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by Brice Ezell

12 May 2015


Photo: Dee Dee Morris

Although Compostela, the latest outing by indie folk singer/songwriter Jenn Grant, is coming out in the United States next week, it’s already garnered her significant—and deserved—attention in her native Canada. The record led to Grant receiving two Juno Award nominations: Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. (As the Toronto Star boldly put it, “If you can resist this, you are made of stone.”) In addition to further refining her songwriting, Grant also used Compostela to work with a range of musical figures, whose collaborations add even more dimension to what is an emotively complex recording. Among many others, artists such as Ron Sexmith, Buck 65, Don Kerr, Sarah Harmer, Rose Cousins, and Jonathan Goldsmith all join in Grant’s musical world.

The title Compostela, meaning “field of stars” or “star field”, is an allusion to the legend related to Spain’s Camino de Santiago, which holds that the dust of pilgrims who walk that trail formed the Milky Way. For Grant, this has a strong personal resonance, as the name Compostela came about through some of her mother’s last words: “I will meet you in Spain.”

by Brice Ezell

12 May 2015


For those disillusioned by the glossy, overproduced sheen that’s lacquered on so many mainstream country records, Christian Lopez Band’s Onward will be a much-needed respite from the pop-country deluge. While Lopez and his band do write crisply produced tunes full of great hooks, there’s never the sense that he’s glossing anything over, but rather refining what are some supremely catchy tunes. Lopez’ craft in this respect is all the more remarkable given his young age; as his artist bio cheekily puts it, he “is a 19-year-old with the soul of a 65-year-old Appalachian mountain bluegrass musician hidden away inside.” Onward makes it apparent that he not only knows but has respect for his aesthetic predecessors, particularly folks like George Strait, whose style can be heard echoed in tunes like “Morning Rise” and “Oh Those Tombs”. There are also hints of newer styles laced throughout; tunes like opener “Take You Away” would fit cozily on the shelf next to the most recent Lone Bellow record. All in all, Christian Lopez Band and Onward both put to bed any notion that country music is “dying”; based on this record, it’s still got a great deal of life in it.

Onward was produced by Dave Cobb, who has worked with country and Americana luminaries like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton.

by Brice Ezell

11 May 2015


Photo: Brennan Pierson

White Like Fire‘s “Crimson” is a peppy rock number defined by contrast. The verses are punctuated by sharp, staccato chords, whereas the chorus allows the song room to breathe, with longer, more spacious strums on the guitar. To further add to this contrast, White Like Fire has now added a visual dimension to “Crimson” in the form of a surreal music video. In it, images of the band jamming along to the song are juxtaposed with a colorful cast of characters, including a gaggle of people sporting animal and opera masks. Everyone looks like they’re having a terrific amount of fun, but you don’t have to feel down for not having been invited; you need only stream the video below to join in on the good time.

by Brice Ezell

11 May 2015


Photo: Ellen Arden

With the manic punk energy and zany humor of Bomb the Music Industry! at their best, Jake Simmons & the Little Ghosts stage an exceptionally interesting house party in “All My Friends Are Dead”, the newest music video from their forthcoming No Better LP. Although the tune’s title may give the impression that it’s a somber affair, based on the zany antics of a werewolf trying to open a bottle of Rolling Rock with his hands in the music video, you’re likely to find laughs than tears in this song.

by Brice Ezell

11 May 2015


If one were to play a round of Jeopardy that involves completing the titles of famous records and the word “Unknown” came up, she’d likely pick Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s 1979 debut. That band, rather non-coincidentally, also comes to mind when the music of Morning Smoke comes through the speakers, particularly their latest single, “Unknown”. The music of Morning Smoke owes a great deal to post-punk’s biggest luminaries, Unknown Pleasures included. Whether or not “Unknown” is a tip of the cap to Joy Division only the band knows, but in the meantime these guys are certainly putting their own spin on classic post-punk stylings. With “Unknown”, there’s an added dimension of ‘90s alternative rock, that adds a murky layer to the song’s varied textural landscape.

//Mixed media
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Truth and Other Restrictions: 'True Detective' - Episode 7 - "Black Maps and Motel Rooms"

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