Audible/Visual Hoots: Pierre Kwenders, Ellen Froese, Geoff Berner & more

Pierre Kwenders – “La La Love”

Pierre Kwenders is one of the most exciting voices in Montreal’s music scene, blending electronica with African influences in a way few (if any) Canadian artists are doing right now. He’s got a new album, MAKANDA, out Sept. 8, and until then he’s released two new singles, one of which is the busy “La La Love,” featuring Kae Sun and Tanyaradzwa. A repeated guitar line and voices intertwined make this song about love sound quite celebratory. Be sure to check out “Tuba Tuba” as well. –Michael Thomas

Ellen Froese – “I Wish I Had a Foot-Long Cigarette”

Ellen Froese’s “I Wish I Had a Foot-Long Cigarette” is a song about yearning. Froese, with an enchanting warble, wishes for things that can make her life a little bit easier. At the very end of the song, Froese sings, “I wish this road it wasn’t half as long, if I could cut it down in size, stop my mind from running dry…” and then the song just ends and you’re left stranded in the middle of a dusty highway. It’s SUCH a great ending. Now who can I bum a smoke off of? – Laura Stanley

Geoff Berner  – “Gino Odjick”

Not being much of a hockey fan, I wasn’t aware of Gino Odjick, but thanks to this new song from Geoff Berner’s upcoming Canadiana Grotesquica, I feel a huge amount of respect for the big bruiser. The song is very different from Berner’s klezmer-oriented music, instead going for a simpler, folk-based route to tell the story that really reads like a ballad or an odyssey. –MT

Squiggly Lines – Too Much & Not Enough

Squiggly Lines aka Rob McLay opens his two song EP Too Much & Not Enough with this admission: “Crying to myself – it’s not the first time.” It’s also a pretty apt summary of how intimately emotional McLay’s bedroom-pop songs are. On the first track “Fixing Bullfights,” McLay is quite quiet – maybe his roommates are sleeping – but he’s also determined to turn things around and become a better person. “I’m fixing my whole life,” he repeats. The latter song “Doors and Exits and Using Them” is glitchy. It’s as if the sensor on an automatic door has failed so the door is opening and closing at random – mimicking how difficult it is to say goodbye and/or to be the person to leave. – LS

Andi – “Half Home”

Touring is a necessary evil. You make some new fans, see some new places, maybe make a bit of money, but it’s draining. Unsurprisingly, “Half Home” was written on the road, with reference to wearing the same clothes and going “half home,” or to your car. Andi is going through a transition in her life, and this song references her getting older and wiser. The alt-pop guitars and “ooh oohs” make this a genuine road song. – MT

Rainout – Bleach b​/​w On the Run

Do you remember Sun-In? Do they still sell it? For those of you unfamiliar, Sun-In was this liquid that you spray into your hair and combined with the powers of the sun, would (supposedly) lighten your hair. Sun-In came to mind when listening to the nostalgic, dream-pop tracks “Bleach” and “On the Run” by Vancouver’s Rainout (Ben McDuffie). Probably because both songs thrive on the summer sun and also remind us how fleeting everything is. -LS

Snoqualmie – “St. Clair” 

I take a bus to and from St. Clair subway station almost every single day. Like many TTC stations, it’s pretty drab and its only noteworthy quality is that it smells faintly of McDonalds because of the one attached to the station. But thanks to the infrequency of my bus, St. Clair station is the place where I have processed a lot of emotions. Snoqualmie’s “St. Clair” – from the band’s new EP Sad Sack Canadiana – is a song about emotional processes. Alongside a cloudy and movable rock groove, Blake Enemark sings of searching for comfort and urges you to “speak truth in all you do”. Perhaps he’s spent some time thinking at St. Clair station too. – LS   

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