Single Review – Alice Glass – Without Love

As Alice Glass goes onwards with life after Crystal Castles, the Ontarian electronic artist has now released her second single in ‘Without Love’; this one a sure precursor to a debut solo album. This single pursues a more underground style of electronica with the churning synths clashing with manipulated sounds and rapidly firing beats. This is set around dropping chords and eerie faux piano parts. This makes for a dark and shadowy atmosphere with the array of effects forging greats depths to the track. The only thing that counters this is Alice’s vocals, which are high, soft and wiry and without the screams of her Crystal Castle years as they remain refrained and are cleverly used as vocal instrumentation. The lyrical content is equally introvert and points towards dealing with self doubt and the battles within. It is certainly the first step towards carving her own space out in the electronic sphere. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Austra – Utopia 

The Toronto based synth pop group headed by Katie Stelmanis have announced their third studio album Future Politics; their first since 2013’s Olympia which had flashes of brilliance, but was underwhelming everywhere else. Their new single ‘Utopia’ isn’t a huge stray from the key sounds of Olympia, but the arrangement is less cluttered and the production refined instead adding to the musical furniture. The harmonies and melodies hang from a steady and drawn out beat with a more solid beat layered atop it. With this arrangement, Katie’s siren-like operatics are given a greater focus in the grand scheme of things and her vocals hauntingly linger as they fade into the synths. It would be nice to have her raw vocals impose themselves on one of the tracks of this upcoming album however as they can only be echoed and faded so much. If anything this is more noticeable now they’ve refined their sound. A decent opening to their album release.

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Crystal Castles – Char

The Canadian electronic/dance duo has seen Alice Glass depart and Edith Frances join. Their new album AMNESTY 1 which you can expect on August 19th. This announcement has been accompanied by the release of new tracks ‘Concrete’ and ‘Char’. The latter is a song full of light and softened beats and shifting electronica and from this base are more aggressive tones and overtures from grinding, distorted synths. Edith’s vocals act as a distant and haunting echo throughout the track and she certainly gives the duo a new dimension in terms of atmospheric delivery. An album to keep an eye on then.

Owen Riddle

Single Review Alice Glass – Stillbirth

The uncompromising and unpredictable Alice Glass has emerged with her first solo work since leaving Crystal Castles and only a week after the band she left had released new material from their upcoming album. ‘Stillbirth’ is a song about reclaiming yourself from a tormentor or bully and is delivered with all the musical and vocal ferocity you might imagine she’d come up with. The heavily distorted roar of heavy electronica and EDM-like blasts are interrupted by Alice’s soft and naïve sounding vocals that build up to a scream as the heavy industrial sounds reverberate around her. A fade into a moment of gentle, zoned out contemplation only sets up the song for a final blast of the chorus. You can certainly take on board the lyrical message when delivered in such a brazen fashion and is proof, despite the debates that she very much is a singular talent.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

MUSIC NEWS – Foo Fighters Photography Policy Tackled by French-Canadian Newspaper and Albert Hammond Jr. on Going Alone

Foo Fighter’s Photography Policy Under Fire

The Foo Fighters policy for taking ownership of any photographs taken by them at their concerts was recently labelled as “exploitative” by The Washington Post and Quebec newspaper Le Soleil made a stand by sending a cartoonist to the gig in Quebec City as photographers “had to give up all their rights” according to the paper. Here’s an example of the gig from the view of the cartoonist.

This controversy comes after Taylor Swift was branded a “Hypocrite” for practicing a similar policy, but her management later stated that images could be republished with their permission.

Albert Hammond Jr. on Being a Frontman

Yesterday The Strokes guitarist spoke of his confidence that he could be a frontman and that he “feels like I have good songs”. He also spoke at his frustration over the slow progress of The Strokes new material saying that “After a while you feel drained from because of how much you love and care for it.” His doubts were raised over a month since Julian Casablancas stated the band were working on new material so perhaps we’ll have to wait a little longer than we think for that. Albert’s upcoming album Momentary Masters is out on July 31st.

Sam Smith Favourite to Record New Bond Theme

Sam Smith remains favourite to be the performer of the new theme for the latest James Bond instalment Spectre. This is despite him recently suggesting that the song would be performed by Ellie Goulding. Smith is very similar in style to the last performer of a Bond theme which was Adele for Skyfall in 2012 so perhaps someone a little different is needed for the sake of not repeating themselves with a similar track. Duran Duran who recorded the Bond theme in 1985, suggested being more original in recruiting acts such as Daft Punk or Kanye West to record the theme. Lorde, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey and Noel Gallagher are the other favourites to record the film’s theme song.

50,000 ‘Torontonians’ Sign Petition to stop Kanye West Performing at Pan-Am Games Closing Ceremony

Those creating the petition cite their opposition to Kanye being chosen as opposed to a local artist, but Deputy Leader of Ontario Green Party, Mark Daye claimed he was an “obnoxious no talent a**hole”. This comes after West was ridiculed by some of the British Press after his Glastonbury set in the face of a petition of 100,000+ to prevent him from headlining the festival. Despite this, those such as Noel Gallagher and Jack Black have came out in defence of Kanye but I think it’s likely that whether positive or not; Kanye West doesn’t really care what people have to say and will continue to go in his own direction.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Crystal Castles – Decide

We found out earlier this year that Toronto’s Crystal Castles have in fact lived on without Alice Glass and that now Ethan Kath now has a new vocalist by the name of Edith. They debuted their first new track together with the single ‘Frail’ and the track will feature on their upcoming LP. They’ve followed this up with a second single ‘Decide’. The subtle whirring electronica of the opening of the song is soon followed up with a driving bass beat and with rumbling dance samples behind it, from here Edith’s slight vocal delivery weaves it’s way between the industrial sounds. These sounds move backwards and forwards in their focus to highlight the beat and the song is another example of them challenging the stereotypes of dance music.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review + FREE DOWNLOAD – Owen Pallett – Phone Call

The Canadian multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett from Toronto is known for his surrealist and abstract musical style and delivery and this new single for the Adult Swim singles presentation is no different. The man who produced 2014’s In Conflict sets his offbeat, theatrical vocal around soft-edged and drenching synths. The counter melody doesn’t always work throughout the whole song and perhaps would have been best used for only the sections of the song, but it’s aims can still be appreciated. This contemplative track is certainly worth a free download and was used as an opportunity by Owen to experiment vocally and that’s the crux of the track.

Get the link to the download here

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Metric – Cascades

Toronto’s Metric are building up to the release of what will be their sixth studio album Pagans in Vegas, out on September 18th and with their new single ‘Cascades’, they claim it to be the ‘Pounding Heart’ of their new album so in that case it better be good! Thankfully for Metric it is up to scratch as they appear to have delved deeper into their synth-pop repertoire with the buoyant beats, softly nudging lead chords and a vocoder filtration upon Emily Haines vocal all set out to deliver their aims faithfully and cleanly. This results in a slick and hook-laden piece of electronica with the right balance of depth and light. This song does sit somewhere between Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk and that’s not a bad place to be and there’s much potential to had with this song as the album’s foundation.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Musical World Tour – Canada – Alvvays – Next of Kin

Gig Review – Alvvays and Moon King at Think Tank, Newcastle

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Alvvays took charge of the Think Tank in Newcastle last night for what was all in all a chilled out and swaying affair as the Nova Scotia via Toronto band dished out some melodic and at times swooning surf rock and pop. After setting up their own instruments and declaring that “we’ve already blew up one amp today” they hammered out an hour long set of tracks off their self titled 2014 debut LP. Naturally tracks like ‘Archie, Marry Me’ got the crowd swaying in contentment (myself included) and singing along with Molly’s wistful and sweeping vocals. These vocals really came into their own for the gracious and contemplative tracks like ‘Ones Who Love You’. After blasting out ‘Adult Diversion’ for an apt and catchy conclusion, they returned for an encore that included a new track and a warning about the hordes of clubbers massing below. Between tracks they were a picture of Canadian politeness talking of being happy to be playing in “their ancestral homeland” and bemoaning how “more people have heard of Nova Scotia in the U.K than in the U.S”. They were preceded by fellow Canadian four piece Moon King. They delivered a rough and distorted sound entwined with the vocal harmonies to counter act them. They did their set without any bass at all and with the lead guitarist occasionally moving down to the lower chords. All in all it was an intimate and relaxed gig with all the right amounts of sweet rhythms and melody as you’d expect. Oh and a belated happy birthday to Keyboardist Kerri, who’s birthday it was yesterday!