Canada 150

Album Reviews: October 31, 2017

Album Reviews: October 31, 2017

Casper Skulls - Mercy Works  (Toronto)

A captivating force on a stage, Casper Skulls always had a more gritty sound on record that felt like a different side of their live beast. Finally releasing their debut and introducing strings to the mix, they have a record that not only feels right for them, but is one of the years finest. On sliding riffs, "You Can Call Me Allocator" carries instant catchy nature in its melodies and the building harmonies make it brutally satisfying. Melanie St. Pierre's creamy vocals dance around the guitars and strings on "Lingua Franca" as glistening tones shine with a sense of bittersweet triumph. With a deeper sense of wonder and mystery, "Primeval" starts the band's deep sonic exploration on the record, as they build and build this track with arrangements and distortion until it's a dense masterpiece. Rushing with energy, "The Science of Dichotomies" runs fast and each of St. Pierre's vocal runs with the guitars is an exciting dance of melody.


adcBicycle - Five Four For Film (Ottawa)

With a jazz approach to deep synth rock, adcBicycle crafts a strong instrumental album full of rich textures and moving melodies. The latest in a string of releases by the band, one can only wonder how they'll evolve next. "Cloudy Strong Defiant" opens the record with a hefty swing of drums and flickering key strokes, as the rhythms bounce up and down to make a constantly dynamic track. Taking in more prog-rock undertones, "Tentative Assured Confident" distorts its synths a little for a bass-driven song that opens up its instrumentation to explode into its finale. "Charmed Tested Overcome" switches to more psychedelic tones for a wonky and offbeat track that brings in more effects for a constantly driving beat. Getting intensely heavy on "Hopeful Determined Joyous" there's a harsh edge as they make a slow but sunny roll through their hard-hitting beats.  


Margo Price  - All American Made (Nashville)

One of the last refuges of modern country that not only feels alternative, but still appeals to the old school, Margo Price shifts to more bluesy roots on her new record. While instrumentally simpler than her last record, All American Made is a lyrical wonder of a record that proves Price isn't slowing down. Making for a wise love song, "I Don't Say" finds Price doling out advice in her twang, as she contrasts vastly different concepts. Switching to much darker subject matter on our own crutches, the track's catchy hooks make it easy to miss how sombre it truly is. At her most over on the timely "Pay Gap" Price makes clever remark after clever remark about the politics behind the issue while strumming out to island guitars. At the album's most ambitious, "All American Made" takes out the album on a slow-burning track that critiques and sums up America in its current shape.


Finn M-K - Album Hok (Ottawa)

Intersecting different styles of music, Finn M-K's music is a testing but rewarding listen that pushes the boundaries of pop and the genres he pulls from. Booming from the top with loud distorted keys, "The Fire I Love" finds Finn rapping over bouncy piano pop, pushing his harmonies just as hard as the synths he shreds on. Sprawling melodies open "Pull Me" with tones of Coldplay as Finn goes for a much more tender ballad, that pushes slowly and methodically to hit its emotional mark. As drums crash endlessly around his vocals, "Lavender Air Balloon" is a wide open breath of air on the record with guitar notes splashing all around. Taking in a lot more grime and strange syncopation, "We Are Heroes" is a the heaviest track on the record, and feels as raw as it does occasionally out of place.


Bully  - Losing (Nashville)

One of the most touching and personal records of the year is has a harder shell than you might expect. Coming off the success of their catchy debut, Nashville alt-rockers Bully have tightened up the ship and lament their life home from tour on the intimate Losing. Immediately tense, "Feels the Same" rushes with drums and crisp energy, as the lyrics sort out how you replace missing emotions. "Kills To Be Resistant" takes a brief upbeat tick as they brave through to more triumphant feelings before hitting a raucous bridge for the climax of the track. Taking notes from the Pixies, "Focused" rolls a bass line and sharp lyrics to let its production make it all bloom together sublimely thanks to clever use of dynamics. "Not The Way" however is the most out there track on the record but also most exciting as it never feels too experimental, instead making for something pop and memorably harsh at the same time.