The 20th Century Ambassadors of Truth and Magic are back once again. I fell in love with this band when i heard heir quirkily titled, genre-defying, ground-breaking, mind-blowing, debut (can you tell I like the album). Jonathon Rado and Sam France burst onto the scene doing what many band attempt, they successfully channeled all their favorite musical role models to something that reminds you of the source while feeling completely original. For lovers of 60's and 70's rock this album was dream, reminding us of Lou Reed and Bowie, but the fresh-out-of-high-school musicians weren't ready for fame, and had a tough time keeping us with the physical demands of touring and performing every night. They hit a bit of a sophomore slump, not to say that ...And Star Power does not have merit, but it paled in comparison to their debut. However, Foxy has earned back their spot in my heart with this new record. It's styles are aggressively retro, referencing show tunes with big orchestral moments, Vaudeville-reminiscent ragtime jams, as well as nods to classic rock acts like Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and Elton John. The lyrics tell stories of love, fame, dreams, and even politics on "America" commenting on the state of our country. This album comes at just the right time with the massive success of La La Land, and we see this album referencing the same sort of styles though with much more oddball aplomb.
Austra Future Politics
Austra is the musical project of Ontario songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Katie Stelmanis. Her latest release is fully done at Katie's hands, produced, performed, and mixed, which is impressive when you hear how flawless the record sounds. Stelmanis' production is a strong asset but more important is her powerful phenomenal voice, delivering lyrics inspired by philosophical texts that she was reading as she wondered what the future holds. Austra is like Talking Heads, Bjork, St. Vincent, and Florence + The Machine Rolled into one. This is an incredibly eclectic album with moments of both droning darkness and flourishing warmth. We played Austra's song "Utopia" on my podcast check it out here.
The Proper Ornaments Foxhole
The third album from the London psych-folk band is a foggy, smooth guitar driven stroll. Demonstrating their affinity for 60's rock and pop these songs are restrained and even, with the song structure of Pink Floyd and the knack formelodies of Elliot Smith. This record washes over you in a gentle mist, the songs are sweet smooth and catchy. Though they have a retro vibe these songs feel brand new, like an unearthed basement type of a classic act. Taking the 60's sound and muddying it up in the lush and lo-fi styles that are popular now with artists like Kurt Vile and Mac Demarco. This record isn't screaming in you face or wrenching at your heart, but it subtly burrows in with delightful melodies and nostalgic nods.
Loyle Carner Yesterday's Gone
Like the last record what sets this artist apart is his restraint. Another London-native this rapper delivers a debut that sounds unlike any other rap music out there. Cleaning up the grime genre with crisp, jazzy production and vivid, personal stories delivered with clear vocals and a steady timbre. Carner reminds us that hip-hop is a verbal artform, paying homage to his forefather's like Nas and Mos Def with artfully crafted bars, masterfully delivered sometimes over no beat. The picture on the front makes this album feel very home grown.. This is a really enjoyable debut and promising that we will see a lot of great work form him in the future.
Camp Cope, Cayetana Split
Two fantastic female rock bands come together to deliver some sweet guitar-driven tunes, both tender and aggressive. First, Philedelphia's Cayetana deliver high-energy pop-punk with crunchy guitars and bubblegum hooks. Also, Melbourne's Camp Cope add a touch of early emo, magnifying the vulnerability of the tracks. Singer Georgia Mack has a voice that is strong and steady, that blows the listener away when she hits the lower register. We played their amazing song "Keep Growing" on the podcast and I compared her voice to FUN's Nate Ruess. Listen to the episode here.
Joan of Arc He's Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands
Can you guess what this album's about? The veteran Chicago-based experimental punk band celebrate their fifteen years together by joining the hundreds of musicians creating art in opposition of Donald Trump (not gonna call him president it's seriously a joke). Lead by Tim Kinsella, older brother of American Football and Owen's Mike Kinsella, and Melina Ausikaitis. They take on out nation's problems as only they can in an experimental and quirky fashion with deep, cryptic lyrics. The band played for hours, jamming and experimenting every member switching instruments, then Tim and Melina listen back, chopped up the recordings and wrote lyrics. The result of that inventive process is one crazy original album. There is no band like Joan of Arc. I played their track "This Must Be The Placenta" on the podcast listen here.
The debut album from this Montreal rock band is a light, catchy debut. The feel is perfectly captured by the album title and artwork, telling neon-light-laden stories of going out in the city at night. My one problem with this band is that the singer sounds like he's trying to hard to make his voice sound pouty and raspy, which is a bit distracting but the music and the melodies are so smooth and infectious that I can look past it. For fans of pop-rock groups like Kings of Leon this album will be right up your alley.