A roundup of brand new Toronto music, also including For Esmé, Phèdre, Ex-Terrestrial, anders and more
We’re back with another #NOWplaying roundup of new music from Toronto. On this week’s Spotify playlist we have a song from Matthew Progress’s new EP, which stretches the definition of the Toronto Sound (more on that next week), our favourite song from Art of Uncarved Block’s new lo-fi guitar cassette and a fiery track from Alice Glass, who recently announced her first hometown headlining show.
Check out this week’s full #NOWplaying playlist below and subscribe on Spotify. Below that, you can find a roundup with some of this week’s highlights, including a few things that go beyond Big Streaming.
Amai Kuda et Les Bois: Train
Amai Kuda has been working in Toronto for the last decade or so as a social justice activist and a musician, both solo and with the project Amai Kuda and Y Josephine. Train is the first track with her new project, Amai Kuda et Les Bois, and it’s a tantalizing Afro-soul combo of folk, roots, desert blues and African continental music. The train symbolizes connection and forward motion, while also a colonial vision of progress that interrupts others. The multilingual grab bag of sounds is by design.
“The song is a reflection on the experience of colonization that, like rail lines, has carved up the landscapes and disrupted the ecosystems of so many lives,” Kuda writes in an email. “It is a sonic resistance to this process – interrupting the English language ballad with African ancestral incantation and creating unique harmonies out of disparate parts.”
Ex-Terrestrial: Urth Man
The first release of 2018 from Vancouver electronic label Pacific Rhythm comes from Toronto-by-way-of-Montreal DJ Adam Feingold, better known in the dance scene as Ex-Terrestrial. Urth Born is a four-track EP that sits comfortably in the realm of downtempo, ambient house with new wave tendencies woven throughout. The first single Urth Man is the most captivating: smooth 90s-style breakbeats meet eastern strings in a way that sounds fresh and will have you humming along.
Golden Drag: Aphex Jim
Greys’ Shehzaad Jiwani, presumably tired of the many comparisons to METZ and Fugazi, has started a new solo project with a whole new set of influences to namecheck. “I had an idea to start a band with some friends of mine from abroad where we’d write short, economic songs and deconstruct them in the studio, like Wire meets Stereolab or Broadcast by way of Brian Eno,” says Jiwani.” Those friends got too busy, but I’d already written the tunes, so I went into Candle [Studio] with Josh Korody and just played everything myself.”
The song abandons Greys’ loud guitars for drum machines, synths and samplers, plus a heavy dose of Brit pop melodics and gentle guest vocals from Twist’s Laura Hermiston and solo/Etiquette musician Julie Fader. He says he wanted “to create something sort of amorphous and genderless, like an inverted Nancy & Lee dynamic.” The single, out now on Buzz Records, shows the pop craft that’s been hiding under the aggressiveness of Greys all along.
anders: Bad Guy
This 21-year-old, who wrote the song Say Less for Roy Woods, is an artist to keep an eye on. Bad Guy, from his upcoming Twos EP, shows that he can write the same kind of infectious track for himself. Bad Guy skirts the line between pop and hip-hop, with a hook that won’t leave your head for awhile. The “Im’a live forever, I can never die” style lyrics and trap-leaning production from LUCA and FrancisGotHeat certainly sound familiar for an up-and-coming Toronto rapper, but anders definitely has an ear towards a good well-crafted track.
In 2016, kitchen sink electro-pop duo Phèdre took a tour of the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Tokyo. Group member Lee Paradise (aka Daniel Lee, also of Hooded Fang) compiled it into a video that matches the feeling of the song: a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours and sounds swirling in and out of grooves. Phèdre make music for and about the socially mediated modern world, and April Aliermo’s whispered incantations combine reflections on the presentation of self and partying til you get sick.
For Esmé: Doubtmouth
Martha Meredith reintroduces her electro-pop project with a mission statement of a new single from her upcoming album Righteous Woman (out May 25). It’s a song about her experiences working with men – having to tiptoe around in order to make her voice heard without being labelled angry or combative for the same traits that are celebrated in her male counterparts. “I’m too bright a light to be dimming myself down for you,” she sing-snarls over pulsing synths. “I’m too bright a bitch to be dumbing myself down for you.”
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