I’m going to go right out and say that R & B is generally not a genre I’m very big on. It’s the reason why I’ve only ever listened to The Weeknd’s albums House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence once each. I appreciated what Abel Tasfaye was doing and I have nothing against him, but it wasn’t music I saw myself ever returning to.
Except when I listened to Northern Hospitality, a new EP from the Toronto outfit High Park, I knew that this was a recording I would want to go back to. High Park essentially takes R & B, puts it through a blender and then sprinkles it over dark synthesizer beats. It’s a fresh take on the genre, which is why the opening beats of “My Walls” (which features Bobbi Dahl on vocals) are still stuck in my head as I type this.
“My Walls” is a bit of an anomaly for the EP, as it’s the only to feature original vocals throughout. It’s a strong opener, no doubt, but the EP stays consistent throughout even though the rest of the songs don’t really feature a singer. “Softspoken” and “Pearson Fade” feature vocal samples from Beyoncé’s “Halo” and Ne-Yo’s “Closer,” respectively, turning the song’s a cappella vocals into something totally different.
“Vibe” is cool too—while it keeps the drum machines present in the other song, it also features some cool piano. The EP ends with two remixes, one of which is of “Pearson Fade.” This particular one, done by Slow Head is noteworthy for turning the original song into something of a lullaby. The zxz remix of “L.A.” makes for some dance-heavy beats.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for R & B, I did find myself really enjoying this EP, and it’s one I definitely plan on returning to. By the way, the EP is free, courtesy of the wonderful Castledrum Records.
Top Track: “My Walls (feat. Bobbi Dahl)”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)