Tag: arbutus records

New Canadiana :: Sean Nicholas Savage – Other Life

Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Life

I could easily go on about Sean the man and Sean the artist all day, but there’s one piece of advice that I always give to people who have a hard time with Sean’s music: believe him, because he is sincere in what he’s doing. His genre ADD can lead listeners to think that Sean’s music is merely a vehicle to keep him entertained, but the harder you listen, the cohesiveness of his recordings comes out. The more you listen, and the more credit you give to this artist, the more you will be rewarded; the Savage world is a world all its own, and if you allow yourself access to it by dropping your defences and letting Savage in, you’re opening yourself up to a satisfying, bewildering, amazing and sometimes off-putting experience – delighting the senses, boggling the mind, and sticking in your forever.

Sean has taken a fantastic voyage from his early days as an acoustic-pop crooner in Edmonton, and WC’s been there the whole time – celebrating (almost) everything the wunderkind produces. Though it can be tough to stay aboard the pitching ship that is Savage’s career trajectory, we all try to hold on and watch him progress, mutate and make good on all of the genius he possesses. Sean is an artist that has rarely made his way into the indie-majority’s ears, and thanks to the success of Arbutus, it’s immensely satisfying that SNS is now dazzling the populace, while surely leaving them confused and uncomfortable.

Writing about Sean’s songs is a sucker’s game, because you have to hear them and feel the way that they unfold and encompass the hyper emotional reality that pop music introduced and has been made believable by Savage. From Summer 5000 to Other Life, Sean’s evolution in 5 years outshines most artists’ entire careers, and it’s rare to have someone so confident and original in their aping/misshaping and adoption of the softness of ‘80s studio pop, synth-soaked ballads and sympathetic serenading.

On Other Life, Sean’s quivering falsetto and cheesy synths can come off, for some, as a sort of performance art, but Sean is never winking – he believes whole heartedly in what he’s doing, and the sooner you accept that the sooner you can immerse yourself in the world of Savage’s love.

Serious, thrilling, sad, amusing, beautiful:

“You would think a man like me could swim all by myself / I got so used to being on your shore, I forgot how the water felt / I got so used to being your man, I forgot how to be myself.”

“Everything changes, and if you don’t, too, before you know it you’re not even you.”

“How can I live with myself when I need you more? I need your body more than I need my own; I need to live with you more than I need a home. And if it’s over, it’s true that I always loved you more than I loved myself.”

Je pourrais facilement parler de Sean le gars et de Sean l’artiste toute la journée, mais il y a une chose que je dis toujours aux gens qui ont de la difficulté avec sa musique : croyez-le, parce qu’il fait ça sincèrement. Son ADD des genres peut mener les auditeurs à penser que sa musique est simplement un véhicule pour le garder amusé et diverti, mais, plus on écoute, plus on ressent la cohésion de ses enregistrements. Plus on écoute, plus on donne du crédit à cet artiste, et plus on en est récompensé; le monde de Savage est un monde en soi, et si vous vous permettez d’y accéder en baissant votre garde, vous vous ouvrez à une expérience satisfaisante, déconcertante, étonnante et parfois rebutante – qui délecte les sens, qui ahurit l’esprit, et qui colle pour toujours.

Sean a entrepris un fantastique voyage depuis ses débuts en tant que crooner folk-pop à Edmonton, et WC l’a toujours suivi – célébrant (presque) toutes ses prodigieuses parutions. Même s’il peut être ardu de rester sur le navire tanguant qu’est la trajectoire professionnelle de Savage, on essaie tous de tenir bon et de l’observer progresser, se transformer et convertir tout le génie qu’il possède. Sean est un artiste qui a rarement fait son chemin jusque dans les oreilles de la majorité indie, et grâce au succès d’Arbutus, il est immensément satisfaisant que SNS éblouisse désormais la populace, tout en les laissant assurément confus et mal à l’aise.

Écrire à propos des chansons de Sean est un coup fourré, parce qu’il faut entendre et ressentir la façon dont ces chansons se déploient et englobent la réalité hyper-émotionnelle que Savage présente et rend crédible avec la musique pop. De Summer 5000 à Other Life, l’évolution de Sean en seulement 5 ans éclipse l’entière carrière de la plupart des artistes, et il est rare de voir quelqu’un d’aussi confiant et original dans sa contrefaçon, sa distorsion et son adoption de la douceur de la pop studio des ‘80s, des ballades gorgées de synths et des sympathiques sérénades.

Sur Other Life, le fausset frémissant et les synths ringards de Sean peuvent sembler tenir de l’art de performance pour certains, mais Sean ne leurre personne – il croit de tout son cœur en ce qu’il fait, et plus tôt on l’accepte, plus tôt on pourra s’immerger dans le monde amoureux de Savage.

Sérieux, passionnant, triste, amusant, beau :

“You would think a man like me could swim all by myself / I got so used to being on your shore, I forgot how the water felt / I got so used to being your man, I forgot how to be myself.”

« Tu pensais qu’un homme comme moi pouvait nager seul / Mais je m’étais tellement habitué à ta rive, j’en avais oublié l’eau / Je m’étais tellement habitué d’être ton homme, que j’en avais oublié d’être moi-même »

“Everything changes, and if you don’t, too, before you know it you’re not even you.”

« Tout change, et si tu ne le fais pas toi aussi, avant que tu ne t’en rendes comptes tu n’es plus toi-même »

“How can I live with myself when I need you more? I need your body more than I need my own; I need to live with you more than I need a home. And if it’s over, it’s true that I always loved you more than I loved myself.”

« Comment puis-je vivre avec moi-même quand j’ai davantage besoin de toi? J’ai besoin de ton corps comme du mien; j’ai besoin de vivre avec toi comme d’une maison. Et si c’est terminé, ce sera vrai que je t’aurai toujours aimé plus que je ne m’aimais moi-même »

Sean Nicholas Savage – Other Life

Sean Nicholas Savage – Look at Me

New Canadiana :: Blue Hawaii – Untogether

Blue Hawaii - Untogether

Slip sliding away from bright summer music, Untogether is Blue Hawaii — the winter version. The darling duo have developed a sound fit for an ethereal pop wonderland. The album buzzes with sway-inducing beats mixed with sweet, sweet vocals. Although inviting, Untogether feels like an extension of Blue Hawaii’s own internally frosty dreamscape. At times incredibly introspective, the tracks can also be tantalizingly ambiguous and disconnected. This is perhaps a result of the pair’s decision to record the album away from one another as both members simultaneously pursued their own musical frontiers. Thus, the album is aptly titled. The final product is captivating and cool, a delicately crafted synth-drenched dream.

Se glissant loin de leur musique ensoleillée d’été, Untogether est la version hivernale de Blue Hawaii. Le duo chéri a mis au point un son parfait pour un monde pop merveilleux et éthéré. L’album bourdonne de beats dansants mêlés de douces voix. Accueillant, Untogether donne en même temps l’impression d’être le prolongement du paysage onirique intérieur englacé de Blue Hawaii. Par moments incroyablement introspectifs, les morceaux exaltent aussi par leur caractère ambigu et déconnecté. C’est peut-être une conséquence de la décision du duo d’enregistrer l’album chacun de leur côté, l’un et l’autre poursuivant son propre horizon musical. C’est pourquoi le titre de l’album est si pertinent. Le produit final est cool et captivant, un rêve trempé de sons de synthés, délicatement façonné.

Blue Hawaii – In Two II

Blue Hawaii – Sierra Lift

New Canadiana :: TOPS – Tender Opposites

TOPS - Tender Opposites
In a way, TOPS embodies the Arbutus aesthetic. A world where it’s always mid-summer, where the spirit of AM radio whimsically floats on warm air, and, because this is Montreal, we can drink in the park and not worry much about rent (I write this from Toronto where we worry about rent often and our musical equivalent might be the soon to be disbanded Foxfire). In TOPS, one can hear the jazzy moxy of Sean Nicholas Savage and Grimes’ fey vocals, touches of Tonstartssbandht’s echo pop and even hints of Doldrums’ psych-synths. If Arbutus was a novel, the TOPS chapter might be subtitled “Simpler Times, Happier Times.” And in a better world, this is what Stephin Merritt’s good moods would sound like.

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TOPS – Rings of Saturn

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TOPS – Diamond Look

New Canadiana :: Pop Winds – Earth To Friend

Pop Winds - Earth To Friend
The final release from Montreal’s Pop Winds has it’s genesis within the sub-atomic modal vibrations coursing through the fabric of space time. “Phonons” fades into pulsed existence, while the droning guitars and synth tones coalesce into Earth To Friend‘s mournful harmonies. The pervasive feeling of departures permeates the album’s sparse, cosmic catch, solidifying their popular emotion with minor-key elegance. RIP, friends. You were good to us.

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Pop Winds – Phonon

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Pop Winds – Sunlight

New Canadiana :: Sean Nicholas Savage – Flamingo

Sean Nicholas Savage - Flamingo
If small town fairs were hip to the culture of cheap thrills and cheese appeal that speaks to my inner child, I’d hear Flamingo on the tinny speakers beside my head while I wait in line for elephant ears and ride vouchers. Sean Savage is calmer and quieter here than I’ve known him to be. These are vaguely erotic hand-holding and ferris-wheel-secret-telling songs. I want to win the big bear prize for my gal and make promises to her while the sun sets. Lovely meets funny as Sean trills, woos and oohs you.

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Sean Nicholas Savage – She Was The One

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Sean Nicholas Savage – Chin Chin

New Canadiana :: Tonstartssbandht – Sinkhole Storm and Sandwich

Two brotherly blazing long-form jams. Sinkhole Storm and Sandwich finds trashcan twang and dirty tremolo swells surfing atop monster waves of endless pulsing momentum. Amps cranked so far beyond breaking point, it’s a miracle such scorching tones didn’t eat right through the four-track tape. “Hotel For Gods” cools off from the acid heat wave with a steady, heady mixture of opaque synth and guitar ripples. A lasting, slow burning summer haze, and real tonal sludge.

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Tonstartssbandht – Sinkhole Storm and Sandwich (Excerpt)

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Tonstartssbandht – Hotel For Gods (Excerpt)

New Canadiana :: Count Dracula // Kool Music – Won Ton Jaz

In my quiet bedroom I hear the Wilhelm scream of Count Dracula (a.k.a. Sean Nicholas Savage) echoing from outer space travel-log mixtapes as the ship travels faster than the speed of light over Montreal. From his U.F.O. he sends ray beams of steel drums, lilting vocals and, of course, catchy lyrics that no one else could pull off (sex, sweet sex). Kool Music offers a side of ’80s ice cold film soundtrack with a meditative swirl as the chewy centre. Calm before the sewer storm? Yeah. It’s a tableau of sex, action, sunglasses and chilly, kung fu svelte babes in the ‘hood.

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Kool Music – Hot House

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Count Dracula – UFO

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Count Dracula – True Love

New Canadiana :: Tonstartssbandht – Now I Am Become

The Tonstartssbros continue their plea for shred-head redemption with this fully zoned follow-up to the Russian tour tape. Hooting and hollering like a pair of chimps freed from captivity, they Jumanji through the streets while guitars wail the distress call. “Big Day Today” juxtaposes boys’ choir harmonies with undulating amp noise, “Eifdn A AOD Sulie” is a six-minute ramble through Newer Weirder Americana, and “Shot To La Parc” is my pick for Big Shiny Tunes 47. Grip with both hands and become.

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Tonstartssbandht – Big Day Today

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Tonstartssbandht – Shot To La Parc

New Canadiana :: Sean Nicholas Savage – Trippple Midnight Karma

Caressing serotonin receptors like streetlight halos after a summertime all-nighter, Trippple Midnight Karma soothes like an Alka Seltzer before naptime. Windows-down synth weaves between wham-chk syncopation — coming off like a middle-schooler’s imitation of an eras-passed softcore soundtrack — and laissez-faire Latin guitar solos, while Savage’s suave falsetto provides the Halls to the Sting of a sore throat. Hailed as his return to the bedroom, Trippple Midnight Karma has Savage producing disco double rainbows with a CMYK palette — or, perhaps, the best archeological find from Bleu Nuit’s coffers.

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Sean Nicholas Savage – Serious Eyes

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Sean Nicholas Savage – Getting To Know Myself

Recommended Grippage :: Grimes – Halfaxa

A while back I wrote about Grimes’ tour CDR Halfaxa. Well, as the tour CDR wasn’t really officially available, I thought I’d step in and tell you that its been officially released in a beautiful digipack via Arbutus Records! Grip while supplies lasts!

PS – I’m back after a short GOBBLE FEST break.

Hearts,

Aaron Levin
Weird Canada / Cantor Records

Grimes
Halfaxa
(Arbutus Records)
Montreal, QC
::web/sounds::