Tag Archives: alternative

Thrill of Falling – “Thrill of Falling”

We all have bad days. We get frustrated by work, school or general society, and when that happens there is absolutely nothing better than hard music: that deep, heavy, feel-it-in-your-gut kind of rock that shakes your soul and makes everything better. When it comes right down to it, this is exactly what Thrill of Falling does. They rock. They show passion, talent and real depth, and their new self-titled EP is the answer to every type of pain and frustration.

To be officially released October 27, Thrill of Falling’s EP will get a lot of attention. It’s five tracks of nostalgia, full of nu-metal and progressive rock which would feel very much at home in the late ’90s and early 2000s. They have that sound that has created legions of passionate music fans — including musicians, promoters, and yes, reviewers — and their EP will find a permanent home with people who grew up in the ’90s and whose lives have been shaped by alternative music.

The tracks themselves are complex, powerful and intense. The opening track, “April”, is a great intro to what’s to come: heavy from the start, the album gets your head bopping in a way only heavy music can. At times they’re moodily atmospheric, bringing out elements of Tool in “My Turn” and “The Darkness” with haunting vocals, dense guitars and dextrous bass, and they effectively use vocal harmonies in most of the tracks (listen to the chorus of “Farewell” for an example) to create the album’s overall anguished tone. This isn’t the most “upbeat” album, but it’s not supposed to be: Thrill of Falling is mellow, mighty and serious, and they’re best listened to when you’re feeling the same way.

Other notable band comparisons include Deftones, Incubus, Disturbed and Chevelle, or maybe a journey through them all. Fans of these bands will love Thrill of Falling, and in a heavy mood they’ll be exactly what you want.

Stream and download the EP on Bandcamp or ReverbNation, or better yet, pick it up in person. The EP will be officially released October 27 at Calgary’s Blind Beggar Pub, and if you’re in the area you can’t miss this show. Check out Thrill of Falling’s website for more info, follow them on Facebook and Twitter and pay attention to them. Bands like Thrill of Falling do more than make music: they touch lives, they create passion, and with a sound that actually means something, they’re going to go far.

Thrill of Falling - "Thrill of Falling"

North Lakes – “Grand Prix”

“I don’t need no fucks telling me how to listen to a record.” So begins Grand Prix, the sophomore release from Charlottetown, PEI’s North Lakes and a fantastic collection of tracks that has the potential to be one of the year’s best albums. It’s a beachy-garage-pop explosion of rock, showing us in eight tracks what great music sounds like and why we need to hear it for ourselves.

Released in May 2012 Grand Prix is a follow-up to North Lakes’s award-winning debut album, Cobra. The new album includes everything good about the band’s sound: fresh, raw, and full of fantastic retro flavour. It’s a real throwback to the rock ‘n’ roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the same bouncy, toe-tapping groove but with extra distortion and a bit more colour. Think of The Strokes meets The Beatles, a distorted garage-rock soundtrack to a party on the beach. It really would be perfect at the cottage or the beach, and from the opener “Crumbling Dice” to the sexy closing track “Vixen” the album creates a mood of totally positive energy. It’s full of fun and hope, and for that, the album is worthy of repeated listens and a lifetime of praise.

From start to finish, Grand Prix is chock-full of great beats, strong vocals, and perfectly timed guitar, and the chemistry and interaction between guitars and percussion are really powerful in songs like “Copernicus, Copernicus” and “Baptism in Burgundy”. They balance well, and it’s clear from the blend of sounds and the equality between all forces that this album is a partnership and a real group effort, nothing forced or unnatural about it.

This balance is shown in the relationship between long sustained notes on guitar and the faster-paced beating of the drums: like a perfect couple, the instrumental pieces create a solid partnership and one of those relationships that seems perfectly natural and destined. They complement each other perfectly and in doing so give birth to a near-perfect album. There are also bursts of energy throughout the album (“Hands-off Director”, for example) that will send you into a dancing frenzy and rounding out the album with some diversity.

Lead vocalist Nathan Gill shows real chops and a ‘50s influence in tracks like the dancey “Avalanche”, as he sings “gotta take a ch-ch-ch-chance” like a young Buddy Holly. This feeling creates an album that is full of nostalgia and completely unisolated. It fits in everywhere, and to music fans everywhere this is a huge plus. Listen to the lyrics, too: they’re clever and poetic, and like the songs on the band’s first release are worth listening to and enjoying over and over.

Check out and buy Grand Prix on iTunes! This album is too good to not hear, and you need to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the much-needed updates and info. For those who like garage-rock, North Lakes is one of the best Canadian bands around and as they spread west from PEI and put their music in the hands and hearts of music lovers they’re bound to go far and become huge. Do as they say and go listen to North Lakes for yourself. Their story’s in their music and you don’t need anyone to tell you how to hear it.

North Lakes - "Grand Prix"

The Lost Lovers Brigade – “Little Skeletons”

Regionalism is strong in Canada, and the same can be said for Canadian music. Province to province and coast to coast, music takes on different influences and driving forces, making for regionally diverse sounds and unique genres. West coast music, for example, is often recognized as having more folky roots and ties to nature. With a nostalgic feel and rootsy undertones, Vancouver’s The Lost Lovers Brigade is a perfect representation of West Coast folk rock: mellow, intelligent, and hauntingly beautiful.

Like many other Vancouver-based bands, The Lost Lovers Brigade doesn’t fit into any specific genre, and their 2011 release “Little Skeletons” is a collection of 11 songs with a variety of influences and a clear coastal BC flavour. It has a real “hippie” vibe, a sort of dreamy, acid-washed mix of folk and indie rock that brings up images of flowy guitar sing-alongs by the ocean. Lead singer Elisha May Rembold has a beautiful and haunting voice, and the mourning tone of her voice is perfect for the emotional and heartfelt lyrics that make up each song. She’s almost theatrical in her singing, not in that she’s fakely dramatic but in the sense that her voice perfectly matches the emotions of each song. This is what makes the album so beautiful and easy to become lost in, and what puts Rembold head and shoulders above so many other vocalists.

It’s not just the lead vocals that stand out, however. Beautiful harmonies abound, and the contributions of the other pieces (including the usual guitars and percussion but also the very cool organ and tambourine) have an equally powerful effect. It would be interesting to hear more of these other elements, as they seem to bring something really special on their own.

There really is nothing typical about this album, and that’s what makes it so good. It is worth listening to a few times, at different times of day, both in the background and with full attention. The Lost Lovers Brigade has been a highly sought-after commodity in Vancouver, and “Little Skeletons” shows why this is so. Listen to and buy the album on Bandcamp (only $10) and then become wonderfully lost in the sounds of the West Coast.

The Lost Lovers Brigade - "Little Skeletons"

Sunshine Radio – “Sunlight EP”

With the mid-winter blues slowly fading and the brightness of spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for something cheery and fun to chase away our bad moods and put an extra spring in our step. Rocking the Calgary music scene with a fantastic new EP and huge potential, Sunshine Radio is clapping hands, moving feet, and warming hearts, with no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Officially released in January 2012, Sunshine Radio’s “Sunlight EP” is exactly what we need right now. An explosion of alt-pop with some retro flair, Sunlight is a collection of songs that restore faith in happiness. The band’s sound is a mix of older Weezer, The Beatles, The Killers, and Phish, a combination that adds to catchy and memorable songs that are really easy to sing along to. They’ll make you clap with joy when they come on shuffle, and you’ll end up listening to the EP on repeat for hours.

While each piece of the band (guitars, drums, keys, vocals) is individually great, it’s the way they come together that create the magic. These guys seem to have amazing chemistry, shown in their harmonies, timing, and total silkiness of the way they mesh. There’s still a bit of room to grow, but the EP shows off everything that’s great about the band and what they have to offer.

It really is difficult to choose one standout track. As is true with most good albums, every song on here is completely wicked. For a sample of most of them, check out the Sunshine Radio’s BandPage. You’ll find yourself smiling and dreaming about sunny days, loving life and remembering good times. Interested in some more good times? Go like their Facebook page and watch out for upcoming gigs. These boys put on a great show and they definitely shouldn’t be missed. There’s a reason they’ve described themselves as an “anticipated platinum Canadian music group”: they’re the real deal, and this EP is proof.

Update: Sunshine Radio has just unleashed their new website! Check it out and learn more about the band here!

Sunshine Radio - "Sunlight EP"

Septembryo – “The Dreambuilder”

At a time of year known for stress, anxiety and unavoidable family quarrels, nothing is more welcome than a lighthearted and energy-filled escape from the real world. The Dreambuilder, the debut EP from Calgary super-band Septembryo, is exactly what we need right now. It’s catchy, mood-elevating and almost trancelike, making even the most bitter family events tolerable.

Released in September 2011, the album has only four tracks, but like most EPs it is a delicious taste test of the multi-course meal that will come on the future full-length album. Septembryo is a tricky band to describe, but it’s an interesting combination of electro-alt-rock-pop: think of a marriage between Head Automatica and 30 Seconds to Mars, adding the occasional love affairs with Daft Punk, Incubus and bands like Mariana’s Trench. An interesting collection, but somehow it works.

All these sounds combine to make something unique and actually enjoyable to listen to. The percussion, bass, guitar, synthetic sounds and vocals come together really well, floating between electronic pop and some darker ambience and offering a glimpse of some stellar musical talent. These are good songs for a movie soundtrack: they’re great on their own but even better as an accompaniment to some other action, whether in the bedroom (ahem) or just walking down the street.

The real impact of Septembryo is felt after a few listens. The album is great to listen to (you’ll dance, you’ll sing, you’ll bust out some air drums) but it’s a few hours later when you can’t stop humming “Affirmations” that you really begin to realise its impact. It’s as though the tracks cunningly work their way into your brain, only to appear when you least expect it. Like it or not, you’ve got to admit it’s a sign of good songwriting and a pretty meaningful accomplishment. These are good songs; they’re different, and once you fall in love with Septembryo’s sound, it’s a near-guarantee that they will become a regular fixture on your playlist and songs you will actually listen to.

Now is the time to buy the album! As a special Christmas treat, Septembryo is offering their EP for half price (only $5!) until December 26 – pick it up on iTunes or if you’re one of us audiophiles who love an actual disc, get one here! Go take a look at the band’s website, too, and spread the news around with some holiday cheer. After all, isn’t music a better gift than a pair of slippers?

Septembryo - "Dreambuilder"

Shotgun Jimmie – “Transistor Sister”

“I ain’t saying everything out there is great, there’s a lot of stuff I like and a lot of stuff I hate. Spend some time with the good, let the bad slip away; it’s all about how you focus your attention.”

These words of wisdom come from “Masterpiece”, a key track on the new album “Transistor Sister” from New Brunswick’s own Shotgun Jimmie. Released in March 2011, the album has been making waves across Canada and beyond, creating a worldwide fan base and stirring up impressive critical attention. “Masterpiece” sums up the art of creating music, the tricky balance act between creating “shit” and creating something great, and lucky for Shotgun Jimmie, “Transistor Sister” is great.

On first listen, it’s easy to mistake Shotgun Jimmie for an early ’90s happy-alternative band. With a raw and chunky sound that gives off a somewhat “who cares” attitude, his songs have an almost-grungy feel, not quite the Nirvana with whom the term is usually associated but a more poppy mix of Can-Rock superstar Sloan and bands like Modest Mouse and The Pixies, even early Weezer or Everclear. For fans of this genre, Shotgun Jimmie hits it right on. Short tracks and catchy tunes keep short attention spans happy, while Jimmie’s happy-go-lucky charm makes smiles unavoidable. It is a toe-tapping and clever good time, and while Jimmie’s voice can’t quite be compared to that of an angel or classic singer, it is his normal guy talent and attitude that make him so much fun to listen to. He sounds like someone’s buddy, just goofing around at a party, and that is the perfect way to be.

There are definite high points to this album. Starting off with an almost Beck-like track (“Late Last Year”) the album includes a variety of songs with different tones and stories, and it’s nearly impossible to choose a favourite track on this album because there are so many good ones. Standouts include the super-cute “Suzy”, “King of Kreuzberg” and “The Haze”, although there are a number of other fantastic songs to choose from as well.

Some people might not be so keen on the album’s shorter instrumental songs (“Confidence Lodge Stairwell Recording #1” – 0:17; “Piano” – 0:28; “Refrain” – 0:44; “Bar’s Open” – 0:19) but it is a happy reward that the longer tracks are fantastic.

Shotgun Jimmie’s next album can’t come soon enough. Whimsical, charming and experimental, “Transistor Sister” fills a void in the music world that other artists can’t quite reach, and it is his originality and nostalgic reflections that make him loveable. Listen to his album, and then listen to it again.

You can learn more about Shotgun Jimmie here, where you can also enjoy some tracks and do a bit of shopping. Check back for tour dates as well, because his is a show you don’t want to miss.

Shotgun Jimmie - "Transistor Sister"