Remember as a kid when you were given some candy (not from a stranger), and you’d rush home, but by the end of the day, your stash would be gone – even though your parents always told you to save some for later? You’d have a bunch of delicious, sugary goodness within your grasp, all at once, and depending on how abundant this candy collection was, you’d be overwhelmed with the sudden influx of sugar (what’s “self-control”?).
Essentially that’s what this week’s INPO feels like – you’re given this massive pile of sweet candy (i.e. albums), and instead of pacing yourself, it’s just a massive, fantastic kick to your senses. Although I was often the type of child who chose to spread my wealth over multiple days, New Music Friday has different plans, giving me no choice but to scarf down all my sweets (I don’t mind). With so many great albums this week, many of which I have been waiting to get my sugar-coated hands on for awhile now, it’s almost like being on a big sugar rush.
For a full list of the new releases click here, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to add some sugar to your diet. Plus, make sure to make it to the bottom to check out four bonus picks from this week.
Paper Lions – Full Colour
Personally, I have been a fan of the PEI indie pop quartet Paper Lions since I stumbled upon their 2006 debut, most notably their hit single “Travelling”, a song that saw them evolve from their Chucky Danger Band origin to the newly formed and here-to-stay Paper Lions. 10 years later, and their colourful blend of indie folk and East Coast pop still has the same charm and pep, and in the passing decade, the Charlottetown boys have added in a handful of lasting indie pop rock tunes. The consistent energy and personality of their work, from 2006’s Colour to their 2013 record My Friends, has helped them secure a continuously growing fan base around the world.
Now, Paper Lions have come full circle with Full Colour, an 11-track record that combines their bright spirit, dynamic personality, and nostalgic songwriting – but with a new synth-pop twist.
On previous albums, tracks like “Born to Rule”, “Don’t Wanna Dance”, and “My Number” would be filled in with folk-inspired rhythms and harmonies, and supported by their indie songwriting roots. But on Full Colour (emphasis on “colour”), these songs are instead drenched in polished production qualities and vibrant melodies that are thanks to the incorporation of electro-pop elements. Opener “Don’t Wanna Dance” and hit “Call Back” borrow sounds and textures from ’80s pop, invoking nothing but the urge to dance and sing along (“Don’t Wanna Dance” is an understatement).
Although Paper Lions are known for their energetic and dynamic discography and live performances, Full Colour has a few slower songs which is a rare feat, but always welcomed. “I’ll See You Soon” and “If You Ever” calm the pace of the album, while “Best Out Of You” closes off the album, but it’s “End of July” that stands out. A crisp and beautiful ballad that hits home as the summer comes to an end, “End of July” lets lead singer John MacPhee shares his softer side against a gentle piano melody.
And regardless of if you favour their shift into the world of polished indie pop or not, the album’s lead single “Believer” is undoubtedly a fantastic track. The bright synth-pop melody and funk-inspired bass rhythms have the Paper Lions in their natural habitat: making feel-good music that gets you up on your feet, and gets stuck in your head. The brimming chorus of “I wanna believe / make me a believer” takes you all the way to the grand finale – you can almost picture the buzzing energy of their live shows coming to life on the record.
Must-haves: “End of July” // “Call Back” // “Believer”
Royal Canoe – Something Got Lost Between Here and The Orbit
There was a certain spirit found within Today We’re Believers that seemed to appear from the intricate experimentation, dual-percussion, and criss-crossing vocals. Royal Canoe’s 2013 debut found magnetizing balance between melodic, artistic, and down-right eccentric. The creativity of the Winnipeg six-piece came out with hits like “Show Me Your Eyes”, “Bathtubs”, and the colossal “Exodus of the Year”. It certainly won me over; and after two years of extensive touring and branding their sound into the minds of fans everywhere, Royal Canoe are back with their likeminded follow-up Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit.
It still holds onto those signature qualities: two percussionists, mix-matching vocals, and unpredictable effects on guitars and keys, and the familiaritiy of their sound is what gives Something Got Lost such a powerful first step. Opening with the lead single “Somersault”, the record begins to roll, and by the time you reach the end of the intergalactic “BB Gun”, it’s like you’ve passed through another dimension. The playful time signatures throughout the track list may make it difficult for non-metronome enthusiasts to follow, but nonetheless make the album rhythmic and catchy.
The band’s goal was to focus more heavily on vocals and drums – the two dominating features of their sound, and even more so on Something Got Lost. Because of this, other influences outside of indie rock come into play, with slow-burning hip-hop on “Living A Lie” and “Love You Like That”, playful jazz rhythms on “Checkmate” and “Out of the Beehive”, and the one-two step on “Somersault” is reimagined on the heavy-footed and unbelievable catchy “Bicycle”.
Royal Canoe have once again delivered an impressive addition to the Canadian music scene, reaching new boundaries with their sound that everyone can enjoy. Stream the album in full through Spotify, and head to their website to order a copy. Royal Canoe are headed on tour this fall, and if you think their studio recordings are addictive, just wait until you see them live (dates on their website).
Must-haves: “Somersault” // “Living A Lie” // “Bicycle”
A Tribe Called Red – We Are The Halluci Nation
We Are the Halluci Nation functions as both a record to party to and a record that makes a political statement. As the members of A Tribe Called Red are proud members of the Indigenous community, and heavily involved in political discussions and campaigns in support of their culture, their music shares their passion, and pride. Drawing from the music and dance of their heritage, the trio of 2oolman, Bear Witness, and DJ NDN are continuing to close the gap between First Nation’s and their neighbours.
During an interview with Clash, DJ NDN explained:
“For me, Halluci Nation means an inclusive mindset where people see that the way the system is currently set up is completely flawed and recognize we need progressive change. The message more than anything is about solidarity with like-minded people. Understanding oppression and how to collectively dismantle oppression. Believing in true equality and understanding that nobody is better than the other. Discussing true reconciliation and what that looks like.”
They also worked with a handful of artists from around the world, that are connected to their respective First Nation’s communities, including Sweden and Australia, making the Halluci Nation project an international collective. And what better to do when connecting people from around the world? Dance, of course.
Opening with a monologue John Trudell introducing the so-called “Halluci Nation”, foreshadowing both a journey and a story interwoven into the album. Issues of residential schools and missing women cases arise throughout Halluci Nation, finding their way into the content of the music, as well as separating interludes.
Politics aside, Halluci Nation is a phenomenal electronic album. Incorporating aspects from dubstep, moombahtom, reggae, and hip-hop, A Tribe Called Red have created an album of wall-to-wall club hits. “R.E.D.” and “The Virus”tease hints of dubstep, as the bass of the tracks threaten to blow out the speakers. The blend of Native song and dance into the electronic music works wonders, most notably with “Sila” and “ALie Nation”, both featuring traditional throat singer Tanya Tagaq before blasting into a drum-n-bass style beat. “How I Feel” features rappers Shad and Leonard Sumner, as they turn the aggressive hip-hop beat into a rant about the inconsistencies and conflicts with oppressive cultures – the pinnacle of the album’s politics-meets-party demeanour.
The density of Halluci Nation requires a handful of listens to reach the core, but with so many hard-hitting electronic hits worked in means that will happen anyway. Stream the full album through Clash, and head to their website for more information.
Must-haves: “R.E.D.” // “How I Feel” // “ALie Nation”
Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine
The last thing I expected from Mac Miller was a love song album – and especially a good one. The Pittsburgh native struck gold with his White-boy, college-party hip-hop tunes like “Donald Trump” and “Up All Night” back in 2011. His 2015 album GOOD:AM was the obvious shifting point in his career, as young Mac turned into his true self after a series of eccentric and dark releases during the years in between.
Well, Miller has made a smooth as hell R&B album, and has recruited the help of hip-hop superstars like Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $ign, Cee Lo Green, and Anderson .Paak to add that extra punch to the record.
Now, when I say “love” song, I mean the type of love you find between two young people who just want to rip each other’s clothes off and make out on the bench in the mall just because they can. It’s the type of love that John Legend seems to have with his smoke-show wife Chrissy Teigen – they’re sexually passionate and they want the whole world to know. In this case, it’s Arianna Grande and Miller (apparently they’re an item – “My Favourite Part” anyone?). Tracks like “Stay”, “Skin”, and “Cinderella” have Miller lamenting for his hot new love, with lyrics from “Skin” getting a little intimate: “Kissing your lips / I like my fingertips / get your clitoris in the mix / my tongue twisting is tickling just a little bit”.
And although Ty Dolla $ign, Cee Lo Green, and Kendrick Lamar are featured on the record, the R&B angle certainly takes precedence over the hip-hop aspect. The slow-burning “Cinderella” flaunts some downtempo hip-hop, as the 8-minute track has Ty Dolla $ign singing the chorus while Miller takes control of the verses – until a smooth, piano lounge melody breaks in and Miller does his best to croon his lover in the style of Billy Joel (similar to the album opener “Congratulations”). But nevertheless, there is some bounce to the record, as Anderson .Paak and Miller team up to try to smooth over some lover quarrels on lead single “Dang!”, and as the bass takes over on the ’90s-R&B tune “Planet God Damn” and the electro-pop single “Soulmate”.
It certainly has Mac Miller doing something a little bit different, but not out of range. Light some candles, turn it up, and see what luck swings your way. Stream the full album through Spotify, and head to his website to order a copy and check out the full list of upcoming tour dates.
Must-haves: “Dang!” // “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty” // “My Favourite Part”
Sunjacket – Mantra
It’s been three years since we last heard from Chicago experimental rock outfit Sunjacket; their debut EP was the only look into the band’s synth-driven unpredictability. Fortunately, Sunjacket have followed-up with Mantra (finally), a 10-track full-length that encompasses the hypnotic artistry of Radiohead, but with an indie rock feel similar to the style of Broken Social Scene. Soft textures, eerie vocals, and entrancing melodies and rhythms are built into the track list, as Sunjacket channel their best Thom Yorke.
Aptly titled Mantra, Sunjacket use repetition to their advantage on the new release. Cool synthesizers swell and form a dense backdrop, while the percussion hypnotizes with clockwork precision. Opening tracks “Grandstanders” and “Creepy” illustrate the band’s glossy attention to detail, as the airy vocals guide the listener across rougher waters.
But what makes Mantra work so well is its ability to mix-and-match chaos and calm; the crushing bass tones on “Habit”, cruising synths on “Not Enough”, and the trip-hop elements in “Someone Else”, all contrasting against the soft, airy vocals gives the album added dimensions and instrumental substance. Of course, with the experimental combination of synthesizers and silky textures means there are more ambient tracks on the record, like “Tongue”, “Alligator”, or closer and title track “Mantra” that bring the tempo down and the intensity up.
Must-haves: “No One’s Around You” // “Not Enough” // “Mantra”
Phantogram – Three
Brooklyn based duo Phantogram return with their electrifying mix of trip-hop and synth-pop on their overtly titled third record, bringing back their familiar punch and dynamic delivery.
Colony House – Only the Lonely
Tennessee indie pop group Colony House have turned their youthful energy and fun-loving personality into their sophomore album Only the Lonely. Written during and about their touring adventures, the new record is nothing short of energetic and ear-pleasing.
Die Antwoord – Mount Ninji And Da Nice Time Kid
South African rave-rap duo Die Antwoord are back with yet another collection of brain-melting, heart-pounding, drug-induced good times on their latest album Mount Ninji And Da Nice Time Kid – which will be one of their final albums they’ve recently announced…
Groenland – A Wider Space
Montreal indie rock group Groenland have released their sophomore album A Wider Space; the colourful, synth-driven follow-up to their 2013 debut The Chase. Bright vocals, retro synth pop melodies, and more find their way into the upbeat record.