Serena Ryder’s Utopian Electric Love

Peterborough, Ontario folk-rock superstar Serena Ryder is gearing up for the release of a new album; Utopia will hit the shops on May 26. This will be her sixth studio LP. In reviewing Serena’s ryde through success so far, her breakout came with album #3, If Your Memory Serves You Well (2006). The disc contained song “Weak in the Knees”. Though it came out prior to the launch of the Canadian Hot 100 in mid-2007, the fact that the single went gold would indicate it was a fairly big hit. Ryder’s fourth album Is It O.K. (2008) also went gold. It was not responsible for any huge hits; “Little Bit of Red” peaked at #82. The album won the 2009 JUNO for Alternative Album of the Year and the song won 2010’s Music Video of the Year, Serena had snatched up the New Artist of the Year JUNO in 2008.

Four years following the release of album #4, Serena catapulted her juggernaut Harmony which went platinum and spawned some blistering hits. “Stompa” (#8) smashed 3x platinum, “What I Wouldn’t Do” (#8) platinum, and “Fall” made the respectable chart position of #27. More JUNO trophies were awarded to her. Harmony was 2013’s Adult Alternative Album of the Year. And in 2014, Serena Ryder was named both Songwriter of the Year and Artist of the Year.

Testing the waters prior to release of Utopia, single “Got Your Number,” though reaching only #62 has been certified gold. The official lead single “Electric Love” is now up for grabs. As well, she has decked it with a music video that is quite a feast for the eyes showcasing a number of fashionably clad people, face paint, and colourful geometric patterns, most notably, triangles. Could she be hinting at a “bizarre love triangle”? In an interview with People Magazine, Ryder says, “‘Electric Love’ is a song about feeling the magnetic energy between two people,” and she states on her Facebook page that the video was shot over a 3-month period.  iTunes

Austra’s Third Offering Looks at Future Politics

austra-future-politics-1484230134Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics, released January 20, 2017, is album number three. The first LP, Feel It Break, was a new wave carnival ride, and the second Olympia was a theatrical groove show. The new album offers a tighter, punchier sound with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps.

Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise. Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly more true in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger flicking. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds. We have embedded two music videos below: title-track “Future Politics” and “Utopia”.  iTunes