Well, the music gods are at it again.
They’re continuing to stack their deck and prepare us all for the best live concert ever (R.I.P. Prince).
The show must go on, and us mortals still have to find music to enjoy – you’ve come to the right place.
Discover more new releases in the convenient and thorough list of album releases every week, and don’t forget to share your favourite tunes!
Van Damsel – Van Damsel
If you look through my previous work and posts, I seem to point out most of the music I talk about is ideal for the summer. My initial reaction when first hearing the debut record from B.C. indie pop band Van Damsel was, well…”This would be great to listen to in the middle of the summer”.
Alas, the saga continues.
Perhaps it’s the shimmery, upbeat, glossy sound of electro-pop bands that make it so easy to attribute it to the warm, sunny days of July. It makes you want to get outside, run around, throw a frisbee, drink a few day beers, and just feel unattached to any responsibility (or maybe I’m just craving a day like that).
With the success of The 1975’s latest album (*inhale*) I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware (*exhale*), it’s no secret that ’80s synth-pop is still going strong in 2016. New bands (including Van Damsel) are embracing the electronic, dance-friendly genre full on.
Tracks like “The 21st Century” (ironic, I know), “People In The City”, and their hit single “Sophia” truly touch back to the ’80s, with synthesizers and melodies drenched in retro effects and spirit. The rest of the album instead modernizes the pop genre, making use of more contemporary electronic production and indie pop song progressions.
Their hit “Domino” and my personal favourite “Best of Everything” combine influences from bands like Phoenix, Walk the Moon, and the early days of Hellogoodbye.
Van Damsel is youthful, and brimming with character, and although there are countless bands with a similar upbeat, indie pop sound (The Zolas, and Modern Space come to mind), the B.C. four-piece stay separate with their colourful, individual spirit that is found between the lines of their summer-ready music.
Head to their website to grab a copy and catch them on tour this spring:
April 28 – Saskatoon, SK
April 29 – Winnipeg, MB @ West End Cultural Centre
May 4 – Sudbury, ON
May 5 – Toronto, ON @ Canadian Music Week
May 6 – Toronto, ON @ Canadian Music Week
May 7 – Montreal, QC @ Hemisphere Gauche
May 11 – Trois Rivieres, QC
May 12 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Circle Basement
May 13 – Moncton, NB
May 14 – Halifax, NS @ The Old Triangle
May 19 – Ottawa, ON
May 20 – Sault Ste Marie, ON @ LopLops
May 21 – Thunder Bay, ON
May 28 – Vancouver, BC
(Must-haves: “Domino”, “Best of Everything”, “Jericho”)
A$AP Ferg – ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER
You throw around names like Future, Missy Elliott, Rick Ross, and Schoolboy Q and anyone who’s into hip-hop knows only something great will come from it. A$AP Ferg fits comfortably in that list, and his latest record ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER has him working alongside a handful of the genre’s all-stars.
And compared to his 2013 debut Trap Lord, A$AP Ferg has headed in a slightly new change of direction, incorporating more R&B, electronic, and artistic influences into his gangsta rap sound.
ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER is more introspective; tracks like “Psycho” and “Let It Bang” let him vent about his crazy uncle, or the Skrillex-featuring EDM-trap hit “Hungry Ham” revisiting his youth growing up in the tough neighbourhood of Harlem. Missy Elliot makes her contribution on “Strive”, showing her dominating persona as Ferg almost takes a backseat with his Kid Cudi-esque storytelling on the motivating track. He closes the album off with his poetic tribute to his grandma on the aptly named track “Grandma”. Ferg has certainly let himself be an influential aspect of the album.
There’s still an A$AP Mob intensity to the album, with the jerky opener “Rebirth”, and “Yammy Gang” which features the whole crew and their impeccable wordplay for one of the top tracks from ASAP.
Some fans were disappointed with the new album, saying he had lost his edge and his sound, but if anything Ferg has put a lot more of himself into this album, and it has paid off. It’s different, but not irreverent; you can still enjoy it as a rap album, but it has enough character and edge to stand out.
You can stream the full thing on Spotify and decide for yourself.
Must-haves: “Let It Bang”, “Yammy Gang”, “Psycho”
The Fall of Troy – OK
Seven years. I’ve waited seven years for the full-fledged return of Seattle-based progressive hardcore trio The Fall of Troy.
And after seven years, people change. I’ve changed – they’ve changed – you’ve changed. But forget about you, what matters most is that The Fall of Troy have changed. Not by much – they’ve still managed to capture their unruly energy and virtuosic talent into 10 solid tracks – but their aggressive vocals have diminished, and the songs seem to be a little soft relative to their early days.
Is it their best work? No (but that’s okay because their past four LPs and two EPs were amazing. It’s like getting an 8/10 after hitting a 9.5).
Is it still a stunning collection of intricate, progressive mathrock and TFOT-unique unpredictability? Hell yes. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat pessimistic introduction, OK is a fantastic piece of work.
I firmly believe Tom Erak is one of the most underrated guitarists of our time. His ability to leap around the stage, hair and fingers flailing, all the while screaming into the microphone and nailing every note is nothing short of impressive. It’s awe-inspiring really. And the band’s drummer Andrew Forsman is right there beside him in skill (or behind him on stage technically).
Throughout the album, Erak shows off his skillful musicianship, most notably on tracks like “401K” with its explosive guitar solo and finish, and “Inside Out” with the slick, one-two-punch riffs thrown around.
With Erak screaming less and less on each progressing record, it makes the music of The Fall of Troy somewhat more clean, although bassist Tim Ward was given more of a prominent vocal role with his growls and screams doing most of the dirty work.
For fans of hardcore punk and metal, OK is a necessary part of your music collection. For those of you that aren’t, it’s still worth your time and attention.
Best part is they’ve graciously put the album online for free (or by donation if you’re a good person) so there’s no excuse to not give it a try. Head to their website to grab a digital copy!
Must-haves: “401K”, “Inside Out”, “Auto-Repeater”
P.S. If you have time to spare, and are blown away by their live video for “Inside Out”, do yourself a favour and watch their performance from The Glasshouse.