• By: Owen Maxwell

Confidence Man will make you dance like an idiot from the first listen

Aldous Harding – Warm Chris (Lyttelton, New Zealand/Cardiff, Wales)

With every album Aldous Harding takes on a wondrous and often quirky jaunt along the line of wistful folk-pop and complex orchestral arrangements. Subdued tonally, this record finds Harding adding so many little melodic details that you discover something new on every new play. “Ennui” plays as a kind of weird flavor-piece to her styling, with such its stripped down piano charge allowing the colorful harmonies and off-beat horns to punch in with a lot more power even when quieted. “Tick Tock” lands with a much more direct approach, levelling each moment in the mix, but allowing every piano, guitar or voice to feel like it’s equally important. As such the song shines in its use of riffs and refrains, while still begging for a more expansive production. Harding’s voice returns to its deeper roots on “Fever” as the album starts to grow acoustically, with the sharp harmonies and bold brass creating this more frenetic sound, ultimately hitting a warm high in the finale. The shuffling groove of “Lawn” stands out in being a rare dance-ready moment on the record, with the voices dancing and the arrangements really creating this excited and raucous fun that lets the rest of the album gain a more playful energy as a result.  

Avalon Tassonyi  – Avalon Tassonyi (Niagara On The Lake)

Ahead of his show at the Happy Goat on April 8th,Tassonyi’s latest album fills your ears with a calming yet spiritual listen. The brightness in the arrangements turns “Kids Like Us” into a hazy country-folk dream, with every shimmer of piano adding this watery quality to its warm bounce. There’s a more pop-centred push on “Outside” with Tassonyi’s unusual rhythms in the song letting the whole track really pop in a way you wouldn’t expect. There’s a subtle Nick Drake quality to “Morning Song” as the guitars drip out with this slowly blooming scale, and we see Tassonyi really find the true poetry in his lyricism. The quick shot of “A Thing or Two” rounds things out here on a playful folk energy, lighthearted and full of a positive energy that’s hard to shake. 

Kavinsky – Reborn (Seine-Saint-Denis, France)

Nearly a decade after dropping the synthwave classic OutRun, genre-legend Kavinsky has returned to show why he still has meaning in a now heavily saturated genre. Although leaning to a more pop-focused angle on this record, the moments where Kavinsky goes all out in tone or just the scale of production, particularly on the instrumentals, shows the amazing level of genius that put them on the map in the first place. Through the dense and epic chords of “Pulsar,” Kavinsky carves out a cinematic feeling, and lets loose all the neon-tinged notes and unusually machine-like sounds that he so masterfully weaves into his work. While “Renegade” starts seemingly hollow in its production, only allowing for bass stings, the heavenly place it drops all its high-end lets Cautious Clay’s voice soar in the colossal feeling this chorus brings. The empty spaces on “Vigilante” play a lot better, as they feel suspended, ready to explode on that next big chord, and the electric current that Kavinsky brings in that synth line gives a great momentum to the whole production. “Zombie” brings the whole album back into focus with the most tantalizing selection of his synth sounds and such a rich tapestry of 80s throwback sounds that you’ll want to jump and sing along right away. To this effect, “Outsider” really uses the seismic charge of his instrumental work and creates perhaps the album’s most emotional track, and that final streak of strings pushes this track into the stratosphere.

Long Range Hustle  – I Am Alive, But Only If You Say I AM.  (Toronto)

Taking an indie rock sound and adding a truly mythic quality to their use of sound and small sonic details, Toronto’s Long Range Hustle show the love they pour into their craft. With their show at Neat Café coming up on April 22, this record shows how much fun their live show can really be. The cold shine of the notes on “Comeback Kid” create this sense of space on the track, and let the drums and vocals feel all the more dynamic in the range of the track, as it has this mountainous feel to its whole production, even before the guitars start to get really growly. The more welcoming approach of “American Cash” pulls you in, but highlights a similarly dense production where the band finds a way to mix their elements into this singular, magical unit of melodic bliss. Long Range Hustle amplify the cloudy feeling of their sound to a full pulse on “Beeswax” hitting a fiery high within the rush the song brings, and they let each chorus tumble on you like a waterfall. They explore this to its apex on “Election Night” in a track that is utterly lush in its use of keys, guitar tone and the sense of temperature, emotion and ability to drop you into the abyss.


Confidence Man – Tilt (Brisbane, Australia)

Keeping the spirit of house and electropop alive in a wonderful modern context, Confidence Man knocks it out of the park again here. More like a “lost classic” that you never heard than a simple nostalgia record, this album’s pitch-perfect production produces the best dance music of the year so far and easily a contender for best dance track. True to the core of this genre, you ccould easily put this record on at a party and it would satisfy for its whole run. “Woman” sets the record off on an empowering high, nailing every little beat, pulsating tone and electronic sizzle into this euphoric dance banger right from the moment it begins. From the opening “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”-esque band run to its powerfully focused electronica, “Feels Like A Different Thing” is already ecstatically intense, but it’s in that first true build up you get that tension that sets it apart, and then with the choral chanting takes it into a truly one-of-a-kind dance-EDM genre-fusing banger. Aside from the fact it somehow naturally fits in that breakbeat section, this track brings such an overpowering natural high that induces that need to dance like an idiot the first time you ever hear it. Even more fun than the sensual lyrics of “Toy Boy,” “Luvin U Is Easy” just hits such an amazing sonic blend in its production that you can dissolve into the layers it brings out. The perfect mid-point for fans of punk and this kind of dance charge, “Angry Girl” is funky, abrasive and endlessly groovy to its final note, and even drops a few fun little LCD Soundsystem-like beats in pockets of this track.