I’m very happy with a) how this reflection turned out and b) how awesome this record is. Read/listen if you’d like!
Cousins - “Mess”
I loved their 2012 debut, but I have a feeling that Cousins’ forthcoming full length The Halls of Wickwire will be even better. “Mess” is another positive step in the band’s evolution from upstart garage band to local indie rock powerhouse - Aaron Mangle’s unmistakable, pretty vocals combine with the band’s crunchy instrumentals to form an elegant mix of force and beauty.
Since October, I’ve been co-leading a group of students at my school, working on a project that we’ve called Making Spaces. We aim to address diversity and accessibility-related issues faced by artists from underrepresented minorities through discussion, advocacy and action. In addition to hosting an ongoing presentation series (giving local artists and musicians the chance to speak with students about the problems that they face in their creative work) we’re in the initial stages of planning an event for the end of the semester to cap off and celebrate the work that we’ve been doing. The show will feature a wide range of art and music from local artists, with emphasis on those who come from an underrepresented or marginalized group, background or genre. We don’t want to trivialize these genres or backgrounds; instead, we aim to create a safe, accessible space that encourages discovery of new perspectives and acts as a model for inclusiveness in these creative fields. Accessibility in art and music is something that I am personally very passionate about, so it is an amazing feeling to be able to (temporarily) create the sort of space that I wish existed in this city. The show is set to take place on Saturday, June 14th at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax, and it will be accessible to all ages.
But, we can’t put on a show without art to showcase! To ensure that we support as diverse of a range of genres and perspectives as possible, we’ve put out an open call for submissions for anyone interested in being a part of this event. The submission form can be found here, and it would be greatly appreciated if you could pass it along to anyone who might be curious. If you’re interested about talking about this (or anything else!) I’m always available via email/gchat: brennanm21(at)gmail(dot)com.
Sorry for the hasty post and thank you all for sticking around!
Come celebrate the launch of Wyrd Distro with us on February 15th! I’ll be at the Halifax gathering, so if you’re around and want to fete the debut of this amazing service, please come say hi!
Timber Timbre - “Hot Dreams”
Reflecting on my relationship with music, I often find it difficult to organize my personal history as a lover and listener chronologically, or to pinpoint monumental turning points within the blur that the past few years have become. I tend to see my aural past more as a overlapping series of trends, watercolour strokes that bleed together into whatever sort of whole I am today. One of the most distinct trends to have emerged during my music-loving years was my 2011 obsession with CBC Radio 3, Canada’s internet-based public radio station committed to sharing and promoting “indie” music from across the country. At the time, I thought it was amazing; and though my tastes have since evolved beyond the mostly guitar-centred indie rock and pop of Radio 3, I still have loads of respect for the service that it provides to Canadian bands of that ilk and the opportunity for discovery that it provides to budding music enthusiasts like my fourteen year-old self. I discovered an innumerable amount of bands through that website (some of them, such as Broken Social Scene and Braids, have stayed with me to this day) and gradually, I began to appreciate more adventurous (a term I use loosely) styles of music.
At the time, I also had a questionable, perhaps image-based proclivity for any band that played with (what I then considered to be) unusual instruments. Broken Social Scene’s splashes of horns, Ohbijou’s melodious string arrangements; if a song included something vaguely orchestral, I was pretty much sold. That’s not to say that either of those two bands use their instrumentation as a ruse - both would remain great, trumpets and violins redacted - however I’m glad to have graduated from that phase of my life as a music fan. I now tell myself that albums and songs aren’t typically merited by their medium, but rather the artistry and creativity on display, but I still have a soft spot for well-executed brass lines or saxophone riffs.
Timber Timbre’s new single “Hot Dreams”, taken from the forthcoming full length of the same name, shocked me. Taylor Kirk is as on-point as ever, crafting melancholic, almost grotesque portraits of love set against an ever-evolving sonic palate. Timbre Timbre’s previous record, the suitably chilling Creep On Creepin’ On, was a staple of my 2011, so it was lovely and almost nostalgic to hear Kirk’s distinct croon slink across the more seductive backdrop that he seems to be exploring these days. The song itself is very good, and lyrically one of the best to have come from Timber Timbre - “I want to be a champion in your eyes” is a particularly evocative line - but it’s the saxophone that enters around three and a half minutes that absolutely slays me. Colin Stetson’s playing mirrors the sentiment of the story perfectly; it feels lightheaded and hazy, and the warbles that grace the end of each of Stetson’s phrases almost imitate Kirk’s idiosyncratic vocal inflections. It’s easy to see superfluous instrumental touches such as this one as gimmicky, but the saxophone on “Hot Dreams” melted most of my cynical concerns. It’s a breath of fresh air; a well-performed and completely necessary element of one of my favourite songs to have emerged from the young new year.
**Addendum: I don’t yet know how I feel about the song’s opening line (“I wanna dance with a black woman”); is is an example of racial fertilization? Is it problematic? Let me know if you want to talk about this.**
My first album reflection of the year went up today! I’d love if you’d give it a read if you haven’t already.
Thank you, Sean!
Next week, we’ll talk about Toronto indie chamber-pop band Ohbijou, who went on indefinite hiatus late last year.
See you tomorrow.
An unexpected choice for OWOB, but a good one. I love Ohbijou so I’m really looking forward to this.