A few overlooked acts in 2016: year end edition


by Anna, Laura, and Michael

Though we’re passionate about Canadian music, we are, in the end, a small group of people. Sometimes life gets busy; sometimes we get several stellar records submitted to us all at once; sometimes we discover a great record, only to be distracted by something else. So twice a year, we play catch-up. Here are some records we weren’t able to cover until now.

Soft Violence – Beneath a Wounded Moon

Towards the end of the song “Soft Violence”, Liam Faucher (Soft Violence himself) sings, “I’m still growing in to my heart, in to my soul.” This emotional quest that Faucher outlines here is really at the heart of his debut Beneath a Wounded Moon. Each song is intense and dramatic with lyrics marked by stark imagery and minimalistic instrumentals. In the standout “Caskets,” Faucher, practically whispering, tries to settle his soul, a sentiment that is then repeated in the piano-ballad, and another highlight, “Go Easy On Me.” By record’s end, Soft Violence has delivered a weighty blow and you’re desperate for Faucher to find some peace. – Laura Stanley

Rating: Young Hoot (Decent)

Bart – Holomew

It’s hard to describe Bart as anything other than stunningly good. This multi-headed hydra of prog-pop goodness is a treat to watch live and an equally good treat to just take in aurally. There’s something magical about their triple harmonies and their adventurousness in composition (see the several major shifts in “Hurricane Rita,” from intense guitars to twinkling synths). Holomew covers a wide constellation of their universe—you’ll find gentle, almost melancholic beauty in “Hello” and “Why” on the same album as the 80s-esque “In Your House” and the multiple left turns of “Yeah.” Someone insert a Simpsons reference that encapsulates how awesome they are, please. – Michael Thomas

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*

Thorin Loeks – Thirsty Hearts

Melancholic, stripped back folk characterizes the confessional sounds of Thorin Loeks’ Thirsty Hearts. His retrospective songs trace the artist’s journey from Whitehorse to North Vancouver. Calming and warm, tracks such as “Crossroads” consider the difficulties of nurturing one’s relationships. Loeks takes a broad view of the emotionality of life on this release, creating an album which has a universal quality to it. The similarity of lyrical themes drag the music down some, but it retains a sense of comfort. Loeks is an intriguing artist making music which connects with the landscapes of the Yukon and North Vancouver. – Anna Alger

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Hooded Fang – Venus on Edge

Call this less of an overlook and more a confluence of records coming out in May. Toronto’s Hooded Fang is the central hub of countless offshoots, but the group hasn’t gotten stale or complacent in the least. Venus on Edge is textbook Hooded Fang; unsettling, unrelenting, completely unpredictable. They play a kind of pop warped by post-punk and a boundless source of energy, from the dance-punk fever of “Dead Battery” to the hellscapes of “Miscast,” where Daniel Lee repeats “We’ll see you to the other side.” Perhaps you could think of this album as a soundtrack to our planet being on a collision course with fiery Venus. Dance it all out and wonder if Hooded Fang got their musical powers from hell itself. – MT

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Zachary Lucky – Everywhere A Man Can Be

Echoing Michael’s sentiments above, Zachary Lucky‘s Everywhere A Man Can Be is not an “overlooked” release but just one that came out when life was a little crazy. “I need to listen to Zachary Lucky’s new album!” – me, at least once a week since it was released in October. On Everywhere A Man Can Be, Lucky takes listeners across North American – to dive bars and the rocky mountains, and along dusty highways with Townes Van Zandt playing on the radio. Lucky’s country drawl, which is, seemingly, getting deeper with each release, acts as the perfect pen to write this road-warrior’s stories. – LS

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Late Spring – Invisible 

Distortion! Squeals! Attitude! Lots of my favourite music elements are floating around Late Spring’s grungy sophomore release Invisible. Highlights: “It Is My Bod” is a guitar-powered fierce declaration of autonomy, “Drink U” is like a mixed drink of your choosing – seemingly sweet but will leave you with a wicked hangover – lead singer KC Wei’s voice on “Fireball 2” is fantastic, and the title track is an absolute ripper. Welcome Late Spring with open arms and turn it up loud. – LS

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

Waitress – Delay Our Time

This Saskatoon duo hits the perfect sweet spot between shoegaze and synth-pop. The mysterious title seems to indicate an attempt to hold off the call of death for a while, if only to indulge a little before your time comes for real. There’s plenty of new-wave-y goodness like “Engram” or the ascending guitars of “Crome Candel,” but the duo also leaves room for some weirdness. “Theme From Waitress” is an unexpectedly funky number with a killer bass groove, and “Cry Baby” ushers in the album with a slow-burning wave of synths. If your time is coming, this duo’s music would be a nice tune to hear as you go higher. –MT

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Bobbitopickles – Old Ones

In each of the 16 songs, all under 2 minutes, from Old Ones, Bobbitopickles gives us just a taste of his musical mind. But despite its brevity, there’s so much to grab onto in these lo-fi hip-hop tracks: “Interlude in the Nude” (what a title!) samples “Pure Imagination,” “Feels” makes me think of a busy city on a blistering hot summer’s day, and I love the warped smokiness of “Beatrice”. Bobbitopickles – get to know the name. – LS

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)


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