Louise Burns Asks, “Who’s the Madman?”

Canadian recording artist Louise Burns has proven through three albums thus far that she is an ace when it comes to songwriting, singing, and musicianship. Her latest new wave leaning album Young Mopes is one of the finest works of the year to date, and we now have a music video for opening track, “Who’s the Madman.” The MV stars a vampire and plays with the concept that real life is often stranger than what we see on TV. Album Young Mopes follows 2013’s Midnight Mass and the 2011 Polaris Prize-nominated Mellow Drama.  iTunes

Louise Burns in Top Form on Young Mopes

louise-burns-young-mopesSigned to Madonna’s Maverick label when she was just 15, Louise Burns of Cranbrook, BC co-founded all-female, JUNO-nominated rock group Lillix serving as its bass player. Now based in Vancouver and signed as a soloist to Light Organ Records, always ready to participate in various projects including new wave band Gold and Youth, Louise recently released her third solo record Young Mopes. Her 2011 jangle-pop debut album as a soloist earned a Polaris nomination. The new record is introspective, guitar-oriented new wave with some strokes of synth, New Orderesque high-pitched bass pulses, tight drumming, and includes a cover of the Blue Nile’s “Downtown Lights”. Track “Strange Weather” sees Burns master the country-inspired genre complete with lap steel. The tunes are deliciously shadowy, and Burns’ bright vocals and energetic delivery give it a sunny glaze. Young Mopes embodies the spirit of an old soul with a teenage heart. It is yet another ace for one of Canada’s most underrated talents, Louise Burns. Catch her on tour in March and April supporting The Zolas.  iTunes

Kalle Mattson Has the Cleverest MV of the Year

Kalle Mattson - AvalancheWalk Off the Earth is not the only act creating ultra-clever music videos. Ottawa singer-songwriter Kalle Mattson appears to have one-upped everyone with the MV for his latest single, “Avalanche”. Kalle’s 2014 album, Someday the Moon Will Be Gold, was Polaris nominated, and superb track “Darkness” made the CMB’s Top 30 Songs of the Year list. Kalle strikes us as the real deal, a highly underrated talent both in terms of penning lyrics and crafting beautiful songs. With the profusion of indie music out there lacking brawny resources for marketing, independent artists are left with the challenging task of concocting effective tactics to let the masses in on what they have to offer. Some take the easy voyeuristic route while others find more respectable means. We would argue that while the former may result in short-term success, the latter makes for a more momentous, stable, and long-lasting career.

Kalle Mattson’s MV for fabulous song “Avalanche” has him recreating shots on set of classic album covers with himself in place of the artist. He has to quickly change gear to do so. He also does a play on the album titles and artist using variations of his name. No worries if you cannot recall what all the albums are, but you should recognize at least a couple of them. Kalle, who is very meticulous in his planning, states his biggest obstacle for the idea was worrying it might be interpreted by the public as egotistical – his inserting his face into hugely popular albums. He assures us that the spirit behind it is to show his humble appreciation for the artists who made such fine works. We have embedded the MV below for your viewing pleasure.  iTunes

2013 Polaris Prize Short List

Last month, the folks behind the Polaris Prize came up with a list of their 40 favourite albums in the past year. Today, that list was pared down to 10. Eleven “judges” will give the $30,000 cash prize to one of them (the winner) announced at a ceremony in September. You will notice that the kind of music up for the Polaris Prize often differs from best-selling albums and albums nominated for JUNOs and other awards. This is because the list of albums nominated is a reflection of the musical tastes of the group of people on the panel. Generally speaking, sales figures are a reflection of the musical tastes of all Canadians, the JUNOs of those in the music industry, and the Polaris those in Canadian media. Polaris panelists tend to focus more on music, less on lyrics and vocal talent, and generally favour darker, more sombre styles.

Although the Polaris Prize has boasted honouring music all over the genre map, we don’t see too much diversity on this year’s list:  no standard rock, pop, country, jazz, classical.  Essentially, these are indie / experimental / electronic albums. Moreover, although a few appeared on the long list of 40, no Francophone album made this year’s cut; one American artist did. On the positive side, the cool thing about these sorts of lists is that you can listen to the albums online and if you’re lucky discover some new music you like. These albums are very well done great works. Below is the “short list” of ten albums up for the 2013 Polaris Prize with some information on each album and artist. What’s your favourite of the bunch?

Godspeed You Black Emperor - Allelujah Don't Bend AscendArtist: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Origin: Montréal
Type: Male-female group
Album: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Release Date: October 2012
Genre/Style: Experimental, instrumental rock

Zaki Ibrahim - Every OppositeArtist: Zaki Ibrahim
Origin: Nanaimo, BC
Type: Female solo artist
Album: Every Opposite
Release Date: September 2012
Genre/Style: Electronic African soul

Metric - SyntheticaArtist: Metric
Origin: Toronto
Type: Female-male group
Album: Synthetica
Release Date: June 2012
Genre/Style: Electronic rock

x-defaultArtist: METZ
Origin: Toronto
Type: Male group
Album: METZ
Release Date: October 2012
Genre/Style: Punk

Purity Ring - ShrinesArtist: Purity Ring
Origin: Edmonton
Type: Female-male duo
Album: Shrines
Release Date: July 2012
Genre/Style: Experimental electronic

Colin Stetson - New HIstory of Warfare Vol 3 to See More LightArtist: Colin Stetson
Origin: Michigan, USA
Type: Male solo artist
Album: New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Release Date: April 2013
Genre/Style: Experimental, instrumental jazz-rock

Tegan and Sara - HeartthrobArtist: Tegan and Sara
Origin: Calgary
Type: Female duo
Album: Heartthrob
Release Date: January 2013
Genre/Style: Synthpop, new wave

A Tribe Called Red - Nation II NationArtist: A Tribe Called Red
Origin: Ottawa
Type: Male group
Album: Nation II Nation
Release Date: May 2013
Genre/Style: Powwow step

Whitehorse - The-Fate-of-the-World-Depends-on-this-KissArtist: Whitehorse
Origin: Hamilton
Type: Male-female duo
Album: The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss
Release Date: August 2012
Genre/Style: Folk rock

Young Galaxy - Ultramarine copyArtist: Young Galaxy
Origin: Vancouver
Type: Female-male group
Album: Ultramarine
Release Date: April 2012
Genre/Style: Indie electronic

Polaris Prize Long-Listed Nominees Announced

A Tribe Called Red - Nation II NationTo the United States, a country that is harbouring weapons of mass destruction, Polaris is the name of a missile armed with a nuclear warhead.  To Canada, it is the name of the brightest star that points northward.  The long list of 40 long-play album nominees has been announced by the Polaris Prize group.  In a month, the list will be pared down to 10 and then a panel of 11 judges (we’re guessing mostly white, Anglophone, male 50-somethings) will munch on ketchup-flavoured chips and debate the “artistic merits” of each album to finally decide on a winner who will be announced at a gala held on September 23.  The winning artist will be awarded a cash prize of 30 grand which, if a band of five members, should cover rent in Vancouver for about five months. 

Peter Peter - Une version améliorée de la tristesseThe polar folks describe themselves as “a not-for-profit organization that annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing, then marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected music critics.” We’re not sure how “artistic integrity” can be defined, as it is as subjective (and considering the type of music they tend to favour, as dark and depressing) as the twilight zone.  We’re also not sure what qualifies those claiming for themselves inclusion into the grey area of “music critic” to be appointed gavel swingers. Nevertheless, all teasing aside, the Polaris Prize is surely a nice thing by which to be recognized and congratulations to the 40 artists up for this year’s award!  (We have previously reviewed many of these albums and are not affiliated with the Polaris group in any way.)

And the “nominees” are…

A Tribe Called Red – Nation II Nation
Alaclair Ensemble – Les maigres blancs d’Amérique du Noir
ANCIIENTS – Heart of Oak
The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Louis-Jean Cormier – Le Treizième Étage
Daphni – JIAOLONG
Mac DeMarco – 2
Evening Hymns – Spectral Dusk
Hannah Georgas – Hannah Georgas
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II
Jim Guthrie – Takes Time
Hayden – Us Alone
Zaki Ibrahim – Every Opposite
KEN mode – Entrench
Kid Koala – 12 bit Blues
Kobo Town – Jumbie in the Jukebox
Pierre Lapointe – Punkt
Lee Harvey Osmond – The Folk Sinner
Les soeurs Boulay – Le poids des confettis
Corb Lund – Cabin Fever
The Luyas – Animator
Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
Metric – Synthetica
METZ – METZ
Danny Michel with the Garifuna Collective – Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me
AC Newman – Shut Down The Streets
Old Man Luedecke – Tender is The Night
Lindi Ortega – Cigarettes & Truckstops
Peter Peter – Une version améliorée de la tristesse
Purity Ring – Shrines
Rah Rah – The Poet’s Dead
Rhye – Woman
Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Suuns – Images du futur
Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
Al Tuck – Stranger at the Wake
Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine

Polaris Prize Official Website