One-on-One with Freak Heat Waves

Freak Heat Waves (photo from Facebook)

Freak Heat Waves (photo from Facebook)

by Luca Capone

Interview with Thomas & Steve from FREAK HEAT WAVES! by Thenightshiftto on Mixcloud

Last Thursday, in the basement of the Smiling Buddha, I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Di Ninno & Steven Lind from Freak Heat Waves! Their record, Bonnie’s State of Mind is one of my favourites released in ’15, and so, we talked about the recording of that album, and the influences steeped within it, as well as the DIY music scene in Medicine Hat, improv jams with Damo Suzuki, the spontaneity based around different lineup incarnations (ex-bassist James Twiddy cordially left the group to follow his farming heart), Robo Cop, quenching their thirst on Orange Juice and Plastic Ono Band, a brief history on the hauntings of Victoria, BC, & MORE!

P.S. My recorder not only was acting alittle sktechy, but the band Vallens started sound-checking around the 13:36 mark. It gets a little loud.

For more info on Freak Heat Waves, head on ova hurr: https://www.facebook.com/freakheatwaves

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Review – “Animals in Love” – Grey Darlings

reviewed by Anna Alger

Hopeless atmosphere creates music to sink into on Grey Darlings’ debut release, EP Animals in Love. The Winnipeg three-piece capture the sound of a bedroom project, but with this comes intimacy and honesty.

Whimsical “sun” introduces listeners to the EP, its looping synths creating an immediately calming atmosphere. The quiet and steady percussion is a contrast to the dark, full yet slightly timidly delivered vocals. “jessie” features lyrics vaguely reminiscent of Kurt Vile’s, another looping tune more in the vein of indie rock, the instrumentation recalling the home recordings of Chad VanGaalen.

There’s a haunting air to the blunt voice narrating “nice,” accompanied by minimal percussion and crude but effective guitar. “working on my novel” is an instrumental musing which feels less cohesive than the rest of the EP, short guitar strums over a click track.

Brief yet supported by its barren backbone, Grey Darlings’ debut is an EP to soundtrack contemplation when things are bleak. The band are carving out their own niche in the lo-fi sound, one that has a promising future. Animals in Love is available as a name-your-price download via Grey Darlings’ Bandcamp page.

Top Track: “sun”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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Premiere: Kieran Blake – ‘Cloud None’

cloud noneWhat is the opposite of feeling happily in love? Perhaps it’s being on Cloud None, the latest from Montreal’s Kieran Blake. He’s previously impressed us with What Vicious Glow, and on this new album he rolls out some more mournful love songs set to a mixture of R&B and folk influences. Whether it’s some hazy guitar or more ambient electronics, Blake’s emotional lyrics and vocal style are the centrepiece. Songs like “Slow Ghost” bring in some strings while “Bottom of the Sea” briefly breaks away from the gloom.

You can listen below to the entire album ahead of its August 4 release date. To pre-order Cloud None on cassette, check out the Port Vanderlay Bandcamp page.

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Wayhome: July Talk, Hey Rosetta!

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Hey Rosetta!

by Lisa Wiklund

Of all the music festivals I’ve been to, Wayhome most certainly makes the top three. The phenomenal music, coupled with cool vibes and even cooler people made for an unforgettable weekend.

While there was an incredible amount of Canadian talent present (Alvvays, The Sheepdogs, Viet Cong and surprise guest Broken Social Scene to name a few) I made sure to check out two of my favourites: Hey Rosetta! and July Talk.

If I had to describe Hey Rosetta!’s performance in one word it would be breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. Although this was my third time seeing Hey Rosetta!, it was like I was experiencing them live for the first time all over again. From points of absolute joy to moments of awe and sometimes sadness, I had goose bumps throughout the entire show. Perhaps my favourite song of the performance was “Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)” from the band’s most recent album Second Sight. What began as slow and careful became vibrant and alive as keyboards, percussion and strings came into full effect. The crowd reacted accordingly and the energy in the tent was palpable. The set ended with a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” and while perhaps an unexpected choice, fit perfectly as the last song. The camaraderie amongst the crowd was only heightened, and each audience member left the show with a smile on their face and perhaps a couple of tears in their eyes.

After seeing Hey Rosetta!’s set I was convinced nothing could top it, although July Talk came pretty damn close. The exchange throughout the set between Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Creepy yet so incredibly captivating, the two put on a performance that I never wanted to end. Fay seemed especially frisky as she scaled scaffolding and played with an unsuspecting security guard, all the while looking fabulous in a leather jacket and skinny jeans (how she didn’t melt in that outfit in 30+ degree weather I’ll never know). But what set is complete without an onstage wet t-shirt contest? Apparently not July Talk’s. Besides relief from the sweltering heat, contestants of the contest also received a kiss from Dreimanis, making them the envy of every audience member. Yet amongst all this, the band managed to put on a flawless show, with not a note out of place. Surprising to some, the band has released only one album, yet its craftsmanship is undeniable. “Guns and Ammunition” had everyone singing while “The Garden” had feet tapping. Amongst old hits were two new ones, as the band revealed they soon hope to be finished their second album. After that performance, I can’t wait to hear the newest from July Talk.

Now back in the city I can say I am #wayhomesick.

You can bet I’ll be back next year.

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Review – “Father Christmas” – Father Christmas

reviewed by Laura Stanleya1179620997_16

Over the weekend I chose to celebrate Christmas in July by listening to none other than Father Christmas. As it turns out, July 25th is probably the most appropriate time to listen to Father Christmas aka Kyle Alexander Peters. After a few songs, the classic image of the jolly old elf unavoidably resting in my mind morphed into the shorts wearing, sunglass rocking wannabe you see in places much further south than here.

Father Christmas is soaked in the psychedelic folk-pop of the 1970s. The same sun that hippies and cult members squinted at is what Peters is looking up to, this time breathing in a lot more pollution than his would be counter-parts.

Long stretches of the album are covered by a thick haze of reverberation, swirling jams, and harmonies. “Housten St” and closer “Down Yonder” both plod along amongst this combination, the latter changing its tune during the final half of its nine plus minute long epic. The opening minute of the album (in “Dream House / Texas 1986”) spins in the smoke of psychedelia before moving to a fast-paced folk-pop number which includes a trumpet, a highlight through the LP, that punches through any leftover haze. 

Where Father Christmas really stands out is when Peters gets to higher ground. The air seems clearer in “Come Here,” thanks in part to a warm cello. Lyrically it also matches this new head space, touching on the importance of taking time to sort things out.

As the LP’s rawest showing of folk music, “Red Son” is also perched atop this high ground. Starting off with a timeless lyric, “A rambling man once said to me, ‘Boy you ain’t nothing if you ain’t free,’” the song radiates thanks to memorable melody and outstanding combination of cello, picked guitar, banjo, and additional vocals from Amy Nostbakken.   

Whether travelling across the desert or up on the highest hills, Father Christmas is a gift.

Top Tracks: “Come Here”; “Red Son”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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Review – “Catalyst” – Artifiseer

Coverreviewed by Michael Thomas

The evolution of Artifiseer has been more than apparent as Ian Livingstone releases more and more recordings. But his recordings up until now have often come with a preface—they’re filled with songs Livingstone decided not to put on his upcoming LP, or the recording is to tide listeners over until this LP arrives.

That LP has now arrived, and Livingstone has proven that he can take his adventurous experimental music to new heights, and for the long haul. Catalyst is not the key to a reaction; it’s the reaction itself. Catalyst is constantly moving—swirling, even—and often in unexpected directions.

There’s some continuity between this and the Enigma EP—it contained the first version of the stellar song “After Dark,” which has here been extended into an almost seven-minute cycle of a song, complete with samples, modified vocals, strong synths and music-box sounds. It’s a great hook into the rest of the album, which alternates between the poppier songs like “After Dark” and the darker, almost creepy songs like “Sleep Infinite.” The latter clanks and whirs like a piece of complicated machinery, and even as a brighter-sounding synth comes in there’s something dark just around the corner.

Even creepier is “XVIII,” which starts off like the soundtrack to a haunted castle before warping and turning into the stuff of nightmares.

“Drown” is one of the album’s strongest offerings, and despite its title, is not quite as grim as you’d think. “Struggling, I gasp for air” is a potent image to start the song off, but it quickly becomes apparent that the drowning of this song is not literal (at least, I hope not). “Lights in the Sky” is a bit more transparent in its poppiness, with bright, pulsating synths and nakedly emotional lyrics: “North winds blow and I feel it light anew/Unravel these words, these words I spin for you.”

Livingstone also proves he can be contemplative (and continues to love symbols in song titles) with “Of Stone ♥ Of Glass,” a (relatively) quieter song focusing on piano and deep, spiritual-sounding hums.

Just as Livingstone started the album with a long song, so too does he end on one. “Kiss Me in Silence” is no tender, romantic song—clocking in at roughly 9:45, the song features no vocals, only a series of harsh industrial synth sounds, as though Livingstone is forcefully pulling apart his constructs one by one. It’s an intriguing end to an unpredictable album.

The art of Artifiseer has undoubtedly reached new heights here, but Livingstone likely has way more tricks up his sleeve for the future.

Top Tracks: “Drown”; “Of Stone ♥ Of Glass”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – Arecibo – ART THIEF

review by Chris Mateia1460330026_16

Arecibo, by Vancouverites ART THIEF, shares its name with one of the world’s largest radio telescopes: a massive white eye staring out of the middle of a Puerto Rican jungle at the ionosphere and the vastness of space beyond. One can only imagine the dense, incoherent mess of manmade signal and noise that such a powerful instrument must cut through to peer out into the void.

Hatem Zayed and Paul Schuegraf have integrated “noises stolen from everywhere” into the fabric of their record, which, while self-labelled “experimental,” has little in the way of free-associative drift and exploratory tonal fiddliness generally associated with music given descriptors of that sort. In fact, Arecibo is a tight and inventive collection of hook-driven alternative, balancing post-punk angularity and rawness with a generous helping of energy and slinky kinetic groove much in the fashion of Spoon’s or Modest Mouse’s early work.

Strange snippets of mangled radio talk and between-channel noise crackle at the edges of many of these songs, underpinning the lo-fi drum sounds to create weird crags and edges around which melodies form and fragment. Some of the material, like “Art Thief” or late-album cut “Transplant Failure,” recalls the mix of pop ebullience and keen-eyed punk sharpness of the New Pornographers’ Electric Version. Other tracks, like “Wolves in the House” and “Mannekin” thrive on the creation of wiry dark tension cloaked in fuzz. “Darker Than Night” stalks and creeps before unleashing a barrage of high-frequency soloing. “The Projectionist” floats lilting, sweet overdriven licks out of a swirling kinetoscope of an arrangement.

There are grungy moments, psych-rock flourishes, and some inspired guitar work, both noisy and melodic, spread across this album: it stretches and pulls and picks at the edges of what the “pop” and “rock” parts of “alternative” have come to mean. It’s as paranoid and raw in some moments (“Spheres”) as it is upbeat and vibrant in others. While the low-res rock aesthetic skews Arecibo deliciously off-kilter, ART THIEF have kept the core language of their message rooted in the universal language of the hook. Beam it up.

Top Tracks: “Believers,” “Wolves in the House,” “Astronauts”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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