• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: DJ Kirby, Mary Timony, Nadine Shah

DJ Kirby – Skydancing

Between Das Beat and Blue Hawaii, Alex Agor Kirby (or Alex Kerby Cowan) has cemented a solid discography already, and now we’re getting to hear the roots of where their voice makes the most impact. Merging familiar bits and pieces with more modern EDM touches to create a dancefloor-ready record, ditching nostalgia for a driving sound. The club-focused sound of “Tunnel” has an explorative sonic feel, constantly guiding your mind in new directions while the thumping bass and drums keep your soul shaking on and on. Though it uses more expected DJ tropes, “Gotta Get Back” veers between European roots and intriguing vocals to create a mystifying air in its soundscape, keeping you focused on every little detail of the mix. “Think Ur Lonely?” plays on a more warped vocal sample, for a straight-out banger, driving louder and more dynamically as the song goes on, maturing the textures and feel of the song, just to drop another intoxicating beat and blown-out synth to get you soaring again. “Need Ya” focuses its samples in a much more constant way, creating something between Kirby’s bands, a bit of Grimes even, and something transcendent beyond any of their previous projects.

Sun Freezing Cold At the Speed of Light

Overflowing with futuristic disco energy, “Never Again” blends a menacing, shadowy Depeche Mode drive with Blondie roots as well. With teeth showing in the synths of “For Goodness’ Sake,” the band takes a slower ballad approach, letting the sunny runs of their choruses hit you like a light at the end of a cold day. The running bass of “At the Speed of Light” provides the strongest dance grooves of the record, and, surprisingly, some of the most explorative drums too, with the catchy chorus tying the whole piece together in a memorable and addictive way. Nile Rodgers-esque guitars come through on “Love You Right Back” for a lightning-fast and neon-tinged dance track with a healthy dash of 70s and 80s sheen to make you long for the past.

Mary Timony – Untame the Tiger
Washington, DC

With nearly two decades since a true solo album, Mary Timony might be more known to some for projects like Helium, Ex Hex, Wild Flag and Autoclave than for her personal records. The more playful nature of those records, mixed with the punch of Timony’s band albums collides on this record, for something that feels like a middle point of all her prior work, on a slow-burn record that’s surprisingly full of space to let the music breathe. There’s a voyaging sense of wonder to “No Thirds” as the album sets off, with Timony harnessing strings and subtle keys amidst her floatier guitars for a slow but sprawling track. “Summer” growls with a more classic and vintage sound, calling back to Timony’s early work, and giving some of the most visually evocative lyrics of the whole album. The instant turn to pop between the melodies and frantic percussion on “Dominoes” makes for an unexpected and quirkily sparse track for a time, evolving and gaining parts surprisingly slowly to make its fuzzy finale all the more impactful and satisfying.  The sharper riffs of “Don’t Disappear” give Timony room to shift back and forth with the energy of the track, and let bass fall in and out, allowing for a kind of ebb and flow energy on the track’s verses.

GOOD2GO – If You Want It

With a charming power pop run, “Do It All” instantly wins you over as the record starts, playing on so much vintage rock fun and bring the chantable lines to get you lost in the music. Though the running speed of the guitars set things up, the blistering drums of “Hold Me Close” make for a thrashing track that keeps on kicking from start to finish. “Fall” laments the changing seasons and the malaise that sets over with it, using the band’s charging attitude to create a wave that, like the seasons themselves, can’t be stopped. Their riotous spirit is ferocious to the last second of “If You Want It,” as they create a snowballing track that taps into that golden era of both Ottawa and California surf pop that goes down easy.

Nadine Shah Filthy Underneath 
Whitburn, England

While she has consistently delivered powerful work, Nadine Shah feels fully realized on her latest album. With a dark feeling, some of the most cutting drum lines of modern indie pop-rock, and songs that take all the right notes from the likes of Grace Jones and Baxter Dury, Shah is hungry and charting new, dynamic territory on this record. Never has Shah evoked more Grace Jones than on her deep vocal runs on “Even Light,” while the groans of sax, wails of synth and beeping tones give the track an otherworldly glow. The mounting excitement of “Topless Mother” from those invigorating beats and subtle guitar runs creates a colourful explosion in Shah’s ecstatic choruses, as she rips through the sonic ceiling and bursts the song into new territory, and again brings frantic tension in the chanting grunt-like vocals that sneak into the track’s later sections. Shah swaps to a spoken approach on “Sad Lads Anonymous,” with a vicious bass and overwhelming feedback that pulls you further and further under in the song’s oppressive sound. The drums come in huge and with buzzing company on “Greatest Dancer,” as Shah merges the power of angelic highs and a pointed synth-guitar combo to make a track that keeps you riding the back and forth with her.