Alexisonfire’s latest record is like a good friend shaking you by the shoulders to wake up.
Gwenno– Tresor (Cardiff, Wales)
Few manage to conjure a mood of mystical wonder in their music quite like the playful arrangements that Welsh artist Gwenno does. Through the mix of her Cornish singing, the sublime instrumental choices and the otherworldly feeling, this music taps into something truly special. “An Stevel Nowydh” runs out the gate in its echoing and ghostly charge, with every string and piano cutting like it’s alive. While more lulling in its verses, “Tresor” mesmerises you in its rain-like riffs and the soaring of the harmonies that it lets out every chorus, expanding like a blooming fire. The transportive qualities of “Keltek” create a whole other plane for the music to exist in, letting this instrumental bubble like a mixture starting to react and morph itself. So much of Gwenno’s power as a songwriter is captured in “Tonnow” as every tone feels ethereal, every beat pushed to its righteous place in the mix, and the charge of its chants like a presence taking your soul over.
Colin Asuncion – Open Up (Toronto)
With a jazzy swing and a lot of soul, Colin Asuncion bears his whole being on his new EP. Smooth, personal and palpably from the heart, this is a soothing listen. “Unstoppable” is a forceful wave of vocals and harmony, all driven by Asuncion’s passionate delivery. With a more moving beat on “Make You Tired,” Asuncion gains a seductive quality, using his soft and alluring approach to become an understated pop star. “Fast Forward” strips it all back to another quiet ballad, feeling pulled right from an early 2000s musical, in a touching plea to move forward in life and love. There’s an immediately rushing groove on “We’re Here” that brings the most hope of the whole album, as Asuncion gains up all that conviction from the EP and turns it into a confident call to live.
Alexisonfire – Otherness (St. Catherines, ON)
So many years on, Alexisonfire feels rawer than ever, with their latest record feeling like a good friend shaking you by the shoulders to wake up. There’s a visceral force straight from the get-go on “Committed to the Con,” giving the whole song a sense of force and danger, to the point its tense intro (and pre-chorus riff) can overshadow the actual drops at times. The fiery tones of “Sweet Dreams of Otherness” feel like melodic explosions, as the track floats with a feeling over constant aftershocks berating you on and on. The sheer ferocity of “Conditional Love” hits like a speeding train, with Alexisonfire bringing so much grit and growl to the mix it often feels overwhelming. Elements of the fuzzy and screeching Queens of the Stone Age albums feel alive on “Reverse the Curse,” with the relentless swirl of feedback, colossal drums and harmonies elevating the whole album in closing tracks.
Jade Turner – This Song Sucks(Single) (Grand Rapids, MB)
In a fun play on love and those rare songs we associate with our deepest relationships (often to a lot of later pain), Jade Turner’s latest single is a fun radio banger. The energy of the track plays like that favourite track, worming its way into your head with every hook, rising vocal, and chanting line in its chorus. Every line flips the idea of a deep lyric, addictive melody and the high of music, and meshes that all into the conflict that comes out of a breakup, and how weirdly these two ideas can overlap. Simple and to the point, this punchy track is a great remedy to all those tracks that you now can’t listen to ever again.
The Dream Syndicate – Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions (Los Angeles)
True to the constant promise of their name, the newest release by this L.A. outfit feels like a hazy, imagined memory. “Where I’ll Stand” brings you into its warm and smoky mood, and lets you sizzle in the loose riffing and grooves the band drip out. The roaring guitars of “Every Time You Come Around” provide a kind of animalistic charge under the otherwise soft feel of the track, letting the whole thing feel welcoming but unwieldy. The twanging rush of “Trying to Get Over” brings out a Tom Petty sheen, and crackles with an electric frustration that is hard to shake. The keyboard lines of “Straight Lines” are a wonderfully playful touch, especially with the rumbling drums and constant shuffle of track providing one the album’s most angular and unpredictable listens.
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