Layne L’Heureux, perhaps the most prolific songwriter I know, returns with one of his finest albums to date: United Hotcake Preferred. The album opens with a five minute missive, “Funeral of a Former Self,” that alludes to the musical renaissance L’Heureux is personally embarking on. One can’t help but revel in the new wave tones he’s tapping into, channelling the brilliance of Ian Curtis. That’s followed by the luminous “Solaris,” featuring the ghostly accompaniment of Jessica Jalbert. This one smacks of Slowdive to me—muted screams of tortured amplifiers are juxtaposed with the opiated numbness of their combined vocal chanting “DNA” with a cold objectivity that mirrors the concept itself. Most out of place for L’Heureux, these two jams are followed by an electronic piece called “Drive” that’s reminiscent of early Morr Music material, at least in their artists’ more uplifting productions. The album goes on and on like this, taking the listener all over the place, leading them through L’Heureux’s own adaptions of various songwriting styles that have spanned the last thirty to forty years. His old strengths are in full swell, all while new tricks are perfected. It’s a true pleasure! And there’s a new video for the record too:
From somewhere between Land of Talk and Cat Power Edmonton’s multi-talented Cayley Thomas emerges! Her new EP, Ash Mountains, is a wall to wall hit machine, a verifiable jukebox of influences: country, blues, garage jams, and some of that old fashioned r&r. Thomas’ talent as an actress comes through in the expressiveness of her voice, which has a gauzy far away quality on most of these tracks. She also just released a video for the outstanding “Hideaway.” But those slow rollers out there who just want to sink, you will find what you are looking for in the album closer, “Blue Summer.” Get into it:
Duplekita is a collective effort of 14 some off-and-on members headed by Tim Batke (co-founder of Edmonton stars, The Faunts). This two track offering opens the door to a legacy of glory. I’m struck by Batke’s vocal similarity to a band I haven’t heard in years, a little known Swedish outfit called Mew. But that’s beside the point. The sparkling production is enchanting. Invitingly gentle and sincere, these two vortices draw the listener in. I’m listening to these jams for the fifth or sixth time so far tonight. Their layers of aural complexity provide the protein for a constant exegesis of these two tracks’ depths. Nevertheless, this complexity is palliated by the spoon-full-of-sugar pop melodics that so satisfy the most simple pleasures. It’s truly gravitational. …aaand, starting it over yet again. Come, swim toward this vortex with me, innocent listeners.
Big Ben is quickly becoming a local attraction, up there with the Muttart and the Valley Zoo. He is not only a talented playwright, actor, and improviser, but he’s a spellbinding rap artist, obsessed with charismatic wordplay and old-school rap tropes. Can there be any question that the title track, “White Trash Introvert,” is the pinnacle of this coalescence of talents and tastes? With that kind of mouth work, this guy is basically making out with himself as he unrolls some of those doubles. Ben’s rap condition begs psychoanalysis: is there any doubt that this young man is sublimating an oral fixation? No. And thus civilization advances, equipped with this white trash pizza of rap-about-raps and piano solos—with jazz stuffed crust! The jazz: N3K provides! That’s a whole other conversation. N3K are another rising boat on this tide of reinvigorated jazz lust. In fact, Ben plays music on this thing too. Moreover, White Trash Introvert is expertly recorded/produced by none other than Mitchmatic. No garage band beats on this one, folks! It is finally here. Do you know what this is? it is the beginning of a bright career in the recorded arts. And right there for you to consume! Listen.
Pink Film. The first record that Eamon McGrath toured, crammed into a van folding album covers on the steering wheel, hauling ass across the shield for five shows. His subsequent and ongoing travels are writing Canadian legend: always moving, always making.
Five years later, and I’m still taking this record with me. The lonely steel of “Caves;” the shuffling baseline and hoarse chorus of “Holy Roller;” the hounding, foraging, early-evening need of “The Civil War.” I’ve shouted along with “October’s Daughters” for more wine and whiskey. My spine still shakes when I listen to “The Republic.”
Eamon’s words have always been older than his years. His voice is a barrel of whiskey aged in oak, steeped in cigarettes and long drives. These songs were a moment of reflection before his next bombastic foray, the calm before the storm. The writing has an historical weight, at once situating his stories in modernity and freeing them from history.
You will recognize a few songs that made it onto “13 songs of Whiskey and Light” (although Darby Crash and Burn Guitars has been removed from this iteration of “Pink Film”). Visit Eamon’s Bandcamp page for a few other rereleased collections: “Throw Me To The Wolves,” “Screaming Hell,” and the excellent “Zebra.”