New Music: Alexia Avina’s Surrender EP

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On her new Surrender EP, Montreal’s Alexia Avina creates sweeping vocal loops that feel like soft branches fluttering their fresh, raw buds. A bedroom pop album inspired by emotional floods and the vulnerability of starting again, the delicate 5-track EP was recorded in bursts using a Boss RC-50 loop station. With light synth bells used as punctuation, francophone samples, low-key guitar melodies, and Avina’s angelic, airy vocals, this is an album for morning meditations, basking in the sun, feeling the grass tickle the back of your legs, staring up at nothing at all.

Best Tracks: who will go out with a friend and thought we would stay

Check out the music video for if i’m the one that you need by Miriam Brellenthin.

New Music: FIN’s Ice Pix

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Vancouver-born, Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Fin Simonetti is a self-proclaimed “tender psycho” and brilliant synthpop explorer.

With vocals that stroke against throbbing dance rhythms and plucked harp samples, Ice Pix’s echoing production brings to mind singing to one’s self in the resonant bathroom of an all-night abandoned church rave. With hollowed out vocals flowing over hallowed ground, Ice Pix is delicate, nodding, and curious to see where the night might take it. Let it take you too.

Best Tracks: Opula, Nightflowers, and  Pike

New Music: Max T’s Palm Isle EP

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Ebullient, springy, and youthful, Palm Isle EP is the debut release from Montreal experimental pop artist Max T. The project of Max Taeuschel, who’s done music videos for Look Vibrant and Ought, Palm Isle grins with tropical precociousness, featuring rippling percussion, cascading bells, and stacked vocal harmonies that soothe like a hammock strapped between tangerine palms. Add to the soundtrack for planning the vacation you can’t afford.

Best Tracks: Terror, Bright and Palm Isle

Album Review: ‘Iles’ by Wild Belle

WildBelle

Released 12 March 2013 (Columbia Records)

Michigan’s Wild Belle is comprised of singer/songwriter/producer siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman, who just dropped their first album Iles today. Upon first listen, this album immediately declared itself fit for rotation in my cd collection (lol, cds).

Although I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to stream the album early, I was able to listen to all eleven tracks on Line Of Best Fit and Exclaim a week early.

In short, this is a mellow and unpredictable reggae album with splashes of sunlight and moody reflectiveness. Reggae was one of the only remaining sub-genres yet to be exploited by the indie hype machine, so it was only a matter of time before this album happened organically (and free-range and fair-trade).

The last few years have been all about democratizing African percussion and Southern blues, and the California beach scene is almost dried up (3 chord progressions with varying measures of reverb, tenor harmonies, and allusions to babes/pizza can only last so long). That leaves only a handful of warm climates for inspiration on next iPod commercial’s backing track.

So who does summer better than Jamaica? Nobody. Of course, before I listened to this album, I did muse: “These are two white twenty-somethings from Benton Harbor, what do they know about the perfect beach jam? Aren’t they still buried under snow like the rest of us?” The answer, my friend, is everything.

Let’s take a looksee.

The album opens with Keep You, a surprisingly well-paced slowjaw with squawking, declarative saxophone, a catchy reggae-inspired bassline, and classic “girl meets playa” storyline, which translate into an instant hit. Expect to hear it on every barista’s playlist in August.

Next comes It’s Too Late, which riffs on some of the ideas introduced in Keep You but decides to veer off in an independent direction, both musically and lyrically. Its strength lies in the delicate keyboard and steel pans which don’t overpower Natalie’s voice.

Shine is pure, infectious pop. With sarcastic lyrics like, “What is this? Valentine’s Day? I don’t think so,” this track does a complete 180 from the lovelorn depression expressed earlier. This is a concept album with a developing storyline that progresses gradually.

Twisted represents the best of New England prep. Expect to be reminded of Vampire Weekend’s delicious polo-shirted charms.

Love Like This slip back into moody, sullen reggae with playful male-female vocal lines. When It’s Over is the first chance we really get to see Elliot sing. Quite nice, and his voice should be featured more often. Take Me Away is lots of fun, with pulsing saxophone, cascading Autoharp, and chirpy vocals. It’s a great song that brings the album full circle.

For a first album, Iles has some great standout tracks. The middle of the album is a bit forgettable (Backslider, Happy Home) but that’s to be expected. A solid 7/10 with potential.

RIYL: Tennis, Taken By Trees, Vampire Weekend, Lissie

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Pop for Breakfast: “Wild” by Royal Teeth

Royal Teeth

There’s something in the water in Louisiana that’s making musicians infectiously happy. Vitamin D? Grits?

Sextet Royal Teeth make the kind of music that car commercials would die for. The kind of music that embodies free spirits and lightning bugs and naturally wavy hair. I bet their t-shirts stay white forever.

Download Wild for free off their Bandcamp page.

Catch Royal Teeth in Toronto on March 29th @ Virgin Mobile Mod Club (Doors 6pm, $20.50 RT/SS More info here) and be sure to bring some vitamins in case they need to reclaim some of their southern charm in our fridge of a city. It might be warm by then. Maybe.

RIYL: GIVERS

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