Electropop from Canada > All other electropop.
EXHIBIT A: This smooooth jam from Dizzy.
Atlanta's Curtis Harding has been steeped in soul music his entire life. From singing in church with his family in Michigan as a child to being one of Cee Lo Green's star backup singers, Harding is a true veteran of the scene. On his second full length Face Your Fear, he's playing with is self-proclaimed "garage soul" formula again, this time enlisting the help of uber-producer Danger Mouse to drag a dying art form screaming into the future.
PLUS! Country is king even in Canada, and Blake Berglund is living proof! We've got a taste of his new album Realms for you to sidle your ears up to.
There aren’t many bands with singers like July Talk’s. The Juno Award-winning band’s sophomore album Touch continues to highlight the contrast between Leah Fay’s angelic voice and guitarist Peter Dremanis’s gruff and gravelly voice. And their timing couldn’t have been better: they played at DC9 on the same day that Justin Trudeau made a stop by the White House AND on DC9’s 13th birthday. It was a momentous day made even more momentous by an stellar performance from the Toronto band.
Elliot Smith, Wilco
Why You Should Care:
One of the newest artists on Anti- Records (label of the two influences cited above), Saskatchewan’s Shauf is poised to break out. Andy Shauf’s 2015 record Bearer of Bad News was a breathtaking collection of mostly harsh tales about drug addiction, murder, and the kind of world-weary ne’er-do-wells that would feel right at home in songs by another of Shauf’s labelmates – Tom Waits.
On Friday evening, DC9 hosted an early show featuring two up-and-coming Canadian folk artists, singer songwriters Tamara Lindeman – who performs as The Weather Station – and Andy Shauf. Both touring to support recent releases – The Weather Station’s third album, Loyalty (her first to get a US release, on Paradise of Bachelors), and Shauf’s first full-length, The Bearer of Bad News – the two artists shared a stage and a backing band (Ben Whiteley on bass, Adrian Cook on keyboards and guitar, and Ian Kehoe on drums).
Andy Shauf has been compared to singers like Elliott Smith and Josh Rouse, and hearing him live, it’s easy to understand why. His breathy, often falsetto vocals are reminiscent of both singers, as is his penchant for minor keys. But despite his clear place in a tradition, he’s developing a style of his own, as can be heard in songs like “Hometown Hero” and “You’re Out Wasting.” Live the songs are a bit more sparse and direct, without the layered vocals and additional instrumentation.
Bruce Cockburn is a legend, though it’s entirely possible that you’ve never heard of him. An active recording artist for 45 years now (his first, self-titled album was released in 1970); he has had copious hits and sold millions of records in his native Canada. Yet despite sharing largest border with them, he, like many other Canadian artists, has found little more than cult status here in the US. His only song to break the top 40 in the US, “Wondering Where the Lions Are” off of his album Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, went to number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, but he has seen only limited mainstream attention here otherwise
Sounds Like: Midlake, or a folky Built to Spill
Why You Should Care: The Canadian trio’s brand of bluegrass-infused alt-rock keeps getting better
You may be starting to think we’re becoming CBC3 around here with all the praise we’ve been heaping on Canadian artists recently. Guilty as charged, but only because our neighbors to the north are creating some of the best indie music out there.
Witness “Midnight Ice,” from Toronto singer/songwriter Lisa Bozikovic’s sophomore album This is How We Swim. A hooky piano riff dances with shimmering violins, and Bozikovic’s quiet vocals twirl around a song that could have been written by Burt Bacharach and fit in perfectly on 70s AM radio. It’s a sound that bands like Cousteau have tried to emulate, but none have done it as well as Bozikovic does it here.
Naturally, you don’t call the song “Midnight Ice” if it’s got a happy ending, and Bozikovic perfectly captures how most breakups come down to the minutiae of removing the person from your life; in this case, changing the sheets and taking a shower.
Lisa Bozikovic - "Midnight Ice"
For all the jokes we make at the expense of our neighbors to the north, Canada may have the United States beat in one key export – great indie rock. Some Canadian groups find massive success in the US – Arcade Fire, for example. Others find a smaller but no less rabid following, such as Japandroids, Destroyer, or Besnard Lakes. Still others have found success in Canada but have yet to truly break through here despite prodigious amounts of talent and fantastic live performances.
One such band is Montreal’s Patrick Watson (that’s the name of the band as well as the singer/pianist who founded it). They garnered a Juno New Artist of the Year nomination in 2007 and have been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 and 2009. (No, you don’t need to know what those are, only that they’re a much more accurate gauge of talent than the Grammys.) Those successes have yet to translate to fame in the United States, but if Wednesday’s show at the 9:30 Club is any indication, they won’t be a kept a secret much longer.
Celebration Rock. Talk about a loaded title. Frankly, if you’re going to name your album “Celebration Rock,” you had better deliver the damn goods1 or be prepared to suffer the pinpricks of a million easy jokes at the hands of bored reviewers and snarky Internet commenters. Fortunately for all of us, Japandroids more than deliver on the premise of their audacious title. Indeed, Celebration Rock is more than the title of Japandroids’ sophomore album – it is a full throttle, fist pumping, balls to the wall mission statement.