Got room for a few more musical treats?
Team GDW receive LOTS of music to review, and while we cannot get to everything that arrives in our inbox, we were inspired to select a few at random and share with you as an end of year medley of musical treats.
Lofi Uppercut, “Fresh As The First Time”
Looking for a little alt-rock? Or a little funk? What about a little psych-rock too? If you suddenly find yourself unwilling to make choices, and crave all three (and then some), well, here is an album that we suggest you seek out. Veteran British Columbia indie-rocker Bruce Thomas (Lofi Uppercut) has returned to the music scene with a brand new “Fresh As The First Time” album, distributed for streaming via YouTube. Recorded live off the floor in Toronto just last month, this latest Lofi Uppercut album sees vocalist and producer Bruce Thomas joined by friends, Jon Eckert (guitar), Trevor Bedard (bass), and Lowell Binstock (percussion).
Opening track “Sweet Melinda” sees a heavy funk bass rapidly joined by some wonderful blues guitar and groovy vocals that turn this into a great ‘mover and shaker.’ If you are seeking a something a little more alternative, check out tracks “Green Eyes Blue Grass” and “Find Yerself,” which offer a slow pace and slight atmospheric distortion. Or jump to “RevyMade,” and be transported to the music of yesteryear with some simply defined guitar melodies. “My intention was to produce … a positive stance on reconciliation, identity, and deal with the concept of emotional trauma,” states Bruce. “The central theme of the project was using music as a tool for healing, communication, and having a positive impact on wellness and mental health in our society.” ~ M
Alex Mason, “Salt And The Sea (Live From Dorchester)”
Toronto based folk-roots singer-songwriter Alex Mason launched his most recent three track EP back in August, recorded live off the floor in a historic barn just outside London, ON. Describing his musical style as ‘Growly sounds from the north,’ Mason teamed with Simon Larochette to co-produce this acoustic and distinctly water-themed release (track titles: “Salt And The Sea,” “Lake Superior Blues” and “River,” respectively). The title track is incredibly personal, notably during Mason’s chorus, “I’m the sail and you’re the sea, dissolving into everything / cut from stone to coat what makes me clean / and I felt you underneath, rising up to meet me / where we break before we ever truly see.”
Officially his third EP, “Salt And The Sea (Live From Dorchester)” was written during an emotionally challenging time for Alex Mason, during the loss of his father, making these three tracks some of his most personal and intimate to date. “There was so much struggle and hardship, pain and love in the space between the making of this EP,” he shared on his Facebook page. “These songs are works closer to me than I have ever written, the recordings are as bare bones as possible.” And to further honor the memories of his late father, Alex used one of his father’s old photos as the artwork for the album. “It felt in a way like hearing my dad talking through time,” he adds. “And being able to collaborate with him in a way is one of the most special things I can think of.” ~ M
The Hope State, “Skeletons”
Originally from the Saskatchewan Prairies, indie-rock singer-songwriter Taylor Johnson spent many years working in the Los Angeles music industry, before returning home to Canada and now calling Toronto home. Establishing himself as a highly regarded professional ‘ghost writer,” Tyler remains grateful for the opportunities presented to him within the mainstream music industry, yet simultaneously yearned to create and perform songs that resonated with his own life experiences and personal identity. Writing and performing under the name The Hope State, Taylor’s arrival in Toronto coincides with his impressive debut album “Skeletons.”
Teaming up with JUNO Award winner Crispin Day (July Talk), Taylor released this five track album in late November, preceded by the earlier launches of singles “Just Survive” and “Butterflies” across several music platforms. With a powerful indie-folk sound that perfectly complements his distinct vocals, “Skeletons” proves to be an introspective and intensely honest look at regret, depression, addiction, love and loss. With “Just Survive,” Taylor’s carefully crafted lyrics bring to the forefront a discussion of a mother losing a child; not an easy topic to present to the casual music listener, but evidently a conversation that he hopes to provoke. “Butterflies” continues the theme of social issues, notably addiction. “[It] mirrors as a battle with drugs and the crushing guilt that comes with that,” states Johnson. “Being so sick of yourself, but not knowing how to stop and hoping for a transformation.” ~ M
Madeleine Roger, “Cottonwood”
If Madeleine Roger’s voice sounds vaguely familiar to you, you’ve likely heard it via Roger Roger, her duo with twin brother Lucas. With this, her debut album, she steps out with a truly terrific folk album that runs the gamut from gentleness to carefully restrained (but powerful) anger. Mojo has compared her to a young Joni Mitchell, a confirmation of my own thoughts that I was glad to see; her thoughtful, vulnerable songs bring that comparison to life.
Madeleine co-produced and co-engineered the project with Lloyd Peterson (The Wailin’ Jenny’s, The Weakerthans, James Keelaghan) at Paintbox Recording in Winnipeg. The album was proudly made with gender parity – half of the producing, audio engineering, musicians, and other artists identify as female. Listen to “60 Years More” and you can hear a gently forceful articulation of her principles on this score – a reminder that we as women still have so very far to go to reach parity in many aspects of our lives.
I think I can safely issue a spoiler of my top albums list this year and say that this project makes the list; this deeply moving, thoughtful album has been on regular play for me for several weeks now, and I can’t wait to hear what music awaits us from Madeleine Roger in 2019 and beyond. ~ L