• By: Owen Maxwell

J Morris & co. lament the struggle to make your passion your life.


Wet Leg  – Wet Leg (Isle of Wight, U.K.)

After a string of the some of the most hyped singles in recent years, Wet Leg’s full record is finally here. Full of unpredictable production choices, great riffs and a refreshingly explicit lyrical choices, this is a band that feels truly new, and yet still has writing that feels like you’ve known it for years. While it’s ultimately a collage of single tracks itself, there’s so much fun, eccentric and off-kilter writing here that it feels like an assertive stamp of their powers at this point in time. And to their credit, they sequence the record in such a sublime way that the most demanding tracks have a banger right after. The moody vocals and ramped up feedback wail of “Being In Love” offers a great glimpse of the constant heft they bring as a duo, and really assures us that they can soar outside of their singles. The sun-bleached guitar licks of “Angelica” are instantly gripping, but it’s the way Wet Leg spin it around their witty jabs at party chatter, and a massive build up section that turns this into a totally cataclysmic listen. The short but different “Convincing” is a more personal and singular track, with a fun focus on Hester Chambers’ vocals that highlights just how euphoric the highs of their layered chorus attacks can be, especially on a track that is much less complex structurally. The cloud of digital grime on the sound of “Ur Mum” makes the serrated lyrics hit all the harder, and the sheer catchy explosion of its chorus makes you want to scream and dance along with these two.

Sweet Alibi – Make A Scene (Winnipeg)

With their swelling harmonies and a great sense of arrangement, Sweet Alibi’s latest record goes down smooth. “Make A Scene” holds nothing back in its opening story, while leaving you hovering through waves of spritely synths and welcoming brass. There’s a sudden raspy charm to “Slow Down” that glows on every little vocal “HA,” but it’s that glossy slide and pseudo-operatic detail it adds to its choruses that lets it really sink its teeth in your memory. There’s a quietness and calm to “Confetti” and it makes the big brassy stomp and blown out joy of each chorus like a grab on your shoulders to just get you out of a funk. The bright feeling of “What Were You Dreaming” lulls you constantly, as the group achieves that rare thing of making every voice, guitar and small sound feel acoustically crisp and so satisfying that you may lose where you are in the song a lot just because you’re so focused on that one tone.

Guerilla Toss – Famously Alive (Boston, MA)

A true force in tightrope walking between dance, punk and something intangibly experimental, Guerilla Toss stay eccentric yet dazzling in their latest record. While Kassie Carlson lighten’s her voices aggression for a more ethereal approach here, Guerilla Toss as a band manage to get equally sweet, and still maintain enough aggression in their bones to make this a fun new direction for their sound. There’s a danger and wonder to “Cannibal Capital” every jagged drum line and blown out guitar is fleshed out by a dreamy synth, and Carlson’s vocal approach guides us through this mysterious place with a mythic quality. In some of their shortest writing ever, “Famously Alive” sees the band crafting this thrashing punk anthem, roaring with a battalion of keyboards, and distortion, and bringing out a vocal affection that seemingly recalls a bit of Snail Mail too unexpectedly. The guttural charge of “Wild Fantasy” hits with all the kaleidoscopic bliss we want from the band, and then leaves us adrift in a sea of hazy arrangements to get lost in thought. The back and forth between an 80s homage and the band’s signature approach to riff tones makes “Heathen In Me” a fascinating listen, as it manages to charm you in its truly memorable hooks, but then contrast that pop with some of the dirtiest guitars in modern music.  

J Morris  – Lockdown (feat. IAmSoulful & Mischa) (Single)  (Ottawa)

In a world where making art can take everything you’ve got, J Morris & co. lament the struggle to make your passion your life. The production is all too appropriate here, as it meshes this empowering beat of strength with a much more spooky hook, effectively capturing the rise of fighting the system and the horrors of living through it. Morris’ vocals bring a wonderful grit to track, with his rhymes amped by that gravel-like cut in his tone. While IAmSoulful brings a more subdued feel on his lines, Mischa’s pointed verse never lets up, coming in with the perfect blend of venom and melody. The whole thing comes together for an addictive song, and  one that truly thrives on professing the power of getting better.

Pillow Queens – Leave the Light On (Dublin, Ireland)

With an ability to match the mood of their lyricism on every instrument like few bands can, Ireland’s Pillow Queens make music that feels deeply, emotionally satisfying. If you can sink your teeth into these extended tracks, this band hits you with music that will touch your soul. “Be By Your Side” takes you through multiple bands-worth of soundscapes in a small time, and the sense of pain and need it brings in its dense harmonies will shock your senses. Despite the palpable emotional ache in the vocals of “Hearts & Minds,” the amount of true soul that Pillow Queens weave into every chorus and the storytelling here makes for a truly visceral listen that puts you right in the back and forth of climbing above it. The tumbling movement and subtle beauty to the harmonies on “My Body Moves” are unlike anything else, and sees the group crafting a truly unique sonic experience out of this track that is inspiringly eerie. So much of the brooding build in “Try Try Try” feels tense, with the track’s conversational tone giving the cries of “You’re not feeling yourself today” an overwhelming sense of release that take the song higher.