap opera style video. We follow the marriage of Judith and The Businessman, as they realize maybe it's not working out. I mean, when your partner would rather look at a business magazine than actually talk to you, you're kind of f***ed, yeah?"  

To our eyes and ears, the juxtaposition of scenes of domestic ennui with No Joy's edgy yet dreamy sound is unconventional yet effective.  A trippy earlier No Joy video, for "Lunar Phobia", is also worth viewing.

Canadian dates coming up are at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall on Oct. 11 and Vancouver's Fortune Sound Club on Oct. 20.

Published September 25, 2015

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Bahamas (real name Afie Jurvanen) is still riding high on the success of his breakthrough third album, Bahamas Is Afie. Released in August 2014, it earned him two JUNO Awards this year, Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.

One of the songs cited for that latter award was "Bitter Memories," and it is now being given new exposure by a lovely brand new animated video clip. It was created by Heather Goodchild, a noted visual artist whose work has been exhibited in such prestigious locales as the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Textile Museum of Canada.

It was clearly a labour-intensive project, as the video is an eye-catching collection of over 1000 individual hand drawn sketches of Jurvanen. The imagery matches the mellow feel of the song perfectly.

In a recent interview with Noisey, Jurvanen commented, “my friend Heather has basically worked on everything I’ve ever done. For my first album, Pink Strat, she and I silkscreened the first two hundred covers in my living room. For my second record, she made this rug that said Barchords for that cover, and came up with that whole idea. She’s basically been involved in the general aesthetic of what I’ve been doing since the beginning.” 

In what is a very smart and sure to be popular idea, the individual sketches in the video will be made available for sale to fans (while supplies last) on upcoming Canadian tour dates. That national tour begins in Victoria BC at McPherson Playhouse on Nov. 12, concluding at Toronto's Massey Hall on Nov. 27. The fact that the latter show is already sold-out confirms Bahamas is on a real roll. For a full itinerary, go here.

Prior to that tour Bahamas has eight dates in Australia and he'll support City and Colour on a U.S. tour in December, so word of his talent is spreading.

Published September 18, 2015

Internationally-acclaimed soulful songstress Cold Specks has never been short of creative ambition, and that has been reflected in the compelling videos created for her songs. She now ups the ante with a new short film, Neuroplasticity, one featuring music from her 2014 album of that name.
 
In a press release, she says that "We didn’t want to make another typical music video, so we set out to create something that would stand on its own as a piece of art.” That she has done, in collaboration with noted director Alex Takacs. The Canadian born Takacs goes under the moniker  Young Replicant, and he has previously worked with Flying Lotus, The XX, Lorde, M83, and Bonobo.
 
Cold Specks explains that "I am a big fan of Flying Lotus and was taken aback by the video for ‘Coronus, The Terminator’, directed by Young Replicant. We got in touch with him and were lucky to find out he was already a fan of the project."
 
The film features “Living Signs”, “Old Knives” and “Let Loose The Dogs” from Neuroplasticity (read our review here). These haunting songs provide the perfect accompaniment to the beautifully shot but rather disturbing filmic depiction of the troubled neighbour of a teenage girl, missing from her small remote community.
 
Takacs notes that "I left half the script unfinished until after we had found our location and had done some of the casting. It was important for me to make sure the video had a very specific sense of place, a unique energy inspired by the setting as much as the music itself."
 
Cold Specks plays the TURF Festival in Toronto on Sept. 18 prior to heading south for five shows in Australia, Sept. 23-29.

Published September 11, 2015

2015 has been a breakthrough year for heavy-hitting Calgary noisemakers Viet Cong. Touring in North America and Europe behind their superb eponymous debut album has been well-received, and they're on the shortlist of Polaris Prize nominees (the winner will be announced on Sept. 20 in Toronto).  Such publications as Spin, NOW and NME named it Album of the Week, and NCM's Noah Siegel raved about it here.

Viet Cong this week unveiled a brand new video, for the track "Bunker Buster", a cut NCM playlisted back in January. A press release about the clip notes that "If Viet Cong's 'Bunker Buster' elicits the images of a nighttime urban hellscape littered with lost souls, it does so with its dissected, angular rhythms and existential lyrics. Taking these visual cues even further, director Yoonha Park gives the song a grainy, sci-fi treatment, taking influences from the likes of Wong Kar-Wai, Philip K. Dick, and Lars von Trier in his video for the song."

It also explains that "Park has previously worked on acclaimed videos for bands such as Liars, Washed Out, M83, and Beach House, and this collaboration is no exception to his impeccable track record for pairing compelling visuals with powerful music. Images burst with texture and color while New York City is used as a backdrop for isolation and dystopia.  Shot on 16mm film, 'Bunker Buster' pays homage to many classics of the science fiction genre, using robotic arms, surgical tubes, and a mannequin overlaid with projections of human faces mouthing the song's lyrics".

Any clip referencing the late great science fiction author Philip K. Dick grabs our attention, and this one is a compelling winner.

Viet Cong have just started another extensive North American tour that includes dates in Hamilton, Quebec City, Fredericton, Halifax, Montreal, Kingston, Edmonton and Vancouver, followed by more European shows and two nights at Toronto's Lee's Palace (Dec. 4-5). Check their site for a full itinerary.

Published September 4, 2015

Modern rock veteran Matthew Good is now gearing up for the release of his new album Chaotic Neutral, out on September 25 through Warner Music Canada. This will be his seventh solo album, excluding his '90s hit records as leader of the Matthew Good Band.

He's helping prime the pump via a new video for his current single, “All You Sons and Daughters”, a song featuring Good's signature and rather melodramatic vocal delivery. Read the review of the track by NCM's Noah Siegel here.

The video was shot in the less than photogenic or trendy locale of Oshawa by director Andrew Hines, whose cv includes videos for A$AP Rocky and PartyNextDoor featuring Drake. The eye-catching clip features Good out on the town at night with a wolf for company. The dark and slightly sinister video complements the dynamic surge of the song very effectively. Good long seems to have considered himself rather a lone wolf in the music industry, so these images are fittingly symbolic.

A "behind the scenes" short clip will also appeal to Good fans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vjg8v9DDtg

Published August 28, 2015

If the likely inevitable grunge revival does kick in any time soon, look for Toronto's Dilly Dally to be well-positioned to take full advantage of it. Led by fiery singer Katie Monks (yes, sister of Tokyo Police Club frontman Dave), they have a compelling Hole meets Pixies meets Smashing Pumpkins sound.

Here at NCM we were impressed by earlier singles "Next Gold" and "Candy MountainWe're now looking forward to full-length album Sore, set for an October 9 release via Buzz Records and Partisan Records. 

Fuelling interest in it is a new video for one of its cuts, "Desire," one that has grabbed 126k YouTube views in just a couple of weeks. The clip is a arresting and oft sensual exploration of fantasies. In a press release, Monks explains that "this video is an ode to that youthful part of yourself that lets you escape your daily routine and unleash whatever strange ideas you may have up there (in your soul or mind or whatever)". Sex, music, perfume, silk sheets & swank champagne... I don't give a fuck what is. Discover what it is you want or need in your life and chase it down with every bit of strength you've got." 

Produced by Maria Jose Cabrera, the eye-catching video is edited and directed by Benjamin Dabu, who also helmed last year's equally inventive and stylish clip for "Candy Mountain" - check that one out here.

Dilly Dally have been out supporting METZ on tour in the States, and Canadian touring is scheduled once the album is released.

Published August 21, 2015

Led by Torontonian Allyson Baker, San Francisco-based synth-edged punk rockers Dirty Ghosts have attracted a growing and loyal following. Look for that to expand when Last Gang Records put out their keenly-awaited new album, Let It Pretend, on October 2.

Back in July the band put out an EP, Cataract, and its title track drew a rave review from NCM's Noah Siegel. He wrote that "the grimy cut is a nod to the ‘80s San-Fran synthpunk scene (Chrome being a solid reference point), armed with angular guitar riffs and driving rhythms, but not without a modern pop slant and memorable hooks."

"Cataract" will be included on the upcoming album, and a hugely entertaining video clip for it came out this week, premiering on the very popular Adult Swim channel. A press release notes that "director Derrick Beckles brings his celebrated and wonderfully bent style and approach to yet another one of his addictive, visual fever dreams". 

Beckles (aka Pinky Carnage) chimes in on the clip too. "Making a video for a song that digs onto your mind is never not delicious. I wanted to create a landscape that barfed a degraded, pixel rainbow of video delight and I am pleased to present the video for 'Cataract' by Dirty Ghosts. I hope it touches you in your appropriate saucy places." 

That it does, for the clip is a colourful and inventive treat. It stars a decidedly unphotogenic, chubby and under-dressed male dancing and cavorting around. One viewer queried whether it was Randy from Trailer Park Boys. No, but close. Thankfully, Baker is far easier on the eyes!

A Canadian writer/director/actor/comedian, Beckles has an interesting cv that includes being in punk bands early on, then playing a key role in the formation of VICE magazine. He helped found Vice TV, has directed other music videos, is the host of the Adult Swim television show Hot Package, and the creator of the TV Carnage compilations.

Dirty Ghosts have now booked an extensive North American tour in support of Let It Pretend. It includes two Canadian dates: Oct. 11 at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall and Oct. 13 at Ottawa's Dominion Tavern.

Published August 14, 2015

London, ON-based electronica producer/composer/DJ OVERWERK has become an in-demand performer around the globe. That nomadic lifestyle is depicted in eye-catchingly evocative fashion on his first ever music video, "Create."

The clip is a collaboration with high-definition action camera company GoPro. A press release explains that the video offers "an intimate view of life on tour through a DJ's perspective as he documents his travels with his DIY GoPro mouth mount. "

The fast-placed clip takes you around the world (his last tour covered 49 cities in 11 countries) in four minutes, and you'll have fun spotting landmarks (Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Harbour) as they flash by. The kinetic synth-based composition reminds us a little of Tangerine Dream. In just ten days, the clip has already attracted 235k YouTube views.

Here at NCM, we've been aware of OVERWERK's talent for a while now, and he was the second-ever winner of the $10,000 NCM Vista Music Prize. Check out NCM's recent review of his track "Toccata" here

OVERWERK continues his globe-trotting sked with gigs at Zig Zag in Paris (Sept. 4), Upstairs Cabaret in Victoria (Sept. 10), and Ryby Skye in San Francisco (Sept. 11).

Published August 7, 2015

The debut full-length album from Toronto-based mavericks Sunshine & the Blue Moon is not set for release (on Hand Records) until the fall, but the band recently sent us their new video, for the track "Lucy."

They won over this Luddite with their accompanying letter. It reads: "I think it's safe to say we're a nostalgic bunch. We get our music on vinyl or tape, we take our photos and shoot home videos on film, we drive around in my big old boat of a car, anything that brings us a little farther away from the pervasive technologies that dog all of our daily lives."

That approach led them to use super8 film for the clip (we didn't think you could still get that!) and they recruited "our best friend and honorary band member Laura-Lynn Petrick to direct and shoot". The visual talent of Petrick has been used by such other free spirits as Mac Demarco, Calvin Love, and Michael Rault.

The band also explained that "we had no intention of using this footage for a music video, but it just looked so great we thought might as well use it for something. We filmed it in the heart of winter, and we're releasing it now since it seems completely inappropriate!"

The grainy black and white clip features the band members cavorting in a seriously snow and ice-filled landscape that looks sub-Arctic, but for a quick glimpse of what I think is the Toronto skyline. The track itself is a demo recording of an old song, one that has a robust garage meets r 'n b ballad feel. 

The song is on a three-track collection of demos you can find on Bandcamp. They were recorded with Christopher Sandes, who was worked with the great Andre Ethier of The Deadly Snakes. Both the clip and song have us wanting to hear and see more.