Now Hear This: Clearly Seen - Hungry Cloud Darkening

Here is the moodiest and best tone-setting piece I’ve heard this year. With careful smacks on the snare and cavernous whispers “Clearly Seen” paints a vivid picture immediately. Hungry Cloud Darkening introduce elements with artful timing and an impressive use of volume (in the spacial sense). Plucked strings linger and cymbals crash gently at a seemingly great distance, making singer Allyson Foster’s ethereal vocal entrance all the more enchanting. And after a few listens you realize that what you thought were voids between sound is actually a sonic ether that resonates long after the song is over. From the upcoming album Glossy Recall, “Clearly Seen” hints at an album created as an inhabitable space - one that begs you to learn every grain of its composition.

Glossy Recall is out 7-Oct-2014 via Off Tempo, available through these red letters.

Now Hear This: Psykick Espionage - Joanna Gruesome

This punch of punk/pop from Joanna Gruesome is absolutely perfect. An explosive accelerator of an opening gives way to Alanna McArdle’s sugary side. Her starting voice is so savage that it’s almost hard to believe the chorus sections come from the same person. Both volumes are held together with tight percussion and a celebratory tempo, making the 2 minute length feel a bit longer in the best possible way.

“Psykick Espionage” is part of a split 7” with Perfect Pussy which comes with a rad little 24 page comic book. For now it will be available in limited numbers on tour but it will be available in stores sometime this fall.

ACQUIRED: Cinnamon x Guided By Vices - The Dirty Nil

For the first few years I somehow managed to miss The Dirty Nil live. Everyone told me how they absolutely upended crowds at their shows. Like, sweat and beer and fists filling that void between flying hair and low ceilings with inhibitions broken on the floor and day jobs trampled under bouncing soles. It wasn’t that I was purposely evading these guys…it just didn’t seem to work for a while. At the same time a lot of their recorded material was coming to the inbox and though it was fun, it wasn’t translating fully to me.

Then they opened for Protomartyr this summer and this 2-song EP happened and suddenly I was on the in with the equivalent of a jab cross to the jaw. When singer Luke Bentham gets the demon eyes on stage you’re instantly on what they’re dishing out. Until now though, it HAD to be seen live to fully grasp. If you’ve been on the journey with The Nil for the past few years it all makes sense. You can’t just harness this kind of energy all at once. It’s unapologetic, brash and pretty fucking expansive.

At first glance you wonder how much damage a 2-song release can do, but you’d be foolish to bypass this release due to its running length. Never before have The Dirty Nil been captured so realistically. All of their elements detonate in a glorious inferno of rock ideas, walloping drums and the same sort of joyous destruction I thought only The Nil’s live performances could conjure. Thankfully, we can now take that raw, unbridled energy everywhere we go now with two songs that rip any banal portion of the day to shreds. I dare you to listen to this thing at work today. Just clear your desk of anything fragile.

The boys have been on the road for a while now and will be back for Supercrawl and I can guarantee the energy in the crowd that night will be furious and incredible. Be sure you’re in it. Get the 7” of Cinnamon b/w Guided By Vices via Fat Wreck Chords through these red letters.

Now Hear This: Winter In Your Heart - Ultimate Painting

This new one from Ultimate Painting is so deftly controlled that it’s almost a crime to call is casual. Aside from the title, “Winter In Your Heart” pretty much encapsulates one of my favourite summer moments. I’ve seen this song in the sky for years in the form of a drifting cloud seemingly crawling across the sun. Through polarized lenses, the shine from behind is something akin to the most relaxing high and this song is that shine. There’s no build-up or rise and fall…just a steadily enveloping sense of calm that lingers long after the song fades.

Ultimate Painting will release their self-titled debut 28-Oct-2014 via Trouble In Mind, available for pre-order now through these red letters.

NOW DO YOU SEE: Time Between - Bear In Heaven

“…the nightly New York fever dream.” Those were the closing words of Bear In Heaven’s message accompanying their new video for “Time Between” and it perfectly describes the montage. Between drag queens, the fireworks of youth, the bobbling head of a lonely drunk and a bit of horizontal love, director Nick Bentgen and members of the band toured the electric city for three weeks from 9pm until forever gathering footage. With this brilliant collection of experiences they manage to document the diversity of the city while exploring the human condition in just under four minutes.

Time Is Over One Day Old is out tomorrow via Dead Oceans through these red letters

Now Hear This: Warning - Cymbals Eat Guitars

There’s a purity to Cymbals Eat Guitars material that cannot be ignored. Their ability to make you feel something has never been questioned, but what it was you were feeling was always a bit ambiguous. Their enigmatic deliveries yielded enigmatic emotions, and until now this was their greatest strength. I can’t tell you why “…And The Hazy Sea” takes me over the way it does. All I know is that it does and its grip is extremely powerful.

Everything we’ve heard from the forthcoming album LOSE, has a simplicity at its center that you connect with instantly. The feeling that it summons is exactly the same feeling the band have said that the album was built upon - nostalgia. Their newest tease from the upcoming album is a track called “Warning”, and it is a rush of captivating percussion and Joseph D’Agostino’s urgent-then-settled anecdotes and observations (“…telling me the truth, getting goosebumps on your roof, friendship’s the biggest myth.”) It is ALL feeling from a band that have usually kept things fairly arcane.

The previously shared “Jackson” and this new track are the furthest thing from transient. They are compelling songs from an album that is shaping up to be one that you’ll live with for sometime.

LOSE will be out via Barsuk Records on 26-Aug-2014 and is available for pre-order through these red letters.

Now Hear This: Strong Love - Gap Dream

Gap Dream’s newest, “Strong Love” makes it very difficult to use words to sum up the myriad of surprising and engaging ingredients in its concoction. Bound by a clipping spine that recalls Destroyer’s “Kaputt”, Gabriel Fulvimar’s buoyant vocals drag like pastel colours on a deftly handled brush. I’ll tell friends that this one is sheer pleasure and perfectly captures the restlessness of someone in their late twenties. I’ll also carry it around so that if words fail I can produce a pair of headphones and let them listen well…let them slip away for four minutes.

Gap Dream are releasing “Strong Love” as part of a split 7” with Part Time on Burger Records on 26-Aug-2014.

Now Hear This: Be Cool - Cancers

Cancers do something really great with alternative and pop ideas on their new track “Be Cool”. The guitars are unassuming and spit with every strum. Ella Kaspar’s voice bobs in a glorious upper-middle range, floating on the pop undercurrents but contained by the upper grunge layer. And I think it is important that they are in that order, yet at the same time it almost does Cancers an injustice to even mention pop and grunge. This band just sounds like they’re having too much fun for either or.

Look for their album Fatten The Leeches, due 16-Sep-2014 on Kandy Kane Records (CD/digital) and Dead Broke Rekerds (Cassette/Vinyl).

#FUNNERFRIDAYS: Hold Still - Slow Magic

This new cut from Slow Magic’s upcoming album makes me wish I had chromesthesia. I can imagine the opening yielding rich purples and blues before detonating red bursts of sonic bliss when the song hits its proper stride. “Hold Still” might be the best summer evening primer I’ve heard this year. Oh, and there’s a midway drop to pianos, watery beats and warped voices that is absolute paradise.

Slow Magic’s new effort, How To Run Away, will be out 9-Sep-2014 on Downtown Records and he’s visiting Toronto on 28-Sep-2014 at The Garrison.

NOW DO YOU SEE: So What - Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo’s Avi-Zahner-Isenberg awakens in the surf and slowly phases between dream worlds via a red door portal in slow pursuit of an absolutely stunning woman. It’s no wonder he sees her every time he closes his eyes. Many of these sequences play out across worldly vistas that are just as easy on the eyes as they tune is on the ears.

And speaking of the tune, “So What” is a breezy bit of goodness. At times it hints at Death Cab influence, but lyrically it is more grounded and observant. Between Avi’s casual vocals and gleaming guitars hide thin threads of maturity that never overpower the experience. It’s a lot like being at the beach on a perfect Sunday. That blue horizon surely goes on forever but work is just around the corner.

Avi Buffalo’s second album At Best Cuckold will be out 9-Sep-2014 via Sub Pop, and can pre-ordered through these red letters.