If an alien creature suddenly came to visit Earth this week, it would certainly want to know what “Purple Rain Views Lemonade” would mean. Between Prince, Beyoncé, and Drake, music headlines have been bombarded with their names and faces; it’s hard to imagine there are other musicians t0 listen to right now.
Don’t worry, there are.
And if you’d like to give your ears a break for awhile, you’ve come to the right place.
Plants & Animals – Waltzed In From the Rumbling
Plants & Animals are a diamond in the rough and unkept wilderness that is the Canadian indie music scene.
Since their Prism Prize winning 2008 debut Parc Avenue, the Montreal trio were busy touring and releasing more music while on the road – two more albums in fact. The nomadic lifestyle and ungrounded inspiration of their constant travelling resulted in 2010’s La La Land and 2012’s The End of That (which included their smash hit “Lightshow”).
Now onto their fourth full-length, the Montreal natives have – as they put it – “reset” for Waltzed In From the Rumbling. One commonality that has stayed true throughout their discography is the band’s rich, melancholic style. Their songs are often layered and detailed, with explosive conclusions and lush melodies, made dense through layers of guitars and steady percussion.
Waltzed In is no different; the majority of the album plays out with passion and pensive detailing. From the opening track “We Were One”, to lead single “No Worries Gonna Find Us”, straight down to the beautiful Joel Plaskett-esque “Stay”, the record sits comfortably in the listener’s mind, with subtle complexity that only adds to the appeal. Piano ballad “Je voulais te dire” is a well-crafted, exaggerated example of their style. String arrangements, crescendoing instrumentation, and clockwork drumming gives the 7-minute track ample amounts of character, before switching into an upbeat, rock finish.
After how much I enjoyed The End of That, Plants & Animals did not disappoint with their latest. Waltzed in From the Rumbling certainly returns the band’s early days of Parc Avenue through careful composition and folk-meets-progressive intensity.
Must-haves: “We Were One”, “Je voulais te dire”, “Stay”
05/06: Winooski, VT – Waking Windows Music & Arts Festival
05/10: Washington, DC – DC9
05/11: Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
05/13 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
05/14 Boston, MA @ Great Scott
05/17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
05/18 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
05/19 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
05/31 London, UK @ The Hoxton
06/02 Paris, FR @ Espace B
06/05 Toronto, ON @ Field Trip
06/08 Chicago, IL @ Schubas
06/09 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
06/10 Winnipeg, MB @ The Good Will Social Club
06/11 Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s
06/13 Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
06/14 Calgary, AB @ Marquee Room
06/15 Nelson, BC @ Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel
06/16 Vancouver, BC @ The Imperial Theatre
06/17 Victoria, BC @ Sugar Nightclub
06/18 Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
06/21 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
06/23 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
06/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
Say Yes – Real Life Trash Mag
Any true Canadian alive in the past 10 years or so is familiar with hardcore pop-punk icons Alexisonfire; an even smaller portion of that demographic remember fellow Hamilton/Burlington natives Saint Alvia. Well, forget about both.
Originally formed between Alexisonfire drummer Jordan Hastings, and Saint Alvia guitarist Adam Michael during the off-seasons of their respective bands almost 15 years, their outfit, along with bassist Michael Zane, finally gets time to shine as Say Yes. Their debut 2014 EP showcased their ear worm blend of ’90s pop-punk, mid-2000’s hardcore punk, and alternative rock, and two years in the making, they have released their debut full-length Real Life Trash Mag.
Cracking it open with “Once Forward, Twice Back”, it’s a sturdy example of what the next 40-something minutes will hold: Loud, melodic, power-hungry punk in different shapes and sizes – from pop punk, to post-hardcore, and with a heavy dose of alternative punk rock. Making full use of their trio status, Say Yes fill up space by giving each respective instrument a noticeable part, front and centre.
Hastings’ drumming is given the space to be heard – and deservingly so. His ability to alternate between blasting out loud punk rhythms on his snare and cymbal on tracks like “You’re Mine”, and then making use of his entire kit with more melodic beats, such as on “Short-Handed Appeal”.
Michael and Zane both fill out the remaining sonic space with their respective guitar and bass playing, using hints of blues rock and post-hardcore to their advantage to give Michael’s gritty vocals an energized, face-melting support. “Dying to Make You Blind”, slow-groove “Make It For Me”, or the dance-beat track “Storm” for example.
Must-haves: “Once Forward Twice Back”, “Dying to Make You Blind”, “You’re Mine”
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
Before you dive into Melbourne, Australia 7-piece King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard‘s eighth studio album Nonagon Infinity (I wish it was their ninth for terminology sake), you should be warned it can last forever (and thankfully more complex than Lamb Chop’s sing-along “The Song That Never Ends”).
Yes, they were not joking about the “infinity” part of the title. Each of the tracks seamlessly transition into the next, and the final track blends perfectly into the first to ignite an infinite loop of 47-minute cycles of colossal sized psychedelic alternative rock. Even my press copy was given to me in a single file, with no track listing – just the album as a whole.
Sure, the novelty of the album is pretty neat and creative, but it’s not the only thing Nonagon Infinity has to offer. The fact all nine tracks blend into one creates this sensation of a live performance, capturing the nonet’s explosive and unwavering energy. From the driving riff that opens with a verse of “Loosen up, time to jump, fuck shit up, don’t forget about it”, you know you’re in for a treat.
Elements of art-rock, psychedelic, and a thick coat of experimental creativity are sprinkled throughout the riff-driven album. Tracks like “Robot Stop”, “Gamma Knife”, and “People-Vulture” give Nonagon Infinity a lasting dose of energy, while catchy, melodic tracks such as “Mr. Beat” and “Evil Death Roll” return to the slower groove of 1970s psych-rock.
And although you can technically break it down into individual songs, you shouldn’t – take it in as a single unit. Nonagon Infinity is like a messy, colourful canvas covered in the paint flung around sporadically from flailing instruments and hammering percussion.
Head to their website to order your copy of the nine-sided (nonagon) vinyl, and catch them on tour (dates below).
(Must-haves: “Gamma Knife”, “People-Vulture”, “Robot Stop”)
05/01 Austin, TX @ Levitation at Carson Creek Ranch *
05/02 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa *
05/03 Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone Cafe *
05/04 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge *
05/05 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl *
05/06 Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall *
05/07 Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi *
05/08 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall *
05/09 Cleveland, OH @ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum *
05/10 Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
05/11 Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz
05/12 Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace *
05/13 Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair *
05/14 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom *
05/15 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
05/16 New York, NY @ Webster Hall #
05/18 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar *
05/20 Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom *
05/22 Visalia, CA @ Cellar Door *
05/24 Santa Cruz, CA @ Moe’s Alley *
05/25 San Francisco, CA @ Independent *
05/26 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
05/27 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
05/28 Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
05/30 George, WA @ Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater
* w/ The Murlocs
# w/ Mac DeMarco