• By: Owen Maxwell

Album reviews: August 6, 2019

Babehoven – Solemnis (Los Angeles, California)

There's a sparing set of artists who can tear us apart with simple guitar and voice rock, but Babehoven prove that there's still something to it. As more of taster for their raw emotional power and musical tenacity, this EP is a great promise of what's to come. "Boiled Rice" hits so straightforward that it's impossible for its melancholy not to hit you, and in that way its simple approach to frustration works. There's a lot more going on in the melodies of "Icelake" however, with voicing shifting all over the place and hooks playing with and against the guitars themselves. Though the overall dynamics of "Right Hand" keep it from a sharp, punchy sound, there's a story and unnerving bass hook here that would kill given the right rearranging. However there's no questioning the cheeky fun of "Lena" where all the bouncy guitars play to the comically blunt statements about its title character.

Quiet Crimes – Quiet Crimes (Ottawa)

Immediate and in-your-face, Quiet Crimes really waste no time with pretense on their new record. Riding the line of punk and hard rock perfectly, you'll be screaming along with them without getting distracted by something you've heard before. There's a sludge in "Out of View" that keeps things moving without ever feeling too pop-heavy, and Quiet Crimes' sense of twisted chord-styles really adds to the emotion of the track. Even as "Heavy Like the Sun" slows things down to emphasis the more metal-influenced roots of their music, there's a heft that they get out of this pace. While it's a little less overtly catchy, "Sleep Awake" is so full of constant attack in its writing that you'll be entranced. Things take a more straightforward rock direction on "Dare I Say," if only to make all the unusual turns it takes later on feel more impactful.

Witching Waves – Persistance (London, U.K.)

From raw emotion to raw energy, Witching Waves keep things interesting with a sound that is always busy and on the verge of something bigger. As they layer punk-rock with something more colourful, you'll be as ready to mosh as you are to listen again for all the details. There's a kind of thunder-versus-lightning effect on "Disintegration," as every verse rumbles with bass and low drums before shouts and cymbals clatter through the chorus. There's watery guitars trickling through the back of "Eye 2 Eye" which gives its often frantic energy a little something extra to give it life beyond the album itself. The neon riffs of "Shipping Container" let everyone in Witching Waves go unhinged, and shred their way through one of the most intense songs of the album. Though their chord-driven tracks like "Inside Outside" leaves you on far too familiar ground, their brand of distortion drenches it enough disdain to set it apart.

Fire Antlers – Futuria Fantasia (Ottawa)

Ambiance is a powerful tool in the hands of Fire Antlers, as they bring a life to their rock that's to match quite the same way. With songs like "Twilight Run" there's a shimmering in its dark world, that only grows brighter in the final bell tones it lets out. This kind of attention to the overall feeling of the record helps set the tone for the more melodramatic vocals of the record like on "6 AM" where a Lou Reed approach is often contrasted with near Tim Curry levels of theatrics. However there's also a surprising amount of groove in music like "Carpenter," which sees the whole energy sfhiting to something a lot more upbeat and danceable. This kind of play also allows songs like "Drift" to sway between laidback delivery and something very direct while often exciting too. 

Drake – Care Package (Toronto)

Whether new or old, it's clear to see how many other artists Drake has influenced. Listening to his time capsule of unreleased b-sides, it's a lot more obvious how his singles became so huge. As things start out suavely on "Dreams Money Can Buy," there's a smoothness and low-key energy that Drake manages that feels refreshing compared to his newer material. Despite the restrained feeling at times on "How Bout Now" the dramatic shifts into every chorus really hit hard and bring a tension to the rest of the song. With a bit of Kanye energy, "Draft Energy" floats with bombast and a vintage glee that was likely only scrapped for its notable similarities to other rap greats. Nestled between some questionable features, "Heat of the Moment" is a slow-burning club track, that oozes tones of R&B and the hazy pop that Drake has made so popular.   

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