Storyteller of his travels and touching tales of love lost, Spencer Burton has reached a new level as a folk styled raconteur under his moniker Grey Kingdom. With his sophomore full length album, Light I’ll Call Your Name Out Darkness, released in October 2012, Burton’s record is now receiving a vinyl LP format just in time for his appearance this summer at Wolfe Island Music Festival, where he performs the afternoon of Satuday August 10th.
His developing years in the music scene of Welland Ontario transpired into Burton embarking on expansive tours with critically acclaimed band, Attack in Black. These experiences are manifested within Burton’s lyricism, in songs such as Imminent Failure where he sings, “I’ve become a restless wanderer, who finds no hope in a home.” This line, and the overbearing restless mood of the song eludes to his musical-wanderer mentality which he has come to embody, becoming one of Canada’s great up-and-coming folk singers, writing of his life, his love, and his experiences across this vast country.
In case you haven’t heard already, the 90’s are back. Everyone is wearing high waisted pants and neon- well anything; even Boy Meets World is coming back. What I am most excited about though is the music. Not the boy bands or the literally “dirty” pop songs, but the music that mixes hip-hop’s smoothness with pop’s buoyancy – just like Canadian group Ain’t No Love’s newest track, “Fake Your Dreams”.
The band has been dubbed renegade pop but I would just call them musical geniuses. They have created a sound that perfectly caters to our generation, mixing throwback flare with trendy production values and rapping lyrics that reference pop culture. “Fake Your Dreams” will quickly become that song on your party playlist that everyone stops to sing along to.
Born Ruffians are back at it. As a four-piece. Normally I find the addition of a band member far-into a band’s career troubling, a sign of desperation. However, change is not always bad, and after their (personally) disappointing album Say It, I’m willing to embrace it. And you should be too!
The opening track to their recently released LP Birthmarks, “Needle” is far more stylized and glossy than any previous work. This new sound (and presumably higher production value) is effective and approachable, and fits nicely in the canon that is Canadian indie rock. Admittedly, the opening vocals tread a bit too closely to Fleet Foxes. However, any comparisons vanish as soon as the band kicks in around the 50 second mark. Born Ruffians’ skill lies in their ability to capitalize on open space, and embrace the sparseness of a three-piece (sorry, now a four-piece) rather than constantly overcompensating and trying to produce a fat sound. Birthmarks as a whole still sounds like Born Ruffians, with characteristic lo-fi drums, guitar quips, and Luke Lalonde’s unmistakable singing (which has returned to fine form).
Born Ruffians are the second-to-last act of the Wolfe Island Music Festival, and I’m curious to see how their new line-up and album will translate into their notoriously spontaneous and frenetic live act.
With Drake putting Toronto on the hip-hop map, competition in the big city has been expanding like crazy, so today, I introduce young rapper Andrew White! White, (previously known as AcesHiiigh) has had an incredible journey to be where he is today, in the top 5 unsigned artists of Toronto list. Growing up in a cooperative home complex in Oshawa and a trailer park in Mississauga has added to his white-boy image, like a younger Eminem. Interested in rap music since he was a kid, he began writing music at age 13. With an expanding fan base over the years he has had many accomplishments including: Opening for Machine Gun Kelly, D- block, and Jadakiss, competing in a showcase in Miami, headlining sold-out events, Toronto clubs banging his songs, having his music on iTunes and hip-hop websites worldwide, features in newspapers, and making the top 12 heatseakers list.
Last week White released a new song called “Fugazy”. Produced, written, engineered, and recorded by Andrew himself. This song has brought many fans (namely, me) to nail-biting anxiousness waiting for his summer album to drop. The word fugazy is an Italian slang word for fake, which is a perfect title for this track which speaks about how Andrew wants to hear music that tells a real story. When I asked him about the song, he said “I want to inspire other rappers to write what’s real, not about some Ferrari you drive when you really cant afford to pay rent.” This 100% self-made track has made my top 10 tracks playlist alongside A$AP Rocky and Big K.R.I.T. Hopefully we see Andrew White perform sometime in Kingston. and be sure to check out his website and download his music.
World We Own [audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/110677389/World%20We%20Own.mp3]
I’m not sure what it is about that Lana Del Ray-esq ‘live fast, love hard, die young’ tone that is so appealing to us “tortured youth”, but whatever it is, Sundays first single “World We Own” captures the beautiful morbidity with ease. The steady oscillating synth, subtle drum, and haunting vocals draw you in and make this more of an experience than just a song.
From the very little I can dig up about Sundays, I’ve learned 1. she’s a Vancouver-based experimental electronic/soul singer/songwriter and producer 2. her debut EP, Of Eros and I, is to be released later this summer …and that’s about it. Whether intentional or not, the mysterious air about Sundays adds all the more to her alluring style, and creates the feeling that you’ve just read a dramatic cliffhanger and are left anxiously waiting to see what happens.
I’ll be right there with you checking to see what’s next,
“Fall For You” is light, easy to consume, upbeat and has a somewhat tropical vibe — all the makings for that perfect summer tune. That is, it’s the perfect song until you listen to the rest of the band’s latest album Ultramarine, then try picking just one.
Young Galaxy is an ethereal sounding experimental-pop band hailing from Montreal (Is it just me, or does Montreal spawn the best dreamy pop music?) They have been making music together for a while now and all four of their albums are worth a listen, I especially recommend lending your ears to the track “We Have Everything,” but this last album is superb. It’s a cohesive entity but each track stands strong on its own. I bet that more than one Young Galaxy song will make it’s way onto your summer play list.
One of the first posts I submitted to The Vault was for a great acoustic love song by Nova Scotia’s own Joel Plaskett. Well I’m here again to extol the virtues of Joel’s more plugged-in, cranked-up side. “You’re Mine” is another tune off the Emergency’s latest LP, Scrappy Happiness. This song is remarkably full for a three-piece (especially when you consider the tenor guitar), and manages to take a traditional set-up and make it sound fresh and exciting. The structure is that of a standard rock song [verse, pre-chorus, chorus, repeat!] and outside of a few unexpected licks or fills there aren’t too many surprises, musically. But the song’s true merit, like many of Joel Plaskett’s songs, lies in his uncanny ability as a songwriter. The lyrics are drenched in nostalgia, yet are rallying and optimistic. If you’re not on board by the chorus’ falsetto finale of “I am yours and you are MINE”, you gotta start over and give this song the attention it deserves.
Joel Plaskett Emergency headlines the Wolfe Island Music Festival this year, and I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to front this all-Canadian, all-independent festival. I saw them at the Grand Theatre last October, and it was one of the longest, most energetic, musically exciting shows I’ve seen in years. Joel has a huge catalogue to select from and tackles every song with gusto and confidence, as does his extremely consistent rhythm section (i.e. The Emergency). It’s ok to feel good about feel-good music.
How many Canadian gospel or soul bands can you name off the top of your head? Sad isn’t it? Well it’s time that you add The Ballantynes to that list. The Vancouver band just released their latest work this past April, the single “Faith” with a B-side to accompany it, and both tracks are very refreshing. The Ballantynes have four vocalists, two of which have incredible sounding voices with the range to boot.
Unfortunately, they finished their West Coast tour at the end of this past March and have never gone too far from home. If you’re anywhere near the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on June 15th, check them out live. They won’t disappoint. And if you needed more incentive, they’ll also be playing with a band that has been discussed here before, the Zebrassieres.
3rd World Grrl [audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/110750551/Antwon%20-%203rd%20World%20Grrl.mp3]
Coming out of San Jose, California Antwon has been noted by Vice as one of the rappers of 2013 to watch out for. I’d wholeheartedly agree. A bit like a less intense MF Doom flow. Also judging from his music videos and press and whatnot he’s got a jokes-ass persona (see above).
I’m writing this Tupac style as by the time this gets published I’ll be out working in the bush where wi-fi and laptops are few and far between. So this will likely be my last post for a lil’ while. Its been swell internet. See you in two months!
Pop Quiz: What do crop tops, a Beatle, sleeping bags and Kendrick Lamar all have in common? You can find them at Bonnaroo this year. With a tonne of big names (The Lumineers, Alt-J, Mumford and Sons, Tom Petty) and one HUGE name (ahem, Sir Paul McCartney) it’s safe to say that going to this festival will be the highlight of my summer, maybe even my life.
With Bonnaroo only a month away it is time to let the countdown and-the prep begin. I don’t have a tent, a sleeping bag or even a way down yet but I do have crop tops and a flower crown. More importantly I know who I’m most excited to see. On that list is He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, an LA band who has perfected a modern day folk sound. They are edgy, fun, glam, dreamy, melancholic and odd. Lay back, close your eyes and let their music transport you to a hot desert hillside. Keep hydrated and be generous with the SPF.