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INsiders Guide: The Detours, Said The Whale, The Avengers, Stefanie Parnell, Fiona Grey, Dylan Cox, The Hillties, Elephante, Jeremy Voltz, So Large, Sad China, Over Easy…

Our group formed in 2014, as an evolution of an amateur garage band that we’d started in high school. Since then, we’ve developed a sound of our own: an authentic spin on alternative and pop rock that we first brought to Toronto’s West End indie circuit, and now perform regularly at legendary venues like Lee’s Palace and the Horseshoe Tavern.

Our 2017 debut album combines our diverse musical influences into a 9-song LP, that flows through pop tones and rhythmic punk-influenced riffs, accompanied by catchy narrative lyrics.

In 2019, we took to the studio again to record the Miss Dangerous EP. Recorded live off the floor at the Union Sound studio in Corktown, we wanted this album to capture the wild energy of our live shows.

We didn’t stay idle during 2020 either, spending the lockdown writing and recording new songs, preparing to take our sound in a fresh and exciting new direction for the return of live music to Toronto. Our new single Tell Me is our most ambitious project yet, featuring new levels of production, and accompanied by our first professionally filmed music video.

Said The Whale have earned their place in the Canadian music pantheon. They’ve won a Juno Award, topped the alternative radio chart, and amassed a devoted base of fans who affectionately describe themselves as “SaidHeads” — all the while maintaining their resolute independent spirit. Already in 2021, the Vancouver band’s scorching pop-rock single “Honey Lungs” has cracked the Top 10 on the Canada Rock Chart.

All this has culminated in their most ambitious album yet, Dandelion, which fully realizes the band’s vision with towering hooks and sweeping orchestrations. The album came together during pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, when Said The Whale booked a string of short sessions with producer Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, Mounties) at his Tugboat Pl. Studios in New Westminster, BC.

Dandelion is an optimistic title,” says the band’s Ben Worcester. “Dandelions are everywhere. Some people see them as nothing but a garden weed, but to many others they are a beautiful flower whose bloom marks the first sign of spring. Not to mention they are edible from root to flower, and have many medicinal properties. They grow whether or not you want them to, so why not focus on the positives?”

Like dandelion seeds spreading through a garden, Said The Whale let their creativity run wild, gradually writing songs through a series of happy accidents, spontaneous experiments and lush overdubbing. Some songs were carefully cultivated at home and then brought to life in the studio; others blossomed on the spot, with little forethought. There was no grand design other than: if it feels good, keep going.

Singer-guitarists Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester share the mic on soaring anthems that blend giddy pop hooks with open-hearted lyricism. The dual songwriters bring an empathetic perspective to today’s fraught political climate on “Honey Lungs,” and they wrap their arms around the world on the euphoric rallying cry of “The Ocean.” Keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown takes centre stage on the instrumental piano composition “February 15,” one of several songs featuring strings from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and bassist Lincoln Hotchen and drummer Spencer Schoening offer a rhythmic masterclass on the dizzying twists and turns of “Sweetheart.” The album doesn’t directly respond to the pandemic — although the vintage pop alchemy of “Everything She Touches Is Gold to Me” and the sweetly domestic “Dandelion” reflect a time when the hard-touring band were forced off the road and stayed within their family bubble.

Calling on all four corners (North & East London, Bristol, Birmingham) of grime, Buggsy, Jammz, Mayhem NOBD and Blay Vision AKA The Avengers, have joined forces once again for the release of their charged-up project entitled, ‘The Avengers LP’.

STREAM/DOWNLOAD: THE AVENGERS – AVENGERS LINK UP

Drawing back to their grime roots for a once in a lifetime link up, The Avengers have created a charged-up project that varies in sound from start to finish. Spread across 13 tracks of straight greaze, all of which produced by Gesher, Buggsy, Jammz, Mayhem NOBD and Blay Vision gift fans with the ultimate wheel-up worthy project to indulge in. Placing their refined pen game, punchlines, fire-flows, and renowned grit at the forefront of the tape, ‘The Avengers LP’ nods to the genre’s signature grit and fiery energy, taking fans on a nostalgic drive that weaves in a modern-day spin.

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Stefanie Parnell is an insightful, refined, and melodically driven Canadian singer/songwriter. Her music reflects a mix of ambient progressions that recall artists like Sharon Van Etten and Perfume Genius, as well as a host of folk influences, including Phoebe Bridgers and Andy Shauf. Parnell sings from a place where her deep-seated anxieties lie beneath the surface as she expresses her heartfelt experiences. Her music will leave you feeling comforted by the dissonant chords and melancholic lyrics.

In 2011, Parnell met producer/engineer, Connor Seidel (Charlotte Cardin, Patrick Watson, Elliot Maginot, Matt Holubowski). The two would go on to record and release three independent EPs together. Parnell has since become known for her enthralling live performances and has recently won the hearts of the audience as a contestant on the Quebec version of The Voice.

Dirty pop artist Fiona Grey uses her new music video to shine a light on how the contemporary beauty myth is a toxic illusion that is being sold to us. The colorful and thought-provoking official video for her acclaimed new single, “Sick Of It,” is premiering now on YouTube HERE

“‘Sick Of It’ was inspired by the modern fixation with unrealistic beauty standards and our obsession with looking like an idealized version of perfection.” says Grey. “Selfies are not inherently bad, but there is so much pressure on us to present ourselves as flawless on the surface that we can lose sight of who we really are. I realized that I fall victim to it as much as anyone else, and I wanted to provoke a dialogue about it by creating this video. Hopefully by showing myself in a vulnerable light I can inspire others to accept the beauty in themselves.”

(Photo Credit: ​​Melvin Israel)

SoCal native and rural France resident Dylan Cox shares his new single, “The Comet with accompanying visuals off of his upcoming debut EP, A Place to Meet. Dylan’s music is an intimate brand of indie folk influenced by his days surfing to escape a turbulent home-life in San Clemente and his time working three jobs while studying philosophy and literature at UC Berkeley. 

The Comet” is home as a moving object: the love we have for another or a place and how it moves, how it changes. What the song confronts and achingly accepts is the built-in loss that comes with loving, the fact that we will in some way or another lose whom or what we love, or we as loved people will be lost by another. A comet briefly occupies the sky as a rare passing, it leaves, and in that departure promises a return in some impossible and inhuman time form. What’s “too easy” in the chorus is to let the anticipatory grief of loss outshine the miracle of finding home in another, in finding family, in the first place. The song is a declaration of love, but also a deeply autobiographical reflection on Dylan’s life, who was adopted by a different family in his teens.

Photo Credit: Sarah Beauchamp

Tell your friends! BC indie alt-rock band The Hillties are back with a brand new single and video out today on all digital streaming platforms. Listen hereAn introspective and melodic laid-back track, ‘Tell Your Friends’ is about modern culture and how hard it is to connect, which comes through in the animated video featuring the band’s hometown of Nelson, BC.“‘Tell Your Friends’ is a commentary on modern life,” says lead vocalist Mark Barnard. “In a world where it’s easier than ever to stay distant, this song is about taking a stand for what we want in life and not putting up with subpar relationships. It’s about valuing ourselves and creating the life we truly want.”  Over the past four years, The Hillties have had many notable performances. They received their first Kootenay Music Award in 2018 for “Best Reggae Song”, following it up with a 2nd award in 2019 for “Best Jam Band”. The BC Arts Council invited The Hillties to play Music in The Bay (Blind Bay, BC) in 2019 and the western Canadian summer music festival scene has welcomed the band to such festivals as KAMP Festival (Arrow Lakes, BC), Frog Fest (Rocky Mtn House, AB) and Sasquatch Gathering (Edmonton, AB).‘Tell Your Friends’ is the 2nd single from The Hillties this year—‘Diablo’ was released in July—and they’re currently working on the follow-up to their debut album Sunshine (2020) with plans to release in 2022. ‘Tell Your Friends’ is available now on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide. For more info, please visit thehillties.com.

PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLE LEMBERG

Ascending to yet another creative peak, critically acclaimed artist, producer, and songwriter Elephante unveils his hotly anticipated new album, Heavy Glow, with 88Rising, which marks his official debut for 88Rising [Joji, NIKI, Rich Brian].Listen to HEAVY GLOW HERE.

To accompany the record’s arrival, he also shares the focus single “Down This Road.” In the upcoming video, he shows the multi-faceted artist, entertainer, and performer that he is, taking on the roles and personalities of the singer, drummer, guitarist, and keys to take viewers “Down This Road” of his personal musical evolution and mastery. On the track, glossy guitar wraps around his evocative vocals before a wistful hook takes hold, “If we go down this road in this old Hatchback we can’t turn back anymore, ‘cause I wanna know.” The guitar breaks into a danceable drop, illuminating his seamless genre alchemy. Simultaneously, the accompanying visual brings all of these vibes to life in cinematic fashion.Regarding the album, Elephante commented, Heavy Glow is about identity. It’s about coming to terms with who you are compared to who everyone else sees you as or expects you to be. “Heavy Glow” became a metaphor for the part of you that shines through in the nighttime, and can be hard for other people to really see. It can feel like a huge weight on your shoulders, but ultimately defines who you are.”Elephante initially set the stage for the album with a series of fan favorite singles. Most recently, “Dopamine” quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of streams. After perfecting the song for two years and previewing it in various iterations, it not only met, but exceeded audience expectations. Right out of the gate, The Honey Pop praised, “Returning to his energetic House roots, Elephante layers synths and floating vocals to create the pulsating track, and added, “we at THP can’t get enough of this song!” Meanwhile, Dancing Astronaut wrote, Featuring anthemic vocals and reverberating instrumentation, “Dopamine” takes listeners into an upbeat production that unravels into a dazzling drop, driven by intensity and a kaleidoscope of arpeggiators. The Nocturnal Times hailed, ‘Dopamine’ is a riveting new track, boasting his energetic house roots to a tee.” EDM.com featured it on “Playlist Picks.Highlighted by standouts such as “Holy Ghosts” and “High Water”, Heavy Glow traces his emotional journey through quarantine. Whether it be the shimmering catharsis of “Departed, the restless echoes of “Tired Of Being Tired,” or the luminously upbeat melodic finale “Light On, it reflects his personal ebb and flow through waves of sonic experimentation.

“It starts off with an optimism and defiant energy – we’re just taking a quick “Break” from our old lives, and we’ll be back and at it in no time,” he explains. “As reality sinks in that things are actually much worse than we feared, we go into the second act, where the sense of oppressive bleakness settles in. I was close to losing hope that we’d ever claw our way back. And then the third act – when we learned to cope with our struggles, and even gained strength from them. We accept that times are still tough and we’ll never quite be the same, but we can carry a little light of hope with us, optimistic that we can get through this.”

Ultimately, Elephante has crafted the perfect soundtrack to “get through this” with HEAVY GLOW.

Burned-out mathematician turned indie-soul artist, Jeremy Voltz’s music is inspired by thinking deeply about the people in his life and what he’d love to have the courage to say to them. Reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, Hozier, and Stevie Wonder, he has a voice that is powerful and haunting, delivering hook-heavy melodies with universal, heartfelt lyrics.

Voltz is readying the release of his upcoming Toronto Arts Council-supported full-length, Weekender. Created with multi-JUNO-winning producer, Michael Wojewoda (Barenaked Ladies, Buffy Sainte-Marie), the album is due out October 22, 2021. From Motown-inspired soul tracks backed by a full band, three-part harmonies, and horns, to quiet promises of hope declared acoustically, Weekender features uplifting, energized conversations with the people in Voltz’s life.

The album includes lead single, “Like The Very First Time,” a lush, danceable love song to a memory of what once was. Voltz collaborated with Toronto-based soul and RnB producer, Beatchild, drawing lyrical inspiration from a favourite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to reflect on the feelings that come with leaving a good relationship behind.

Elsewhere on Weekender, Voltz explores ‘messy’ love with “Hold Me Up.” “It’s a thank you, an apology, and an “I love you” from someone who keeps screwing it all up,” he explains. Written with Darryl James of The Strumbellas, “Hold Me Up” is melancholic yet sweet sounding, and finds Voltz drawn back to the emotions and stories that folk music pulls out of him as a writer.

Who said Grime was dead? East London’s veteran So Large takes it back to his Grime roots as he enters what’s been a chaotic year, with the release of his charged-up single named, ‘Pre-Season’.

STREAM/DOWNLOAD: SO LARGE – PRE-SEASONPosing as his first release of 2021, ‘Pre-Season’ journey’s the listener back to the raw, gritty, and charismatic sounds of grime back in its prime. Warming up for the release of his forthcoming EP, ‘Pre-Season’ is a taster of what’s yet to come from So Large. Constructed over a cinematic Mystery-produced beat, the echoes of sirens, and explosive adlibs, over the bass-heavy backdrop pave a way for the seasoned emcee to flaunt his tasteful bars and dynamic punchlines atop. Encapsulating the rugged and dauntless sounds of London, So Large certifies his position in the game with this one!

MUSIC VIDEO: SO LARGE – PRE-SEASON

Photo Credit: Jenn Xu

Vancouver musician Sad China’s (aka Sunny Chen) new bilingual hyperpop quarantine album ilyimy is out today on all digital streaming platforms. Listen here.And to celebrate the release of their debut full-length album, Sad China is also releasing the video for ‘hum人n’, the 4th single from ilyimy. Watch video here“As a non-binary Asian Canadian, assigned female at birth, I’ve endured misogyny, abuse, fetishization, and other forms of violence simply by being gendered and racialized (which are social constructs upheld by people and organizations to maintain the white supremacist heteropatriachy), especially within Vancouver’s music and art scene,” says Sad China. “As a human, all I want is to love, belong, and create. When we feel alone during our darkest nights, or are unable to access community, our ancestors keep watch over us. We need allies to redistribute power and wealth to us, so we can escape, heal, and thrive. You will be safe and respected, and we’re stronger together.”

Following their single “Alive” with Lost Boy, EDM duo Over Easy returns for another release through Laidback Luke’s Mixmash Records with “Jump, featuring Canadian singer Mougleta. The energetic single packs a punch with powerful vocals from Mougleta and a trance-inducing euphoric drop. 

 “We’re so excited for our second release on MixMash Records. Laidback Luke and his team have been so supportive of Over Easy and our vision as artists and this is just the beginning of our teams collaborating. Our record “Jump” with Mougleta is a reflection of our principles – which is being dependable, faithful, and taking chances and risks and going after what we want. We can’t wait to see where this record takes us.”

 – Over Easy

 “The boys from Over Easy are back on Mixmash Records. The DJs/Producers from the States are teaming up with Mougleta, singer/songwriter, for their progressive house record “Jump.” Mougleta worked on big hits together with big names such as Topic, Moti, and Keanu Silva. Over Easy previously released “Alive” and was supported on One World Radio and several other Radio stations in Europe. Now it’s time to “Jump” into higher numbers, bigger support, and more fans!” 

– Mixmash Records

 In 2020, Over Easy made waves on the dance music scene with breakthrough singles, “Don’t Know You” and “Rosé” with Ashley Mehta, both released on London-based Adept Records. They also released a massive remix for Ekali and Kiiara’s “Back to You,” that was released on Atlantic Records/Big Beat in August of 2020. This remix charted on the Apple Music dance charts in over 40 countries and was featured on Apple Music’s biggest editorials in the genre, including New In Dance and Future Dance Hits. With over 30 million cumulative streams across platforms, their music has also been supported by playlists like Spotify’s Friday CratediggersHot New DanceHappy BeatsApple Music’s Breaking DanceChill HouseRelaxed / Remixed, and many more. They have also charted in 93 countries worldwide. 

The duo has garnered major support over the past few months from dance music staples such as BrooksKSHMRTwo FriendsCheat Codes, among others. With releases on reputable labels such as AstralwerksAtlantic RecordsBig BeatCapitol RecordsWarnerMixmashProximity, and Sirup Records, their momentum is undeniable. In 2021, they also leveled up with their performances playing sets at Electric ZooWebster Hall, and more. Looking forward into the end of the year, Over Easy looks to make their mark and are certainly a duo to watch in the coming months.

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

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Written by Neill Frazer

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