Review ~ øjeRum – Fraværsminder ~ by Nate Wagner

Lo-fi music is generally associated either with a fuzzy, haphazard garage rock aesthetic (think Guided by Voices) or the low-budget-but-we-like-it-that-way slacker rock banner carried proudly by Burger Records and friends. However, no small number of others, including Copenhagen-based recording artist Paw Grabowski, utilize the narrow stereo field and auxiliary hiss of tape recorders to fill out the edges of painstakingly arranged minimalist compositions. It is in this particular corner of lo-fi that I find many of my most treasured records.

Mr. Grabowski has been releasing music as øjeRum since 2007’s “There is a Flaw in My Iris,” with output on labels such as Horror Fiction, A Giant Fern, and Cabin Floor Esoterica. Also an artist in the visual realm, Grabowski accompanies his releases with black-and-white and sepia-toned treatments of period portraits. This interdisciplinary approach makes each new øjeRum release a collectors’ treat, with his most recent tape, Fraværsminder (english: Memories of Absence), being no exception. After selling out of the original run on Danish netlabel Phinery, Grabowski has offered up a limited edition second pressing of twelve unique cassette and portrait collage packages on his Bandcamp page.

Fraværsminder collects several years’ worth of øjeRum demos, combining instrumental sketches with more fleshed out songs, and despite their individual incompleteness, they build a compelling whole. True to previous releases, Grabowski builds his tracks on a bed of broken-chord finger picking and the occasional chord organ. Vocals feature on a handful of tracks; however, most lyrics must be left to the imagination, as the tape hiss and reverb conspire against his fragile baritone delivery. Comparisons to Slowdive’s unofficial demo tape, I Saw the Sun are apt, as are nods to albums such as Bohren and the Club of Gore’s “Piano Nights” and The Caretaker’s “Persistent Repetition of Phrases.”

While some compendiums are a chore to sit through (here’s looking at you, Mars Volta), the methodical, repetitive qualities of Fraværsminder work exclusively in the artist’s favor. In listening to this tape, I find it disarmingly easy to completely lose track of time. Only after the tape player clicks off at the end of each side am I startled back to reality. This phenomenon repeats itself quite naturally; even after a few dozen listens, I’m still processing the nuances and depths of the album, trying to anticipate particular instances of fret noise or tape warble.

That there is an eeriness behind methodical progression of Fraværsminder is a statement that needs no elaborate justification. Look no further than the cross-stitched figure on the album’s cover, and you will find the core of minimalist music’s fascination with memory and decay. That to which the stark, anonymous subject of Grabowski’s collage silently bears witness is made explicit in his song craft: no matter how hard you try, you can never relive your memories – you can only hope to preserve them.

Text by Nate Wagner
Photo by øjeRum

Review ~ Elvis Depressedly – New Alhambra ~ by Wilson Corrigan

I met Mat Cothran in late 2013, in Los Angeles, days before the Orchid Tapes Showcase. And within 24 hours of knowing him I was assured that he was not only incredibly kind hearted towards his friends and bandmates, but one of the most intriguing people I had ever met. His drunken, child-like manner got me restlessly interested in the music he had created in his time. Now, two years later, Mat and his band, have released another lo-fi pop record that exemplifies why they are the kings of this bedroom recording/DIY scene that has taken over my music library.

New Alhambra has familiar sound to it, but in the best way possible. There is a certain comfort that you can feel in the melodies on tracks like n.m.s.s. and bruises, a sense of being at home. Cothran’s voice has always been unique, but throughout this project he undoubtably soothes the soul, shaking your muscles to the core with the waviness used to record most of the vocals on the songs. Along with Mat’s vocal brilliance, the album is filled with samples taken from professional wrestling matches (and other sources I couldn’t put my finger on), played in reverse, fading in and out creating a scene in your mind unlike any other songs could. Almost like a movie.

I find myself listening through this record on repeat at least two times, maybe three. Every track flows together in a continuous fashion, making the listening experience on vinyl all the better. This is the brain-child-masterpiece we’ve all been waiting for from Cothran and his gang. Not only can you feel the balance in the band, but a fantastic give and take aesthetic between infinite sadness and peace. Mat’s lyrics play a dark role in the tracks; playing on topics such as religion, an unfulfilled life, and love. They’re supported with tight Casio style drums (and some live drums too), hearty bass lines, endless synth and keyboard sequences. All in all, New Alhambra was everything I had expected and then some. Never have I felt so much love and joy from a Mat Cothran project.

Favorite Track(s): New Alhambra, Ease
Scoop it via Bandcamp:

Text by Wilson Corrigan
Photo by Elvis Depressedly

Review ~ Katie Dey – asdfasdf­ ~ by Michael Charles Hansford

It’s been almost a year since my last album review, so I apologize if any of my writing seems a bit dreamy, misshapen, or short of wanderlust. However, the show must go on: and today, I reviewing my favorite album of the last two weeks. The debut release ”asdfasdf” from underground sensation Katie Dey.

I stumbled upon this album over a massive twitter selected post. From many lo-fi/DIY legends of our time: Sam Ray, Mat Cothran, and a few others. I immediately decided to check it out, and after the first 5 seconds of twinkle acoustic guitars and pitch affected vocals I sunk into the esquire of the wonderful world of Katie Dey. Although these days, the underground happenings of thrust ward “bedroom pop” can be oversaturated, Katie seems to break the surface, her instrumentation is stunning and the immense talent that lies within her writing outstanding. The freshness of this album itself is what always draws me to through it on after a long day at work. I actually listened to it a couple weeks ago on a train ride from Montreal to Toronto, and believe me: not only was it fitting, it was an escape.

When it comes to similar sounding artists or perhaps even influences I can hear sounds from early Krautrock experimental bands from the 1970’s: Can, Cluster, and even Neu! In more recent cases I can hear similar sounds capes to Radiohead, Ricky Eat Acid, Boards of Canada, and Aphex Twin. Thought again, I have to stress how originality is the nail-biting true love that blossoms from this album. I see great things in the future for this artist, and I hope you reading take some time to enjoy something new in this negative calorie world.

You can pick up the album for “pay what you can” on Katie’s Bandcamp.

Favorite track: “you gotta get up to get up”

Text by Michael Charles Hansford
Photo by Katie Dey

Review ~ Jimmy Pop – Varsity Blues ~ by Berkley Bragg

It seems as though the independent music community engulfed in the small town of Grand Rapids, Michigan is infinitely expanding, and Jimmy Pop is at the forefront.

Bands like Heaters, Ghost Orchard, Dear Tracks, CARE, SAPPHIC, and so many more. One of the more established musicians from the area, James Allen, has procured a substantial number of music projects in the last few years with Youth Camp, Jade TV, and more recently Jimmy Pop, who recently released the debut record, Varsity Blues. 

With these previous projects in mind, it is easy enough to discern the similarities and aspects of each within Varsity Blues. Without that background, it may just seem like a tasteful jangled album, but it really works either way. Varsity Blues does form it’s own shape apart from these separate projects in the fact that much of the record creates a more ascertainable instrumental atmosphere as opposed to Jade TV, a project that relies more on the inclusion of layered vocals.

A few singles released in the last few months are present here with, “Coca-Cola Crush” as well as, “Hang Around”, both of which co-exist on the same realm of relaxation. “Hang Around” provides a more melodic and airy feeling. If you meditate to spacious layers of reverb then I think you can find your addiction in “Hang Around”. “Coca-Cola Crush” closes the record off with a guitar and vocal melody fit for the credit scene to a really slow and emotional film. Not to say that Varsity Blues is exuberantly emotional as it does linger and soak through your pores in the kind of way you want after a long day.

Essentially, give a listen to the whole of Varsity Blues and drift away.

Text by Berkley Bragg
Photo by Jimmy Pop

Review ~ Girlpool x Slutever Split ~ by Catherine Chamberlin

I stumbled upon this split a week or so ago on Bandcamp while I was just browsing through. I remember hearing about Girlpool through mutual friends back in Florida, so my best interest was to give their split with Slutever a listen. Both bands hail from the city of Los Angeles and released this split in October 2014 before an east coast tour.

I can relate a lot to this split in the spirit of being a 20-something-female, just wanting to have fun and trying not to give a shit (but really giving a shit) about anything. The lyrics are very relatable and catchy and the guitar chords that Girlpool uses in their songs, although simple, perfectly complement with Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s harmonizing vocals. Girlpool covers Slutever’s “White Flag” as the intro track to this split and you get the angsty female punk feel right away. Songs about being in a place you need to get away from and dumb boys and going to shows are the contents of this split.



Slutever is completely new to me and I am pleasantly surprised by how equally great they are. Their sound is a lot more lo-fi punk than Girlpool, but the combination of these two groups together is perfection. Their songs have a garage rock, grunge feel to them as well, particularly the song “Stomach Ache” which ends the split. The guitar riffs are distorted and drone on and I love it. The lyrics too are easily going to get stuck in your head when the chorus rolls around playing “I’ve got a stomach ache”



If you are looking for some great female punk musicians, I recommend you check out Girlpool and Slutever on Bandcamp and Facebook. These gals have got an abundance of other songs and albums available and their split together will leave you needing to listen to more. ~ ~

Text by Catherine Chamberlin
Photos by Girlpool and Slutever

Review ~ Molly Drag – Open Casket Hidden Meaning ~ by Lukas Foote

I have said it before, and I will type it again: Molly Drag will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience, despair and heartbreak. The same thing could be said about the newly released Molly Drag song “Open Casket Hidden Meaning.”

Molly Drag - Open Casket Hidden Meaning

At the start of this track, the familiarity of the paulstretch effect is heard. The paulstretch effect was used quite a bit in the Molly Drag fulllength debut: Deeply Flawed. This effect has become a signature, or a characteristic trait for Michael Hansford. Hearing the paulstretch over some slow acoustic picking right off the intro of OPHM gives the song the nostalgic notion of another ambient, nebulous, slow-jam.

The lyrics are very bleak, unpromising, and full of depressing topics such as death (“My coffin thrown into the ground/fills the empty spaces here/I am the blood, you are the crown/She feels the bodies buried here.”), addiction and the bad trips you may conjure up while high (“Addiction always has its waste/but your hands were on my face/and you were suffocating me.”). I would not expect any different subject matters from a song inspired by a funeral.

Molly Drag’s Open Casket Hidden Meaning is part of a 15-track compilation by MD’s label Hellur Records entitled “I Still Call You My Friend”. It is currently available up on Bandcamp for the ideal hipster price of “Buy Now name your price” and includes other great tracks on it by label mates such as Claws & Organs and Sorority Noise.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag

Review ~ iris – Haunt Me ~ by Lukas Foote

If you’re looking for a band that’s a suiting fit to play aloud at your funeral, then look no further, because Toronto’s 4-piece Emo-Shoegaze band iris delivers a haunting and depressing soundtrack.

This 5-track EP entitled “Haunt Me” was released this passing Valentine’s Day and is consistently filled with a combination of strong bass lines, glistening reverb/chorus guitar tones, heavy crashes on drums and your typical washed out, trance-like vocals.

The lyrical content on Haunt Me is very minimalistic, by that I mean all the song lyrics are short, very somber and resemble short poems rather than traditional song lyrics. Nonetheless, iris leaves the listener to interoperate the undeniable synergetic chemistry between vocalists Danielle Clark and Brad Garcia’s lyrics. Such tracks like Ragdoll: “I’m ripping at the seams/That you helped me sew/Shove your kind words in my wounds/Try to save me so” showcase the depressing atmosphere that Haunt Me is built upon, and how the EP offers no sight of hope.

What I like about iris’ EP the most is the overall heaviness compacted into it. The intensity is conveyed throughout the EP in the form of piercing- hard-hitting drums and cymbals on behalf of Matt Tomasi and as well as rhythmic, crying bends from a combination of Scott Downes and Brad Garcia’s guitar work.

Every single track on Haunt Me gives off the utmost sense of despair and melancholy; these adjectives come so naturally when describing the final track on the EP “This isn’t goodbye…” The song starts outs with a solo guitarist slowly playing through the intro, what follows is a unsettling pause that communicated more emotion then what could have been vocalized. And just when you thought that the pause was going to last an eternity, the profound sounds of cymbal crashes and grave guitar chords reinvigorate the listener and keeps them captivated through the other half of the song, “This isn’t goodbye…” certainly delivers.

I would strongly recommend iris’ Haunt Me (and their Killers cover too) to anyone that has an underlying passion for multi-layered, dominant sounding shoegaze that resembles bands like Slowdive or Whirr.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Iris

Review ~ Kane Strang – Blue Cheese ~ by Berkley Bragg

In some ways, Kane Strang’s debut release, Blue Cheese, is much like that of it’s Dunedin, New Zealand predecessors from the “Dunedin Sound” era of Flying Nun Records and Propellor Records. As a fully cohesive record, however, Blue Cheese creates a layer of sound that the records of the 1980’s were unable to do, blending the lo-fi aesthetic these bands crafted with a more clear and pristine recording technique.

There is something oddly familiar, yet so peculiar in the sound of Blue Cheese. The atmospheric presence on, “Full Moon, Hungry Sun” may play a part in that feeling as it encompasses an expanse much farther than it really is. It is easy enough to imagine this track being played on a grassy lawn to thousands, almost in a headlining festival ambiance but the actual recording feel’s much more intimate. Blue Cheese works with the same lo-fi sounds that have become so commonplace to find on Bandcamp with the rise of artists like Mac Demarco, however, Kane Strang recasts this typical sound with more depth, more accentuated songwriting, and a clearer focus.

In all, Kane Strang has taken something that has become so prevalent and abounding in the independent music sphere and turned it on it’s head to make something meaningful and memorable. Each track from Blue Cheese is inherently different in it’s own right, making for a really captivating listen, begging for more and more attention from it’s keen listener.

Text by Berkley Bragg
Photo by Kane Strang

Berkley runs music blog

Review ~ Chips Calipso – I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun ~ by Lukas Foote

It’s been a full year since the ever so famous gapped tooth rockers album “Salad Days” by Mac Demarco has greeted the publics’ ears. You may ask yourself: “Where is this young, care free music being produced at?”. The secret is this kind of youthful “slacker” rock music is hiding down south, or down under, depending on how you look at it. It is in the form of a fellow by the name: Chips Calipso, hailing from Melbourne, Australia.


I never quite understood the music coming from Australia but I did know that it was catchy and damn good. Chips Calipso’s “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” is consistently filled to the Olde English brim with weird intros that intrigue and captivate you immediately upon listen. Time after time throughout this EP you can hear the solid use of vocal and guitar effects. The EP takes you through a wide variety of genres ranging from indie dream pop to psychedelic garage rock in the matter of 30 minutes.

What I found really creative on “I Walked Outside…” was the vocals. This EP included your classic surf rock, reverbed, washed out vocals, but they had different tones of vocal reverberation on various tracks throughout. It was enjoyable to here a new vocal take on reverbed, melancholic vocals especially in this genre of surf rock/slacker. Such tracks as Dehiwala Junction you can hear some distant, echo-ey reverb to the vox and there were songs like The Pines 2009 which had a scratchy, smudged, gritty reverberation to it. Chips Calipso uses an array of vocal effects. Whether or not that was his intention on “I walked Outside…” I still found it to be ingenious, very imaginative as well as a great expansion to the tiny perimeter box that surf rock never seems to step out side of.

Chip Calipso’s “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” is compressed with quirkiness, originality and chaotic cohesiveness. If you are a fan of Demarco or Walter TV, I would strongly give “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” a thorough listen.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Chips Calipso

Review ~ ACAB Rocky – Truce ~ by Filip Zemcik

When you know a band from its starting point, you can see the whole development of their music. ACAB Rocky from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is one of these cases. I know Samuel Wells since his previous music endeavouring, when he was playing in Jackie Trash. I released their EP on a cassette a while ago. After some time, he decided to begin with a new project and that is how ACAB Rocky was born. The fact is, I have followed them from the beginning and became one of their earliest big fans. I can remember listening to their first two releases, which belonged to my lo-fi lieblings.

Nevertheless, those times have passed and they have come out with a new album and a completely different sound and atmosphere. The truth is, I had a chance to listen to Truce before it was officially released and I was overwhelmed by how they have progressed. At some point, bands decide that it’s time to “grow up” and decide to do a studio album. In the case of lo-fi bands, this transition may harm their uniqueness and make the sound flat, inclining to mainstream ones. However, ACAB Rocky have managed this pretty well, and released a solid album.

To be more specific, the opening song Matches, released as a single before the whole album was out, belongs to those you can listen over and over. The catching phrase “I don’t know what you’re up to, or up against” lingers in your mind forever. The math-rocky riffs in the background are mastered in excellently. The rest of the album is much slower, with various shoegaze passages, and Samuel´s voice slowly singing the lyrics makes you sink into songs even deeper. Additionally, all guitar riffs are completing every single song, and what more in several moments create an amazing dreamy atmosphere.

When listening to songs on loop you are able to discover that little nuances which make every song really unique. Especially in case of Stella, the slow and grungy passages of the leading guitar are made in perfect balance. The best way to fully grasp the essence of the whole album is to put headphones on, play it loudly and enjoy every bit of it. I like how ACAB Rocky has moved their sound to a more mature level and songs are full of hidden gems.

Truce definitely belongs to your playlist and you should head to their bandcamp and buy their music. I wish they could get a bigger buzz for such great piece of music. Moreover, I am looking forward their further albums. I expect even greater pieces, which will shine in my (not only digital) music collections. I am really glad I have come across this band through my blog. ACAB Rocky belongs to the best young bands in the current music scene in Canada.

Buy a cassette via Hacktivism Records.

Read an interview with Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky.

Text by Filip Zemcik 
Photo by ACAB Rocky

Review ~ Us & Us Only – Bored Crusader ~ by Rob Arcand

Sometimes I wonder about a time when music was not only an IRL manifestation of online content. When everyone bombs the internet with aggressive PR emails, glossy VEVO accounts and an overwhelming number of soundcloud links, it’s sometimes crazy how much production goes into online branding for bands who may not have earned it yet. Especially in a genre like ‘emo revival,’ a term which has reached global ubiquity thanks to bands like The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), and You Blew It! *breathes*, it feels like there’s a lot of bands out there aggressively marketing hundreds of ho-hum releases that make even the most devout emo fans roll their eyes.

In comes Us & Us Only; a few days ago, the Baltimore legends quietly released a stunning three-track EP titled Bored Crusader over on Steep Sounds and within the its brief 8-minute run time, the release packs an incredible punch of crass guitar harmonies, subdued synth lines (do I hear a violin?!) and impressive arrangements and production. Fronted by Kinsey Mathews, Us & Us Only has been making noise in the Baltimore scene for the last few years, quietly putting out a string of stunning releases online. After seeing these guys open for Attic Abasement this summer at Club K, I was floored by their live presence, which on this release, they’ve paired perfectly with some hi-fi elements of a Topshelf-tier mainstay, while maintaining a sound that carved out their place as hometown heroes to begin with.

On “Hex,” Matthews bellows, “Traverse the town by broomstick/ Leave home/ Fake sick/ Traverse the town by broomstick/ Lay low/ Move quick.” These heartfelt lines about cutting toxic relationships become a manifesto as the band thunders into the track’s most climactic moment. As the EP proceeds, tracks cover themes of loss, loneliness and the afterlife with the poise and nuanced talent of a skilled lyricist who’s clearly put time in the craft.

I’m continually left thinking, for once, about just how honest these tracks feel. After growing slightly tired of emo-leaning things as a whole, this EP sits in a really refreshing place and a testament to what I found in emo to begin with: honest lyrics, soaring energy and an unmatched sincerity not seen elsewhere in the music industry. If anything, these tracks have got my heart racing at the thought of a potential full-length from these guys and, more wholly, I’m left feeling optimistic about the state of emo (or ‘emo revival’) in 2015 thanks to little bandcamp gems like this one.

Text by Rob Arcand
Photo by Us & US Only

Review ~ you bury me by PINE ~ by Lukas Foote

If you enjoy sweet, innocent vocal melodies and songs about heartbreak and cigarettes, then Ottawa’s Indie-Ambient-Emo band – PINE will suffice your needs.


PINE’s you bury me was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Cory Bergeron at Pebble Studios in Ottawa. The simplistic yet colourfully intriguing album artwork was done by Kyan De Vere. The EP’s title: you bury me is the English translation of the Arabic word “Ya’aburnee” which according to PINE’s Bandcamp means “A declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them” and that’s exactly what PINE’s debut EP is bursting at the seams with in the form of lyrical content on the issues of abandonment and wrenching heartbreak.

What I find really impressing about you bury me is how PINE can communicate such immense sadness all in just a sheer 15 minutes. Every song on this EP is packed with such dreamy reverbed guitar tones. The drumming is crisp yet steady while maintaining a heavier style. Not to mention the gentle female vocals to accompany the songs as well as the noteworthy tempo changes from drawn-out intros to rhythmic/clashing outro’s.

One of the most creative things I dug on “you bury me” was the second track off the record “Father//Layla”. The first verse of the song is directed at the Father from Layla’s (his Daughter) point of view. The second verse tells the story from the father’s perspective, which gives the song a new dimension that we don’t see in music nowadays I feel. It is a unique way to compile a song because it gives the listener emotional vibes that that resonates with us in a connective way that not many songs get across.

PINE’s you bury me will have you not only wet head-to-toe, drenched in a whirling pool of reverb, but also by the tears you will inevitably shed after listening to this huge of an EP.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Pine

Review ~ Fox Academy – Luxury Beverage ~ by Rob Arcand

What it sounds like: Julia Brown, Adore, 1996, flatsound

Cutesy music in 2015 is nauseating; as ukulele youtubers and casiopop bandcampers consistently churn out different shades of the same regurgitated twee novelty, the Internet often feels incredibly over-saturated with a feigned claim to cuteness. With every scan through new releases, the amount of simply weak attempts at ‘indie’ endear we’re continually inundated with as listeners is overwhelming.

Luxury Beverage, the new album from Portland duo Michael Todd Berland and Christian Novelli, understands this; beneath this thinly veiled cuteness, the duo merges a self-aware nuance of this DIY twee aesthetic with eerie, deeply melancholy undertones. The album is continually seeped in a shameless cuteness; with track titles like ‘i see yr cute decor,’ ‘perrywinkle murder mystery,’ and ‘lavender blood’ and continual references to softer colors, stun guns and grape soda, the pair continually return to youthful cuteness and nostalgia thematically. But unlike others that use clichés of cuteness to compensate for a feigned authenticity, Fox Academy seem obsessed with using a clearly transparent cuteness to thinly veil deeper mental health issues. Much like Julia Brown’s first album, to be close to you, Fox Academy use indulgent twee melodies and arrangements from cheap keyboards, jangly guitars and skittering drum machines to craft an endearingly sweet album musically, further adding to the almost uncanny valley effect of the lyrics. Like a cuteness stretched so far that it’s slightly frightening, the album indulges in both the sappy and the sinister; on ‘lavender blood,’ the duo write, “turn into dust it’s dripping from my gums/ its not enough/ stay neat and healthy/ you need to help me.” Lines like this ooze simultaneously sweet and sinister undertones and give the overall feeling of the album the rough equivalent of looking at a discarded doll, one-time occupying a place of love and affection, but now resigned to a dusty and broken place in the bottom of a dumpster far from home.

Where many of the Internet’s pseudo-cute clichés seem to force-feed themselves through cute vibes in an attempt to compensate for a lack of originality, Fox Academy has internalized this cuteness and attempt to use elements of this wide-eyed youthfulness to speak to the more troubling elements of adolescence.  At times, the lyrics seem to recurrently return to troubling, alienating moments of middle class youth. On ‘vampire banquet,’ the duo write, “ivory ceilings burgundy walls, theres blood i can feel it, as we float through the halls/ and as I start to spin the whole room gets dim,” contrasting images of the comforts of a middle class youth (ivory ceilings and burgundy halls as means of wealth and ‘image’ of the suburban middle class) with ambiguously eerie images of blood (could this be a stand-in for self-harm?) and spinning, a clear image of dysphoric disorientation. Ultimately, Luxury Beverage impressively moves beyond many twee clichés to become a deeply nuanced album, oscillating between a self-aware embrace of DIY clichés and the eerie, darker tones of a jaded middle class youth.

Text by Rob Arcand
Photo by Fox Academy

Review ~ Deeply Flawed by MOLLY DRAG ~ by Lukas Foote

Residing from the same small town as Molly Drag’s founder: Michael Hansford of Midland, Ontario- that has the population of 10,000 people all snuggled right into the shores Georgian Bay is where I was first introduced with Hansford’s musical projects. I was aware of Michael’s music since the other band he’s currently in: The Raspberry Heaven, was just a solo acoustic act, and if you wanted to travel further back into time of the Midland music scene, I would even bring up the first band I ever saw Michael perform in, which would of been the Post-Hardcore band: Demi Cassanova. Whom from what my 13-year-old mind can remember rocked the walls (literally) of Native Friendship Center’s in northern Ontario.


Molly Drag is Michael Hansford’s newest project however. An emo, experimental, shoegaze one. Majority of this LP was recorded in an apartment building in London, Ontario as well as a place known as Satans Cove also in London. Michael himself produced this LP alongside with Jake Jackman and was entirely mastered by David Newell.

To fully understand and grasp this LP I feel you need to know a bit about where it comes from. Deeply Flawed is derived from stories about Michael himself, stories of his friends/peers and his hometown of bittersweet Midland. A thing that I enjoyed about this LP were that the lyrics in it were not entirely about his own self-struggles and situations, but rather a combination of other stories he has heard through others. The lyrics contained depressing content and a lot to do with emotions, love, drugs and relationships. What I really dug in this LP was the spoken word segments in throughout the album too in such songs as “Upbringing” and “Sacrifices Speak”.

The really creative thing I found notable in Deeply Flawed was the track layout. The track layout of this LP was organized in my opinion to feel as if I were hearing a theatrical performance. The track “Sacrifices Speak” gave me the impression of the song being a reflection/a look back thus far on the record. It served as an intermission break if you would and I found this really artistic.

Another noteworthy thing I found in Deeply Flawed was not only the significant dynamics between the acoustic and electric guitars heard throughout, but also the synergy between Michael and every person featured in this album. Such tracks as “Deflowered” with Ryan Sweet or my personal favourite “Bleeding Out” with Emily Hathaway exemplify this.

Molly Drag’s Deeply Flawed will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience. Rocking you back and forth with the feeling of despair, heartbreak and homesickness…in the greatest way imaginable.

You can buy cassettes and CDs via Hellur Records.

Read interview with Michael Hansford here.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag

Review ~ After Talons’ Demos – Talons’ by Rob Arcand

Growing up on the Internet is hard. With every NPR First Listen or Pitchfork Advance, we’re forced to briefly forget how disposable our music is in 2014 and bury our attention into hopelessly transient SoundCloud clips. For every musician attempting to make it today, it’s especially daunting. Even after the first hit, the first thousand listens, or the first [insert success-quantifying statistic of choice], there’s no guarantee of longevity. For every mildly famous Internet buzz band, there’s always a million who never follow it up with anything and a million who never get such an opportunity.

Buried under years of html compost and digital indifference, one such musician, Mike Tolan, formerly of the modestly-famous post-rock band The Six Parts Seven, has been quietly recording earnest folk songs for close to a decade. The songs, under the name Talons’, are pathetic in the purest sense of the word; steeped in pathos of paying off college debt, working for minimum wage with employees who’ve never heard of the Microphones, and spending late nights on the Internet, Tolan tragically embraces the realities of growing old, lamenting the loss of his twenties and the wide-eyed idealism of his earlier releases, like Songs for Babes and Love in the Time of Panera. On “Tired of IPAs” from his After Talons’ demos, Tolan, once a sneering ‘indie’ elitist, speaks to feeling old in his thirties and shamelessly embracing his own sincerity, singing,

“I got tired of irony when I was twenty/ making fun of everything/ I realized that I actually thought Fleetwood Mac were great/ but when I stopped laughing and tried to grow up/ I just saw the stupid and the sad”

Much like Sun Kil Moon’s recent everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, stream of conscious release Benji, Talons’ crafts songs with frank, plain, and deeply sincere language often unfamiliar in folk music, which regularly has come, to me at least, to feel absorbed in lofty metaphor and seemingly-daunting pseudointellectual absurdity. Each release from the aging Mike Talon wholeheartedly embraces that absurd, almost dysphoric feeling of the division between wanting so badly to relive your twenties as carelessly and recklessly as you once did, now paired with the wisdom and awareness of how awful things turned out living that way.

At the same time, Tolan seems obsessed with aging gracefully, becoming a grandfatherly sage only just beginning his thirties in a world that has been deeply unkind and unforgiving. Lyrically, the songs continually return to resignation with age, as Tolan (and an industry itself which seems to thrive on perpetuating and reinventing youth) asks, “How is it possible for an artist pushing thirty to stay relevant? Is it even worth it to even struggle through the PR hype cycle again?”

This all begs the question, “How do we know when we’ve peaked?” When we’re all pushing thirty, an eternity in years spent scrolling through Tumblr gifs and Facebook engagement photos, is it really possible to continually press onward with the wide-eyed sincerity necessary to make every album seem like our best? Are we forced to churn out hopeless mediocrity in hopes of touching someone? Or does growing up mean resigning to this middle-class purgatory, sitting at work and daydreaming of buying houses in the good part of town or sleeping in on a Saturday. If anything, Talons’ makes me feel a lot less alone with this plunge into an unknown age. This album (and Talons’ music as a whole) is music to grow old to, offering an enormous comfort when we’re all struggling to make sense of things.

Text by Rob Arcand
Photo by Talons’

Review ~ Twin Visions EP – Grant Ulysses by Lukas Foote

Ulysses S. Grant? That was the 18th President of the United States in 1869-1877. Grant Ulysses? That is Canadian-Orillia Teenager Cole Mendez’s solo project, written, recorded and produced from his bedroom.

Grant Ulysses has two music videos out entitled “Wealth” and my personal favourite track by him: “Selfish”. These two songs aren’t exactly happy, rather depressing actually but they are his two most alternative, catchy and up-beat songs. The Twin Visions EP that I’m reviewing however, is as Cole himself puts it “A more cohesive and fleshed out musical project”. This EP is unlike his previously released songs. I find this EP to be more Indie and Dream Pop with a haunting aspect throughout each of the four tracks. All songs sound hopeless with lonely lyrical content and amazing guitar tone to accompany the theme all throughout this EP.

Every song on Twin Visions had a catchy, quirky guitar intro to it, except on the track “Apathy” in which case had a groovy-ass bass intro to it. The guitar intro’s reminded me of a Peter Sagar from Homeshake like feel to them and it’s safe to say I dug it. The instruments, in particular guitar and bass are stimulating and the vocals on Twin

Visions are really lo-fi and daunting.


FOR FANS OF: Night Sins, (early) Homeshake

Text by Lukas Foote


I have been aware of the A. Powell / Fog Lake for almost a year now. I stumbled upon his music within an email I received from “birdtapes” after asking if they ever planned to do a release with Canadian artists – they replied with a FL’s Bandcamp link. However, asking me to keep quiet about it; I just couldn’t – Instantly; within minutes, I emailed Fog Lake and asked to do a collaborated effort from a song I wrote recorded after breaking a window in my apartment. He said yes. We finished the song, and ever since then have remained very connected with each other, for this: I am very thankful.


Well now – let’s get to what is really important here – The newest work by Fog Lake, Virgo Indigo the 2nd 2014 release from the ever-growing label: Orchid Tapes (born in Toronto, now located in Brooklyn, NY).

Side note: Orchid Tapes are a heaven-sent label in sad state that is: the music industry.

As mentioned. I have had my fair share of alcohol induced nights staying awake till 5am screaming and shouting to the Holy Cross EP, but this new piece of work – really is, quite the magnum opus for a young musician like Aaron. Every time I listen to a song from this gent I think to myself “fuck, this guy is a prophet for everything in music I have ever needed.” – However, VI can really speak through translations to anyone avid open eared listener. With VI comes an advantageous effort to really stay true to yourself, and what you want to do with the sounds you enjoy. Flawlessly, Aaron triumphs his efforts with VI.

I am not entirely sure if there is a conceptual meaningfulness to Virgo Indigo, but I can’t help but picture the grayness’ that is the East Coast of Canada. I feel waves. I sense motion whilst deep within a heart capsizing itself. Drifting in from folk pop driven song like “nocturnal blues” – then wending itself outside with an ambient track like “transcanada” – but again, Aaron’s accomplishments blush with brilliance – almost effortlessly this man knows what he’s doing – and exactly how he is going to finish it. The track the personally whims my soul – is “erik”. From beginning to end I hear whispers of the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, but with a dark twist. This is a brand new sound, all alone – Aaron has accomplished something unique. There’s so much more I can say about Virgo Indigo, but now I have to go and pre-order the cassette before they are all gone.
And shit dude, be proud of yourself – because so many of people around the world are.

Thank you, Orchid Tapes

Thank you, Fog Lake/Aaron Powell

Thank you, Filip

Michael Charles Hansford


Introducing Michael Bringardner aka Michael Parallax from the heart of Florida is not necessary for many of you. It has been a while since I have discovered Michael’s music. I still remember listening to Vicious People over and over again in the summer of 2012 while I was working at my father’s company. During that time I never thought that I would have a chance to meet Michael in person and see his live performance.

It was last summer when I visited Orlando for the musical festival Total Bummer 4ever –  the best festival I have ever gone to – that I was able to experience Michael’s music live. Seeing Michael’s live set was definitely one of the best moments of the festival. A crowd dancing wildly bodies covered with sweat singing together on every song and feeling the enormous energy flowing through Michael. It was a collective spiritual and musical experience. Moreover for his set’s finale we followed Michael to a building under construction to sing with him ending our musical séance. It would not be the last time I saw him live.

I had the great honor of touring with Michael and his amazing sister Malee aka MoonLasso for a few weeks. I was travelling with them from Florida up to Philadelphia and experiencing their live sets over and over. I danced every single night and never did I feel bored. Michael playing his music live is something you want to see and hear again and again. Somehow you are always connected to him and you feel the music flowing through your body especially your heart. You have to experience the feeling to understand.

When I heard Michael was working on a new album I was excited because I knew it was going to be great. I expected that some songs that I heard at shows would be included. I knew the album versions would be different but I was sure I would not be disappointed. I am not.

Wilderness Years (Spirit Cat) as a whole has no weak point every song stands on its own merit. Each song carries some message hidden in the text wrapped in beautiful music and melodies. The intro Two Years along with Growing Splendid has the ambient folk fusion found on Michael’s previous record Vicious People but rest of the new album is highly built upon samples catchy beats different sparkling sounds and the pop-y styling of Michael’s voice.

The album has so many fine musical details which are only discovered after many repeated listens. Michael paid a lot of attention to make everything sound perfect. Simple dance beats combined with galactic noises and catchy lyrics makes you want to dance and sing along with him.

Michael uses his lyrics to tell stories about love and so strong is the imagery that you feel like you have experienced it too. Michael in his songs often invokes nostalgia with references to older hits which most of us remember from our childhood and from our parent’s playlists. When both aspects are combined the songs are so easy to sing along with; therefore everyone eventually ends up doing just that.

A simple description of this type of music is provided by Michael himself when he labels his music as “Celebratory Electronic Spiritual Revival Tent Music”. The spiritual feeling in the songs is especially strong and it gradually creates a bond between you and your musical priest Michael Parallax. It is harder to do it while listening to the album on your iPod but once you experience it live you will feel it forever. If you ever have a chance to see him do not miss that opportunity. I know I will go to Michael’s shows as many times as I can and I know it will never be enough. It is similar with this album which is currently being looped in my ears for many hours.

Go and grab Michael’s album whether a digital copy or a cassette from my great friends at the label Spirit Cat from Tallahassee. They are all great people and I will support them forever because they deserve that and much more. If you have met them you would understand why. And finally an excerpt from song Growing Splendid to demonstrate Michael’s amazing songwriting skills:

“I don’t talk to ghosts
I can still see them
i can hear them laugh at me
when i’m talking to the ceiling
i don’t believe it’s cold
i don’t believe it’s winter
you can’t hear the branches breaking
i can’t hear them either
do you believe in love
do you believe i’m loving
do you believe in anything
is there anything worth believing
do you believe in trust
do you believe i’m trusting
won’t you tell me anything
well i don’t believe you.”

Text by Filip Zemcik

Photo by James Dechert


This is the first album review I have ever done. It will be short.

So I decided to walk around in this Southern Ontario snowstorm in the east end (no sidewalks in sight) whilst listening to Ricky Eat Acid’s newest LP for the very first time. I will also record my efforts when I get home. The time is 9:47pm.

As I walk down King Street in London Ontario during the heaviest snowfall of the winter I am completely swallowed by Ricky Eat Acid’s newest release “”Three Love Songs”” from the emerging Brooklyn based label: Orchid Tapes from Warren in Foxes In Fiction – I am connected. Sam Ray (also from Julia Brown and other jam acts from the area) has been known from myself as quite the limbed artist in our world. He can go from every angle from surreal and abstract – to literal and crisp to make it completely his own; seemingly effortless this man has undeniable talent.

Once in a while in the deep midst of this dark and ill world; something arises from the ashes in debris of the minimum wage life – something is born from the pain. And this album rises from surface of this benign void. This album does this to me. You can’t help but correlate your own sadness and what you think your worth within it.

Personally what I get from his newest release is something sadder and more excavated than any ambient release I’ve heard since some of Eno’s “”Apollo”” releases or even bleeding from the same veins from Ambient Krautrock releases from the 70’s (Cluster Neu and Bowie’s “”Low”” album that was inspired by the Krautrock mania).

There is something untowardly bare in “”Three Love Songs”” catharsizes of melancholic noise.

The album also features another Orchid Tapes beauty; Infinity Crush in the track “”It will draw me over like it always does”” which sounds like something you could mesh together on a walk in the streets of Mumbai when all the street musicians original merge together to create something entirely your own. Sam really has aligned so many genres into one with Three Love songs and the work and self-evaluation from his previous releases is finite and clear. The track “”Inside your house it; will swallow us too””  is the heaviest hitting composition in this great piece. It brings me to high school on the mornings after waking up from doing a new drug for the very first time or having lost your virginity to the wrong individual. It illuminates the regrets from my past while at the same time showing us a door or window on how to carry on with perseverance. The noise has a pulse on the hard-working DIY individuals that will admit they write for themselves to help themselves. It is beautiful.

Sam Ray is someone to look out for.

& Three Love Songs will find you. You have no choice.

Text by Michael Hansford

Photos by Ricky Eat Acid