Beekeeper’s Shout At People, starts out in a manner that perfectly reflects the feel of the band. Their first song is a 40 second long chaotic jumble of sound entitled “Bees” that is part comedic part operatic and totally Beekeeper. “I Don’t Need Hope, I Need Whisky” is the most polished song on the album. I love the collaboration between guitarist Devon Lougheed and bassist Brandi Sidoryk. The album is definitely on the extreme side of quirky, but there is something intriguing about this band that is not for the weak of heart. Most songs can take a stylistic 180 rather quickly, but at least Beekeeper keeps you on your toes. “Oh, Hi!” goes from experimental rock to hoe down in the blink of an eye. The band self categorized the song as a “cowpunk love song” Shout At People definitely walks the fine line between complete chaos and complete brilliance
The Verdict: Beekeeper is definitely a band that grows on you over time. Give this album several listens before you toss it by the wayside. You never know they might become one of your favourite local acts!
Heartthrob is the seventh studio album for Canadian indie darlings Tegan and Sara. However, iis definitely a departure from their self deprecating indie rock that we are used to. Heartthrob is an in your face pop album with lyrics that cut to the chase. This is intriguing both as a huge Tegan and Sara fan and as a music reviewer. The fan in me is cautious of this new direction, however my critical side is telling me this giant leap is a brilliant move for the Quin twins. “Closer” is a powerhouse dance tune that shows the ladies have definitely learned from their work with big name EDM artists like Tiesto and Morgan Page, and David Guetta, yet the song also has a bit of innocence to it that makes me want to dance around the house with a toothbrush microphone. This album is definitely Sara Quin’s area of expertise and most of my favourite songs were hers. “Goodbye, Goodbye” is an anthemic track while “How Come You Don’t Want Me” is raw and emotional perspective ballad. “All Messed Up” is easily Heartthrob’s crowning power ballad. I literally got chills when Sara belted out her call and answer of “go” and “please stay”.
The Verdict: This is a surprisingly refreshing direction for one of Canada’s beloved bands. It could have bombed, but Tegan and Sara managed to pulled off a synth driven pop album with the help of some great producing by Greg Kurstin and Mike Elizondo.
Never Had the Time is a fantastic second album from Vancouver’s own Portage & Main. A great capture of the band’s energy and talent. There is a strong beginning, middle and end, depicting the life and growth of young men maturing throughout the record.“Better Man” is one of the strongest songs, and it makes for a great sing-along. “As A Child” is bittersweet but overall hopeful, full of imagination and adventure. Personally, one of my favourite types of music is sad songs with catchy, up-beat tune: “Lied to Me” is a perfect example of an ‘oh well’ tune with an unapologetic attitude. The feminine touch in “This Old Heart” balances the masculinity of the record really nicely. Of course, “Sweet Darlin” is the organ-blasting sing along that I can’t wait to play when I depart on my next train ride. “It is You” is another song to tug at the heart-strings. “It is you that makes me whole” is as hopelessly romantic sentiment, a song about settling down in love and life.
Verdict: Never Had the Time is a perfect portrait of the emotions of manhood, both sensitive and rowdy. These BC boys have proven that the can produce just enough twang and harmony to create a classic country-roots record.
k-os was definitely ambitious with BLack on BLonde; a bold 19 songs over 2 CD’s, the first half of which are classic k-os hip-hop and the other half an exploration into the rapper’s ability to play drums and guitar. Opening first with the hip-hop side, most of the songs are the good old k-os jams. Well thought, well crafted hip-hop. “NYCE 2 Know Ya” is easily the album’s big hit potential; it evokes sounds similar to what we already hear on Top 40. Corey Hart and Metric’s Emily Haines are the big guest names here; Haines’ vocals get an interesting treatment: no verse, instead just her saying “I give em’ one time” looped over and over at different pitches while k-os raps over it. On the rock side, k-os shines just as strong. “The Dog Is Mine” has already been eating up alt radio charts, but “Don’t Touch” with Sam Roberts stood out. It evoked so many sounds; Len, Filter, a lot of 90′s rock sound but in a fresh way. Sebastien Grainger from Death From Above 1979 shows up on “Surf’s Up”, a song that uses synth drums and sounds almost like a Metric B-side featuring k-os.
The Verdict: k-os has shown a ton of versatility on BLack on BLonde, and done it well. The album does lack a bit of clear direction but he is to be commended for stretching himself to new musical limits
Tough Mitts approached me to review their EP as we both share an “affinity for analogue synths”. Often focusing on just one instrument can lead to a lack of variation. Tough Mitts explore many different sides; slower synth jams, more upbeat pop-like music and even hip-hop. The music at times sounds like Crystal Castles with it’s distorted 8-bit blips. The EP is definitely a synth-forward production,but great synth work can’t always cover flaws. Sam Coll’s voice is definitely one that takes getting used to and some may just be put off with it. That being said, the last song on the EP “The Rules” is a standout; dropping his voice an octave comes off well, the song sounding like a collaboration with Kontravoid.
The Verdict: Thought the EP showcases strong musical composition, Tough Mitts could benefit from venturing into vocal distortion and a less polished electronic sound.