New Adds: Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart, Young Fathers, Ava Luna, Garden City Movement, Shlohmo, Kathryn Calder, and Big Star

Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart: Popular Montreal electronic rock band Suuns teamed up with fellow Montreal Arabic-electropunk artist Jerusalem In My Heart - whose name is just getting out there - to take listeners on a very trippy odyssey of syncopated beats, experimental synths, and dueling guitars. Some of the songs unlock unprecedented levels of chill; for instance, “In Touch” is pretty much a soft kick with a oscillating bass synth and a few measures of vocals, yet it is somewhat mesmerizing in a pleasant way. In fact, several of the tracks onSuuns… could be described as pleasantly mesmerizing. Others, like the appropriately titled “Metal,” feature the rock guitar and actual drum kit dominantly. The rock songs are as repetitive as the electronic ones, however, and I found as I listened to the album that the rock genre lends itself less to repetition than electronica. For that reason, there were parts of the album that I found worked better than others. That being said, overall the record is a pretty fun Arabia-themed trip into the minds of Suuns and Jerusalem In My HeartCHRISTIAN

RIYL: Kraftwerk, Sand

Recommended Tracks: "Seif" (3), "2amoutu I7tirakan" (1)

Young Fathers - White Men are Black Too: These folks are an experimental lo-fi hip-hop (ish) group based in Edinburgh, Scotland. There was a lot riding on their sophomore album since their debut, Dead, earned a goddamn Mercury Award (winning over FKA Twigs, Damon Albarn, Jungle, and Bombay Bicycle Club). After winning the award they dashed off to Berlin where they started making White Men are Black Too in a freezing cold basement. Berlin vibes fostered their sound that’s an incredible mash up of hip-hop, alt rock, electro, poignant lyrics, psych, and elements of their Liberian, Nigerian, and Scottish heritages. It’s bold and abrasive and provocative, pulsating with the widest range of influence that I’ve heard in a long time. They perpetuate a message of unity, exemplified by this verse from “Old Time Rock N Roll”: I’m tired of playing the good black, I’m tired of blaming the white man, a black man can play him. Some white men are black men too. Their music is like nothing I’ve ever heard before. The album is awesome. Come with me and Naomi to see Young Fathers at The Echo next Friday <3 ARI

Recommended tracks: 1- Still Running, 5- Rain or Shine, 7- Old Rock N Roll, 12- Get Started

RIYL: Shabazz Palaces, (early) TV On The Radio, it’s really hard to compare them with anyone else

Ava Luna - Infinite House: This Brooklyn-based foursome make experimental funk rock that's generating some serious vibe-age on their third full length album, Infinite House. What stood out to me most on this album was the varied use of vocals. For starters, there's a mixture of male and female vocals, but track to track, Ava Luna mixes things up. On opener "Company" we get the repeated punk-esque cry of "Do you appreciate my company?" The next track, "Tenderize" is heavy on background scatting that keeps up throughout the album and also features that overheard conversation thing that will just always remind me of "The Sweater Song"  (#tbt). Then, "Steve Polyester" goes into some straight spoken word. Track 9 "Billz" gets downright soulful, and closer "Carbon" gets downright weird. Really, Ava Luna's vocal experimentation is just one aspect of their music that I'm using to describe their general eclecticism and is representative of their unique sound as a whole. These guys are down to get funky, punky, weird, soulful, off, etc, and the result is a loose and groovy sonic adventure that's well worth a listen. CAROLINE

RIYL: tUnE-yArDs, Spiritualized, Delicate Steve, Max Ox

Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 7, 9

Garden City Movement - Modern West EP: Garden City Movement has a lot of the standard elements of alternative R&B. His voice is thin like How To Dress Well, but uses a lot of the electronic elements that have become commonplace since the rise of The Weeknd. Modern West luckily does not fall into monotony with each track boasting a unique identity, with varying levels of quality. Opening track, “Recollections” is not particularly memorable beyond being enjoyable, but “My Only Love” has a subdued chorus that is surprisingly addictive. The layering of vocals as a backtrack is utilized in many of the tracks, making the music sound as though it is being played in a echo chamber, not on headphones. Modern West is not particularly unique, but Garden City Movement has created a solid EP that is definitely worth a listen. KEN

RIYL: How to Dress Well, Holy Other, Inc.

Recommended Tracks: “My Only Love” (2), “When We Had It Easy” (5)

Shlohmo - Dark Red: I think its time that Shlohmo wants to move and spread his wings into darker, stranger things.  The producer Shlohmo used to be a frequent attender of Low End Theory in its early days, when electronic beat heads came to make a crazy dirty trippy baby with hip hop lovers.  The result is very evident in his previous work.  Schlohmo has mastered the art of making sensual trip-hop beats like the Weeknd or Drake, but now with newest album Dark Red, it seems like he needs to dig deeper and farther.  His new album is more grimey, more dissonant, something that is straying away from his previous smooth flowing production.  Now its rough, in your face, and hits.  It still resembles much of what you'd see at Low End, just not without that mainstream production frosting on top. It's raw and DYLAN

RIYL: The Gaslamp Killer, Ryan Hemsworth, Nosajj Thing, 

Recommended Tracks: Buried, Beams

Kathryn Calder - Kathryn Calder: Kathryn Calders new self-titled albums first track Slow Burning invites us in by repeating the line “Come Show Me Something I Can’t See”, and for the first time Kathryn shows us a new sound from her that we have not seen before. While her first solo releases may have felt more like Kaythryn Calder of The New Pornographers, the more well-known band she is a part of, this feels like her biggest attempt to separate her sound from the band. This album took away a lot of the heavier guitars and drumbeats that are usually in her music and put in a lot of small details including spacey synth and minimal electric and acoustic guitar parts. While this still feels like a rock album it is greatly geared towards a more indie direction. It has a lot of that haunting sound that is in Bon Iver’s music and those classic slow beats with a catchy falsetto melody over it. Even with this sound departure, the album does not go without its heavier songs. The single Take A Little Time sounds like the Kathryn from The New Pornographers. The album is mostly made up of inviting love songs that always feel warm. It is perfect for sitting in your bed putting on headphones and closing your eyes. I think this album is a great way for Kathryn Calder to start distinguishing herself from her past and good move forward, well done. HARRY

RIYL: Bon Iver, The War on Drugs, Sharon Van Etten, The New Pornographers

Recommended Tracks: “Slow Burning”, “Take a Little Time”, “Song in CM”, “Blue Skies”

Big Star - #1 Record / Radio City: Self-proclaimed resident sad dad here, back with your bi-weekly history lesson. In the old days, musicians used to express themselves using their own unadulterated voices and a 6-stringed block of wood called a guitar. The results were often raw, emotional appeals to the human predicament. It may seem archaic I know; I ask only that you try to appreciate these “classics” in the way that you might marvel at the Druids for constructing Stonehenge using nothing but rudimentary tools and brute strength. In the history of modern music, Big Star is something of a Stonehenge – surrounded by mythology and enjoying a cult following. The band never really made the mainstream cut, but much like The Velvet Underground their catalogue was hugely influential for the musicians of future generations. The alternative rock of the 80s and 90s would likely be unrecognizable without the songs of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. As the Replacements song goes, “I never travel far without a little Big Star”. Here we have Big Star’s first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City. The names of the albums and the band’s name itself hint at the uneasy aspirations of these young southerners who would flirt with commercial success, but ultimately fall flat due to the inept handling of promotion and distribution for the albums by Stax Records and Columbia, respectively. #1 Record was immediately praised by critics upon its release, but would only go on to sell 10,000 copies. Radio City would suffer a similar fate. Physical altercations between band members, drug abuse, the departure of Bell and the shelving of their third album due to its commercial unviability would all contribute to the demise of Big Star. The third album would be released four years later, but Bell’s subsequent death would ensure that the original Big Star was gone for good. These two albums are just great rock records; the melodic folk pop of The Zombies and Kinks meets the rollicking grooves of the Stones and Beatles with a little country thrown in. The lyrics are angsty, existential musings on love and life. All of you know track 3 (theme song from that 70’s Show), so that’s a good place to start. From there I would just skip around until you hit the tempo and tone you’re in the mood for. There’s everything from CSN-like acoustic harmonizing to shredding guitar solos, something for any mood. Go dig it! SHILL

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