Album Reviews: Ottawa artist special

Cody Coyote Debwe/Manidoo Dewe'igan (Ottawa)

Ojibwe/Irish artist Cody Coyote hit us with some great singles this fall, playing with vintage hip hop and modern pop. "Debwe" hits an instantly infectious high from the start, with a bass hook that doesn't quit and a seamless groove to rap on top of. With a sound full of the swagger of early Dre and Snoop, it feels like a wonderful launching pad for Coyote himself to gain more attention from. With so many elements working for it, the "All my people" call and response just elevates it that much higher. Meanwhile Manidoo Dewe'igan breathes with electronic fire, as he merges darkness into an infectious hit. There's an urgency to fight in the heart of this song, and one that gives its sonic weight all the more meaning.

Tony D — Speak No Evil  (Ottawa)

MonkeyJunk man and feisty rocker on his own, Tony D strikes a defined note in his latest solo outing. From the outset you can feel the sense of fun that Tony is trying to have here in the flourish-heavy playing of "Amigo's Fandango" which adds a lot of dancing guitar lines to an otherwise stable blues core. Driving the noise out on "70's Big Muff" there' s a lot of playing to famous-sounding riffs, which is nevertheless fun, and impressive considering how often you find Tony switching between them without any break. The bouncy rhythms of "Little Saint" have a quaintness to them totally separate from most of the playing on this record, akin to many of the jaunts you'd get on a Zeppelin record. Interestingly with MonkeyJunk back on, there's an extended and often experimental play with all the effects and musical choices on "Swank," to produce a final note that doesn't settle for the same-old-same-old.

Mikhail Laxton — Cheater (Ottawa/Mossman, Australia)

The effortless funk-pop that Mikhail Laxton brings out their music is powerful, and plays to the worldly roots they've built in life. This new Ottawa transplant brings a finesse for vocals and really memorable melodies to their pop. With pianos stacked on the rippling guitar hooks, the song feels cold but instantly distinct in its feeling. Despite the downbeat feeling it presents, there's such an urge to dance here you won't want to get to bogged down. There's little time wasted on overindulging one idea, which does leave the "C-H-E-A-T-E-R" to be built up more with crowds in future shows, but it plants the idea well. Plus the stylish video he shot with Peptide Rebecca Noelle hammers the gloss in his sound all the more, while bringing out its rich emotion.

Rob Frank — Isolation (Ottawa)

With a sense for space and deeper acoustics in their rock, Rob Frank creates a massive sounding record that still manages to kick pretty hard. "Some Days" screams out with a fast and pop-heavy tone reminiscent of late 90s, early 2000s soundtracks, and its easily just as fun to listen to. Things settle down on "Dark Angel" for a more brooding and reflective ballad, that constantly feels like it wants to crank things up a little. A little more vintage play comes out on "Walk Away" with a wailing take on the scorned lover, topped off with a solo so fun it's hard to imagine Frank wasn't snickering while recording it. A grimy crawl lets "Cold" soar between its high and low end to creates a song that flies with its dynamic drops.

Marie-Clo — Shell(e) Part II (Ottawa)

As she mixes more English into her repertoire, Marie-Clo of course brings that same charm her French has. In this shimmering pop record, her lush instrumentals feel like water and light mixed into a sonic force. "The Noise" is awash with these aquatic timbres, with Marie-Clo creating these time-warped textures to constantly dive their voice into. This is played more spacey on "Many Moons" as the synths take their writing into this kind of blue, surreal place, where harmonies gather like ghosts. Both the soul and more tonal pop find equal footing on "Shell" with every call of "Settle Down" feeling more emotional than the last.