• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: January 7, 2019

Foxwarren – Foxwarren (Regina, SK)

Explorative writing but solid pop gives Foxwarren a strong drive that songwriter Andy Shauf has already been displaying on his own. Though their new album is definitely pulling from a lot of familiar ground, they keep their sonic-end glowing enough to feel new again. Slow as it starts, "To Be" is one of those tracks built in layering, and eventually expands its simple notes into a feeling all their own. "Lost In A dream" does reveal some of the album's tendencies towards very empty verses but it changes itself so many times that you'll be able to move past them. "Your Small Town" itself is rustic in its aesthetic but personal enough to become something only Foxwarren could make. A little jangly fun comes out in "Fall Into A Dream" and they use the space of the track to reach into the depths of their imagination.

Ted Axe – Sex Horror Violence (Toronto)

In keeping the theatrical metal of acts like Alice Cooper alive, Ted Axe has had to go the extra mile in his music. The grimy riffs of "Death Us Do Apart" will get you moving, but the real meat that Axe brings out is in the constantly shifting melodies and sections that assure the track is both fun and intriguing. Glam goof shines on "Femme Fatal" while the guitars are shrieking with glee for a track that is euphoric and rich in tone. There's a much sharper edge to "I Don't Want To" as it sinks to the low-ends of Axe's range, though it's definitely a rage-track you'll know well. Axe really scratches on "Nuthin At All" and lets the solos do all the talking on this track that takes it slow to let the groove take over.

Alle – Mara (International Collective)

The power of the collective is one that always surprises and brings out colours in musicians you might not expect. Through parts Warpaint and Atoms For Peace, Alle sees a range of musicians merging hip hop beats, indie guitars and symphonic sounds into a mix that is wholly inspiring. Despite a brief time together, Alle are tight as can be on "Soot" bringing attitude and dense emotions out with overwhelming power. This flows into the album's other side on "Klin" where strings dance in both abrasive and welcoming tones. Though it would be nice to see this merge with the more rocking tones of something like "CoStar," all the rhythms play around enough to make this demented track fun. This does start a little on "Liver And Lung" as evne the mix starts to see riffs playing from end to end and instrumentation play at all sides of the recording.

Cosmo Doris – Scotty Kills (Ottawa)

Dense vaporwave-like sounds, jazz and lo-fi electronics are just part of the cast that infect the understated hip hop of Cosmo Doris. This makes a track like "Bury Me In Denim" so sonically fluorescent, as its lyrics dance between a lot of swagger and something more solidly poetic.  With genres switching out rapidly on "Say That Again" there's a jazz-like flow that holds the track together as the raps themselves seem to shift just as fast in delivery. Though it's somewhat generic in a few ways, there's a unique indie charm to "Vile" that stands out as something surprisingly tight for its humble origins. While much of the album moves slowly, Cosmo Doris hints at a strong bit of beat-making on "Soul Food" that shows where they could go if they get much darker.

Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Zwaag, Netherlands)

While more emotive rock scores seem to be more of a nostalgic realm for bands like Goblin these days, Jacco Gardner offers the genre a fresh take. Sifting between warm and cold ends of the sound, Gardner creates a world in his music that is fun but will also make you imagine where it all comes from. "Rising" lays out the full sonic palette of the album, and shows you just what kind of sci-fi-like tones that Gardner has in his keyboard. It's on the thematic highs of "Volva" however that he really takes off, and sends you flying on riffs and the windy rasps of his soundscapes. There's even a weight on something like "Eclipse" that takes the already vintage drive of the track and lets it explore more while rocking hard. His most dance-driven moments come on "Privovla" however where he sets a groove and brings out so many gripping tones you'll be lost between the two ends of the song.